Sunday, August 29, 2010

"And because of knowing you in that moment
I escaped to what I am."

--Sheila E. Murphy
In this photo by Geof Huth, Nancy Huth is in the foreground, I'm in the middle, and Sheila E. Murphy is on my right. Talk about a sweet spot. These are two people for whom I have huge admiration.

I've been reading Sheila's work for over a quarter of a century. I've interviewed her. She's an amazing, engaging figure of creative possibility. It was great to finally meet her in person at the Avant Writing Symposium.

I've known Nancy less long, but I feel a strong connection to her and her writing. Her work is not well known, but it will be in time. There are rumours of a first book in the works. I believe that her work is among the best of her generation.

I'm feeling lonely, horny, anxious and physically worn out. I've also made tentative starts on a new poem, about which I feel cautiously optimistic. Its working title: IMPULSIVITY RUBRICS.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Left to right: Crag Hill (who is standing on a chair), Nico Vassilakis, and myself.
Photo: Nancy Huth
I love this photograph, particularly because we look like sculptures.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm a little slap happy. I've been operating on sleep deprivation for a couple of weeks with no obvious end in sight. Today I inspected upwards of 70 townhouse apartments across a few acres. That translates into many miles and tons of stairs.


My hope is that at some point I can take a breath and parse the Avant Writing Symposium, at least a little. It truly was, in my experience, an unique exercise in community.


It's striking that, where I live in Northeastern Ohio, I have literally no one I can talk to about what I care about most--in terms that is of the life I try to live, the art I try to practice. And yet that was available in real ways in Columbus. Heartfelt conversations with Nancy and Geof, Crag and Nico, Sheila and so many more. It was all very moving and brief and profound to me. To for a moment feel like one is doing what one was meant to do.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More about my question piece at the Avant Writing Symposium...

Nancy Huth's video of my reading at the Avant Writing Symposium is here. Nancy did a huge amount of work documenting this remarkable gathering.

And in a related vein...Crag Hill has begun to respond to my questions at his blog.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I meant to post something today, but I'm exhausted. This morning I was so tired that I searched for my watch for 10 minutes. Only to discover it was on my wrist.

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Alphabets are the periodic table of talk."

--Nico Vassilakis

Avant Writing Symposium, Part Two

I'm back to work with sleep deprivation issues and an enormous series of physical tasks in front of me, but the Symposium was such a rich experience. I need, little by little, to lay out at least a fraction of what the experience meant to me.

I'm going to write in a subsequent post about personal encounters and some of the presentations. Now though I want to make note of some of the presences more etherally attending the conference...

Mark Young, for example. Several of his Otoliths publications were present and he was a topic of conversation, too. Sheila E. Murphy and I talked about an interview she is doing with Mark...

Sheila and I talked too about Rebecca Loudon and the relationship between music training, developing the discipline of regular practice, and poetry...

Steve Tills, on whose behalf I greeted Gerald Schwartz...

Tristan Tzara was present in the sound poetry and in a lovely film by Miekal And and Camille Bacos...

Bern Porter was all over the place in influence...

Marcel Duchamp was never far away... And Arakawa and Gertrude Stein were lurking.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Avant Writing Symposium, Columbus, Ohio, Part One

I don't get out much. Occasionally, though, I step outside my routines; and sometimes really good things happen as a result.

I'm thinking to make at least a couple of posts about the Symposium (August 19-21, 2010). It was so good to be in the same room with Geof and Nancy Huth, Sheila Murphy, Nico Vassilakis, Miekal And, Camille Bacos, Maria Damon, Crag Hill, and on and on. It was a generative experience which I'm going to feed off for awhile.

I performed on the first day, the last slot before lunch. I was introduced, walked to the side of the podium, unbuttoned my shirt, dropped it to the floor, revealing a black tee shirt with white block printing. On the front of the shirt: WHAT DO I KNOW? On the back of the shirt: WHAT SHOULD I DO? (Yes, they are Kantian questions. The Englightenment wasn't all bad.) Here's what I read:


What should I do?
Have I exposed myself yet?
Is revelation on this morning’s programme?
Am I in the right register?
Aren’t we all registrants?
Are we defined by separations?
Our attributes are what?
How much of what we are is about erasure?
Is one inside or outside?
Are you as preoccupied with shadows as I am?
Is the philosophical expression quote always already end quote meaningful for you?
Do you locate yourself at a certain position on the sexual continuum?
How about on religious and/or philosophical continua?
Location, location, location?
Do you ever think about your life as a series of newly encountered,
maybe often re-encountered crossroads
(or roadblocks)?

If you had to signify what is singular about yourself with a list of keywords,
what shape would that list take?
How big or small would your list be?
Does, he asks, size matter?
How would you express your sense of the relationship(s) between word and world?
Does the word “dialectic” resonate with you?
Does your intelligence skew in an unusual direction?
Do you have strong feelings about “individualism,” “capitalism,” “dissent?”
What would you do for yourself
that you wouldn’t do for anyone else?
What might you do for another which you couldn’t or wouldn’t do for yourself?
Why am I I and you you?
Have you ever really thought about time and discontinuity?
What does surrendering mean to/for you?
Do you see food in political terms?
What are your political boundaries?
What are your textual/linguistic/cognitive boundaries?
How does staring at something work on you and/or the object being attended to?
If I stand before you, afraid, and speak…what the hell should I say?
And why should anyone listen?
Confidence is lord and master of the dance, no?
Writing: what is it?
And isn’t speech something different?

Do you see what I am doing?
Do you see what I am saying?
Do you hear me?
Do you want to?
Or do you only want to be heard and/or seen?
Is life precious?
Is anyone here prescient?
Could there be something I want to tell you?
What can be assumed?
What can’t be questioned?
What am I willing to answer for?
Who would I willingly answer to?
Who wants to stand up and tell us a secret?
To what degree
is the way you speak,
the ways in which you assemble your thoughts,
a consequence of desire?
Is all poetry amorous?
Who do you love?
Is timing everything?
Where was I when?
Is consciousness mappable?
Did I already ask that?

Have you given much thought to repetition?
In how many different ways can one be said to repeat oneself?
How do you feel
about this continuous dystopian present
that is happening NOW
all at once?
Do you believe in hierarchies of experience?
Is hegemony a word you’ve ever said out loud?
What troubles your sleep?
Do you ever want to be overwhelmed?
Are you preoccupied with somehow controlling your experiences?
How important are the choices one makes?
Art and attention: could we think a bit about that?
Just how important are boundaries?
How often have you thought about what it means to blur something,
for what it means for something/someone to be
Who doesn’t love the work of Nick Piombino?
What does it mean to name names in a poem?
How much TV do you watch?
What constitutes enough of anything?
When one speaks is one projecting anything more than one’s voice?
Could a voice be said to be something akin to a shadow’s cousin?

If one adds letters to a word or takes some out, is that a poem?
Are declared intentions sufficient (in art or in any human exchange)?
Do you trust what I am attempting here?
What do you want from a poem?
Where did/does poetry begin for you?
Is writing a form of substance abuse?
Where are we now in this moment?
Are we together here?
Are you with me, Columbus?
Isn’t this a talk?
What’s your favorite musical instrument?
What’s your favorite sex act?
How do you feel about lists and collage as forms of artistic practice?
Should I disrobe now?
Do you, by the way, like my t-shirt?
Would you blank me if I asked politely?
Why is it that right wing ideologues are such mean-spirited bastards?
Is chicken your favorite protein?
How come I am so often confused by my feelings?
Why is it that I think in terms of binaries?
Are you going to offer to explain me to myself now?
How can the frames of a cartoon be related to the experience of life?
Why would anyone invite me to speak anywhere?

