Saturday, March 13, 2010

I managed to see the Art Ensemble of Chicago last weekend at International House in Philadelphia, and they were simply stunning in the depth, wit & beauty of their music. I House had sold every seat in the house, plus maybe 20 more, as people sat along the steps up through the rows of seating. The current line-up consists of founder Roscoe Mitchell on saxophones, drummer Famoudou Don Moye (plus a second percussionist sitting in whose name I did not catch), Hugh Ragin on trumpets & William Parker on bass & stringed African instruments. If it doesn’t take your breath away, you’re not breathing.

Videos of the Art Ensemble of Chicago

Friday, March 12, 2010

The winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
is Rae Armantrout

Harryette Mullen:
finding where the bodies are buried

Harryette in Portuguese

Women who blog

Laura Hinton
on women in academe

The gender wage gap
around the world

Marjorie Perloff
curates the Ubuweb top ten for March

The (conceptual) pleasures of the (conceptual) text

“the greatest French poet of the Twentieth Century”

Translation as kitsch

Aram Saroyan:
in praise of little books

Aram Saroyon on Richard Avedon

Joshua Corey’s American Avant-Pastoral

The Collected Poems of Larry Eigner

Al Filreis:
Cold-War Interpretation

Zygmunt Bauman:
Languages of power & powerlessness

A profile of D.A. Powell

How to be famous

March 28 in Philadelphia:
a benefit reading for Molly’s Bookstore

The “oldest writing” on 60,000-year-old egg shells?

Talking with Tom Clark

Conceptual poetry goes high concept

Kay Ryan:
stealthy insights amid short phrases

The “other author” of Don Quixote

NY’s Small & Indie Press Book Fair
as seen from LA

The later poems of Stanley Kunitz

How do you decide what books to buy?

The London Word Festival is under way

Recounting David Alpaugh’s “new math”

Carol Dorf on prose poems & gender

Paris Review tries a new editor

Early Vonnegut

James Wood,
talking on David Foster Wallace

Pretty much every library book sale
in the country, in a searchable database

Alphabets of books

The recent adventures of Mark Twain

Not only does Jon Frankel
argue against knowing what you’re doing,
but he demonstrates the alternative

Novels about $$

Kingsolver’s Lacuna

Lewis Carroll, pedophile?

The case for reality

A profile of Clive James

A feminist Texican reads GirlDrive

Feminist free association

The problem with facts

A travel blog for poets

Nowhere Mag


Who killed Caravaggio?

Art in Western Massachusetts

The Hong Kong Artwalk
on St. Paddy’s Day

Subscribable art @ Space 1026

Peter Schjeldahl on Dakkis Joannou et al

Daniel Arsham
between art, architecture & performance

The Artes Mundi shortlist

DIY theater

Remembering Mark Linkous

Which city are you?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This is a time of great reckoning. In the sense that we’re are midway through a period in which many very terrific authors are having collected editions appear. Just in the past few months, we’ve seen Ken Irby’s The Intent On, Gerrit Lansing’s Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth, magnificent editions from North Atlantic Books. Stanford’s four-volume Collected Poems of Larry Eigner is available now. But the volume I want to focus on today is Tiresias: The Collected Poems of Leland Hickman, jointly published by Nightboat Books of Callicoon, NY, and Otis Books/Seismicity Editions in Hickman’s home town of Los Angeles. The book is impeccably edited by Stephen Motika of Poets House, with a preface by Dennis Phillips & an afterword by Bill Mohr.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Recently Received

Books (Poetry)

Demosthenes Agrafiotis, Maribor, translated by John & Angelos Sakkis, The Post-Apollo Press, Sausalito, 2010

Elizabeth Arnold, Effacement, Flood Editions, Chicago, 2010

John Beer, The Waste Land And Other Poems, Carnarium Books, Ann Arbor / Berkeley / Iowa City, 2010

Charles Bernstein, All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems, FSG, New York, 2010

Andrea Brady, Wildfire: A Verse Essay on Obscurity and Illumination, Krupskaya, San Francisco 2010

Suzanne Buffam, The Irrationalist, Carnarium Books, Ann Arbor / Berkeley / Iowa City, 2010

Larry Eigner, The Collected Poems of Larry Eigner, edited by Curtis Faville & Robert Grenier, Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, 2010. Vol. I: 1937 – 1958; Vol. II: 1958 – 1966; Vol. III: 1966 – 1978; Vol. IV: 1978 – 1995

Paul Killebrew, Flowers, Carnarium Books, Ann Arbor / Berkeley / Iowa City, 2010,

Alex Lemon, Fancy Beasts, Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis, 2010

