Poets and Critics Symposium 2018.1 : Carla Harryman, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 February

screenshot from http://carlaharryman.com/
screenshot from http://carlaharryman.com/

The next Poets and Critics Symposium will be devoted to the work of Carla Harryman.

Thursday 15 and Friday 16 February, 2018.

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 Carla Harryman and Juliette de Laroque

Thursday 15 February, 6:30 pm
Bétonsalon – Centre d’art et de recherche
9 Esplanade Pierre Vidal-Naquet, 75013 Paris

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 Carla Harryman which will take place during the afternoon session and the second day. Carla Harryman will be joining the group at 2pm on Thursday 15 February.

As usual, we intend to address all aspects of our guest’s work as poet, prose writer, playwright, 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 Carla Harryman should end by 6 pm, which will leave ample time for everybody to get to the poetry reading.


Carla Harryman was born in Orange, California in 1952. She attended the University of California at Santa Barbara and San Francisco State University.

Known for her boundary breaking investigations of genre, non/narrative poetics, and text-based performance, she is the author of many books including the diptych  W—/M—(2013), the Essay Press collection Adorno’s Noise (2008), Baby (2006), Gardener of Stars: A Novel (2001), and two volumes of selected writing: Animal Instincts: Prose, Plays, Essays published by This Press in 1989 and There Never Was a Rose Without a Thorn published by City Lights Books in 1995. An active collaborator, she is author of The Wide Road (with Lyn Hejinian, 2011) and one of ten co-authors of The Grand PianoAn Experiment in Collective Autobiography: San Francisco, 1975-1980 (2006-2010).  Open Box, a CD of music and spoken text performances created with composer and musician Jon Raskin, was released on the Tzadik: Key Series label in 2012.

“I prefer to distribute narrative rather than deny it,” writes Harryman in her essay “Toy Boats,” first published in 1986. The tension between narrative and nonnarrative she engages in her writing led early on to her work in performance, which approached the complexity of the “language centered text” as a site of collective listening, interpretation, and ensemble collaboration. In participating in the development of the Poets Theater that emerged in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1970s, she also drew from performance art and ideas derived from structured improvisation within the music scene. The combination of these interests resulted in an on-going investigation of language and text in performance.

Her Poets Theater, interdisciplinary, and bi-lingual performances have been presented nationally and internationally. At the invitation of dOCUMENTA 13 (2012), she performed with improviser Magda Mayas her score Occupying Theodor W. Adorno’s “Music and New Music,” a Re-performance. The work rewrites Adorno’s 1959 lecture as a text for structured improvisation. This is one of many recent performances inspired by music, speaking voice, and text collaborations with Raskin, with whom she has performed frequently, including several versions of Mirror Play: in San Francisco, Detroit, and Wels, Austria. Their collaboration-in-progress Gardener of Stars, an Opera fuses Poets Theater idioms with their experimental approach to music-text improvisation.

Harryman has reflected on questions of narrative, non/narrative, and poetics in the edited volume Journal of Narrative Theory. Non/Narrative 41. No. 1 (Spring, 2011) and the co-edited volume Lust for Life: on the Writings of Kathy Acker (Verso, 2006).  She has also written essays and given formal talks on the poetics of prose and performance as well as women’s experimental poetry. Among these are “Something Nation: Radical Spaces of Performance in Linton Kwesi Johnson and cris cheek” (Diasporic Avant-gardes, 2009); “Residues or Revolutions of the Language of Acker and Artaud” (Devouring Institutions, 2004);  “Rules and Restraints in Women’s Experimental Writing,” (We Who Love to Be Astonished: Women Experimenters and Performance Writing, 2001), and “The Obituary of the Many,” a keynote lecture on The Obituary by Canadian novelist Gail Scott delivered at The Cryptic (Columbia University, New York, 2014). She has also written several essays on the subject of motherhood, childhood, language, and writing, including “Wild Mothers” (Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women, 1998): these works complement the more fully elaborated consideration of “the child” and “young person” in Vice (1986), Gardener of Stars, Baby, and Sue in Berlin.

