Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I took up answering my questions against my instincts, partly to see if I might surprise myself--I am more interested in questions than answers, after all -- but also because I've been having a hard time writing these past couple of months and wondered if the process might be generative, get me going on to other things. Of course, I also chose to compose in public. That adds another complicating wrinkle.

The questions were composed over the course of a couple of months with no one looking over my shoulder and were written to be performed on a very specific occasion. The composition of the answers is being performed with no particular end in mind. Other than to see if I can make something of interest to myself. It's way too early in the game to know.

Both the questions and answers are exercises in thought, exercises in subjectivity.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I'm home this week, so am trying to get a headstart on answering my questions. To date I've logged 64 responses. Miles to go before the finish line. I'm not a natural writer. I struggle with the smallest of things. Must not think about the hundreds of responses yet to be achieved. Let's take one step at a time.

The process is frustrating but interesting at the same time. On the one hand, I'm reliving a little the writing of the questions; on the other hand, I'm seeing them differently now.


Just completed reading Maggie Nelson's Bluets. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful book of 240 numbered sections, most of which are no longer than a paragraph. It is poetic and philosophical, Wittgensteinian in the way that it is organized as a long series of "propositions." It is a book about the multiple dimensions of blue. Nelson self-consciously sees the world, all aspects of her experience, through a blue filter. It is an unflinching book. I particularly enjoyed the ways in which she speaks directly about sex. For example , in this blue passage --

179. When I imagine a celibate man -- especially one who doesn't even jerk off -- I wonder how he relates to his dick: what else he does with it, how he handles it, how he regards it. At first glance, this same question for a woman might appear more "tucked away" (pussy-as-absence, pussy-as-lack: out of sight, out of mind). But I am inclined to think that anyone who thinks or talks this way has simply never felt the pulsing of a pussy in serious need of fucking -- a pulsing that communicates nothing less than the suckings and ejaculations of the heart.

I'm drawn to writing such as this which investigates subjectivity. Consciousness is a language effect. Writing is sexual (along a continuum, of course).

If I write into being a photograph of a naked male torso, cock tucked between its legs, and claim the image as my own, what then? The paradox of projecting the "tucked away"? Little Tommy Tucker?

I dunno. Much to think about.


Monday, December 27, 2010

I've set up a new, probably temporary, blog to use in the composition of the answers to my questions. The blog will consist of one steadily added to post. As I add an answer I'll delete a question.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Inspired by Crag Hill and Rebecca Loudon, but also by Maggie Nelson's Bluets and Sarah Bakewell's wonderful new biography of Montaigne, I have decided to myself answer the questions in Questions At Ohio State. I have decided, that is, to attempt responses to my own questions. Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


My new project is here. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I did finally write my review of Brenda Iijima's If Not Metamorphic. It will be published in the next issue of Galatea Resurrects. Here's the first paragraph as preview:

Felix Guattari wrote in Chaosmosis that “The refoundation of politics will have to pass through the aesthetic and analytical dimensions implied in the three ecologies – the environment, the socius and the psyche.” For Guattari “Production for the sake of production – the obsession with the rate of growth, whether in the capitalist market or in planned economies – leads to monstrous absurdities. The only acceptable finality of human activity is the production of a subjectivity that is auto-enriching its relations to the world in a continuous fashion. The productive apparatuses of subjectivity can exist at the level of megapoles as easily as at the level of an individual’s language games. And to learn the intimate workings of this production, these ruptures of meaning that are auto-foundational of existence – poetry today might have more to teach us than economic science, the human sciences and psychoanalysis combined.” I’m reminded of Emerson, who wrote in Nature that “The true philosopher and the true poet are one, and a beauty, which is truth, and a truth, which is beauty, is the aim of both.”

I'm going to keep returning to and thinking about Iijima's work because I believe it is doing essential work.
"Wittgenstein's advance is to have discovered the everyday and its language themselves to be esoteric, strange to themselves, one could say, to be irreducibly philosophical, prompting us unpredictably to say too much or too little, as if we chronically fail to know what actually interests us. It is with our inheritance of language as Lacan says Freud holds of the Ego, that it continually misrecogizes or (mis)understands itself. Instead of saying we are full of mistakes about what is closest to us, we might say of ourselves that we are filled, as Thoreau might say, with misgiving."

--Stanley Cavell, Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory (Standford University Press, 2010)

Cavell nails it for me in that passage. He was one of Charles Bernstein's professors at Harvard. There's an interesting lineage operating here... Austin's philosophy of speech acts, Wittgenstein, Hollywood screwball comedies, etc.

But the idea of misrecognition, the idea of generative mistakes...that's my takeaway.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm spending too much time with snow shovels lately. Moved and moved through way too much snow today. Walked and slipped and fell. Drove through whiteouts too with corresponding white knuckles. We had high winds and over a foot of snowfall throughout the day on top of what we already had and more is coming. Am running out of places to put it. It's exhausting to deal with.

This evening I started writing a review of Brenda Iijima's If Not Metamorphic which I have been procrastinating about for months, not knowing how to get started. I'm 200 words in, so have something to build on now.

Poetry eludes me these days.

In today's mail The Preparation of the Novel by Roland Barthes (his final lectures) just out from Columbia University Press. There's always something of use in Barthes' work.

