John Liles reviews Karen Lepri’s Incidents of Scattering

“Of heat and work—stoppage, Earth in its Orbit” (Incidents of Scattering, 30)

On October 10th, 1858, George Phillips Bond would be the first human to photograph a comet.

That same year, Robert Virchow proclaims, standing upon the shoulders of those who came before him, “Omnis cellula e cellula” (every cell originates from another existing cell like it).

At just about this same time, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace are announcing to the world their theories of evolution and natural selection.

The second law of thermodynamics had been formulated just ten years earlier and had still not yet given way to entropy by 1860.

It was within this scientific climate that John Tyndall, a physicist and magnetism expert, would publish The Glaciers of the Alps, Being Narrative of Excursions and Ascents, And An Account of the Physical Principals to Which They Are Related. The title serves as a wonderful synopsis; the book was written by Tyndall as he himself trecked and calculated through the Alpine Mountains. It is this work that Karen Lepri’s debut book of poetry, Incidents of Scattering, “takes a deep breath from.” Tyndall’s work on the fundamental forces of air, heat, and light stood (and continues to stand) unparalleled on the planet earth.
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Donald Revell: “A Family of Mountaineers: Barbara Guest’s Exceptionalism”

A Family of Mountaineers: Barbara Guest’s Exceptionalism

He was particularly indignant against the almost universal use of the word
idea in the sense of notion or opinion, when it is clear that idea can only signify
something of which an image can be formed in the mind.
—James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson

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Norma Cole: On Distraction

This essay was adapted from a talk given at Saint Mary’s College, 12 March 2014

“I was hesitant to take the case, having my mind already on another case.”
Norma Cole, “Mars
(Mars, Listening Chamber Press, 1994)

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Chicago Lit Scene: Matter

Review by Lina ramona Vitkauskas, Chicago Correspondent

What’s The Matter Here?

Why do you come to poetry readings?
Why are you here tonight?
Are you hoping poetry will save you from the self-help gurus?
Are you eyeballing the exits?
Are you lost?
Are you looking for the restroom?
Are you searching for a distraction from the “you” that “you’ve” become?
Are you entertained by language?
Are you going to hell in a Harley-Davidson basket of derivatives?
Are you bored with being boring?
Are you in over your genitals?
Are you looking for a community of likeminded individuals for when the apocalypse finally comes?
Are you insured against major life-changing poetry events?
What’s the point of witnessing the poet’s biography during a reading?
Do your ears ring with unsaid character development?
Do your eyes water with ineffable images?
Do your nostrils flex with the strong silence type?
Do your fat palms sweat touching implicit hips?
Does your mouth water on the cutting edge of applause?

Gene Tanta, “Why Do You Come to Poetry Readings”

10176021_10152405683043338_6250038128037080073_nOn an unusually warm spring evening for Chicago (April 12, 2014), poets attempted to answer the above questions—if not literally, then conceptually—with more poems of their own. Local poets gathered at MATILDA/Baby Atlas in the Lakeview neighborhood for the First Anniversary Reading of the online journal, Matter.

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G.C. Waldrep: “Poetry as Non-Diegetic Speech”

This paper was originally presented at AWP 2014 as part of Karla Kelsey’s “Poetry as Sound’s Potential” panel.

I want to speak this morning about the soundscape occupied or invoked by the poem, as reading praxis, and the level of diegetic investment the reader brings to this experience. By way of introduction, this rendering of Emily Dickinson’s poem 733, by the Texas-based sound artist Christine Olejniczak:

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Ewa Chrusciel: “Are her verses alive? How to translate the semblance of felt life.”

Norman Davies, a historian, the author of Europe, said that translation is like a melody of an original played on a different instrument or in a different key. “Bach’s Air on a G string. which was written for a violin, will remain recognizable, even if played on a trombone and in the key of B flat. But they can never produce exactly the same sound (7).”

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Bay Area Lit Scene: speCt! presents

Review by Casey McAlduff

speCt! pic

Who: Brandon Downing, Elaine Kahn and Ben Mirov
What: speCt! presents
When: January 31, 2014
Where: speCt! Studio, 4401 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, CA 94609
Contact: Peter Burghardt, Gillian Olivia Blythe Hamel and Robert Andrew Perez at

Pieces from each reader follow the review.

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Tyrone Williams: “Radical Mimesis: Conceptual Dialectics and the African Diaspora”

This paper was given at the Celebrating African American Literature conference at Penn State, October 26, 2013.

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David Koehn: “Reclaiming Catullus”

“The original is unfaithful to the translation.”
Jorge Luis Borges, On Henley’s translation of Beckford’s Vathek, 1943

The ‘availability’ of Catullus is both a challenge and an opportunity. My original thesis in translating Catullus was that Catullus, the pleasure of Catullus, has been subsumed by the classicists and the philologists. Prof. Rebecca Resinski of Hendrix College corrected my course here. She took exception because I made it sound “like classicists and philologists have swallowed Catullus up and have been keeping him from others.” There may be some truth to that—but I clearly overstated.

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Donald Revell: Questions of Translation

In coming issues, OmniVerse will turn its eye toward translation, with works on and of the community of poetry across languages. We introduce these issues with this adaptation of a talk given by Donald Revell on “questions of translation.”

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