Friday, March 20, 2009

poet urges creative campus

Last night we made available the full video recording of Hank Lazer's reading at the Writers House. (A few days ago I posted here a 50-second video clip.) While Hank was here, Charles Bernstein recording one of his Close Listening - featuring more reading from Hank's work and also a half-hour conversation between them, which is already available. This is and will be on our Lazer PennSound page. Check it now and come back later too.

Charles Bernstein provides this summary of his talk with Lazer: "Hank Lazer talks to me about the confluences of his identities; about Southern poetry; about the poetics of jazz and transition; about the forms of his work; about the purported conflict between creativity and critical thinking; and about his poem 'Figure.'"

Hank Lazer is an associate provost at the University of Alabama and in that capacity heads up the university's museums and art entities. He directs a project called the Creative Campus Initiative, which is "dedicated to building a collaborative environment where students can connect with each other, faculty, and their community in turning innovative ideas into action." There's a good deal of b.s. in that general description/mission statement, but I sense something very real here. I'm guessing that Hank and others saw a campus where the artsy students were isolated and probably suffering from institutional disrespect. So CCI becomes a holding place or project site for them--in part by merely moving into one virtual place all the related activities already happening, so it seems to be more than it is, rather than, as before, less than it is. After that administrative convergence, new things (added things) begin to happen. During his visit Hank and I had a chance to talk about this--but most of what I've said above is a guess made from looking at the situation from the outside.