Her writing has been translated for publication and/or performance in French, Spanish, German, and Czech, with smaller selections in Japanese, Danish, Serbian, Italian, Romanian, and Swedish. She is the recipient of an artist award from The Foundation of Contemporary Art, New York; an Emergency Grant for The Foundation of Contemporary Art in support of her performance Occupying Theodor W. Adorno’s Music and New Music, an Opera America Next Stage Grant (with Erling Wold) for text adaptation and dramaturgy of A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil; an American Embassy in Romania grant for presentations in Romanian universities; awards from The Fund for Poetry; a Special Awards in the Arts (in poetry) from the Alexander Gerbode Foundation; and New Langton Arts/NEA Consortium Grant Playwright Commission for the writing and production of There Is Nothing Better Than a Theory.

In 1995, she moved with poet Barrett Watten and their son Asa from the San Francisco Bay Area to Detroit.  She serves on the faculty of Eastern Michigan University, where she currently coordinates the creative writing program. She also serves on the faculty of the Milton Avery School of the Arts MFA Program at Bard College, New York.


Poets & Critics 2018.1: Links to Carla Harryman’s work


Clip from dOCUMENTA 13 performance:


Cutting Corners (with Chess Smith on drums):


Open Box (Tzadik 2012) previews:

Open Box with Jon Raskin



Notes on Poets Theater




Poem: after Jackson Mac Low


Essay: Artifact of Hope in pdf format:

Artifact of Hope

Poets & Critics 2018.1: Reviews of Carla Harryman’s work


  • Baby (Adventures in Poetry, 2005)

“Carla Harryman’s Baby: Listening In, Around, Through, and Out” by Christine Hume

  • Adorno’s Noise (Essay Press, 2008)

Kit Robinson:


Jill Darling:


Patrick Durgin:


  • Open Box

Tyrone Williams:


Carla Harryman Bibliography (I): Publications and Performances



W—/M—. Ann Arbor, Calif.: Split Level Press, 2013

Adorno’s Noise. New York and Chicago:  Essay Press, 2008

Open Box. New York: Belladonna, 2007

Tourjours L’epine Es Sous La Rose.  Trans. Martin Richet. Paris, France: Ikko, 2006

Baby. New York: Adventures in Poetry, 2005

Gardener of Stars. Berkeley, Calif.: Atelos, 2001

Dim Blue and Why Yell. New York: Belladonna, 2000

The Words: After Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories and Jean-Paul Sartre. Berkeley, Calif.: O Books, 1999

There Never Was a Rose Without a Thorn.  San Francisco: City Lights, 1995

Memory Play. Oakland, Calif.: O Books, 1994

In the Mode Of. Tenerife, Canary Is., Sp.: Zasterle Press, 1992

Animal Instincts: Prose, Plays Essays. Berkeley, Calif.: This Press, 1989

Vice. Hartford, Conn.: Potes and Poets Press, 1986

The Middle. San Francisco: Gaz Press, 1983

Property . Berkeley, Calif.: Tuumba Press, 1982

Under the Bridge. San Francisco: This Press, 1980

Percentage. Berkeley, Calif.: Tuumba Press, 1979



The Wide Road, Carla Harryman and Lyn Hejinian. New York, Belladonna, 2011

The Grand Piano, an Experiment in Collective Autobiography (San Francisco 1975-1980): Vols. 1-10.  Rae Armantrout, Steve Benson, Carla Harryman, Lyn Hejinian, Tom Mandel, Ted Pearson, Bob Perleman, Kit Robinson, Ron Silliman, and Barrett Watten. Detroit, Mode A, 2006-10



Open Box.  Carla Harryman and Jon Raskin. New York: Tzadik, Key Series, March, 2012



 Journal of Narrative Theory. Non/Narrative 41. No. 1 (Spring, 2011)

With eds. Amy Scholder and Avital Ronell. Lust for Life: on the Writings of Kathy Acker. New York and London: Verso, 2006




Mirror Play

  • Bilingual choral performance, with speaking voices in Czech and English. Translated by David Vichnar. Prague Literary Micro-Festival, May 2011
  • Bilingual choral performance, with speaking voices in French and English. Directed by Carla Harryman. Translated by faculty and students of the Departments of French and English, Université de Montréal. Memoria, Montreal, 2006
  • Directed by Patricia Ybarra. Ontological-Hysteric Theater Poets Theater Festival, New York, 2006
  • Choral performance in German and English. Translation by Florian Werner. Directed by Carla Harryman. Hölderlinturm, Tübingen, Germany, 2005
  • Improvised music and spoken text performance in German and English. With Jon Raskin, John Schott, and Franziska Ruprecht. Wels Music Festival 19, Wels, Austria, 2005
  • A multi-media collaboration. Directed by Jim Cave. Music by Jon Raskin and John Olson. Visual design by Danielle Aubert. Performances by Mary Byrnes, Elana Elyce, Wolanda Lewis, Michael Peters, and Roham Shaikhani.  The Susanne Hilberry Gallery, Ferndale Michigan, 2005.

