Friday, April 11, 2008

 

It was when the kind reader pointed out to me that not only had I misspelled Matthew Zapruder’s name and that of his book (which, frankly, looks alien to me in any possible spelling), but that I had also misspelled the title of my own book, that I had to concede that this here bronchitis is taking more of a toll than I’d care to admit. I’m going to give it a rest for a few days and see if I can’t push my IQ back up to a dull normal.

Labels:



Thursday, April 10, 2008

 


Photograph by Jonathan Williams

When I was asked if I would judge this year’s William Carlos Williams Award for the Poetry Society of America (PSA), I had some serious bouts of ambivalence. I am not, as readers of this space will know, a fan of prizes in general. When they are done at all well, it is the giver who is ultimately honored for having had the good sense to pick wisely. And when they’re done badly, well, the good folks at Foetry will be happy to tell you all about that. The Williams award, ostensibly for the best book by a small, non-profit or university press volume, has had as mixed a record as any. Neither the PSA nor Wikipedia lists a comprehensive list of winners for every year, so I can’t tell you if it’s been awarded every year since, say, Williams died in 1963. Or was it simply thought up in the 1980s to acknowledge the fact that to give book awards to trade press publications (this year’s Pulitzer is shared by Harcourt and Ecco presses) profoundly distorts the actually existing field of poetry?

Diane Wakoski won the Williams Prize in 1989 for her selected poems, Emerald Ice, the one instance I can see in which it was given in something akin to the spirit of Williams himself. Most of the winners since then have been decidedly mixed. It’s worth noting that Fanny Howe was the judge one year and gave the award to Ralph J. Mills & that Marjorie Welish awarded it to Brenda Hillman two years ago. Last year’s judge, Tony Hoagland, gave the prize to Matthew Zapruder for his Copper Canyon Collection, The Pijamaist. That’s not a bad choice, though it’s almost certainly not the one I would have made had I been the judge. But what would I do under such a circumstance? That thought nagged at me. I, after all, had my “aha” experience as a teenager – that thunderclap event that let me know then & there that I was going to be a poet – as the result of reading The Desert Music, published by New Directions. I have some very strong ideas about the role & meaning of Williams’ in American poetry & writing general. And this was a prize for an already published volume – it wasn’t your usual exploitive, pay the readers’ fee & hope your manuscript gets picked, book contest. Those contests always appall me, and I feel as badly for the winners – whom nobody ever takes seriously – as I do the losers who fund such ventures.

So I said yes. I was told that I could expect to receive between 70 and 100 volumes and that they would show up sometime in January. When they did, there were three large cartons and a total of 150 books in all. How was I going to pick a winner out of that? I got open a box cutter and sliced into the first carton. There, right smack at the top, was a volume that jolted me into fairly uncontrollable laughter – my own The Age of Huts (compleat). When I was finally able to catch my breath I picked it up, rather the way Hamlet holds the skull of Yorick, and addressed it (probably out loud): Well, little fella, you finally have found an award that shares your own sense of aesthetics, and you don’t stand a chance.

Labels:



Wednesday, April 09, 2008

 

Mark Wallace on poetry readings.

§

Ed Mycue’s ten favorite books

§

Remembering Rochelle Ratner

§

Aaron McCollough on
Barrett Watten & textsound,
manufactured landscapes in China &
Linh Dinh’s attempt to align me
along side Kenny Goldsmith

§

Joyelle McSweeney on Hannah Wiener

§

Dale Smith on the prose
of Forrest Gander

§

Robert Kelly on Jonathan Williams

§

Robert Hass (Ecco Press) & Philip Schultz (Harcourt) share
this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

§

Geof Huth’s long & winding blog

§

A Lee-Ann-thology of concrete poetry (MOV)

§

Walt Whitman as spiritual leader

§

Gillian Ferguson’s 1000-page
online epic

§

What If I Am a Literary Gangster?

§

Alistair McCartney’s The End of the World Book

§

The new Mipoesias can be downloaded (PDF)
or eaten straight from the can

§

Frances Richey’s war poetry

§

Would you trust Stanley Fish’s
account of deconstruction?
Me neither

§

Poetry it is not a genre.”

“I Heard the Google Gong

“I Heard It is One of Many Possibilities

Further Thoughts

§

A profile of Virago

§

Poetry & psychoanalysis

§

Outdoing Kent Johnson even

§

The several lives of Joseph Conrad

§

A profile of Tracy K. Smith

§

Are professorships doomed?

The thesaurus is dying

And what about bookstores?

Among the newly doomed:
Acres of Books in LA

§

So, are ebooks starting to catch on?

