Saturday, May 19, 2007

Jim Behrle
Language poetry
and the body
Molly Saccardo
John Cage
has a secret
Emily Lloyd
dives right in
“The average life span
of a Web site

is only
44 to 75 days”
Robert Creeley’s
Money’s poet
& the NEA
Book reviews & bookstores –
another disconnect
the neighborhood library…
Or voting
to close them
This week’s
death of a bookstore
comes from upstate NY
The closure
of the only bookstore
Paoli, PA
(where I live)
a week ago
got no notice whatsoever

(silver lining:
I bought 7 bookcases
for $70)
The other poet
from Virginia Tech
“10,000 recordings
by over 200 writers” –
The AP piece
on PENNsound
turns up
in the
Chicago Trib

This compares to
the 501 recordings
that the
Poetry Archive
(which likes to call itself
” the world's premier
online collection
of recordings of poets
reading their work”)
had as of Friday

Brits to
Paul McCartney
(or, more likely,
Michael Jackson,
who owns the Beatles song catalog)
from the poor house
More on the poetics
of Jerry Hall
Art & commerce
Ike Taiga,
& Tokuyama Gyokuran,

illuminating not manuscripts
so much as
paintings with text


Friday, May 18, 2007



Microtonal guitarist
has been murdered

with Nels Cline & Jim McCauley

Nate Dorward’s review
of The Acoustic Trio


Thursday, May 17, 2007


Recently Received

Books / Broadsides (Poetry)

Charles Alexander, near or random acts, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2004

David Antin, John Cage Uncaged Is Still Cagey, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2005

Ed Baker, Along the Sligo, Empty Hands Broadside #1, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007

Nicole Brossard, Notebook of Roses and Civilization, translated by Robert Majzels & Erín Moure, Coach House Press, Toronto, Ont., 2007

Lisa Bourbeau, Cuttings from the Garden of Little Fears, First Intensity, Lawrence, KS, 2003

Ricardo Domeneck, when they spoke I / confused cortex / for context, kute bash books, Berlin / São Paulo, 2007

Theodore Enslin, Four Ages of Man, Empty Hands Broadside #3, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007

Aaron Fagan, Garage, Salt Publishing, Cambridge, U.K., 2007

Norman Fischer, I Was Blown Back, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2005

Brian L. Frazier, Here is Your Welcome: Don’t Let Your Face Get in Front of the Words, no location or publisher listed, 2007

Phillip Foss, The Ideation, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2004

Phillip Foss, Imperfect Poverty, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2006

Gloria Frym, Solution Simulacra, United Artists, New York, NY, 2006

Shafer Hall, Never Cry Woof, No Tell Books, Reston, VA 2007

Linday Hill, Contango, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2006

Karen Kelley, Mysterious Peripheries, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2006

Robert Kelly, Threads, First Intensity, Lawrence, KS, 2006

Michael Koshkin, Orgy in the Beef Closet, Transmission Press, San Francisco, CA, 2007

Hank Lazer, The New Spirit, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2005

Hank Lazer, One Dozen Portions, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007

John Martone, Terraria, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007

Deborah Meadows, Thin Gloves, Green Integer, København & Los Angeles, CA, 2006

Andrew Mossin, The Epochal Body, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2004

Paul Naylor, Playing Well With Others, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2004

Duncan McNaughton, Bounce, First Intensity, Lawrence, KS, 2006

George Murray, The Rush to Here, Nightwood Editions, Gibson’s Landing, BC, 2007

Ron Padgett, If I Were You, collaborations with Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Tom Clark, Larry Fagin, Dick Gallup, Allen Ginsberg, Lita Hornick, Alice Notely, Douglas Oliver, James Schuyler, Tom Veitch & Yu Juan, Proper Tales Press, Toronto, Ont., 2007

John Perlman, A Walk Around the Lake, Empty Hands Broadside #2, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007

Charles Reznikoff, Holocaust, Black Sparrow, Jaffrey, NH, 2007

Mary Rising Higgins, )cliff TIDES((, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2005

