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Archive for September 2011

Attention Span 2011 | Vanessa Place

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Riccardo Boglione | RITMO D feeling the blanks | gegen | 2009

In a work of abstract literature Richard Kostelenatz would surely admire, in Ritmo D. Feeling the Blanks, Riccardo Boglione has stripped away every last bit of text from Giovanni Boccaccio’s contentious 14th-century body of 100 novellas, Decameron. All that remains is the rhythm, spacing and punctuation.

François Fonteneau | L’Ethique du silence. Wittgenstein et Lacan | Seuil | 1999

D’un côté, une éthique indicible (Wittgenstein), de l’autre, une éthique du mi-dire (Lacan). L’expérience éthique serait-elle liée à l’expérience de la limite dont le silence ferait partie ?

Marcel Proust, trans. Mark Treharne | The Guermantes Way | Viking | 2004

After the relative intimacy of the first two volumes of In Search of Lost Time, The Guermantes Way opens up a vast, dazzling landscape of fashionable Parisian life in the late nineteenth century as the narrator enters the brilliant, shallow world of the literary and aristocratic salons.

Edgar Allen Poe | Poetry and Tales (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket) | Library of America | 1984

Poe’s Narrative of A. Gordon Pym seems to me excellent art criticism and prototype for rigorous “non-site” investigations.

Kenneth Goldsmith and Craig Dworkin, eds. | Against Expression | Northwestern | 2011

Against Expression, the premier anthology of conceptual writing, presents work that is by turns thoughtful, funny, provocative, and disturbing.

Marjorie Perloff | Unoriginal Genius | Chicago | 2011

It is a virtue of Marjorie Perloff’s Unoriginal Genius that it leaves nothing settled. Rather, it provokes new questions that help to unsettle modernism and its artistic aftermath, and itself performs an important arrière-garde re-animation of neglected or taken-for-granted avant-gardes.

JoAnn Wypijewski | Painting by Numbers: Komar and Melamid’s Scientific Guide to Art | California | 1998

Wypijewki and Nation art critic Arthur Danto explain well the context of Komar and Melamid’s unique project and chart its odd, zigzag path between comedy and seriousness. . . . An im-portant reference point on the map of late-20th-century taste

Eric Lott | Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class | Oxford | 1995

As readers we come to understand for the first time how blackface performance imagined and addressed a national community and we realize the extent to which we still live with this legacy.

Bruce Fink | The Lacanian Subject | Princeton | 1996

The Lacanian Subject not only provides an excellent introduction into the fundamental coordinates of Jacques Lacan’s conceptual network; it also proposes original solutions to (or at least clarifications of) some of the crucial dilemmas left open by Lacan’s work.

Andrea Fraser | Museum Highlights: The Writings of Andrea Fraser | MIT | 2007

A stunning book—Andrea Fraser turns the art museum inside out, time and again, in her incisive and mercilessly witty deconstructions. A rare combination of committed artistic practice working hand-in-hand with the insights of cultural theory.

Leo Steinberg | The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion | Chicago | 1997

After centuries of repression and censorship, the sexual component in thousands of revered icons of Christ is restored to visibility.

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Kenneth Goldsmith has called Vanessa Place’s work “arguably the most challenging, complex and controversial literature being written today.”

Place’s Attention Span for 2010. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Robin F. Brox

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David Hadbawnik | Field Work: notes, songs, poems 1997-2010 | BlazeVOX | 2011

At times like being a voyeur behind the book’s eyes, sweet, honest, uncomfortable, surprising, moving between modes and geography and relationships, moving through time, a book to enjoy reading.

Italo Calvino, trans. Martin McLaughlin, Tim Parks, William Weaver | The Complete Cosmicomics | Penguin | 2002

Delightfully strange and oddly comforting, a yogic stretch for the imagination.

Tony Lopez | Only More So | Uno | 2011

As dense and challenging as ever, Lopez’s most recent work sustains itself longer, thick stripes of word culled from an intricate lace of sources, transmuted by a skilful, subtle hand.

JodiAnn Stevenson | The Procedure | March Street | 2006

The languages of legality and failed romance intermingle in this collection of hauntingly-worded pieces, heartstrings unraveling through divorce proceedings, bittersweet freedom of a particular failure.

