Authors | Brian Reed

Brian Reed is Professor and Chair of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of three books of literary criticism, Hart Crane: After His Lights (2006), Phenomenal Reading: Essays on Modern and Contemporary Poetics (2012), and Nobody’s Business: Twenty-First Century Avant-Garde Poetics (2013), and the co-editor of two essay collections, Situating El Lissitzky: Vitebsk, Berlin, Moscow (2003) and Modern American Poetry: Points of Access (2013).

Articles on Amodern by Brian Reed

SOMEWHERE BLUEBIRDS FLY

Jackson Mac Low Directs a Poetry Reading

This essay analyzes one evening of Jackson Mac Low’s avant-garde performance poetry, with special attention to the group piece “Bluebird Assymetries.” It argues that, although critics have tended to emphasize the empowering openness and freedom to be found in Mac Low’s work, one can in fact also observe a contrary impulse toward authorial and directorial control over the course and character of a performance’s unfolding. Instead of interpreting the interplay between the multiple voices in “Bluebird Assymetries” as modeling a utopian and anarchist form of sociality, one might better understand it by analogy to a different kind of community, ascetic and spiritual, in which one voluntarily submits to strict rules in the pursuit of sacred wisdom.