Saturday, May 19, 2007
and the body
has a secret
dives right in
of a Web site
44 to 75 days”
& the NEA
the neighborhood library…
to close them
”death of a bookstore”
comes from upstate NY
of the only bookstore
(where I live)
a week ago
got no notice whatsoever
I bought 7 bookcases
from Virginia Tech
by over 200 writers” –
The AP piece
This compares to
the 501 recordings
(which likes to call itself
” the world's premier
of recordings of poets
reading their work”)
had as of Friday
(or, more likely,
who owns the Beatles song catalog)
from the poor house
the music of Buddy Holly,
Guys & Dolls)
of Jerry Hall
& Tokuyama Gyokuran,
illuminating not manuscripts
so much as
paintings with text
Friday, May 18, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Books / Broadsides (Poetry)
Charles Alexander, near or random acts, Singing Horse Press,
David Antin, John Cage Uncaged Is Still Cagey, Singing Horse Press,
Ed Baker, Along the Sligo, Empty Hands Broadside #1, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007
Nicole Brossard, Notebook of Roses and Civilization, translated by Robert Majzels & Erín Moure, Coach House Press, Toronto, Ont., 2007
Lisa Bourbeau, Cuttings from the Garden of Little Fears, First Intensity,
Ricardo Domeneck, when they spoke I / confused cortex / for context, kute bash books,
Theodore Enslin, Four Ages of Man, Empty Hands Broadside #3, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007
Aaron Fagan, Garage, Salt Publishing,
Norman Fischer, I Was Blown Back, Singing Horse Press,
Brian L. Frazier, Here is Your Welcome: Don’t Let Your Face Get in Front of the Words, no location or publisher listed, 2007
Phillip Foss, The Ideation, Singing Horse Press,
Phillip Foss, Imperfect Poverty, Singing Horse Press,
Gloria Frym, Solution Simulacra, United Artists,
Shafer Hall, Never Cry Woof, No Tell Books,
Linday Hill, Contango, Singing Horse Press,
Karen Kelley, Mysterious Peripheries, Singing Horse Press,
Robert Kelly, Threads, First Intensity,
Michael Koshkin, Orgy in the Beef Closet, Transmission Press,
Hank Lazer, The New Spirit, Singing Horse Press,
Hank Lazer, One Dozen Portions,
John Martone, Terraria,
Deborah Meadows, Thin Gloves, Green Integer,
Andrew Mossin, The Epochal Body, Singing Horse Press,
Paul Naylor, Playing Well With Others, Singing Horse Press,
Duncan McNaughton, Bounce, First Intensity,
George Murray, The Rush to Here, Nightwood Editions, Gibson’s Landing, BC, 2007
Ron Padgett, If I Were You, collaborations with Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Tom Clark, Larry Fagin, Dick Gallup, Allen Ginsberg, Lita Hornick, Alice Notely, Douglas Oliver, James Schuyler, Tom Veitch & Yu Juan, Proper Tales Press, Toronto, Ont., 2007
John Perlman, A Walk Around the Lake, Empty Hands Broadside #2, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007
Charles Reznikoff, Holocaust, Black Sparrow,
Mary Rising Higgins, )cliff TIDES((, Singing Horse Press,
Janet Rodney, Moon on an Oarblade Rowing, First Intensity,
Mark Salerno, Odalisque, Salt Publishing,
Fred Jeremy Seligson, Cherry Blossoms of the Tidal Basin, Empty Hands Broadside #4, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007
Jay Snodgrass, ChronoMonster, Wildlife Books, no location listed, 2007
Jay Snodgrass, The Underflower, Cherry Grove Collections,
Jordan Stempleman, What’s the Matter, Otoliths,
James Thomas Stevens, Bulle / Chimère, First Intensity,
William Stobb, Nervous Systems, Penguin,
Ulf Stolterfoht, Lingos, translated by Rosmarie Waldrop, Cuneiform Press, Buffalo, NY, 2007
John Taggart, Wall / Stairway,
David Trinidad, The Late Show,
Scott Watson, A Breath Apart,