Performing Objects Stationed in the Sub World

  • Directed by Jim Cave. With visual design by Amy Trachtenberg and music by Erling Wold. The LAB, San Francisco, 2003
  • Directed by John Jackery. Zeitgeist Theater, Detroit, 2002
  • Performing Objects Stationed in Platform on the Sub (Urban) World, staged reading. Directed by Carla Harryman. The Politics of Presence: Re-reading the Writing Subject in Staged and Electronic Performance. Oxford Brookes University, April, 2001

Third Man

  • Directed by Mac McGinnes. San Francisco Poets Theater Jubilee, California College of Arts, 2008
  • University of Auckland Theater, New Zealand, July 1995
  • Directed by Nick Robinson. Studio Eremos, San Francisco, 1979

Memory Play

  • Directed by Carla Harryman and Catherine Sullivan. Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, 2008
  • Directed by Philip Horvitz. Design by John Woodall. The LAB, San Francisco, 1994

There Is Nothing Better Than a Theory

  • Directed by Carla Harryman in collaboration with Mark Durant (artist) and David Barrett (composer). New Langton Arts, San Francisco, 1989

Fist of the Colossus (with Tom Mandel)

  • Small Press Traffic, San Francisco, 1988
  • Larry Blake’s, Berkeley, Calif., 1987

La Quotidienne

  • Directed by Steve Benson. With Nick Robinson and Carla Harryman. New Lang­ton Arts, San Francisco, 1982


  • Directed by Nick Robinson. With Eileen Corder and Carla Harryman. Project Artaud and The Farm, San Francisco, 1978



Gardener of Stars, an Opera

  • A work for speaking voices, micro electronics and acoustic instruments. With Jon Raskin (composer) and Gino Robair. Center for New Music, San Francisco, 2016
  • A work for speaking voices, micro electronics and acoustic instruments. With Jon Raskin. &NOW/Blast Radius. CalArts, Los Angeles, 2015

Occupying “Music and New Music” by Theodor W. Adorno, a Re-performance

  • Written and adapted by Carla Harryman. Composed by Carla Harryman and Jon Raskin for speaking voice and improvised prepared piano. Performed by Magda Mayas and Carla Harryman. dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany, 2012

Open Box by Carla Harryman and Jon Raskin

  • Selections from Open Box, Occupying “Music and New Music” by Theodor W. Adorno, and Disk. With Carla Harryman, Jon Raskin, and Gino Robair. OutSound Music Summit, San Francisco, 2012
  • Carla Harryman with the Jon Raskin Quartet. “Open Box,” “A Sun and Five Decompositions,” and “Cutting Corners.” The Stone, New York, 2010

The Grand Piano

  • A choral reading by the authors of the Grand Piano: An Experiment in Collective Autobiography. Score and direction by Carla Harryman and Ted Pearson. Holloway Lecture Series, University of California Berkeley and Small Press Traffic, San Francisco, 2010

“The New Talkies:” Live Film Narration with Filmmaker Konrad Steiner

  • Jeanne Moreau Tryptich and other film-text performances. MOCAD, Detroit, 2012
  • “Eva” and “La Notte.” Outer Space Studio, Chicago, 2011
  • “Eva” and “La Notte.” The Poetry Project, Saint Marks Church, New York, 2010


  • Text-sound with speaking voices and homemade instruments. Composition by Marygrove College, Detroit, 2007.



  • Director, Try! Try! by Frank O’Hara, Requiem by Kathy Acker, “Iraqi” and “Bad History” by Barrett Watten, Sue by Carla Harryman. “Returning from One Place to Another: a Poets Theater Showcase,” John Beer curator. Links Hall, Chicago.  2008
  • With Ron Allen, co-organizer and director, Black Mouth Theater. Detroit, October 2000-October 2001
  • Director, staged reading, Dutchman by LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka. “The Opening of the Field: North American Poetry of the 1960s,” University of Maine. June 2000
  • Dramaturgy and text adaptation, A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil, an opera based on text by Max Ernst; By Erling Wold, composer. Jim Cave. Performances: Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco.  January 1995; March 2000
  • Direction and text adaptation, Car Men. By Chris Tysh. Detroit Institute of Arts.  November 1996
  • Actor, Kiss of Fire. By Abigail Child. WNYT, New York. 1995
  • Director, Goya’s L.A. By Leslie Scalapino. New Langton Arts, San Francisco. February 1995
  • Director, IOU Theater. Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco. 1991



