Monthly Archives: March 2009

Rosanna Warren’s FABLES OF THE SELF

bookcover_warren-fablesoftheselfRosanna Warren’s Fables of the Self (Norton, 2008) is a richly idiosyncratic work, blending what Warren calls “occult autobiography” and a set of interpretative readings from her canon of Golden Oldies, as well as from 20th century poets. Warren confronts, and is affronted by, what she calls a culture of literalism and crude confession in recent American poetry. To it, she opposes her memoir of childhood in the South of France, in which the adventures of learning Latin and French and connecting imaginatively to an ancient world become a foundation for life, and for literature experienced as a complex, symbolic realm. Her studies of poetry from Ancient Greece and Rome, and from 19th and 20th century France, England, and the United States, establish still other models of rebuke to literalist poetics, and her “Coda,” a section of a Poet’s Journal, is a tissue of quotations from other writers rather than a diary of so-called personal life. Not surprisingly for a writer whose ethos is anti-Romantic and un-self-centering, the practice of translation assumes a key role in her thinking: for Warren, translation is an extension of, and an intensification of, other acts of reading and writing. Over and over, she reminds us, reading and writing are acts both solitary and intensely collective. Her book probes illusions of literary originality, as well as other fiction-making by which we live (and without which we would die, benumbed and stupefied).  This brilliant study is a must-read for anyone concerned with the fate of poetry, past and present, in the modern age.

For 2008-2009, Rosanna Warren is a fellow at the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library. She has recently published poems in The New Yorker, American Scholar, The New York Review of Books and The Yale Review, and a short essay in Threepenny Review.

– Clare Cavanagh


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Report of ALSC Nominations Committee, March 25, 2009

The 2009 ALSC Nominations Committee collected suggestions for filling ALSC’s forthcoming leadership vacancies, and after deliberation and a unanimous sanctioning vote by the ALSC Council, nominates the following for confirmation by the membership:

  • For Vice President: Greg Delanty
  • For Council: Adelaide Russo, Helaine L. Smith, and John Talbot

Greg Delanty (BA University College Cork) teaches at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.  His latest books are Collected Poems 1986-2006 (Oxford Poets Series, Carcanet Press, 2006), The Ship of Birth (Oxford Poets Series, Carcanet Press, 2003; LSU Press, 2007),  The Blind Stitch (Oxford Poets Series, Carcanet Press, LSU Press 2001), The Hellbox (OUP, 1998). Currently, he is editing a book for WW Norton with the working title of Living Poets Translate Anglo-Saxon Poems as well as an edition of poems titled The New Citizen Army, a book centering on complicity in our lives to be produced by Veterans Against War, who make the paper from US soldier uniforms. He is finalizing The Greek Anthology, Book XVII, a book of original poems which use the template of The Greek Anthology.  His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies, including the Norton Introduction to Poetry, Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, American Poets of the New Century, 20th Century Irish Poems, and Contemporary Poets of New England.  Individual poems have been published in the Atlantic Monthly, the New Statesman, the New Republic, American Scholar, the Irish Times, PN Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and our own Literary Imagination. His translations include Aristophanes’ The Suits (The Knights) and Euripides’ Orestes (U of Pennsylvania Press, 1999).  He has received many awards, most recently a Guggenheim for poetry (2007-08).  The National Library of Ireland just acquired his papers up to 2012.  The magazine Agenda devoted its most recent issue to celebrate his 50th birthday.

Adelaide Russo (BA Sweet Briar, PhD Columbia) is Professor of French Studies and Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where she has taught since 1981. A student of Michael Riffaterre, she has published widely on late nineteenth and early twentieth-century French literature, and on contemporary French poetry. Her most recent book, Le Peintre comme modèle : Du Surréalisme à l’Extrême contemporain (Lille: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion—Collection « Perspectives », 2007) won both the Prix Debrousse-Gas- Forestier Académie des Beaux-Arts  2007 and the 2007 MLA  Aldo Scaglione Prize in French and Francophone Studies. Adelaide is also active in a range of professional activities: much involved in translation both from and to the French, she is presently serving on the MLA Executive Committee on Twentieth-Century French Literature and has participated in numerous interdisciplinary initiatives at LSU.

Helaine L. Smith (AB Boston University, MA Hunter College) is a teacher of middle and secondary school English.  She is the author of Masterpieces of Classic Greek Drama (Greenwood, 2005), an analytic text for high school and undergraduate use, and participated in the 2005 ALSC panel on “Mythology in the K-12 Classroom.”  She currently teaches English in grades 6-12 at The Brearley School in New York City, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1989.  Before that she taught grades 7-12 for 15 years (1974-1989) at Hunter College High School.  She has been a reader of AP Literature and AP Language Exams and of English Composition Tests for the College Board, and has taught electives in Shakespeare, Pope, Kafka and Becket, and Bishop, Hecht and Larkin.

John Talbot (PhD Boston University) teaches ancient and modern literature at Brigham Young University. His scholarship mostly concerns the relationship of ancient Latin and Greek to English literature; his publications on this topic include several articles and book chapters. A book-length study of contemporary poets’ engagement with Greek and Latin lyric meters is under contract from Duckworth. He is also a poet and translator whose verse has appeared in leading journals in both the US and Britain. His first volume of poems is The Well-Tempered Tantrum. Some of his verse translations will appear in the forthcoming Norton Anthology of Greek Verse, and his current project is a new version of Virgil’s Eclogues.

