A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.

I think we should read only those books that wound and stab us. If the book we read doesn’t wake us up with a punch to the head, why are we reading it? In order to make us happy, as you said? We would be happy even if we had no books at all, and as for books that might make us happy, we could, if necessary, write them ourselves. We need books that affect us like a misfortune, books that make us deeply mourn, as with the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, or like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. So I believe.

—Kafka, Letter to Oskar Pollak, 27 January 1904

Literary festival to feature poet Mihaela Moscaliuc April 3

Literary festival to feature poet Mihaela Moscaliuc April 3

Mihaela Moscaliuc headshot

Mihaella Moscaliuc
3/26/2012 —

In honor of National Poetry Month, Penn State Brandywine will welcome poet Mihaela Moscaliuc as the featured reader at its 16th annual Litapalooza Literary Festival at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 3, in the Tomezsko Classroom Building lounge.

The open mic portion of Litapalooza encourages students to read, recite, narrate, rap or sing their own creative compositions. The festival strives to highlight and celebrate the creativity of Brandywine students.

Penn In Hand, the campus’ student literary publication, will be distributed at the event, which is free and open to the public. Penn In Hand is a collection of students’ creative works and is published by Penn State Brandywine students in conjunction with the English department.

Moscaliuc is the author of Father Dirt (winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award). Her works, which include poems, reviews, translations and articles, have appeared in numerous poetry journals, including The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, TriQuarterly, New Letters, Poetry International, Arts & Letters, Pleiades, Connecticut Review and West Branch. She has taught at Monmouth and Salisbury universities; she currently directs the Drew University Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Poetry Program.

Litapalooza is funded by the Brandywine Student Activities Fund. For more information, please contact Distinguished Professor of English Adam J. Sorkin at [email protected] or 610-892-1444.


on writing freedom this Thursday, March 15th at 7pm at the Mess Hall

Hey, everyone:

Please join our conversation on writing freedom this Thursday, March 15th at 7pm at the Mess Hall.

A while ago, we discussed Kapil’s “Style Handbook for New Immigrants to the US” through Joris’ “Nomad Manifesto.” In these times of multiple values, questions about how we value multiplicity bubbled up: how do we write without a native home or a center (since a center, at its most proximal, is delayed by perception) and is there ever a story without a return home and what should we make of our longing to return home?

Two weeks later we read across Heysoon’s “Rhythm” and Zizek’s “Deleuze and the Lacanian Real” in a lively discussion about how words mediate what they mean and vice versa. We considered the “Western” need for clarity in the presence of “Oriental” ambiguity. We also questioned the moral good of the illusionistic image. Don’t we often associate a sense of satisfaction with the reification process that takes place in imagistic poetry (imagistic poetry, after all, renders abstractions as physical objects)? We also talked about how rhythm relates to the goal of protest poetry to provoke readers’ empathy.

Last time we met, we overlapped Derrida’s “Phenomenology and the Closure of Metaphysics” with Stevens’ “Sunday Morning.” What a gorgeous mess that was! We talked about how the formal closure of poems maintains the sociopolitical status quo and how we may move toward alternatives such as ambiguity (or toward the shapes and sounds and looks of other freedoms). We grew suspicious of the stealthy ways poetic forms (stealthier than poetic contents) insinuate readers’ support for a kind of unearned death-knowledge. What is more suspicious than an object someone has imbued with spirit or sentiment or pause? We also talked about numbers, objectivity and the consequences for thinking people heralded by the end of science as a positive pursuit.

This week is my final textual orchestration. I’d like to sandwich Tristan Tzara’s “Dada Manifesto 1918” with Dale Smith’s “(Hoa Enters the Kitchen)”. I would really be remiss not to explore with you, arguably, the most important text to the most important cultural movement of the 20th century: Tristan Tzara’s “Dada Manifesto 1918”. Also, Tzara’s witty rage pools together the themes around which we’ve been organizing: the skeptical quest for potential freedoms in poetry, the horrific anthropocentric conflation of technological progress with moral progress, and the power of doing things with words.

1) Writing prompt (during workshop): “Poetry can go without the image by treating language as an object.” Rosemarie Waldrop
3) Critical text: Tristan Tzara’s “Dada Manifesto 1918”:  http://www.mariabuszek.com/kcai/DadaSurrealism/DadaSurrReadings/TzaraD1.pdf
2) Creative reading: Dale Smith’s “(Hoa Enters the Kitchen)”: http://liminalities.net/3-2/DS-4.htm

More info:




I look forward to our conversation,
Gene Tanta