Archive for September 2010
Jean-Luc Nancy, trans. Charlotte Mandell | The Fall of Sleep | Fordham | 2009
“But whatever one’s age, no one enters sleep without some sort of lullaby. No one can do without being led along by a cadence one does not even perceive, since it is precisely the cadence of absence that penetrates presence, sometimes in one single movement—in one single push that suddenly sends the present floating alongside itself—sometimes at several times—in several successive waves, like a tide licking the sand and impregnating it a little further each time, depositing flakes of sleepy foam. Rocking movements put us to sleep because sleep in its essence is itself a rocking, not a stable, motionless state. Lullaby: one charms, one enchants, one puts mistrust to sleep before putting wakefulness itself to sleep, one gently guides to nowhere—”
Kevin Davies | Pause Button | Tsunami | 1992
What would it have been to have been myself and to have already have known this?
Franco “Bifo” Berardi, trans. Francesca Cadel and Giuseppina Mecchia | The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy | Semiotext(e) | 2009
Bifo prescribes: more time for talking, traveling, reading, thinking, loving, eating, and dreaming, and less time spent killing ourselves and each other with overproduction and that horrible farce of the contemporary age: “connectivity”. Thumbs up.
Dana Ward | Typing “Wild Speech” | Summer BF Press | 2010
the tender way is wilder than
Robert Glück | reading from About Ed (ms) | The (New) Reading Series at 21 Grand | October 18, 2009
Audiences never give standing ovations at poetry readings, not in the Bay Area anyway that I’ve ever seen, but on this evening Bob received the energetic equivalent of that just walking up to the mic. He read two pieces from a manuscript in progress, About Ed. The first piece would be very short, he let us know, as the second was to be very long. The short piece was called “Ed’s First Sexual Experience (Not Counting His Dad)”, and it involved Ed, Ed’s older lover, an acid (mushroom?) trip, a tree house, and an unexpected bit of coprophilia. This story from the first line had the crowded room laughing—not a little bit laughing, but kind of convulsively, hysterically laughing, embarrassedly laughing, laughing a lot, sweating with laughter, laughing ourselves to tears. The room felt warm, open, rowdy, and there were so many of us in it. What I recall is that the second part, “The Moon is Brighter than the Sun”, was about the death of Ed, and also about the breakup of Bob and Ed. The detail I remember best is that there’s an apartment that Ed moves in to, in the adjacent-to-Castro area, and Bob describes the location of the apartment extensively, what the neighborhood was like then and what it is like to drive past it now, and in the story he and Ed paint the walls of that apartment together, in the middle of their break-up, and maybe they fought a lot or didn’t fight a lot while doing that? Why do breakups so often also involve extreme acts of domesticity? During the breakup, in the story, we’re also in the middle of Ed’s death, the death which occurs much later, and Bob describes the loss of Ed’s death as also the intolerable revisiting of the loss of breaking up. As giddy as the room was during the first story, it was motionless during the second. That piece did go on a very long time, I remember, there was a part about Bob driving out to the beach in the story, or to the Golden Gate Bridge? to scatter Ed’s ashes? Am I misremembering? I want it to be that Bob drove to the Sutro Baths, where I’ve spent a lot of time living & mourning, but I don’t think that’s what happened. I really want to recount something else here too, and this is the way we, the audience, a community of friends and lovers, exes, enemies, “frenemies”, were held so entirely in the palm of the hand of this story of Bob’s. A lot of us were crying in the room that night. Is that stupid to relate? People I’ve been brutal or bitter enough to think had no capacity left for tears or sorrow were weeping openly. We’ve all lost someone, and reliving that loss, or projecting yourself into the inescapable future and feeling it, fucking awful. But being alive and feeling it while breathing and listening, in a room full of others, to Bob Glück—
Brandon Brown | Tooth Fairy; The Orgy; Your Mom’s a Falconress & Other Poems | all self-published | 2009-2010
Trapped in a humanitarian corridor, ordering
the end of the orgy. Ids in their
ordure. Hair odor in
the hallway. My heart struggles.