Tom Beckett, curator, E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The First XI Interviews, Otoliths, Rockhampton, Australia, 2007. Includes interviews of Crag Hill, Thomas Fink, Nick Piombino, Sheila E. Murphy, Eileen Tabios, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, K. Silem Mohammad, Geof Huth, Barbara Jane Rayes & Paolo Javier, Stephen Paul Miller, Jean Vengua. Interviewers include Beckett, Fink, Mark Young, Hill, Tabios & Ron Silliman
Michael Hofmann, editor, Twentieth-Century German Poetry, FSG,
Rae Armantrout, Collected Prose, Singing Horse Press,
Susan Barnes, Earthquake, Turtle
Juliana Spahr, The Transformation, Atelos,
CDs / DVDs / Other Media
Brenda Iijima & Austin Publicover, Council of Worms, rdr, repetitive & Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, Brooklyn, NY 2007
Filling Station 34,
Filling Station 35,
Filling Station 37: extra crunchy,
Filling Station 38: TV is bad for your eyes,
First Intensity, 21,
Hanging Loose 90,
Labels: Recently Received
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
(or sale, perhaps)
Jack Kerouac’s birthplace
Not for Mothers Only
”seems to be precisely
as a very high art
Poetry & pastry:
of December, 1910
Tabloid book reviewers
A skeptic’s view
book review “crisis”
makes some cuts
fall from favor
A profile of
A profile of
George E. Lewis:
& the 20th Century
There are two kinds
those who write too little
those who write too much
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Saturday afternoon, I came back from a long walk in Jenkins Arboretum – it’s azalea season here in Chester County & the arboretum is one of the great azalea & shade gardens – brought in & opened the mail, then lay on the couch with the three new books that had come that day & promptly fell asleep. When I woke, refreshed by that rare (for me) phenomenon of a mid-day nap, I thought to glance through the books & opened Stephen Vincent’s Walking Theory from Mark Weiss’ Junction Press. I started reading & just couldn’t stop. It’s not like Walking Theory is a chapbook – it’s 84 pages long – and for me reading anything longer than a one-page broadside-brochure in a single sitting is quite unusual. But Walking Theory is not a usual book. These are the poems Stephen Vincent has been preparing to write his entire life. They definitely pass the “take the top of your head off” test. I went cover to cover without even sitting up.
The walk as a unit of writing is not new to Vincent – his last book was called Walking & the relationship between the two volumes reminds me a little of how, when you saw David Antin’s first couple of books of talks, you sensed yourself in the presence of a supple & evolving form that one could expand & explore potentially for the rest of one’s life. It’s an experience-based unit of writing, not unlike “the sitting” – still the most common & least acknowledged verse unit there is – and one with some history & orientation. One could trace it, especially through, say, Phil Whalen or the circumambulations of Gary Snyder, back to the travel writing of
Walking Theory is a book of elegies, so that the walk itself is not just a mode of urban (and in some instances coastal) exploration & a good form of exercise for someone getting comfortable with the second half-century of his existence, it’s literally about walking off grief, directly, indirectly, every which way. Grief is as essential to this process of walking as breathing is to meditation. But one could say just as easily that walking is as essential to grief, etc. You can’t separate them out, the chicken from the egg of emotion. This book is pure emotion:
Grieve in the morning.
Grieve in the afternoon.
Your mother. Your father.
You friend. Your lover. The brother,
sister, son and daughter.
Unto the fourth day, unto the fifth,
upon the waters. Upon the night. Upon the day.
Or, also from “Elegy in Red”:
Go away little
Get off my back door.
Isn’t your father lonely?
Your mother home alone?
Go away, go away
little death Angel.
Break bread with the ancestors,
with the long dead.
