Thursday, October 29, 2009

Letter to Andrea Brady




Andrea Brady has left a string of comments by way of response to my article “Public Faces in Private Places: Messianic Privacy in Cambridge Poetry.” There’s much of interest in them, including this statement about what it felt like to be in Cambridge in the late 90s, around the Prynne circle:

Throughout the time I did spend in Cambridge I felt distinctly female and distinctly American. I guess it was no accident that I ended up writing a chapter of my thesis on the way that 17th century literary coteries preserved the authority of patriarchal poets through agonistic self-definition and fantasies of all-male reproduction. But I didn’t see the resemblance at the time.


That says a lot, really. I wish I’d been able to incorporate it into the article! Anyway, Andrea’s comments merit a proper response. In lieu of that, I’ve written this. It probably belongs down in the comments stream of the post announcing the publication of the article, but it’s bulky, so it’s here instead.


Hey Andrea,

Thanks for the long, thoughtful response to the essay. I’ve written about a pretty wide range of poets over the years, and one of the things I like most about poets from the more experimental end of things is that they so often write back after one writes about their work. Most of the more formally conservative people don’t seem to want that sort of back-and-forth, though I did have a great exchange with R.S. Gwynn after I wrote about one of his sonnets a while ago.

Anyway. I understand your wariness about the term “Cambridge Poetry,” even when it comes with a string of disclaimers attached. I mean, it was the same way back when people started talking about Language Poetry — lots of people objected to it, and some felt oppressed by it. I remember Steve Evans talking about this back in the late 90s at a conference in Belgium. Here’s what I noted about it in a post-conference wrap-up report for Jacket:

Steve Evans made some good points afterward about the way poets have reacted to being labeled with the 'L= word' — nobody thinks it is quite right for them, but then again they see some parallels, and in the discourse about avant-garde poetry, one seems to be either a language poet or not to count at all, so poets seem to ultimately accept the label, albeit with reservations.


There were, and are, all sorts of problems with the term “Language Poetry,” which (as your local schoolmarm will tell you) started life as “L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Poetry,” referencing the journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E (I remember Jeff Derkson giving a paper called “Where have all the equals signs gone” around the time people gave up on typing them out). I suppose the two main reasons people stopped typing all those equals signs were 1. It was tedious as all hell, and 2. Whether a poem had been published in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E or not became incidental: the movement or tendency had become larger than that.

When you write that you’re “forever being labelled ‘Cambridge School’, even though I’ve lived in London for nearly twice as long as I was a gownie,” and when you ask “would we say that Dell Olsen is now Cambridge School, because she lives in the episcopacy,” I suppose you’re objecting to the geographic nature of the term. I get it. But I suppose what’s happened is that geography has become incidental, just as publication in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E became incidental to what was meant by Language Poetry. I use the term because that’s the term that seems to be coming into use.

One might — one should, I suppose — ask whether the term is, in the end, a good thing. I’m inclined to think that, like most words, it both reveals and conceals. Everything you say about differences between individual poets is true, and everything you say about periodization sounds right, too. I mean, I your idea of that the period “between the years of the publications of the English Intelligencer and A Various Art” may constitute a distinct moment — but even making this distinction would probably bring down a rain of bile on your head if you made it loudly enough. Someone would come along and quite rightly insist on the variety of poetic activity in the Cambridge orbit at that time. Still and all, I don’t think all generalization is always bad. If any of us really thought that, we’d be left with nothing to say but proper names, if those. And I do think there are a cluster of techniques, ideas, publication and reading venues, influences, and the like that we can speak of as related phenomena. I, too, don’t think Prynne is the only center of gravity in the constellation (Peter Riley was very keen on making sure I didn’t make that mistake, back when I first started taking an interest in things Cambridge). I suppose one could imagine a series of partially overlapping Venn Diagrams, or a cluster of vectors, many of which converge for a time, but each of which follows its own line of flight away from the moments of convergence. Anyway. I suppose I’m interested, for now, in what the term can reveal; while you seem more concerned with what it conceals.

The other thing I take from your response, beyond the questioning of the term “Cambridge Poetry,” is the question of the political claims made for the poetry, and the relationship between public presence and political ambition. My contention in the article was that the large political claims made for the poetry seemed out of whack with the actual potential effect of the poetry. And some of the claims really have been large.

