Saturday, May 01, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
Bob Arnold, My Sweetest Friend, Longhouse Press, Green River, VT, 2010
CA Conrad & Frank Sherlock, The City Real & Imagined, Heretical Texts: Factory School, Queens, NY 2010
Clayton Eshleman, Anticline, Black Widow Press, Boston, 2010
Nathalie Handal, Love and Strange Horses, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 2010
John High, A Book of Unknowing, Talisman House Press, Greenfield, MA, 2010
Mark Jackley, Lank, Beak & Bumpy, Iota Press, Sebastopol, CA, 2010
Erica Lewis, Camera Obscura, BlazeVOX, Buffalo, 2010. Original artwork by Mark Stephen Finein
Marthe Reed, Gaze, Black Radish Books, Lafayette, LA, 2010
Shelly Taylor, Black-Eyed Heifer, Tarpaulin Sky Press, Grafton, VT, 2010
Books (Poetry Anthologies)
Charles Simic, editor and translator, The Horse Has Six Legs: An Anthology of Serbian Poetry, Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, 2010. Metija Beckovic, Liljana Djurdjic, Rade Drainac, Ivan Gadjanski, Jovan Hristic, Ivan V. Lalic, Rasa Livada, Desanka Maksimovic, Branco Miljkovic, Momcilo Nastasijevic, Milorad Pavic, Vasko Popa, Aleksandar Ristovic, Ljubomir Simovic, Novica Tadic, Aleksandar Vuco, Nina Zivancevic, more. (Expands 1992 edition)
Shane Jones, Light Boxes, Penguin, New York, 2010
Laura Moriarty, A Tonalist, Nightboat Books, Callicoon, NY 2010
Aram Saroyan, Door to the River: Essays & Reviews from the 1960s into the Digital Age, Black Sparrow, Boston, 2010
Danzy Senna, Caucasia, Riverhead Books, New York, 1999
Danzy Senna, Symptomatic, Riverhead Books, New York, 2004.
Jane Unrue, The Life of a Star, Burning Deck, Providence, 2010.
6X6, no. 20, Spring 2010, Brooklyn. Includes Emily Anicich, Billy Cancel, Michael Nicoloff, Frances Richard, Elizabeth Robinson & M.A. Vizsolyi
Grain, vol. 37, no. 2, Saskatoon, Canada, 2010. Includes Segun Afolabi, Jonathan Ball, Ronna Bloom, Tamara Bnd, Zsuzsi Gartner, Lee Hderson, Caitlin Ward, Laura Krunkey, Danny Jacobs, Medrie Purdham, Andrea MacPherson, more.
Or, no. 4, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, Spring 2010. Includes Art Beck, Guy Bennett, Kathleen Burch, Neeli Cherkovski, Robert Crosson, Ray DiPalma, Gary Gach, Polly Geller, Noah Eli Gordon, Jen Hofer, Paula Koneazny, Angelo Lumelli, John McBride, Douglas Messerli, Alan Mills, Bill Mohr, Dennis Philips, Chris Pusateri, Raymond Queneau, Andrea reed, Tim Roberts, Elizabeth Robinson, Sarah Suzor, Nathaniel Tarn, Mac Wellman, more.
Parmentier, vol. 19, no. 1, Nijmegen, Netherlands, March 2010. Dossier: Documentaire poëzie. Includes Arnoud van Adrichem, Camiel Andriessen, Bart De Block, Hans Groenewegen, Franz Keizer, Philip Metres, Mark Nowak, Leslie Scalapino, Ron Silliman, Juliana Spahr, Elisabeth tonnard, Han van der Vegt, Samuel Vriezen & Barrett Watten
Try, no. 32, Berkeley, March 6, 2010. Includes Brandon Brown, Alli Warren, Kit Robinson, Clark Coolidge, Suzanne Stein, CA Conrad, Jacqueline Fost, Jason Morris, Gary Sullivan, Nada Gordon, Julian of Nowherr (not a typo), & Nathan Berlinguette
Labels: Recently Received
Thursday, April 29, 2010
So many of the discussions of access & difficulty in writing, all the questions that continue to bedevil American poets & fictioneers, seem almost indulgent when compared to the same issues faced by writers in Europe. By Wikipedia’s reckoning, Europe consists of some 50 independent states, plus another half dozen “partially recognized” states. With a few notable exceptions, the boundaries of more than a few of these nations have wandered considerably over the past century, often at an appalling cost of life. In spite of attempts such as the European Union, the decline of the region can be measured by the simplest numbers. In 1900, one out of every four people on the planet lived in Europe. Today, it is home to slightly more than one in ten.