Break bread with the moss on the oak,
Heaven leaves her morsels
on a stone.
Or, still deeper into this same poem:
How to put the death raft out.
How to put my brother’s body on the raft.
How to sing the song, a farewell song.
How to garland the raft with flowers.
How to pick the man or woman to guide the tiller.
How to watch the raft float by.
How to know the stream flows dark and deep.
How to know he will not come back.
How to know when to sing.
When to witness the trail,
the tracks and wheels,
the grooves in the earth
that brought him to
this river’s bank.
How to know when to weep.
It’s a misrepresentation, really, of Walking Theory, for me to quote only these works with so much parallelism. There is a ton of play here, and a shining wit – this actually isn’t a “heavy” or gloomy book in the slightest, once you acknowledge that grief also is a part of life. Vincent has a good sense of the line – I think that’s self-evident above – and a good ear for the spoken word as well. Some of the very best passages are pure quotation, such as these two from the long title poem:
”How are your dreams, Mom?”
”Oh, the other day, I wish
I had written it down. It was fantastic.
It was really something. I remembered it
All day long. It’s too bad
I didn’t write it down.”
”The sun is always sending out
bursts of energy.
I’ve been on one
Since early this week.”
Anonymous Voice, KPFA Radio, June 2004
Stephen Vincent has always been a personal poet & in his early work, such as his selection in Five on the Western Edge, the collection Vincent edited & published of Bay Area poets in the mid-seventies¹, I felt that to be a weakness, that it led toward sentimentality. But instead of stripping the personal out of his poems, Vincent has done just the opposite: he’s embraced it to a degree that I haven’t seen outside of the early books of Allen Ginsberg. Doing so, the sentiment, that buffer between what we feel & what we think we should feel, is what’s been stripped away. The result is a luminous record of a life, a family & a community. Walking Theory is a terrific book.
¹ In many ways Five is as good a record of
Labels: Stephen Vincent
Monday, May 14, 2007
Tottel’s is now online. At least partly. Craig Dworkin’s Eclipse archive, which, in its own words, is dedicated to “digital facsimiles of the most radical small-press writing from the last quarter century” is in the process of making my 1970s ‘zine its 100th collection. JPEG photo files of every page of all 18 issues are now available. “
I got the idea of trying a magazine in the fall of 1968 while I was a student in the creative writing program at
Ted Enslin, John Thorpe & Chuck Stein were other names that emerged from d’s address book, as were some folks who don’t appear in Tottel’s, most notably Armand Schwerner. I accepted some of Schwerner’s Tablets for my embryonic journal, which I was calling Alpha Sort, but by the time the initial issue of Tottel’s showed up, Armand’s work was already widely available in his first Black Sparrow collection of those poems.
As the hand-scripted logo from the first issue above may attest, one thing I clearly didn’t have a clue about was the production of any publication. I was also living on little more than $100 per month in those days, which didn’t leave me much in the way of resources to pay for printing, let alone typesetting & design. So I found myself for about two years with a stack of work that just sat there as I felt more & more guilty & confused about what to do. Even now, some three dozen years later, when somebody asks me for work for a something that never emerges – where is Leslie Davis’s anthology, Poetry and the Year 2000? – I always keep in mind that I’ve been there too and know precisely what that’s like.
