The UB Poetics Program, currently celebrating its 20th anniversary as one of the vanguard Ph.D. conferring programs for "innovative" poetries and "language-centered" writing in North America, tonight welcomes Ron Silliman, a leading figure in contemporary poetics, to Buffalo for an 8 p.m. reading at the Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St. The event is free and open to the public.
Silliman is the author of over thirty books, including the volume length serial poems “Tjanting” (1979-1981), “The Alphabet” (1979-2004), and “Universe” (2005-present), all of which comprise an ongoing “life-work” he calls “Ketjak” -- both the Balinese word for "monkey" and the name of a ritual performance performed by Balinese islanders for tourists.
He was editor of “In the American Tree”(1986), widely considered the most important anthology of “language-centered writing” of its era, and also the author one of the language movement's defining critical texts, "The New Sentence" (the title essay of his 1987 volume of critical writings).
In that now classic essay, he critiqued the "hypotactic logic" and "syllogistic leap, or integration above the level of the sentence" necessary for telling referential stories, while arguing for the paragraph as "a unit of quantity, not logic or argument" and the "limiting of syllogistic movement" to keep the reader's attention "at or very close to the level of language, the sentence level or below."
Over the past decade, Silliman, who now lives in southeastern Pennsylvania, has become one of the indispensable contributors to the public dialogue on contemporary poetry, poetics and "post-avant" writing as the creator of the eponymous Silliman's Blog, the most influential individual author maintained web log in the English-speaking literary world with over 3 million visits since its founding in 2002.