Saturday, December 05, 2009

 

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Friday, December 04, 2009

 

Two & one-half days is not long enough to spend in New York City, particularly since Krishna & I hadn’t done a trip there by ourselves in a long while. Sans kids? Maybe 20 years. Mostly I’m going up for readings or she’s going up with friends or for conferences, the other one at home to care for the nest. But our hulking 17-year-olds don’t feel much need these days. So we borrowed the flat of some friends & headed out to see what we could see, hear what we could hear, eat what we could eat.

Two places where we had better-than-great meals were Back 40, on Avenue B between 11th & 12th, and Bombay Talkie on Ninth Ave just up from 21st Street. At Back 40, we listened to some nice bluegrass over the sound system while the party at one table next to us talked about the scene at the Nuyorican Café & the party at the other table was discussing Gary Snyder. Add to this the best roasted Brussels Sprouts I’ve ever had, perfectly grilled trout (tho they could have been more generous with the chickpea puree that comes with it), and a chocolate bread pudding that we shared, but still took enough home to snack on for the next two days! At Bombay Talkie we shared the Baighan Bharta – I’m an eggplant addict -- & five-spice shrimp. I needed the mango lassi, two in fact, just to keep from bursting into flames. We walked 2.5 miles each way to get to Back 40, but it was well worth the trip. Plus we ran into Lewis Warsh at the market on the way back.

The first part of Saturday was spent looking at galleries in Chelsea. By far, the most wonderful show was Bill Viola’s Bodies of Light at James Cohan Gallery, pictured above. Viola has been around for quite a few years, but his work has an integrity that never gets old, and when accumulated into a gallery-wide installation, it’s just overwhelmingly beautiful, meditative, erotic & sad all at once. We didn’t get to nearly as many galleries as we’d planned on simply because we were transfixed by these pieces. In the installation pictured above – the last (or perhaps deepest) one – a pair of teenagers walk slowly up toward the camera on parallel screens on the wall to the left. They’re blurred at first, virtually without color, until they slowly come through a falling sheet of water you didn’t even realize (unless, of course, you’d seen the rest of the exhibit, where this motif is repeated several times) was there. In the photo above, you can see the young woman reaching her arms out as she penetrates the waterfall, while the guy, with pure teenage male energy, just crosses his arms & wades right in. It’s apparent that the young woman has trained as a dancer – even with her clothes soaking, she’s powerful & fierce. In the screen at the back a naked couple – he’s Asian, she’s European – pierce the waterfall more or less together & react to what they see or imagine. Whatever it is, it’s very different for each. These videos are done in slow motion, tho what really gives them their power is the infinite dignity of the performers.

Time & familiarity with an artist’s work can have mixed results. I liked the Joseph Raffael watercolors of flora at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery, a side of his work I’d not seen before, a lot. But Ronnie Landfield’s intense color field paintings at the Stephen Haller Gallery made me want to see the Jules Olitski and Sam Francis originals. Deep sigh. Likewise I found Enrique Chagoya, an old favorite of mine from the Bay Area, predictable & making easy jabs at US culture.

Somebody who makes much more powerful and politically pointed use of cartoon culture in paintings, sculpture &, so help me, wallpaper, is Robert Williams. His show, “Conceptual Realism in the Service of the Hypothetical” at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery shows that this old Zap Comic artist (you can still find 19 of his works available through Last Gasp) has lost none of the fire that drives the best of lowbrow art. Next to Viola, this was the other must-see exhibit I came across Saturday.

Later that afternoon, we took a walk through – or is it on? Highline Park, New York’s latest great idea (and one of the few that really is a good idea), a converted el route that has been planted with what look like native grasses and some sturdy wooden benchware and just turned over to the wandering masses. On our way there, we ran into Eileen Myles & Michael Friedman & his missus, just starting their own Chelsea tour from the southern rim of the nabe.

We saw one other show while we were in the city, the Georgia O’Keeffe abstractions at the Whitney Sunday morning. If all you know are the calla lilies, tulips & dried cattle bones, this is a must-see, must-do show. It’s big – all of the third floor – and chronological, starting with her student work in 1916 right up to the point where macular degeneration made it impossible for her to see well enough to continue painting. There is also one relatively small room of Alfred Stieglitz photos of her, including some nudes just to remind us (a) of her tenuous social position as the young lover of a successful artist 23 years her elder, and (b) that she wasn’t always the elderly wizard of the Southwest with whom so many of us grew up.