Mark Rothko, ed. Miguel López-Remiro | Writings on Art | Yale | 2006

One of the most astonishing collections of critical statements about art I’ve ever encountered. “Address to Pratt Institute, 1958” is of particular note.

Audre Lorde | The Black Unicorn | Norton | 1978

It was time to reread Lorde: “I leave poems behind me / dropping them like dark seeds that / I will never harvest / that I will never mourn / if they are destroyed / they pay for a gift / I have not accepted.”—from “Touring”

D.H. Lawrence | The Plumed Serpent | Martin Secker | 1928

Perfectly brutal.

Gina Myers | A Model Year | Coconut | 2009

Compelling and without pretension, intelligent poems born from paying attention to one’s world and life.

Virginia Woolf | Mrs. Dalloway | Harcourt Brace | 1990

Energetic, human, as fresh as the flowers given Clarissa, time had come to revisit this text.

Herman Melville | Moby-Dick or The Whale | Penguin Classics | 1992

Gloriously tragic and often downright funny, it had been too long since I’d read what I most enjoy from Melville, better this fourth time through than I had dared hope!

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Robin F. Brox is the founder of Saucebox, a small feminist press & occasional performance series. Actor & technical director for Buffalo Poets Theater, recent work includes “When In Doubt, Cowboy Out,” from her process-derived poem A. Concoct Key Gush Run, available from Binge Press (2011), & Sure Thing, a full length collection of poems from BlazeVOX [books] (2011).

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Attention Span 2011 | Brian Ang

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Alain Badiou | Conditions | Continuum | 2008

The best introduction to Badiou’s system as immediately useful for literary criticism, due to its accessible thematic organization around Badiou’s four truth procedures of poetry, mathematics, politics, and love: an opening parry and complement to the denser Being and Event. I’ve found Badiou and the strength of his system, as a philosopher proper, to be a cleansing challenge to post-structuralist and Marxist tenets grown dogmatic: philosophy restores contextual problematics to conclusions simplified into the present.

Calvin Bedient & David Lau, eds. | Lana Turner 3 | 2010

A wealth of emergent ideas pursued all year: I’ve returned the most to David Lau and Joshua Clover’s works, and Ben Lerner, Marjorie Perloff, and Gopal Balakrishnan’s works were also highlights. Lana Turner’s sustained editorial argument achieves a hybridism with the capacity to take a stand.

Alastair Brotchie & Harry Mathews, eds. | Oulipo Compendium | Make Now | 2005

Editor Ara Shirinyan gave me the Make Now catalogue when I visited Los Angeles in June. A trove to the endurance of form and stalwart ideas, and an historical authority behind the wager of contemporary conceptual writing.

Joshua Clover | Fragment on the Machine | self-published | 2011

An occasional pamphlet made for the “Can Art and Politics Be Thought?” conference in Los Angeles in June in an edition of 50. Contains Clover’s recent poems “Gilded Age,” “In the City It Was Warmer,” “Poem (Oh capital let’s kiss and make up)” and “Years of Analysis for a Day of Synthesis” in English and French. The first and last were published in Lana Turner 3 and 2 respectively. Clover’s recent poems are his best and most urgent.

Benjamin Friedlander | Period Piece | porci con le ali | 1998

I had correspondence of poems and thoughts with Ben this year and among items received was this poetic tribute to San Francisco Bay Area Language poetry as he knew it. It was a fascinating reading experience, for the effects of Ben’s Bay Area moment are strongly sedimented in the present Bay Area in which I live. It was a helpful work in thinking about historical cultural sediment in both spatial specificity and concept and an affirmation of how poems are a uniquely maximal form of communication over time’s milieus.

Richard Kempton | Provo: Amsterdam’s Anarchist Revolt | Autonomedia | 2007

Read as part of the suggested material for Joshua Clover and Juliana Spahr’s Durruti Free Skool, along with Raul Zibechi’s Dispersing Power: Social Movements as Anti-State Forces and the East Bay Skool specific complement, Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch. I found this book to be the most directly useful of the materials to the immediate situation by the Provo anarchists’ similarity of environment of a modern city and their insistence on playful insurrectionary performance art. It was also a reminder of the importance of a rigorous theoretical understanding of material conditions: the Provos proved not to be sustainable past the exuberance of their moment without a program.

Ron Silliman | The Alphabet | Alabama | 2008

Silliman’s works take such a commitment to read, their experiences are unforgettable and permanently transformative. In the pressure chambers of Silliman’s works, some sentences only read once have echoed in my head for years. Preparing for and presenting at Louis Cabri’s Alphabet symposium in March gave me the necessary energy to finish this. I can’t think of any other book in which time-congealed labor is so palpable in every sentence.

Brian Kim Stefans | Viva Miscegenation | Insert | 2010

I received Insert Press’ PARROT chapbooks nos. 4-7 from editor Mathew Timmons when he read in my apartment in May, and I’ve returned the most to this one. Stefans leans more toward his Ashbery inclinations than his Bernstein ones here, subordinating thickness of language to making an antechamber of communication toward the ineffable importance of a potential recipient, striking an exceptional pleasurable organization between intimate address and expansive play.

Dan Thomas-Glass, ed. | With + Stand 5 | self-published | 2011

Thomas-Glass’ generous experimental sensibility and DIY community sensitivity capture the organic ambiance of the moment and let the spray paint and duct tape dangle. This latest issue is the densest yet and a rich document of the year.

Tiqqun | Call | 2004

I hosted several Talk events at my apartment this year and this was distributed at one of them for discussion. I’ve found the Tiqqun texts stimulating for redeploying Situationist-style energy out from historical contemplation back into urgency in confronting contemporary particulars. Contentions with and lessons from Tiqqun have been immediately contributive in recent activist movements, including for student activists engaged in and coming out of current Californian public education struggles.

Barrett Watten, ed. | THIS 9-12 | THIS | 1979-1982

Barrett gave me these when we both attended the Alphabet symposium in March. It’s moving to read the major poems of Language poetry of the period, including Tjanting, a.k.a., “I Guess Work the Time Up,” and Four Lectures, in their first appearances and organization through Barrett’s visionary editing.

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Brian Ang is the author of Communism (Berkeley Neo-Baroque, 2011) and Paradise Now (Grey Book Press, 2011) and the editor of ARMED CELL. Starting in October he will be a Guest Commentator on the PennSound archive for Jacket2. He lives in Oakland, California.

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Attention Span 2011 | C.E. Putnam

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In September 2010, I relocated to Singapore. So, my attention has been influenced both by my geo-location as well as the financial and physical limits on what I can get my hands on.

 Sam Lohmann, ed. | Peaches and Bats 7 | Peaches and Bats | 2011

“Ten thousands of feet of yellow intestine / uncoil to corral billowing barrels. / 37 hundred yellow barrels of boom.”—Jen Coleman

Phillip Whalen | The Collected Poems of Phillip Whalen | Wesleyan | 2007

“When did the dumb-bunny bomb first hit U.S.A?”

Brendan Lorber , ed. | Lungfull! 19 | Lungfull! | 2011

“To work as a fedayeen artist require that you recuse yourself from society. The term dropout is derogatory—I prefer to think of it as dropping in on the divine within yourself. The bravery of being a fedayeen artist is not in the work you create but in the sacrificial act of turning down the social benefits of jobs, relationships, surfing media, getting overly drunk—even of a successful art career — in order to have more time for ‘indolence and grace.’” —from the Editor’s Editorial.

Clark Coolidge | The Book of During | The Figures | 1991

“Do we piss spice, naming such laps of bulk? Do you potato on a pin snooze? I could like her hair from here. I could light up and press in the belly there, whatever further cancels couched.”

Judith Barndel and Tina Turbeville | Tiger Balm Gardens: A Chinese Billionaire’s Fantasy Environments | Aw Boon Haw Foundation | 1998

“As we understand it, the Chinese are good at creating respites. Centuries of invented gardens have provided escape from a society held together by a rigid social order. The rich always had this escape. What makes the Tiger Balm Gardens different is that they were opened to everyone. It is a novel concept: providing areas of escape to the masses—for free. In the 1930s when these gardens were built, theme parks mere nonexistent. The unlimited resources that went into building these environments make them singular in fantasy environments. Not until the mid-1950s with the advent of Disneyland did anything match them. And Disneyland was far from free.”

Nicolette Yeo | Old Wives’ Tales: Fascinating tales, beliefs and superstitions of Singapore and Malaysia | Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Private Limited | 2004

“The Toyol is believed to be a demon child that is kept in a glass jar filled with a special liquid to preserve it. It has the appearance of a deformed overgrown foetus. Rumour has it that its skin is a sickly-green colour.”

“When the Toyol steals from you it leaves behind white ants.”

Leslie Umberger (Author); Erika Doss, Ruth Kohler, and Lisa Stone (Contributors) | Sublime Spaces and Visionary Worlds: Built Environments of Vernacular Artists | Princeton Architectural P | 2007

“Despite the common perception that Wisconsin is among the zanier Midwestern states, known for its nonconformist characters and claiming to be the birthplace of the American circus, artists who edged beyond the standard norms of “yard-improvement projects,” into fervent realms of creativity were often seen as oddballs and eccentrics.”

Chee-Kiong Tong | Chinese Death Rituals in Singapore | RoutledgeCurzon | 2004

“The rituals to rescue ‘bloodied souls’ are similar to those conducted for drowned souls except for two major differences. Unlike many drowning victims, the bodies of persons who die bloody deaths are retrievable. In this sense, it is less dangerous than when the body is lost. Unlike drowning, the main color symbol used in the ritual is not white, but red, symbolizing the release of blood. Thus a red strip of paper is used to cover the bamboo pen. The water is also dyed red to represent the bloody pool. The structure protruding above the bamboo pen is also made of red papier mâché.”

James Higbie and Snea thinsan | Thai Reference Grammar: The Structure of Spoken Thai | Orchid | 2003

La may also be included to create a pause after bringing up a topic (first sentence), when a situation has changed (second), to express a strong feeling (third), and to soften a command (fourth).”

“Don’t forget to feed the bird, la.”

Amon Tobin | ISAM | Ninja Tune | 2011

A lush chaotic intricately orchestrated dose of fragmented electro beat ambient lightbulb scratching Musique concrete for ears on the head of the future.

Andy Harbutt, dir. | Stone | na | 1974

100% Aussie exploitation counterculture biker flick! “They live in a fortress by the sea.” Some have called it Australia’s “Easy Rider.” Cool soundtrack. Trippy camera work. Features real Sydney Hell’s Angels.

Trailer here.

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More C.E. Putnam here.

Putnam’s Attention Span for 201020092008. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Stacy Szymaszek

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Etel Adnan | The Cost for Love We Are Not Willing to Pay | dOCUMENTA (13) | Hatje Cantz | 2011

Pier Paolo Pasolini, trans. Norman MacAfee & Craig Owens | “Observations on the Long Take” | October 13 | 1980

Robert Kelly | Uncertainties | Station Hill | 2011

George Albon | Ryman Room | Albion | 2011

Anne Waldman | The Iovis Trilogy | Coffee House | 2011

Roberto Bolano | Antwerp | New Directions | 2010

Gail Scott | The Obituary | Coach House | 2010

Donna J. Haraway | When Species Meet | U of Minnesota P | 2008

Edric Mesmer, ed. | Yellowfield Issues 1 & 2 

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Stacy Szymaszek is Artistic Director at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery. She is the author of Emptied of All Ships and Hyperglossia (both with Litmus Press). She is the editor of Gam, coeditor of Instance Press, and was one of the editors of the “Queering Language” issue of EOAGH.

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Attention Span 2011 | Kevin Killian

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Martine Bellen | Ghosts! | Spuyten Duyvil | 2011

Martine Bellen is one of the poets I most often wish I had met; when I read her work I feel the thrill of making a new friend, someone just for me. Her new book Ghosts! begins with a sensational, almost flip title and never looks back. Sketched within three series of poems, a woman’s story reflects and refracts through the brackets of life and death, and the “story,” as I have called it, never manages to dry into any flat sort of wholeness. How to see her? It would be like defining what Ingrid Bergman was like through the six films she made with Rossellini. What happens in Ghosts! is, on the other hand, strikingly similar to what happens to Ingrid in Europa 51 and that one with George Sanders—we change, change utterly as the words mount up to our waists like dry leaves in a red country.

Gregg Biglieri | Little Richard the Second | Ugly Duckling | 2011

Ugly Duckling puts out some striking books and this one, without a spine or really much of anything holding it together except for a length of brown string and a trio of tiny bored holes, is one of the fairest. Biglieri’s poem is pretty short and is printed I think all on one side of a length of paper with two dozen folds in it. Every time you turn a page you’re conscious of the pages as uncut; squeeze them between your fingers and they balloon out, revealing blank folds underneath. The writing produces an uncanny, And Then There Were None feel of words eating themselves, disappearing before one’s eyes, often enough through a puns and anagrams approach Mel Taub himself might envy. Or “Captain Mnemo,” Biglieri’s mascot. “Hurt his iris/Hiss her ear.” Yes, it’s a short book, but humankind cannot stand much reality.

Brandon Brown | The Persians by Aeschylus | Displaced | 2011

 Displaced Press from Michigan has put forward an awesome initiative, printing the first books of a handful of young American poets I’ve been following for some time. One of them is Brandon Brown, a figure on the San Francisco poetry scene whom I first met some years ago when I enlisted him to help me and Peter Gizzi and our work on collecting Jack Spicer’s poetry. Brown is a classicist and it shows up in his work to an almost irksome degree, but his book is a rousing reminder, not perhaps of the relevance of ancient Greek drama, but of the ways in which change is forever written into all things, a golden thread amid the dreck. I remember hearing about the poets’ production of The Persians, held outdoors at the Presidio, and I was actually present for a scene or two Brown delivered onstage at Timken Hall, where the parallels between the Persians of Aeschylus’ days, and the Iranians of ours, were made very clear through deft riffs of stagecraft, declamation, and an Olsonian take on the function of the city in poetry.

Stacy Doris| The Cake Part | Publication Studio | 2011

People know so little about the French revolution, but they do remember the cake part. Publication Studio is a sort of “print on demand” company based in Portland (Oregon) that can take on the most innovative and complicated sort of project, and has made a perfect match with Stacy Doris’ unique text application. Part found poem, part manifesto, part investigative poetry, and sometimes as silly as Ronald Firbank. In recent months she asked a whole bunch of poets and other friends to make little videos based on assigned parts of her book, so I got to know “mine” pretty well, and to launch the book she posted them all on her own Vimeo channel which please check out. This sort of history lesson is infectious, like a show and tell lesson combined with a trip in the Wayback Machine—there can be nothing, literally, more outlandish.

Jennifer Natalya Fink | Thirteen Fugues | Dark Coast | 2011

Fink is the veteran author of several books, but she keeps surprising the attentive reader. Her stories share textual strategies with prose poetry, woven together out of myriad weaves and looms, tying themselves together in what I, if I knew more about music, would ascribe to some sort of fugal structure. Here the stories slash prose passages accrete into what could almost be a novel in the hands of a lesser writer, and sometimes prose itself breaks down into the stronger and harsher mode of poetry itself, line breaks and all, when “Tanya,” Fink’s appealing and yet scary heroine, decides to stop making sense and to give her soul a little room to breathe. Fink ignores also the conventional geographies of writing, and her book transports itself with abandon from South America, to Canada, to the US suburbs of her deep affection.

Colleen Lookingbill | A Forgetting Of | Lyric& | 2011

Did you ever write something, almost a book’s worth of it, and then you put it away for one reason or another? Perhaps life intervened, perhaps something more interesting than life. In the gritty and determined world of A Forgetting Of, Colleen Lookingbill performs a complex and dangerous operation, that of reviving a forgotten body of poems. She had made a wonderful debut in the 1990s with her first book, Incognita, and then nothing. So much talent and grace, however, coupled with a health scare while she was still young, could not let the matter rest. From somewhere deep within, and accompanied by a suite of full color paintings very much in the Romantic vein of the poems, a book came to life, and a family of fans, at last, finds entertainment.