When one considers the number of Nobel Prizes awarded to Germans, those who wrote in German or lived in Germany, for writing – from Herman Hesse & Thomas Mann to Gunter Grass & Nelly Sachs, from Heinrich Böll to Herta Müller – it’s difficult to keep in mind that the population of Germany proper is less one-third that of the United States. This is a rich and diverse heritage, one that might be seen as richer still if names such as Sebald, Celan or Benjamin are added to it. But when one looks at the list of Romanian authors awarded the Nobel, the only name is Müller, although Romania is not a small nation – it has twice the population of Greece, roughly the same as New York. Müller is on both rosters because of her heritage as a Banat Swabian, part of the German minority that once made up a sizeable slice of the Romanian population. Today less than 80,000 Swabians still reside in Romania & Müller herself has lived in Germany since 1987. The brutality of Stalin, the brutality of Ceauşecu, two wars, the fact that many Swabians supported Hitler only to be absorbed into perhaps the most brutal Communist dictatorship in the Soviet bloc & an economy that was all too often desperate, reduced the Swabian presence over the past century by more than 90 percent.
The Land of Green Plums, Müller’s novel translated by Michael Hoffman, which won the 1998 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award directly addresses this circumstance. It’s a historic fable of a situation with which few Germans can be expected to identify but which is likely to make Romanian readers cringe at their history. Further, Müller’s German is said to be inflected with Swabian touches that translate into difficulty for the hypothetical “average” German (albeit not in Hoffman’s translation, which tends toward a minimalist prose with only one notable quirk, the presumption that most readers will call mom-and-pop shops, part grocer, part café, bodegas, a word in the US that distinctly marks itself as “New York”).
I won’t recount the plot line here (you can find it in some detail in Wikipedia) other than to note that it’s a parable for Swabian life in Romania as such. For the dwindling population of Swabians remaining after World War 2, Romania is less of a home than a prison. The question is not will this imprisonment make you desperate, make you degrade yourself, lead directly to your destruction, but rather how, at what pace, and along which route. The four main characters routinely talk about the futility of escape & the inevitability of their attempts to do so. It can only end badly & when it does no one is surprised.
What is perhaps most intriguing about this book are the attempts on the part of the four to communicate without actually speaking words that, were they heard or read, would invariably lead to their destruction. Letters are never about what they speak of. Envelopes are examined to see if a tell-tale hair is included, and if so what kind. A woman who is known to function as an informant is understood as abject. The one person who is free of such restraints is a parent suffering the final stages of dementia.
As the volume that received the IMPAC award, it’s fair to presume The Land of the Green Plums was a contributing element in Müller receiving the Nobel. Therefore, it’s fair to ask, is this a great book? In Hoffman’s translation, I think the answer has to be Not Quite. It’s a good book & a sad one, and in some obvious ways an important story, tho oft told. But what I don’t get – what doesn’t get through the translation – is something I would recognize as the shimmer of Müller herself. There is no signature to her style that I might recognize here, although that might not be her fault in the slightest.
This doesn’t mean that the book isn’t compelling – it is, completely. But reading it, feeling pulled through the mounting sadness, Green Plums reminded me that Tetris, the first great computer game, was a profoundly Soviet bloc experience. Geometric shapes drop from the sky and your job is to arrange them so as to complete a row. Otherwise it will sit there and build up and completing the next row up becomes more difficult since the pieces no longer have so far to fall. Gradually the game area fills up with the chaos of incomplete rows until you can’t do anything at all. As the room to maneuver dwindles, the pace of the falling pieces increases. The purpose of the game is not to win, merely to postpone losing.
Labels: Herta Müller
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
thinking with the box
New poems by Cara Benson
Steve Fama on Mairéad Byrne
The new online issue of l’Ulisse
includes an Italian translation of my essay,
“The New Sentence”
Talking with Charles Bernstein
Why bookstores are dying:
The Powell’s Pain Index is up
All hail the Found Poem
Louis Bury on conceptual poetry
Rae Armantrout, Pat Metheny & Culture Lust
May 4, San Francisco,
Josh Hafner on Ken Irby
John Latta on Irby
“Am I respecting the voice of the poet?
Do I need to respect it?”
Talking with Carol Sklenicka
about her bio of Raymond Carver
How to win at Millions Poets
Stephen Burt on Terrance Hayes,
Connie Wanek, Lisa Robertson,
& Jimmy Schuyler
Jordan Davis on Terese Svoboda & Poets Theater
Shakespeare in bed
Chicago appears to have survived
the day of Da Bard
The visual poetry of Ed Baker
Oh, do read to me Argentina
Translating “Donal Og”
Why poets flock to Arlington, Vermont
Clive James on why Les Murray
deserves the Nobel
Talking with Carrie Olivia Adams
Hiromi Itō’s Killing Kanoko
The sins of Orlando Figes
An Australian obit for Peter Porter
Porter tributes pour in
A recent poem by Porter
Talking with Brian Clements
5 questions for C.K. Williams
C.K. Williams’ Whitman
While you are at the library,
get the groceries
How to pronounce author’s names
(SILL-ә-mәn & it’s Italian)
Lions & tigers & haiku, oh my
Festival takes off,
tho some writers don’t
Thursday, April 29,
Susan Howe in Minneapolis with David Grubbs
Paris, May 4:
Anne Waldman, Edith Azam
Friday, May 14,
a celebration of Midwestern writing
Who was Irène Némirovsky, really?
