Saturday, December 31, 2011
That’s why you need to get away from the “lonely desert monolith” conception of projects. You should have several of them simultaneously, like an ecosystem of projects. When you’re sick of one, you can turn to one of the others."
Harman's advice is worth repeating: develop an "ecosystem of projects." It's something very much on my mind.
Having retired from my wage-earning activities of the last 34 years, my job now is to write. I've embarked on what's being conceptualized as a year-long project -- a "novel" tentatively entitled APPEARANCES. I don't know if I'm going to be able to carry it off, but I'm giving it my all. I do know that I'm going to keep Graham's advice in mind and continue with other projects also -- poetry and interviews, blog posts, etc.
I'm also reading and re-reading a number of interesting things. Notably:
The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell,
Insect Media: An Archaeology of Animals and Technology by Jussi Parikka,
Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking by Tim Dean,
Portraits & Repetition by Stephen Ratcliffe,
Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life by Kenneth Gross,
Four Honest Outlaws: Sala, Ray, Marioni, Gordon by Michael Fried,
Art and Ventriloquism by David Goldblatt,
The Sluts by Dennis Cooper,
Being and Event by Alain Badiou,
Fanged Noumena by Nick Land,
Ecology Without Nature by Tim Morton.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
I've been reading back and forth between Nick Land's Fanged Noumena, Michael Fried's Four Honest Outlaws: Sala, Ray, Marioni, Gordon, and Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending. I've also been flipping back and forth between 3 works-in-progress of my own.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Tomorrow will be my last Monday.
Then there will be my last Tuesday.
The day after will be my last Wednesday there.
The Thursday which follows will be my last day there ever.
Strange to contemplate leaving. I'm excited and frightened at the same time.
Aesthetic "taste" is a funny thing. When I encounter something, some sort of art--say-- that I don't on first blush like , I explore it more. There's so much that I don't know, don't understand, that I kind of assume that I'm probably not getting something on the first take. I guess that practice makes innocent bystanders uncomfortable.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Towards A New Manifesto by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer (Verso, 2011)and One-Dimensional Woman by Nina Power (Zero Books, 2009).
A New Manifesto is, as one of its blurbs has it, "A philosophical jam session." It's comprised of transcripts of exchanges between Adorno and Horkheimer in 1953 as they attempted to formulate something akin to a new Communist Manifesto. They're trying out ideas, thinking out loud.
This sort of thing is really in my sweet spot. I love exchanges that are based in true inquiry and aren't about position or besting someone. This passage was of particular interest to me:
Adorno: Philosophy exists in order to redeem what you see in the look of an animal. If you feel that an idea is supposed to serve a practical purpose, it slithers into the dialectic. If, on the other hand, your thought succeeds in doing the thing justice, then you cannot also assert the opposite. The mark of authenticity of a thought is that it negates the immediate presence of one's own interests. True thought is thought that has no wish to insist on being in the right.
One-Dimensional Woman is philosophically based cultural criticism at its best. This passage needs quoting:
The jokey male hypothetiical question to lesbians ('don't you spend all day playing with your breasts?') has literally come true. They are 'assets' in the physical and economic senses simultaneously and as much use as possible is to be extracted from them -- their role in breastfeeding is perversely secondary to their primary function as secondary sexual characteristics.
What the autonomous breasts and the concommitant becoming-CV of the human means is that the language of objectification may not be useful any longer, as there is no (or virtually no) subjective dimension left to be colonized. The language of objectification demands on a minimal subjective difference, what Badiou quaintly identified in the realm of personal relations as 'the intangible female right ... to only have to get undressed in front of the person of her choosing.' In the realm of work we could call this the right not to have to lay bare one's entire personality and private life. In effect, this is what the world of work increasingly demands --that one is always contactable (by email, by phone), that one is always an 'ambassador' for the firm (don't write anything about your job on your blog), that there is no longer any separation between the private realm and the working day (Facebook amalgamates friends and colleagues alike). The personal is no longer just political, it's economic through and through.
I'm struck over and over again by how fucking much I don't know. But I do know this:
if we can't as human beings find a way toward something like concern for the others we don't know, then we, ultimately, have no regard for ourselves. Think critically. Act on the behalf of others. Try to love one another (right now).
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Working on a new longish poem called Risk Groups. Not sure where it might be going. I think though that it owes a bit of its impetus to the impending end of my career in public health.
Three weeks to go before my last day at the Health Dept. Those final weeks will be pretty frantic as I try to finish up as much as I can. As much as I want to leave the job, goodbyes are always difficult. There have been a few surprisingly touching moments already--heartfelt exchanges with people I've worked with in the field for as many as 34 years. It's a time for reflection, for sure.
As I wrote in an earlier deleted post, to be a public health sanitarian is to be a professional worrier. One's spending one's working days trying to prevent bad things from happening. What does one accomplish in the end? I can't tell you how many people I kept from getting sick. I don't know. It's an intense job with many layers. It's also pretty thankless. I'm looking forward to the next chapter. I want to live some of the life I've deferred over these last 30 plus years. I want to do some readings, collaborations, and take the writing to a different level than I've had time for thus far. That's my ambition. We'll see what happens.
Am hoping to travel east soon before the De Kooning retrospective ends at MOMA. That's a show I'm aching to see.