Janet Rodney, Moon on an Oarblade Rowing, First Intensity, Lawrence, KS, 2005

Mark Salerno, Odalisque, Salt Publishing, Cambridge, U.K., 2007

Aram Saroyan, Complete Minimal Poems, Ugly Duckling Presse, New York, NY, 2007

Fred Jeremy Seligson, Cherry Blossoms of the Tidal Basin, Empty Hands Broadside #4, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007

Jay Snodgrass, ChronoMonster, Wildlife Books, no location listed, 2007

Jay Snodgrass, The Underflower, Cherry Grove Collections, Cincinnati, OH, 2007

Jordan Stempleman, What’s the Matter, Otoliths, Rockhampton, Australia, 2007

James Thomas Stevens, Bulle / Chimère, First Intensity, Lawrence, KS, 2006

William Stobb, Nervous Systems, Penguin, London, 2007 (National Poetry Series, selected by August Kleinzahler)

Ulf Stolterfoht, Lingos, translated by Rosmarie Waldrop, Cuneiform Press, Buffalo, NY, 2007

John Taggart, Wall / Stairway, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2007

David Trinidad, The Late Show, Turtle Point, New York, NY, 2007

Scott Watson, A Breath Apart, Country Valley Press, Gardnerville, NV, 2006


Tom Beckett, curator, E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The First XI Interviews, Otoliths, Rockhampton, Australia, 2007. Includes interviews of Crag Hill, Thomas Fink, Nick Piombino, Sheila E. Murphy, Eileen Tabios, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, K. Silem Mohammad, Geof Huth, Barbara Jane Rayes & Paolo Javier, Stephen Paul Miller, Jean Vengua. Interviewers include Beckett, Fink, Mark Young, Hill, Tabios & Ron Silliman

Michael Hofmann, editor, Twentieth-Century German Poetry, FSG, New York, 2006. (Originally published by Faber & Faber, London, 2005). Includes Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Klee, Gottfried Benn, Georg Trakl, Kurt Schwitters, Nelly Sachs, George Grosz, Bertold Brecht, Gunter Eich, Johannes Bobrowski, Paul Celan, Ernst Jandl, Inge Müller, Ingeborg Bachmann, Günter Grass, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Jürgen Becker, Sarah Kirsch, Durs Grünbein, Marcel Beyer, Jan Wagner, more.

Books (Other)

Rae Armantrout, Collected Prose, Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2007

Susan Barnes, Earthquake, Turtle Point Press, New York, NY, 2007

Ann Mikolowski: Two Ways of Looking in a Mirror, Center Galleries, College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI, 2007. Catalog of the recent exhibition with contributions by John Yau, Clayton Eshleman, Andrei Codrescu, Donna Brook, Brenda Goodman, Ron Padgett, Edward Sanders, Faye Kicknosway, Dennis Alan Nawrocki & Anne Waldman.

Juliana Spahr, The Transformation, Atelos, Berkeley, CA, 2007

CDs / DVDs / Other Media

Brenda Iijima & Austin Publicover, Council of Worms, rdr, repetitive & Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, Brooklyn, NY 2007


Conjunctions 48, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, 2007. Includes Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Tardos, Robert Kelly, Cole Swensen, Luc Sante, Kevin Magee, Reginald Shepherd, Siri Hustvdt, Jonathan Lethem, Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, Will Self, Eleni Sikelianos, Lewis Warsh, Rikki ducornet, Andrew Mossin, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Donald Revell, Carole Maso, more.

Filling Station 34, Calgary, AB, 2005. Includes Rob Read, Nigel Liang, Brea Burton, Palmer Olson, Gustave Morin, Rodrigo Toscano, nathalie stephens, more.

Filling Station 35, Calgary, AB, 2005. Includes Robert Fitterman, Mani Rao, Colin Martin, Andy Weaver, Mary Chellas, Sharon Harris, more.

Filling Station 37: extra crunchy, Calgary, AB, 2006. Includes Jeremy McLeod, Gary Morse, Tammy Ho, Ryan Bird, Josh Smith, concrete cartoons, more.