I no longer know why I blog.

My shoulder hurts, my knee hurts, my back hurts, my head aches and I can barely keep my eyes open. I'm in a lousy mood. Goodnight.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Four Philosophy Books I've Most Admired This Year

Genesis by Michel Serres (University of Michigan Press, 1995).

Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari: Intersecting Lives by Francois Dosse (Columbia University Press, 2010).

For Derrida by J. Hillis Miller (Fordham University Press, 2009).

On Leaving: A Reading in Emerson by Branka Arsic (Harvard, 2010).

Each of these volumes presented opportunities for true engagement. Each of them made me cry.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Six Poetry Books I've Most Admired This Year

Squeezed Light: Collected Poems 1994-2005 by Lissa Wolsak (Station Hill, 2010).

I-Formation, Book 1 by Anne Gorrick (Shearsman Books, 2010).

If Not Metamorphic by Brenda Iijima (Ahsahta Press, 2010).

petals, emblems by Lynn Behrendt (Lunar Chandelier, 2010).

At Trotsky's Funeral by Mark Young (Kilmog Press, 2010).

Toccatas in the Key of D by Sheila E. Murphy (Blue Lion Books, 2010).

I've been privileged not just to have read and enjoyed each of these unique volumes, I've also interviewed each of the authors (except, I now realize, Brenda Iijima, who I've only dreamed I've interviewed). I say without hesitation that these are some of the most vital and engaging poets of our time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Negation won't
Actuate desire

One can't
Compel an
Other's love


I've been meditating on friendship, literary friendships in particular. Why? Well, on the one hand, an important friendship with a poet whose name would be recognized here recently ended. And, on the proverbial other hand, I just this morning finished reading the last installment of The Grand Piano.

There's a section of the Ohio Basic Building Code which maintains that the tenant of a building must have access to his disconnect. In the parlance of the Building Code "disconnect" means fuse box or breaker box. It is, like they say, a term of art.

I've from an early age been a socially ill-at-ease person. This always seems to contribute to making friendships somewhat problematic.

A lot of things are swirling in me now. Dark constellations. Don't know if any of this will out intelligibly. Feeling compelled to quote this passage from Stanley Cavell's recent memoir:

"Learning by drowning was something I was familiar with when the river of hours was somewhat balanced out by an active contribution of performance and analysis and discussion. Here the drowning felt unprotectedly like gorging bears filling themselves for a time of unconsciousness, of exhausted expressiveness and impressionableness, except perhaps for the talent of dreaming.

I had already found that there are things to be learned only in this way of random extravagance, of being overwhelmed by the knowledge of what there is to know, of what cannot be mastered, of the necessity of developing an instinct and memory for reserves and hints and fragments of tendency, for trusting something like those glimpses or flashes of light across the mind so dear to Emerson. But allowing the inscape to be populated and colored by the impressions and expressions of countless crossing lights, exacts the wager that when the time comes you will find your directions of attraction and repugnance among and across those that are so far, some perhaps forever, sourceless and nameless."
I am required to have access to my disconnect keeps looping through my sore head.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

You Turn Me On

"My identity has become that of the speaker, the person who speaks from the television."
--Felix Guattari

Everything is
Virtual in

Its way
In the

Way of
Its self.


History is
The present

Uninterrupted interruption
Of Presencing

Porous calendars
Timeless collanders.


What ever
Avers dies

What doesn't
ever aver

Dies too
More slowly


What speaks
Speaks incomplete

Diminished refrains
Dim mutant

Bodies frame
Mutating voices

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I've skipped out on today's Thanksgiving celebration since I have an upper respiratory infection ,and am seriously allergic to cats, making dinner at Barb's brother's house in Cleveland out of the question. Am enjoying the peace and quiet. A peace and quiet punctuated by David Byrne singing in the background and the dishwasher slogging along.

Today,when I haven't been puttering about the house or helping Barb get things together to take to her brother's house, I've been listening to music while reading Paul Auster's new book and Lissa Wolsak's Squeezed Light. Lissa and I had a pretty close epistolary friendship for a couple of years. It's very moving to me reading through her book and re-living some of our exchanges, seeing something of the trace of days long past. She's sui generis.


David Byrne's singing "Time is a pony ride," and you know, I can't begin to argue with that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010



by Mark Young

Kilmog Press, New Zealand

Edition of 50, hardback

This is a marvellous book. I feel fortunate to have a copy. Every poem in it is a jewel -- brilliant and multi-faceted.

Let me begin by quoting the first poem, a meta-poem which speaks to Young's method in this volume:

A Philosophy of Ficciones

for Thomas Fink

The history of

history is one

of spaces, some

empty, some filled,

but every one ready

to be re-written.

At Trotsky's Funeral is very much about the re-writing of the writing of history. It is moving, amusing and dazzling, by turns. And it has an extraordinary cast of characters, including but not limited to: Octavio Paz, Turing and Oppenheimer, Diego Rivera, Jorge Luis Borges (whose term "ficciones" Young has borrowed), M.C. Escher, Genghis Khan, Gerard Depardieu, Stendahl, Stendahl's pet squirrels, Paracelsus, Che, Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems, Velazquez, the sage Bodhidharma, Electra, Mao, Umberto Allegrezza, Septimus Veronicus, Promethea, Zhang He, Lucretius, Eileen R. Tabios and Elsebet Schwarzvogel.