It’s big as a chard, but it never learns.
Blood makes us pet in the alley
behind the petting gallery. I love
sleep. I love eat. I love the perpendicular
orgy that makes my fingers (…etc)
Chris Kraus | I LOVE DICK | Semiotext(e) | 1997
“Dear Dick, I’m wondering why every act that narrated female lived experience in the 70s has been read only as ‘collaborative’ and ‘feminist’. The Zurich Dadaists worked together too but they were geniuses + had names.”
“I realized the only thing I had to offer was my specificity”
Plus, what’s that bit about how can a straight woman achieve every bit of outness as out, articulated gay pride? Thanks to Stephanie Young for running home after the mani/pedi to fetch the book and bring it back to me as a loan. And thanks again to Chris Kraus & I Love Dick for, on top of everything else, the introduction to the artist Hannah Wilke.
Erika Staiti | Erika has title anxiety until finished and these are unfinished writings | 2009-2010
I love a work, a practice, a thought held open as long as possible, and yet patient and persistent, and these atmospheric performative drafts enact that.
T.J. Clark | The Sight of Death: An Experiment in Art Writing | Yale | 2006
Clark spent two months at the Getty looking at two works by 17c painter Nicolas Poussin: Landscape with a Calm and Landscape with a Man Killed by a Snake. The subtitle of the book is sort of an egregious caveat: it seems to mean mainly that if you’re a famous art historian you can assert a pass on publishing your diary as crit and your colleagues have to swallow it, but who cares what they think? This was the greatest pleasure of my winter furlough from work, and I was grateful for so attentive a tour of just two paintings. The reproductions are wonderful, and multiple, and the opportunity to listen in on an extended meditation not only on the physical, visual, textual, historic, and metaphoric but also the locally atmospheric and the personally intimate and socially reflective (to the contemporary) felt rare. The writer begins this meditation quoting Poussin: “I who make a profession of mute things”
YouTube | has been | my primary text | of FY10
Fred Moten | B Jenkins | Duke | 2010
“come from some of everywhere, somewhere so deep that some of everywhere come with you. to become for our occult belongings, // worldly in that other way”
Dorothea Lasky | Black Life | Wave | 2010
“You are reading the work of a great poet, possibly one of the greatest ones of your time. If I am standing in from of you right now, you are listening to the voice of one of the greatest poets of your time.”
Bhanu Kapil | Humanimal: A Project For Future Children | Kelsey St. | 2009
“I am not interested in animals. Return to the work as memory. Say it is a wolf becoming a girl, the action in reverse.”
Tan Lin | Seven Controlled Vocabularies | Wesleyan | 2010
“People are basically animals that know how to read.”
Steven Zultanski | Pad | Book Thug | 2010
“My dick cannot lift the walls. My dick cannot lift the ceiling. My dick cannot lift the floor.”
Will Alexander | The Sri Lankan Loxodrome | New Directions | 2010
“such swans / staggered by microbial reasoning / their aggressive nests / anatomical with anomaly”
Paul Killebrew | Flowers | Canarium | 2010
“It’s better than Atlanta, where they treat people like cars / in a city that combines the rustic elegance of Newark / with the quiet dignity of a beer bong.”
Edouard Glissant, trans. Nathalie Stephens | Poetic Intention | Nightboat | 2010
“When the poet travels to the ends where there is no country, he opens with the more deserved relation, in that space of an absolute elsewhere in which each can attempt to reach him.”
