Saturday, August 02, 2003
literary journals that came for me while I was away in
Writing to be Seen: An Anthology of
Later 20th Century Visio-Textual Art, edited by
Books & Chapbooks
§ Spring’s Grave: Le Tombeau du Printemps, Chantal Bizzini, translated by Brad Anderson, Backwoods Broadsides Chaplet Series, No. 77
§ Hamburger, Steve Carll, Tinfish
Three Vietnamese Poets, translated by
§ Everwhat, Clayton Eshleman, Zasterle
§ ode ode, Michael Farrell, Salt
and Bina Give Birth,”
§ Sista Tongue, Lisa Linn Kanae, Tinfish
§ Clutch: Hockey Love Letters, Sawako Nakayasu, Tinfish
§ Living Pidgin: Contemplations on Pidgin Culture, Lee A. Tonouchi, Tinfish
§ Addenda (For August 15th, Sotère Torregian, Backwoods Broadsides Chaplet Series, No. 76
The False Sun Recordings,
Filling Station 027, edited by
§ Special Offer 12, edited by Susan M. Schultz, Tinfish
* = a book I already own
+ = these simple manuscripts don’t really have
but are identified by those of their first poems
Friday, August 01, 2003
At 21 Grand, I characterized VOG as being a section of The Alphabet unlike any other in that it was itself "a book of ordinary poems." This generated some speculation amid the bloggers present, so maybe I should unpack that a little, spell out what I was thinking.
Principally that the poems are discrete. They are relatively short & have beginnings, middles & ends. They have enough internal integrity to have their own titles: "Dogs Love Trucks," "Dadaquest," "Spiderduck." Indeed, the one task that remains with VOG is for me to go through the manuscript and edit it down to a final version. This will certainly mean deleting some pieces, and may mean (I'm far less certain of this) reordering the final suite.
When I look at The Alphabet as a whole, I'm struck with what a small proportion of the overall text is given over to beginnings or ends. In so many ways, the work itself is a monument to the middle, to being "in" the poem as if there were no outside or other. More than any other section, VOG seems to me to address the problematics of that.
I also note
that, although I used virtually the same words to describe the project before
my reading at the
I'm reading books by Drew Gardner, Nada Gordon, John Godfrey & Jordan Davis on my trip & there is no way I would try to generalize that into "one thing," the new new New York School, any more than I would attempt the same with the authors whose books I'm reading from the Bay Area on this trip: Lyn Hejinian, Barbara Guest, Clark Coolidge, Stephen Ratcliffe or Eileen Tabios. The coherence of communities is not, of itself, aesthetic. I might as well link the work of Aloysius Bertrand, Robert Duncan, Ron Johnson & Dan Davidson into a Poetics of the Dead.
Thursday, July 31, 2003
The gallery 21 Grand is a former auto body
shop along the northern edge of
Daniel and niece Valerie have driven down from
I realize also how these different worlds of poetry inhabit this room at one instant in time, but don't blend into any homogenous thing. One great gift that my blog has given me in the past year has been access to a world of poetry very different from the one I'd previously inhabited. It is, to large measure (a greater one than I'm usually apt to admit) the most active poetry scene going, composed primarily of writers putting out not their 20th or 30th book, but rather their first, second, third.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
I received this email from Nick Lawrence while I was out west:
Here's my response to Louis' post (7/08) on reading allusion, via Bruce Andrews:
Does Bruce Andrews write satire? Or is his a post-satirical satire, in which the conditions underpinning traditional satire no longer obtain —no sense of normative consensus among its audience, perhaps no necessary sense of audience itself; no determinate context for the ridicule in its speech acts; no semantic or syntactic imperatives beyond preserving the most basic allusions to social content.