One thing is clear immediately, looking at the very first painting in the exhibit. Whereas abstraction in Europe meant straight lines & hard edges, the arrival of geometry & the rule of the protractor, O’Keeffe’s work is really about registering the movement of the hand: waves, curves, swoops are all possible. To Stieglitz, who probably knew as much at that point about European art developments as any American not actually living across the pond, the distinctness of O’Keeffe’s approach – she had not yet even settled on a career in painting – must have been apparent.

O’Keeffe’s work over the next decade is often brilliant, but it still seems searching & not entirely sure of itself. Then, in 1926, everything clicks. From this point forward, O’Keeffe is a master thoroughly in control. And, with the exception of a couple of late pieces – portraits in theory of her house in New Mexico that appear to be more in dialog with the painting of Josef Albers & maybe Hans Hoffmann – her style is unmistakable. It’s a moment almost as pronounced as Williams’ Spring & All, which wasn’t really the instant his work took off, tho it is the one when the shift into a newer, higher gear became impossible to ignore. So too ’26 & O’Keeffe.

One thing to avoid, tho, is the audio-program headset that comes free with your Whitney admission. It’s egregiously stupid, at one point (#308 on your clunky headset dial) getting the direction of O’Keeffe’s painting completely backwards in order to make some analogy between her abstractions & sexual symbolism. One sympathizes with O’Keeffe, who kept her abstractions to a minimum precisely because they seemed to permit critics to make gushing pronouncements about eroticism in her work. Nearly 40 years after her big retrospective at the Whitney cemented O’Keeffe’s reputation as a painter of the first rank, she still is being mishandled even there.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

 


Michael & Flynn Lally (Photo © Star Black)

I’m happy to see that
Michael Lally
has been blogging
about the effects of
brain surgery

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Geoffrey Gatza’s Thanksgiving Feast
menu poem extravaganza
this year is dedicated to
C.D. Wright

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The Mottram Effect

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Q, W & X
are still illegal in Turkey

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Pogsound:
a great archive of readings in Tucson

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kari edwards’ Bharat jiva

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2009 George Oppen Memorial Lecture:
Rosmarie Waldrop
San Francisco, Dec. 16

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Mlinko’s Rilke

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Laura Elrick’s Stalk
Dec. 10 in NYC

Poetry, Ecology,
and the Reappropriation
of Lived Space

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Ray DiPalma’s The Ancient Use of Stone

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Homophoning
“Jack & Jill” into French
back in the 18th Century

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Talking with Sara Larsen & David Brazil
about one little mag I’ve never seen

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An all-women shortlist
for BBC short story prize

As compared to
“a literary sausage party

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Poetry as Power:
The Dynamics of Cognitive Poetics
as a Scientific & Literary Paradigm
(reg. req.)

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Confetti allegiance

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Google has digitized
10,000,000 books

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SPD’s annual open house
is December 6 -
20-50% off all books!
Hundreds of Buck-a-Book $1 books!
Plus readings & a poetry trading post

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MacDiarmid’s muse’s menu

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Talking with Andrei Codrescu

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Don DeLillo’s “Midnight in Dostoevsky

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Close reading aloud Vachel Lindsay

Vachel Lindsay reading

Lindsay as a sound poet:
Mysterious Cat

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Who’s been eating my Naked Lunch?

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Englynion
Britain’s answer to the haiku

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Brenda Hillman
at Open Books
in Seattle

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The fate of
The Northwest Review

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Is sending Catullus a form of assault?

Wikipedia’s translation

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Omniglot

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Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun –
a Ulysses for sci-fi?

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Tweets lead to hard time
for Roger Avary

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The demise of Borders
is not the end of bookselling
in the UK

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The top word for 2009?

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Philip Levine
on Robert Lowell & John Berryman

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2010 Library of Congress
radio lineup announced

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Finding Darwin on the toilet

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Only 2 books of poetry
both Quietist –
make The NY Times
notable books of 2009

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Prognosticating e-books for 2010

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Christian Peet’s Big American Trip

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Bringing back Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar

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&s in court

What’s new with the font freaks

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Dickens edits Dickens

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The poetry poll
with the worst taste

Almost as bad

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The Bad Sex prize goes to
an American in Paris

Why they call it a “short list”

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Charles Simic on being homeless

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James Wood on Paul Auster

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A year to die for

Yours truly
at Poe’s tomb

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An obit for Marcel

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Yang Xianyi has died

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What killed Jane Austen?