I'm also hoping to redefine my relation to blogs in the coming year and to step things up at Ask/Tell.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
I'm fascinated by a passage from the Meillassoux volume. It's from the chapter on The Divine Inexistence. Here goes:
"Meillassoux's model of the divine 'carries both atheism and religion to their ultimate consequences in order to unveil their truth: God does not exist, and it is necessary to believe in God' (DI 233). If God existed, we could not believe in his advent, and we would be stuck with the amoral God who allows miserable things to occur. Belief now means hope for the future immanent God rather than faith in a current but hidden one. But we should also remember that 'atheism diminishes humans and humiliates their projects by deposing what it believes to be a simple myth' (DI 234). We have seen that what it gives us instead is a Promethean model of humans who are debased as badly as the amoral God of religion himself. For this reason, all the present-day efforts at demystification are a 'mocking enterprise...that only allows our species a few mediocre projects compared with what we are capable of envisaging. It is a sarcasm of humans towards humans, and thus a hatred of oneself' (DI 234). Religion is no better, but simply 'the undercurrent of a world that is not infinitely desired: a world not seized in its infinite power of advent, and loved for the eternal promise of which its madness is guarantor' (DI 235)."
I've been thinking about this passage all morning. It is a startlingly cogent tear-down of a chilling cultural binary.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Haven't been able to write anything of value since publishing Parts and Other Pieces. It feels like that book has fallen into a black hole. Which is depressing. It, along with an unpublished chapbook entitled Collapsing Structures, represent much of my best work from the last year or so.
A bright note: my recent interview with philosopher Graham Harman at Ask/Tell. It was an energizing exchange. I hope poets are reading it too and not just philosophers. I say that because when I google the piece, the great bulk of references to it are at philosophy sites. The driving idea behind Ask/Tell is to get poets not just to converse with other poets but to engage folks from other disciplines and to expand the forms that poetics can take. I would love to see poets in conversation with choreographers, visual artists, ecologists, composers, philsophers, scientists, etc, etc. I want to explore the poetics of experience as much as anything else. With the hope that it will lead to further collaboration.
Currently working on an interview with NF Huth. Nancy has recently released a full-length collection, Radiator, and a chapbook called 3 Words. I hope these books can find the wide audience they deserve. Her treatment of objects in her poems resonates for me with aspects of Harman's object oriented ontology.
I couldn't sleep last night. We live a couple of blocks from the center of town. Twenty thousand Halloween revelers and the attendant police presence--siren after freaking siren--made much needed rest impossible. My eyes are barely open as I type this. So, later...
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Meditations on Being Lost
an installation dance work choreographed by Ken James
Meditations on Being Lost examines the quirks of being open to possibilities. It is about readjusting. Pondering decisions, and the possibility of fitting in and a series of impossible solutions. Performed in a unique space designed by Matthew Antaky, the audience surrounds the space offering opportunities to wander around the performance - readjusting your own view of the work.
Choreographed by Ken James
Lighting and set by Matthew Antaky
Dancers Paula McArthur, Silvina Lopez-Barrera, Ken James
Super Fabulous Guest Artist Chris Black
Inspiration by the poet Tom Beckett
Where and When
Performed at The Project Bandaloop Studio
1601 18th Street at the corner of 18th and Peralta, Oakland CA 94702
October 14th and 15th at 8pm
Keep up on us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=178963072179982&ref=ts
Thanks for generous support from the Dancers Group Lighting Artists in Dance Grant and The East Bay Fund for Artists. And viewers like you, of course.
Fellow Travelers Performance Group
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
I am always open to submissions of interviews by poets. I'm particularly interested in interviews by poets of non-poets. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have a project in mind.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Not so much
At the moment
(drunk & disordered
or otherwise unsorted).
You never know.
Phrases return unbidden.
Nouns are things.
Things are whatever
One cannot know.
One is alone.
One is surrounded.
Isn’t one’s sexuality
Tortured by definition?
You’re translating me.
I’m interpreting you.
Nothing is inevitable.
Little is effective.
An electrical storm.
More pressed flowers.
A Divine Comedy.
Our enforced comity.
Some phantom situation.
Our phantom enterprises.
Let’s start over.
A little more
Than one thought.
(This blank enclosure.)
Closed window into
Whatever is yet
To be opened.
Submission is remembering
Something otherwise problematized?
Questions are thresholds,
Marks of betweenness,
Unshaped boundaries of
_____, ______, _____
(forms of noise).
You want me?
Here I am
(total access for
a limited time)
Some kind of
A bad object.
Pronouns are bad
Actors (very bad).
I love parentheses.
I love to
Fill in blanks.
I love to
Leave things blank.
You love what?
Emphasis is whack!
One wants anything.
Perhaps nature poems?
I don’t know.
Pronouns aren’t natural.
Neither is nature
(that’s nothing new).
Nothing’s like anything.
Please repeat that:
Nothing’s like anything.
That feels profound.
That feels OK.
That feels degraded.
This feels edgy.
What’s one thing?
What’s an object
In your scheme?
Why do words
Look so strange?
Especially ones I
Think I know?
A new constraint
Is an orgasm
Cheated or prolonged.
Desire is everywhere.
Desire is everything.
