Ode: Salute to the New York School: 1950-1970
Author: Peter Gizzi
Publisher: Letter Machine Editions (2012)
An abecedarian cento of New York School poems, this piece was first delivered in March 1996 at The Popular Culture Association Conference. As Gizzi notes: "Ode: Salute to the New York School is a cento, a late Roman verse form made up of lines from other sources. First, I put together a chronological bibliography of over 100 books published by New York poets from 1950 to 1970. Many of these books are deeply out of print so I had to do some real digging. Then I extracted lines from each book to compose the cento. Happily, Clark Coolidge supplied lines from the books I couldn't find. The cento also works as an index to the bibliography. The combined bibliography and cento form the libretto to a musical work for the composer Richard Alan Applebaum. My intention was to make what I call a 'performing bibliography.' Since this is, in effect, what most of us do on a daily basis—referring to or performing what we've read—it seemed a useful metaphor to describe how we enact our reading practice. My idea was that a simple accompaniment to a series of bibliographic entries could generate both scholarly information and an emotive effect. I wanted to express the latent desire for lists and order, and to create a texture to accommodate the eros inherent in research. What I learned along the way is that literary movements survive primarily in the ruins of the texts they leave behind rather than in the unified literary histories that we create for them after the fact."