Deborah Meadows | Saccade Patterns | BlazeVOX | 2011

She has published ten books of poetry since 2003, and here comes an eleventh. I’m sure that, like Leslie Scalapino used to, she will forgive you if you haven’t read all of her oeuvre. (RIP Leslie!) Saccade Patterns are apparently the movements of your eyeballs in your heads, back and forth, up and down, the rotations eyes make continually until pattern recognition momentarily soothes that restless urge to know. Meadows has been good at evoking patterns (of loss, of recognition, of right and wrong) for a decade, and here she steps back from the powers of her own sight and applies what she’s learned to the social and political problems that engorge our times.

Jennifer Moxley | Coastal | The Song Cave | 2011

Steve, you thought you could box in Jennifer by referring to her then-ongoing long poem “Coastal” as “your 9/11 poem”? Ha ha, she responds with a quick twist of her poniard. But I sympathize with you because to all intents and purposes I agree a little. “Coastal” is a continuous unfolding of a book that contrasts the southern Maine of Moxley’s present surround, with the Southern California in which she grew up, and in the telling, Maine comes to stand in synecdochically for middle age itself, San Diego for youth. And the poem organizes itself along these lines (there’s also a James Schuyler/Rae Armantrout dialectic) until the artist reveals that despite obvious differences, the similarities that link worlds together—poetry and painting—the East and the West—the heterosexual and the lesbian—the past and the present—are more provocative, more enigmatic. I’m sure you were just testing this theory when you made your now famous faux pas.

Olumide Popoola | This Is Not About Sadness | Unrast Verlag | 2010

The reverberations of African revolution shake up a mixed neighborhood in a working class backwater of London. This is the first full-length book by the Nigerian-German author Olumide Popoola, published in English in Munster. Wait, is that the same as Munich? When “Olu” came to San Francisco recently, introduced to me and Bob Glück by UK novelist Shaun Levin and by Olu’s advisor the poet Tim Atkins, we had the feeling that a necessary voice was being heard, and that the world had expanded from within. “We don’t measure in impossibility/ in anguish or that which sliups/ through our hands,” writes Popoola. Two women, one old, the other young, meet in London—two different Africas in their pasts, and the secrets they have kept begin to break down under London’s weak and tenuous sun.

Jane Sprague, ed. | Imaginary Syllabi! | Palm Press | 2011

This has got to be the funnest book I’ve read in eons. Editor Sprague’s opening statement tells us that she has made up a book by multiple authors “that aims to collect writings which […] essentially challenge pedagogical strategies pursuant to the work of teaching writing and other disciplines.” The book has some utopian syllabi, but not all of them are as imaginary as others, and some have actually been taught in classes in college programs in official “and mongrel” schools. An expansiveness fills the volume, even when the courses offered have a touch of our 21st century despair to them; Sprague must have felt like, oh who was it put out that “curriculum of the soul” and assigned all his favorite poets to writer on all those topics in the 1970s? Anyhow I think you get the gist. OK, not all of the contributions are of equal value, but I can see myself as an eternal student making use of them all for my own edification. And if I ever teach a poetry course I’ll be thinking primarily not of my own students, but of how to make my syllabus thrilling enough to get into Sprague 2.0.

Nicholas James Whittington | Slough | Bird & Beckett | 2010

I read the whole book several times and only now, as I struggle to type out the author’s name and the name of his book for the demanding readers of “Attention Span” have I realized that the book is not called Slouch, but Slough. It is the sort of California-landscape poetry, honed and polished to a few memorable lines per page, that I think of as the province of sloughmaster Joseph Massey of Arcata, but no, in fact it is written by someone totally different, and someone with his own sort of dreamy and visionary consciousness, a man with more air in his slough, with more than a trace of Beat DNA in his blood. And Jabès too. It is a wellshaped book, not quite small enough to fit in your hip pocket, but you could slip it into a trenchcoat pocket without protest and with a certain synchronicity. “Tell me where you live,” Whittington writes, “light’s particles shall settle in/ troughs of your voice.” I’m saying he ain’t no slouch.

