Thursday, June 12, 2008

 

Conceptual Poetry Armor

Videos, audio & papers from
Conceptual Poetry & Its Others

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Retyping On the Road
to get inside
Kerouac’s head

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Rare event in NY:
Joanne Kyger reads
Sunday at
4:00 pm at BPC

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The librarian of Baghdad

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A poem by Roy Fisher

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Aaron Shurin’s King of Shadows

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Founder of the Scottish Poetry Library,
Angus Calder has died

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Readings from Ceptuetics Radio:
Rodrigo Toscano, Marie Buck, Barbara Cole, Rod Smith,
Bruce Andrews, Kenny Goldsmith, Anselm Berrigan,
Judith Goldman, Anne Tardos, Laura Elrick, more.
(maybe 9 hours of MP3s)

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Talking with Frances Sjoberg

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Videos of readings from London’s Openned series
include Maggie O’Sullivan, Charles Bernstein, Sean Bonney

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William Burroughs’ 3-CD set:
Real English Tea Made Here

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Events this week at MoCA D
(
Museum of Contemporary ArtDetroit)
include a talk by Bill Berkson Thursday PM
followed immediately by a reading
in memory of Jim Gustafson

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How we read

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“Best online language tools
for word nerds”

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7,000 poets apply
for
Abu Dhabi
”Prince of Poets” competition

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Books in Arabic & cultural isolation

Using the internet to pose choices

The Swedish Writers Union’s forthcoming congress
on literacy, digitalization & international dialog

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At Pasternak’s dacha

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A primer on langpo that thinks This
was a “NY magazine
(issues 1 & 2 were
Iowa City & Franconia, NH,
then later moved to
Oakland, SF & Oakland again)

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Kwame Dawes
on the poster girl
who was cut out of the picture

Using poetry to combat HIV/AIDS in Jamaica

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It’s like the game of telephone:
I say X, and you report it as X¹,
which then gets repeated as X²
& repeated again as X³,
which no longer
bears any resemblance to X

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Should poets lament
the decline of literature

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Is Kindle the iPod of ebooks?

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The Google Book Search Bibliography

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Encyclopedia Britannica goes Wiki

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Literary tattoos

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One decisive advantage old books
have over ebooks

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Pataphysics & negative capability

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Joan Houlihan on theories of meaning

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What I’ve always suspected:
we’re older than DiRT

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An epic purse
for scribes of verse

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Talking with Jay Parini

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The “torn poet,” Heinrich Heine

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Frank Bidart, Gabriela Juaregui
& a Vietnamese anthology from Nguyen Do & Paul
Hoover
reviewed by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

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More U.K. women
reject laureate’s post

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Berwyn Moore’s literary compost

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The writer as brand

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Talking, by email, with B.T. Shaw

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A book of poetry in English
by an Austrian-born American
published in Beirut

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Frieda Hughes: how to write

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A tribute to Tharabharathy

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Tenure-track professors
don’t have a place
in this new higher education universe”

On academic labor
(with a great comments screen)

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Paul Piccone: public intellectual

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The richest book prize in the world

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Talking with the founders of
Rose Metal Press

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Linking libraries
& the big trade publishers
ever closer together

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The internet & its discontents

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Are blogs good for books?

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Is Google making you stupid?

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The state of literary theory

Nostalgia for theory
is running high these days

Why we like the French

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The rise of fan fiction & comix culture

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One way to promote reading

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Measuring productivity in print

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How to destroy the LA Times

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Carlin Romano dissing Baudrillard

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New ways to promote books

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The future of free speech

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In Canada, hate speech laws
used to silence debate

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Dangerous Ideas
& why China objected
to the religious thinking
of atheists

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Censorship in San Mateo

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Paul Chan’s 7 Lights

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Japanese women thriving
in the Bay arts scene

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Diebenkorn’s greatness

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Mexican & Mexican-American artists
in the SF Bay Area

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Wynn Kramarsky talks to Bill Corbett

