Two more sonnets from my ongoing sequence, “2015.05” and “2015.06,” were just published in no. 16 of Epigraph Magazine. A .pdf of the issue can be found here.
Bradley J. Fest’s second volume of poetry, The Shape of Things, continues his project of poetic assemblage. Written in an age of ubiquitous algorithmic surveillance and increasingly catastrophic climate change, these poems both describe the shape of things in the overdeveloped world and endeavor to challenge the widespread feeling that the imagination has been foreclosed in the twenty-first century. An ambivalent hyperarchive, the collection draws influence from a number of seemingly incompatible lyric registers, including the language of contemporary theory. The Shape of Things culminates in an eponymous long poem that asks if a poiesis of “network being” is possible and suggests that there might be some other way to dance to the sounds of our present.
If Whitman and Adorno had a knife fight on the ruins of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, The Shape of Things would be the perfect voice over. Which is to say, though it’s not a pretty scene, there’s pleasure and beauty to be found in the action and music of the syntax and in following the wild movements of this poet’s mind. Truly original, dazzlingly smart and game for anything, Fest writes of lives and desires torn apart by the neoliberal security state. Jolting between paranoiac rage and orgasmic bliss, between all- out negation and Wordsworthian swoon, these poems describe the awful implications of a contemporary moment in which “we have made ourselves a gallows of a house.”
–Sten Carlson, author of Fur & After
To call The Shape of Things “post-apocalyptic” would be a mistake: its poignant present tense anxiety unfolds in the apocalypse now. Ataris and hunter-gatherers lean together over the edge of time, commingling in harrowing yet pleasurable ways. But this is no book of “detached mirth.” Hear in Fest’s singing the quiet pathos of humans and machines out of time. While Fest’s human creatures have lulled themselves into submission—”There may be something (virtually) / on fire. More likely our expectations are being met . . .”—his work nudges middle class late capitalist culture awake into the disturbing awareness that “a prolonged adolescence is the shape of things.”
–Robin Clark, author of Lines the Quarry
I am beginning my first semester teaching English and creative writing at Hartwick College tomorrow. Here are the syllabi for my three classes.
Nuclear and Environmental
David Wallace-Wells, “The Uninhabitable Earth.”
Elizabeth Kolbert, “Au Revoir: Trump Exits the Paris Climate Agreement.”
Damian Carrington, “Arctic Stronghold of World’s Seeds Floods after Permafrost Melts.”
Stephanie Wakefield, “Field Notes from the Anthropocene: Living in the Back Loop.”
Ed Simon, “Apocalypse Is the Mother of Beauty.”
Michael Marder, “Can Democracy Save the Planet?”
Peter Brannen, “Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction.”
Matt Mountain and Nathaniel Kahn, “The Tiny Edit That Changed NASA’s Future.”
Hardcore History, episode 59, “The Destroyer of Worlds.”
Emmalie Dropkin, “We Need Stories of Dystopia without Apocalypse.”
Trump, Politics, and the National Security State
Sheri Fink and James Risen, “Psychologists Open a Window on Brutal CIA Interrogations.”
Perry Anderson, “The Centre Can Hold.”
McKenzie Wark, “The Spectacle of Disintegration.”
Christopher Lydon, “Noam Chomsky: Neoliberalism Is Destroying Our Democracy.”
Michiko Kakutani, “Human Costs of the Forever Wars, Enough to Fill a Bookshelf.”
Daniel Bessner, “A Very High Degree of Certainty in Future Military Operations.”
Ariel Dorfman, “What Herman Melville Can Teach Us About the Trump Era.”
Rebecca Solnit, “The Loneliness of Donald Trump.”
Emmet Rensin, “The Blathering Superego at the End of History.”
Sara Lipton, “Trump the Merovingian.”
Jeet Heer, “America’s First Postmodern President.”
Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough.
Caleb Hannan, “The Short, Unhappy Life of a Libertarian Paradise.”
Lawrence Wright, “The Future Is Texas.”
And Vinson Cunningham, “Donald and Melania’s Last Judgment.”
Joe Fassler, “Keeping Track of Every Book You’ve Ever Read.”
Emily Drabinksi, “A Space for Pleasures of All Kinds: On Crusing the Library.”
Jeff Charis-Carlson, “Iowa Writers’ Workshop Archive Costly to Search, UI Scholar Finds.”
Spencer Kornhaber, “Katy Perry’s Panopticon of Fun and Tears.”
Criticism and Theory
Racheal Fest, “What Will Modernism Be?”
Jaskiran Dhillon, “Feminism Must Be Lived: An Interview with Sara Ahmed.”
Cassie Thornton, “Feminist Economics and the People’s Apocalypse.”
Bruce Robbins, “Discipline and Parse: The Politics of Close Reading.”
Justin Slaughter, “C. L. R. James in the Age of Climate Change.”
Craig Hubert, “Live Theory: An Interview with Tom McCarthy.”
Richard Marshall, “The Fall and Rise of Louis Althusser: An Interview with William Lewis.”
Francesco Giusti, “The Lyric in Theory: A Conversation with Jonathan Culler.”