Lisa Robertson | R’s Boat | California | 2010
“Say I’m a beautiful animal who has mastered laziness / In reddened clearing in the occidental forest / In the album / Purse of goddess clicking / I long to see how it will continue to behave”
Norma Cole | Where Shadows Will | City Lights | 2009
“Here the subject thinks ‘there could be flowers’ or ‘the water was a bit disturbed when the ring fell in.’ All that, painted from said things, pleases it.”
alurista | Tunaluna | Aztlan Libre | 2010
Gizelle Gajelonia | Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Bus | Tinfish | 2010
Kristin Naca | Bird Eating Bird | Harper Perennial | 2009
Michael Luis Medrano | Born in the Cavity of Sunsets | Bilingual | 2009
This is a super masculine, justifiably angry collection of poems about growing up in a culture of institutional violence. Medrano shines when he allows his poetic speaker even the slightest bit of vulnerability, where his words and tone become personal and tender. It’s when he strips the poems of their tough guy posturing that we can really appreciate his music.
J. Michael Martinez | Heredities: Poems | Louisiana State UP | 2010
This book is challenging the way I think of writing histories of conquest and imperialism (both of which are staples in my own work) in poetry. Martinez balances “experimentalism” and Latinidad without objectifying either, which proves to me that we can still be “ethnic” poets writing about our grandmothers without falling victim to trope.
John Murillo | Up Jump the Boogie | Cypher | 2010
I appreciate Murillo committing to a tradition of Hip-hop, and expanding that tradition to include poetic formalism. “Ode to the Crossfader,” on the page communicates what I’ve heard in live reading, and/or in live reading really communicates what is on the page, clipped lines, caesurae and all. It appropriately opens Up Jump the Boogie; it is an invocation to the poet’s muse, and his ars poetica. Yes, let Hip-hop poetics also call upon its classical muses; think of this poetry as accomplishing what visual artist Kehinda Wiley does on canvas. You can call it much needed appropriation, or even reappropriation of the “master’s tools.” I think of it simply as remix.
Rachel McKibbens | Pink Elephant | Cypher | 2009
Another fantastic offering from Cypher Books, which has fast become one of my favorite indie poetry publishers. I can only hope to see more and more new titles from them. What I enjoy about Rachel McKibbens is the well-crafted, no holds barred fierceness of her confessions, catharses, and epiphanies. McKibbens’s lovely and serrated debut collection, Pink Elephant, reminds us why poetry as testimony is so necessary. The ex-punk rock chola and mother of five, 2009 Women’s Individual World Poetry Slam champion writes about abandonment and abuse in stark, startling language and well-wrought fable, delivered in well-paced lines, laying bare the history of a woman who’s “fed [her] body to the hungry for years.”
Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor | Pause Mid-Flight | Surrounding Sky Studio | 2010
Storyteller and poet Mabanglo-Mayor’s collection contains a chapbook and CD. Her poems are incantation and spellcasting, a nice synthesis of memory, body politics, Philippine and Pacific Northwest geography and mythology.
Joseph Bruchac | Above the Line | West End | 2003
One of the more memorable poems in this collection is the one in which Bruchac references that X-Files episode—an Area 51 experiment causes a US Air Force pilot and an old Hopi woman to switch bodies, and the front half of a gila monster to be encased in a stone. This poem verges on rant (he almost loses his cool and poetic poise), and so I mention it here, so that we can think of one aspect of Bruchac’s work, his writing against and pointedly calling out USA mainstream pop culture use of Native Americans. We still equate the people with scenery and wildlife.
Manuel Maples Arce | City: A Bolshevik Superpoem in 5 Cantos | Ugly Duckling Presse | 2010
Reading Arce’s City: Bolshevik Superpoem in 5 Cantos, I can’t help but think Whitman, and Ginsberg, though I understand this poem was originally published in 1924, so it predates Ginsberg. Of course, I also think of Lorca’s Poeta en Nueva York, obviously because Arce wrote the poem in Spanish, but mostly for the kind of surreal bustling and teeming masses (though not so much vomitous masses). Still, I think of the poet (Arce, Lorca, Whitman, Ginsberg) holding his gaze primarily at (literal and figurative) ground level, an expansive, panoramic gaze in terms of who inhabits the city’s streets, who makes the city work.
