Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Archive for May 2009

Featured Title – Annoying Diabetic Bitch by Sharon Mesmer

leave a comment »

Sharon Mesmer | Annoying Diabetic Bitch | Combo | 2007 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 5 mentions in Attention Span 2008

mesmer-bitchThis book is like cherry-flavored anthrax in a Pixie Stix straw. Mesmer breaks all the rules of decorum, craft, and form—she even invents some new rules just to break them. I would like to see her and Jennifer Knox have a poetic slapdown in a big hockey arena somewhere. My guess is that it would end in a tie with the audience dead from hemorrhaging. (K. Silem Mohammad)

It’s impossible to read these poems without wanting to share the lines out loud. Silence is helpless here: even when I’m alone with this book, I break the silence, laughing. Is there anything more poignantly utopian than that? If ideology is the presence of society in our heads, then laughing out loud when we’re alone is the very summoning of that society, an involuntary assertion of communion. (Benjamin Friedlander)

Dear Poetry: Please can you be like this sometimes always? (Rodney Koeneke)

Finally a poet meaner than Lenny Bruce. For all those who have been spiritually exploited by the iconography of the Olsen twins, get this book and be healed. (Stan Apps)

Also mentioned by Rod Smith, and by Tom Devaney in his entry on Mesmer’s The Virgin Formica.

Written by Steve Evans

May 31, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Featured Title – Deed by Rod Smith

with one comment

Rod Smith | Deed | Iowa | 2007 |  Goodreads | LibraryThing | 5 mentions in Attention Span 2008

smith-deedWhat the small press poetry world has known for years now finally garners national attention: this is a poetry to be reckoned with. (Tom Orange)

“The Good House” is a poem that is never less than itself, continually reinventing the topos of dwelling through the tropos of surprise. (Patrick Pritchett)

There’s a part in 3-D Imax Beowulf where Beowulf jumps out of the eye of a seamonster, presumably killing the beast. How he got into the eye remains unclear. Deed is better than that scene, and Rod Smith is more heroic than Beowulf, by far. (Steven Zultanski)

Also mentioned by Marie Buck and David Dowker.

Written by Steve Evans

May 30, 2009 at 10:41 am

Featured Title – The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

with one comment

Roberto Bolaño, trans. Natasha Wimmer | The Savage Detectives | FSG | 2007 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 5 mentions in Attention Span 2008

bolano-savageThe tale of two wild poet boys in an On The Road Adventure… at least that’s how the book is characterized by reviewers. It seems to me to be more about the attempt to recover the mythology of poetry and the bohemian ethic of beauty, love, and self-indulgence … remember when we were racy, spontaneous, scandalous, drunk, oversexed, high on ambition, low on productivity? Not me, I came of age in the 90s. But I remember clearly thinking that literature ended with my generation—now that’s youth! Bolaño hits it on the head (sometimes…). In my reading, however, Natasha Wimmer is the true genius here—she’s clearly an amazing writer herself, and the book reads as if it was written in English. Quite a feat, given how raunchy most of the language is. (Kristin Prevallet)

I read it too, and it’s as good as they say. The best conventional novel about avant-gardism ever! (Stan Apps)

Mentioned by Gina Myers, Allyssa Wolf, and Michael Kelleher.

Written by Steve Evans

May 30, 2009 at 10:21 am

Featured Title – Hannah Weiner’s Open House

leave a comment »

Hannah Weiner, ed. Patrick Durgin | Hannah Weiner’s Open House | Kenning | 2006 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 5 mentions in Attention Span 2008

weiner-openIf only I had known sooner the ways in which she was engaged in art and performance, with her terrific inventiveness in the events of language in both private and public realms! (Sawako Nakayasu)

Not much to add to what oft’s been thought and mostly already been said about this needed book. A phenomenal display of Weiner’s talent and capability. Surely everyone should have read this by now, or else you’re the most unhip gluon. Major kudos to Durgin and the press. (Brad Flis)

Each room has many mansions. More doors, please, soon. (Rodney Koeneke)

Long-awaited. (Jennifer Scappettone)

Also mentioned by Marie Buck.