The title poem is a masterpiece. Here's a taste, in which Octavio Paz takes note of fellow mourners Alan Turing and J. Robert Oppenheimer:

A strange pairing
Turing & Oppenheimer. & of
the few people
that noticed them
Octavio Paz the only one
to see that
there was energy flowing
beyond the sexual tension. Ever
the astute metaphysician. “The one
wanted to unravel the moon
by using recursive &
mechanical algorithms; the other
to recreate the sun with a
continuous chain reaction. I
saw the future in them. I saw
several futures.”
Islas en llamas en mitad del Pacifico
Mundos de imágenes suspendidos de un hilo de araña

The full text of this poem can be found here. If reading it isn't enough to make you crave your own copy of AT TROTSKY'S FUNERAL I'll be very surprised.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Contexts aren't
your crossed

out underpants
(my panties).


Which regime
is this?

Entry beneath
what sign?


Not to
make oneself

but make
oneself available.


My lack
of coherence

is your
figured ______.


Every clock
in here

displays a
different tune.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I’ve never
Been one.

Flesh of
A scent
Imagined release.

One answers
To you.


You – no
Answer – who.

Always in
The middle
Of extending.

Is not
Being voiced.


Lack of
A member
(a club).

With it
In an.

Blank, blank,
Blank, etc.


I’ve never
Been you.

One imagined
Scent to
Fleshed answer.

Blanked surfeit
Of surfacings.


Sucking some-
One in.

No out
Being either
You nor.

Note netted
Voice of.


Turned for
To make.

Our tale
A limit
One encounters.

Everything else
In reverse.


Is this
Mirror only
Missing what
Is legible?

One draws
A blank.

You surfeit.


I’ve never
Been imagined.

Answer scent
Extending voice
In else.

One turn
To of.


Believe it
Or not.

Impaled by
Strips of
One’s appearances.

As implied
Always in.


Applied to
Your self.

What adheres
At present
One asks.

Believe in.
Believe out.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Thank you, Alex.
I'm transparent.

Aren't you?

Since I quashed the publication of EXPOSURES my anxiety levels have ramped up and I feel as if I don't know if I can write anymore.

I feel displaced. I've lost some measure of focus.


Last night nothing but nightmares about loss and infidelity.


I need a project (or something),a __________ to which I can surrender.


In Little Did I Know: Excerpts From Memory, philosopher Stanley Cavell's recently published memoir, there's a sentence I keep returning to:

"Must we become artists in order to express experience so unmistakably that we not become isolated, desolated, by ecstasy or by confusion?"

Beautifully said, that. And unarguably true for me.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nico Vassilakis

When I interviewed Nico he was pretty resistant to talking poetics/process. He even sort of sheepishly apologized to me at the Avant Writing Symposium for being grouchy during our exchange. The fact is that Nico Vassilakis (not to mention Geof Huth and Crag Hill) may well be the most lucid exponent of vispo poetics we have. When Nico and Crag's massive anthology of vispo finds a publisher it is going to be a revelatory experience for many--a game-changer.

This morning I re-read Nico's protracted type (Blue Lion Books, 2009) while I was doing my 10 miles on the stationary bike at the gym. It's a fascinating volume. It juxtaposes vispo sequences with passages of text about Nico's "staring poetics."

For Nico it all begins with the letter:

"Poetry is comprised of charged units of
language. Before sound, before meaning,
before even the impulse to write - the letters
are preparing to congeal. To see it at this level
is to see the visual aspect of poetry forming."

And later:

"Talking is an acceleration of letters."

Later still:

"Words make a prison for letters."

Nico literally stares at texts until letters come unmoored. That, at root, is his poetics. And it is, as revealed through his practice, profound.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Layeredness of experience.

You said despair

Is just corny.

Really? Layeredness of

Sensation. Parse this

Drop of semen,

This passing fever.

Who are you?

Kinds of laminate.

Layeredness of perception.

A meter long

Unmirroring song of

Revelation as blank,

Blank and blank.

Eyes are blinds.

Layeredness of emptiness.

Layeredness of yearning.

Layeredness of receptivity.

Monotony of neediness.

Polyrhythms of purpose.

What is this

Thing called now?

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I’ve never been
Good at dating
Or job interviews.

I don’t exactly
Believe in ghosts.

I believe I’m
Inhabited by others.
If not possessed.

Where are you?
Have we met?

Does killing oneself
Mean becoming exterior,
Mean becoming Outside?

Does saying oneself,
Not saving oneself,
Create an Avatar?

Are you listening
To me yourself?

Saturday, October 9, 2010


My turd

emerges pre-

polished, always

already gleaming.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Feeling blocked and discouraged. Not just in terms of writing.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


What images

manage to become

can be read.

Secondary sexual characteristics

in primary colors.

Torso in mirror

receding faster

than it appears.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

state. Presences
out of register.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I've decided for a variety of reasons to put the publication of EXPOSURES on hold. It is, for me, a major long poem (in terms, that is, of my own work)which I am in no way repudiating. The time isn't right. If the work is good enough it will keep.