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A new home for the UC Art Museum

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Licthenstein’s “Girls”

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Judging the Barnes case

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Sometimes Joe Goode
really is Joe Great

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Tharp attacks dance

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A review of this blog

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

 

 

Recently Received

 

Books (Poetry)

Sandy Baldwin, I Did the Weird Motor Drive: Emissions, BlazeVOX, Buffalo 2008

Dawn-Michelle Baude, The Flying House, West Lafayette, IN 2008

Jeffrey Beam, The Beautiful Tendons: Uncollected Queer Poems, 1969 – 2007, White Crane Books, Brooklyn 2008

Robert Bense, Readings in Ordinary Time, The Backwaters Press, Omaha 2007

Gregory Betts, with Matt Donovan & Hallie Siegel, Haikube, BookThug, Toronto 2006

Gregory Betts, If Language, BookThug, Toronto 2005

Gregory Betts, The Curse of Canada, above/ground press, Maxville, Ontario 2008

Gregory Betts, The Others Raisd in Me, Trainwreck Press, St. John’s, NL 2008

Cid Corman, The Next One Thousand Years, Longhouse, Guilford, VT 2008

Jen Currin, Hagiography, Coach House Press, Toronto 2008

Mark DeCarteret, (If This Is the) New World, March Street Press, Greensboro, NC 2007

Veronica Forrest-Thomson, Collected Poems, Shearsman, Exeter UK 2008

Geoffrey Gatza, Not So Fast Robespierre, Menendez Publishing, Bloomington, IL 2008

C.S. Giscombe, Prairie Style, Dalkey Archive, Champaign & London 2008

Kenneth Goldsmith, Sports, Make Now, Los Angeles 2008

Noah Eli Gordon, A Fiddle Pulled from the Throat of a Sparrow, New Issues, Kalamazoo 2007

Ted Greenwald, 3, Cuneiform, Brooklyn 2008

Lars Gustafsson, A Time in Xanadu, translated from the Swedish by John Irons, Copper Canyon, Port Townsend, WA 2008

Michael S. Hennessey, Last Days in the Bomb Shelter (17 Narrower Poems), Satellite 7 Press, no location given, 2008

Yang Lian, Riding Pisces: Poems from Five Collections, translated from the Chinese by Brian Holton, Shearsman, Exeter, UK 2008

Tao Lin, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Melville House, Brooklyn 2008

Peter Manson, Between Cup and Lip, Miami University Press, Oxford, OH 2008

D.S. Marriott, Hoodoo Voodoo, Shearsman Books, Exeter UK 2008

John Martone, Box Turtle, Dogwood & Honeysuckle, Charleston, IL 2008

John Martone, Embryology, Dogwood & Honeysuckle, Charleston, IL 2001

Rebecca McClanahan, Deep Light: New and Selected Poems 1987 – 2007, Iris Press, Oak Ridge, TN 2007

Jonathan Williams, A Hornet’s Nest, compiled by Jeffrey Beam, Jargon Society & Green Finch Press, Highlands & Hillsborough, NC 2008

Robert Mittenthal, Value Unmapped, Nomados, Vancouver 2007

Pablo Neruda, The Hands of Day, translated from the Spanish by William O’Daly, Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, WA 2008

Alison Pelegrin, Big Muddy River of Stars, University of Akron Press, Akron, OH 2007

Donald Revell, A Thief of Strings, Alice James Books, Farmington, ME 2007

Christine Rhein, Wild Flight, Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock 2008

Howard W. Robertson, The Bricolage of Kotegaeshi, The Backwaters Press, Omaha 2007

Fiona Robyn, Small Stones: A Year of Moments, Lulu, Hampshire UK 2008

Leonard Schwartz, The Library of Seven Readings, Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn 2008

Jordan Scott, blert, Coach House Press, Toronto 2008

Ruth Stone, What Love Comes To: New & Selected Poems, Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, WA 2008

