Saturday, May 08, 2010

William Carlos Williams
reading at the 92nd Street Y
in 1954

Friday, May 07, 2010

Recently Received

Books (Poetry)

Laynie Browne, The Desire of Letters, Counterpath, Denver, 2010

Stephen Collis, On the Material, Talonbooks, Vancouver, BC, 2010

Mina Pam Dick, Delinquent, Futurepoem Books, New York, 2009

Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Pitch: Drafts 77 – 95, Salt Publishing, London, 2010

Peter C. Fernbach, The Blooming Void, BlazeVOX, Buffalo, 2010

Carrie Fountain, Burn Lake, Penguin, New York & London, 2010

Suzanne Frischkorn, Girl on a Bridge, Main Street Rag, Charlotte, NC, 2010

Carrie Hunter, A Musics, Arrow as Aarow, Chicago, 2010

Andrew Joron, Trance Archive: New and Selected Poems, City Lights, San Francisco, 2010

Jeffrey Jullich, Portrait of Colon Dash Parenthesis, Litmus Press, Brooklyn, 2010

Ayane Kawate, Time of Sky / Castles in the Air, translated by Sawako Nakayasu, Litmus Press, Brooklyn, 2010

Joanna Klink, Raptus, Penguin, New York & London, 2010

Srečko Kosovel, Look Back, Look Ahead, translated from the Slovene by Ana Jelnikar,& Barbara Siegel Carlson, with an introduction by Richard Jackson, Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2010

Nancy Kuhl, Suspend, Shearsman, Exeter, 2010

Jake Levine, The Threshold of Erasure, Spork Press, no location given, apparently 2010

Helen Lopez, Shift Perception, Shearsman, Exeter, 2009

Manuel Maples Arce, City: Bolshevik Super-Poem in 5 Cantos, translated by Brandon Holmquest, Ugly Duckling Press, Brooklyn, 2010

Garry Thomas Morse, After Jack, Talonbooks, Vancouver, 2010

Fiona Sze-Lorrain, Water the Moon, Marick Press, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI, 2010

Nguyen Trai, Beyond the Court Gate: Selected Poems, edited & translated by Nguyen Do & Paul Hoover, Counterpath, Denver, 2010

Brian Turner, Phantom Noise, Alice James Books, Farmington, ME, 2010

Kevin Varrone, G-Point Almanac: Passyunk Lost, Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2010

Alexander Vvedensky, The Gray Notebook, translated by Matvei Yankelvich, Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2009

Karen Weiser, To Light Out, Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2010



Books (Other)

Michael Connelly, The Poet, with an introduction by Stephen King, Warner Books, New York, 2004

Dorothea Lasky, Poetry is Not a Project, Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2010

Danzy Senna, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History, FSG, New York, 2009

Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Poets on Teaching: A Sourcebook, University of Iowa, Iowa City, 2010. Includes Dan Beachy-Quick, Stephen Burt, Joshua Clover, Forrest Gander, Peter Gizzi, Kenneth Goldsmith, Sarah Gridley, Brenda Hillman, Jen Hofer, Lisa Jarnot, Ada Limón, Sabrina Orah Mark, Laura Mullen, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Jena Osman, D.A. Powell, Srikanth Reddy, Martha Ronk, Richard Siken, Ron Silliman, Juliana Spahr, Cole Swensen, Mark Yakich, Matthew Zapruder, more



Aufgabe, no. 9, Brooklyn, 2010. Includes Stefani Barber, Justyna Bargielska, Hannah Barrett, Kacper Bartczak, Ellen Baxt, Dodie Bellamy, Martine Bellen, Guy Bennett, Miron Białoszewski, Miłosz Biedrzycki, Julia Bloch, Taylor, Andrzej Busza, Ewa Chruściel, Norma Cole, CAConrad, Rob Cook, Craig Cotter, Michael Cross, Brent Cunningham, Bogdan Czaykowski, Mina Pam Dick,  , Dolores Dorantes, , Patrick Durgin, Cathy Eisenhower, Laura Elrick, Cal Freeman, Rodrigo Flores, Karen Garthe, Nada Gordon, Noah Eli Gordon, Andy Gricevich, James Grinwis, Gabriel Gudding, Rob Halpern, Alan Halsey, Jen Hofer, Rick Hilles, Scott Inguito, Michael Ives, Katarzyna Jakubiak, Andrew Joron, Aneta Kamińska, Vincent Katz, Monika Kocot, Ela Kotkowska, Virginia Lucas, Krzysztof Majer, Filip Marinovich, C.J. Martin, Rod Mengham, Edric Mesmer, Monika Mosiewicz, Myung Mi Kim, Laura Moriarty, Eileen Myles, Lee Norton, Linnea Ogden, Geoffrey Olsen, Przemysław Owczarek, Jocelyn Saidenberg, Tomaz Šalamun, Leslie Scalapino, Standard Schaefer, Kate Schapira, Anne Shaw, Rick Snyder, Andrzej Sosnowski, Celina Su, Nathalie Stephens (Nathanaël), Katarzyna Szuster, Mark Tardi, Michael Thomas Taren, Alissa Valles, Michel van Schendel, Frank L. Vigoda, Jasmine Dreame Wagner, Craig Watson, Dustin Williamson, Stephanie Young, Ouyang Yu Ilona Zineczko, Elizabeth Zuba