McKenzie Wark, “Our Aesthetics.”
Eugene Thacker, “The Weird, Eerie, and Monstrous,” review of The Weird and the Eerie, by Mark Fisher.
David Sessions, “The Rise of the Thought Leader.”
“The Universes of Speculative Realism,” review of The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism, by Steven Shaviro.
Terrence Blake, “Fallible Divergences: Literary Theory after Speculative Realism,” review of The World of Failing Machines, Grant Hamilton.
Sophie Lewis, “Cthulu Plays No Role for Me.”
James Duesterberg, “Final Fantasy: Neoreactionary Politics and the Liberal Imagination.”
Carl Freedman, “Russia 1917: You Are There.”
Benjamin Parker, “What Is a Theory of the Novel Good For?”
And Sadie Stein, “In Flight.”
Literature and Culture
Literary Hub, “90 Lines for John Ashbery’s 90th Birthday.”
Charles Bernstein and Tracie Morris, “Poetry Needs a Revolution That Goes Beyond Style.”
Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer, “The Rise of Science Fiction from Pulp Mags to Cyberpunk.”
Seat 14C (great collection of contemporary SF).
Lee Konstantinou, “The Girl Who Almost Became a Zombie.”
Ian Bogost, “The Fidget Spinner Explains the World.”
Fredric Jameson, “No Magic, No Metaphor.”
David L. Ulin, “Denis Johnson Had Ruthless Honesty and Transcendent Power.”
Laurie Penny, “In Science Fiction, the Future Is Feminist.”
Jane Hu and Aaron Bady, “The Handmaid’s Tale, ‘Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum.'”
Johanna Drucker, “Embittered Spinster,” review of A Quite Passion.
Wai Chee Dimock, “There’s No Escape from Contamination above the Toxic Sea,” review of Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer, and “5,000 Years of Climate Fiction.”
Andreas Halskov, “No Place Like Home: Returning to Twin Peaks.”
Sarah Nicole Prickett, “Eternal Return.”
Jedediah Purdy, “Fiery Heaven, Bastard Earth: The Cosmology of Game of Thrones.”
Aaron Bady and Sarah Mesle, “Game of Thrones, ‘Dragonstone.'”
Jia Tolentino, “The Personal Essay Boom Is Over.”
Sean Austin Grattan, Hope Isn’t Stupid: Utopian Affects in Contemporary American Literature.
Lindsay Meaning, “Dimensions of Identity,” review of Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture, by Adrienne Shaw.
Robert Florence, “8-Bit Philosophizing in The Forbidden Forest.”
Patrick Klepek, “The Power of Video Games in the Age of Trump.”
William Bradley, “With Reflection, without Fear.”
Haruki Murakami, “Reality A and Reality B.”
Jennifer Lunden and DeAnna Satre, “Evidence, in Track Changes.”
Citron Kelly, three poems.
Future Radio, “Song Books, featuring Andrew Hook.”
Andrew Hook, ed., Elasticity: The Best of Elastic Press.
Mike Good, “Absence Tangibly Felt,” review of Post-, by Wayne Miller.
Kimberly Ann Southwick, “Three Chapbooks: Reinventing Prose Poetry for a New Century.”
Eric Van Allen, “The FIFA Goal That Just Wouldn’t Go In.”
And Clayton Purton, “This Woman Has Been Slowly Eating Infinite Jest for a Year.”
Kate Southwood, “‘Write What You Know’ Is Not Good Writing Advice.”
Stephen Hunter, “If You Want to Write a Book, Write Every Day or Quit Now.”
Humanities and Higher Education
Amy Hungerford, “Why the Yale Hunger Strike Is Misguided.”
Sarah Brouillette, Annie McClanahan, and Snehal Shingavi, “Risk Reason/ The Wrong Side of History: On the Yale University Unionization Efforts.”
Alyssa Battistoni, “Why I’m Fasting with Other Graduate Students at Yale.”
Chad Wellmon and Andrew Piper, “Publication, Power, and Patronage: On Inequality and Academic Publishing.”
Michael Meranze, “Remaking the University: The Idea of the English University,” review of Speaking of Universities, by Stefan Collini.
Oliver Bateman, “The Young Academic’s Twitter Conundrum.”
Jeffrey J. Cohen, “Drinking and Conferencing.”
Deborah K. Fitzgerald, “Our Hallways Are Too Quiet.”
And Susan Harlan, “Facebook Genres for English Professors.”
And Jason Peck and Mike Good, “Local Spotlight: Pittsburgh’s Long-Running Poetry Reading Series Turns 42.”
And For the First Time . . . Oneonta, New York
Lisa W. Foderaro, “For Oneonta’s Aging Downtown, a $10 Million Face-Lift.”
I am looking forward to my first fall semester at Hartwick College. I’ll be teaching three classes: Introduction to Creative Writing (ENGL 213); Reading Modern Poetry (ENGL 250); and Creative Writing: Poetry (ENGL 312). This semester is especially exciting because I will be returning to the creative writing classroom, and, I mean, look at all this poetry:
I’ll post syllabi when they’re complete. No class blogs this semester, but probably soon, especially if I do something new this spring.