Filling Station 38: TV is bad for your eyes, Calgary, AB, 2007. Includes Michael Murphy, Jenny Sampirisi, Oana Avasilichioaei, K.R. Watt, Dominico Capilongo, Clement Yeh, Chester Brown, Jonathan Ball, more.

First Intensity, 21, Lawrence, KS, 2007. Includes Duncan McNaughton, Nathaniel Tarn, Douglas Messerli, John Moritz, Jim Koller & Maggie Brown, Dale Smith, Ray DiPalma, Hölderlin translated by Paul Hoover & Maxine Chernoff, Dante translated by Stanley Lombardo, Dawn Michelle Baude, Ben Lerner, Susanne Dyckman, Theodore Enslin, Vernon Frazer, more.

Hanging Loose 90, Brooklyn, NY, 2007. Includes Jack Anderson, Beth Bosworth, Ed Friedman, Katie Hartsock, Barbara Henning, Patricia Spears Jones, Morton Marcus, Mark Pawlak, Ed Sanders, Harvey Shapiro, Janine Pommy Vega, David Wagoner, Terence Winch, more.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007


For rent
(or sale, perhaps)
Jack Kerouac’s birthplace


Troy Jollimore
in transition


Jollimore’s Hitchens
(Hitchens’ G*d)


Randy Newman
Short Fiction…”


Not for Mothers Only
seems to be precisely
for mothers


Guys typing


The Lake (Forest) Poets:
are ganging up


Poetry recruits
senior editor
from the
Harvard Review


as a very high art


Poetry & pastry:
how to…


Auden is to blame
for everything


Tho the New Criterion
is taking
all the credit


The journals
of December, 1910


Tabloid book reviewers


A skeptic’s view
of the
book review “crisis”


makes some cuts


Theory of the


Gender & fiction


Accounting for
C. Day-Lewis’
fall from favor


from the


The White Minnow
& other classics


A profile of
Jim Daniels


A profile of
Natasha Trethewey


George E. Lewis:
Leroy Jenkins
& the 20th Century


graphical scores


There are two kinds
of students:
those who write too little
those who write too much




Alice Neel


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Saturday afternoon, I came back from a long walk in Jenkins Arboretum – it’s azalea season here in Chester County & the arboretum is one of the great azalea & shade gardens – brought in & opened the mail, then lay on the couch with the three new books that had come that day & promptly fell asleep. When I woke, refreshed by that rare (for me) phenomenon of a mid-day nap, I thought to glance through the books & opened Stephen Vincent’s Walking Theory from Mark Weiss’ Junction Press. I started reading & just couldn’t stop. It’s not like Walking Theory is a chapbook – it’s 84 pages long – and for me reading anything longer than a one-page broadside-brochure in a single sitting is quite unusual. But Walking Theory is not a usual book. These are the poems Stephen Vincent has been preparing to write his entire life. They definitely pass the “take the top of your head off” test. I went cover to cover without even sitting up.

The walk as a unit of writing is not new to Vincent – his last book was called Walking & the relationship between the two volumes reminds me a little of how, when you saw David Antin’s first couple of books of talks, you sensed yourself in the presence of a supple & evolving form that one could expand & explore potentially for the rest of one’s life. It’s an experience-based unit of writing, not unlike “the sitting” – still the most common & least acknowledged verse unit there is – and one with some history & orientation. One could trace it, especially through, say, Phil Whalen or the circumambulations of Gary Snyder, back to the travel writing of Japan & a broader Zen aesthetic. But in Vincent’s hands, the mode is not that distant, either, from Nathan Whiting’s running poems, Ted Berrigan’s Train Ride or even the life-based conceptual poetry of a Kenny Goldsmith. And tho I sense Phil Whalen as sort of the “secret uncle” of these texts, Vincent occupies something of a middle ground, with a form that on the surface is not that different from any linked poetry, at least until you read it.