Will Molly Ivins or the Tree Lady stop
Abert Huffstickler Park?
& then there’s Derision Points
Maxine Kumin in Cambridge
Where is the real hoax
in the Rimbaud photo?
Martin Amis – “saviour of modern lit?”
“Spine to Spin, Spoke to Speak”
Talking with Kathleen Spivak
Kurt Vonnegut & the “no asshole rule”
Cal Poly poets aren’t identical
Angry young man dead at 82
E.L. Doctorow’s “Edgemont Drive”
Dick Tillinghast on
An Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry
Peter Carey: Marshan chronicles
Being a Tolkien, wanting to write
Walcott’s Egrets –
an Eliot for our time
PEN awards to
Edward P. Jones, Nam Le
Piquancies & attributes
in Seamus Heaney’s verse
gain some digital rights
Print isn’t dead, says Dave Eggers
Amazon’s “Poetry Community”
has over 10,000 contributors
Kafka done creepy
A motion picture based on the poetry
of Gerald Stern
Talking with Walter Salles
Casting for On the Road
Following the Beats in Mexico City
Don Draper eats a Naked Lunch
Emily D, the musical
Toumani Diabate’s “Fantasy”
“The communication of emotion & ideas
(& other beings)
Compose your own music
Joni accuses Bobby of being a fake
I remember you well
in the Chelsea Hotel
Some hot auctions at Sotheby’s
A new Russian revolution in visual arts
putting back the there there
Barry Schwabsky on the Whitney Biennial
The gay kid joining Archie & Veronica?
It’s Kevin K!
Kevin Killian on American Cinema
Market Day – the image speaks
Merging Bill T. Jones with the Dance Theater Workshop
May 4 in Brooklyn,
Ronald K. Brown with Sonia Sanchez
Dancer has her hip replaced
& keeps the bone
Noam Chomsky on the new far right
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Labels: Carla Harryman
Sunday, April 25, 2010
After their three runway shows on Thursday night, Krishna asked me which Project Runway contestant I thought should win the seventh season & my immediate response was “either one of the guys.” I followed this with “I guess I have a slight preference for Emilio’s collection,” which felt to me more cohesive & less costumy than Seth Aaron’s more varied & colorful collection. As has happened several times before (think Mycheal Knight or Daniel Vosovic), strong competitors – in this case both Emilio Sosa & Mila Hermanovski – stepped back from their strengths when it came time to compose an entire collection. Some of Sosa’s pieces were tremendous – his gown (double click on the picture & look at it full size) was the best piece of the three runway shows. But his “signature” print, in which we get to read esosa hundreds of times as it evolves into a wandering stripe, got really old really fast. Mila’s collection was impeccable in construction & execution, but it was colorless (save for one set of dark purple leggings) and far too fastidious. I wished they’d picked Jay as the winner of the runway runoff instead – not because I thought he would have won, but because his designs would have been fun, and it would have been more interesting to test Seth Aaron’s collection against another that went for color, shape & drama.
What really persuaded me most about Emilio’s collection was not so much the clothing, but his models. Sosa, raised in Harlem with a Dominican background, consciously used as many models of color as he could, saying something like “I want my collection to look now, and now is multicultural.” Visually the contrast with virtually every previous runway show – not just this season’s – was profound.
The seventh season – there have now been 112 contestants (111 if you consider that one fellow who made the cast twice, only to be elminated each time) & at least 21 runway shows – was notable for having much stronger designers than the lamentable previous season shot in Los Angeles. But it was notable also for not having any really winning personalities once Anthony Williams – a tiny round Southern black variation on Truman Capote – got “auf’d.” Every time a judge – virtually the entire season – said anything nice about any other designer, Sosa would hang his head & look guilty, as tho it were a criticism of him that somebody else had done something even a little fabulous. He also tended to argue with Offical Mentor Tim Gunn constantly, even though he usually took some of Tim’s advice. Mila’s angst made her less effective a competitor than other “older” women (Wendy Pepper, Laura Bennett) have been in the past. Her best moment of the entire season – as a person, not a designer – was her détente conversation with Jay Nicholas Sario. You could see her lower her defenses & she suddenly looked almost 20 years younger – that was startling.
Sario himself deserves a comment. As the second San Francisco contestant (the first was Beach Blanket Bingo designer Chris March) to make it to a “final four” shootout to see who would present on the Runway, only to be eliminated there, he was the cattiest, most snide person conceivable, especially in the “reunion” wrap-up that took the place of a final Models of the Runway show, where he described one model – sitting not more than five feet away – as having “bad teeth & fat legs.” The excess of bad vibes on the wrap-up show – they hated Tim Gunn’s “trash talk,” and some got eliminated for taking his advice – was not a first for Runway, but it was a worst.
Labels: Project Runway