Other Media & Formats

Eileen Myles, Pencil # 4, Fact-Simile Trading Cards, Santa-Fe NM 2010 (3.5-by-2.5 inch trading cards in the grand baseball card manner with photo horizontally on one side backed by the poem. The card is reminiscent of Topps’ cards circa 1960.)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I brought The City Real & Imagined by CAConrad & Frank Sherlock with me first because I was planning to spend the afternoon in Bartram’s Garden, one of those only-in-Philadelphia destinations on the order of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Duchamps in the Philadelphia Art Museum or Kellys Writers House. Bartram’s Garden is the oldest surviving botanic garden in the United States, having been founded in 1728 and operated continuously since then. Driving down the entrance path onto its 46 acres, located in one of the poorest nabes of Philadelphia, is rather like entering a time machine. The garden includes the only surviving member of the three original gingko trees first sent to America in 1785, and it was the Bartram family that rescued and cultivated a tree they named for a local small press printer, Ben Franklin, Franklinia Alatamaha, having discovered it in the wild in Georgia in 1765. Franklinia has not been seen in the wild since 1803 and today all examples of this lovely flowering tree in America are descended from this garden.
I also brought with me the only book I have that actually refers by name to this place, Jonathan Williams’ An Ear in Bartram’s Tree: Selected Poems 1957-1967. I knew of course of Williams’ special importance to Conrad, as a gay man with a wicked wit & the publisher who initially had planned to bring out Conrad’s Frank before Williams’ failing health got the better of him. The garden was pretty empty that afternoon – the weather was still oscillating between spring & late winter – and I got to sit & read awhile. Sure enough, an echo of Williams, his use of epigrams & quotations, jumps right out at me in the first five lines of this collaborative poem:
“Or I’ll tune out and put a
‘MEAN DOG’ sign in front
of all my communications!”
– Ryan Trecartin,
Philadelphia filmmaker
As openings go, The Cantos this is not. If Pound, say, was a modernist symphony that ran into the buzzsaw of history, The City Real & Imagined lets you know instantly that it’s going to be more on the lines of Lady Gaga as heard through the ears of Spike Jones, or maybe Weird Al as filmed by John Waters (or Elvis as impersonated by the late Sylvester of the Cockettes with costumes by Chris March).
Just the jackets of the two books gives you some sense of the difference, even against the poet of The Loco Logodaedalist in Situ (my favorite of Jonathan Williams’ titles & a brilliant book in itself). An Ear in Bartram’s Tree has as its cover image William Bartram’s drawing of the flower of the Franklinia, gray & white on a pale gray background, a classic instance of New Directions’ decades long fight against interesting book covers. The City Real & Imagined is navy blue beneath the black stripe of the Heretical Text series, with Zoe Strauss’ iconic photo of mattress sale – an imagine that screams or sings of the Philadelphia region every bit as clearly as the Liberty Bell. It’s deadpan, colorful & filled with humor, yet unmistakably communicating an orientation toward class that makes you realize how a photo of mattresses can be said to have a politics. It’s the perfect cover for this book.
In addition to Jonathan Williams, The City Real & Imagined has a couple of other patron saints hovering close by. One is Philip Whalen, especially of his riding around the city journal poems – more evident in On Bear’s Head than his other collections – whose death in June 2002 is marked in the composition of this book. The other is the collaborations of Ted Berrigan. This aspect is especially visible in the contributions of Frank Sherlock, whose lines step & dance across the page, making great use of white space.
But there is nothing faux New York School about this book. It could not have been written anywhere else, not just because of specific references – Thomas Eakins, Love Park, the Ben Franklin Bridge, Broad Street, City Hall, even (full disclosure)
We saw
Ron Silliman
on 17th Street and
walked fast to catch up
but it wasn’t him
Rather, there is a tonal shift across the 96 pages of this book, one that only David Shapiro among the NY School poets might have been able to make, from the “I did this / I did that mode” so familiar to post-avant poetics over the past half century toward something much darker & more political. It’s not, as one might imagine for a text crafted largely (entirely?) in 2002, a reaction to September 11, but rather because both Sherlock & Conrad are deeply political creatures, tho not in any way that would have been recognized (or at least greeted with open arms), say, in a union hall in the 1950s. Some of it is sexual orientation, but more than anything its class. Conrad is quick to tell everyone exactly how hard his youth was, & Sherlock was certainly no Main Line scion. Which means that they bring a tone to an already familiar poetics that really comes across as quite different. Contrast this, say, with another Berrigan-inflected lefty, such as Louis Cabri. Cabri’s work is theory rich, where Sherlock & Conrad could not care less. Their politics of instanteous reaction to insult & discrimination is far closer to the observational immanence one associates with Berrigan & Whalen (two poets, mind you, who were also always painfully aware of just how few pennies they had in their pocket).
These come together in the most startling of combinations, say, the choice of a word like “trustafarians” or something whimsical, like
Ben Franklin
(sexy nerd)
though I Love
him so
did NOT
invent the
In a work where Robert Indiana’s Love sculpture (and its surrounding park), and the subject of blowjobs (including the cost of blowjobs) are continually reiterated themes, this simple passage actually is dense with other layers, but it’s that final word in this stanza that totally sells it.
I’ve been quoting Conrad here mostly because his stanzas, which tend to cling tighter to the left margin are easier to yoke into HTML than Sherlock’s airy field poetics. But it’s true also that readers will very quickly learn to recognize the two voices – there’s no attempt at ventriloquism here. Sherlock’s is lighter in tone – he’s the one who reminds you of Whalen. Conrad’s stanzas are more dense, and more apt to be angry than sad at the world’s injustices. Between these two poles, tho, is where the magic in this book really happens. It can be loud, joking, rude, quiet, alert, brassy, smart, tender all in the course of a couple of pages. It’s a terrific read.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Rodrigo Toscano, “to become super-solid”
from the LaChiPo issue of Breach