Walking Theory is a book of elegies, so that the walk itself is not just a mode of urban (and in some instances coastal) exploration & a good form of exercise for someone getting comfortable with the second half-century of his existence, it’s literally about walking off grief, directly, indirectly, every which way. Grief is as essential to this process of walking as breathing is to meditation. But one could say just as easily that walking is as essential to grief, etc. You can’t separate them out, the chicken from the egg of emotion. This book is pure emotion:

Grieve in the morning.
Grieve in the afternoon.
Grieve. Grieve.

Your mother. Your father.
You friend. Your lover. The brother,
sister, son and daughter.

Unto the fourth day, unto the fifth,
upon the waters. Upon the night. Upon the day.

Or, also from “Elegy in Red”:

Go away little
death Angel.
Get off my back door.
Isn’t your father lonely?
Your mother home alone?
Go away, go away
little death Angel.
Break bread with the ancestors,
with the long dead.
Break bread with the moss on the oak,
Heaven leaves her morsels
on a stone

Or, still deeper into this same poem:

How to put the death raft out.
How to put my brother’s body on the raft.
How to sing the song, a farewell song.
How to garland the raft with flowers.
How to pick the man or woman to guide the tiller.
How to watch the raft float by.
How to know the stream flows dark and deep.
How to know he will not come back.
How to know when to sing.
When to witness the trail,
the tracks and wheels,
the grooves in the earth
that brought him to
this river’s bank.
How to know when to weep.

It’s a misrepresentation, really, of Walking Theory, for me to quote only these works with so much parallelism. There is a ton of play here, and a shining wit – this actually isn’t a “heavy” or gloomy book in the slightest, once you acknowledge that grief also is a part of life. Vincent has a good sense of the line – I think that’s self-evident above – and a good ear for the spoken word as well. Some of the very best passages are pure quotation, such as these two from the long title poem:

”How are your dreams, Mom?”
”Oh, the other day, I wish
I had written it down. It was fantastic.
It was really something. I remembered it
All day long. It’s too bad
I didn’t write it down.”

”The sun is always sending out
bursts of energy.
I’ve been on one
Since early this week.”
        Anonymous Voice, KPFA Radio, June 2004

Stephen Vincent has always been a personal poet & in his early work, such as his selection in Five on the Western Edge, the collection Vincent edited & published of Bay Area poets in the mid-seventies¹, I felt that to be a weakness, that it led toward sentimentality. But instead of stripping the personal out of his poems, Vincent has done just the opposite: he’s embraced it to a degree that I haven’t seen outside of the early books of Allen Ginsberg. Doing so, the sentiment, that buffer between what we feel & what we think we should feel, is what’s been stripped away. The result is a luminous record of a life, a family & a community. Walking Theory is a terrific book.


¹ In many ways Five is as good a record of San Francisco poetry as it existed outside of the language poets in the 1970s as anyone put together. The five (the others were Hilton Obenzinger, Beau Beausoleil, Larry Felson &Steve Brooks) aren’t School of Quietude poets in the slightest, but it’s worth noting that they’re all male & all white. It’s not that other worlds didn’t exist, but the scenes in those days didn’t much mesh. Vincent, an early supporter of a writer like Ntosake Shange, certainly understood the problematics of this at the time.


Monday, May 14, 2007


Tottel’s is now online. At least partly. Craig Dworkin’s Eclipse archive, which, in its own words, is dedicated to “digital facsimiles of the most radical small-press writing from the last quarter century” is in the process of making my 1970s ‘zine its 100th collection. JPEG photo files of every page of all 18 issues are now available. “Reading copies” of each issue in PDF format will follow shortly. This feels particularly amazing to me since no issue of Tottel’s had more than 150 copies and some of the early ones may have had as few as 50. Two libraries – NYPL and SUNY Buffalo – took out subscriptions early on, but their collections may be the only other complete (or near complete) sets in the world.