Carla Harryman Bibliography (II): Anthologies, Selected Critical Essays and Articles

ANTHOLOGIESCanary Island Connection_0

Canary Island Connection, ed. Manuel Brito, (Zasterle, 2017)

Writers Who Love Too Much, ed. Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian, (Nightboat, 2017)

The Poem is You, ed. with commentary by Stephen Burt, (Harvard Uiversity Press, 2016

Like A Musical Instruments, ed. Larry Fagin with photography by John Sarsgard, (Frankfurt, KY: Broadstone Books, 2014)

Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology: second edition, ed. Paul Hoover (New York, 2013)

Eleven More Women Poets of the 21st Century, ed. Claudia Rankine (Wesleyan University Press, 2012):

The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater, ed. Kevin Killian and David Brazille (Chicago, Kenning Editions, 2010)

The &Now Awards: The Best Innovative Writing, ed. Steve Tomasulo (Illinois, Lake Forest, 2009)

A Best of Fence: First 9 Years, vol. 1, ed. Rebecca Wolfe, (New York: Fence Books, 2009)

Nineteen Lines: A Drawing Center Writing Antholgy, ed. Lytle Shaw (New York, Roof Books and The Drawing Center, 2007)

Not for Mother’s Only, ed. Catherine Wagner and Rebecca Wolf (New York: Fence, 2007)

The Best American Poetry of 2004, ed. Lyn Hejinian and David Lehman (New York: Scribner, 2004)

The Addison Street Anthology, ed. Robert Hass and Jessica Fisher (Berkeley, Calif.: Heydey books, 2004)

Great American Prose Poems, ed. David Lehman (New York: Scribner, 2003)

Poems for the Millennium, vol. 2, ed. Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998)

Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women, ed. Mary Margaret Sloan (Hoboken, N.J.: Talisman House, 1998)

The United States of Poetry, ed. Bob Holman (New York: Abrams, 1996)

Out of Everywhere: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America and the U.K., ed. Maggie O’Sullivan (London: Reality Street, 1996)

Models of the Universe: An Anthology of the Prose Poem, ed. Stuart Friebert and David Young (Oberlin, Ohio: Oberlin College Press, 1995)

Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, ed. Paul Hoover (New York, 1995)

The Gertrude Stein Awards in Innovative American Poetry 1994-1995, ed. Douglas Messerli, (Los Angeles, 1996)

Out of This Century, ed. Douglas Messerili (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1994)

O IV Anthology, ed. Leslie Scalapino (Berkeley, Calif.: O Books, 1993)

Resurgent: New Writing by Women (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992)

Out of This World, ed. Ann Waldman (New York: Bobbs and Merrill, 1992)

La lengua radical, ed. Esteban Pugals Gesali (Madrid: University of Madrid, 1992)

49+1 Nouveaux Poètes américains, ed. Emmanuel Hocquard and Claude Royet-Journoud  (Royaumont, Fr.: 1991)

O II Anthology (Berkeley, Calif.: O Books, 1991

Pagina, ed. Manuel Brito, (Barcelona, Sp.: 1990)

Action poétique (Amiens, Fr.: 1989)

In the American Tree (Orono, Me.: National Poetry Foundation, 1986, 2002)

Change (Paris, Fr.: 1981)



“This is a letter about noise, distinction, names, language, and with notes on The Obituary by Gail Scott” in From Our Hearts to Yours: New Narrative as Contemporary Practice, ed. Robin Tremblay-McGaw and Rob Halpern (On Contemporary Practice, 2017)

Introduction to Of Sphere by Karla Kelsey (Essay Press, 2017)

“Toy Boats,” A Guide to Poetics Journal, ed. Lyn Hejinian and Barrett Watten

(Wesleyan University Press, 2013)

“Notes on Poets Theater” in Evening Will Come (thevolta.org, 2012)

“Introduction,” Journal of Narrative Theory 41, no. 1, special issue on Non/Narrative (Spring 2011)

