The New Social Environment#32

Norma Cole with her Poetry Collective

Dale Martin Smith, Susan Briante, Will Alexander, Laura Moriarty, Farid Matuk, Susan Gevirtz, Steve Seidenberg, Erín Moure, and Aaron Shurin.


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Poet and April 2020 Guest Critic Norma Cole joins the Rail’s Development and Outreach Associate Madeline Cravens for a poetry feast featuring readings from Dale Martin Smith, Susan Briante, Will Alexander, Laura Moriarty, Farid Matuk, Susan Gevirtz, Steve Seidenberg, Erín Moure, and Aaron Shurin.

This is a pencil drawn portrait of Poet Norma Cole with a shaded, off-white background, drawn by the Rail’s publisher Phong Bui.

Norma Cole is a poet, painter, and translator. She was born in Toronto, Canada, and attended the University of Toronto for her BA in Modern Languages and MA in French. Her translation works include Danielle Collobert’s Journals (1989), Anne Portugal’s Nude (2001), and Fouad Gabriel Naffah’s Mind God and the Properities Of Nitrogen (2004). She has also edited and translated Crosscut Universe: Writing on Writing from France (2000), an anthology of poetry and poetics by contemporary French writers. Cole has authored various books of poetry, including Natural Light (2009), Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 (2009), Spinoza in Her Youth (2002), The Vulgar Tongue (2000), and Desire & Its Double (1998). In a review of her 1996 collection Contrafact, Erin Moule of Lemon Hound noted that Cole’s “meanings unfurl and gesture, resonate, play emphatic and contrapuntal gamings with language’s fluency.” Cole’s experimental work SCOUT, a text and image work, was released in 2005. From 2004 to 2006, Cole was the lead artist for Collective Memory, an installation, performance, and publication for “Poetry and its Arts: Bay area Interactions 1954-2004” commissioned by the California Historical Society in San Francisco, California.

Cole’s various awards include a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, a Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Award, Gertrude Stein Awards, the Robert D. Richardson Non-Fiction Award, and awards from the Fund for Poetry. Cole has served on the faculty of the MFA program at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. She has lived in San Francisco since 1977 and teaches at the University of San Francisco.

In the Rail:

Dale Martin Smith lives in Toronto, Ontario, and teaches at Ryerson University. With Robert J. Bertholf, he edited An Open Map: The Correspondence of Robert Duncan and Charles Olson (2017), available in a new paperback edition from the University of New Mexico Press.

Susan Briante, a poet, essayist and translator, is the author of books of poetry: Pioneers in the Study of Motion, Utopia Minus, and The Market Wonders. Defacing the Monument, a series of essays on immigration, archives, aesthetics and the state, will be published by Noemi Press in 2020.

Will Alexander, poet, novelist, essayist, aphorist, playwright, visual artist, and pianist, has written nearly 40 books in the above-mentioned genres, with forthcoming amounts along the way. He is currently Poet-in-Residence at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, California.

Laura Moriarty is the author of Personal Volcano from Nightboat Books (2019). She lives in Richmond, CA.

Farid Matuk is the author of The Real Horse. Redolent, a book-arts collaboration between Matuk and Colombian artist Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez, is forthcoming from Singing Saw Press.

Susan Gevirtz is an author. Her books of poetry include Hotel abc (Nightboat, 2016) and Aerodrome Orion & Starry Messenger (Kelsey Street, 2010). Her critical books are Narrative’s Journey: The Fiction and Film Writing of Dorothy Richardson (Peter Lang, 1996) and Coming Events (Nightboat, 2013). She is based in San Francisco.

Steve Seidenberg’s most recent works are plain sight (Roof, 2020) and Situ (Black Sun Lit, 2018). His collections of photographs include Pipevalve: Berlin (Lodima, 2017) and Imaging Failure: Abandoned Lives of the Italian South (due from Contrasto in 2020). He lives in San Francisco.

Erín Moure’s most recent poetry is The Elements (Toronto: House of Anansi) and most recent translation is Uxío Novoneyra’s The Uplands: Book of the Courel and other poems (El Paso: Veliz Books) from Galician. She folds paper in Montreal.

Aaron Shurin is Professor Emeritus in the University of San Francisco’s MFA Writing Program. He is the author of 14 books of poetry and prose, most recently The Blue Absolute from Nightboat Books.

Madeleine Cravens, the Brooklyn Rail’s Development and Outreach Associate, moderates this conversation**.** In Fall 2020, Madeleine will be the Max Ritvo Poetry Fellow at Columbia University.

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