Distribution Automatique

Tuesday, April 27

Language Poet
Barrett Watten
Wins Literary Prize
as reported by his longtime
friend and literary associate-
right now on
Silliman's Blog, Sunday April 25

"Great moments in irony: The 2004 RenĂ© Wellek Prize, awarded by the American Comparative Literature Association, has gone to Barrett Watten’s The Constructivist Moment: From Material Text to Cultural Politics. Wellek at least attended the Prague School for Linguistics while Roman Jakobson was on its faculty, from whom he seems to have borrowed (and denatured) much of the work of the Russian Formalists in his particular contribution to New Criticism as it emerged in the 1930s.
This blog gave Watten’s book – which I’m still reading – its very first critical mention back in June 2003. When I read it, the first verse of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” runs incessantly through my backbrain. Not only are Watten’s own concerns similar, but the density that characterizes Dylan’s best writing – almost a verticality – is something that Watten shares & has brought forward both in his poetry & his critical work. Watten’s book deserves every award it gets."