Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Attention Span 2012 | Vincent Katz

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Gary Snyder | The Practice of the Wild | North Point | 1990

This book opens active horizons, gives revived impetus to the obligation of living in the world as a human animal.

Samuel Beckett | Collected Poems in English & French | Grove | 1977

Queer logic; frankness; but the butt of it, gone.

Amiri Baraka | Tales of the Out & the Gone | Akashic | 2007

I love the ‘70s blaxploitation dramas—black-on-black within the white-on-black maelstrom—but there are also tender, introspective, moments; hilarious ones too, as the show-stopper (non-fiction?) account of Norman Bluhm in the Cedar Bar recounting his latest sexcapade to the amused audience of Basil King and LeRoi himself.

Danielle Dutton | Sprawl | Siglio | 2010

Sprawl is A Nest of Ninnies for whatever it is we call this decade. Written in one block, without paragraph breaks, it takes the reader on an endlessly fascinating tour inside the mind of someone living in the midst of contemporary suburbia. Need I say more? Just look out the window. But try writing that down.

Elaine Equi | Shrewcrazy | Little Caesar | 1981

I had to splurge for this classic by one of everyone’s favorite poets. It wasn’t her first, but it was published by Dennis Cooper’s Little Caesar Press, and it gives a heady whiff of that out-of-control era. Some titles: “Lonely Dagos,” “East of Nowhere,” and “What It Takes To Be A Star.” She’s got it—ooh, baby, she’s got it. The drawings, by Steven F. Giese, are perfect for the poems.

Anne Waldman | First Baby Poems | BlazeVOX | 2009

These poems are so formally and emotionally playful—they are paeans to play, and to making space for the inevitable. It is so good that BlazeVOX decided to do a new edition, with lovely George Schneeman images.

Norma Cole | Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 | City Lights | 2009

Cole’s poetry eludes definition, and this Selected reads like an entirely new book. I believe that is because she is able to pack so much information and thought and intensity into each syllable.

Jennifer Moxley | Clampdown | Flood | 2009

It’s hard to pick a favorite book of Jennifer’s, but this one arrived with the air of a classic and has only gotten more classic, and yet more experimental, as time has passed.

John Godfrey | Singles and Fives | Fewer & Further | 2011

A surprising, intimate, collection. An entr’acte. But for this poet, entr’actes are always the main deal. He keeps you smiling, and coming back for more. He’s got you where he wants you.

Barry Schwabsky | 12 Abandoned Poems | Kilmog | 2010

Schwabsky may be our most brilliant conceptual non-conceptualist. He do wear his heart on his sleeve; it just sometimes takes a while to find his sleeve. For this book, Schwabsky solicited failed or abandoned poems from poets he admired, then worked on them, nurturing them back to life. Each one does feel “in the style of,” while ultimately coming off a Schwabsky. All this doesn’t give a sense of how approachable these poems are, how mellifluous. Schwabsky is getting mellower with age; as good as he is, he hasn’t reached his vintage yet.

Stephen Motika | Western Practice | Alice James | 2012

Put it up there with Alan Gilbert’s Late In The Antenna Fields (which is on my list as well) as a beautiful example of waiting for the right moment. “Delusion’s Enclosure: On Harry Partch (1901-1974)” alone is worth the price of admission. I have heard Motika read this poem, and it is a remarkable aural experience, as well as a valuable social artifact. But more than that, it is empathic humanism, ringing loud and clear.


Vincent Katz is a poet, translator, and teacher. He is the author of eleven books of poetry and two books of translation; his criticism has been published in numerous books, catalogues, and journals. He curated an exhibition on Black Mountain College for the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and was the editor of Black Mountain College: Experiment In Art, published by MIT Press, with a second printing scheduled for Spring, 2013. He is the translator of The Complete Elegies Of Sextus Propertius (Princeton) and the author of Alcuni Telefonini, a book of poems in collaboration with painter Francesco Clemente, published by Granary Books. Katz is the publisher of the poetry and arts journal VANITAS and of Libellum books. He teaches in the MFA Program in Art Criticism and Writing at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where recently taught a course entitled “Investigating Interdisciplinarity.”

This is Vincent Katz’s first contribution to Attention Span. Back to 2012 directory.

Written by Steve Evans

September 20, 2012 at 9:00 am

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