§

Alice Fogel’s passion for nature

§

The commodification of poetry

§

Emory opens the Danowski Poetry Library

§

Sartre’s harem & Simone de Beauvoir

§

North Andover’s laureate is finishing his term

§

Talking with Brian Hall

§

Poets of the Kitsap Peninsula

§

Talking with Billy Collins

§

Simon Armitage:
My life with air guitar

§

Naipaul the monster

§

Simon Michael Bessie, the last person
to build a major trade publishing firm
from scratch, has died

§

The success of Jodi Picoult

§

Roseanne Cash:
Returning to writing

§

Just who benefits from
giving a Pulitzer to Dylan?

§

Nobody sounds like Messiaen

§

Pavarotti lip-synched his last performance

§

Gabriel Gomez’ The Outer Bands

§

Recreating Dan Flavin’s ’64 show

§

The art of Doris Lee

§

The work of Ralph Rapson

§

Fisk to appeal order protecting O’Keefe collection

Labels:



Tuesday, April 08, 2008

 

Recently Received

 

Books (Poetry)

Mike Allen, The Journey to Kailash, Norilana Books, Winnetka, CA 2008

Allen Bramhall, Days Poem, Vol. 1 and 2, Meritage Press, St. Helena, CA 2008

Michael Cirelli, Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn, 2008

Jack Collom & Lyn Hejinian, Situations, Sings, Adventures in Poetry, New York & Princeton, 2008

Gaius Valerius Catullus, The Complete Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus, translated, with essays, by Ryan Gallagher, Bootstrap Press, Lowell, MA 2008

Tom Jenks, A Priori, If P then Q Classics, no location given, 2008

R. Zimora Linmark, The Evolution of a Sign, Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn, 2008

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Abdallah Jones and the Disappearing-Dust Caper, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2006 (includes CD)

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Coattails of the Saint, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2006

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Cooked Oranges, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2007

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, I Imagine a Lion, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2006

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Laughing Buddha, Weeping Sufi, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2005

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Love is a Letter Burning in a High Wind, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2006

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Mars and Beyond, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2005 (includes CD)

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Psalms for the Brokenhearted, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2006

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Ramadan Sonnets, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2005

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Salt Prayers, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2005

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, The Flame of Transformation Turns to Light: Ninety-Nine Ghazals Written in English, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2005

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, The Music Space, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2007

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Through Rose Colored Glasses, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2008

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Underwater Galaxies, Ecstatic Exchange, Philadelphia, 2007

Brenda Shaughnessy, Human Dark With Sugar, Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, WA 2008

Hazel Smith, The Erotics of Geography: Poetry, Performance Texts, New Media Works, Tinfish Press, Kāne’ohe, HI 2008 (includes CD/CDR)

 

Books (Anthologies)

April Lindner, COBPEMEHHAЯ AMERИKAHCKAЯ ПOЭЭЯ, introduction by Dana Gioia, no publisher given, no location given. Includes Kay Ryan, Adrian C. Louis, Thomas Lux, Marilyn Nelson, Ron Silliman, Yusef Komunyakaa, Amy Uyematsu, William Baer, R.S. Gwynn, David Lehman, Heather McHugh, Timothy Steele, Lyn Emanuel, David St. John, Sarah Cortez, Angie Estes, Jorie Graham, Andrew Hudgins, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Rita Dove, Alice Fulton, Mark Jarman, Naomi Shihab Nye, Elizabeth Spires, Mark Doty, Jane Hirshfield, Tony Hoagland, Gertrude Schnackenberg, Kim Addonizio, Michael Donghy, David Mason, Mary Jo Salter, H.L. Hix, Denise Duhamel, Natasha Trethewey, Christian Wiman, Larisa Szporluk, Diane Thiel, Suji Kwock Kim, A.E. Stallings, Kevin Young & Eric McHenry.

Rychard Denner, Berkeley Daze: Profiles of Poets in Berkeley in the ‘60s, dPress, Sebastapol, CA 2008. Includes Luis Garcia, Belle Randall, Ron Loewinsohn, David Bromige, Gail Dusenbery, Gene Fowler, David Meltzer, Doug Palmer, Julia Vinograd, John Oliver Simon, Richard Krech, Ron Silliman, Charles Potts, Jack Foley, Harold Adler, more.

 

Books (Other)

Joe Brainard, The Nancy Book, with essays by Ann Lauterbach & Ron Padgett and including collaborations with Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Robert Creeley, Frank Lima, Frank O’Hara, Ron Padgett & James Schuyler, Siglio, Los Angeles 2008

Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, Penguin, New York, 2008

 

Journals

Area Sneaks, no. 1, Los Angeles, 2008. Includes K. Lorraine Graham, Ian Monk, Andrew Maxwell, Sawako Nakayasu, Stan Apps, Mark Wallace, more.

