The Department of English and the English Graduate Student Association Present:
Poetic Vocabulary, BASIC English, and the Art of Robert Creeley
A Research Lecture Delivered By:Dr. Matthew Hofer, Assistant Professor of English
Monday, September 20, 2010
SUB—Acoma Rooms A&B
“Every revolution in poetry,” as T. S. Eliot declared, “is apt to be, and sometimes to announce itself to be a return to common speech.” Robert Creeley, a major twentieth-century American poet who earned his M.A. at UNM, aimed to be the author of just such a revolution. This lecture will reveal what Creeley’s enormously influential early style owes to I. A. Richards and C. K. Ogden’s stripped-down artificial language, BASIC English. Hardly designed to be a medium for literature—the acronym stands for British, American, Scientific, Industrial, Commercial—this 850-word vocabulary nevertheless has surprising modernist credentials: in the 1930s it briefly captured Ezra Pound’s imagination and was used to translate James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Dr. Hofer’s lecture will make the case for why BASIC English fascinated Creeley, elucidate what it made possible for an innovative poet after World War II, and explain how the art of a common language matters for literary criticism and history.
The event is free and open to the public.
Contact: Dr. Jesse Alemán