13 Mar

Wednesdays March 13 through April 10, 7:00–9:00PM ET (Eastern Time)

Objectivism and the New Poetry of Witness: A Crash Course Reading Group with Jimin Seo


Online (via ZOOM)

Registration required:
Online, 5 sessions / $325

In the February 1931 volume of Poetry magazine, Louis Zukofsky coined the term Objectivist to define the work of a loose-knit group of poets including himself, George Oppen, Charles Reznikoff, Carl Rokoski, and later, Lorine Niedecker. Influenced by the imagist poetics of Pound and Williams, but deeply committed to social justice and radical leftist politics, the Objectivists imagined poetry as a documentary process that emphasizes sincerity in its attempt to capture the world’s material conditions and musical textures. While their mid-century contemporaries mostly shrugged, the Objectivists inspired some of the most important avant-garde movements of the late 20th Century—the Beats, the San Francisco Renaissance, and the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets. But their most profound legacy may be found in the work of contemporary poets who are reimagining poetry as a form of investigation and documentation.

In this course, we will read selections from key figures in the Objectivist movement before turning our attention to three contemporary collections. Paisley Rekdal's West: A Translation offers a multi-voiced documentation on the creation of the transcontinental American railroad system and its ties to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Renee Gladman's Plans for Sentences places its poems in the future, suggesting that witnessing can happen from any point in time, after, during, and before the objects that precede it. Finally, Lillian Yvonne-Bertram's Travesty Generator exposes the algorithm machine's near-constant automated trapping of Black life and Black narrative into one possible outcome, death. It is a witnessing and a subversion of the white generator travesty.

Reading List:

Jimin Seo
was born in Seoul, Korea and immigrated to the US to join his family at the age of eight. He earned his MFA from Columbia University and BA from Florida State University. He is the author of OSSIA (July 2024), a winner of The Changes Book Prize judged by Louise Glück. His poems can be found in Action Fokus, The Canary, LitHub, Pleiades, mercury firs, and The Bronx Museum. His most recent projects were Poems of Consumption with H. Sinno at the Barbican Centre in London, and a site activation for salazarsequeromedina's Open Pavilion at the 4th Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism.

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