This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Howe, Federman, Filreis highlight literary series schedule

Published: September 16, 2004

Contributing Editor

The Poetics Program will continue its Fall 2004 series of literary readings and lectures, "Wednesdays at 4 PLUS," with two screenings on Monday of the Bloomsday centenary documentary "Following James Joyce: Dublin to Buffalo." The screenings, produced and directed by Stacey Herbert, Ph.D. '02, M.A. '96, and Buffalo attorney Patrick Martin, will take place at noon and 4 p.m. in the Poetry/Rare Books Room, 420 Capen Hall, North Campus. They are free and open to the public,

"A Centennial Bloomsday in Buffalo," an exhibition mounted by the UB Poetry Collection, will run through Wednesday in the Poetry/Rare Books Room during regular business hours.



On Sept. 23, Alan Filreis, Kelly Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and a "Penn Professor of the Year," will present a talk about the political conflicts of modernism and communism at 12:30 p.m. in 436 Clemens Hall, North Campus.

Filreis is one of his generation's most important scholars and critics of modern and contemporary American poetry and the literary politics of the American 1920s through the Cold War. His talk will be titled "Why Can't Modernism and Communism Get Along?: Stevens' 'The Man with the Blue Guitar' and its Detractors." "The Man with the Blue Guitar" is one of poet Wallace Stevens' major works, full of unique and insightful, but drastic, leaps in experience/perception/reality/dreams that he concludes are necessary to the acceptance of an evolving world.

Filreis is the author of six books, among them the brilliant and internationally acclaimed breakthrough study of mid-20th-century poetry, "Modernism from Right to Left: Wallace Stevens, the Thirties & Literary Radicalism" (Cambridge University Press, 1994).

He wrote another study of this major canonical figure in the context of a 1930s left-wing, poetry renaissance, "Wallace Stevens and the Actual World" (Princeton University Press, 1991), and, with Beverly Coyle, edited "Secretaries of the Moon" (Duke University Press, 1986), a collection of the poet's correspondence with Cuban literary critic and editor Jose Rodriguez-Feo, who was responsible for the Cuban publication of work by many notable American writers.



Susan Howe, Samuel P. Capen Chair For Poetry & Humanities in the UB Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences, will speak as part of the university's Gender Week event, "Le Sexe Qui Parle III," from 4-5 p.m. Sept. 24 in 120 Clemens. Her presentation will follow a student poetry reading from 2:30-3:45 p.m.

Howe is a brilliant and unique star among American poets and critics, and her work has mesmerized a generation of writers and students. She broke with convention to challenge dramatically standard modes of critical literary analysis; her work often is discussed as a series of counter measures against the male literary canon.

A linguistic adventurer in the tradition of Gertrude Stein, Howe is a "language poet"—that is, in her own words, "one who (breaks) the (grammatical) law just short of breaking off communication." She is counted among the artistic geniuses from Philip Glass to Charles Bernstein who comprise one of the most significant avant garde groupings in U.S. art in the past quarter century. Her complex work, full of intriguing perspectives and brilliant observations, has been analyzed, searched and addressed by some of the major literary scholars of our time.

Howe is author of a number of books of poetry, including "Europe of Trusts: Selected Poems" (1990), "Frame Structures: Early Poems 1974-1979" (1996) and "The Midnight" (2003), and two very influential books of criticism: "The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History" (1993) and "My Emily Dickinson" (1985). Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including the important L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets' gathering, "In the American Tree."

Her main literary influences are Dickinson, Charles Olson and early Puritan writers like Cotton Mather. The link between these is New England, and the Irish-born Howe may be viewed as a New England poet in her sense of new possibilities and her preference for an economy of means.



On Sept. 29, Raymond Federman, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of English, will deliver a prose reading at 4 p.m. in the Poetry/Rare Books Room.

A French-born American playwright, novelist, poet, critic, scholar and translator, Federman helped introduce the metafictional literary form and has an extraordinary following in Europe. His articles have appeared in many major literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, and he had a notable influence on a generation of UB students as an English professor, Melodia Jones Chair in French and a founding member of the university's Poetics Program.

Federman's 10 novels, including "The Voice in the Closet," one of his best-known works, have been translated into 13 languages, including Turkish and Finnish. Several full-length books and numerous articles have been written about his work. In 1998, a 400-page casebook, "Federman From A to X-X-X-X," was published by San Diego State University Press.