Who are you?
Want to sing?
I’m not unique
In being afraid.
One could take
A clinical approach.
Still, I want
To say: Help!
Life is virtual.
You all know
This: yes, no?
Poetry begins with
And ends with
Whatever can be
Thought and said.
Or just posted?
Writing is fucked.
To think is
To talk within
A collapsing structure.
The House of
Being’s on fire!
Whose, ants in
Britches, crotches itch?
Raise your hands.
Come and testify.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Now out from Otoliths
PARTS AND OTHER PIECES
Front cover image by Rosaire Appel
$13.45 + p&h
The difficulties that language presents have their analogues in life. Whether posed, or proposed, or just tenuously poised on the thin line that divides articulation from understanding, the phrases and phrasings of Tom Beckett's elegant and nervous Parts and Other Pieces challenge the givens of experience. The excitement and beauty of this four-part book are the product of a mismatch between words and worlds. And it is, indeed, a beautiful and exciting book. Variously witty, angst-ridden, melancholy, sweet, Beckett's parts provoke a powerful whole. —Lyn Hejinian
If Tom Beckett cares about anything, it’s everything. “Are you with me, Columbus?” Why yes, you are, we naturally reply, since Beckett has asked us a question he already knows the answer to, since he loves and respects the durability of our imaginations, desires, impulses and anxieties. Our answers, in substance and scope, are the very near silent dialogues that Beckett hears in the thought acts generated by poetry: openness taken from the shadows of openness alone. Beckett’s poetry has always reminded me that we are all in the process of our obsessions, where “What I might be able to do for you and not myself is to/mirror you,/establish your presence.” Tom Beckett is the poet in all our poems, goofing off when we harden in our terrible seriousness, and in the next moment, attentively concerned with how loud we just laughed. —Jordan Stempleman
Tom Beckett writes from the lab. His work, in its observational acuity, gives back to us all the stuff we see floating in the peripheries – of language, of social order, of identity – and places it smack dab under the lens. Where it pulls us in, performs for us, makes us marvel at its range, occasionally repels us, often makes us chortle. Parts and Other Pieces is alive, emotionally raw, self-effacingly hilarious, and ultimately quite beautiful. Beckett is the master; we’re damned lucky he’s got the white coat. —Jessica Grim
Tom Beckett's Parts and Other Pieces bristles with a fierce, rhythmic relentlessness. These are poems of urgent self-reflection, caught between the demands of everyday life and a consciousness haunted by spikes of piercing perception. —Charles Bernstein
“As a writer,” we read in an interview with Tom Beckett, “it can be more important to pay a lot of attention to a few things rather than a little attention to a lot of things.” Touché! Beckett’s new collection begins with a sequence of questions posed on the Ohio State campus (Goodbye Columbus!) and responds with a series of answers—not quite to the original questions and hence all the more pertinent and mysterious. The connection between A and B is provided by the middle section, “Between Asymmetries,” whose maxims, written under the sign of Emerson, enact the truth that “Language grids support the inexplicable.” The final poem, the minimalist “Parts” provides the “break (brake)” that makes everything that precedes it come together in one radiant whole. —Marjorie Perloff
Also by Tom Beckett & available from The Otoliths Storefront:
This Poem / What Speaks? / A Day
& the three volumes of the classic interview series:
E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The First XI interviews
E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The Second XV interviews
E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The Final XIV interviews + One
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Homemade lentil soup simmering. Jeff Beck on the box.
My new book should be out in a few weeks. If nothing else it may be my most beautifully blurbed volume. The back cover will be graced with kind and eloquent words from Jordan Stempleman, Jessica Grim, Lyn Hejinian and Marjorie Perloff.
And the front cover will have wonderful images by the incomparable Rosaire Appel.
Have written the first sections of the novel and am mulling the next turn.
Internet connection fading out with some frequency. Sigh.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
I've been trying to write seriously (often failing, sometimes seeing a glimmer of hope) since the 1970s. Barb and I got married in 1976. I've been working at the Health Dept. since the spring of 1977. Our first child was born in 1978. Our second in 1984. We have two grandchildren now. All of this is to say that what writing, editing, publishing, etc, I've done so far has been done in the context of a very busy life. I put out The Difficulties when the kids were little and we had no money to speak of. I begged and borrowed and scrimped to do The Diff's. I even sold a life insurance policy. I could go on... The point, I guess, is that the pursuit of poetry hasn't made my life easier. It has, though, made it better.
I'm hoping, when I retire, to write daily. That would be such a sweet luxury. I have an idea for a novel called "Appearances" which I think I can write (if granted an open expanse of time).
Earlier today, after doing dishes, vacuuming floors, and eating lunch (fried clams), I read the manuscript of my friend Jessica Grim's latest book of poems. I've known Jessica for around 20 years. She's an engaging person and an incredible poet. Jessica's poetry is not flashy. It's thoughtful , quirky and kind of dense. It's a poetry of epistemological and phenomenological turns. It's a poetry of encounters, a poetry of interfaces, a poetry about the word inside of the world, where nature and thought are equally palpable and similarly fragmented. It was a privilege to read this work. Seek out her writing. Read it slowly and savor it. I'm telling you it's special.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
"Opening a novel, opening our eyes, opening our minds, hearts, legs, wallets, we are opening ourselves to a reality not unlike a magic slate where one unvarying condition of our appearance is that we are condemned, sooner or later, to disappear and never be seen or heard again."
