Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Attention Span 2012 | David Lau

leave a comment »

Karen Villeda, Myriam Moscona, Mónica Nepote, Pura Lopez Colome, Carla Faesler, Claudina Domingo, trans. Jen Hofer | En las maravillas | Libros Antena | 2012

Hand-sewn chapbook of recent Jen Hofer translations from the Spanish (en face) of contemporary Mexican poets. Ekphrastic work produced in conjunction with In Wonder: the Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, an exhibition that recently concluded at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Hofer also curates art reproductions in the short marvel of a book, including work by Jennifer Tamayo, Renee Gladman, Jessi Wahnetah, and Kaia Sand among others.

Jeffrey Yang | Vanishing-Line | Graywolf | 2011

Second collection by the mercurial poet, editor, essayist, translator. Comprised of seven variable long poems including history of the lost Alexandrine variety. An expansive, textured departure in each section. A diagrammatic quotation aesthetic worthy of words themselves.

Jasper Bernes | We Are Nothing and So Can You | Tenured Ninja | 2012

Chapbook of poems or a section from an ongoing serial poem. Meditative, cerebral, political, even “post-human PCP poems” that occupy everything. Wittily and emotionally infused with the left movement or communization tendency in Oakland before, during, and after Occupy.

Ondine Chavoya and Rita Gonzalez, eds. | Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987 | Hatje Cantz Verlag | 2011

Catalog for the much heralded Los Angeles County Museum of Art show, Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987, itself a long overdue tribute to experimental collective of Chicano artists, Gronk, Patssi Valdez, Willie F. Herron III, Harry Gamboa Jr. The four punk spirits, who famously turned LACMA into their own readymade by tagging it, have their work across many media reproduced and scrupulously explicated in scholarly essays by the editors and others. For Chavoya and Gonzalez, a life’s work.

Rod Smith | You Bête | Abraham Lincoln Books | 2011

More from the master of the stoniest of high Flarf (“I like to read chihuahua porn and watch abortion stories”). This chapbook is a high-water mark of the insurgency.

Norman O. Brown | The Challenge of Islam: Lectures | New Pacific | 2009

Treatment of the world-historical faith from a world-civilizational perspective. Transcript of a series of lectures given at UC Santa Cruz in 1980. Religious history, literary analysis of the Qur’an, explanation of the Sunni / Shi’ite split, in addition to a passage on revolutionary and political Islam. Its task is nothing less than the antidote for American ignorance.

Evie Shockley | Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry | Iowa | 2011

Sagacious and challenging essays on a range specific works by “renegade” black poets, from Gwendolyn Brooks’s “The Anniad” to Will Alexander’s Exobiology as Goddess.

Cole Swensen | Gravesend | California | 2012

Poet of diverse topics, Swensen lets the ghosts descend. Specters and ghosts haunted modernity and here appear in an array of forms: the 1890s Native American Ghost Dance alongside Tolstoy in one poem. Interviews about ghosts layered into several other poems.

Nathaniel Mackey | From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate | New Directions | 2010

Collects the first three volumes of Mackey’s ongoing epistolary novel about a Los Angeles-based experimental jazz ensemble. There’s nothing quite like it. Includes a corresponding discography of considerable note as well.

‘Annah Sobelman | In the Bee Latitudes | California | 2012

“A Physics of Desire” as the title of one poem puts it in this strong collection of visually evocative, phenomenologically themed, and syntactically innovative poems.

Sandra Simonds | Mother Was a Tragic Girl | Cleveland State | 2012

The rule here is imaginative leap, register shift—and, despite it all, consistency of voice. Maternal tragedy and sacrifice are flattened out and effaced by a blank or toneless irony: “Buddha, bring me another / slice of pineapple.”

Michael Palmer | Thread | New Directions | 2011

The master of shadows and indeterminate latitudes himself has produced a remarkable book of short poems and sequences. The shipwreck of beautiful agitation seen serenely from below disaster, beyond the future. “Stanzas in Counterlight,” as subtitle of the title sequence has it.

Barbara Jane Reyes | Diwata | BOA | 2010

Third collection and follow up to her acclaimed Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish). A departure from that work, but one full of continuities: including a polyglot’s music, performance swagger, stories, and songs. Juan Felipe Herrera refers to the volume’s “dialectics and elements.” Book as a whole reads like a creation story, a distinctive genesis of motifs from cultural and political history.

Geoff Eley | Forging Democracy: The History of the Left in Europe, 1850-2000 | Oxford | 2002

Sweeping left-Social-Democratic account of the history of the European workers’ movement. Revolutionary movements, modern state formation, party development, and the historical dialectic of revolution and reform all teased out by largely impartial analysis. Emphasis on the situation of women and feminism in the workers’ movement.

Steve Wright | Storming Heaven: Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism | Pluto | 2002

Something like a history of the post-war extra-parliamentary left in Italy. Antonio Negri is the most familiar figure in this work on the historical and theoretical situation of Workerism or Operaismo.

Benjamin Noys, ed. | Communization and Its Discontents: Contestation, Critique, and Contemporary Struggles | Minor Compositions | 2011

A stimulating if uneven collection of theoretical essays clustered around the communization tendency in contemporary radical politics. Notable contributions from Theorie Communiste, Jasper Bernes, Maya Gonzalez, Evan Calder Williams, and Endnotes.


Poet, essayist and film-maker David Lau is the coeditor of Lana Turner: A Magazine of Poetry and Opinion.

This is his first contribution to Attention Span. Return to 2012 directory.

Written by Steve Evans

November 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: