Saturday, May 21, 2011



Friday, May 20, 2011


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Thursday, May 19, 2011


Bahraini forces rape & kill
Ayat al-Ghermezi

China bars
Liao Yiwu from traveling

In Yemen,
a poet has his tongue cut off

A Mexican poet abandons poetry

The importance of writing in prison

Craig Santos Perez:
Why are white editors so mean?

Vietnam arrests award-winning publisher

Jerry Rothenberg on Khurbn

Publisher on trial in Turkey
for publishing William Burroughs

Joe Enzweiler has died

Kristin Prevallet
on Robert Kelly &
the need to say thanks

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Laura Winton (aka Fluffy Singler) is writing her dissertation on the absence of formally progressive poetics in spoken word poetry. In a recent message in Facebook, she noted my own comment on how, with performance and sound poetry so visible (audible) at the Text Festival in Bury, there was no sign of slam there, and wondered why.

That’s a good question. I don’t pretend to fully – or even remotely – grasp all of the local politics of poetry in the UK, but the contrast between the almost entirely white participants of the Text Festival and an afternoon just two days later in the giant plaza at Trafalgar Square in London, one of the most multicultural, multiracial, multilingual, multinational places on the planet, proved startling. Indeed, the difference between the Text Festival and the crowd at Katsouris’ deli in the famed (and very multi-multi) Bury Market just two blocks away was noticeable enough for Krishna & I to talk about it over lunch.

One aspect of this is simply sociological – what counts as literature to one community couldn’t be further from it to another. Looking at the White House poetry reading this past week, I feel much more sympathetic to the work, say, of Jill Scott than I do to the thinly veiled appeals to sentimentality that Billy Collins slips in just below the surface of his humor – she & I both have Philadelphia as a point of reference, plus we’ve both had to deal with Sudden Deafness Syndrome in our lives. Her poetry asks harder questions than Collins’ ever will. Yet it is inescapable listening to that reading that Scott’s work also looks to sentiment, just with more earnestness than Collins. Collins’ irony is much closer in practice to the work of Kenny Goldsmith, something that might appall them both. Where Kenny & Billy differ is that Goldsmith’s shtick has much more historical consciousness & contextualization, and to some degree depends on it.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Christian B

This is one of the notes that got bumped when Blogger went south for two days. Christian Bök suggested on Twitter that I’d gotten some of the details wrong in my description of his Xenotext project on Tuesday, so I dropped him a noted & asked him to correct any misimpressions. Here is his reply. I’ve standardized the use of dashes & italics to fit with the blog, but the ellipses belong to Christian & nothing has been deleted.

No worries, Ron — my comment about the errors are actually quibbles (and such errors always underline for me the difficulties of explaining the project to my audience in an abbreviated, but comprehensible, manner--meaning, in effect, that I have to improve the quality of my patter...). I have done my best to update my peers about my progress on the project so that everyone has some idea about how the process works--but because most of my friends are not very immersed in the language of science, they often get a fact or two wrong when trying to rearticulate my news:

Your blog suggests that I have actually brought the project "to fruition" in D. radiodurans-- when in fact, I have yet to complete this stage of the exercise. I have, in fact, designed my gene X-P13, and in order to make sure that it "works," I have implanted it into the genome of E. coli, a standard organism for such engineering. I have, in effect, conducted a "test-run" in order to ensure that all my projections and simulations are, in fact, correct, before actually implanting the poem into the final extremophile. I have hit a big milestone, though. I have demonstrated that, when implanted into a bacterium, my gene (which enciphers a poem) does, in fact, cause the organism to write a viable, benign protein in response -- a protein that, in turn, enciphers yet another text. I am now the first poet in literary history to have engineered a microbe to write poetry -- but I have yet to insert this mechanism into the target creature.... I have actually demonstrated the viability of my text, and the last step is now a kind of aesthetic formality.

I might note that, while your posting suggests that I have a numerous scientists working on my behalf behind the scenes, I have, in fact, done all the genetic engineering and proteomic engineering myself, designing and optimizing the gene on my own, while working out the simulations for the resultant, foldable protein, using my own academic resources. I have called upon a commercial lab to build the gene for me--(because, nowadays, obtaining a gene is as easy as ordering a pizza...) -- and the university lab has implanted the gene into the microbe for me. I have, so far, relied on the advice of two scientists, a graduate student, and a lab technician for support -- and they have all been extremely helpful. I have always emphasized that, for me, the artistic exercise requires that I, in fact, become a molecular biologist through a dilettantish, autodidactic process. I think that the scientists are impressed that, despite being a scholar in literature, I have nevertheless trained myself to be a functional biochemist.

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Monday, May 16, 2011


Recently Received

Books (Poetry)

Ammiel Alcalay, “neither wit nor gold” (from them), Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2011

Will Alexander, Compression & Purity, City Lights, San Francisco, 2011

Guy Bennett, Self-Evident Poems, Otis Books / Seismicity Editions, Los Angeles, 2011

Laynie Browne, Roseate, Points of Gold, Dusie Press, location ethereal, 2011

Louis Cabri, Poetryworld, Cue, North Vancouver, BC, 2010

Ernesto Cardenal, The Origin of the Species and Other Poems, translated & introduced by John Lyons, foreword by Anne Waldman, Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, 2011

Jeff Derksen, Transnational Muscle Cars, Talon Books, Vancouver, 2003

Tim Dlugos, A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos, edited by David Trinidad, Nightboat Books, Callicoon, NY, 2001

Giles Goodland, A Spy in the House of Year, Leviathan, Horsham, UK, 2001

Nada Gordon, Scented Rushes, Roof Books, New York, 2010

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Sunday, May 15, 2011


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