Monday, July 25, 2011
Particularly fun was dim sum in the city (wish I could have some more of those squid ink dumplings filled with prawns and other goodies), followed by a visit to Bridge Street Books (where I dropped a bundle on some great titles).
Came back home to some terrific mail. Most notably: Percy & Bess by Alex Gildzen. Check it out.
More later, I hope.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Where does a poem begin for you, dear reader? For myself it is often a matter of some evocative kernel. It could be a word, phrase, couple of sentences that I start to worry about and fuss over.
So one begins with that kernel or fragmentary beginning, but sometimes things don't go far and never get returned to. Sometimes things linger in a notebook for months and are returned to. Sometimes things blossom almost immediately. Like a rose or a radish on a summer day. Or roadkill on the four-lane. Sometimes the line between a beautiful realization and a gruesome discovery is pretty damn porous.
I hooked up with language poetry back in the day only partly because I was French kissed by Roland Barthes.
I hooked up with language poetry back in the day only partly because of John Ashbery's gabby frozen honey.
I hooked up with language poetry back in the day only partly because the limits of my language seemed to be absolutely contestable.
I hooked up with language poetry back in the day only partly because Gertrude Stein taught me to narrate the decaying moment and to appreciate the luminous beauty of the opaque.
I hooked up with language poetry back in the day because it was the most interesting conversation going at the time.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
(for Jordan Stempleman, once again)
color or form.
I know is
be born again
a shaken colander.
mediated by calendars.
In retrospect, this piece is one of my best hay(na)ku outings.
Late last evening I inadvertently deleted over 900 e-mails. Oops. I like, by the way, that OOPS is the acronym for Object-Oriented Philosophy of Science.
It's deadly hot here, but--given a choice-- I'd much rather broil than freeze my ass off as I did much of this past year.
Nota bene: birthday boy's butt is dewy with sweat right now. I'm throwing that out like a love grenade. Just thought you'd like to know. Boom!
Sad ecstasy of shadows
Coming into me.
Nothing leaks out.
Limitless limited bodies.
Statues made of noise.
Scratched, half-erased pentimenti.
Streak of color.
Cadence of speech.
Or mappable, documentable.
There’s something in
My overlapping senses
I didn’t want
To comment (or
Couldn’t help myself.
Speaking to another
Is a kind
Of reverse ventriloquism.
The dummy lives.
Listen to, embrace,
Can one be?
How does one
Read a poem
Out of register.
Torso in mirror
If philosophy is psychosis
If poetry is a ventriloquist act
If the robot’s notebook pages have been filled out and overwritten
Formula fiction skillfully
Fondles pleasure centers.
“Entanglement” means any set of conditions.
“Entrapment” means a condition.
What is the price of ambiguity?
What is the price of exactitude?
Nature scares me.
Human nature most of all.
In the mail.
In the box.
Opens the box
I am in.
Our eyes lock.
Such a thing
As unmediated experience?
Is one hard
To parse sentence.
Try, if you
Want, to diagram
Virtual in its
Robert Duncan, in "The Venice Poem," writes:
“The world is false as water.”
I’ll never understand that line.
I’ll never understand any thing.
What is thought’s object?
“What do you know?”
Was a common greeting
When I was young.
The formulaic reply
“Not much. You?”
Is a symptom.
That fucking copula…
Where are we
In this mess?
Thursday, July 14, 2011
This has always been so for me. If I like a writer I try to read all of their work and try to follow up on their references, their loves, until I'm spent.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
--Timothy Morton,Ecology without Nature: Environmental Aesthetics (Harvard, 2007)
I've been reading and re-reading Morton's book for several weeks now. Impossible to recommend it highly enough.
Am also reading The Prince and the Wolf: Latour and Harman at the LSE (Zero Books, 2011) which is the transcript of the February 2008 debate between Bruno Latour and Graham Harman at the London School of Economics. Video of the event is available on the web, here:
This is truly an exciting time for new philosophy. Graham Harman is the real deal.
I've been working my ass off in order to get ahead of things to the point where I can take off the last two weeks in July. It's rare for me to take off 2 weeks at a time. Usually I take a week, or a day or two, here and there. I really need some down time. Am planning time at home and time away.
Grandson Andy turns 5 in a week. 3 days after that I'll be 58.
Haven't had much time for writing these last few weeks. Am 20 some pages into a long poem which may get much longer--or not. There's so much going on in it that it's difficult to say what might happen next. It has an almost sexual tension. Can I keep it going, please? OK. I'm going to think about England.
Monday, July 4, 2011
I'd watched Basquait years ago, but hadn't seen the Godard. Which is weird because I've seen most of JLG's films several times and am generally obsessed with his work. I've even seen some of his Histoires du Cinema.
Thunder cracking. It might storm again. Or it's just heat games. I dunno.
Listening to the Stones Rarities album.
Trace a vein
Leak language salts
Location's always between
Must things be named
Is this being consumed
Names disturb space
Sentences are fenced
Punctuation is ______
Every breath a _____
Here and there
That and that
Sunday, July 3, 2011
One of the new books to enter the reading mix: The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning by Maggie Nelson. Another: I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge.
