14 October 2019. Ann Lauterbach: Lecture on John Ashbery’s Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror

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Sorbonne Université et l’Université Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée

vous invitent à une conférence de la poète et critique Ann Lauterbach
(Ruth and David Schwab II Professor of Languages and Literature, Bard College)

le lundi 14 octobre à 18h

Amphithéâtre Cauchy
17, rue de la Sorbonne
75005 Paris

“Time Watching Itself : Narrativity and the Ordinary Sublime in John Ashbery’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.”

Evénement organisé en partenariat avec VALE EA 4085, l’axe de recherche Poetry Beyond, le groupe Poets & Critics, et avec le soutien de l’Institut Universitaire de France et de la Poetry Foundation.

Link to quote handout for Ann Lauterbach’s paper: HERE.

Ill. Poyet, Tit Tot, la science amusante, Gallica, DR

Ann Lauterbach was born and grew up in Manhattan, where she studied painting at the High School of Music and Art. She received her BA (English) from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and went on to graduate work at Columbia University on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. She lived in London for seven years, working as an editor, teacher, and curator of literary events at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Her early poems were published in England. Returning to New York in 1974, Lauterbach worked in art galleries and began to publish poetry and art criticism. She has taught in the Writing programs at Brooklyn College, Columbia, Iowa, City College and the Graduate Center of CUNY. From 2007-2011 she was a visiting Core Critic (Sculpture) at the Yale School of Art. In 2006, she was a Faculty poet for the Summer Literary Seminars in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In 2013 she was named Distinguished Sherry Poet at the University of Chicago; her work was the subject of a seminar in Paris in 2014. Lauterbach has written on artists Joe Brainard, Jessica Stockholder, Taylor Davis, Kenji Fujita and Cheyney Thompson, among others, and for the exhibition “Whole Fragment” at the Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery in Reno, Nevada. She has published ten collections of poetry, most recently Spell (Penguin, 2018). Her prose has been collected in The Night Sky: Writings on the Poetics of Experience (Viking, 2006); The Given & The Chosen, and Saint Petersburg Notebook.

Lauterbach has received fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Her 2009 collection, Or to Begin Again, was nominated for a National Book Award.

She has been, since 1990, co-Chair of Writing in the interdisciplinary Milton Avery School of the Arts and, since 1997, Ruth and David Schwab II Professor of Languages and Literature, at Bard College. She lives in Germantown, New York.


Quote handout for Ann Lauterbach’s lecture on John Ashbery

1. And out over the ocean
The wish persisted to be a dream at home
Cloud or bird asleep in the trough
Of discursive waters.

Teasing the blowing light
With its ultimate assurance
Severity of its curved smile
‘Like the eagle
That hangs and hangs, then drops. “Absolute Clearance,” pp.11-12

2. The times when a slow horse along
A canal bank seems irrelevant and the truth:
The best is its best sample
Of time in relation to other time. “Absolute Clearance”

I’m not very good at ‘explaining’ my work.… I am unable to do so because I feel that my poetry is the explanation. The explanation of what? Of my thought, whatever that is. As I see it, my thought is both poetry and the attempt to explain that poetry; the two cannot be disentangled. . . . On occasions when I have tried to discuss the meanings of my poems, I have found that I was inventing plausible-sounding ones which I knew to be untrue.
For me, poetry has its beginning and ending outside thought. Thought is certainly involved in the process; indeed, there are times when my work seems to me to be merely a recording of my thought processes without regard to what they are thinking about. If this is true, then I would like to acknowledge my intention of somehow turning these processes into poetic objects, a position perhaps kin to Dr. Williams’s ‘No ideas but in things,’ but with the caveat that, for me, Ideas are also things.
John Ashbery, 1989-90 Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard

4. The light in the old house, the secret way
The rooms fed into each other, but all
Was wariness of time watching itself
For nothing in the complex story grew outside:
The greatness of the moment of telling stayed unresolved
Until its wealth of incident, pain mixed with pleasure,
Faded in the precise moment of bursting
Into bloom, its growth a static lament. “Scheherezade”

5. it is finally as though that thing of monstrous interest
were happening in the sky
but the sun is setting and prevents you from seeing it
out of night the token emerges
it leaves like birds alighting all at once under a tree
taken up and shaken again
put down in weak rage
knowing as the brain does it can never come about
not here not yesterday in the past
only in the gap of today filling itself
as emptiness is distributed
in the idea of what time it is
when that time is already past “As you Came from the Holy Land,” p. 7

