Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Attention Span 2012 | Marjorie Welish

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Louis Armand and John Kinsella | Synopticon: A Collaborative Poetics | Literaria Pragensia | 2012

An epistolary exchange via email over a decade has allowed co-creators Armand and Kinsella to share but not merge mentalities, and the result is Synopticon, wherein panopticon is lost in the labyrinth it makes for its own escape through the exercise of stylistic thingmabobs: echo pangenesis to tachistoscope. “Nature morte with arcane substances” begins thus: “periphrasis / of the outwardly revolving” “not a trace / no longer qv. lixiviate.” And there you have it.

Sean Bonney | Baudelaire in English | Veer | 2008

Collaged poetry is mostly tedious, in my view, because its practice is assumed to produce a kind of instant avant-garde; but assuming that any cut is radical—yet again—is not at all the case with this book, an assumption assiduously avoided by Sean Bonney, who translates Baudelaire and subjects the translations to concrete splicing, rotations and overlays so intensively that material foregrounding makes for a babel of the letter. The reader and rewriter are textual producers anew.

Judith Goldman | l.b.; or, catenaries | Krupskaya | 2011

If there were ever a book in which the sentence is held in suspicion, this is it. Remarkable here is that l.b. undermines the sentence as an instrumentality of imperial authority wielded on behalf of the polis. By depriving it of propositional force through every rhetorical torque and linguistic rupture you can think of—that is, without resorting to parody—Goldman puts received ideas of sentences in situations over which they have no sway.

Stéphane Mallarmé, trans. Peter Manson | The Poems in Verse | Miami UP | 2012

A sustained grace characterizes these translations, relying on the resources of the alexandrine yet also on the fluidity of assonance and consonance wherever possible. Then, too, Anglo-Saxon gravity is diminished in light of an American sort of plainness that alleviates the French lilt. With these tactics Manson has allowed the Symbolist poet to recreate his own surrounds, cerebral and febrile, and so allow us to participate in Mallarmé’s forms of thought. Thanks to the fine poet Peter Manson .

Jonathan Monroe | Demosthenes’ Legacy | Ahadada | 2009

Prose poems from A to Z pose questions, both in the manner of finding one’s voice and entering into dialogue with oneself, about the nature of language and its relation to public speech. The figure of Demosthenes is the pretext . “P” is for “Podium” So Monroe writes: “‘What could be worse?’ And closed his eyes. That was the signal: ‘Start again.’” This extremely vexed speaking voice is given a thorough workout in the poetics advanced through impediment and aspiration. And stops.

J. H. Prynne | Sub Songs | Barque | 2010

The lyric is not an obvious choice for economic theory, but Jeremy Prynne has engaged it in a way both direct and innovative: by treating the lyric as a discourse at the threshold of human hearing but below the threshold of human understanding. Messages about the over- and under-estimation of value and worth compete for our attention as bits and bursts drawn from commerce and literature interfere with each other’s zones, in a stratified field of rich linguistic construction.

Amelia Rosselli, trans. Jennifer Scappettone | Locomotrix | Chicago | 2012

The loss of liberty for Europe, signaled through the assassination of Carlo Rosselli and Nello Rosselli in Fascist Italy, finds a poetics of profoundly de-centered resistance in Amelia Rosselli’s poetry, here edited and translated and given context both in being seen alongside Rosselli’s prose and in the introduction written to situate Rosselli’s writing in her family’s special place in Italian cultural history. Indispensable for modernist studies.

Daniel Tiffany | Privado | Action | 2010

At the close of Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck, in the aftermath of murder, is Wozzeck’s child playing in innocence of this, singing “hop hop, hop hop.” So, too, to take Privado’s doggerel on the level of parody, in which our avidity for popular culture has left us marches and nursery rhymes and little else, would be to miss the deepest and most despairing of cultural ironies whose enactment is offstage.

Mac Wellman | Left Glove | Solid Objects | 2011

From the playwright comes finger puppetry in the form of a play in which, as the author writes “A chorus of gloves enacts the Ballad of the lost LEFT GLOVE.” But whether or not a dramatization of voices, Left Glove remains first and foremost a vehicle for word play drawn out and attaining to sound play.

Tyrone Williams | Howell | Atelos | 2011

Of the many things to admire in Williams’ poetry, one is his entirely unforced verbal experiment that gives full scope to a cultural critique of master/slave polarity. The poetics of Black Arts Movement and LangPo inform and test the other’s assumptions in this latest book as before, and as before the reader should expect no crude ideological instrumentality but tact in the delivery of sharp words—these put in the service of deterritorializing the given language.


Marjorie Welish’s latest book of poetry is In the Futurity Lounge / Asylum for Indeterminacy.

This is Marjorie Welish’s first contribution to Attention Span. Back to 2012 directory.

Written by Steve Evans

September 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm

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