It was great visiting with Jessica and Tom yesterday. There's no substitute for face to face time with real friends. J & T are just that: poetry friends who are also real friends. That's a truly lovely thing. We can speak of language poetry, Emerson, or of eco-poetry in one instant and of family matters and gossip about mutual friends in yet other instants with trust and respect. We can joke about a tofu habit enhancing man boobs. We can connect and listen to one another. It was a spirit boost seeing them.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Still lagged from a lot of driving and intense thought yesterday. Drove to Columbus and back. The occasion of my visit there was a visit to OPERS (Ohio Public Employee Retirement System). After 34 years at the Health Dept. I am getting close to pulling the plug. Still a lot of emotions and a couple of financial decisions to sort through. But an end is in sight. As is a new beginning. I very much need that new beginning.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Made a terrific sea food pasta for lunch. I stir fryed shrimp, bay scallops and calamari in olive oil with red pepper flakes. Added a splash of lemon juice and some parsley. Tossed it all with whole grain pasta. Simple and wonderful. One of my favorite kind of cooking. Good ingredients and true depths of flavor. The broth was memorable. It has me wanting to do a fish stew or cioppino.
I sometimes dream of slurping oysters, eating octopus. I'm always hungry.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
It's a beautiful day in Northeastern Ohio. Something I haven't been able to say too often over the course of the last 6 months. Between April and May we had 13 inches of rain. And don't get me started on how much snow I moved over the course of the winter.
It's good to feel the sun and smell the flowers, hear birds and children playing outside.
Inside and outside: the theme recurs over and over again in my thought.
Am reading many things and working on a new long poem. Among the reading:
Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics by Timothy Morton (Harvard, 2007) is a treasure. Morton systematically thinks through the ways in which ideas of nature impede our ability to come to terms with the environment.
Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell (Doubleday, 2011) is a timely and much needed new biography of the man who, in the late part of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, probably was unique in the degree to which he fought for social justice in these United States. He helped make labor law, he helped the racially oppressed, he created the lawyer advocate, he defended my hero Eugene Debs! Much of his work is being threatened now or being undone. Read this book. Think about this history. Because it is returning with a vengeance. The rich are rising and trampling much of value beneath their feet. Anti-trust laws and union rights are being swept away. The ever reverberating consequences of insatiable greed...
There Is No Year by Blake Butler (Harper Perennial, 2011) is a beautifully realized novel of suffocating surreality wherein a father, mother, son, various doppelgangers, houses, boxes and others evolve toward a telescoping, uhh, resolution.
As to my long poem in progress, I'm as uncertain as ever. Stay tuned.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
-- Graham Harman
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I have a strong sense memory of being with David Bromige in Northern California. Our conversation turned to Creeley's work. David did a pitch perfect riff on Creeley talking and stressed the word delicious in such a, well, Creeleyesque manner that I knew David thought a lot about keywords too.
(to be continued?)
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
365 Ltrs has been an interesting project to follow. I've read all of the entries, with varying levels of attention, more or less as they appeared at the site. Some I've revisited.
The premise of the project was to write a poem addressed to a different individual (with one exception) everyday for a year and to end on the day of Geof's wife Nancy's 50th birthday. The blog both begins and ends with a poem for Nancy. There are 363 other addressees inbetween those 2 entries. Most of the poems are long. The final entry is 50 pages long for goodness sake.
I found the project to be delightful and exasperating by turns. Much like everyday life.
Geof-- in addressing family members, fellow poets, artists, archivists and friends--is addressing these individuals directly and tangentially. He's also mining his day, sloughing quotidian skins, improvising in ways that keep him interested, and from time to time shouting out self-evident (to him) quod erat demonstrandums. Not to mention creating visual poems.
On the one hand, it is an excessively generous project. Not only did Geof post entries to the blog, he also snailmailed personalized copies to individual addressees. I can attest to the pleasure of receiving one of them.
On that other proverbial hand, this was an extraordinarily obsessive project. A project which resulted in Geof sleeping very little over the course of the last year. I worried over his health.
The work which was generated was copious in quantity--well over a thousand pages--and of mixed quality. It ranges from the rote to the sublime. Don't get me wrong, I think Geof is a special kind of genius. That doesn't mean he doesn't sometimes write crap. And he writes crap in the way that most human beings do: when he writes just to write. That, in my opinion, is rarely a good enough reason.
I need to write and often fail. Geof needs to write and rarely fails (to write).
So, Geof: congratulations on completing the project. But take a breath. I worry about you.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Anyway, my grandsons (Claire's children) stayed with us for several hours yesterday. Andy built many robots out of Legos. Ryan ate bananas and many soap bubbles were made and smashed by both of them with much glee.
I digress. I'm tired.
Scratched, half-erased pentimenti.
Streak of color.
Cadence of speech.
Or mappable, documentable.
There’s something in
My overlapping senses
I didn’t want
To comment (or
Couldn’t help myself.
Speaking to another
Is a kind
Of reverse ventriloquism.
The dummy lives.
Listen to, embrace,
Can one be?