6. A look of glass stops you
And you walk on shaken: was I the perceived?
Did they notice me, this time, as I am,
Or is it postponed again? “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” p.1

7. Some day I’ll claim to you how all used up
I am because of you but in the meantime the ride
Continues. Everyone is along for the ride,
It seems. Besides, what else is there?
The annual games? “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” p.3

8. Only waiting, the waiting: what fills up the time between?
It is another kind of wait, waiting for the wait to be ended.
Nothing takes up its fair share of time,
The wait is built into the things just coming into their own.
Nothing is partially incomplete, but the wait
Invests everything like a climate.
What time of day is it?
Does anything matter?
Yes, for you must wait to see what it is really like,
This event rounding the corner
Which will be unlike anything else and really
Cause no surprise : it’s too ample. “Grand Galop,” p. 14

9. New sentences were starting up. But the summer
Was well along, not yet past the mid-point
But full and dark with the promise of that fullness.
That time when one can no longer wander away
And even the least attentive fall silent
To watch the thing that is prepared to happen. “As One Put Drunk into the Packet-Boat”

10. The children
Still at their games, clouds that arise with a swift
Impatience in the afternoon sky, then dissipate
As limped, dense twilight comes. “As One Put Drunk into the Packet-Boat”

11. Only in that tooting of a horn
Down there, for a moment, I thought
The great, formal affair was beginning, orchestrated,
Its colors concentrated in a glance, a ballade
That takes in the whole world, now, but lightly,
Still lightly, but with wide authority and tact. “As One Put Drunk into the Packet-Boat”

12. The night sheen takes over. A moon of cistercian pallor
Has climbed in the corner of heaven, installed,
Finally involved with the business of darkness.
And a sigh heaves from all the small things on earth,
The books, the papers, the old garters and union-suit buttons
Kept in a white cardboard box somewhere, and all the lower
Versions of cities flattened under the equalizing night.
The summer demands and takes away too much,
But night, the reserved, the reticent, gives more than it takes.
“As One Put Drunk into the Packet-Boat”

“It . . . seemed perfectly natural that the subject of my remarks would be myself, or my poetry, since they — we — are what is getting honored here, though normally I go to extreme lengths not to talk about either of us, because I don’t really know that much about us.” Ashbery, accepting the Robert Frost Medal in 1995.

14. The time of day or the density of the light
Adhering to the face keeps it
Lively and intact in a recurring wave
Of arrival. The soul establishes itself. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

15. “ a wave breaking on a rock, giving up/Its shape in a gesture which expresses that shape.”

16. … its gaze …
Of tenderness, amusement and regret, so powerful
In its restraint that one cannot look for long.
The secret is too plain. The pity of it smarts,
Makes hot tears spurt: that the soul is not a soul,
Has no secret, is small and fits
Its hollow perfectly: its room, our moment of attention. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

17. That is the tune but there are no words.
The words are only speculation
(From the Latin, speculum, mirror):
They seek and cannot find the meaning of the music. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

18. Each person
Has one big theory to explain the universe
But it doesn’t tell the whole story
And in the end it is what is outside him
That matters, to him and especially to us
Who have been given no help whatever
In decoding our own man-size quotient and must rely
On second-hand knowledge. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

19. And the vase is always full
Because there is only just so much room
And it accommodates everything. The sample
One sees is not to be taken as
Merely that, but as everything as it
May be imagined outside time — not as a gesture
But as all, in the refined, assimilable state. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

20. “a perverse light whose/Imperative of subtlety dooms in advance its conceit to light up”

21. “a dozing whale on the sea bottom/In relation to the tiny, self-important ship/On the surface.”

22. Your gesture which is neither embrace nor warning
But which holds something of both in pure
Affirmation that doesn’t affirm anything. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

23. “A sliver of window or mirror” that reflects the weather which, he remarks,
“in French is
Le temps, the word for time, and which
Follows a course wherein changes are merely
Features of the whole.” “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

24. “The surface is what’s there/And nothing can exist except what’s there”.

25. “Around the polestar of your eyes which are empty, /Know nothing, dream but reveal nothing.”