On the other hand, I seem to be going through a crisis of confidence. Oh, I know, boohoo.


I just preordered two forthcoming titles by Roland Barthes: his Diary of Mourning, a volume of fragments written immediately following his mother's death, and a volume of lectures about preparing to write a novel. I am anxious to read these books.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Histoire(s) de Musique

Seeing meant singing

Singing meant unhinging

Unhinging meant some

Tables need legs

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Perception is an animal
My nipples are hard

I want
You now

What isn’t relatively confusing
What isn’t totally enervating

Poetry’s a sensory system
Language is a dump

My buttocks are exposed
Your thoughts are guarded

I want you to
Know that I’m here

Why not mix things
Up a little bit

Reception is an animal
My cock is parenthetical


This sentence extrudes a ladder.

Every sound wrung an interruption.

Language grids support the inexplicable.

Not many are thought.

Glottal stop restarting things.

Whispers are what.

Intimations of explanations contradicted or understood.

Shadowy theories of dreams.

“…perpetual allegories.”

Boundaries of person and perception.

Production and reproduction of

Improper names. The capacity to register separations.

Lists as grammars. Or syntax. One forges, forgets.

Pronouns always cancel something. When self-consciousness sleeps conscience awakens. Or should that be reversed?

Dislocation is indissoluble. Depth on the surface.

Language as shrinkage. A sentence nearly always a cul-de-sac.

Not about. Booting.

Actuality, at least in part, a series of vocabulary problems.

“The axis of vision is not coincident with the axis of things, and so they appear not transparent but opake.”

The importance of, gasp, gaps.

Asserting presence between.

Look at that. Look at this. Look at these, too. Always in the middle of things pointing.

Sleep peels everything gauzy or raw.

No concession (or only concessions) to intoxications of mistaken awakenings.
Articles almost always wrong.


Whatever falls away into unreliable narrations.

Try to assimilate a version of oneself through a sieve.

Every body perceives.

Between frames of falling.

What is that I’m watching? What do I know? Questions might well be the substrate of sleep.

Axis of things rising.

Nexus of denial.

Sleep projects its own sovereignity.

Sex sometimes exceeds its denouement.

“Even the corpse has its own beauty.”

A fact is an end, only.

Echoes adumbrate fading points of view.

Amplifications of also and never.

Ramifications of moreover.

What you’d better believe.

What I’d better confess.

Is safety an accident?

Thought must
Come out,

If only
As names.

“Thought constitutes
Personality.” This

Is not
Mine in

Our absence,
Circle or


I am subdivided within.

Can surroundings be

Punctuation too?

All-over allegory.

Do it over.

Oh, baby!

Repetition and ignition.

Repetition and masturbation.

The genital influence.

Perennial concerns.

Sweet confusions and dark bruises.

One wants. One wants more.

Masks. Marks.

An outline.

Multiple signs and symptoms.

Eyes stare back.

I and I and I.

In the broken plane of our mirror.

Images are sensations.

Scenarios, then.

What happened.

Things alleged to have occurred.

In fits.

Torso in a mirror.

Punctured situations.

Rapture and rupture

Are closer

Than near homophones.

When one


In disappearing,

What goes

Without saying?

NB: All quoted material is from the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
All kinds of connectivity problems today, computer kind of whackdoodle, but I think I've finally made a breakthrough in a poem I've been working at, off and on, for months. I've posted versions of it here and then deleted it repeatedly. It took awhile to figure out what I was doing. If, that is, what I have done.

I'll post the poem in question soon.
I've been trying to figure out if I have anything useful to say about Brenda Iijima's If Not Metamorphic--which I keep wanting to call If Not Metaphoric... So I thought, as part of my process, to revisit Thomas Fink's terrific essay of a few years back, "The Poetry of Questions." In the piece Fink explores texts by Ron Silliman, myself, Steve Benson, Brenda Iijima and Eileen Tabios which are comprised entirely of questions. It's an essay worth visiting more than once.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"...noise is metaphysical."
--Michel Serres

I have this week off and yet I'm full of anxiety. Truth is...I've always been anxious. A hundred books I want to read, writing projects I'm thinking about, and--you know--the countless details of everyday existence.

EXPOSURES, my long poem, a sort of excessive sequel to Vanishing Points of Resemblance, is getting closer to publication. I've read and re-read the proofs a couple of times. It's an impossible book, a book which may not win me any friends, but I believe in its unrelieved nakedness. To quote Serres again: "Whoever thinks is naked..."

I think and feel and yearn in halting ways.

Writing, for me, is an onto-epistemological project.

I'm always doing things I'm afraid of because I'm almost always afraid.

The one time I had a gun pointed at my head I went speechless. My boss who stood behind me spoke. I wasn't frightened until after it was all over. I had a similar response after being assaulted--literally thrown against a wall repeatedly-- by someone else years later.

Violence has figured in my life. I've written various fragments about some of the experiences.

I try to keep a sense of humor. I try to tamp my expectations down. I try to be kind. I often fail.

I was in a church yesterday for the first time in a long time. A niece was renewing her vows with her husband. It was a nice event but I am as allergic to religion as I am to right wing ideologues.

As human beings we live inside of all kinds of contradictions.

If I mirror you
you can't see me.