Taking for a moment the "down" staircase in Louis' typology of allusion, let's murder to dissect a little:
One thing the line "Where's a battered woman — I want
to beat her up?" might do is inspire laughter — laughter primarily at the
absurdity of substituting the expected exclamation point end-punctuation with a
question mark , which seems simultaneously to lampoon the misogyny of the
remark by calling into question its decisive aggression, and at the same time
to ludicrously mimic the "upspeak"
intonation associated with Valley Girls  in the '80s ("My name is
Jessica?"). But the laughter is at best weak, dying away with the
acknowledgment that we are, after all, dealing with a form of violence that
only in the last few decades has become stigmatized and is, nonetheless, as old
as the hills and the bullies that dwell therein. (Can we make jokes about
hillbillies, now?  Wasn't it pointed out recently that they constitute the
last safe butt of ethnic humor in
The great temptation in reading Andrews is to treat each speech act or micro-sentence as structurally equivalent, as together constituting a conflictual "field" of discourse or overall social horizon. But the method itself negates this assumption; it is, after all, based on a highly selective, obsessively organizational approach to its materials. So reading this line as a "wild" allusion to retrochic seems to me right in its nod to the decontextualization (heightened ambiguity) of the speech act as punchline, but misses the real edge of Andrews' project in Shut Up, which is an all-out war on liberal pieties — the kind that led, via '70s complacency, to the Reaganite '80s. Call it prog-chic — or, as it became a flashpoint in the '90s culture wars, political correctness.
 "Questions are wimpoid translations of statements" (165)
 "Teenage girls are a race apart" (193)
 "everything's a putrified hillbilly spitting up sinecure" (190)
 "Why did the Israelis let the Christian militia into the camps?—to impress Jodie Foster" (159)
 "Too bad we can't pee out of our nipples" (192)
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Books I took with me to the west coast.
· Far Out West, Clark Coolidge
· Culture, Dan Davidson
· Million Poems Journal, Jordan Davis
· Letters: Poems 1953-1956, Robert Duncan
Drafts 1-38, Toll,
· Sugar Pill, Drew Gardner*
· Push the Mule, John Godfrey
· V. Imp., Nada Gordon
· Inventions of Necessity: Selected Poems, Jonathan Greene*
· Miniatures and Other Poems, Barbara Guest*
· A Border Comedy, Lyn Hejinian*
· Slide Rule, Jen Hofer
· The Shrubberies, Ronald Johnson*
· SOUND / (system), Stephen Ratcliffe
· At Andy's, George Stanley*
· Reproduction of the Empty Flagpole, Eileen Tabios
· The Constructivist Moment: From Material Text to Cultural Poetics, Barrett Watten
Almost a Gentleman,
Also, I started one additional book I was given while out west, Leslie Scalapino’s Zither & Autobiography. Putting a genre category around Scalapino’s work is normally an activity fraught with peril, but I can report that the “Autobiography” portion of Zither & Autobiography is precisely as advertised. It’s also riveting.
Almost a Gentleman is erotic romance fiction, a genuine bodice ripper. I note today for the first time that I’m thanked in the acknowledgements to both that book & to The Constructivist Moment, about which I’ve written here previously. Can we say range?
* = completed reading
Monday, July 28, 2003
During the two weeks I was out in California, 1,968 people checked the blog. I take that as some register of the number of individuals (as distinct from either “visits” or “hits”) who drop by the site.
I do want to give a special shout out to the people who have thus far responded to my inquiry as to a working definition of flarf:
- Dan Bouchard
Louis Cabri DonCheney
- Drew Gardner
- Michael Helsem
- Rodney Koeneke
- Bill Luoma
K. Silem Mohammad Chris Sullivan Gary Sullivan
Responses added up to 13 pages, single spaced. You can still reply – it’s not like there’s a deadline: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I should note that I’m gathering this with an idea of putting together something, maybe a talk, on the nature of meaning, somewhere down the line. The replies I’ve received to date raise a series of further questions, all interesting – at least to me:
M Does flarf have a gender orientation?
M What is the relationship between flarf and subpoetics?
M Does flarf exist as a public phenomenon or as a coterie discourse? Could it exist the other way around?
M Is it flarf without Google?
Sunday, July 27, 2003