26. It doesn’t matter
Because these are things as they are today
Before one’s shadow ever grew
Out of the field into thoughts of tomorrow. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

27. “Of course some things/Are possible”
“we will try /To do as many things as are possible”
“Even stronger possibilities can remain”
“what is promised today”
“To keep the supposition of promises together” “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

28. Perhaps an angel looks like everything
We have forgotten. I mean forgotten
Things that don’t seem familiar when
We meet them again, lost beyond telling,
Which were ours once. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

29. What is novel is the extreme care in rendering
The velleities of the rounded reflecting surface
(It is the first mirror portrait),
So that you could be fooled for a moment
Before you realize the reflection
Isn’t yours. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

30. The picture is almost finished,
The surprise almost over, as when one looks out,
Startled by a snowfall which even now is
Ending in specks and sparkles of snow. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

31. … to constantly swerve away from “the momentum of a conviction that had been building.”
But we know it cannot be sandwiched
Between two adjacent moments, that its windings
Lead nowhere except to further tributaries
And that these empty themselves into a vague
Sense of something that can never be known
Even though it seems likely that each of us
Knows what it is and is capable of
Communicating it to the other. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

32. Is there anything
To be serious about beyond this otherness
That gets included in the most ordinary
Forms of daily activity, changing everything
Slightly and profoundly, and tearing the matter
Of creation, any creation, not just artistic creation
Out of our hands, to install it on some monstrous, near
Peak, too close to ignore, to far
For one to intervene? “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

33. This otherness, this
“Not-being-us” is all there is to look at
In the mirror, though no one can say
How it came to be this way. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

34. The hand holds no chalk
And each part of the whole falls off
And cannot know it knew, except
Here and there, in cold pockets
Of remembrance, whispers out of time. “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

35. And then you sail past in your effortless bravado, the sky
A blue wind of ease, wings outstretched on a continuous
whim, as if there were no time, and there isn’t,
but the rest of us pause, watching as you go, you go on by.

Ann Lauterbach, epigraph to <em>Spell</em> (Penguin, 2018)

2019 edition of La Baule Literary Festival “Ecrivains en bord de mer”


A l’occasion du festival Ecrivains en bord de mer (17-21 juillet 2019), Charles Bernstein, Marcella Durand, et Andrew Zawacki seront présents à La Baule pour des lectures, discussions et un atelier de traduction collective.

Les éditions joca seria publient ce mois sonnetssonnants d’Andrew Zawacki dans une traduction (et avec une postface) d’Anne Portugal, également présente au festival.

Liste des auteurs invités :

Charles Bernstein, Arno Bertina, Frédéric Boyer, Sarah Chiche, Julia Deck, Marcella Durand, Christian Garcin, Stanislas Mahé, Jean Mattern, Gaëlle Obiégly, Anne Portugal, Emmanuel Ruben, Pascale Ruffel, Tanguy Viel, Pierre Vinclair, Andrew Zawacki 

On peut retrouver le programme de l’édition 2019 du festival à http://ecrivainsenborddemer.fr/page226/index.html

Le festival Ecrivains en bord de mer est organisé en collaboration avec la Poetry Foundation (Chicago) et double change

How to get there? > Université Paris Diderot, Bâtiment Olympe de Gouges > Room M19

To come to Paris Diderot University, take metro line 14 to the “Bibliothèque François Mitterand” stop and then walk to Batiment Olympe De Gouges, 8 rue Albert Einstein, 75013 Paris. See detailed map below. To have an estimate of the time it will take you to get to the university from your location in Paris, please click HERE.

Olympe de Gouges, P

Once at the university, walk past the cement pillars/stilts pictured above and walk towards reception / security desk (in the hallway). However,no need to get a visitor pass at security to access room M19. To the left of reception (see below), go past the glass doors, walk up the first flight of stairs, turn right then left and you will see room M19. Room M19 is located on the mezzanine floor between the ground floor and the first floor.

Poets and Critics Symposium 2019.1 : Dawn Lundy Martin, Thursday 17 and Friday 18 January

Photo credit: Max Freeman – from http://www.dawnlundymartin.com

The next Poets and Critics Symposium will be devoted to the work of Dawn Lundy Martin.

Thursday 17 and Friday 18 January, 2019.

Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot, Bâtiment Olympe de Gouges
8 rue Albert Einstein, 75013 Paris

9:45am-5pm, room 830 (8th floor of the Olympe de Gouges Building).

Howimage doigt petit to get there?
For detailed instructions and directions, click HERE.

