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Friday, October 23rd, 2009
06:30 PM - 08:30 PM

Head Lines: News-Themed Stories and Poems
A Free Press in Free Fall Event
  • Event Images

  • VOX Reading Series Event Introduction
    by Andy Frazee

    My name is Andy Frazee, and along with Ida Stewart, who will be introducing each of our readers tonight, and Matt Forsythe, who will be reading from his own work later, I am co-director of the VOX Reading Series. This series, in association with the UGA Creative Writing Program, brings visiting writers of national and
    international stature to Athens, as well as provides a stage for
    graduate students in the creative writing program. We'd like to
    thank Lizzie and Amy for this opportunity to take part in the Free
    Press in a Free Fall Exhibit, and look forward to other
    collaborations in the future.

    In 1934's ABC of Reading, Ezra Pound, the godfather of literary
    modernism, wrote that "literature is news that stays news," and I
    think he meant that great literature is always both new, as in fresh, and always an event, in that reading and re-reading such literature will always turn up something new. This, of course, is a slightly skewed reading of the word "news," and it may be helpful to posit another definition, that journalism is "news that becomes history." This of course, is not to give priority to either literature or journalism, for of course the best journalism remains news in Pound's literary sense, and often literature just cannot do what journalism does so well: it takes time to write a novel about 9/11, for example.

    Rather, this thinking goes to show how we often consider the two
    crafts as inhabiting different worlds, even as they share the same
    tools and media. At the same time, some poetry and prose have always sought the immediacy of journalism, and its connection to the world of current events that some literature may defer in favor of other, equally valid inquiries. In 20th century American poetry, for example, we have an entire lineage of the so-called "poetry of
    witness," which counts among its forebears the work of Muriel
    Rukeyser, whose 1938 book US 1 includes the long sequence of poems called "The Book of Dead," detailing the deaths of coal miners in West Virginia due to breathing in silica during the construction of a tunnel. This works, and many others outside such notions of "witness," seek to bring the news into literature and literature into news in ways that multiply the interconnections between the two realms, and work to broaden our understanding of the capacity of language to further incorporate the events of the world into text.

    And so here we ourselves are, in this room for this event, this news, this intersection of literature and news, news and art. The work presented here tonight will come from diverse voices, diverse points of view, with diverse ways of reporting their lives, their worlds, their language. Some pieces will address the news more directly than others, and some will not address the news in the narrow sense at all-but in this we are able to see the word in this broader sense, in Pound's sense. In the end these voices find their commonality in this: that their news will stay news."

     
     
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