VAST WASTELAND: Poets Respond to TV, featuring Leah Umansky, Dan Magers, Leigh Stein and Tracie Morris

Here are Farrah's introductory notes, not captured in the audio feed:

I’d known for some time that Dan Magers was writing Full House poems and when I first caught wind of Leah Umansky’s chapbook DON DREAMS AND I DREAM, I wanted to have an event centered around poets responding to television shows. Now, respond  is a strange word to use because it’s the sort of crux if you will of why I wanted to have this particular gathering.

If TS Eliot is said to have maneuvered modernity into poetry by borrowing and collaging and fragmenting from past forms, is it a sign of contemporary-ness that we borrow, fragment, and sieve/filter from so much more. When poets respond to or interact with a particular thing, in this case a television show or watching television which has changed so dramatically in the past ten years, I wonder the following things:

Is the poet responding, directly engaged with the television show and how has this influenced his or her work? How does this change how you perceive the show?

What is the synthesis—memory, on the spot watching (and does that mean hating, loving, binging—through which the show is addressed in the poems?

Is the poet aware of how/when/in what shape these television shows and television watching bled into these poets’ works?  

When I was doing research on television and the imagination, what became apparent was the difference between active and passive watching and the difference between active and inactive inner lives. Although I’m not going to say very many words about these poets individually (because I don’t want to at all color their presentations, persuasions, predicaments) I can only imagine that Leah Umansky, Dan Magers, Leigh Stein, and Tracie Morris are active watchers, active watching, active thinkers about watching and taking things in, and their absorption of what they watch will deeply enthrall you.