Attention Span – Thomas Devaney
Dan Machlin | Dear Body | Ugly Duckling Presse | 2007
A book I continue to read and recommend.
George Oppen, ed. Stephen Cope | George Oppen: Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers | California | 2007
“Lay it on the line—” (page 203).
Bill Berkson & Colter Jacobsen | Bill | Gallery 16 Editions | 2008
Bill feels like a lost classic. Jacobsen’s drawings are beautiful. The book reads like a dream. Berkson culled the text from a juvenile detective novel. From Bill: “War broke out the following day, as agreed.”
Prageeta Sharma | Infamous Landscapes | Fence | 2007
“And I still remain difficult when it is advantageous.” No doubt—Sharma has found her register: it’s daring, brutal, and always, a pleasure. Infamous Landscapes breaks new ground for Sharma and clears the air a bit.
Alan Filreis | Counter-Revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry, 1945-1960 | North Carolina | 2008
Yes, it’s a serious historical book, a major book, but Filreis’s personal voice and deep connections to mid-century modernism show how many formal concerns of the work were linked to progressive politics; it is an untold history of the so-called language/nature problem (and the reactions to it) that continue into our moment.
Sharon Mesmer | The Virgin Formica | Hanging Loose | 2008
I read Francis Picabia’s I Am a Beautiful Monster (MIT Press, 2007) and Mesmer’s Annoying Diabetic Bitch (Combo Books, 2007) during the same one week period. It was an uncanny pairing. Now I’m reading Mesmer’s The Virgin Formica, which is relentless and fearless, and except for Picabia’s book, may be peerless.
Christina Davis | Forth A Raven | Alice James | 2006
These are spare and unsparing poems. Davis writes: “In the history of language/ the first obscenity was silence.” There is a God.
Brandon Downing | Dark Brandon | Grievous Pictures | 2007
B. Downing’s prowling, humour noir DVD Dark Brandon is not an intervention, but more of a break-in. These deep cultural cullings are an unsettling reflection of Downing’s one way mirror. The mirror is our age’s “own face” as Clark Coolidge might say.
Pierre Reverdy, trans. Ron Padgett | Pierre Reverdy: Prose Poems | Black Square / Brooklyn Rail | 2007
Both Reverdy and Padgett adorn the unadorned. Here is a masterful and open-hearted poet translating a kindred soul. From the poem “Waiting Room” Reverdy writes: “And the trees, telegraph poles, and houses will take on the shape of our age.”
Kevin Killian | Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow | Belladonna 117 | 2008
“Read my lips, ‘I’m into you,’ the virus seems to wriggle / through plate glass.” Is Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow the first chapbook in the Belladonna series written by a man? Bravo to Rachel Levitsky and Erica Kaufman on the series overall, and bravo to Kevin Killian on Wow.
Noteworthy, other books and poems from the hubbub include: Peter Gizzi’s The Outernationale, anything translated by Sawako Nakayasu; Serge Fauchereau’s Complete Fiction translated by John Ashbery & Ron Padgett; Joseph Massey’s Within Hours; Joel Lewis’s on-the-level every day Learning from New Jersey; Steve Dickinson’s up-tempo Disposed; Jennifer Moxley’s The Line; The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen, edited by Michael Rothenberg; David Trinidad’s loving The Late Show. “Some of These Daze” from Charles Bernstein’s Girly Man. The Route, a capacious investigation by Jen Hofer and Patrick Durgin: “We want to say something in another language which is also ours” (page 120).
More Tom Devaney here.