is a new online journal
focusing on Latin@ poetry & poetics

LaChiPo: A Decolonial Poetics
by J. Michael Martinez,
who edited this first issue

That editorial & the whole issue
might be read
a direct response
to the recent racist legislation
enacted by the State of Arizona

While you are at it, read
Martinez’ “Praxis (II): Subjectivity” as well

Other contributors include:
Carmen Calatayud
Cynthia Cruz
Danielle Cadena Deulen
Blas Falconer
Carmen Gimenez Smith
Gabriel Gomez
Roberto Harrison
Juan Felipe Herrera
Sheryl Luna
Valerie Martinez
Paul Martinez Pompa
John-Michael Rivera
Roberto Tejada

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

One value of Sarah Rosenthal’s sumptuous collection of interviews, A Community Writing Itself: Conversations with Vanguard Bay Area Authors, just out from Dalkey Archive, is Rosenthal’s introduction to the collection, which offers a solid history of Bay Area poetry. Like the interviews themselves – a dozen in all, averaging maybe 25 pages in length – Rosenthal’s intro shows a depth of homework on her part that may come as a sobering reminder to the Facebook generation that this is how it’s done when executed properly. The book contains discussions with Michael Palmer, Nathaniel Mackey, Leslie Scalapino, Brenda Hillman, Kathleen Fraser, Stephen Ratclife, Robert Glück, Barbara Guest, Truong Tran, Camille Roy, Juliana Spahr & Elizabeth Robinson.

Not that the introduction is perfect. Whether it’s an emphasis here¹, or a detail there², one could argue the minutiae because the larger structures are basically right on. Rosenthal is careful to document her sources & qualify her approach, noting that Stephanie Young’s Bay Poetics includes 110 poets, dozens of whom could just as easily have been interviewed here. Personally I hope Rosenthal continues her work here. Future volumes beckon. Some writers I would love to see Rosenthal devote this same attention to would include Judy Grahn, Lyn Hejinian, Al Young, Kit Robinson, Etel Adnan, Bob Grenier, Bill Berkson, Bev Dahlen, Dodie Bellamy, Mark Linenthal, Norma Cole, Joanne Kyger, Kevin Killian, Barbara Jane Reyes, Aaron Shurin, Robert Hass, Pat Nolan, Alice Jones, Stephen Vincent, Eileen Tabios, Bill Luoma, Laura Moriarty, Alli Warren, Stephanie Young, Jack Hirschman, Curtis Faville, Diane di Prima, David Melnick, Michael McClure, Norman Fischer, Adam Cornford, Mark Linenthal, Jack Marshall & Jack Foley. That’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure I’m forgetting as many others just as worthy.