The claims I cited included one from David Shepard, who described a Prynne poem as an attempt to “recombine a language fragmented into technical jargons,” incorporating the vocabulary of specialized discourses into his poetry and thereby “return[ing] this knowledge to the public sphere from its sequestration in the ivory tower.” This would be a hell of a feat, and hugely politically important. The logistics of it, though, would require a huge effort at outreach, at actually bringing alienating kinds of language into public discourse. Shepherd either didn’t quite mean what he said, or, like a lot of us, he substituted a political wish for a political reality — which would be a kind of sentimentality, really.

Another claim I mentioned came from N.H. Reeve and Richard Kerridge (whose book Nearly Too Much is, I think, essential stuff for anyone wanting to get started on reading Prynne). According to Reeve and Kerridge, the kind of poetry they discuss can “collide with the powerful instrumental discourses of the culture" with the effect of "smashing them into pieces.” Poetry can certainly depict such a smashing. But the gulf between depiction and actuality gets glossed over here. The instruments of power continue on their way, despite the poets’ interventions (I think Bob Perelman’s poem “The Game” is about as good an examination of this situation as I’ve seen — anyway, it’s worth a look, if you haven’t seen it).

John Wilkinson makes some big claims, too — I know you found it a bit objectionable that I wrote more about his claims than about particular poems, but what I was interested in was the gulf between the large claims made for the poems and the actuality of the extent of their presence in the culture. Anyway, he has a high opinion of your work, and of Keston Sutherland’s. So do I, but not for the same reason Wilkinson presents — he says that you and Keston are writing at “a point of historical convergence” where your poetry might exercise “political potency.” Either Wilkinson’s sense of what political potency looks like is very different from mine, or he’s making claims that are quite unlikely to be supported by events.

I’m actually much more inclined to agree with your own sense of the political reach of poetry (or at least the political reach of poetry at this point, and in the first world), when you write that you “see a problem with any poetry’s (‘messianic’) claim to change the world, to smash instrumental reason to bits with the hammer of d├ętournement.” And I’m in sympathy with you when you say you are:

…perfectly aware that my poetry isn’t going to change the world because it is ‘far from a mass movement’, as I wrote somewhere: it’s not part of the class struggle, energized by direction action or likely to inspire it. I can carry on writing it simply by thinking it will go down in history for future readers as a record of a peculiar dissidence…. At my most optimistic, I hope it encourages its readers – who, as readers seeking out this kind of work, aren’t likely to require encouragement – to think critically about politics, or perhaps to be inspired by such thinking to participate in collective efforts to overcome the tyrannies of capitalism.


This isn’t the sort of claim I was taking issue with in the article. The type of claim I took issue with was the type that implied that the poetry was smashing the discourses of power, and returning specialist discourses to the public.

The tack I took in the article was to focus on the gulf between these big public claims and the relatively limited reach of the poetry. I found it particularly ironic that so many of these claims centered on Prynne, who really has turned his back on opportunities to have a wider public presence (not that he’s wrong to have done so).

I think you’re right to say that my article implies a “rather crude equation between publication in the larger academic and commercial presses and the authenticity of a poetry’s claims to political efficacy.” Some of this implication comes from the way I framed the article — between the words “public” and “private.” I suppose it’s no excuse to point to the original context of the article, as a paper at a conference on “The Public/Private Divide in British Poetry” at the Sorbonne. Anyway, I’m not at all convinced that publication and readership on the scale reached, and to the constituencies served by, any contemporary Western poetry press would lead to political change on a large scale.

Did you get a chance to know Reginald Shepherd? He died not too long ago, a terrible loss. In addition to being a fine poet, he was a clear-eyed thinker about poetry, and I learned a lot from our correspondence (not least because he’d mastered the Frankfurt school better than I). As a gay black man from the Bronx, he knew a thing or two about the need for political change. Here’s something he wrote about politics and poetry:

Those who wish to change society might better turn their energies toward society itself, to the real areas of oppression and suffering, economic, political, racial, and sexual. (Identity politics can be a useful organizing tool of social activism, though it can also lend itself to a group solipsism that blinds people to structural, systemic issues.) To blame literature, or culture as a whole, for social, economic, and political woes (or even to see it as central to their perpetuation) is evasive at best, dishonest at worst, a kind of posing as politics, in social commentator Adolph Reed’s trenchant phrase. But such posturing is much easier than doing the hard work of trying to change the world. “Cultural activism” is a poor substitute for real political activity, although we live in an era in which cultural matters are up for debate while fundamental economic and political questions are not, except on the often loud but frequently incoherent and usually ignored fringes.