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Sleepwalking with Orpheus by Craig Watson (Shearsman Books, 2011). In the 8th decade of the last century, Craig and I had an intensive epistolary exchange. We've been out of touch for a long time, but I feel touched and greatly moved by this brilliant new book. Sleepwalking with Orpheus is a feeling through of associations sparked by years of meditating about Cocteau's version of the Orpheus myth. Strongly recommended.
the ulterior eden by j/j hastain (Otoliths, 2011). Heartfelt erotic meditations. Gorgeous work. One reads it and wants to read it again.
Heidegger Explained: From Phenomenon to Thing by Graham Harman (Open Court, 2007). This is the best book about Heidegger ever! Harman is a terrific writer. His "Glossary" and "Appendix: Heidegger's Numerology" alone are worth the price of the book. But the whole volume is full of riches. If you've tried to read Heidegger and have become discouraged,or are thinking about approaching him for the first time, this is the place to start.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Is a knot
Of the procedures
We have become.
Overheard girl in
School hallway: “Hey!
Medusa! Wait up!”
A wake-up call.
Thought is sensual
But not always
Practice is eros
Today I bought
All of this
Is not much—
A twisted bouquet.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Today I bought a frozen octopus and I am going to figure out how to cook it sometime soon. Any suggestions?
Saturday, April 30, 2011
And speaking of Mark Young, he has a new book out from Dysphasia Press (no contact info is provided in the book, nor is a price noted, so I'm not sure what that says about availability*). It is a stunner called Geographies.
If you are a regular reader of Mark's personal blog you'll be familiar with this recent series of often hysterically funny poems. Here's one of my favorites (and one of the most brief):
bound in the
the Grand Mal
I want to say that, often when reading Mr. Young, I tend to have elliptical seizures.
*contact me, if interested, and I'll send you the ground address of Dysphasia Press.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Where Art Belongs by Chris Kraus (Semiotexte(e), 2011). Searching art journalism. I, for one, want to read everything Chris Kraus writes.
The Name of This Intersection Is Frost by Maryrose Larkin (Shearsman Books, 2010). When I interviewed Anne Gorrick for Eileen Tabios' e-zine Galatea Resurrects, Anne quoted Maryrose as saying "It's better to be adventurous than good." That advice made me want to check out this writer. I've not been disappointed.
Capital by Giles Goodland (Salt, 2006). A masterful work of sampling. The zeitgeist explored through every nuance and connotation of "capital. " A beautiful and profound book.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Clean shaven man
In a robin egg blue camisole.
I look at him
Looking back at me.
We make a mirror unfold between us.
To see what another
Sees ( let alone say it).
I am you who
For a brief teary moment
Wears a craved camisole.
There’s nobody in the mirror.
No Miss on scene.
The scent of hyacinths
He says he’s going
To change his name
To Charlotte because it
Is mostly harlot and that
Appeals to him.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Nancy Huth's chapbook in the this is visual poetry series from chapbookpublisher.com is an investigative tour de force. Photos, of interiors usually--but also, usually, exteriors are bleeding in. A few words arrayed across the surface of each mise en scene. The one word which always recurs being "it." So, literally, each page is a space for "it." I hope many readers will find a space for this book in their libraries.
<p>Po Doom by Jim McCrary (Hanks Original Loose Gravel Press, PO Box 453, Arroyo Grande, CA 93421) $7. The crankmeister is back, ripping and tripping and consigning yours truly to "couplet counseling" among other things.
Peace Conference by Thomas Fink ( Marsh Hawk Press ) . Fink is at the top of his game. Which is something to see and savour. He is a master of open, shaped sequences which continue from book to book. More of his Yinglish Strophes, Dented Reprises and Nonce Sonnets, among other things. I'm particularly taken though by his extraordinary new series, Dusk Bowl Intimacies. I'll be awhile trying to learn from and absorb this important volume.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Am not going to go on about this, but had an unplanned ride in an ambulance today to a Cleveland area emergency room. Scary, that. No doubt the bill will be scary too. It hasn't been a wonderful day.
However, it is great to see a new Galatea Resurrects on the virtual news stand. Go here to read it: http://galatearesurrection16.blogspot.com
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
A lot of unsifted things roiling in me. Can't say that I'm feeling very positive these days. Still...
Got to see oldest daughter, M., this past week. Always a joy. She was in town from the East coast for a few days to help her sister, C., our youngest, after a surgery. We all took turns with babysitting, etc., for the grandkids, but M. did the lion's share.
Had a great homemade meal tonight. Crab cakes, couscous, salad. Never underestimate the curative powers of real food.
Watched a documentary about Godard and Truffaut this afternoon. That relationship has always been instructive for me.
Reading an enormous amount. Still struggling with writing but seeing some glimmers of hope.
Virtually all the chapbooks,pamphlets, etc, of my work that I thought were going to be published in the past and present year have fallen through for various reasons. This is not unusual in my experience. Still...a pissedoffness is starting to build in me. Be warned: I'm going to put a manuscript together this year that's getting out one way or another. And I'm going to get out and read somewhere too. I'm feeling the itch. It probably won't be pretty. It definitely won't be pretty. But I'm pretty certain that there will be some big fun. If only in my own mind.