David Baptiste Chirot, when you rub your art into life, what do you feel?
Is evidence a word you’ve ever used in a poem?
What about vocabulary?
Why are words weirdly wired into one?
Why don’t I have rhythm?
Would you step back a little?
Would you give me some space?
How do you see yourself extending in time now?
Is your extension, in any way, a matter of anxiety?
What do you wish might be different?
How might your hopes, desires, be categorized?
Why am I reluctant to take off my clothes and stand before you?
Does anyone here want me to do something in particular?
Does being the speaker right before the break for lunch
carry with it any special responsibilities?
Am I an asshole?
Can we be friends?
Do you prefer white or red?
Soccer or football?
Is sucking a situational term?
Are you overly invested in certain speech acts?
Who wants what and why?

Do all objects together do anything sequentially?
Who’s there?
Is a blank as a place holder, or improbable place-setting,
such a worrisome thing?
How can nature be said to abhor anything?
Is language
the “house of being?”
True or false?
What divided your house?
Does anyone here want me?
Does anyone here want me to shut up?
Does anyone here want to shut me up?
How do you feel about punctuation?
Is philosophy important to you?
Have you ever really thought about kissing and what it means to you—not just, I mean,
as a pleasurable activity, but in onto-epistemological terms?
Is “onto-epistemological” a useful term for you, or does it just seem like the usual academic horse shit?
Do you believe poetry has social value?
Does the expression “cultural capital” evoke poetry economics for you?
Do you love the blues too?

Might there be said to be many kinds of language environments? How would you describe
the language environments you inhabit and move through?
Are you saving questions and/or answers for me?
What sorts of things irritate you the most?
What irritates you the most about my “talk” today?
How do you feel about quotation marks and semi-colons?
Whom among us isn’t an Other’s mirror?
Are you familiar with the psychological concept of projection?
What do you think noise is?
How much credence do you give to rhymes?
Do you think Language Poetry is the Antichrist?
How do letters and phonemes figure in your scheme of things ?
What am I to do?
Did you hear that Hinge-Music?
Do you feel penetrated too?
If I could ask you only one thing, what would you want that question to be?
What might you collectively ask me by consensus?
A question for Miekal And: would you write something for me about how you feel
about names and naming?
What right now would constitute a revolutionary act?
Have you ever thought seriously about the writing of Karl Marx?
Do you know the work of Brecht, Benjamin, Eagleton, Marcuse, Adorno, or to get really retro, Debs?
Would you have liked to have had a drink with Guy Debord?
What if sexual difference isn’t what we collectively thought?
Does the word “interlude” rub you the right way?
How do you like to be rubbed?
Can I rub you now?
To borrow a phrase: “Who’s zooming who?”
Has anyone ever adequately approached a description of the beauty of vowel sounds?
No one?
Why are so many of you looking at me and so many of you looking away?
Why are we here?
What are we doing?
Is there something I can get for you? Maybe a cookie?
Are you familiar with the linguistic slash philosophical expression “performative?”
How do you feel about fart jokes?
Would you rather watch a documentary or a fiction movie?
What’s your secret pleasure?
How complex is your attitude toward narrative?
Am I, this gimpy graceless person standing before you nervously espousing, structured like a language?
Could I just for a second hear you say something back?

What now?
And where to go from here?
What would you like to know?
How, where, do you find poetry?
How do you find the ways
to do the things you do?
Do ghosts figure as realities for you?
Do have any idea how preoccupied I am with pronouns?
Do you feel as if you’re being interrogated?
Where haven’t you been that you’d like to be?
When am I going to be done with this?
Why can’t I reconcile myself to routine?
Geof, can you forgive me for subjecting you to my weaknesses for an entire year?
Do you have any idea how hard I’ve worked to achieve a few small things?
Do you practice self-erasure?
Do you think you know what makes me tick?
Is desire a word that figures importantly for you?
How is it that I feel everything is shaky and in question?
Why don’t I know right away what to say?
Why do I feel so thoroughly mediated by everything/everyone?
Why do I long to be pierced again?
Why have I spent so much time thinking about refrains?
Would you tattoo me with your idea of me if I tattooed you back with my idea of you?
Is reciprocity important to you?
When I think about Utopia I think about something approaching a sort of ongoing social orgasm, a kind of universal pleasuring. How about you?
Who reads what?
Why are you angry?
How is it that we’ve come to this particular impasse?
I want you if not to want me to at least tolerate my need for being needed, OK?

In one of her poems Norma Cole asks: “Where does the first person plural begin?”
Isn’t that a fabulous question?
Truth or dare?
What is the ethical responsibility of a poet to its audience?
What role do you allow for nostalgia in your life?
Is this sentence the rough draft of a train wreck?
What certainties are possible?
Are there words you won’t say out loud?
Are there images and scenarios you think about obsessively?
What’s your position on appropriative strategies of writing?
Are you a fan of outright theft of another’s words?
Or do you feel obligated to transform what you have taken into something which is yours?
Is, as Charles Bernstein once riffed, intellectual property theft too?
Am I wrong to think of my texts as desiring machines which you really ought to plug into?
Am I wrong to conflate poetry, philosophy and stand-up comedy?
Is language a parasite and humanity its host?
Where’s my laugh track when I need it?
When’s my theme song gonna cue up?
Who’s gonna remember me (or whatever) when this season’s over?
What are the memes of the moment?
How can one not see repeating me’s in meme?
Is cooking a lot like making a poem?
How fixated are you on the alphabet?
Crag, what’s the SCORE? What is it to be scored, marked?
What do you fetishize?
Whom among us can be said to be fully present now?
Have you watched every episode?
Have you sussed out spectator culture?
Do you want any part of me?
To borrow a question from Zizek: “ So where is the parallel with capital here?”
So where is the parallel with the view from here?
What about all of the questions unasked, unrecognized?
Do you feel at home in your body?
Do you think you would feel at home in mine?
What might it mean to be possessed?
Do you consider your thoughts to be your own?
Do you think of yourself as a unified Subject?
Are you consciously inside of the picture you see?
Am I bugging you?
Do I appear to be some sort of outside agitator?
Am I boring you?
Are you moved?
Are we moving on?
Do waves truly crash against a shore somewhere?
Am I under water?
Am I—old nervous speaker trick—imagining you in your underwear?
That’s supposed to help how?
How much faith can be put in a gesture?
How much does faith figure in the scheme of things?
Is less more?
Do you have a habitual way of doing things?
Do you have a habit of trying to mix things up?
Do you lack a sense of physical orientation?
Are you easily lost?
Do you usually have a sense of where you yourself and the exits are?
Do you have good “muscle memory” or muscle Alzheimer’s instead?
Do you have survivor skills?
Are you fatalistic?
Are you frequently moved to tears?
How do you feel about subtitles, subtexts and fleeting emotions?
Are you hormonal now?
Is your humor “edgy?”
Is what separates us ideological, aesthetic or sexual?
After my blather is over, would someone tell me a story?
Does anyone feel like interrupting me now?
Has anyone, apart from Brecht, the Situationists and the ( I am required to insert “so-called”) Language Poets
succeeded in enunciating an aesthetico-political theory of praxis
as interruption?
What, in your experience, has intervened to change your world view?
Do you think you, as individual, matter?
Do you see anything when you see the putative me?
Is there a collective reality which can be articulated and recognized?
What is the role of History in everyday life?
How is it that we are here, anxious for lunch, before the next speaker?
What are you thinking about?
Are you attracted to things you are afraid of?
How about people you are afraid of? Are you attracted to them?
Do you fetishize scenarios or metonymies?
What derives from sensation?
Is this a palimpsest?
What for you constitutes revelation?
What do you consider to be your most fundamental belief?
What roles have friendships played in your life?
What responsibilities are owed to our neighbors?
From what do you feel yourself to be inseparable?
Would you abandon everything to follow a charismatic leader?
Do you ever worry about the politics of language?
Does “reception theory” trouble your sleep?
Are you preoccupied with heuristics?
Would you participate willingly in being colonized?
Have you ever seen pictures of intestinal parasites?
Have you accepted the inevitability of your own death?
Do you think of philosophy as an academic concern?
What constitutes everyday life for you?
Is one one’s routine?

Sheila, and I ask this in all seriousness, are there moments as a poet when you feel a need to work against your gift of access, against your virtuoso abilities?

What is the responsibility of an artist?
What have I nailed myself to here doing this?
Is it intelligible to ask if one subscribes to something like a ladder of forms?
What are the contradictions you live within?
What are the contradictions you can’t live without?
What makes sense?
What makes you hum?
Do you ever seriously wonder about your own reality/irreality?
Aren’t we all becoming Avatars?
What’s going on?
Where are we now with this thing we’re doing here?
Do you ever feel stranded?
Do you ever feel as if you’re speaking in a false accent, with bad papers, on the verge of arrest?
Have you ever really thought about ideology, per se?
Do you know many show tunes?
Are there disconnects between your inner and outer lives?
Do you have strong feelings about the subject-object opposition?
Is it accurate to posit a subject-object opposition?
Are you a theory person?
Where was I?
Who are you?
To what degree is empathy a problem?
Who mirrors who or what and why?
When are microcosms and macrocosms most likely to collide?
Do you yearn for continuity?
Or are you obsessed with this moment, with this moment, with this?
Or are you preoccupied with the big F future?
What doesn’t disappear?
Am I the product of symptoms?
What is called understanding?
What are the stories you won’t say out loud?
What do you see when you look out at anything, anywhere?
What do you worry about most?
How do you feel about being lost?
Have you given much thought to slant rhymes like “lost” and “lust” for example?
Is punctuation something you obsess over or something you try to avoid having to think about?
Are you awake?
Am I the sum of my misunderstandings?
Or am I an irreducible reminder of something I myself don’t know?
What sort of vehicle is a relationship?
What makes us go?
Do you think most often in terms of subjects, the Subject, objects, or of the Thing as such?
Or of none of the above?
What sorts of presences can we be for one another?
Is consciousness a language effect?
How about amorousness?
In the name of what?
In the name of whom?
Are all human exchanges essentially asymmetrical?
What does it mean to establish something?
Are you interested in absence? Interested, I mean, in how absence figures in your own life, and perhaps the lives of others?
Is absence foundational?
Are there gaps in your personal history which you can’t or won’t account for?
When one appears before you and speaks, as I am speaking now, what determines your level of attentiveness?
What do we owe one another?
What is the purpose of poetry?
Can language ever be said to exist apart from experience?
Do you really believe that there’s such a thing as asemic writing?
Shouldn’t asemic writing have so-called attached to it?
Isn’t meaning inescapably present in all manifestations of expression?
What’s your social project?
What’s the one image indelibly imprinted in your consciousness?
What’s the sense-memory that you can’t shake?
What haunts you?
What arouses you?
Is there a question which I’ve asked today that particularly pisses you off?
Are you going to let me know about it?
What would an image of thought look like?
Is the truth gendered?
With what doxa are you most preoccupied?
Toward what and whom do you perform most irresponsibly?
Where do our obligations lie?
To what degree when one speaks does one speak to oneself only?
Do you think about style?
Do you imagine that what you do has consequence?
Do you imagine that I don’t realize my failures, over and over again?
Ever feel like a Frankenpoet, repeatedly lurching from laboratory to graveyard? Ever get tired of being chased by all those torch carrying villagers?
Is a sentence always a potential zombie, robot, angel, dominatrix, or bottom?
Am I entitled to feel the way I do, think the thoughts I do?
Is anyone entitled to anything?
And what about consequences?
What about what happens or doesn’t happen after one does what one does?
How do you think/feel about expectations?
How many among us know the sound of their own voice?
Ever feel ghostwritten?
Ever feel like a palimpsex?
How many sexes are you? How many would you like to be?
How many sexes are we? Has anyone even bothered to count?
What is becoming now?
Is the dissolution of the self a language effect?
Is reincarnation a syntactic exercise?
Is a poem a prayer, or what?
Am I asking you for something?
Is there something that you want from me?
Do you believe that I exist apart from you?
What’s to be done about us?
What’s to be done?
What do I know?

More about the Symposium later, I hope. It was a great experience for me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grandson Andy, 4, was over for a few hours. He drew me picture after picture on a dry erase board, delighting in making the pictures and delighting in erasing them. A true pleasure for me, too, seeing how he joyfully translated his sense of what he saw to the board. He drew both with his left and his right hand. For a 4 year old they were advanced drawings.