If you mirror me
what a fucking horror.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I'm feeling at odds with and about a number of things, but I'm also a little amazed that I'm having my first pain free day in at least a year. Started taking an arthritis anti-inflammatory and didn't limp today at all.

The David Bromige Issue of The Difficulties

Looking through some boxes in the attic today I discovered I have a dozen or so pristine copies of the David Bromige Issue of The Difficulties. It's a great issue and a true collector's item. You can have a copy for $20 postpaid, if you're interested. Make checks to Tom Beckett. E-mail me for my address and provide me with yours. I'll ship on receipt of payment.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Outsider" Writing

In a recent e-mail John Bloomberg-Rissman told me about being invited by a prominent anthologist to co-edit an anthology of "outsider writing." Then John asked me:

" you know of any outsider writing from your part of the world? By your part I really mean your part, Ohio et environs etc etc--or maybe I don't mean your part, please cast your net as widely as you like - it could be anything: I'm thinking working class writing, dialect writing, local immigrant writing, crazy woman from downtown who tacks xeroxed schizoid rants to telephone poles writing, local psychic (Sister Bertha)'s newspaper ads, etc etc etc. Or something from your library that normally doesn't get canonized. Anything:...."

I posted earlier about this in the vaguest of ways because it is a tenative project. But it is extremely interesting as a possible nexus because of the ways in which it might now be possible to investigate notions of what passes for inside/outside, central and peripheral.

It is, I know, a fraught area of concern. One mustn't exoticize, tread on, etc. But one must learn to speak our whatness, our itness, our thrownness and try,try, try, to make some sense of the beauty and terror of difference (no?).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm bringing forward this note by Jim McCrary from the comment section of an earlier post:

"thanks for noticeing, tom. and i do have this additional beef is with those who CALL for poetry in order to CHANGE the world...i.e. "end the war". and as usual because i am a poet who doesnt 'try harder' i left too much out of the post. "

I'm sorry to disagree with my friend, but my beef is with those who don't call for poetry to change the world (somehow, even a little, but more would be better).

Monday, September 13, 2010

The result of the yearlong interview project with Geof Huth was a document of over 600 pages . We solidified our friendship over the course of that series of exchanges, but we also created--I think--something emblematic of the impasse poetry finds itself in, perhaps it's an eternal dilemma, I don't know.

Geof's style of thought is expansive. He can, at his worst, be gaseous; but he is also a great (and I mean Great!)synthesizer and extender of ideas. There is genius in him. He can take in anything and spit something out and improvise and make, make, make.

I, on the other hand, tend to contract, reduce and intensify. Often, like my mother painting a perfect portrait, I will adjust and readjust in a quest for something exact and wind up with something muddy.

There is no right way to do art. There are the ways that we find we have to do it. And it is, no mistake, hard work across the space of a lifetime. I respect anyone who embarks on the journey and stays the course.

The other day when I took McCrary and Lopez to task for denying the Utopian possibilities of poetry, I shouldn't have ended the post by saying "Suck it up. Do better work." I should have said "Dream harder."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hey, this is a real question for anyone who might be paying some sort of attention to this blog.

I've been asked to help gather work from avant "outsider writers" from my area --Ohio, the greater MidWest--for inclusion in an anthology of writing which has a much larger focus.

When I say outsider writer think of folks outside of the academy, think street people, think outside blogdom, think outside of the mainstreams of consciousness, etc.
Writing is a kind of negotiation with
I guess-
I am alone.
I guess,
I am alone.
Later on in the Serres there is this passage which meshes interestingly with Anne Gorrick's project:

"The tree runs in one direction for the men, where the brush loses, through time, its power. It flows back in the opposite direction for the women where beauty wins, through time, its tranquil presence. Time flows in one direction for the maker, it flows the opposite way for the model."
Am swamped at work and physically and emotionally, mentally exhausted most of the time lately. Looking forward to a staycation in another week. I need some space to think and feel my way through some things.


It's starting to become real to me that, by and by, EXPOSURES will be published and that that two year writing project will see the light of day. I think it represents a turning point. Just as Vanishing Points of Resemblance did. EXPOSURES, I should say, is VPoR continued in a different fleshier register.


I've been savouring philosopher Michel Serres' prose in Genesis (University of Michigan Press, 1995):

"Of old I told the example of the cloud, I told of the concept of a nebulous set. I sketched the fringe of the flame, fluctuating with time; I never attempted to conceive of the multiple as such, directly, without ever allowing unification to come to its aid. I am trying here to raise the brackets and parentheses, syntheses, whereby we shove multiplicities under unities. That is the object of this book: the multiple. Can I possibly speak of multiplicity itself without ever availing myself of the concept? I am attempting to open up certain black boxes where it is hidden away, some of the deep freezes in which it has been frozen, a few of the soundproof rooms where it remains mute. Hopelessly, I am attempting to open up Pandora's little casket.

Whence comes the flood, or pandemonium."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I am
haunted by
questions. Poetry
is questions.
Questions are
holes I
am wanting
to become.
I-Formation, Book 1
By Anne Gorrick
Shearsman Books (, 2010

I-Formation is a book of genesis, a book of the Garden and of torqued archetypes. It is a book of the eternal present, a book of the bleeding moment. I-F is divided into 2 parts: “Her Site of Reversible Destiny” and “The Michelangelo Variations.”