The one thread I don’t feel Rosenthal’s introduction does sufficient justice toward is the relationship between post-avant writing & literary traditions that consciously understood themselves as working class &/or even lumpen in their orientation. One is that post-Beat aspect of street poetics that has roots in the New American Poetry, from the late Bob Kaufman to Jack Hirschman to many of the poets particularly around North Beach. A second is a similar approach to LGBT poetries. Paul Mariah & Steve Abbott are gone, as are Pat Parker & Paula Gunn Allen, but it would be really useful to note how the interactions of these writers informed & impacted much that is covered here. Mariah, for example, was as instrumental in keeping Jack Spicer’s memory & work alive in the first ten years after his death as anyone. I was surprised to see Claudia Rankine note the Left/Write Unity Conference spearheaded by Abbott & Bruce Boone in her blurb on the book’s back cover, but not to see it mentioned in the introduction. The important role Actualism – explicitly a Bay Area literary movement – played in the poetries of the 1970s (especially in the “poetry wars”) is entirely invisible here. Given Rosenthal’s own engaged approach to poetics, these little blindspots seem surprising.

All of which is to say that Rosenthal’s introductory history is superb, tho the reality was still a dimension or two more complex than even a first-rate telling can suggest.


¹ Barbara Guest, to my reading, didn’t just continue “to produce important work” once she moved to Berkeley in her seventies, she really blossomed, becoming one of the most influential poets of the past 30 years & offering a model for “late work” that may yet prove transformational for poetry going forward.

² e.g., “Spicer … spent much of his adult life moving within a few blocks in San Francisco’s North Beach” ignores Spicer’s soujourns to Minneapolis & Boston, his day jobs – when he had them – in Berkeley, and the simple fact that his home at Polk & Sutter, an address made famous for poetry by John Wiener’s Hotel Wentley Poems, is a considerable distance from North Beach. The same holds true for Spicer’s favored afternoon hangout of Aquatic Park.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Reina María Rodríguez,
a bilingual reading

Tsering Wangmo Dhompa
on the earthquake in Kyegu

Barrett Watten goes post-moot

Clark Coolidge’s The Act of Providence

New work by Eleni Sikelianos

Curtis Faville on Jack Gilbert
(part I) (part II) (part III)

The Dominant and the Long Durée

Talking with Sara Larsen & David Brazil about Try

Maid as Muse:
How Servants Changed Emily Dickinson’s
Life & Language

Lil Picard: Mama Dada

Canadian Poetry Festival
of 1980

The Bloodaxe Book of Indian Poets

Authors start to boycott Arizona

What is (or has been)
your favorite editing project
and why
(43 poet-editors, curated with an intro by
Eileen R. Tabios)

Editors on editing: a roundtable

The William Bronk-Charles Olson correspondence
(one part of Burt Kimmelman’s contribution)

Otoliths 17 has much to offer

May 3 & 4 @ CUNY,
Chapbook Festival (& marathon reading)

May 6 @ CUNY,
talks in honor of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick,
by Jack Kimball, Stacy Szymaszek & CAConrad

On John Gould Fletcher
& Charles Bernstein

Talking further with Charles Bernstein

The “thought-opera” of Walter Benjamin

Jerry Rothenberg:
A Pre-Face for David Meltzer

Tintin on trial

The David Foster Wallace audio project

Poetry is for rich kids

Michael Horovitz jumps into the Oxford poetry swamp

The intent of The Alphabet

Was Robert Frost a modernist?

Arcs & arcoholics

Britain’s best indie bookshops

Janet Adelman has died

Random House gets more random

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

Plus 39 other Dick titles

The Bukowski archive

Remembering Jonathan Williams

Remembering Peter Porter

LA’s Skylight Books

Talking with Tan Lin

Definitely check out the new Barzakh!
(viz Ted Berrigan collages)

Ryokan, translated by Dennis Maloney

The danger in neglecting translation

The city of endangered languages

Parlay vu globish?