I got the idea of trying a magazine in the fall of 1968 while I was a student in the creative writing program at San Francisco State. My linguistics professor, Ed van Aelstyn, one of the founding editor’s of Coyote’s Journal, argued that if I was a poet, I should have a magazine – it would give me a chance to contact all of the poets whose work I admired, sharpen my own critical thinking about poetry, and even give me the chance to print my own work. The late d alexander helped immeasurably when he heard from mutual friend Clayton Eshleman that I had embarked on this venture & showed up one day at my door with his address book in hand. d – his full first name – had been editing Odda Talla for a few years at that point & knew the whereabouts of just about every living New American or otherwise post-avant poet in the U.S. And Canada, as it so happened – the subsequent appearance of Daphne Marlatt in Tottel’s was certainly his doing. d hosted Marlatt at his home in the hills behind Stanford & persuaded me to screw up the courage to ask Ken Irby to let me ride along with him & David Bromige – in those years, Irby was the only one of us who even knew how to drive. On our way there, we stopped at a liquor store near d’s to pick up a six pack only to find ourselves standing in line behind Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Ted Enslin, John Thorpe & Chuck Stein were other names that emerged from d’s address book, as were some folks who don’t appear in Tottel’s, most notably Armand Schwerner. I accepted some of Schwerner’s Tablets for my embryonic journal, which I was calling Alpha Sort, but by the time the initial issue of Tottel’s showed up, Armand’s work was already widely available in his first Black Sparrow collection of those poems.

As the hand-scripted logo from the first issue above may attest, one thing I clearly didn’t have a clue about was the production of any publication. I was also living on little more than $100 per month in those days, which didn’t leave me much in the way of resources to pay for printing, let alone typesetting & design. So I found myself for about two years with a stack of work that just sat there as I felt more & more guilty & confused about what to do. Even now, some three dozen years later, when somebody asks me for work for a something that never emerges – where is Leslie Davis’s anthology, Poetry and the Year 2000? – I always keep in mind that I’ve been there too and know precisely what that’s like.

What finally go me going was an unsolicited submission from David Gitin that I felt was just too good not to publish – the work’s neo-Objectivist impulses totally persuaded me – but that brought me face-to-face with the nasty reality that soliciting work & just sitting on it wasn’t “publishing,” but quite the opposite – I was keeping what I felt was significant work from getting out. So I finally went for an option that at the time I thought was inventing on the spot – I trundled down to the local Krishna Copy shop in Berkeley and had the first five-page issue photocopied. I chose a different title, that of the first anthology of poetry in English, both to connect what I thought I was doing to the larger stream of literature and to separate it out from what I thought of as the debacle of Alpha Sort. Gitin’s poems actually turn up in the second issue.

I was very much interested in defining this project as new. I didn’t even know enough to date the first issue, but it was probably December 1970 or January of 1971. I had separated from my first wife, Rochelle Nameroff, in late October 1970 after a five-year marriage & was living in a backyard cottage in North Oakland. At some level, finally getting off the dime on a publication helped to mark the difference between my former life & the one towards which I was optimistically plunging ahead.

Tottel’s has sometimes been referred to as the first language poetry journal &, in the narrow sense that it beat This magazine to print by a few months, this may be true. In 1969, David Melnick & I had co-edited a selection of “Fifteen Young Poets the San Francisco Bay Area” for the Chicago Review – it appeared in the summer 1970 issue, not long before I took the first Tottel’s to the copy shop. We had had the opportunity at the time to include the writing of Rae Armantrout & Robert Grenier in that selection, but for different reasons failed to do so. In Rae’s case, I think we just lacked self-confidence that one of our fellow students at Berkeley was “ready” to publish. In Grenier’s case, I think we worried that Chicago Review would reject the entire project if we tried to include something like



in our manuscript. I’m not persuaded even now that the latter fear wasn’t reasonable, but I was determined not to make the same mistake twice and included five poems from Grenier’s Sentences in the first issue – possibly the first appearance anywhere of that seminal work. The third issue was devoted entirely to Armantrout’s poetry, and the fifth to Grenier’s. Two of the poems in the Armantrout number have survived all the way to her selected poems, Veil. So much for her not having been ready. Other single-author issues included David Gitin (#7), Thomas Meyer (9), Clark Coolidge (11), Ray DiPalma (12), David Melnick (13), Bruce Andrews (14), Larry Eigner (15) and Steve Benson (18). That’s a pretty good line-up after all these years.