“Her Site of Reversible Destiny” is made up of 9 months of garden poems: “The February Garden,” “The March Garden,” “The April Garden,” “The May Garden,” “The June Garden,” “The July Garden,” “The August Garden,” “The September Garden,” “The October Garden.” Very early on in “The February Garden” Gorrick writes:

A garden’s borders are its thoughts
It should feel like a separating world
and we incompletely still inside that

and at that point, on the first page of the first poem of the first book of a long project, I feel excitement and know that this is a book I need to read.

“The Michelangelo Variations” constitutes a virtual sculpture garden. Its poems are called: “Pietà,” “Creation of Adam,” “Creation of Eve/The Crucifixion of Peter,” and “Night”. “Pietà” right away instills in me an association with Jean Luc Godard’s great film Hail Mary! Especially in passages like this one:

Mary sits in her dull world
(the beginning of turn one)
Dress pulled up
The digestion of driver
God’s whore
Knuckle-rage at humanity’s insectal drive
Blood lifts to the ears first
Cars the sound of torn aluminum and sleep
disappear into dust

I-Formation is an extremely rich book which contains over a thousand lines of flight. I’ve read it a first time and know that I’ve only begun to read it. It is a moving, beautiful and extremely thoughtful work of art. This is one of those books which will change someone’s life.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jim McCrary and Richard Lopez have both posted recently about poetry's inability to change the world. I say: screw that. Those posts (by two poets I like) pissed me off.

I'm tired of hearing about what poetry can't do. Poetry changes the world every day in molecular and larger ways that have cumulative impact over time. Poetry effects revolutions in perception every day somewhere in someone. It adds up and it means something, something always yet-to-be-determined. Reality is pretty fucking provisional, after all. But language is a not insignificant aspect of reality, of how reality is processed and determined, no? And poetry is a driver of language and the processing and creation of reality.

So, I say, speak not to me of your inability to imagine anything other than an impotent, unimportant poetry. Suck it up and do better work.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Writhing is not
Negotiable. I mean

That, my friend.
One needs to

Get down on
The ground and

Writhe. Listening to
My funeral dirge

Almost forgot I
Hadn’t yet died.

I almost forgot
I’m still alive.

Staring Poetics

Nico Vassilakis performing memorably at the Avant Writing Symposium. Photo: Nancy Huth

The text of his talk on "Staring Poetics" can be found here

Sunday, September 5, 2010

OK. Geof's a genius, too. But I'm not telling him.
This is Nancy Huth's photograph of moi and Geof Huth chatting at a reception during the Avant Writing Symposium. I look tired and old and Geof looks dubious.
I've been listening to a live recording of John Cage's Empty Words and hadn't realized, until I visited Mark Woods' blog, that today is Cage's birthday.

The recording is irritating in that the audience is totally obnoxious--catcalls, curses, continuous interruptions. But Cage is calm, serene. He manifests indifference to the assholes, staying focused on his precise vocalizations.


I've been rather depressed this weekend for a variety of reasons which I won't go into and that I can only hope I emerge from before too long.

One bright spot is Anne Gorrick's I-Formation, Book 1, (Shearsman Books, 2010). I'm reading it very slowly because it is clear that this is a deliberate book which cannot be read too carefully. I plan to write about it in a few days. Whether for this blog or for another context I cannot say.

Saddened to read of Gary Sullivan and Nada Gordon breaking up. I've never "met" either of them in the flesh, but I've interviewed both of them and genuinely like both of them.

Sometimes I wonder about desire and the strange places it takes one. I ache in silence and then I yawp....and what?


Rebecca Loudon's ongoing answers to my question piece continue to amaze. I've met a couple of poets over the years whom I considered to be geniuses. Leslie Scalapino, for example. I met Leslie in person on a couple of occasions. Rebecca is a genius too, a great weaver of universes. I have to meet her before Geof sings his dirge for me for real. It's a goal. I've an open invitation to read in Seattle. Readings always ramp up my anxiety level, but if it's an opportunity to meet Rebecca, I just might be able to choke down my fear and whip out the credit cards for another improbable adventure in poetry. I'm thinking very seriously about this now.


I'm drinking wine and occasionally rubbing my right nipple which is now as hard as a pebble and growing more and more sensitive.

Writing poetry is a lot like worrying a nipple.


Earlier today I was writing in a notebook about sexual desire...


One of the things that most saddens me about the Cage recording I mentioned earlier (I'm on the 2nd disc now) is that the hecklers are Italians. Italian is the language I love most after English. To hear it spoken as ugliness is upsetting. I suppose I have a tendency to idealize things, people and to be disappointed by realities.


It is my hope that my book EXPOSURES, when it eventually appears, will activate some beauty in the world. That someone might become aroused.