Poetry reading with Dawn Lundy Martin, Marie de Quatrebarbes, and Maël Guesdon

Thursday 17 January, 7pm, atelier Michael Woolworth, 2 rue de la RoquettePassage du Cheval Blanc, Cour Février, 75011 Paris France – M° Bastille. How to get there? For detailed instructions and directions, click HERE.

If you would like to attend the symposium and are not already in touch with us, please contact us and we will send you information, instructions about and directions to the symposium:

Thus far, we have focused on the writer’s own (creative and critical) work on the first day of the P&C symposiums and on broader issues of poetics and practice-based criticism on the second day. But there’s no specific preconceived program for the 2 days of the symposium: as the previous sessions of the program have shown, it seems important to let the conversation take its own course.

Please note that the morning session of the first day is devoted to preparing the conversation with Dawn Lundy Martin which will take place during the afternoon session and the second day. Dawn Lundy Martin will be joining the group at 2pm on Thursday 17 January.

As usual, we intend to address all aspects of our guest’s work as poet, prose writer, critic, and editor. Please feel free to make suggestions as to particular books that you would like to discuss during the symposium.

Our Monday afternoon session with Dawn Lundy Martin should end by 6 pm, which will leave ample time for everybody to get to the poetry reading.

BIO, from www.dawnlundymartin.com

Dawn Lundy Martin is Professor of English in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of several books and chapbooks including: A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (University of Georgia Press, 2007), selected by Carl Phillips for the Cave Canem Prize; DISCIPLINE (Nightboat Books, 2011), which was selected by Fanny Howe for the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Candy, a limited edition letterpress chapbook (Albion Books, 2011); The Main Cause of the Exodus (O’clock Press 2014); and The Morning Hour, selected by C.D. Wright for the 2003 Poetry Society of America’s National Chapbook Fellowship. Life in a Box is a Pretty Life, was published by Nightboat Books in 2015 and won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry. Her latest collection, Good Stock / Strange Blood was published by Coffee House Press in 2017. Her creative nonfiction can be found in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazinen+1, and boundary 2. She is currently at work on a memoir.

In 2016, Martin co-founded, with poet Terrance Hayes, the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) at the University of Pittsburgh. She serves as the center’s Director. A creative think tank for African American and African diasporic poetry and poetics, CAAPP brings together a diversity of poets, writers, scholars, artists, and community members who are thinking through black poetics as a field that investigates the contemporary moment as it is impacted by historical artistic and social repressions and their respondent social justice movements.

With Vivien Labaton, Martin also co-edited The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism (Anchor Books, 2004), which uses a gender lens to describe and theorize young activist work in the U.S. She is the co-founder of the Third Wave Foundation (New York), an organization, which was for 15 years the only young activist feminist foundation in the U.S. Martin continues her activist work in collaboration with foundations and activist organizations to research and strategize about protecting the lives and freedoms of women and girls. Using a intersectional lenses that bring together feminism with racial justice and LGBT rights, Martin works to provide analytical frameworks that assist philanthropic organizations in strategic philanthropy to level the playing field and animate social justice reforms.

Martin’s current creative-scholarly work operates in the intersecting fields of experimental poetics, video installation, and performance. Letters to the Future: BLACK WOMEN / Radical WRITING, co-edited with Erica Hunt, was published in 2018 by Kore Press. Her video installation work has been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. In 2016 she was awarded an Investing in Professional Artists Grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Heinz Endowments. Martin has also written a libretto for a video installation opera, titled “Good Stock on the Dimension Floor,” featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and collaborated with architect Mitch McEwen on Detroit Opera House, a conceptual architecture project. She is the recipient of a 2018 NEA grant for Creative Writing. She is also a co-founder of the Black Took Collective, an experimental performance art/poetry group of three.


Critical work

by Dawn Lundy Martin

“A Black Poetics: Against Mastery.” Boundary 2: An International Journal of Literature and Culture 44.3 (2017): 159–163.

“Black Took Collective: On Intimacy & Origin.” Among Friends: Engendering the Social Site of Poetry. Eds. Anne Dewey and Libbie Rifkin, Libbie. Iowa City, IA: U of Iowa P, 2013. 211-237.

“Alien Eggs, or, the Poet as Mad Scientist.” Poets on Teaching: A Sourcebook. Ed. Joshua M. Wilkinson. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2010. 26-28.