Tony Lopez, False Memory, The Figures, Great Barrington, MA, 1996

Tony Lopez, Devolution, The Figures, Great Barrington, MA, 2000

Ryan Murphy, The Redcoats, Krupskaya, San Francisco, 2010

Mike Smith, Multiverse, BlazeVOX, Buffalo, 2010

Eileen R. Tabios, The Thorn Rosary: Selected Prose Poems & New (1998 – 2010), Marsh Hawk Press, East Rockaway, NY, 2010. Selected with an introduction by Thomas Fink, afterword by Joi Barrios


Books (Poetry Anthologies)

Rachel Zucker & Arielle Greenberg, Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days, University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2010. Includes Elizabeth Alexander, Matthew Rohrer, Martha Silano, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fanny Howe, Yvette Thomas, Patricia Smith, Lyn Lifshin, Sasha Steensen, John Paul O’Connor, Lesléa Newman, Rebecca Wolff, Matthew Zapruder, Cornelius Eady, Caroline Klocksiem, Rachel Zucker, BJ Soloy, Cole Swensen, Laurel Snyder, Cate Marvin, Michael Dumanis, Major Jackson, Erin Belieu, Craig Morgan Teicher, David Lehman, Nin Andrews, Diane Wald, Lisa Samuels, Brian Teare, Katy Lederer, Joyelle McSweeney, Mark Doty, Elizabeth Scanlon, Katie Ford, Mark Bibbins, Lindsey Wallace, Todd Fredson, Geraldine Kim, Kevin Prufer, David Roderick, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, John Beer, Ian Harris, Nicole Cooley, Erika Meitner, Allison Joseph, Linda Buckmaster, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Jeff Encke, Anne Waldman, Marvin Bell, Catherine Wagner, Leah Souffrant, Patricia Spears Jones, Kazim Ali, Wayne Koestenbaum, Sally Ball, Carmen Giménez Smith, Patrick Culliton, Catherine Barnett, Amy Lemmon, Arielle Greenberg, Mendi Lewis Obadike, Jenny Factor, Michael Morse, Sarah Vap, Brenda Shaughnessy, Laura Mullen, Elizabeth Hughey, A. Van Jordan, Dara Wier, Tony Trigilio, Mónica de la Torre, Michele Battiste, Susan Wheeler, Martha Collins, Betsy Fagin, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Patricia Carlin, Chris Green, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Craig Arnold, Kathrine Varnes, cin salach, Jen Hofer, Becca Klaver, John Gallaher, Susan Briante, Paul Killebrew, Joshua Corey, Jason Schneiderman, Joy Katz, Robin Beth Schaer, Laynie Browne, Sean Cole, Prageeta Sharma, Pimone Triplett, Brenda Hillman, Jenny Browne & Thomas Sayers Ellis


Books (Other)

Tony Lopez, Meaning Performance, Salt, Cambridge UK, 2006

Nick Piombino, Contradicta: Aphorisms, Green Integer, København & Los Angeles, 2010. Art work by Toni Simon.

Leslie Scalapino, Floats Horse-floats or Horse-flows, Starcherone Books, Buffalo, 2010

Poetry and New Media: A Users’ Guide: Report of the Poetry and New Media Work Group, Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, The Poetry Foundation, Chicago, 2009. Working Group members include Michael Collier, Wyn Cooper, Rita dove, Cornelius Eady, David Fenza, Kate Gale, Kimiko Hahn, Lewis Hyde, Fiona McCrae, Robert Pinsky, Claudia Rankine, Alberto Rios, Don Selby, Rick Stevens, Jennifer Urban & Monica Youn.


Other Formats & Media

Christian Bök, “A Virus from Outer Space,” Christian Bök trading card, Fact-Simile, Santa-Fe NM 2010 (3.5-by-2.5 inch trading cards in the grand baseball card manner with photo vertically on one side backed by an Bök’s poem. The card is reminiscent of Topps’ cards in the early ‘60s, tho a different design from the one of Anne Waldman that began this series. This card arrived in a laminated plastic “card protector”)

Richard Krech, This Life May Be the Only One, Don’t Waste It, Slogan # 14, Sore Dove Press, San Francisco, 2010. 8.5-by-5.5” card with title/slogan all in caps on the glossy side. Reverse has matte finish and info printed in upper left corner as in an oversized postcard. First edition of 50 printed in red font, subsequent editions in black.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tom Devaney:
On Bear’s Head
More where this came from
Leslie Scalapino:
The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom
The Poetry Center Book Award goes to
The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest
(Guest is the first two-time winner of the award)
28 years of winners
David Nolan,
longtime poetry audio guru,
has passed away
Correcting 9,000 typos in
Finnegans Wake
Close reading aloud:
Rae Armanrout, Linh Dinh, Tom Devaney & Al Filreis
on the work of Kit Robinson