Mark Svenvold, Empire Burlesque, Ohio State University Press, Columbus 2007

R.M. Vaughan, Troubled, Coach House Press, Toronto 2008

Jay Wright, The Guide Signs: Book One and Book Two, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 2007

 

Books (Other)

Malcolm Boyd, A Prophet in His Own Land: A Malcolm Boyd Reader: Selected Writings, 1950-2007, White Crane Books, Brooklyn 2008

 

Journals

6x6, no. 15, Brooklyn, Spring 2008. Includes Lawrence Giffin, David Goldstein, Anne Heide, Will Hubbard, Mikhail Lermontov, Emma Rossi.

antennae 9, Riverwoods, IL, October 2007. Includes Tenney Nathanson, Carla Harryman, Patrick Durgin &Jen Hofer, Travis Just, David Pavelich, John Tipton, Barrett Watten, Donna Stonecipher, Carol Genetti

Bird Dog, no. 9, Seattle, Winter 2008. Includes Kate Eichorn, John Olson, Jordan Davis, Sandra Simmonds, Michelle Detorie, Eileen Tabios, Brian Henry, Robert Mittenhal, Stephanie Strickland, Shira Dentz, more.

Bombay Gin 34, Boulder, Spring 2008. Includes Andrew Zawacki, Laura Wetherington, Donald Revell, Laird Hunt, Eileen Myles, Johanna Drucker, Teresa Carmody, Ken McCullough, William S. Burroughs, more.

filling Station, 40, Calgary 2008. Includes Tom Wayman, Karen Mac Cormack, Kate Eichorn, George Bowering, Sina Queyras, Daisy Fried, Kate Greenstreet, Laura Sims, Carol Mirakove, Jena Osman, Nada Gordon, more.

filling Station, 41, Calgary 2008. Includes George Bowering, Michael Coolidge, Peter Jaeger, Andrew Klobucar, rob mclennan, Wanda O’Connor, Spencer Selby, Natalie Simpson.

Mimeo Mimeo, no. 1, Brooklyn, Spring 2008. Includes interview with Alastair Johnston, Kyle Schlesinger, Stephen Vincent, Jed Birmingham, Christopher Harter.

PRECIPICe, vol. 15, no. 1, St. Catherines, Ontario 2008. Includes Ahniko, D.A. Feinfield, Erin McKnight, Margaret Christakos, Nathalie Stephens, rob mclennan, bill bissett, more.

PRECIPICe, vol. 15, no. 2, St. Catherines, Ontario 2008. Includes Jay MillAr, Angela Long, Kate Eichorn, derek beaulieu, Camille Martin, Keith Inman, Wanda O’Connor, Richard Kostelanetz, more.

Primary Writing 41, Washington, DC, April 2008 “the FINAL ISSUE.” Includes P. Inman, Mel Nichols, Jessica Grim, Marcella Durand, Miles Champion.

Versal 6, Amsterdam, 2008. Includes Wiljan van der Akker, Shifa Ali, Laura Andrusyshyn, Jenny Arnold, Tom Bass, Logan Chace, Selfa Chew, Lakey Comess, Francisco Cunha, Joris Diks, Magdolene Dykstra, Dana Gentile, Ericka Ghersi, Marilyn Hacker, David Hart, Rozalie Hirs, Toshiya Kamei, Nabil Kashyap, Ko Kooman, Jane Monk, Mace Murakishi, Emelie Ostergren, Amy Purifoy Piazza, Paul Sohar, Xiao Kaiyu, many more.

Work, no. 4, no location given (Oakland?), 2008. Includes Erica Lewis, Geof Huth, Jeremy James Thompson, Chad Lietz, with artwork by Mark Stephn Finein.

 

Other Media & Formats

Kenneth Goldsmith, A Week of Blogs for the Poetry Foundation, no publisher, location or date listed, single sheet “12-page” brochure

Hassle no. 4, Cornwall UK, 2008. “featuring Joseph Massey.” Single sheet (A4 paper) folded into quarters containing seven poems by the bard of the California northcoast.