Hayes, Terrance, et al. “African American Experimental Poetry Forum.” Jubilat 16 (2009): 115–154.

Martin, Dawn Lundy. “Saying ‘I Am’ Experimentalism and Subjectivity in Contemporary Poetry by Claudia Rankine, M. Nourbese Philip, and Myung Mi Kim.” Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities and Social SciencesU of Massachusetts, 20090101, p. 4679.


on Dawn Lundy Martin:

De’Ath, Amy. Decolonize or Destroy: New Feminist Poetry in the United States and Canada. Women: A Cultural Review 26.3 (2015): 285-305.

2018.10.19 Tracie Morris & Abigail Lang, festival Littérature, Puissance, etc., Lille


Tracie Morris sera à Lille le vendredi 19 octobre avec sa traductrice Abigail Lang, pour lire des extraits de Hard Korè, poèmes / Per-Form: Poems of Mythos and Place, livre traduit par Vincent Broqua et Abigail Lang, avec une postface de Majorie Perloff, publié dans la collection américaine des éditions joca seria. Lecture-performance à 20h30 à l’église Marie-Madeleine, 27 rue du Pont Neuf, Lille.

Dans le cadre du festival Littérature, Puissance, etc, et en partenariat avec le festival D’Un Pays l’Autre organisé par La Contre Allée


Poets and Critics symposium 2018.2: Susan Howe, Friday 12 and Saturday 13 October, Pratt Institute

from New Directions website

Poets and Critics symposiums are not conferences in the traditional, academic sense of the term; no formal papers are usually given. They are 2-day seminar-like discussions (preceded, in this particular case, by the event at the Beinecke Library on Thursday 11 October) in the presence of the invited poet. There is no specific preconceived program for the 2 days of the symposium: as the previous sessions of the program have shown, it seems important to let the conversation take its own course. Mini-papers (5 min) can however be given on specific topics, if you wish, to frame a specific question and open the discussion to include all aspects of Susan’s work: early and late poetry and essays, collaborations, teaching, radio shows… We may also close-read a passage collectively.

While the symposium may engage with all periods and aspects of Susan’s work, recommended reading includes her more recent publications: That This (2010); Spontaneous Particulars: The Telepathy of Archives (2014); The Quarry (2105); Debths (2017). Susan particularly singled out “Vagrancy in the Park” which she feels is a sort of summation of her essay writing and relates to the other essays, “Sorting Facts” and “The Disappearance Approach.” All three are reprinted in The Quarry. Please note you can access the essays by clicking on the links (“Sorting Facts” is password protected for JStor-members).


Thursday 11 October. Beinecke Library, Yale University

1:30-3:30 pm Beinecke Library, Yale University, New Haven.
We will go to the Beinecke Library (Yale). A selection of materials from Susan Howe’s literary archive will be on view along with materials from Beinecke collections that have figured prominently in Howe’s research and writing. Susan Howe will not be in attendance.

Friday 12 October. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn

>10 am-12 pm. Alumni Reading Room, Pratt Brooklyn Main Campus Library
200 Willoughby Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

10am: 1st session: preparatory meeting at Pratt (room tba). Please note that Susan Howe will not be present for this first session, which is devoted to preparing the conversations with her. This is the occasion to list and define the points we would like to discuss with her over the course of the Friday afternoon and Saturday sessions.


Susan Howe will be joining the group at 2pm on Friday 12 October.


> 2-5 pm. Higgins Hall Auditorium, Pratt Brooklyn, School of Architecture
61 St James Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11238

2-5 pm: 2nd session.
6-7:30 pm: reading.


Saturday 13 October. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
> 11 am. Conference Room Dekalb 208, Pratt Brooklyn Main Campus
200 Willoughby Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

11 am: Coffee, tea and pastries
> 12 pm onwards. Alumni Reading Room, Pratt Brooklyn Library, Main Campus
200 Willoughby Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205
12-3 pm: 3rd session
3:30-5:30 pm: 4th session
Susan Howe
From her first book, Hinge Picture in 1974, to her most recent, Debths, which won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize, Susan Howe has been a boundary-breaker in American poetry, creating a fusion of sound, typography, philosophy, and American history that is both fervently contemporary and grounded in a deep and nuanced understanding of American poetic traditions from Emerson onward. The author of over 30 books of poetry and prose, she has received the country’s highest poetic honors, including the Bollingen Prize in 2011, and the 2017 Robert Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America.