Dirge for Beckett

Check out this beautiful video by Geof Huth wherein he sings a funeral dirge for yours truly.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Impulsivity Rubrics


Seizing in
Genital parentheses

Spilling out
Of semblance

Our sentences
Tearing along

Seams, tearing
Up sobbing


Seizing in
Genital spilling

Parentheses out
Of semblance

Our sentences
Tearing along

Seams, tearing
Up sobbing


Seizing in
Spilling out

Genital semblance
Parentheses of

Our sentences
Tearing along

Seams, tearing
Up sobbing

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.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Postscript to that last post: I'm interested in the ways that we do and don't pay attention to one another.
I've been thinking quite a bit about Geof Huth's 365 Ltrs project. It is, to my mind, an unusually audacious and raggedly beautiful undertaking. The premise is simple: to write a letter in the form of a poem, every day for a year, each poem being addressed to a diffferent individual. The poems are so far primarily addressed to poets, family, artists, colleagues and friends.

What's emerging is a layered monologue which I find incredibly moving. It's instance after instance of address, but it is also a kind of ongoing diary, an extraordinary record of one man's will to create. It is not a small undertaking. These are daily poems which wax on. If he continues at his present pace he will have a manuscript of over one thousand pages when all is said and done. This is good stuff worth paying attention to.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

So maybe I'm inching back into blogging a little. It's really hot and humid here. I'm tapping these keys clad only in silk boxers and the sheen of man dew. (NB: this is a thought experiment aimed at launching waves of my pheromones onto the internet. Be warned.)


Ever feel like a Frankenpoet, lurching from laboratory to graveyard, over and over again? Ever get tired of being chased by all those torch carrying villagers?


Deleuze wrote that "Paradox is the pathos or the passion of philosophy." I think that that's equally true of poetry & therein lies an aspect of my fascination with the ways in which philosophy and poetry follow parallel paths.


I'm making myself a little crazy writing this poem talk thing for the Avant Writing Symposium at Ohio State next month. I'm making an effort to leave things in which I would normally leave out.


I celebrated a birthday (number 57) a few days ago. One of my gifts was an Ipod Shuffle (we're routinely late adaptors of technology). Mischa, who was visiting at the time, programmed a favorite CD of mine into the thing. Days later I'm grooving with it and Barb comes up to me and says something. I say "Just a sec, I can't hear you" and take off my glasses instead of the ear buds.


All confusions are essential, no?


I'm contemplating a few upcoming publications of my work, after a bit of a dry spell: 2 chapbooks via Geof Huth, and EXPOSURES via Leafe Press. 3 texts which couldn't be more different. All of which are important to me in unique ways.


Difference. What does that mean for/to you? It's a question that's fundamental to the history of Western thought. It's an Ancient question which doesn't get old.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Books are, for me, a form of currency. They flow in and out of our household all the time. (They overflow our household,too, encroaching on all areas.) I buy, sell, trade, give away books with regularity. It is an aspect of how I breathe and think, how I choose to participate in the world.

One of my most treasured and well-thumbed volumes is a hardback first edition of Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus. I'm grateful to Charles Bernstein, back in the proverbial day, for first alerting me to the book.

I'm blogging this now on the occasion of Francois Dosse's Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari: Intersecting Lives having arrived in the mail today. This is my kind of book. Intellectual history can be a beautiful thing. And this is a particularly fascinating story--how these two very different individuals came to work together to create some of the most influential philosophical works of the last 50 years. Check this book out. The story of two great individuals and an even greater collaboration.


Yesterday was my 57th birthday. And it was a pretty fine day, too.


Writing is a struggle lately, but sometimes I succeed in sneaking an intelligent sentence through the mess which I have become.


Sometime in late 2010 or early 2011 it is rumoured that Leafe Press will publish my EXPOSURES. Stay tuned.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

I grew up with artificial flavors,
seizures, hyperactivity, sugar, depression,
medication and a sense of humor.

I grew up horny and anxious.

I grew up playing air guitar.

I grew up wanting to be intervened in,
wishing I could be usefully colonized.

I grew up waiting.

I grew up changing channels.

I grew up uncertain and confused.

I grew up dreaming I could fly.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Do you ever seriously wonder about your own reality/irreality? Are we all becoming Avatars?

I'm wondering if I approached Comedy Central about an hour-long program devoted to my career plans how they'd respond.

It looks as if I have a publisher for EXPOSURES.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I received an offer from a publisher to put out my long (long for me, 50 pages) poem EXPOSURES. The offer was contingent on me partially subsidizing the printing costs. I'd have to put up $250. That figure apparently corresponds to 12% of the $2000 cost of producing the book. I declined. It's not that I think, given current economic realities, that there's anything intrinsically wrong with such a scheme. I just can't afford to do it. Especially since I'm attending the Avant Writing Symposium in Columbus in August and that's going to entail spending hundreds of dollars--hotel, meals, travel costs, etc--over the course of the three days I'm there. I can't really afford to do that financially, either; but then I can't afford not to do it from the standpoint of my mental health. The opportunity to see and converse with Geof Huth, Crag Hill, David Baptiste Chirot, Sheila Murphy, Nico Vassilaksis and a host of brilliant others, all in the same place at the same time, is just too tempting an opportunity to pass up.


EXPOSURES is, I think, a pretty audacious book. Its mix of poetry, philosophy and sex is not for the faint of heart. I think that if it is ever published it will create a stir. Strangely though I'm almost indifferent to its fate. It was something I had to write. It might be one of the best things I've ever written, but maybe I'll delete it at some point. I don't know. Increasingly I feel lost, alienated from the world of writing/writers. Which is why I think it is going to be so important to attend the Avant Writing Symposium in August and participate in a non-virtual community of folks for whom I have great respect.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

The sign reads
"On Site Alterations."