Reginald Dwayne Betts | Shahid Reads His Own Palm | Alice James | 2010
Just read this book in one sitting. These are poems from the point of view of an incarcerated African American man, the monotony and despair of passing time, an elaboration of the culture of the “inside,” of survival, negotiation, regret, contrition. This book confirms for me that it is possible for poetry to be masculine and even muscular, but not fall into the territory of machismo. The poems are honest and heavy without being heavy-handed and dramatic. The “I” of these poems I appreciate for his emotionally balanced tone, so as not to fetishize (glorify or denigrate) the incarcerated, or give us spectacle and sentimentality. The words which compose these lines are well-considered. The lines which compose these poems are clean, even lithe. They give space, or open themselves up to the reader without pandering or relying on cliché.
I realize that it becomes easy to enter any poem or body of poems about subject matter with which I am unfamiliar, when the poems open themselves, give us readers space to actually read them.
I was just talking the other day about poetry collections that suffocate, as if I am trapped in a too-warm, unventilated room, and someone’s perfume is so strong it’s weighing down my lungs with its fragrance. It’s too much, and if I were elsewhere, a ventilated or open air space, I could appreciate how lovely the fragrance is.
I bring this up now just to say that Dwayne’s collection is the opposite of this. Perhaps that’s ironic, given the potential suffocation of the jail cell which I think he conveys well throughout the collection. Still, there’s that infernally slow passage of time, which I think necessitates the precision of word choice, punctuation, and line break, and which I think are very well-handled.
Jericho Brown | Please | New Issues Poetry & Prose | 2008
Christian A. Campbell | Running the Dusk | Peepal Tree | 2010
Erica Fabri | The Dialect of A Skirt | Hanging Loose | 2010
Ruth Forman | Prayers Like Shoes | Whit | 2009
Aracelis Girmay | Teeth | Curbstone | 2007
Randall Horton | The Lingua Franca of Ninth Street | Main Street Rag | 2009
Douglas Kearney | The Black Automaton | Fence | 2009
Rachel McKibbens | Pink Elephant | Cypher | 2009
Bianca Spriggs | Kaffir Lily | Wind Publications | 2010
Lyrae Van Clief Stefanon | ]Open Interval[ | U of Pittsburgh P | 2009
Crystal Williams | Tangled Tongues | Lotus | 2009
Anselm Berrigan | Free Cell | City Lights | 2009
“I do take relentless / as a compliment. All this work / dealing with making it work.”
Allison Cobb | Green-Wood | Factory School | 2010
“But every age has its ghosts, a kind of rage. The language.” “The word ‘forest’ itself forms a fence.”
CA Conrad & Frank Sherlock | The City Real & Imagined | Factory School | 2010
“‘Of / course they talk about genocide. / They’re Polish.’ The show ends. / Everything burns. A new set / is built for tomorrow.”
Sarah Dowling | Security Posture | Snare | 2009
“Makes a movement of hand toward // clothing that intervenes / and conforms exactly.”
Rachel Blau DuPlessis | Pitch: Drafts 77 – 95 | Salt | 2010
“Reduplicate the awkwardness. // If given text in a dream, try extra hard to read it.”
Susan Howe | Poems Found in a Pioneer Museum | Coracle | 2009
“It was the only thing she had left / from the journey across.”
Chris McCreary | Undone: a fakebook | furniture | 2010
“You recover / from upside // down & demand a bigger / engine.”
Hoa Nguyen | Hecate Lochia | Hot Whiskey | 2009
“Up nursing then make tea / the word war is far”
Lisa Robertson | Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip | Coach House | 2009
“And you are a rare modern painting in the grand salon / And you are a wall of earth.”
Kaia Sand | Remember to Wave | Tinfish | 2010
“Inexpert, I / investigate // Inexpert, I / walk, and walk.”