The Avant Writing Symposium draws nigh. Here's the latest final schedule of speakers/performers:


Avant Writing Symposium 2010
Avant Writing Collection/Rare Books & MSS Library
The Ohio State University Libraries

August 19-21


8-10 AM – Registration & continental breakfast
165 Thompson

10 AM – Keynote Address: Dr. Marvin A. Sackner
Erotica, Pornography, and Obscenity in Contemporary Concrete and Visual Poetry, and, Visual Verbal Imagery
165 Thompson

11:00 AM – Keith A. Buchholz & Reed Altemus
FluxFast: Performing Fluxus Scores by Contemporary Networkers
165 Thompson

11:30 AM – Tom Beckett
Questions: What do I know? What should I do?
165 Thompson

Break for lunch

1:00 PM – Lizabel Mónica
21st Century Cuba: Literature in Transition
165 Thompson

2:00 PM – K. S. Ernst
Three-Dimensional Poetry: the Ghosts of Words
165 Thompson

2:30 PM – F. A. Nettelbeck
F. A. Nettelbeck Reads, Out the IN Door
165 Thompson

3:00 PM – Suzanne Silver
Blacklists/Whitelists: An Artist’s Book
165 Thompson

3:00 PM – Paul Baker
Wordsalad: A Radio Show
359 Thompson

3:30 PM – William James Austin
Deformatism and the Avant-Garde
165 Thompson

3:30 PM – Chris Burnett
Writing Imaging: Early Image Processing as Found Literature
359 Thompson

4:00 PM – Nico Vassilakis
Staring at Vispo: LETTERS
165 Thompson

4:30 PM – Thomas M. Cassidy
Disjointed: A Performance
165 Thompson

5:00-7:00 PM Break for dinner

7:00 PM – The Be Blank Consort
Scott Helmes, K. S. Ernst, Sheila E. Murphy, John M. Bennett, Michael Peters, Geof Huth, Thomas M. Cassidy, mIEKAL aND, Nico Vassilakis, and others
Sound Poetry Performance
OSU Urban Arts Space/Larry Marotta Hour
50 W. Town St. (downtown Columbus)


8:00 AM – Continental breakfast
165 Thompson

9:00 AM – Olchar E. Lindsann
Somasemia: Poems Wearing Meat-Suits
165 Thompson

9:30 AM – Gerald Schwartz
Strategies Against the God of World: Bring Me the Head of the Semiotic Goethe (performance)
165 Thompson

9:30 AM – William R. Howe
Holographic Poetry: Disrupted by Hand
359 Thompson

10:00 AM – Luis Bravo
Tamudando/Ischanying (Voces & Sonidos/Voices & Sounds)
165 Thompson

11:00 AM – Sheila E. Murphy
Text and Art to Honor the Occasion:
Renewing the Public Role of Poetry and Art
165 Thompson

11:30 AM – Joel Lipman
The Sciart of Bern Porter’s Found Poetry
165 Thompson

12:00-1:00 PM
Break for lunch

1:00 PM – Martín Gubbins
Presentation of Visual Poetry: London Poems
165 Thompson

2:00 PM – Jean Kusina
Visual-Cine-Poetry: The Alphabetical Experimental in Film and Video
165 Thompson

2:00 PM – Rachel Heberling
To Achieve Typing Power: An Artist’s Book
359 Thompson

2:30 PM – Loss Pequeño Glazier
Guaniauiqui: What Is the Digital Avant-Garde?
165 Thompson

2:30 PM – C. Mehrl Bennett
Mailart, Visual Poetry, Fluxus: A Connection
359 Thompson

3:00 PM – Roger Santiváñez
De Huidobro a Parra: Martín Gubbins & Beyond
165 Thompson

3:30 PM – Antonio Bonome
The Visual Arts and William S. Burroughs
165 Thompson

3:30 PM – Crag Hill & Nico Vassilakis
The Lastvispo Anthology: What Then, What Now?
359 Thompson