Google Search to add
virtual keyboards for 35 languages

How to Write in 700 Easy Lessons

Glengarry Glen AWP

“you get to dance, you get drunk, you get laid”

The EU Commission nixes a poetry contest

The perils of meeting your favorite author

When Chaplin met Einstein

Emily Dickinson’s garden

Paulann Peterson, Oregons new laureate

Missouri’s laureate, David Clewell

13 Howard Fellows in Fiction & Poetry

Always almost obsolete,
always almost new

If I were to raise my children
the way I write my books…”

Reznikoff & conceptualism

Flarf film

A site just for the juxtaposition
of literature & technology

The Found Poem Student Challenge

The poetry of golf

The poetry of preaching

Found poem favorites

Celebrity volcano slam poetry

Art of the slam
not a contradiction in terms

Talking with Amir Sulaiman

Bloomberg the poet?

Nick Clegg:
“My hero Samuel Beckett”

William Burroughs:
Cities of the Red Night
(reg. req.)

Burroughs’ Naked Scientology
(reg. req.)

Burroughs’ The Electronic Revolution
(reg. req.)

Burroughs’ Queer
(reg. req.)

Lewis Carroll, experimental poet

Dramatic monologs,
from the Victorians to Maximus & Niedecker

New York’s sidewalk booksellers

The latest in Gently Read Literature

Photos from Collapsible Poetics Theater

Eigner, Cummings & the typewriter

Can the iPad or Kindle
save book publishers?

The right age to buy an iPad

What the experience of reading
might look like
in the near future

Talking with Ben Mazer

Moving the Dodge to Newark

Edwin Morgan at 90

Do the Monster mash-up,
everyone else is

Charlie Simic:
Confessions of a Poet Laureate

Charlotte Perkins Gilman
& the colors of depression

Shakespeare who?

Twittering Romeo & Juliet
(parting is such tweet sorrow)

Poets change the world

A poem for Arizona

Padraic Fiacc,
Belfast’s “patron saint of the insane”

Talking with Andrei Codrescu

Poetry in Person:
25 Years of Conversations
with America’s Poets

Paul Elisha’s Swash

A Reader on Reading

The pugnacious quietist

Anonymous feminism of the 19th century

Talking with Janaka Stucky

Who is your favorite religious poet?

Cambridge changes rules
to ease the silencing & sacking of
“difficult dons”

What makes a feminist poet?

Marilyn Monroe on Beckett, Joyce
Joltin’ Joe & just maybe JFK

Well, at least it wasn’t her cat

Talking with Kathy Acker

The diaries of Madonna

Nicola Barker: “I love suffering”

Coming Through the Rye
is not making it through the courts

Teens flock to live poetry events

Telling tales in Ojai

Silvi Alcivar, poet on demand

Poetry can be a portable prairie

Poetry from
the 92nd Street Y “Discovery” winners

Talking with Elizabeth Spires

Huffington Post’s fave literary twitters
is mostly publishing industry
& no poets

Adjectives in Sappho
& other obsessions

The Picture of Oscar Wilde

How is this better than Calvin Trillin?

Adam Kirsch close reading Robert Lowell

The best book trailer of the year?

One’s inner compass

Sci-fi publisher Phoenix Books shuts down

Lullabies for maniacs

The calcification of Caryl Phillips

Anne Carson’s Nox

With the death of Alan Sillitoe,
the 1950s are finally over

Philip Davenport
@ the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds

Save Beyond Baroque!

In preparation for landing

Graphic Gatsby

The drawer of whales

One drawing for every page
of Moby-Dick

Poetry, the movie

Bad Writing, the documentary

White Peak / Dark Peak

Talking with Joseph Beuys

The Tate Audio Archives

William Furlong, the archivist

Robert Natkin has died

3 finalists for the new
Berkeley Art Museum

The recession hits Big Art:
Koons’ fabricator shuts down

Talking with Daniel Libeskind

2010 AIA housing awards

The Harvard Arts Medal to
Catherine B. Lord

The dead mother

Sitting with Marina Abramović

Talking with Jenny Holzer

The last (I-95) picture show

The conceit of Cartier-Bresson

Allen Ginsberg, the photographer

The bones of Francois Robert

Events at the Sculpure Center
in Long Island City

June 18-19 in NYC,
a 65th birthday celebration for
Anthony Braxton

The life of Artie Shaw

Laurie Anderson seeks “expert” remixes
& looks to the future

The astrolabe

Brion Gysin:
How to make a dream machine
(reg. req.)

Epistemic closure on the far right

Stephen Wolfram’s
theory of everything

Henri Lefebvre:
State, Space, World: Selected Essays
(reg. req.)

The internet as a social movement

Coping with complexity