John Martone, Untitled, no data given (including author’s name), but apparently 13 poems (depending on how one counts what might be division marks) from Dogwood & Honeysuckle, Charleston, IL 2008. Single sheet of 3.25x5.5” paper folded into quarters and placed in a seed envelope.

 

Still catching up on all items received
since January 11.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 


”Carrie” has the arms of a weightlifter in Sex and the City

My guess is that – just speculatin’ here – I’m not exactly whom writer/director Michael Patrick King had in mind when he created the movie version of Sex and the City. But when a key member of my wife’s girl gang ended up seeing the film with her husband – which led to interesting discussions (the word “traitor” was used) – I ended up taking Krishna to see the surprisingly long version of what feels for all the world like an episode of the HBO show stretched to fit a Holiday-special time slot. As such, it’s a diverting two-and-one-half hours, but not so diverting that it kept my mind from morphing into something akin to a film anthropologist. What really is going on here?

The plot will be familiar to anyone who’s seen even a few of the shows – the gang of four (Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, a freelance writer whose topics are sex & love, Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones, the ultimate cougar [a women whose preference is for younger men] and a longtime marketing exec, Cynthia Nixon as lawyer Miranda Hobbes & Kristin Davis as Charlotte York, a bubbly airhead whose money is strictly inherited) are all roughly ten years older than we saw them last. Two are married – Charlotte & Miranda – while the other two are in what have become longtime committed relationships, Samantha to a hunky young TV star who is shockingly nice & considerate to the partner who also serves as his manager, having moved with him to LA, and Carrie to financier Mr. Big (Law & Order’s Chris Noth). Over the course of the next 150 minutes all four women will be tested – Charlotte will get pregnant, Samantha will wonder if monogamy is all that great, Miranda leaves her marriage after her husband admits cheating (“just once”), and Carrie & Big decide to get married, then split after he gets cold feet literally at the steps to the event after Carrie has let their “little” wedding spiral out of control – full spread in Vogue, the wedding itself at the New York Public Library, the “no name” dress transforming into a Vivienne Westwood gown.

Ostensibly this film is about the choices these women make & how they resolve their issues. Yet given that three of the women are having major relationship difficulties, it’s curious that the one woman in a happy marriage, Charlotte, is the character least on view here, her husband, played by Evan Handler (whom West Wing fans will recognize as the acerbic campaign consultant with the shaved head), has almost no dialogue outside of one hospital scene after Charlotte delivers. Both Cynthia’s marriage & Carrie’s wedding collapse after the husband makes a critical mistake & Samantha finds her goody-two-shoes telly star isn’t enough to keep her from longing after her neighbor, Dante, who is wont to have trysts with different women every day (the curtains are always open) and who likes to shower on his back porch. Particularly after her beau has to work late on Valentine’s Day while Cattrall lies waiting for him dressed in nothing but homemade sushi (“places where wasabi has no right to go”).

So the men give the women an excuse to opt out, which three of them do, and they’re all there for each other (save for a curious subplot regarding Miranda and Carrie’s betrothed), then two of them learn little lessons about forgiveness & all’s well that end’s well. There’s another little tale-within-the-tale involving a personal assistant to Carrie, portrayed by Jennifer Hudson, who does seem to handle these film cameos with great élan. But that’s basically it for two-and-a-half hours.