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Kevin Killian is a San Francisco writer  His books include Bedrooms Have Windows, Shy, Little Men, Arctic Summer, Argento Series, I Cry Like a Baby, and Action Kylie.  His new book of stories is called Impossible Princess (from City Lights Books).

Killian’s Attention Span for 2010200920072006200520042003. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Paul Stephens

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Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith, eds. | Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing | Northwestern | 2011

For me this was the year of the conceptual, as the following titles indicate.

Craig Dworkin | The Perverse Library | Information as Material | 2010

Use with caution: if you’re a small press bibliophile, this book may do serious damage to your book budget. This could be the most compelling survey to date of Anglo-American small press poetry publishing since 1970. Even if you don’t necessarily have a specialized interest in knowing precisely what the Constrained Balks Press of Toronto was publishing in 2002, you’ll enjoy The Perverse Library’s truly rad(ical) introduction.

Simon Morris | Getting Inside Jack Kerouac’s Head | Information as Material | 2010

Much more is going on here than may at first appear. Encountering GIJKH sent me into an all-night typing frenzy, during which I wrote a twelve page critical account of the book in relation to the complex textual and legal histories of On the Road. And you thought On the Road was just a bestselling novel about homosocial desire…

Rachel Haidu | The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers, 1964-1976 | MIT | 2010

Everyone I know is either overemployed or underemployed, which makes this overview particularly timely. Here you will find an institutional critique of the post-Fordist art economy to last a lifetime.

Tan Lin | Various Cumbersome but Ingenious Titles | Various Presses | 2007-2011

Tan Lin may be our greatest living bard of the infosphere. He is so prodigious and so multimediatic that it would inimical to his project to name a single title. Insomnia and the Aunt (in a handsome chapbook edition) might be the best point of entry for non-professionals, but the many offshoots of the Heath […] and Seven Controlled Vocabularies projects are all worth a skim. If you’re un(der)employed, you might want to download online versions available at lulu.com or at Aphasic Letters.

Rob Fitterman | Now We Are Friends | Truck Books | 2010

So are we going to migrate to Google+? After already having migrated from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook? The coda in particular is an important contribution to the ongoing legacy of creep lit.

W.J.T. Mitchell and Mark B.N. Hansen, eds. | Critical Terms for Media Studies | Chicago | 2010

Scholars and non-scholars alike will find this a compelling survey of new media. Don’t be deceived by the prosaic title: this is really a collection of deeply informative essays on all aspects of contemporary new media studies.

Marcus Boon | In Praise of Copying | Harvard | 2010

It’s difficult to keep up with the reams of new criticism devoted to copyright in relation to literature and the arts (Paul K. St. Amour’s exceptional Modernism and Copyright deserves special mention in this category). Boon tackles “the madness of modern, capitalist framings of property” head on. You can procure a free online copy at the Harvard University Press web site (which will look better than the versions you’ll find on library.nu or AAAAARG.org).

Philip E. Aarons and Andrew Roth, eds. | In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955 | JRP Ringier | 2010 

Literary journals could learn a lot from artists’ journals. This sumptuous collection will make your coffee table proud, as well as provide countless hours of delight and instruction.

M. NourbeSe Philip | Zong! | Wesleyan | 2008

This title briefly went out of print and jumped in price on Amazon, but fortunately it’s been reissued as an affordable paperback. No brief summary will do much to prepare you for this complex multi-generic work, which demonstrates how compelling the new conceptual/archival/procedural poetries can be in terms of content as well as form.

Ian Hamilton Finlay | Selections | California | 2011

Eagerly anticipated. Long overdue. In the meantime, I’m making due with the amazing (but out of print and expensive enough to merit inclusion in the Perverse Library) Ian Hamilton Finlay: A Visual Primer (MIT 1992).

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Paul Stephens‘s recent critical writing has appeared in Social TextRethinking MarxismOpen Letter and Postmodern Culture. He has just completed a book manuscript titled The Poetics of Information Overload: From Gertrude Stein to Conceptual Writing. He lives in New York.

Stephens’s Attention Span for 2010. Back to 2011 directory.