Saturday, April 24, 2010

 



Peter Porter

1929 2010

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Friday, April 23, 2010

 

Tom Mandel, Carla Harryman, Rae Armantrout

Carla Harryman, Steve Benson
& the Jon Raskin Quartet
@ the Poetry Project

Powell’s Poetry Pain Index

Talking with Rae Armantrout

Close reading Armantrout

Rae Armantrout sans slither

Finally, they get it

Armantrout’s “backlist”

In Oakland, May 7,
Lynn Xu, Rae Armantrout
& music from Wee Giant

Armantrout’s Pulitzer, Bernstein with FSG
what’s going on?

Charles Bernstein on the company of poetry

Bernstein’s “Dodgems”
read by his mother & his son
(RS, Pierre Joris, Frank Sherlock standing around)

More photos from Bernstein’s 60th
by Nicole Peyrafitte

Was the vote rigged in Millions Poet?

Jacquiline Larson on Sina Queyras’ Expressway

Sina Queyras on M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong!
(reg. req.)

Wallace Stevens reading

The Letters of Sylvia Beach

NY Times obit for Carolyn Rodgers

LA Times / Chicago Tribune obit

Essence:
“Our 40 favorite poets”

Clifton to receive Frost Medal posthumously

Jimmy Schuyler’s Other Flowers

Famous Authors” nude
(great image of me there)

Jed Birmingham on Black Mountain Review

Linh Dinh:
Dissidence as entertainment

Seth Abramson & Gene Tanta
on Linh Dinh

Leland Hickman to Todd Baron

Stephanie Strickland
& digital ecriture féminine

Michael Lally on Tom Clark

John Latta on Clark

Talking with Beau Beausoleil
about the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coaltion

Sue Sinclair on Phil Hall’s White Porcupine
(reg. req.)

The Oxford Poetry Chair
has 3 prime candidates so far:
Paula Claire, Seán Haldane & Geoffrey Hill

More significantly, the April trading card
from Fact-Simile is of Eileen Myles

Flarf is a one-trick pony

Just one more week
for the Not Blessed story contest

Dorothea Lasky’s “Me and the Otters”

Some poets born in April

Peter Handke’s Don Juan, His Own Version

Andrew Joron’s Trance Archives

Mark Nowak’s poetics of activism

Camille Martin, Songs from Sonnets

Cultures of folk poetry

The Mad Poets Society

Garrison Keillor reads Burt Kimmelman

Rachel Cusk’s The Bradshaw Variations

Poetry’s place within capitalism’s institutions

Tho the only note I can find of this on the web
is the sentence I added to his Wikipedia page,
Carl Phillips has been named
the new judge of Yale Series of Younger Poets

Bhanu Kapil’s urban dictionary

Kay Ryan’s The Best of It

A week in July devoted to the work of
T.S. Eliot @ the University of London

Daniel Nester, ever inappropriate

What if the “mad women” of fiction
were sane?

“just another graduate
of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop

Jack Spicer, Michael Snediker,
& the eternal optimism of the NY Mets

The 2 Chanas
on Dahlia Ravikovitch

Imaginary Cormac

Don Bogen’s An Algebra

An Irish poet on American literature

Michael Dirda on Poetry in Person

A profile of Susan B. Anthony Somers-Willett

Daniel Simko’s The Arrival

Rosie Alison & the Orange shortlist

Talking with Albert Goldbarth

Atlantic Monthly’s fiction issue

Augusto de Campos translating Gertrude Stein
into Portuguese

Michael McClure & Ray Manzarek
between poetry & music

Anne Waldman:
“an intense and dangerous world”

Carolyn Forché
to be commencement speaker at
the University of Scranton

Tweeting the NYPL

Dodge Fest relocates to Newark, NJ

Dodge Fest poets announced

Talking with Paul Siegell

The father of the late fee?

Truman Capote, reading
Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The “true father” of all American literature?