Kevin Varrone | g-point almanac: Passyunk Lost | Ugly Duckling | 2010
“she said she grew up // when dodos were ubiquitous, / when snyder avenue was rome”
Karen Weiser | To Light Out | Ugly Duckling | 2010
“the chapel of a bird’s body / is any body / breathing with ink”
Aaron Kunin | The Sore Throat | Fence | 2010
Radical constraint. Self-reflexive to the point of wilderness.
Hoa Nguyen | Hecate Lochia | Hot Whiskey | 2009
Laynie Browne | The Desires of Letters | Counterpath | 2010
You don’t go to poetry for wisdom? When it’s funny? And formally brilliant? And aware that tradition will stick its nose in? So it picks that nose and that pocket?
Stephen Rodefer | Call It Thought | Carcanet | 2008
“Then I stand up on my hassock and say sing that, / It is not the business of poetry to be anything.” Astonishing playful poetic know-how flung around as if it might hurt somebody. Call it ambulance.
Andrea Brady | Wildfire: A Verse Essay on Obscurity and Illumination | Krupskaya | 2010
Brave and erudite. Documentary precision, passionate correlation. How do we make war out of ourselves? “What would make you throw yourself out?”
Ted Greenwald | 3 | Cuneiform | 2008
Iteration strummed to song. Say it again, Ted.
Brenda Iijima | If Not Metamorphic | Ahsahta | 2010
It’s trying to be adequate to the bio-crisis. Formally ambitious, absurdly sane.
Lance Phillips | These Indicium Tales | Ahsahta | 2010
Visceral detail: a phenomenology. “One purses fingers and lips to form a membrane.”
Akilah Oliver | A Toast in the House of Friends | Coffee House | 2009
Everything I want to quote from this book feels irritatingly depressurized when extracted from its spinning, oblique, humorous gravitas, but let’s try “this is a happy story but first i want to tell you about the shape of the incredible sadness. a porn movie you volunteer for. unpaid. untended. the sadness has that shape.”
Ara Shirinyan | Your Country is Great: Afghanistan–Guyana | Futurepoem | 2008
Funny as a crutch. As they say.
Daniel Kane | We Saw the Light: Conversations Between the New American Cinema and Poetry | Iowa | 2009
Fascinating on visionary consciousness, formal innovation, and the mutually influential connections between Duncan, O’Hara, Ashbery, Ginsberg, others and radical postwar filmmakers Kenneth Anger, Alfred Leslie, Stan Brakhage, others.
Lauren Shufran | The Birds | self-published | 2010
“half Punkish ideology, half ludicrous athleticism,” all sleek Greek comic fronting “During Hella Restless Times.”
Bruce Boone | Century of Clouds | Nightboat Books | 2009
Served up last century, lost through the clouds, spiked in the now for the win.
Dana Ward | Typing Wild Speech | Summer BF Press | 2010
Lazarus reborn on Christmas as Ian Curtis.
Lauren Levin, Catherine Meng & Jared Stanley, eds. | Mrs. Maybe | 2010
What Timberlake did to sexy the Mrs. does maybe to staples.
Anselm Berrigan | Free Cell | City Lights | 2009
The socius blown through poet & getting its rhetoric high.
Ariana Reines going to Haiti | Blog of Ariana Reines | 2010
Poetics rethunk via contrails, tap taps, feet.
Brandon Downing | Lake Antiquity | Fence Books | 2009
History bending its head feelingfully to meticulously whacked lithography.
Sam Lohmann, ed. | Peaches and Bats | 2010
The regional conceived as planisphere.
Brandon Brown | Wondrous Things I Have Seen | Mitzvah Chaps | 2010
Latest stop on BB’s dromedary progress from strength to strength to strength.
Sara Larsen & David Brazil, eds. | Try! | 2010
We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one.
Lindsay Hill | The Empty Quarter | Singing Horse Press | forthcoming
Mauritania’s sand in metaphor creep to everything.