Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

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Archive for the ‘Attention Span 2008’ Category

Featured Title – On Spec by Tyrone Williams

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Tyrone Williams | On Spec | Omnidawn | 2008 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 3 mentions in Attention Span 2008

williams-on_specMassively riveting. A linguistic ultrasound into the innards of language. (Marcella Durand)

Cornucopia of hybrid texts. Jimmy Webb and Jacques Derrida tango on one page: “Pop ain’t s’posed to drawl and corn in the bright can’s just plain wrong.” “Derrida clarifies and develops this difference between the Platonic and Christian concepts of the soul in Chapter Three.” (Keith Tuma)

Also mentioned by Michael Kelleher.

Written by Steve Evans

June 12, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Featured Title – Let’s Not Call It Consequence by Richard Deming

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Richard Deming | Let’s Not Call It Consequence | Shearsman | 2008 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 3 mentions in Attention Span 2008

deming-consequenceIncommensurate space between the verb and the noun. Whatever we dream, whatever we group by words. (Patrick Pritchett)

Also mentioned by Joel Bettridge and Michael Kelleher.

Written by Steve Evans

June 12, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Featured Title – Human Resources by Rachel Zolf

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Rachel Zolf | Human Resources | Coach House | 2007 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 3 mentions in Attention Span 2008

zolf-resourcesThe back cover suggests reading this book as “the creative potential of salvage” and that’s a pretty good description. This book has a pissed-off ironic tone that reveals how junk-language permeates our everyday life, and there’s no redemption: “Our abstractions stink of pure gibberish.” Ain’t that the truth! This book is definitely not wallowing in abstractions – which is very refreshing. (Kristin Prevallet)

Like spam but better, Human Resources reworks the junk language of the internet to bring to the surface it’s conflicted relationship to desire. On the one hand, spam is work written by a bot. On the other hand, spam is work written to be an intrusion in lives of people who are not bots: to spark the reader’s interest with its outrageous subject-heading or its surprising collage of often-sexualized language. Zolf uses this language to write a book not written by a bot, a book about desire as articulated by a person who speaks the language of spam, a language which is not necessarily rational, but which as immediate as a Jaguar eating a man’s face (as seen in Apocalypto). This book is spazzy, surprising and over-the-top. Since I only like things that are over-the-top, I like this book. (Steven Zultanski)

Also mentioned by Joel Bettridge.

Written by Steve Evans

June 12, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Featured Title – The Age of Briggs & Stratton by Peter Culley

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Peter Culley | The Age of Briggs & Stratton | New Star | 2008 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 3 mentions in Attention Span 2008

culley-briggsMomentum, ease, and a gift for gab are never sufficient for a book to be as enjoyable as this one. But when the poet is also a collector and historian of minor experience, these qualities begin to seem pretty foolproof. “A walk / on gilded splinters / in terrycloth / slippers,” with birdsong loud and clear when the TV is turned off. (Benjamin Friedlander)

A poem or series of poems that here, in its second “installment”—the mind behind the writing is too restless and indefatigable and curious for the word—seems suddenly and absolutely capable of most defiantly rippling out through the various juggernauts of the twentieth century’s collapse and into the present to encompass the brute history and giddy trials of a whole finicky continent, and beyond. Culley explores recent (and not-so) American history with the tamp’d down precision of Lorine Niedecker, the rumpled reach of Charles Olson. (John Latta)

Plowing on Sunday. Plowing North America. (Michael Scharf)

Written by Steve Evans

June 12, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Featured Title – Landscapes of Dissent by Jules Boykoff and Kaia Sand

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Jules Boykoff and Kaia Sand | Landscapes of Dissent: Guerilla Poetry and Public Space | Palm | 2008 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 3 mentions in Attention Span 2008

boykoff-sand-dissentField manual for the practice of not sitting on hands, pitched against “the almost imperceptible social octave known as normality.” (Rodney Koeneke)

The smartest demonstration and open invitation I’ve seen of what a poetics off the page and engaged with the world does, can and might look like. (Tom Orange)

Also mentioned by Joel Bettridge.

Written by Steve Evans

June 9, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Featured Title – Broken World by Joseph Lease

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Joseph Lease | Broken World | Coffee House | 2007 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 3 mentions in Attention Span 2008


I’ve carried this book from country to country for the last year and a half, picking it up whenever I need to think—or rather hear—the poem. Lease has something of Palmer in him, something of Creeley, a bit of Spicer. The argument of the book is chilling, and sad, and somehow, redemptive. I’m into reading books where I actually feel a poet on the other side, the flesh & blood one, who knows when to cast identity upon the page like a stone tossed into the lake. I read a book like this and I want to borrow some of his moves and drink a glass of Merlot. (Dawn Michelle Baude)

This is the first Joseph Lease book I’ve read. He’s got a funny way with desperation and anger that I appreciate. (Rae Armantrout)

Also mentioned by G.C. Waldrep.