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Yeats’ Blake
(reg. req.)

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Talking with Cormac McCarthy

Want to buy McCarthy’s typewriter?

Bid here

The Road
is too faithful to the book

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Collectible typewriters

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Or you could buy some Baudelaire
(including a suicide note)

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Here come the interCaps
(as those of us
at ComputerLand called them
in the 1980s)

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Walter Benjamin & Bertholt Brecht

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A short history of hello

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Who’s afraid of the big bad Whorf?
(reg. req.)

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When Roald Dahl
became a children’s author

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Finding the right readers

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Brad Leithauser’s The Art Student’s War

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Alice Munro’s Object Lesson

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Phillip Lopate:
My favorite book from 2009

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Novica Tadić’s Dark Things

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Vonnegut’s letter home

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What we talk about
when we talk about
style

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The library in a phone booth

Libraries should sell books

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Translating Tolstoy

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Jonathan Franzen:
Germany is like my parents

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Stendahl arrives on the web

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Washington Post
closes all domestic bureaus

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Zadie Smith
changes her mind
(& genre)

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Three of the world’s top 5 Scrabble players
are Thai

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Ian McEwan:
“The Use of Poetry”

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Michael Wood on Eliot’s letters

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The Bolaño Myth
& the Backlash Cycle

Some stray questions
for Roberto Bolaño

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Terry Pratchett’s jokes

Unseen Academicals

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James Ellroy,
tenuously reformed pervert

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Writing about writers

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Burns’ legacy “burns on”

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Franz Wright’s Wheeling Motel

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Eponyms Я Them

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“50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World,”
starting with the Dali Lama & Christian Bök

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Feminist Review on GirlDrive

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The death of cool

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Some books that inspired musicians

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The Rockpile files

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Jack Kerouac sings
Ain’t We Got Fun

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Examining “Your Love” by The Outfield

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Bess Lomax Hawes has died

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Some rare clips of Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain

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Ten great singers
who can’t sing

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Satchmo & the Jews

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Vijay Iyer’s Historicity

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Art of the bar code

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The visual art of Yedda Morrison

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The disappearance of Ford Beckman

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Edward Keinholz
& the sex trade
at the National Gallery

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Manga at the British Museum

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Artist whose medium
is hardware store windows

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Social painting” at Art Jamming

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Poetography

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Prison photography

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Robert Frank:
never on time

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Andy Warhol never died

Warhol’s screenwriter

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Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art

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Renzo Piano:
the architect as pirate

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Cultural Cognition
as a Conception
of the Cultural Theory of Risk

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Big Media gets quite a bit bigger

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What is living & what is dead in
social democracy

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

 



Jack Myers

1941 2009

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

 

 

Recently Received

Books (Poetry)

Heimrad Bäcker,Transcript, translated by Patrick Greaney & Vincent Kling, edited & with an afterword by Friedrich Achleitner, Dalkey Archive Press, Champaign, 2010

Steve Carey, The Selected Poems of Steve Carey, edited by Edmund Berrigan, Subpress, no location given, 2009

kari edwards, Bharat jiva, Litmus Press / Belladonna Books, Brooklyn 2009

Thomas Fink, Yinglish Strophes 1 – 19, Truck Books, New York, 2009

Barbara Claire Freeman, Incivilities, Counterpath Press, Denver 2010

Jennica Harper, What It Feels Like for a Girl, Anvil Press, Vancouver 2008

Jen Hofer, One, Palm Press, Long Beach, 2009

Christine Hume, Shot, Counterpath Press, Denver 2010

Robert Kelly, Fire Exit, Black Widow Press, Boston, 2009

Nick Lantz, We Don’t Know We Don’t Know, Graywolf Press, Minneapolis 2010

Lauren Levin, Not Time, Boxwood Editions, Chicago 2009

Catherine Owen, Frenzy, Anvil Press, Vancouver 2009

Marguerite Pigeon, Inventory, Anvil Press, Vancouver 2009

Catie Rosemurgy, The Stranger Manual, Graywolf Press, Minneapolis 2010

Mari-Lou Rowley, Suicide Psalms, Anvil Press, Vancouver 2008

Carol Snow, Placed: Karesansui Poems, Counterpath Press, Denver 2008

Eileen R. Tabios, Roman Holiday, Naissance, Kingston, PA, 2009

 