George Oppen gave up writing poetry for several years in favor of political activism, because he believed neither that poetry could change society nor that it should be subordinated to an agenda. In Oppen’s words, “If you decide to do something politically, you do something with political efficacy. And if you write poetry, you write poetry, not something you hope, or deceive yourself into believing, can save people who are suffering.” Several years ago, I was asked by someone I had just met whether my poetry was Afrocentric. I told him that I didn’t know what he meant by that term, and he said, “You know, dedicated to the liberation of black people everywhere.” My only answer was, “I don’t think that poems can do that.”


I found that convincing when he wrote it. I find it convincing now.

Thanks, by the way, for adding this, at the end of your comments:

I don’t mean any of this to sound like an attack. I hope you don’t feel it is. This poetry does need intelligent readers and critics; I’d even go so far as to say that it is written in expectation of them. I’ve seen critics from beyond the Trumpington perimeter stick their heads above the parapet, only to be shouted down by the incredibly entrenched defence forces – and so decide to stop caring. I don’t want you or anyone who reads this to stop caring.


I really don’t think of anything you’ve said as an attack — and I’ve found the response to the article so far to be generally positive, or to be critical in interesting and enlightening ways. I do wonder if people who have invested themselves in the poetry I discussed see the article as an attack. I don’t think it is, though I suppose it is an attempt to deflate some of the more inflated political claims made on behalf of the poetry. I doubt I’ll stop being interested — I also doubt I’ll ever be convinced by the kinds of claims I discussed, nor do I think it likely that I’ll ever be convinced that, because this kind of poetry is interesting and important, other kinds are not (this isn’t a claim you make at all, but Keston seems to take something of that Manichean view, setting the saved of Cambridge against the evils of the Culture Industry).

All best,

Bob

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Blogger on Blogging



Oh, sure. I understand: you've had it with my blogging. Who hasn't! And you'd like something new. Well, how about my opinions about blogging? They're up in a short interview conducted by Steve Halle for the creative writing course he teaches at Illinois State University. Behold the blogger as he navel-gazes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Its Chief Weapon is Excess": Chris Hamilton-Emery on Cambridge Poetry



Many a keyboard has been tapped, and many an email sent zipping across the Atlantic, inspired by the recent one-two punch combo of the Cambridge Literary Review's special feature on Cambridge Poetry and Kent Johnson's post on the "New British School" over at Digital Emunction (a site directed by Bobby Baird and others affiliated with the Chicago Review, the American journal most closely associated with experimental British poetry from the Cambridge-connected crowd).

One of the more interesting and informed comments I've seen comes from Chris Hamilton-Emery who, as the head of Salt publishing, has been well-positioned to watch developments in this kind of poetry, especially over the past couple of decades. His comment, from a discussion list I don't normally follow, came to my attention via Kent Johnson, and Chris was kind enough to let me reproduce it here. I've wedged my own comments in here and there. Here's Chris:


I think there is a need for a more general assessment of the poetries emerging from the British avant-​garde scene. I’ve published a great deal of course, and there’s certainly enough evidence for a reassesment of what was going on Cambridge in the 90s. It’s too highly coloured with Divisionist ideology to get a clear picture from outside.


I'm not quite sure how to feel about this.

Chris is certainly right that the time has come to try to get a handle on just what has been happening. The British experimental crowd for whom Cambridge serves as a center of gravity has been one of the most vital and interesting things going on in the U.K. for some time, and it hasn't really had much of an assessment. Even the degree to which it is correct to call it Cambridge Poetry hasn't been determined, although I've got a feeling the name will stick, despite how unhappy everyone is going to be with it. I mean, that's what happened with Language Poetry, and with New Criticism, and with Dada, and with just about everything: the borders of the movement, the essential features or debates, the list of who's who — these things are never defined to anyone's satisfaction, but the alternative ("let us not speak of this, lest we exclude someone or misrepresent the truth") seems unsatisfactory, too. I, for one, am going to stick with the monicker unless and until something better emerges, though I'm cognizant that there are people connected to the aesthetic and community in question who have no Cambridge affiliation (to the town or to the gown), and that there are several overlapping kinds of poetry involved. Anyway, to reiterate: I'm sure Chris is right: now is a good time to try to assess just what it is that's been happening.