What is poetry anyway? A series of investigations is the simplest response. I've often spoken of poetry as an epistemological adventure. And that's true enough. Perhaps it's truer to speak of poetry as a series of mediations/interventions. Maybe poetry is a series of translations. Yeah. That.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Is not a math problem.
An assertion shored
Against a tidal wave.
The title of this piece
Beginnings are hard
Success amplifies susceptibilities.
Pictures infuse the Subject.
Nets of quickening correspondences
Are falling from the sky.
Outsized antennae contradict
Translation anchors sensation.
One notices bonelessness.
Penetrations are bifurcated perceptions
Presence is the abstraction
Of luxurious reverie.
Representation is diminution.
Anything is particular.
One’s feelings are surrounded
By overweening anomalies.
Resistance is an object.
Bodies are unraveling maps
Of erotic deformation.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
I l-o-v-e this poem of negative and positive assertions. I l-o-v-e that it is comprised of “stories” about and not about the roundabout of contemporary existence. I l-o-v-e the dialectic which is established amidst a seeming welter of things and concepts. Relation is everything. And the sum of relations is not a math problem. It is an ever dissolving picture of one’s totality. As Behrendt writes toward the end of the piece:
This is a story about information
as an extreme sport.
This is a story about the life & death struggle
of a photograph.
This is the Story of Things that Happened is, I believe, a haunting poem of assertions shored up against a tidal wave of depression. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.
Acquiescence, (Dusie, 2011)
This little chapbook is a beautiful object: an accordion fold poem slipped inside of a sleeve.
Acquiescence is a dark and searching monologue about drowning and separations, uncertainty and despair. If This is the Story of Things that Happened confronts a tidal wave of depression, Acquiescence rehearses what it might mean to
Behrendt's writing is charged with an ache for connection and understanding. She's a searcher. The end of the poem made me weep:
I don’t know
what it is
what anything is
and why everything
is a thing and why
this pains me so
and why it aches
and aches and aches
way way down
way way down
2 new gorgeous books of luminous dark matter from Lynn Behrendt. Poetry doesn’t get any better than this. I am in awe of this work.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Full-frontal shadow play
Full-frontal fashion statement
Full-frontal question mark
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
John Bloomberg-Rissman’s work frequently reminds me of what I thought I knew but really didn’t. The guy’s got mad skills. He’s a collagist-philosopher-epic poet with a real feel for the Real. He’s someone whose work you ought to get to know. I’m just saying…
Flux, Clot & Froth (Volumes 1 & 2), recently out from Meritage Press, constitutes the middle term of a tripartite project—a project which bears the same name as JB-R’s blog—Zeitgeist Spam. It’s an ambitious project . The first part, No Sounds of My Own Making, was issued by Leafe Press in 2007. The final part, In the House of the Hangman, is in progress now at Zeitgeist Spam (http://www.johnbr.com/zeitgeist_spam).
The 1st volume of Flux Clot & Froth (FCF) is a poem just over 700 pages in length. The 2nd volume documents the source material for FCF, Vol.1, in 2764 footnotes; it also includes a "Special Bonus Party Remix," a 10 page poem written in honor of Geof Huth’s 50th birthday.
In Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics (re.press, 2009), philosopher Graham Harman (whose work I was introduced to by JB-R) rejiggers a brief passage from Latour to read:
“No matter what an object is, if it affects no other objects, then it is as if it never existed at all […]. Reality is so much a collective process that an isolated object is merely a dream, claim, or feeling, not a fact.” (p.50)
FCF is about nothing if not context and relation. Everything, every element of this poem is in play with every other element. It begins to feel like a kind of ecosystem.
Most of FCF is written out in the hay(na)ku stepped tercet form that was invented by Eileen Tabios, but there are also stretches of prose and lists, dialogue, images and etc.
JB-R works with appropriated materials, almost entirely. He harvests—snips and prunes—bits of poetry and philosophy blogs, journals, books, etc., and makes the material new by reconstellating it, by situationing it in overlapping networks of similarly relocated passages.
It’s interesting to me that JB-R rarely alters what he snips, except in-so-far as he’s altering the context in which it appears. It’s interesting, too, that the result isn’t some kind of hot mess. The work reads really well.
It reads well, I think, because JB-R has a refined understanding of how to negotiate multiple registers of thought and feeling. (There are too many registers to begin to catalogue here.)That he reads as deeply in philosophy as he does in poetry is surely significant in this regard.
That FCF is constructed of excerpts from 1000 other writers should give one pause. Snips from my own work figure in the project. That gives me pause. No one really owns their words, do they?
FCF is avant writing as interesting in practice as it is in theory.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Not exactly anyway.
Outside between things.
That's it entirely.
Except that every
thing changes in
all ways. Always
it is all
a performance, every
piece of us.
Each performance melts
into another thing
becoming something else.
An orphan universe.
I'm struck by
how often I
don't know what
I write means.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
I don't want to go all Dante on you or anything, but...
I've been thinking too about Ovid's Metamorphoses, about -- you know -- how everything becomes something else.
Fuck metaphors. I'm talking about something else. This is serious. Really.
Anybody out there?
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I've worked on projects with both Rae and Susan and doubt I've endeared myself to either. No matter. We still did good work together.
