ModPoPLUS headnotes being revised
We are revising the headnotes to ModPoPLUS (the paragraph-long introduction to each week’s readings and videos). Here’s the revised headnote to week 1:
The first week of ModPo’s main syllabus introduces us to Whitman and Dickinson as the two major precursors of modernist poetry in the U.S. So here in ModPoPLUS we want to enable you to dig a little deeper into the work of those two poets. We have a number of additional Dickinson poems. One of them, “I Never Saw a Moor,” gives us the opportunity to talk about what happens when editors attempt to “normalize” Dickinson’s experimental writing, at the level of the line, the word and even punctuation. Not surprisingly, we find that these alterations tend to change everything. Do we overstate the case against normalizing-minded editors of Dickinson? We have added a number of links to video recordings of various ModPo discussions about these additional Dickinson poems—and a 30-minute PoemTalk episode about a pair of poems, one about marriage and the other about sexual love. For Whitman we take up passages from “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” a deeply complicated poem of memory, boyhood, and sexuality. To help us with this we turn to ModPo guests Amy King and Tom Pickard, who joined us for a live ModPo 2013 webcast; that conversation was edited and became an episode of PoemTalk. It begins with a discussion of the way in which the great British modernist Basil Bunting performed the Whitman poem. Recently we’ve added a close reading of the 14th canto of Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” We also offer here a segment from a 1979 celebration of Dickinson’s birthday, presented by many poets: the segment we’ve chosen from this event is Susan Howe’s compelling performance of some of Dickinson’s writings on death. Image above, from left to right: Emily Dickinson, the frontispiece to Edmund Stedman’s An American Anthology, 1878-1900 (1900), Susan Howe, Basil Bunting.