So what takes so much time? First, it seems to be harder to introduce characters whom 98 percent of the audience already knows than it would have been on their own – the first 30 minutes of this film are really awkward & slow, so that it’s all uphill from there. Second, the main narrative arc – Big & Carrie finding “the perfect apartment” (it’s a penthouse) gives them time to contemplate making over the shell of a unit (the object of desire here is a closet) & Carrie has to decide what to take & what to pitch after 20 years in her previous place, which occasions much trying on of vintage wear. Then the run up to the wedding takes a great deal of time as every little item suddenly gets bigger, from the dress (from a “no name” dress to high art couture), to the location (the aforementioned NYPL), to the guest list – 75 to over 200. Somewhere in there is a trip to Fashion Week – I’m not kidding – and we get to see one collection its entirety. Not to mention the Vogue shoot. Finally there is the item that drew the loudest and most awed gasps from the audience I saw the film with in Plymouth Meeting, PA, the closest thing in this film to pure porn the redesigned walk-in closet, larger than a lot of New York apartments.

This is a film all about surfaces & labels – indeed, it admits as much in the very first sentence of Carrie’s voiceover at the start of the film – “young women come to New York in search of the two Ls, labels & love.” And it’s intriguing, actually, that the quartet are all (save maybe for Charlotte) allowed to show their age. There are moments here when Carrie, Miranda & Samantha all look quite tired, even haggard & scenes in which Sarah Jessica Parker’s neck, her arms & her knees may well make her cringe, in spite of the fact that she obviously puts a lot of time in at the gym. In fact, each is much more interesting when they're not being beautiful and that may be the point (also why it’s the airhead who’s not included in this). There are several scenes later in the film that are nothing but shots of Carrie, her hair dyed a darker brown, looking pensive, like any woman in her forties contemplating the question of age in a society that is so heavily marketed to the young.

Which is why, I suspect, that only one of the couples thinks about therapy – Miranda & her philandering ex-. If you have to choose between psychology & shoes, the Sex and the City franchise will opt always for the latter, even as it knows, in the pit of its guilty stomach, that the former really is more important. In a film that is all about surfaces, it’s difficult to create a tale of insight. Perhaps this is why the decision of Miranda & Steve to meet midway on the Brooklyn Bridge if they’ve decided to put his affair & her rigid punishing ways behind them seems so terribly hokey. Not to mention Carrie & Big’s romantic reunion in the closet. Or why the decision of Samantha to move back to New York & return to her role as constant sexual predator isn’t commented on at all, even as they celebrate her 50th birthday.

It would be interesting actually – I mean this in a completely serious way – to revisit this quartet again in ten years & just maybe another time ten years after that, not unlike Michael Apted’s Up film series (the last episode of which was 49 Up after following the same real people since they were seven). At what moment, do you think, does life become about something more than shoes given who these people are? Will Samantha ever contract a serious STD? Or figure out that her lifestyle, the female equivalent of Joe Namath or Wilt Chamberlain, is itself terribly lonely? At what moment will 25-year-old men stop responding? Will Miranda ever get beyond being uptight? Perhaps as a judge? Will parenting turn Charlotte into an adult? The whole text of age would be interesting to explore with this set of characters, but it’s not clear to me that the makers – its primary writers have always been men, Darren Star on the TV series & King here – have the intellectual perspective to make it work.

Seeing Sex and the City the same weekend that Hillary Clinton finally withdrew from the presidential race gave this film’s overlaps with feminist subtexts a sharper edge than they might have had some other time. This is, after all, a franchise that shows women as successful and superficial all at once, a contradiction it never fully owns or explores, tho it does seem from time to time to be conscious of its presence. Clinton’s candidacy was sunk more by her vote on Iraq & poor planning – ignoring the caucus states will live in infamy as Mark Penn’s dumbest move – than it was by the continual misogyny of cable news & others (try to imagine a black stereotype piece of merchandise equivalent to the Hillary Clinton nutcracker!) but that misogyny was a constant irritant & has, I think, rubbed a lot of people quite raw over the past several months. I’m not convinced, frankly, that Sex and the City itself is free of such misogyny, even as it markets itself as the ultimate female guilty pleasure.