I'm not entirely sure Chris is right about the place from which a clear picture is going to emerge, though. When Cambridge poetry has been described, it's usually been from either a position of hostility, or from a position of advocacy, with the advocacy emerging from inside the movement (actually, some of the hostility has come from within, too). People on the inside have the advantage of knowing the terrain intimately, but often there is something like a kind of true-believer's apologetics at work in their descriptions. I suppose I'm not speaking without a little apologetic of my own here: I'm very much outside the Cambridge scene, and I've tried to describe and understand it as neither an enemy nor an advocate. So maybe my sense that what's needed is an attempt at disinterest or objectivity (perspectives never entirely obtainable, but approachable by degrees) is itself self-interested. But I do hope for a better critic than I to step in from outside and survey the terrain as dispassionately and comprehensively as possible. Which would probably just tick off some people, who would find such a survey either insufficiently for, or insufficiently against, the poetry in question. Anyway, back to Chris:

It [the poetry] is properly underground but has really very striking uptake with US universities, certainly Buffalo, Miami (OH), UPenn, but much much wider than this.


Very true! A few key personalities are important at the institutions Chris mentions (Steve McCaffery and others at Buffalo, Keith Tuma at Miami of Ohio, Al Filreis at Penn). I'd add the University of Chicago to the list, primarily because of the graduate students who run the Chicago Review (Bobby Baird, Josh Kotin, others). But in the end I don't think it's just a matter of personal interests: the same logic that brought Language Poetry into the American academy seem to be at play: the poetry demands the kind of interpretive effort academe encourages, and the poetry has affinities with poststructural and Frankfurt School cultural theory — things that have found an American home in the university English departments. It's also good dissertation fodder: you can prove your sophistication by digging into the arcane and the difficult. Also, the poetry often has a kind of anti-marketplace ideology (Chris will mention this soon), an ideology flattering to the penniless graduate student learning the unmarketable skills of literary analysis. I mean, it's all very affirming to the kind of person you'll find studying poetry and theory in a literature department. Which is neither here nor there, in terms of the importance of the work. Once again, back to Chris:

But those US allegiances are misleading as I think the British avant-​garde have to be read from the peculiar social and cultural framework of the British 60s. We never had a 1968 moment. The political content of much 90s British avant-​garde writing has its origins in a liberation from post-​War thrift and limitation, it derives its thrust from a cultural exuberance not a political fracture or civil rights revolution. It’s politics are received. You can’t of course have a politics with out a polity.


This is the part of Chris' post I find most confusing. I mean, I do think it would make sense for exuberance to emerge after a climate of scarcity — but the fuse on this exuberance bomb seems too long. Can we really see the developments of the 90s as a delayed reaction to the scarcity of the British 50s? Or perhaps I'm misreading Chris. Perhaps he means that the work by Jeremy Prynne and Tom Raworth and others back in the 60s came about as part of the liberation from postwar scarcity, and that this work inspired what was done in the 90s. I can get behind that.

I find the final sentence intriguing — "You can't of course have a politics without a polity." This raises the issue that has most fascinated me about some strands of Cambridge Poetry: the question of political ambition and lack of political effect. But Chris touches on all this soon, so I'll shut up and let him get on with things:

There are two aspects I find fascinating, the first is nostalgia. A great deal of British avant-​garde writing is deeply nostalgic and utopian, and that’s partly I suspect a feature that it has yet to be properly assessed, digested, positioned, it’s been locked out of cultural debate and a history of poetics in the UK due in part to the Poetry Wars and their legacy. It’s almost as if we can imagine a poetry purgatory, not Dante’s but a kind of limbo where much of this writing has not been assimilated into a wider history of British poetry. It’s stuck but not of its own accord.


I, too, am waiting for someone to lay out the exact nature of the nostalgia and utopianism at work in the poetry, though I suspect it's a kind of negative utopia, like Adorno's, one that can't be named, or that would disintigrate if named (a kind of "if you see the Buddha in the road, kill him" ideal, in which the utopian can't be embodied without being desecrated, but in which the utopian aspiration must nevertheless be maintained).

