Attention Span 2009 – Stephen Cope
Joseph Donohue | Terra Lucida | Talisman House | 2009
Donohue’s singular economy of reticence and revelation is in evidence here throughout. Why is he not more widely read and celebrated?
Kenneth Goldsmith, ed. | Poetry Magazine: July/August 2009 | Poetry Foundation | 2009
Still trying to find the right acronym for Flarf: Faux Libertines Against Real Feeling, perhaps? Feminists, Libertarians, Antinomians, Revolutionaries, and Fakes? False Lyricists Appropriating Real Fascism? Finally Liberated Artists. Recouping… etc. These are not the most interesting Flarf poems I’ve encountered, but still remain more interesting than the vast majority of poems published in this esteemed organ over the last, say, two decades. As for conceptual poetry: I recently ran across a copy of Goldsmith’s “Baseball” in the “sports” section of a used bookstore. Nuff said.
Fanny Howe | The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation | Greywolf | 2009
Perhaps the most important piece of advice I received in graduate school was the simple exhortation: “you should listen to Fanny.”
Adonis | Sufism & Surrealism | Saqi | 2005
Been a concern of mine for awhile – seems time may be ripe to explore Sufic modernisms (and explode thereby the oft exclusively Eurocentric – even when colonial or postcolonial – narratives of modernism still so prevalent). Plus, I’ve needed a lucid discussion of ‘ibn Arabi since I first went through Corbin’s book a decade ago.
Carl Rakosi | The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi | NPF | 1986
The least critically acclaimed—or critically attended-to anyway—of the Objectivists. Having had occasion to revisit this collection for a seminar, I found myself by turns delighted, enlightened, bedazzled, bewildered, inspired—and at every turn engaged. Rakosi still awaits his full share of critical reception and recognition: I wonder why?
Lytle Shaw | Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterie | Iowa | 2006
Someone had to write this book, and I suspect Shaw’s discussion of “coterie” will have applications beyond this particular poet—beyond, perhaps, the New York School—for some time to come.
Ariana Reines | The Cow | Flood Editions | 2006
This one floored me. Visceral, vital, clinical, conceptual—it strikes a dissonant chord in the nerves. Precisely, I think, what I’ve been needing.
C. T. Funkhouser | Prehistoric Digital Poetry: An Archeology of Forms | Alabama | 2007
Best book on the subject, bar none.
Mark Scroggins | Louis Zukofsky: The Poem of a Life | Counterpoint | 2007
Scroggins’s approach is novel, as he mixes narrative with criticism in alternating chapters. Biographies rarely capture my attention the way that this one did, and I found myself repeatedly returning to the poems to find resonance and resource where before I encountered only the opacity of technique. An absolutely necessary book.
Ming-Qian Ma | Poetry as Re-Reading: American Avant-Garde Poetry and the Poetics of Counter-Method | Northwestern | 2008
A dense and pleasurably complex book. Following on Bruce Andrews’s theory of “re-reading,” Ma suggests that “poetry, to the extent that it is a critical-analytical reengagement with method as a problem, is the “rereading [of] the reading that a social status quo puts us through.” But this is no mere rehashing of stock-in-trade Lang Po theory; Ma’s trajectory is unique in engaging philosophical (and not just literary or aesthetic) modernism (and not just that of the trendy sort), At this point, I’m content to have my mind in the book, if not fully wrapped around it.
Wildcard selection: I’ve been known to add music to my lists before—this time I’ll offer relevant text instead. Liner notes to the following recording:
Balla et Ses Balldins | The Syliphone Years | Stern’s | 2008
In this era of iTunes digital downloads, the inclusion of such booklets as this may become more and more necessary. It’s nothing new, of course, and I could name dozens of other collections with equally impressive notes—this is only the most recent. But as cds go the way of lps before them, one can only hope that the paratext doesn’t vanish with them…(a note on this: I recently downloaded my first two albums in MP3 format. Great sound, easier storage, certainly—but the lack of detailed information on instrumentation, composition, context, etc. has me leaning towards purchasing the actual cd at some later date (i.e. when I can afford the $50 or so…)).