Campus News

Poet Ron Silliman to read at UGA

Athens, Ga. – Noted author and editor Ron Silliman will read from his work Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Ciné BarCaféCinema located at 235 West Hancock Ave. in Athens. Sponsored by the University of Georgia department of English Helen Spencer Lanier Lecture Series and creative writing program, the event is free and open to the public.

Silliman is the author and editor of more than 30 books, with poetry and criticism translated into 12 languages. He was the 2006 Poet Laureate of Blogosphere, a 2003 Literary Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2002 Fellow of the Pennsylvania Arts Council and a Pew Fellow in the Arts in 1998. In 2010, he received the Levinson Prize from the Poetry Foundation.

Influential in contemporary poetics, Ron Silliman became associated with the West Coast literary movement known as Language poetry in the 1960s and 1970s. He edited In the American Tree (1986), which remains the primary Language poetry anthology, and he wrote one of the movement’s defining critical texts, The New Sentence (1987). A champion of experimental or post-Avant poetics, he reaches millions of readers through Silliman’s Blog, a weblog he started in 2002, now one of the most popular of the many contemporary English language poetry blogs.

Early in his career, Silliman published poems with such mainstream journals as Poetry Northwest and TriQuarterly, but his association with Language poetry has defined much of his subsequent work. In an article for the Nation, Hank Lazer described Language poetry as “…following upon the most adventurous work of Gertrude Stein, Louis Zukofsky, William Carlos Williams and Jack Spicer…” adding that “…Language writing can be seen as an oppositional literary practice that questions many of the assumptions of mainstream poetry. Instead of considering poetry as a staging ground for the creation and expression of an ‘authentic’ voice and personality, Language poetry arises out of an ‘exploded self,’ blurs genre boundaries…and seeks actively collaborative relationships between reader and writer.”

In the journal Contemporary Authors, Silliman wrote, “I have, from the beginning, taken poetry to be the most intense relation possible between self and language (hence meaning-mind-world), but, coming from a basically traditional background, it has taken years to drop the pretenses of prevailing modes and admit it: form is passion, passion form. Given forms (whether the sonnet or the Pound-derived projectivist mode) disinterest me since they are usually ways of shoving the language in a work aside.”

Silliman taught at San Francisco State University, the University of California-Berkeley, Brown University and the Naropa Institute. He worked as a political organizer, ethnographer, lobbyist, and was executive editor of the Socialist Review. A long-time resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, he moved to Pennsylvania in 1995 where he works as a market analyst in the computer industry.

For more information on the Helen Spencer Lanier Lecture Series, see


Note to editors: An image of Silliman is available for download at