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English Language, Literature and Creative Writing

English Writing Resources

Fall 2011 Writer-in-Residence Alan Davies

“What we are writing now is the current life (the living life / the life living) of the body of literature – we must pursue it with the kind of diligence with which we strive to keep ourselves alive.” —Alan Davies

Alan Davies Poet and essayist Alan Davies was born in Lacombe, Alberta, attended high school in Newfoundland, and graduated cum laude from Atlantic Union College in rural Massachusetts. By the mid-1970s, he was editing a poetry journal, A Hundred Posters (complete run recently reissued on CD by Faux Press), and publishing poetry books under the imprint Other Publications, in the Boston area where he had stayed for a few years after attending Robert Creeley’s summer poetry class at Harvard University. As editor and poet, Davies befriended Boston poets including John Wieners, while forming relations with a group of English-language writers dispersed across North America who would become known as the Language Poets. His poetry and an essay on poetics were included in a crucial anthology devoted to the Language Poets, In the American Tree (available at Leddy Library),  edited by Ron Silliman. Davies has lived many years in New York City and will be living in Windsor as our 2011 Writer in Residence. His books include a an av es (reissued online at Eclipse), Signage, Name, Active 24 Hours, Candor, Rave, "untitled" (with M.M. Winterford), Sei Shonagon, Don't Know Alan: Notes on AD (with Miles Champion; free download here), among many others.

Online works, interviews, audio files, books & further info:

About Alan Davies's writing:

  • “… Davies’ poem [Pain (Other Publications, 2001)] has suggested to me ways of thinking about connective possibility, ways through which ‘no one is absent anymore’…. how writing and reading matters, not just for its comforts or its eloquent aesthetics, but for the way it can take us through comfort and aesthetics into relations with others, for the way it can model thinking.”

— Juliana Spahr, “Poetry in a Time of Crisis” (Readme 5 2003)

  • "Davies' text [...] observes the conventions of a certain kind of theoretical prose: Wittgenstein, Heidegger, perhaps Blanchot. But the text is so absorbed in its own expressiveness that reading it one may begin to lose track of the conventional distinction between words and things [....] This happens through strategies of repetition [....] The poetic elements [...] are the repetition patterns — of words, of sounds, of phrasings — whose presence is emphasized by the uniform flatness of the tonal field."

"This textual artfulness presides over the work [....] As a consequence, textual apparitions and materialities begin to preoccupy our attention, as if the work's aesthetic features were the subject of discussion — as if the text were an embodiment or enactment of thought, a demonstration (an example, a representation, a mimesis) of the idea that thought is always a certain kind of action — not a 'truth' but, as [Laura] Riding [Jackson] would say, a 'truth-telling'."

— Jerome McGann, Black Riders: the Visible Language of Modernism (Princeton UP, 1993)

  • Alan Davies’s poetry and essays are part of an attempt “to establish a critical ‘social space’ for poetry, and beyond that to use poetry to conceive critical social space as such.”

— Paul Mann, “A Poetics of Its Own Occasion” (Contemporary Literature 35: 1 [Spring 1994]: 171-181)

  • "All criticism, if it is to get beyond the quibbling positioning of most expository writing, must aspire to fiction. The only true arguments are the ones we cannot make, and, in making, create universes we cannot, or will not, envision. All of your 'critical' work is of this type [....] Abuttal suggests a reply outside the discourse of debate (point, counterpoit), a text abutting — to the side of — such discourse. The logics of desire, with their prophetic hyperbole and incontinent incorrigibility, are closer to the truth of which you speak than the logic of critical realism with its Proportion, Judiciousness, and Fact. The prose of fact is like a giant vacuum cleaner sucking up the world into its cannister. Your prose of desire gives forth."

— Charles Bernstein, Content's Dream (Sun & Moon, 1986)

Sample book covers:

Rave by Alan Davies Odes by Alan Davies Candor by Alan Davies Signage by Alan Davies

Rave
(Roof Books, 2004)

Odes
(Faux Press, 2008)
Candor
(O Books, 1990)
Signage
(Roof Books, 1987)

Alan Davies photo credit: Kenji Kirit