What finally go me going was an unsolicited submission from David Gitin that I felt was just too good not to publish – the work’s neo-Objectivist impulses totally persuaded me – but that brought me face-to-face with the nasty reality that soliciting work & just sitting on it wasn’t “publishing,” but quite the opposite – I was keeping what I felt was significant work from getting out. So I finally went for an option that at the time I thought was inventing on the spot – I trundled down to the local Krishna Copy shop in
I was very much interested in defining this project as new. I didn’t even know enough to date the first issue, but it was probably December 1970 or January of 1971. I had separated from my first wife, Rochelle Nameroff, in late October 1970 after a five-year marriage & was living in a backyard cottage in
Tottel’s has sometimes been referred to as the first language poetry journal &, in the narrow sense that it beat This magazine to print by a few months, this may be true. In 1969, David Melnick & I had co-edited a selection of “Fifteen Young Poets the San Francisco Bay Area” for the Chicago Review – it appeared in the summer 1970 issue, not long before I took the first Tottel’s to the copy shop. We had had the opportunity at the time to include the writing of Rae Armantrout & Robert Grenier in that selection, but for different reasons failed to do so. In Rae’s case, I think we just lacked self-confidence that one of our fellow students at
in our manuscript. I’m not persuaded even now that the latter fear wasn’t reasonable, but I was determined not to make the same mistake twice and included five poems from Grenier’s Sentences in the first issue – possibly the first appearance anywhere of that seminal work. The third issue was devoted entirely to Armantrout’s poetry, and the fifth to Grenier’s. Two of the poems in the Armantrout number have survived all the way to her selected poems, Veil. So much for her not having been ready. Other single-author issues included David Gitin (#7), Thomas Meyer (9), Clark Coolidge (11), Ray DiPalma (12), David Melnick (13), Bruce Andrews (14), Larry Eigner (15) and Steve Benson (18). That’s a pretty good line-up after all these years.
One non-contributor whose presence in Tottel’s I also enjoyed was Phil Whalen, who can be seen climbing atop & then jumping from a large rock at the San Francisco Zen Center on the cover of issue 17. I forget how exactly I came by that selection. Somebody gave me the photos as a lark at some point & I recall writing away for permission to use them & waiting anxiously until I got a note back that said, basically, “Sure.”
A more ominous cover ran on the 16th issue, which made use of the execution record form from San Quentin, at the time the only document used by the California Department of Corrections that actually called a prisoner a prisoner rather than a resident or a client. This was something that I picked up on the job during the years I worked in the prisoner rights’ movement.
The sixty real contributors to Tottel’s included each of the following:
Robert David Cohen
Lee De Jasu
William B. Hunt
Jackson Mac Low
Opal L. Nations
Not a perfect list – I’m appalled to think I never printed Kit Robinson, Carla Harryman, Tom Mandel, Ted Pearson, Alan Bernheimer, Beverly Dahlen, Leslie Scalapino, Steve Ratcliffe, Erica Hunt, Aaron Shurin, Bob Glück, Norman Fischer, Kathy Acker, Steve Vincent etc. etc. etc., all of whom I knew in the 1970s – but a decent one overall.
Eclipse, the host institution, so to speak, is becoming one of the major archival sites for poetry of the last half century. Tottel’s is my third item in the Eclipse archive, as my issue of Stations dedicated to the work of Clark Coolidge and Legend, the booklength collaborative poem I wrote with Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Steve McCaffery & Bruce Andrews are already there. But I’m also in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, whose complete archives are here, and the index to This magazine. The archive also has some 15 books by Clark Coolidge, the complete books of David Melnick, Rae Armantrout’s first book, nine books by Bruce Andrews, five books by Lyn Hejinian, four by Robert Grenier (not including, alas, Cambridge M’ass, the giant poster of a book), all of the important early works by Bernadette Mayer, and all manner of really rare items, including books by N.H. Pritchard, the African-American avant-gardist, Peter Seaton’s great Agreement or Alden Van Buskirk’s Lami, one of the lost works of the Beat generation. I keep hoping that Dworkin eventually will add all of the early volumes of Coyote’s Journal, or Caterpillar, or Yugen or C. But like such sister sites as UBU, EPC & PENNsound, I’ll wager that Dworkin is doing this on a shoestring, sweat equity all the way beyond, perhaps, storage on a university server somewhere. It’s ironic that the Poetry Foundation, with its endowment of $100-plus million, or even the Academy of American Poetry, have done so much less with so many more resources.