You’re always aware that the hierarchies here are in place. Not just as in label versus no-label, but even among the actresses. Parker never disrobes (to the degree that in the final love-in-a-closet climax, the two are lying on the shag rug fully clothed afterwards, their hair perfectly in place), while it is Nixon who has the hot sex scene with everything out there for the audience to see. It’s Cattrall under all those California rolls & we even catch a glimpse of a Kristin Davis nipple in a brief love scene. It all reinforces the hierarchies that are in place elsewhere not just in this movie, but in society with regards to women. There is a scene in which personal assistant Hudson is given a Louis Vutton purse by Carrie, so that she can return to St. Louis a success because she got a name purse! Is that what African American women want? Somehow I have my doubts.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

 

Talking with Tao Lin

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A profile of Caroline Bergvall

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Flarf vs. conceptualism
the war begins

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In Moscow, two exhibits celebrate
the “inventor” of conceptual poetry,
Dmitri Prigov

Citizens Please Mind Yourselves

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More comments on
the Conceptual Poetry Symposium
from Charles Alexander

And even more from Vanessa Place

Vispo at the symposium

Tracie Morris on black code

Cole Swensen’s negative ekphrasis

Kenny G seeks to get a last word

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Lyn Hejinian’s A Border Comedy

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Octogenarians rule

Blaser wins the Griffin

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Joan Houlihan dissing
Matthea Harvey’s Modern Life

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Poetry in the 1970s

Conference schedule

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Talking with Liz Mariani

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Mary Oliver’s 12th collection

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In the U.K., a woman poet laureate
would mean progress

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When you conflate high modernism & the avant-garde

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Bringing together Chinese & British poetries

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Jack Foley on Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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Lamantia & Hoffman together again

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LA Times obit for Paula Gunn Allen

UCLA Newsroom obit

Talking with Paula Gunn Allen

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This just in:
Guardian runs obit of Jonathan Williams

An appreciation from Mitzel in Fag Rag

Another by Norbert Blei in Poetry Dispatch

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The importance of Jeffrey Beam

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“the most successful publisher of poetry in history
stops

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Dale Smith on lyric strategies

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Reading Beth Bachmann

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Remembering Josephine Jacobsen

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A profile of Maxine Kumin

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Youg Shu Hoong readings in London

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The latest on Walcott vs. Naipaul

David Rieff on Naipaul

The first chapter of Naipaul’s latest

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A blog on the social function of diaries

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George Eliot & Louis Zukofsky

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3 poems by Charles Bernstein

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What we hear in readings

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Mark Nowak asks the age-old question
about poetry in a post- (and anti-) literate society

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Elizabeth Bradfield’s Interpretive Work

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Nam Le & “ethnic lit”

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Major Jackson on voicemail poetics

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Poetry & Hollywood

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Violence & verse

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MP3s from the Twin Cities’ slamfest

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Re-envisioning Djuna Barnes’
Book of Repulsive Women

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Mary Karr on William Matthews

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The Edgar Lee Masters poetry reading
& tractor show

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The anti-Williams

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Death of a bookstore on
Martha’s Vineyard

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Black Oak Books’
SF branch has closed

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One place where reading is rising – Spain

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A profile of Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

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The to-do over Wetlands

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Charles Murray’s attempt
to re-edit his past

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The fate of Ford Maddox Ford

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The writers’ strike cost $2.1B
& 37,000 jobs

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The poets of Greenville, Ohio

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30 poets on film

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IT failure haiku poems

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Talking with Mary Lou Sanelli

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His own best fan

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Talking with Charles Nevsimal

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21 promising writers

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Talking with William Jay Smith

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Nampa, Idaho
where ignorance is not only bliss
but policy

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Talking with Paul Siegell

Not quite a profile of Siegell

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Talking with Monica Youn (MP3)

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Rushdie’s Florence

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A sonnet by Billy Collins

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In the end, we’re all the Grateful Dead

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Why major in painting?

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Tracy Emin: My life in a column

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Barry Schwabsky on Jess
(subscription required)

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Master photographers at the Met

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Aussie cops drop Henson prosecution

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A school for scoundrels

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GIRLdrive

§

Something to look forward to

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