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Faculty Highlights - Steve Evans, Carla Billitteri, Benjamin Friedlander and Jennifer Moxley

Benjamin Friedlander

Robert Creeley once said that Benjamin Friedlander “speaks with ungainsayable clarity of what we had thought to forget.”

Friedlander made his name editing a 2008 collection of Creeley’s poems, which was reviewed favorably in the New York Times, as well as a seminal collection of Charles Olson’s work. He’s also well-regarded as a small-press poet. And he wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for NPF.

When Friedlander was a student in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were very few places in the United States to do serious scholarly work on nonmainstream, innovative poetry. He published papers in NPF journals that he never could’ve published anywhere else.

“We’re not a discipline unto ourselves. We’re in a discipline within an entire world of outcasts.”

It was NPF’s pioneering publishing that laid the foundation for a new field.

“I don’t know if that could be created again,” Friedlander says. “NPF had a big role. It created an entire discipline. People who published in journals then are now teaching this work to a new generation of students. They’re now editing their own journals and training their own students. Now, NPF is no longer the only place you can publish that kind of work.”

That’s both a testament to NPF and a challenge to Friedlander and his colleagues — one that is worth taking on for the next generation of students.

“I think of it in skill terms,” says Friedlander. “I feel the experimental poetry we’re committed to gives you these skills for dealing with everything.”

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