“Something Nation: Radical Spaces of Performance in Linton Kwesi Johnson and cris cheek,” in Diasporic Avant-gardes, ed. Carrie Noland and Barrett Watten (New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2009)

“Conversation with Sawako Nakayasu,” 12X12, ed. Christina Mengert and Joshua Maria Wilkens  (University of Iowa, 2009)

“Acker Unformed,” in Lust for Life, ed. Amy Scholder, Carla Harryman, Avital Ronell (New York and London: Verso, 2006)

“Residues or Revolutions of the Language of Acker and Artaud,” in Devouring Instutitions, ed. Michael Hardin (San Diego: SDSU Press, 2004)

“The Mother of Us All,” How2 (on-line journal), vol. 2, no. 2 (Spring 2004)

“How I Wrote Gardener of Stars,” in Biting the Error, ed. Robert Gluck, Gail Scott, Megan Adams  (Toronto: Coach House Press, 2004)

“Parallel Play,” in The Grand Permission, eds Patricia Dienstfry and Brenda Hilman (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2003)

“The Ear of the Poet in the Mouth of the Performer,” How2, (on-line journal) vol. 2, no. 4 (September 2003) “The Nadja and Nanette of Gail Scott’s Main Brides,” in Assembling Alternatives: Reading Postmodern Poetries Transnationally, ed. Romana Huk (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2003)

“Of and or Through, a conversation with Marjorie Welish,” Of the Diagram, the work of Marjorie Welish, ed. Aaron Levy and Jean-Michel Rabaté, Slought Publishing: Artist Series (Philadelphia, 2003)

“The Nadja and Nanette of Gail Scott’s Main Brides,” in Gail Scott: Essays on her Works, ed. Lianne Moyes (Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, London: Guernica Press, 2002)

“Site Sampling in Performing Objects Stationed in the Subworld,” in Additional Apparitions, ed. Keith Tuuma (Sheffield, UK: 2002)

“Home in the Book of Daniel: Conversations on Theater and Community,” Trait 2 (Detroit: 2002)

“Rules and Restraints in Women’s Experimental Writing,” in We Who Love to Be Astonished: Women

“Home in the Book of Daniel: Conversations on Theater and Community,” Trait 2 (Detroit: 2002) Experimenters and Performance Writing, ed. Cynthia Hogue and Laura Hinton (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001)

“Women’s Writing: Hybrid Thoughts on Contingent Hierarchies and Reception,” How2 (on-line journal) vol. 1, no. 2 (September 1999)


“Beautiful Arrangements: The Philosopher’s Suite by Nayland Blake,” in Biannual Exhibition Catalogue (Newport Beach, Calif.: Newport Harbor Art Museum, 1991)

“Wild Mothers,” in Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women, ed. Mary Margaret Sloan (New Jersey: Talisman House, 1998)

“Home in the Book of Daniel: Conversations on Theater and Community,” Trait 2 (Detroit: 2002)



“Carla Harryman: Poetry as Polarity” interviewed by Gail Scott (Rain Taxi: Summer, 2015)

“Carla Harryman and Catherine Meng” interviewed by Karla Kelsey and Aaron McCoullough (The Conversant, on-line, October 2013)

“Carla Harryman and Lyn Hejinian,” in conversation with Corina Copp, St. Marks Poetry Project Newsletter #227, April/May 2011

“Carla Harryman” by Renee Gladman in “Reading Carla Harryman,” special section ed. Laura Hinton, journal ed. Redell Olsen (How2, December 2009-December 2010), 34 pages: www.asu.edu/pipercwcenter/how2journal/vol_3_no_3

“Carla Harryman,” interviewed by Costinella Dragon in [Inter]sections, a trimesterial publication of the University of Bucharest, Romania (October 2009-December 2009).

“To Write within Situations of Contradiction: An Introduction to the Cross-Genre Writing of Carla Harryman,” by Laura Hinton and Carla Harryman, Postmodern Culture Issue 16, Vol. 1 (2006): www3.iath.virginia.edu/pmc

Interview with Michael McGee and Jacques Dubrot, Combo 9 ( Providence: 2001)

Interview with Chris Tysh, Poetics Journal: Knowledge 10 (Berkeley and Detroit: 1998)

“An Interview with Carla Harryman,” Megan Simpson, Contemporary Literature 37, vol. 4 (Minn., Winter 1996)

Interview with Manuel Brito, A Suite of Poetic Voices (Santa Brigada, Spain: Kadle Books, 1994)