With regard to Chris' second point above, that the poetry has been left outside of the wider history of British poetry against its will, I'm ambivalent. There sure are editors, scholars, and academics who want nothing to do with the stuff, don't like it, and suspect that it's all a matter of the emperor's new clothes (as some small percentage of it surely is). But I think there's been a reciprocal rejection: just as the many have decided to ignore this kind of writing, there has been a rejection of mainstream publication and even critical attention by some people inside the movement. The history of Prynne's publishing career is the most prominent example: he deliberately left major presses behind, and chose not to accept offers of prominent journal publication (Peter Barry's study Poetry Wars documents some of this). I suppose much of this is a matter of Prynne's very private personality, and some of it is a matter of anti-market ideology, which Chris is about to describe:

And the second thing I find fascinating is what I call Liberation Poetics, the idea that poetry has been enslaved in some consumerist conspiracy, and that leads to a kind of messianic quality in some work, and, as I’ve remarked before, a lot in Keston [Sutherland]’s. This kind of poetry needs to be outside, needs to be oppressed and needs to be secret. It can’t accommodate or mediate as it relies on an extreme position and in many respects requires converts and acolytes, neophytes and indeed some Grand Masters. It’s religious in effect. One has to believe. Though a key feature of the dogma is to express doubt, uncertainty and incompleteness, just as it embraces process over product, openness over closure and radicalism over restraint. Its chief weapon is excess. And of course it is oppositional.

All of this makes for a fascinating landscape. But it’s one that can feel like entering a sect, even for an afternoon of mysterious indoctrination. It is however, filled with great and yes, serious, art.


I'd hate to reduce the Cambridge phenomenon, in all its diversity, to a cult. But there is something of that about it: Prynne, like F.R. Leavis, (or, at the other end of the poetic spectrum, like Yvor Winters) does seem to have a taste for disciples, a weakness that should not reduce our sense of his achievement. And we shouldn't ignore this, nor the role it has played in Cambridge poetry's status as a poetic counter-culture, rather than a position in more open engagement with the broader poetic culture. Of course it'd be nice if more critics who took Seamus Heaney seriously also took Tom Raworth seriously. Such figures seem in particularly short supply.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The &NOW Awards: Shop Early!



What, you ask, are the &NOW Awards, and what has this new anthology got to do with them? Excellent questions! I'm glad you asked!

The awards were the brain-child of members of the board of the &NOW Festival of Innovative Writing, soon to kick-off its fouth iteration, this time at the University at Buffalo. Essentially, they were conceived as a kind of anti-Pushcart Prize, meant to recognize poetry, prose, and cross-genre writing from outside the mainstream. The first of a planned series of biannual anthologies (edited by Steve Tomasula, Davis Schneiderman, and the present humble blogger) will be launched at this year's festival, but I know you can't wait that long. Don't fret! You can pre-order it now from Amazon.com. It makes a great gift! And the cover of this first one is particularly appropriate for the coming Halloween season.

Raymond Federman, R.I.P.



Very sad news: Raymond Federman died this morning, after a long battle with cancer. I first met him when he came to the Lake Forest Literary Festival as our keynote speaker in 2007, and I can't overstate the man's energy, verve, and joie de vivre: at twice my age he wore me out, rushing around campus, putting on performance pieces, boiling and sawing books with my colleague Davis Schneiderman, supervising dramatic productions, and being the grand raconteur.

Federman's friendship with Samuel Beckett was truly formative, making Federman into the kind of writer, and the kind of man, he became. It's not surprising, then, that as Federman neared the end of his life, he turned to Beckett once again. Here's a poem about reading Beckett Federman wrote about five months ago, when he saw all too clearly how close he was to death:

A Matter of Enthusiasm

I am rereading Malone Dies
just to mock death a little
and boost my cancerous spirit.

I shall soon be quite dead at last
Malone tells us at the beginning
of his story.

What a superb opening
what a fabulous sentence.

With such a sentence
Malone announces his death
and at the same time delays it.

In fact all of Malone’s story
is but an adjournment.

Malone even manages
to defer his death
until the end of eternity.

That
soon is such a vague word.

How much time is soon?
How does one measure soon?

Normal people say
I’ll be dead in ten years
or I’ll be dead before I’m eighty
or I’ll be dead by the end of this week
Quite dead at last
Malone specifies.

Unlike Malone prone in bed
scribbling the story of his death
with his little pencil stub
normal standing people
like to be precise
concerning their death.