Monday, March 08, 2010

The early editors of HOW(ever), L to R:
Bev Dahlen, Susan Gevirtz, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Frances Jaffer & Kathleen Fraser

International Women’s Day is 101 today¹, a figure that reminds me that the Allen anthology, The New American Poetry – still the most influential single book of poems to have appeared in print in my lifetime – occurred pretty much at the halfway point in that history, gathering the post-avant poetries of the period between the end of the Second World War & 1960. That book has been rightly criticized for having just four women contributors among its 44, and for ignoring Diane di Prima, Joanne Kyger, Hettie Jones, Ruth Witt-Diamant, Muriel Rukeyser, ruth weiss, Kathleen Fraser, Josephine Miles, Mary Fabilli, Laura Ulewicz & others who could arguably have been included in that work.

I hate to admit that this situation was perceived, at least by myself & the male poets I knew, as “normal” back in the 1960s, but it was. In the 1960s, Gertrude Stein was still considered a joke as a writer, an extra-literary phenomenon of those crazy between-war years in Paris. H.D. was not thought about at all, unless Robert Duncan was talking. Tillie Olsen read at San Francisco State & gave away copies of Tell Me a Riddle because nobody had bothered to buy the book.

So that when Kathleen Fraser wrote about accepting her legs, Denise Levertov put a plaque on her washing machine crediting the Guggenheim Foundation for the machine’s ability to free up her time to write, and when Diane Wakoski began to create poems about – of all things – male sexism, these were all received quite differentially depending on what you had between your legs. Nor were these women alone – Florence Howe’s No More Masks dates from 1973, Judy Grahn’s The Psychoanalysis of Edward the Dyke stunningly all the way from 1964 (just two years after the then-LeRoi Jones put out Four Young Lady Poets, featuring Wakoski, Carol Bergé, Barbara Moraff & Rochelle Owens).

When I was a student at San Francisco State in the 1960s, there was exactly one woman on the creative writing faculty there, Kay Boyle, &, after I’d left, I was not surprised to hear that Boyle fought hard (tho unsuccessfully) to keep it that way, resisting the addition of Fraser to the full-time tenure-track elite. At Berkeley, the only women writers during my time there (Levertov, Lillian Hellman) were visiting faculty. And some of the women who taught literature (as distinct from writing) at Berkeley bought into the very male game that professors could have their pick of grad students as sexual partners. The good old days those were not.

So that when Kathleen Fraser – that name again – joined with some like-minded friends in 1983 to create HOW(ever), the timing was perfect: it proved to be an epoch-making event. Women’s writing already had a long, remarkable progressive history: it was not simply quietist poetry (with all of the politics of conformity that implies) written by women. I recall Kathleen telling me at one point that she was surprised at just how much support she got from male post-avants compared with the deafening silence that greeted the publication from the female quietists of that decade, some of whom had become quite famous as feminists. From my perspective, that made perfect sense.

Still, nothing has done more to change – blur, to some degree even erase – the faultlines for poetry in my lifetime than the mass emergence of women writing. For all of the problems that I have with the concept of hybridity in poetry, I can’t escape the fact that for many writers, especially those younger than myself, the bifurcation of poetry into two counter-posing traditions is experienced as a quarrel among men (white men at that), and that the landscape of poetry in the English language now looks entirely different.

Not that all is perfect. Far from it. It is still possible to have a major award shortlist that consists entirely of men, even though everyone now seems to concede that the absolute majority of poets writing in English are women. Further, this disparity continues to turn up in some of the ways women writers express themselves. Of the 1192 active blogs on my blogroll, 392 are written by women, slightly under 33 percent. For the next week, the top list on my new links page will consist of nothing but these women (and, knowing Blogger, that may be the only list visible). Now, it’s conceivable that one of the reasons for this disparity is me – if I’m missing anyone, send me an email and let me know. It’s also true that not all of the collective blogs are exclusively by men – Give a Fig missed this list because one of its 13 contributors is male. But the distance between the 25 percent figure that marked the participation by women in In the American Tree in 1986 and the 32.9 percent in my blogroll 24 years later is not the sign of a successful revolution so much as it is of one still very much in process.

Women who blog about poetry, poetics & the arts


¹ First observed February 28, 1909 by the Socialist Party of America, it was fomally adopted by the Second International in 1910 & celebrated internationally for the first time in 1911. Some organizations will celebrate its centennial next year.

Sunday, March 07, 2010