Written by Steve Evans

May 29, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Featured Title – Selected Prose by George Oppen

leave a comment »

George Oppen, ed. and introd. Stephen Cope | Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers | California | 2008 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 5 mentions in Attention Span 2008

oppen-daybooks“Lay it on the line—” (page 203). (Tom Devaney)

The pensive poet at his vanity (where beautiful poems were so often made up), appealingly deshabille. (Benjamin Friedlander)

“But taking as a whole the phase of the world’s history which we have reached, it has become a commonplace remark to say that we have crossed the threshold of the Apocalypse.” (Michael Scharf)

Also mentioned by John Palattella and G.C. Waldrep

Written by Steve Evans

May 29, 2009 at 10:38 am

Featured Title – Souls of the Labadie Tract by Susan Howe

leave a comment »

Susan Howe | Souls of the Labadie Tract | New Directions | 2007 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 6 mentions in Attention Span 2008

howe-labadie-400x430I love the “lexical landscape” Howe creates in her books, this one in the time of the language of the Labadists, a 17th century Quietist sect. “with me here between us–of / our being together even in /english half english too late.” (Kristin Prevallet)

She makes other poets sound forced who strive to say one-quarter as much. Her secret? If you work your material until it’s in tatters, until it stains your thoughts and permeates your dreams, any stray word can be Sibylline. (Benjamin Friedlander)

The labadists, Howe tells us, “believed in…the necessity of inner illumination, diligence and contemplative reflection. Marriage was renounced. They held all property in common (including children) and supported themselves by manual labor and commerce.” The title sequence in this book is a stunning series of short, intensely drawn pieces exploring the psychic landscape opened for Howe by the labadists. (Meredith Quartermain)

Also mentioned by Michael Kelleher, Richard Deming, and David Dowker,

Written by Steve Evans

May 28, 2009 at 10:42 am

Featured Title – Golden Age of Paraphernalia by Kevin Davies

leave a comment »

Kevin Davies | The Golden Age of Paraphernalia | Edge | 2008 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 7 mentions in Attention Span 2008

davies-paraphernaliaSharp, witty, incisive—this book has a lot to keep me busy. The prosody (the driving issue for this reader) catches my eye because Davies has a lot of textured variation. The main thrust, so to speak, of the poet’s concerns is contemporary social commentary, and this commentary is rich and informed. But it’s the reoccurring pig image/references that hooked me! Since I’ve been out of the country for so long, Davies is a wonderful discovery. (Dawn Michelle Baude)

Lovers of late JA meanderings through pre-code detritus who look to counter other lovers’ complaints about cut & pasteability will find, here, that reading each section ‘in order’, or continuously across the breaks and gaps, makes the book lose part of its meaning. The obsessive superfineries of the arrangement, shorn against undoing, and the intricate intactness of “Lateral Argument” underscore the point perfectly: within a supersaturate, none of the pieces fit. The author also wishes to inform you that Stephane was wrong about the book/bombe; the blank page 68 is a comment on the French. (Michael Scharf)

O’Hara said that Whitman , Crane and Williams were the only American poets who were better than the movies, but today, in a world with Apocalypto and 3-D Imax Beowulf, only Kevin Davies is better than the movies. Maybe you’re in it for the giddy surprise of a turned phrase. Maybe you’re in it for the zonked formal apparatus (“floaters”?). Maybe you just want to drink a Corona and take pot shots at the government. Anyway you want it, that’s the way I need it. More than one Davies book a decade? Yes, please. (Stephen Zultanski)

The benefit of Edge being a little shambling in their publication schedule is that I have gotten to put some version of this book on the Attention Span list for eleven consecutive years. For all the magnificent of the parts (with Lateral Argument still magnificentest), the book is the thing: an overlapping structure which asks you ceaselessly to reevaluate the scale of parts and wholes, to read every passage as an ambiguous instance shifting within a structure within a circuit. In this sense it’s a triumph of thinking globalization/late capitalism/the lives within it, comparable only to the markedly different Kala, M.I.A.’s album which nonetheless takes up very much the same problem, about the representability of part and whole in the world-system. Or: it’s basically the soundtrack for Mike Davis’s World of Slums. In making a mystified situation experienceable —in this case the circuits of economy, terror, epidemic, and culture that form what we call globalization—it stands with any work of art this millennium. (Joshua Clover)

Also mentioned by Rod Smith, Dana Ward, and David Dowker.

Written by Steve Evans

May 27, 2009 at 4:34 pm