Oh how they would love
to know in advance
the exact date and time
of their death.

How relieved they would be
to know exactly when
they would depart from
the great cunt of existence
in Malone’s own words
to plunge into the great lie
of the afterlife.

How happy they would be
if when they emerge into life
the good doctor
or the one responsible
for having expelled them
into existence
would tell them you will die at 15:30
on December 22, 1989.

Could Sam have written
I shall soon be quite dead at last
had he known in advance
when he would change tense?

Certainly not
because as Malone tells us
a bit further in his story

I shall die tepid
without enthusiasm.

Does that mean on the contrary
of those idiots on this bitch of an earth
who explode themselves with fervor
to reach the illusion of paradise
while taking with them other mortals
that Malone’s lack of enthusiasm
towards his own death is a clever way
of delaying the act of dying?

A lack of enthusiasm for something
is always a way of postponing
the terms of that something.

The soon of Malone mocks
the permanence of death
and his lack of enthusiasm
ridicules the expression at last.

And so before he reaches the end
of the first page of his story
Malone has already succeeded
in postponing his death to
Saint John the Baptist’s Day
and even the Fourteenth of July.
Malone even believes he might be able
to resist until the
Transfiguration
not to speak of the Assumption
which certainly throws some doubt
as to what really happened
on that mythical day
or what will happen to Malone
if he manages to hang on until then.

In fact Malone defies his own death
by giving himself
birth into death
as he explains at the end of his story.

All is ready. Except me. I am being
given, if I may venture the expression,
birth to into death, such is my impression.
The feet are clear already,
of the great cunt of existence.
Favorable presentation I trust.
My head will be the last to die.
Haul in your hands. I can’t.
The render rents, My story ended
I’ll be living yet. Promising lag.
That is the end of me. I shall say I no more.

Nothing more to add this evening.
Malone said it all for me.
I can go to sleep calmly now.
Good night everybody.


Do something strange and playful today. That's how Federman would have wanted to be remembered.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Big News about Cambridge Poetry



Look out! The inaugural issue of the Cambridge Literary Review has just been unleashed. It contains (among much more) an essay by Stefan Collini, new poetry by John Kinsella, J.H. Prynne, Keston Sutherland, and John Matthias, as well as a big feature on Cambridge Poetry — a feature marred only by my own contribution, "Public Faces In Private Places: Messianic Privacy in Cambridge Poetry."

"Public Faces" is a much-expanded version of a paper I gave at the Sorbonne last year (the proceedings of the conference will be published this fall by McFarland, and will be well worth a look). I suppose it's really based on the experience of seeing a bunch of the Cambridge poets read at the Elastic Arts Center in Chicago, right around the time Cambpo heavyweights John Wilkinson and Peter Riley were slugging it out in a battle royale about the political value of poetry in the back pages of the Chicago Review.

The essay starts like this:

My title comes from some lines of W.H. Auden’s in The Orators: “Private faces in public places / Are wiser and nicer / Than public faces in private places.” Often, modern poets have presented their work as a matter of private faces in public places—that is, as the voice of private, authentic individual conscience entering the public sphere. Such a vision of poetry is, no doubt, fraught with its own problems and contradictions, but none of those concern me here. When we look at what has come to be known in some circles as Cambridge School poetry—the experimental poetry of Tom Raworth, John Wilkinson, Jeremy Prynne as well as Keston Sutherland, Andrea Brady, and Simon Jarvis, to name a few poets of the younger generation—we’re faced with a very different conception of poetry. We find ourselves asking a question something like this: what ought we to make of a school of poetry that has a strong public concern, but no appreciable public presence? In Auden’s terms, it is a poetry of public faces in private places.


The gathering of poetry and critical writing about Cambridge poetry in CLR looks strong. I hope the issue gets some play on this side of the Atlantic. The issue is available for $20, a bit steep sounding, I know, but it's a big brick of a thing, and worth the cash.

****

In other news, it seems that the redoubtable Jacob Knabb of ACM took one look at Granta's recent special issue on Chicago, did a spit-take with his Old Style beer, nearly dropped his slice of sausage-stuffed deep-dish pizza, and declared the next ACM "Another Chicago Issue." If you're from the greater Chicago metropolitan area, send some work his way.

****

UPDATE OCTOBER 7: Kent Johnson's got some interesting things to say about the Cambridge crowd.