I want
To stop
And ask
If anything
Can be done
With me.

Arranging myself,
I wander
About attributes,

The nearness
Of thirst
And thrust.

You ask
If I said
Enemy or
Enter me.

Entropy is
A given.

My Theory of
The Subject is
A translucent curtain.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Deeply saddened to hear that Leslie Scalapino has died. I feel fortunate to have spent time with her on a couple different occasions--in San Francisco and here in Ohio. I've some things I want to write down about what Leslie's work has meant to me, but later when I don't feel like crying.


Am listening to the new Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden collab, Jasmine.


Geof Huth's new blog 365 Ltrs offers up a poem a day in the form of a letter to a different addressee. I was the soft target of poem #2 and received a signed hardcopy version in today's mail. It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. Again, I feel a little weepy.


I've been on something of a tear reading work by and about Ralph Waldo Emerson (who, by the way, shares a birthday with Geof Huth). Just finished On Leaving: A Reading in Emerson by Branka Arsic (Harvard, 2010). I really like this passage:

"Rather, as Hegel claims in complete agreement with Emerson, philosophical thinking is about affirming something by exposing the subject to the 'predicate'."

Which reminds me, I need to decide what to do with my "unpublishable" manuscript Exposures.


Connections and disconnections. That Emerson was not systematic in his thought, that his thinking was relational--performative--has a lot to do with what attracts me to him. Just as Leslie Scalapino's work always seemed to me a kind of phenomenology of the present, unfolding like a moment of really experienced conscious time.


I'm groping. With no sense of destination, no place to go.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Earlier today I had a ranging conversation with a local bookstore owner. I told him that I thought that where one locates oneself on the ideological continuum really depends on little more than the amount of empathy one feels toward others. If you can't put yourself in another's shoes, then whole worlds of possibility are closed off. If everything is ego-oriented, if everything is about oneself, then there's going to be trouble. No one can be all things to all people; but aren't we defined as much by what we do as what we don't do, by what it doesn't even occur to us to try to do?


One of the books I bought today from my friend: Blasphemy: Art that Offends by S Brent Plate

(Black Dog Publishing, 2006).


This past Christmas I received a digital voice recorder which I've only just now, months later, taken out of its plastic wrap. I decided I wasn't going to open it up until I had a project to use it for. Now I have the idea about what to use it for, I just don't know how to use the recorder. It looks somewhat complicated for such a tiny little thing.


Last Summer we bought our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. We're doing it again this year. Every week we receive a box of fresh, locally grown produce. Today we got our first one of the season: radishes, leaf lettuce, green onions, strawberries, and brown eggs.


Anthony Braxton and company batting away on the stereo.


Rainy, humid day.


What is a picture? What is an image?


There's a passage in Emerson's journals that I find interesting: "Never can love make consciousness and ascription equal in force. There will always be the same gulf between me & thee as between original and picture."


In Vollmann's Kissing the Mask there's a recurring riff about relations between a man and woman being about the pleasure of crossing an abyss.


The fascinations of the mask.


There's so much I don't know. And I, myself, am so unknown (even by myself).


Sexual desire. Wanting to touch and be touched. Wanting to be open to surprise. Wanting to be surprised.


Where does one find oneself in terms of thinking about the role of waiting in one's life?


After a hiatus I'm again trying to win the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest. It's one of my few ambitions. Hi Karri!


New & Highly Recommended

It's pure serendipity that the 49th book to bear the Otoliths imprint just happens to have the title that it does.....

7 x 7

Crag Hill

56 pages,

Page size 8½" x 8½"

Cover image by Nico Vassilakis

Otoliths 2010

ISBN: 978-0-9806025-7-9

$13.45 + p&h


Implicitly comparing a book to a deck of cards, and that deck of cards in turn to the world of social violence we’re dealt, Crag Hill stakes his ante on the power of poetry to witness and document the multiply-layered, self-inflicted insanity of US daily life in the Bush years. As readers we become participants and are thus empowered to say no to the game of death. —Maria Damon

One of the most important things I look for in poetry is something I can believe—something without posturing or postmodern cynicism or post-anything for that matter: something that stands outside of facile labels, something (disorientingly/ seemingly) simple that makes me see and hear and feel—and more importantly, makes me believe—in the world, in poetry, in the process of poesis. Crag Hill’s poems make me believe and listen—and more importantly—make me want to listen. And best of all, they are far from simple and believe in a chance-laden process. They make our world. These are poems fiercely engaged with/in our current and tragic socio/ political/ecological moment and I am deeply grateful for them, because gratitude is the beginning of understanding. These poems remind me that rage and discontent is the genesis of change, that "death is death"—such a necessary reminder in times of such alienation from it. Let us now go make and change, listening to this poet’s example. —Christopher Arigo

"Scattered parts/now lie about what happened." 7 X 7 parses the dizzying bomb crater sized duplicities of the thoroughly mediated, mediatized and militarized zeitgeist which we have collectively dealt ourselves into. Crag Hill is looking to see where the proverbial chips are falling. And he's playing with a full deck. —Tom Beckett