Books (Other)

Urs Allemann, Babyfucker, translated with an introduction by Peter Smith, afterword by Vanessa Place, Les Figues, Los Angeles, 2009

Julian Brolaski, erica kaufman & E. Tracy Grinnell, editors, No Gender:Reflections on the Life & Work of kari edwards, Litmus Press / Belladonna Books, Brooklyn 2009. Includes Cara Benson, Frances Blau, Mark Brasuell, Julian T. Brolaski, Reed Bye, Marcus Civin, CAConrad, Donna de la Perrière, E. Tracy Grinnell, Rob Halpern, Jen Hofer, Brenda Iijima, Lisa Jarnot, erica kaufman, Kevin Killian, Wendy Kramer, Joseph Lease, Rachel Levitsky, Joan MacDonald, Bill Marsh, Chris Martin, Yedda Morrison, Eileen Myles, Akilah Oliver, Tim Peterson, Ellen Redbird, Leslie Scalapino, Michael Smoler, Sherman Souther, Eleni Stecopoulos, and Anne Waldman

Amanda Cushman, translator, (Original editor unknown), Zarma Folktales of Niger, Quale Press, Williamsburg, MA

Zachary German, Eat When You Feel Sad, Melville House, Brooklyn 2009

Stephen Ratcliffe, Reading the Unseen: (Offstage) Hamlet, Counterpath Press, Denver 2010

Paul Vermeersch, editor, The Al Purdy A-Frame Anthology, with an introduction by Dennis Lee, Harbour Publishing, Madeira Park, BC 2009. Includes Eurithe Purdy, F.R. Scott, George Galt, Joe Rosenblatt, Margaret Atwood, George Bowering, D.G Jones, Sid Marty, Steven Heighton, Howard White, David McFadden, David Helwig, Janet Lunn, Michael Ondaatje, more.

Christine Wertheim, Feminaissance , Les Figues, Los Angeles 2010. Includes Dodie Bellamy, Caroline Bergvall, Meiling Cheng,Wanda Coleman, Bhanu Kapil, Chris Kraus, Susan McCabe, Tracie Morris, Eileen Myles, Maggie Nelson, Juliana Spahr, Vanessa Place, Christine Wertheim, Stephanie Young & Lidia Yuknavitch

 

Journals

Chicago Review 55:1, Chicago, Winter 2010. Includes 7 poets from Berlin edited by Christian Hawkey, Daniel Falb, Monika Rinck, Hendrik Jackson, Uljana Wolf, Steffen Popp, Sabine Scho, and Ron Winkler with translations by Christian Hawkey, Nicholas Grindell, Nicholas Perrin, Catherine Hales, Susan Bernofsky, J.D. Schneider and Andrea Scott. Also includes Deb Olin Unferth, Jorge Edwards, Jorge Edwards & Patrick Iber, Jeffrey Yang, J.H. Prynne, Matthias Regan, Sam Eccleston, Michael Baltasi, Dustin Simpson, John Wilkinson, Dodie Bellamy and David Grubbs

Mimeo Mimeo, no. 3, Brooklyn, Autumn 2009. Whole issue devoted to Daniel Scott Snelson’s “Simultaneously Agitated in All Directions,” with “The Infernal Method” by Aaron Cohick, a letterpress-printed (and hand-painted) newsprint pamphlet tipped in.

Sugar House Review, vol. 1, Salt Lake City, Fall / Winter 2009. Includes Jeffrey C. Alfier, Rane Arroyo, Ruth Bavetta , Candace Black,. Kenneth Brewer, Teresa Cader, Rob Carney, Star Coulbrooke, Tobi Cogswell, Brock Dethier, Cat Dixon, Gary Dop, William Doreski, Justin Evans, Howie Good, Dustin M. Hoffman, Natasha Kessler, Robin Linn, Grant Loveys, Matt Mason, Michael McLane, Paul Muldoon, J.R. Pearson, Nanette Rayman Rivera, Richard Robbins, Jerome Rothenberg, Sam Ruddick, Ki Russell, Natahsa Sajé, M.E. Silverman, David Starkey, Joanna Straughn, Billy Swift, Jacqueline West & Shari Zollinger  

 

Just a tiny stack of books
still waiting to be noted here

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