One non-contributor whose presence in Tottel’s I also enjoyed was Phil Whalen, who can be seen climbing atop & then jumping from a large rock at the San Francisco Zen Center on the cover of issue 17. I forget how exactly I came by that selection. Somebody gave me the photos as a lark at some point & I recall writing away for permission to use them & waiting anxiously until I got a note back that said, basically, “Sure.”

A more ominous cover ran on the 16th issue, which made use of the execution record form from San Quentin, at the time the only document used by the California Department of Corrections that actually called a prisoner a prisoner rather than a resident or a client. This was something that I picked up on the job during the years I worked in the prisoner rights’ movement.

The sixty real contributors to Tottel’s included each of the following:

Keith Abbott

Tom Ahern

d alexander

Bruce Andrews

Rae Armantrout

Barbara Baracks

Steve Benson

Charles Bernstein

Ted Berrigan

Harvey Bialy

David Bromige

Robert David Cohen

Clark Coolidge

Alan Davies

Lee De Jasu

Raymond DiPalma

Mike Doyle

Lynne Dreyer

Larry Eigner

Theodore Enslin

Seymour Faust

Curtis Faville

David Gitin

John Gorham

Bob Grenier

Lyn Hejinian

Joyce Holland

William B. Hunt

Ken Irby

Robert Kelly

Michael Lally

Iven Lourie

Jackson Mac Low

Lewis MacAdams

Paul Mariah

Daphne Marlatt

David McAleavey

Brian McInerney

David Melnick

Thomas Meyer

Rochelle Nameroff

Opal L. Nations

Bob Perelman

David Perry

Jim Preston

Margaret Randall

Jerome Rothenberg

Dennis Schmitz

Ron Silliman

Charles Stein

Richard Tagett

John Taggart

John Thorpe

Michael Torlen

Keith Waldrop

Rosmarie Waldrop

Barrett Watten

Hannah Weiner

Michael Wiater

Karl Young

Not a perfect list – I’m appalled to think I never printed Kit Robinson, Carla Harryman, Tom Mandel, Ted Pearson, Alan Bernheimer, Beverly Dahlen, Leslie Scalapino, Steve Ratcliffe, Erica Hunt, Aaron Shurin, Bob Glück, Norman Fischer, Kathy Acker, Steve Vincent etc. etc. etc., all of whom I knew in the 1970s – but a decent one overall.

Eclipse, the host institution, so to speak, is becoming one of the major archival sites for poetry of the last half century. Tottel’s is my third item in the Eclipse archive, as my issue of Stations dedicated to the work of Clark Coolidge and Legend, the booklength collaborative poem I wrote with Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Steve McCaffery & Bruce Andrews are already there. But I’m also in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, whose complete archives are here, and the index to This magazine. The archive also has some 15 books by Clark Coolidge, the complete books of David Melnick, Rae Armantrout’s first book, nine books by Bruce Andrews, five books by Lyn Hejinian, four by Robert Grenier (not including, alas, Cambridge M’ass, the giant poster of a book), all of the important early works by Bernadette Mayer, and all manner of really rare items, including books by N.H. Pritchard, the African-American avant-gardist, Peter Seaton’s great Agreement or Alden Van Buskirk’s Lami, one of the lost works of the Beat generation. I keep hoping that Dworkin eventually will add all of the early volumes of Coyote’s Journal, or Caterpillar, or Yugen or C. But like such sister sites as UBU, EPC & PENNsound, I’ll wager that Dworkin is doing this on a shoestring, sweat equity all the way beyond, perhaps, storage on a university server somewhere. It’s ironic that the Poetry Foundation, with its endowment of $100-plus million, or even the Academy of American Poetry, have done so much less with so many more resources.

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