Rudyard Kipling,
talking with Mark Twain

Twain as a critic

Google:
the first step to fighting censorship
is to document it

Consumer Watchdog:
a better idea would be to
break up Google

PEN World Voices Festival,
April 26 – May 2
150 writers in 40 countries,
50 events

Music’s Spell:
Poems About Music & Musicians

Langston Hughes:
the musical

Rockin’ Morocco

Mongolia comes to Wyoming

Aaron Copland
& the “Musical School of Quietude

Talking with Greil Marcus

Miles Archer talking with David Byrne

The Dead Sea Scrolls are coming to Toronto

Charles Bernstein’s gallery walk
(NB: Amy Sillman doesn’t have a second “i” in her surname)

Talking with Gus Powell

Crossing the line between
art, life & assault

A theater group
turns up in the legal cross-hairs

Chris Tysh on Night Scales:
A Fable for Klara K.

“The greatest disinformation campaign
in history”

The sounds of silence

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

 

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

 


Nick Piombino, Toni Simon

Looking at the 400 (exactly) aphorisms collected in Nick Piombino’s Contradicta: Aphorims, a collaboration with painter & collagiste Toni Simon, you might think that since aphorisms are by their nature quite short – I think the longest one here runs to all of four sentences – that this will be the literary equivalent of Skittles, something sweet that you can gobble by the handful & run through pretty quickly.

You would be exactly wrong.

If, in fact, there is an appropriate analog for this little book (6” high, 4¼” wide, 167 pages thick, with no more than 4 aphorisms per page & that much only 33 times), it’s not Skittles but ironwood, the carved objects of which invariably weigh several times what you anticipate. This may look like a terrific book to slot into one’s back pocket, to read on the bus or subway, snacking on it as you go about your day. But the truth is it’s heavy. It’s actually difficult to go through more than two or three of these paired aphorisms at a time. You find yourself wanting to think or dream about them. Or the argue about others, sometimes within the same pair.

Now pairs are an issue. This is not a book of 400 aphorisms, but rather of 200 paired aphorisms, each pair divided by an asterisk, the white space of the page often haunted (absolutely the right word) by Simon’s post-surreal collages that – just like the text – appear so simple until you actually absorb them (the torso of a man emerging from the shell of a mollusk with pages to sell).

Aphorisms are, by their nature, inherently deeper than they first seem. Paired aphorisms pose an entire world in their tension. The book’s title, Contradicta, suggests that there will be a logical structure here:

A

*

-A

But that is relatively seldom the case. In the process of reading through this book, which took just about two months cover to cover, I came to think of that asterisk at the center as being more like a gear. I could imagine an ideal (interactive?) version of these texts in which the two sections of each pair would vary where they appear, as if they were moments on a clockface. The first aphorism might appear straightforward, the literary equivalent of 12 o’clock. For example:

The pleasure in viewing the belongings of the great masters derives from the inability to believe that they did things in the same way and places that everyone else does.

But where precisely should one situate its pair?

My father never spoke so now I won’t stop listening.

Six o’clock that is not. Seven thirty? Eleven? I could entertain those relations of the second to the first much more readily. In this sense, I think Contradicta is actually misnamed. Abdicta feels more to the point. Or even Polydicta, tho I tend to think poly- invariably is a cop-out, at least as a prefix in theory.

This example also raises a lot of the other issues that makes this book anything but light. I’m not at all certain that I concur with Piombino’s proposition in this first paragraph. It might be true in some of the houses of the “masters” that I’ve visited over the years (Goethe, George Washington), but it is profoundly not true with others. Thomas Jefferson did not even sleep the way other men did, let alone dine,write, think or even use his Bible. To step into Monticello is to walk into the imagination of someone who never did anything just because that was how it was done. Which is why, frankly, his ownership & sexual use of slaves is not something that can be passed over with a “he was no different than other men of his time & state” defense.

My relationship to that second aphorism is even more complicated. My father was gone after I was two. My grandfather – a very different role – was himself very close to the description Piombino offers of his father. But that was at least partly a reaction to the fact that my grandmother was never silent¹, and in her psychotic episodes, not in the slightest ordinary with what issued forth verbally. That is why I can’t stop listening, but also I would never think to use the auxiliary won’t. There is nothing voluntary in the process, at least for me.