4:00 PM – Gary Barwin
The Myopic School Bus of the Tongue
165 Thompson

4:30 PM – John M. Bennett
Reading/Performance & Las Cabezas Mayas/Maya Heads
165 Thompson

5-7:00 PM – Award Reception
11th floor, Thompson Library


8:00 am – Continental breakfast
165 Thompson

9:00 AM – Jorge Luiz Antonio
Digital Avant-Garde Experimental Poetry:
Another Genre of Contemporary Poetry?
165 Thompson

10:00 AM – Reid Wood
Don’t: Performance
165 Thompson

10:30 AM – Mary Jo Bole
Toilet Worship/Toilet Talk
165 Thompson

11:00 AM – Endwar
An Eye for an I
165 Thompson

11:30 AM – Séamas Cain
Elective Affinities & Random Actions
165 Thompson

12-1:00 PM
Break for lunch

1:00 PM – Wilton Azevedo
Atame Angustia do Precario: Visual Poetry
165 Thompson

2:00 PM – Will Napoli
Protext and Then Some
165 Thompson

2:00 PM – Roger Santiváñez
Poetry Reading Neo-Barrok
359 Thompson

2:30 PM – Michael Peters
A Press Conference Celebrating the Donation of Priceless Archival Fleury Colon Material to the OSU Libraries
165 Thompson

3:00 PM – Richard Kostelanetz
Seductions: A Performance Piece with Audience Participation
165 Thompson

3:00 PM – David Baratier & David Baptiste Chirot
The Vizpo of Public Space
359 Thompson

3:30 PM – Thomas L. Taylor In Memoriam: A Reading
John M. Bennett, Olchar E. Lindsann, Tom Cassidy, Sheila E. Murphy, Warren Fry, Michael Peters, F. A. Nettelbeck, Michael Peters
165 Thompson

4:00 PM – Geof Huth
What Word Once Was
165 Thompson

4:30 PM – mIEKAL aND & Camille Bacos
Tzara in Oblivion
165 Thompson

5-8:00 PM
Break for dinner

8:00 PM – Jim Leftwich, C. Mehrl Bennett, John A. Bennett, and others
Collaboration festival, performances, vispo mail art exhibit,
and other celebrations
Skylab, 57 E. Gay St. – Downtown Columbus

To say that I'm looking forward to the shindig is an understatement.



Exhibition of Guillermo Deisler’s UNI/vers, Marilyn R. Rosenberg and David Cole’s Collaboration TRACK, and a selection of materials from The Reed Altemus Collection.
Exhibit Hall, Thompson Library
Curated by Suzanne Silver.

Electronic and Digital Media, Video, and Other Materials
Curated by María Teresa Beltrán-Aponte
149 Thompson
Hours: 8 AM–4 PM
Hours subject to change

The World’s Largest Exquisite Corpse: Collaborative Book, Attempt to Set a Guinness World Record for ‘Most Authors Single Text’
Organized by Scott Helmes
On-going throughout the Symposium. Participation by all is desired!
352 Thompson
Hours: 8-9 AM, 11 AM-1 PM, 4-5 PM
Hours subject to change

The Avant Store
Sales and distribution of materials from participants
150B Thompson
Hours: 8-9 AM, 11 AM-1 PM, 4-5 PM
Hours subject to change

Vispo Mailart Blog
On-line blog/catalog of the exhibit at Skylab
Curated by C. Mehrl Bennett

Arte de Letras de Cuba – Exhibición
Curated by Lizabel Mónica
150A Thompson
Hours: 8-10 AM, 2-4 PM
Hours subject to change

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Sunday Notebook

"Gender agreement." Really?
Il Poeta goes on a nod.
Nota bene:


Does the beauty of what's left out
exceed the beauty of what's included?

Isn't that why art is continually renewed
by what was previously discarded?


Do you trust facility?

Do you stick with what you know you can do?


What place does revelation have in your life?

To what extent are you willing to expose yourself to the world?


I'm impulsive
but don't trust
my own instincts.
That can
be a problem
(both for myself
and for poetry).


