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Welcome to the Second Season of The Scene: Radical Poetics at the Zig Zag Edges.

About The Scene: Why Do I Want to Blog About Radical Poetics?


The Scene: Radical Poetics at the ZigZag Edges began modestly last February with a series called Early Considerations which was my introduction to this blog that I think is like no other on the Web. As I begin the new 2017-2018 season I am re-posting the Early Considerations for new followers and for everyone else to remember what The Scene is all about. These Early Considerations are also in my Pages section above. I will run this series of Early Considerations on Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays for awhile. On Tuesday-Thursdays I am beginning a new series titled New American Poetics based upon the classic anthology edited by Donald Allen that changed radical poetry, or as I am calling it, ZigZag poetry in America for once and all.

Ok. So, my name is Paul Varner. You can find my formal biography on the Biography page, but suffice it to say here that from my earliest days of adulthood I have lived a life of literature. I discovered real literature, as opposed to all the popular paperback Westerns, mysteries, and spy novels I read as a teenager, when I was stationed in the US Air Force near San Francisco in the crazy hippie days. Actually I discovered literature when I discovered the famous City Lights Bookstore and learned all about the Beat Movement, then the talk in my world of literature. I specifically discovered poetry that mattered to me when I read through many times Donald Allen’s famous New American Poetry anthology. Here was a kind of poetry I had never encountered in high school English courses. Years later I was to write a major scholarly book on the Beats, the Historical Dictionary of the Beat Movement, as well as several scholarly books on popular Westerns and serious literature of the American West. See My Amazon Authors Page here:

I took the usual route of majoring in English as an undergraduate. In my first English class I met the girl I would fall in love with, Jeanine Baker, and with whom I would go through graduate school at the University of Tennessee, with both of us receiving our PhDs in English the same day. I left the crazy Beats and the Westerns behind for the pursuit of canonical literature, the best that has been thought and written in Western culture. Jeanine and I followed each other throughout our careers from one university to the other where we served as professors of English. Jeanine also entered administration and ultimately became Academic Vice President and later Provost at two fine private universities. Together we led lives dominated by our passion for literature.

I have written books on literature and taught many college courses in literature. And I certainly know that there are plenty of websites and plenty of blogs about literature, about reading books, and about favorite authors. Many of the blogs devote themselves to passionate reading of current novels, bestsellers and otherwise. Many discuss indie novels and Kindle-type favorites. Most are simply shortcuts for reading to college students. But I have seen very few online sites, or published books, that really devote themselves to innovative, experimental, avant garde, or whatever you would like to call radical poetry and literature. Few sites devote themselves to movements, schools, or poetic scenes. Thus The Scene: Radical Poetics at the Zig Zag Edges.

Once again, over the next few days I will be posting a series called About The Scene. There I will tell all about my plans for this exciting, radical new blog. Stay tuned.

Paul Varner


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