These are the sorts of engagements / arguments I find myself having with virtually all of the paired aphorisms here, which explains why perhaps this little book proves the antithesis of easy reading. Not every pair, nor every aphorism, sparks such a personal(ized) debate for me, which is to be expected when you have 400 of everything (think of Grenier’s Sentences, or the thousands of Eigner poems, to pick two examples). Further, I think the aphorism itself is a problematic format for our time. One of the two (yet another pair!) epigrams at the head of this text is one from Karl Kraus’ 1909 Dicta and Contradicta, to wit:

The philosopher thinks from eternity into the moment; the poem from the moment into eternity.

At one level, this is not much more than Williams’ “No ideas but in things,” aligning poetry with specificity. At another, it is all about categories. Indeed, its argument is that philosophy lies in categories as such. Specificity is but an instance when looked at from that end of the telescope. And while it is true that there are poets (Robert Duncan, William Blake, Walt Whitman, even Ginsberg) for whom these sublime (divine) groupings are as (or more) real as any piece of belly-button lint, there is likewise that other side of the dance, Williams, the Objectivists, Creeley & Olson at their best, for whom such aggregate thinking invariably falsifies. It is what Williams despised most about Eliot. For a lot of writers of my generation – and I’m one of them – arguing about generalities comes across as muddy or even sentimental. That’s a risk Piombino knowingly tackles head-on. He’s not, to my mind, uniformly successful when he does, but it’s never for erring on the side of caution.

Contradicta: Aphorisms is a complicated, exhausting, often maddening book, one that is hard to “just read” but almost impossible to put down. Even if you feel you’re watching Nick Piombino sky diving without a parachute, you never doubt that he knows exactly what he’s doing.

 

¹ 42 years of working in a paper recycling plant – there is a highrise condo there now – in Emeryville also robbed my grandfather of much of his hearing as well. The truth about the real world is that such circumstances seldom have single causes. One problem with aphorisms is that they tend to edit these out.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

 

Jacket 39’s feature on Moi!
Edited by John Tranter

Ron Silliman:
Poems from Crow

Manuel Brito:
Questioning the limits of language:
The New Sentence in Ron Silliman’s poetry and poetics

Jordan Davis:
What

Andrew Epstein:
“Pay More Attention”:
Silliman’s BART and Contemporary “Everyday Life Projects”

Andy Gricevich:
The Residual Work:
Tjanting and the Poetics of Experience

Ian Keenan:
No Content Left:
Silliman’s Transit

T. C. Marshall:
From Practice, to Reading

Lytle Shaw:
The Labor of Repetition:
Silliman’s “Quips” and the Politics of Intertextuality

Dale Smith:
Close Readers

William Watkin:
Projective Recursion:
The Structure of Ron Silliman’s Tjanting

Timothy Yu:
Ron Silliman and the Ethnicization of the Avant-Garde

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Monday, April 19, 2010

 

The gun runner?
Allegedly Rimbaud in Aden
(a machine translation into English)

Pierre Joris says this is a hoax

Jimmy Schuyler’s Other Flowers

On the poems of J.H. Prynne

Rae Armantrout, “as strong as a sonnet”

Watching Armantrout scumble

The two factions of langpo

Vanessa Place on the “masculinist lyric”

Vanessa Place’s La Medusa

Place: Why conceptualism
is better than flarf
(hint: no. 15 is wrong)

Sina Queyras on the fear of difficulty

Is Hissa Hilal’s poetry any good?

Maghreb viewers react to Hilal

Cairo writes, Beirut publishes, Baghdad reads

Jordan Davis on Mahmoud Darwish

Al-Mutanabbi Street on the radio

Barbara Jane Reyes on Indivisible:
An Anthology of Contemporary
South Asian
American Poetry

Arundhati Roy investigated
over “ties” to Maoist rebels

Infinite Difference:
Other Poetries by UK Women Poets

Remembering Reginald Shepherd

PennSound recordings from A.L. Nielsen’s archives

Poetry in honor of Senghor & Cesaire

Read more »

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

 

Natalie Merchant sings old poems

Merchant’s settings of poetry

Merchant heads up the 2010
West Chester conference
June 9 – 12

Does singing improve the poems?

Talking with Merchant

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