House Organ, 62, Spring 2008, Lakewood, OH. Vincent Ferrini issue. Includes Ferrini, John Montgomery, James Bertolino, Robert Creeley, Stephen Ellis, Alan Golding, Jack Hirschman, Phil Sawyer, David Meltzer, Ed Sanders, Curtis Faville, Ted Enslin, George Bowering, Nathan Whiting, more.

Open Letter, Thirteenth Series, No. 5, Spring 2008. bpNichols +20 issue, edited by Lori Emerson. Includes Rob Winger, Jim Andrews, Geof Huth, Lionel Kearns, Marko Niemi, Dan Warber, Steve McCaffery, Lynette Hunter, more.

 

Other Formats

Alan Davies, I) write on the other side of doom, postcard broadside, House Press, Buffalo, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, 2008

Anthony Robinson, Asterisk 4, folded broadside, Fewer & Further Press, Wendell, MA 2008

 

Just a few more of the items received since January 11
-- to be continued

Labels:



Monday, April 07, 2008

 

I was somewhere in the vicinity of 20 to 22-years-old when, during an intermission at a marathon antiwar reading at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco where I was hovering, as was my wont, at the periphery of a crowd that surrounded Robert Duncan, who had just read, when Mark Linenthal, whom I knew from his role as the director of the San Francisco Poetry Center, approached with a granite-faced man and said to Duncan, “Robert, I want you to meet George Oppen.” I can recall also Oppen’s first words to Duncan, “I want to speak to you about your open vowels.” It was an event that seared itself into my memory because it violated one of the tenets of my imagination, that all famous writers already knew one another, must secretly hang out together, having fabulous gabfests, the “deep gossip” we associate with poetry. What I don’t recall – and this is the first of several regrets I have here – perhaps because I was so overwhelmed at the idea that I watching the meeting of Duncan & Oppen, was what Robert replied.

My second regret, unfortunately not an uncommon one for anyone who was a renter for decades, especially in an area like San Francisco or the East Bay, where one is forever having to balance space & the needs of one’s book collection, is that I no longer appear to possess one of my favorite volumes of that period, four decades ago, a copy of Oppen’s first book, Discrete Series, published not by Oppen himself, but a chapbook reprint done by Ron Caplan out of Cleveland. At a time when everyone I knew seemed to own copies of The Materials, This in Which, and Of Being Numerous, I was just about the only person I knew who owned a copy of that.

I’d acquired my copy of The Materials early on, I don’t know where, almost certainly at Cody’s or Moe’s in Berkeley or (far less likely) City Lights across the Bay. This in Which I’d appropriated, the old five-finger-discount, the first time I’d ever seen a copy, from the university bookstore at UWM, the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, in the summer of 1967. Rochelle Nameroff, my wife at the time, and I couldn’t believe our good fortune. Here was this old Objectivist, actually alive & writing again, producing great work. There are poems there, such as “Street,” as fine as anyone has written:

Ah these are the poor,
These are the poor –

Bergen Street.

Humiliation,
Hardship . . .

Nor are they very good to each other;
It is not that. I want

An end of poverty
As much as anyone

For the sake of intelligence,
‘The conquest of existence’ –

It has been said, and is true –

And this is the real pain,
Moreover. It is terrible to see the children,

The righteous little girls;
So good, they expect to be so good . . .

Ellipses, as they say, in the original. There are small moments here that I don’t think I fully understood or appreciated as a young man, the doubleness created by “An end of poverty,” rather than the more standard preposition to. Or the reiteration in that last line, which at the time I might have read as sentiment rather than the certainty of horror. Or that most curious of words, Moreover, concluding the longest of this poem’s disjointed, half-broken sentences. This is a poem that works precisely in all the ways its syntax appears not to.

But the poems of Discrete Series, composed between 1929 & 1934, spoke to me then, as they do to me now, with a directness I find nowhere else in Oppen’s work. It’s not simply that they were the poems of someone in his early twenties, the same age I was when I came upon that volume at Serendipity Books in Berkeley.(It’s hard for me to imagine that when Oppen met Duncan back there at Glide Church, he was not yet 60, younger than I am today, or that Duncan, who was older than my parents, was not yet 50.) Rather, Discrete Series offers the poems of a modernist, an aesthetic in which action (including even political action) is possible. Consider, for example, how the gaps & omissions of the following untitled piece operate in contrast with “Street”:

    Thus
Hides the

Parts – the prudery
Of Frigidaire, of
Soda-jerking –

Thus

Above the

Plane of lunch, of wives
Removes itself
(As soda-jerking from
the private act

Of
Cracking eggs);

big-Business

This poem operates like a tiny Moebius strip in that the dangling final noun-phrase big-Business is precisely that which “Hides the // Parts – the prudery / Of Frigidaire.” There is, in any consumer business, including one as simple as a lunch counter, a radical gap between that which is customer-facing & that which is not. This dissociation between public & private is paralleled by that alienation that transforms any “private act” into labor for pay. Thus if the gaps of “Street” stand for just how good those righteous little girls won’t be soon enough, and how and why, the vertigo of sheer terror, the unmarked ellipses of this earlier poem stand for processes no less brutal, but hardly inevitable. Only one of these exists in a world in which political action is even conceivable.