I'm riffing.

Los Lobos
on the box.

Fans purring.

Warm August day.


The anxiety's abated a little.
The depression's pulled back some.
My right knee is burning and the corresponding hamstring
is giving me fits.


I've forgotten
the unforgettable scenes
in a novel
I once loved,
a film I once praised.


Barb looked at me
in that way she has
last night
when I said to stop
blotting the ground beef.

You want this grease
she asked?

It's the cradle
of Civilization.

Show some respect
I replied.


Geof often says that puns
are the highest form
of poetry. I often
veer the same way.

I once wrote
a longish poem
pretty much entirely
in puns. It was called
Stupid Poet Tricks.

I even sent it
to David Letterman
hoping to get on the show.

I can be an idiot.


Tell a vision.


How do you
think about death?

Is it
a continuation
of life?

Or a
full stop?


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I've deleted more poems than Geof Huth has written. Well, that's probably an exaggeration; but it is an exaggeration which illuminates the difference between our aesthetics.

Geof's is an aesthetic of accumulation. Mine is an aesthetic of erasure.


I think that after the Avant Writing Symposium and the eventual publication of EXPOSURES that I need to take things down a notch and get back to writing little poems (where I started).

I'm not a grandiose personality. I'm more like the jazz musician who wants to break a phrase down than the blown rose of an opera chanteuse going full tilt with an aria.


For decades I've tried to learn how to write poetry. My practice has existed outside of the academy and survives by a thread. Unlike my friend Geof Huth I don't believe that an encyclopedic knowledge of an art is a prerequisite for its successful practice. Knowledge,for sure, can be enabling. It can also be crippling.

How many great academic poets do you know?


I'm noodling here, without a particular objective. I started out trying to remember a poem I'd written in my sleep last night--never should trust that I'll remember such lines later. What's vivid in twilight time is a fading semblance come dawn.


I'm feeling less and less like publishing things which are important to me and which no one else particularly gives a shit about.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Thomas Fink called yesterday. Always a pleasure talking to him. We've only met in person once; but we e-mail, talk on the telephone,and have worked on poetic and interview collaborations together. Talking with Tom always leaves me feeling a little better about human beings than I usually do. He's a remarkable person.


Hot and humid in Northeastern Ohio today.


I don't know how your minds work. Occasionally I get all Wittgensteinian and wonder about the reality of other minds; then I slap myself and get over it for a while.


I know, of course, that Others exist. I just don't often think I have any reality for them. And sometimes that bothers me because I don't always feel very real within myself. I feel blotted out, written over. This isn't a particularly original problem.


Writing is a perilous act,a succession of dangerous steps.


I've been struck recently by blog threads about toxic comments. Those threads go to the heart of ego-positions in the poetry world. It's easy to be dismissive and it's easy to be dismissive of the dismissive. Things need to be a little more nuanced and the balance is hard to find.

One of the most influential things I read as a college student back in the early 1970's was Herbert Marcuse's essay "On Repressive Tolerance" in which he advanced the thesis that liberal tolerance has a repressive effect, that "tolerating" an alternative idea or lifestyle was a way of placing under brackets, a way of according a secondary status to that group or belief system.

Problematizing tolerance struck me as problematic but useful and real. I mean I want to treat others with respect and kindness, but I want to be able to confront the aporia of unbridgable differences honestly too. Sometimes you can't say that difference is OK. Sometimes you have to contest things or persons. But you need to learn to choose your battles wisely.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

I think my poem-talk for the Avant Poetry Symposium at Ohio State University later this month is essentially written, not to say that I won't be tinkering with it up to the last minute.


Both of my parents have had some serious health issues lately. Mom recently had surgery for a brain aneurysm. Dad's undergoing cancer treatments. Barb and I both have autoimmune diseases and have been talking about wills, living wills, insurance, and retirement possibilities/impossibilities.


Do you ever feel ghostwritten or like a palimpsex?


I've never felt comfortable in my body but I've always felt that my body is a site of possibilities. Paradox is fundamental to creative thought. Pair of ducks? Don't be ridiculous.