After a one-year term as Vice-President, beginning on October 10, 2009, Greg Delanty would become President of the ALSC as of the fall meeting of the incoming Council in 2010, and serve a final year thereafter as Immediate Past President for 2011. The nominated Councilors would also serve three-year terms, beginning on October 10, 2009. ALSC Bylaw, Article VII, provides: “Nominations may also be made through a petition signed by any fifteen members in good standing.” Additional nominations must be received at the ALSC office by April 3, 2009. If no additional nominations are received by that date, the above nominees shall be declared elected. The Nominations Committee wishes to thank everyone who submitted names for its consideration. Appointments for the standing committees on curriculum and publications will be announced in the summer issue of Literary Matters.

Respectfully Submitted,

Rachel Hadas
Sarah Spence


On February 20, 2009, our dear friend and colleague Susan Bullock died unexpectedly at home, leaving a great and in many ways unfillable hole in the ALSC Council. Susan’s obituary appeared in the February 25 issue of the Boston Globe (read the full text on our Website). Our tribute to her appears in the current issue of Literary Matters (2.1-2, Winter/Spring 2009). On March 19, after a brief-but-intense search, Council appointed ALSC Past President (2004-2005) Rosanna Warren to serve as Interim Councilor for the remainder of Susan’s term. Professor Warren, whose biographical statement appears below, will serve from March 20, 2009 until the fall 2010 meeting of the Council, the date of which has yet to be determined.

Please join us in thanking Professor Warren for undertaking this great responsibility.

Biographical Statement:

Rosanna Warren (BA Yale, MA Johns Hopkins) is the author of one chapbook of poems (Snow Day, Palaemon Press, 1981), and three collections of poems: Each Leaf Shines Separate (Norton, 1984), Stained Glass (Norton, 1993), and Departure (Norton, 2003). Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry, a book of literary criticism, appeared from Norton in 2008. She edited and contributed to The Art of Translation: Voices from the Field (Northeastern, 1989), and has edited three chapbooks of poetry by prisoners. With Stephen Scully, she translated Euripides’ Suppliant Women for Oxford University Press (1992).  She has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Lila Wallace Readers’ Digest Fund, among others.  Stained Glass won the Lamont Poetry Award from the Academy of American Poets. She has won the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lavan Younger Poets’ Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Award of Merit in Poetry from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004. She was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 – 2005. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2004-2005 she was president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. Beginning in May 2009, she will be Secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.

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ALSC Receives Major Funding from the NEH

We are thrilled to report that on March 10, the Association received a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities funded through the Division of Education Programs, continuing our recent run of great success in raising money for our programs and activities. Great thanks are owed to Immediate Past President Christopher Ricks for the indispensible role he played in presenting our case to the generous and hard-working program officers at the Endowment. We are very hopeful and optimistic that news of this award will help us in our continuing efforts to attract major support from other funding agencies and individuals. So please—spread the word!

N.B. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this Website do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Daniel Hoffman Awarded L. E. Phillabaum Poetry Award

The ALSC is proud to announce that longstanding member and Former Poet Laureate Daniel Hoffman was recently awarded the L. E. Phillabaum Poetry Award for his latest collection, The Whole Nine Yards.  The prize, established to honor Louisiana State University Press’s director emeritus, Les Phillabaum (1936-2009), has been bestowed in past years on Marilyn Nelson, Henry Taylor, Elizabeth Seidel Morgan, and Betty Adcock.  The Whole Nine Yards offers poems spanning Hoffman’s long career.  They explore violence and transcendence in realistic, gothic, and comic modes, as they tell of war, cold war, domestic violence, bureaucratic oppression, and a compassionate rescue at sea.  Searching and lyrical suites celebrate the births of children, recoup a year in wartime France, and meditate on life and death, the seen and the unseen.  The result is a compelling collection from a distinguished poet.  Hoffman has been the recipient of the Hazlett Memorial Prize, the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the Arthur Rense Poetry Prize, and several grants and fellowships.  His collection Brotherly Love was nominated for the National Book Award as was his critical study, Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe.

The Whole Nine Yards will be published by LSU Press in April.

– Chelsea Bell

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NEW ALSC PODCAST: Putnam on Bishop, Hopkins

We are proud to announce the release of our latest ALSC podcast. In this installment, Phoebe Putnam (Harvard University) speaks on “‘We can stroke these lovely bays’: Vast Vistas and The Lyric Reach of G. M. Hopkins and Elizabeth Bishop.” This was recorded during a local meeting of the ALSC at the Editorial Institute, Boston University, on November 12, 2008.

Click here to download the episode.

And, if you’d like to join us for our next local meeting, please come to the Editorial Institute at Boston University tomorrow at 5 p.m. to hear Paul Mariani (Boston College) speak on “Giving the Dead Their Living Voices: The Case of Gerard M. Hopkins.”

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Lennon Talks Mailer on NYRB Podcast

On February 16, the New York Review of Books featured a podcast with ALSC member J. Michael Lennon.  Lennon is currently working on an authorized biography of Norman Mailer, who was the guest speaker at the Eleventh Annual ALSC Conference in 2005.  In the interview, Lennon discusses Mailer’s fascination with uncovering “new pockets of American reality,” his relationships with other authors as a young man, and his tremendous ambition to write the Great American Novel.  Arguably more famous for his two Pulitzer-prize winning works of non-fiction, Mailer insisted that even those were works of fiction, reasoning that “there are no histories; we’re all just making it up.”

The podcast can be accessed for free at

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