Written by Steve Evans

June 9, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Featured Title – The Nancy Book by Joe Brainard

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Joe Brainard | The Nancy Book | Siglio | 2008 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 4 mentions in Attention Span 2008

brainard-nancyA much-anticipated event, heightened even further for me by getting to see the exhibit at Colby College, Maine, at which many of these works were on display, earlier this summer. (K. Silem Mohammad)

“I have burned down the sky.” (C.E. Putnam)

Also mentioned by Richard Deming and Gina Myers,

Written by Steve Evans

June 5, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Featured Title – PPL in a Depot by Gary Sullivan

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Gary Sullivan | PPL in a Depot | Roof | 2008 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 3 mentions in Attention Span 2008

sullivan-pplGary Sullivan demonstrates that free speech is all about hurting people, wanting to hurt people, and other illusions of agency. These plays show us how much it matters by being brutally honest about how little it matters; the formal care and attention that goes into these collages weights even the lightest, most banal statements with foreboding emblematic import. (Stan Apps)

Brecht shutting cell phone to mustachio Mozart with Caucasian circle chalk. “Between the dark and the thyme soufflé … mmmm …” (Rodney Koeneke)

Also mentioned by Michael Kelleher.

Written by Steve Evans

June 4, 2009 at 8:56 am

Featured Title – The Missing Occasion of Saying Yes by Benjamin Friedlander

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Benjamin Friedlander | The Missing Occasion of Saying Yes | Subpress | 2007 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 3 mentions in Attention Span 2008

friedlander-missingLovely music of what happens, gracefully. (Simon Schuchat)

Transatlantic two-step for treated Bösendorfer. My feet slip over at ends of lines, like when you trip in dreams. Your catching yourself’s the poem. (Rodney Koeneke)

Overviews from two of our most important poets at mid-career, presenting new opportunities to see where they’ve come from and where they’ve now brought us. (Tom Orange, reviewing this title along with Laura Moriarty’s A Semblance)

Written by Steve Evans

June 3, 2009 at 11:25 am

Featured Title – What’s In Store by Trevor Joyce

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Trevor Joyce | What’s in Store | The Gig/New Writers’ Press | 2007 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 4 mentions in Attention Span 2008

joyce-storeIf verse is a turning, the short poems here have some of the tightest corners on the road. New poems as if carved in stone; old folksongs from Ireland, Hungary and all over the map made new; birdsong collaged. A big book of lyric poetry plus: “not all / plants / are alike // some are / astringent / some are / salty // some sour / some sweet // some men / are short / -lived / some long // some ugly / others fortunate // weak strong / stupid clever / poor rich // was it / brevity / you wanted?” (Keith Tuma)

This year’s discovery. Thanks, Nate. (Mark Truscott)

Reading around in its strange and bold and marvelous pieces, pieces that seemingly sprout out of nowhere, that exhibit incredible variety, that often enough seem spoke by ancient voices up out of the boggy penetrable earth, I think how what one cannot speak of, one calls genius, or quotes too lengthily. Joyce’s range is phenomenal. The book opens with a lovely set of tiny things, the “Folk Songs from the Finno-Ugric and Turkic Languages,” work’d up out some rudimentary literal versions. Here’s one:

A birch tree
bends on the hill.
For a plough, girls chop
a handle.

That moustache,
is it your first?
For caps, girls braid
fine tassels.

Which seems to catch that particular moment of adolescence when the girls’re outstripping the boys and there’s a combo of taunting and impatience and self-reliance going on amongst them. Too, Joyce reworks a series he calls “Love Songs from a Dead Tongue,” out of fifteenth c. (and earlier) Irish originals, and a series of “some of the surviving poems by Juan Chi (pinyin Ruan Ji, 210-263).” The upshot of the threading through of translations and versions is a splendid estrangedness, where the alien flips into customary, and one’s happiest reading the song of a horse:

How happy the life of a horse! Hey!
Till the end when they mock him
and whip him and kick him,
and for Purgatory sell him to gypsies.

Thirty years I served one man,
hauled his harness like a colt,
now I’m old I’m down and done for,
corn-stalks hurt my gums.

Smiths and farriers rot in hell!
Your tackle was the death of me,
they broke my head, they stole my skin,
now sheep dogs sniff my meat.

(John Latta)

Also mentioned by David Dowker.

Written by Steve Evans

June 2, 2009 at 2:07 pm