I will always be an advocate for the earliest Oppen. Far from the unrealized works of a beginning writer, they show us the poems of an optimist, someone who has not yet adjusted to the permanent defeat that was Stalinism. The later work, at least through Of Being Numerous, is no less luminous, but its relationship to the world is chastened, perhaps even depressed. This of course leads to my last regret – those twenty-five years between poems.

ж ж ж

A Celebration of
George Oppen’s 100th Birthday
100 minutes of talk & poetry

Hosted by Rachel Blau DuPlessis & Thomas Devaney
& featuring
Stephen Cope
, George Economou, Al Filreis,
Michael Heller, Ann Lauterbach, Tom Mandel,
Bob Perelman, & Ron Silliman

Today, April 7

6:00 PM, Arts Café, Kelly Writers House
3805
Locust Walk
University
of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia

Labels: ,



Sunday, April 06, 2008

 

Remembering Anne Spencer
in Lynchburg,
VA

§

What do we want
digital poetry to be?

§

What Reginald Shepherd & Rae Armantrout
& Bill Zavatsky & Forrest Gander

all have in common

§

Squaring Kenneth Goldsmith & Reginald Shepherd
on the poetics of identity

§

Talking with Suzanne Vega

§

John Tranter, in conversation with Charles Bernstein (MP3)

Tranter, reading from Urban Myths (MP3)

§

d.a. levy and the mimeo-graph revolution

§

Voice of America on Langston Hughes

§

Falling for the charms
of Daniil Kharms

§

Linh Dinh on poetry & technology

Reginald Shepherd on the same

§

Dihn on the war poetry of Tran Da Tu

§

Of all the books in the history of the world,
the one I most desire
is Robert Grenier’s Cambridge M’Ass

Barring that, I would love to get my hands
on the individual
who stole the copy off my office door
at SF State in 1981

§

Fou is an excellent new e-journal

§

Honoring Donald Finkel

§

Jean Valentine, Li-Young Lee and Gary Snyder
at a poetry conference
spittin’ distance from the Bush estate in
Crawford, TX

§

Jorie Graham’s Sea Change

§

A profile of Thomas Sayers Ellis

§

Shakespeare in court

§

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Slam Poetry

§

“the slithering syntax of John Kinsella

§

Aaron Anstett, a laureate for Pike’s Peak

§

Karla Van Vliet reads to the door

§

Why good poets work in pickle factories

§

Using the web to build demand

§

“I should note, as a bookseller, I hate everyone”

§

The LA Times on national poetry month

Elsewhere in Los Angeles

Meanwhile in the Hamptons

Around Washington, DC

Atlanta chooses the Quietist route

What it all means

§

Reed Whittemore at 88

§

The largest poetry festival in Maine
is not in Orono

§

10 Questions for Rachel Bunting

§

Being interviewed posthumously by Robert Creeley

§

Book buying in Boise

§

Are boomers the last book-centered generation?

§

Malayalam poetry and its mass connection

§

A profile of Cheryl Lachowski

§

A good look at the Allen anthology
hidden away among some bad HTML

§

Siri Hustvedt’s The Sorrows of an American

§

Frost in fiction

§

Virginia Gillespie’s Taoist Inner Tube Rider

§

Ekphrastic in Uganda

§

Bei Dao in Oklahoma

§

Why Richard Kenney is not a language poet

§

Naipaul the sexist

§

The war poems of Brian Turner

§

Gillian Clarke is named Wales National Poet

§

Talking with Linda Pastan

§

$50,000 for one of the least risky poets
in
North America

But Daisy Fried likes him too

§

Fried on Janet Malcolm

§

How do you review a book like
Guy Gavriel Kay’s Beyond This Dark House?

§

Kwame Dawes on
life & HIV in
Jamaica

§

Chatting with Cherkovski

§

The Impac Prize shortlist

§

A profile of Salman Rushdie
that’s not fatwa-centric

§

Rupert Smith
on his life in porn

§

Mary Karr on Heather McHugh

§

Teaching by formula

§

“no official diagnosis of
death by blogging

§

Symptomatic Reading & Its Aftermath

§

The narcissism of small differences

§

When time stood still in Grand Central Station

Labels:



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?