Saturday, April 24, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Carla Harryman, Steve Benson
& the Jon Raskin Quartet
@ the Poetry Project
Talking with Rae Armantrout
Close reading Armantrout
Rae Armantrout sans slither
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
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!
Wallace Stevens reading
NY Times obit for Carolyn Rodgers
“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
Dissidence as entertainment
Seth Abramson & Gene Tanta
on Linh Dinh
& digital ecriture féminine
John Latta on Clark
Talking with Beau Beausoleil
about the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coaltion
Sue Sinclair on Phil Hall’s White Porcupine
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”
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
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
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
“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
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
Michael McClure & Ray Manzarek
between poetry & music
“an intense and dangerous world”
to be commencement speaker at
the University of Scranton
Dodge Fest relocates to Newark, NJ
Dodge Fest poets announced
Talking with Paul Siegell
Truman Capote, reading
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The “true father” of all American literature?
talking with Mark Twain
a better idea would be to
break up Google
PEN World Voices Festival,
April 26 – May 2
150 writers in 40 countries,
Mongolia comes to Wyoming
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
A theater group
turns up in the legal cross-hairs
Chris Tysh on Night Scales:
A Fable for Klara K.
“The greatest disinformation campaign
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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:
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.
Labels: Nick Piombino
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Jacket 39’s feature on Moi!
Edited by John Tranter
Poems from Crow
Questioning the limits of language:
The New Sentence in Ron Silliman’s poetry and poetics
“Pay More Attention”:
Silliman’s BART and Contemporary “Everyday Life Projects”
The Residual Work:
Tjanting and the Poetics of Experience
No Content Left:
T. C. Marshall:
From Practice, to Reading
The Labor of Repetition:
Silliman’s “Quips” and the Politics of Intertextuality
The Structure of Ron Silliman’s Tjanting
Ron Silliman and the Ethnicization of the Avant-Garde
Monday, April 19, 2010
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
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
Jordan Davis on Mahmoud Darwish
Al-Mutanabbi Street on the radio
Barbara Jane Reyes on Indivisible:
An Anthology of Contemporary
Arundhati Roy investigated
over “ties” to Maoist rebels
Remembering Reginald Shepherd
PennSound recordings from A.L. Nielsen’s archives
Poetry in honor of Senghor & CesaireRead more »
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Natalie Merchant sings old poems
Merchant’s settings of poetry
Talking with Merchant
Labels: Natalie Merchant