Of the two books, Money Shot appeals most to my own sensibility. I share Rae's tendency to pare things down to the epigrammatic phrase. I love the way she surfs the zeitgeist for poignant snips of speech to torque and recontextualize. That said, Susan's book fascinates me more.
That This is a book of three section. In the first section, "The Disappearance Approach," Howe's recently (2008) deceased husband, Peter H. Hare is memorialized. In the second section, "Frolic Architecture," Howe collages poems out of the private writings of Lucy Wetmore Whittelsey (the daughter of Jonathan Edward's sister, Hannah Edwards Wetmore). In the final section, "That This," are 7 short poem-segments. Each have 4 lines which are split into 2 stanzas. Except, that is, for the penultimate poem in the sequence. It has 6 lines and exists as a single stanza.
"The Disappearance Approach" is as elegant a meditation on loss as I have ever read. It grounds the book. "Frolic Architecture" is trace and aporia--tattered flags of meaning ripped from the archive (ark hive?). "That This," the title poem--the final poem, is a gorgeous distillation of Howe's metaphysics. I'll leave you with one of the segments:
The way music is formed of
cloud and fire once actually
concrete now accidental as
half truth or as whole truth
Monday, January 31, 2011
The first chapter describes a ferris wheel which is miles in diameter. It carries many, many objects far above the earth and far beneath it. Relations are established between its occupants and its observers.
In chapter two: a bridge from which things are dropped and a series of "show trials" of pre-Socratic philosophers.
In chapter three: calliope as animalcule --circus music does Leibnizian metaphysics.
Fourth chapter: offshore drilling rig as reductive deity.
Chapter 5: a haunted boat in the waters near Hiroshima "is the basis not only of aesthetic experience, but of physical causation as well..."
Final chapter: "a theory of relationless entities" under the sign of a sleeping zebra.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
--Graham Harman, from Circus Philosophicus (Zero Books, 2010)
I'm packed into a murmuring crowd of people somewhere, perhaps a bar queue. Someone cops a lingering feel/grope of my ass. It is an arousing experience. I turn to find myself alone in a cavernous room, staring at my reflection in a mirror.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
--Alenka Zupancic, from The Shortest Shadow
My youngest daughter, Claire, turns 27 on Monday. Geeze. Jessica reminded me of a visit to our house when Claire was little. Jessica said, on that particular occasion, Claire was convinced that she could teach her pet guinea pig to talk. I didn't remember that, but I do have fond memories of when Claire used to put that same guinea pig in her pink Barbie Corvette and tool it around the living room.
The Ask/Tell blog is going to take awhile to get off the ground, but feelers are going out in multiple directions and I'm confident that by and by the work will get done. In the meantime, I need to return to some unresolved texts of my own which I've been neglecting. Onward!
Friday, January 21, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Just Sent This As An E-mail, Now I'm Sending It To All Of You Whose E-addresses I'm Too Lazy To Look For Now
I’m starting a new blog of interviews/exchanges/engagements. You may recall my earlier outing with E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S (http://willtoexchange.blogspot.com/), a site which presented in-depth interviews with contemporary innovative poets.
The new blog, ASK/TELL (http://eeevee2.blogspot.com/) ,hopes to build and expand upon that previous project by encouraging exchanges about poetics and the poetics of experience in a variety of formats. I am particularly interested in cross-disciplinary conversations/exchanges. Imagine a poet and a philosopher talking. Or a poet and an ecologist. Imagine exchanges that stretch what it means to interrogate reality. Imagine exchanges which change the ways in which we think about poetics. I’m looking for work that takes some risks.
I’m open to proposals for projects and I’m interested in taking on a motivated co-curator.
Hoping to hear from you soon.
PS: Please feel free to circulate this message.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I'm cooking a stew now, sipping wine, listening to music, flipping back and forth between a few books and making notes.
If you haven't ordered a copy of The Wide Road by Carla Harryman and Lyn Hejinian from Belladonna yet, what are you waiting for? It's a freaking gorgeous picaresque adventure. Here's a taste:
"This was our dream: We are standing, we see ourself do this, ankle-
deep on a vast beach of irridescent pearl sand over which a sheet
of shining water lies motionless, like a vast and penetrable mirror
tilted very slightly toward the sea. We look down into the water
and see reflected there what's between our legs. Reluctant to
distort the perfect view of what is otherwise so difficult to see, we
lean forward. Slowly we sink closer, down into the cold water and
the warm sand below, to suck up the pink and dark object of our
study, until the water hangs around our thighs. People on the beach
can see us from what would be distance except for a quiver in the
air that has flattened and immobilized both near and far in a single
plane of diffuse light. A scent before our eyes. We inhale as a large
wave washes the rosy shell away."
Isn't that marvelous. It's an incredible collaboration by two of our best innovative poets.
to pay a visit to a psychiatrist because he wets his bed every night. He explains to the doctor that every night, a dwarf appears in his dream, saying to him: 'And now, dear John, we are going to pee.' And John duly pees in his bed. The psychiatrist advises him to respond to the dwarf's invitation with a determined 'NO!' John goes home, but returns the next day. 'I followed your advice,' he says to the doctor. 'When the dwarf appeared, and encouraged me to pee, I firmly said NO! But then the dwarf replied: Very well then, in that case, we are going to shit.'"
--Alenka Zupancic, from The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Two