by G.C. Waldrep on April 13th, 2013
We’ve been preoccupied the last few months with getting The Arcadia Project out into the world. Since our goal was to further a conversation about ecology and poetics, we’ve also been gratified by the interest people have shown in the book. We hosted regional readings for our AP contributors in Chicago (10/6/12), Amherst (12/6/12), New York City (2/11/13), and Berkeley (2/21/13). Last month, at AWP in Boston, we sponsored a poetics panel, chaired by Josh and featuring splendid and provocative responses from Brenda Iijima, Dan Beachy-Quick, Jennifer Moxley, and Jonathan Skinner. With the help of Christina Davis and Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room, I hosted an off-site reading at Harvard with Dana Levin, Timothy Donnelly, Brian Teare, Gabriel Gudding, Dan Beachy-Quick, John Beer, and C.D. Wright.
Video and audio from the Harvard reading will soon be up at the Woodberry Poetry Room’s website. We’re also hoping to post the papers from the poetics panel in due course.
In the meantime, some reviews that have crossed our desks:
As the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog noted, Josh and I were less interested in “asserting a new pastoral canon” than in “convoking” a community of voices that seemed to us to be essential, instructive, and intriguing. We also made a decision (cf. Dunagan’s complaint above) to keep the amount of scholarly and interpretive apparatus in the anthology to a minimum, because we’d noted the tendency of anthologies to provoke criticism based on said apparatus, rather on the actual poems included. Josh’s introduction to the print anthology is indeed minimal (although his original, much lengthier introduction is available here, on the Arcadia Project website). Whether one considers the anthology a convocation, a conversation, or a constellation–“constellation” is the word I use to describe it to myself–we wanted readers to move among and between these poems, these voices, and make up their own stories (as per those stars in the night sky).
I am actually rather fond of Dunagan’s (elaborated) complaint that “there’s a band but no bandwagon.” Indeed! We offered the four broad section titles of the book as one way to make sense of the diverse welter of poetry we included, but we expected and in fact eagerly anticipated readers’ own journeys through the resulting topology. The poems reviewers selected for comment and/or praise represent such divergent paths.