Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

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Posts Tagged ‘Aram Saroyan

Attention Span 2011 | Tim Conley

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Roland Barthes, trans. Kate Briggs | The Preparation of the Novel | Columbia | 2011

Not a guide to writing a novel, but rather an extended, meticulous meditation (these are Barthes’s teaching notes) on getting ready to write a novel—and if that sounds more than a little Proustian, it is, it is!

Robert Duncan| The H.D. Book| California | 2011

“The crux for the poet is to make real what is only real in a heightened sense.” Duncan making it real. It’s about time this came into print (handsomely so and well-edited)… now if only Lisa Jarnot’s biography would likewise materialize.

Adrian Johns | Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age | Norton | 2010

A. David Moody | Ezra Pound: Poet: A Portrait of the Man and His Work, Volume 1: The Young Genius 1885-1920 | Oxford | 2007

George Oppen | New Collected Poems | New Directions | 2008

I have come late to Oppen and am staggered, staggering through him. “No ideas but in things” has been translated, transmuted into the not dissimilar but no less vibrant “no narrative but ourselves.” The world slows with this reading.

Álvaro Mutis, trans. Edith Grossman| The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll | NYRB Classics | 2002

Frances Stonor Saunders | The Woman Who Shot Mussolini | Metropolitan | 2010

Is it the (indelible) mark of insanity to attempt the assassination of Il Duce (who had such a knack for surviving many such attempts)? Besides unfolding a fascinating history, Saunders casts a powerful light on the disturbingly habitual institutionalization of differently-minded modern women.

Aram Saroyan | Complete Minimal Poems | Ugly Duckling | 2007

To my mind, the missing link between Louis Zukofsky and bpNichol. “Poem Recognizing Someone In The Street” has become one of my mental tattoos.

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Tim Conley is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Brock University in Canada. His most recent books are Nothing Could Be Further (2011), a collection of short fiction, and the anthology Burning City: Poems of Metropolitan Modernity (co-edited with Jed Rasula, forthcoming in 2012).

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

Attention Span 2010 – Craig Dworkin

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George Albon | Step | Post-Apollo | 2006

A book-length meditation on the moment between one foot leaving the earth and its back-again fall, or what Marcel Duchamp termed the “inframince”:

“le bruit ou la musique faits par un pantalon de velours côtelé comme celui ci quand on le fait bouger [the noise or music made by corduroy pants like these rubbing when one moves]”; pantalons de velours—/ leur sifflotement (dans la) march par/ frottement des 2 jambes est une/ séparation infra-mince signalée/ par le son [velvet trousers—/ their whistling sound (in) walking by/ brushing of the 2 legs is an/ infra-mince separation signaled/ by sound].”

Following the lead of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Samuel Beckett, and Bruce Nauman, Albon puts the locomotive gesture in the service of philosophy. It’s been out a few years now, but I just came across this book and it’s the most intellectually exciting and sonically exacting poetry I have read in a decade. Absolutely thrilling.

Christian Bök | The Xenotext Experiment | manuscript | forthcoming

I have seen the future of writing, and its name is Deinococcus radiodurans. Bök has encrypted alphabetic letters as amino acids, writing a poem in the medium of genetic nucleotides inscribed in an animate biological substrate. With that sequence implanted in its DNA, the bacterium, through gene expression, manufactures a protein which can then be decoded in turn, using the same cipher, as an equally legible poem. It is not surprising that Bök has set himself an Herculean formal task and a nearly impossible lettristic puzzle. Nor is it surprising that he solved it with aplomb. But what will shock you is the degree to which the alphabetic code generates a style of wispy late-romantic lyricism (with a Steinian twist at the end).

Clark Coolidge | The Act of Providence | Combo | 2010

Just enough sense to encourage referential pursuits, but not enough to let semantics get the upper hand in the contest of percussive sound patterns and the grammatical slap of words in willful categorematic insubordination. Speed along the I-95 overpass of phrasal rhythm (“The city lulls you/ as you farm on by”) or settle down in the Armory district of documentary polaroids (“Having a good time? Lock right down”). Either way, “Providence rates.”

Michael Cross | In Felt Treeling: a libretto | Chax | 2008

This little book suggests tracery in both sense of the word: a delicate interweaving of open-work lines as well as phrases traced from archaic sources. With syllabically based sonic densities and fleeting gossamer hints of sylvan drama, Cross’ perspective shifts between the mottled-shade expanse of the forest and the hardwood singularity of every individual tree. Exquisite.

Larry Eigner, ed. Curtis Faville and Robert Grenier | The Collected Poems of Larry Eigner | Stanford | 2010

I have to confess that I never really understood all the fuss about Eigner. But then, every once in a while, I catch a glimpse. Like the poem first published in Bob Perelman’s journal Hills (Number 4; May, 1977): “Whoppers   Whoppers   Whoppers!/ memory fails/ these are the days.” I think of it every time I pass a Burger King. Here, that poem is number 952, on page 1267 of Volume III, leaving another 825 poems to go before the end of Volume IV. A luxury production (each book has the heft and gloss of a volume of the Oxford English Dictionary), the set is marketed for institutional sales. Put in an acquisition request with your local library.

Graham Foust | To Anacreon in Heaven | Minus A | 2010

Discursive, chatty, and topical by Foust’s standards, To Anacreon in Heaven is more direct and less wryly torqued than his previous books. But all the pain and precision are there in full. An alternative “Star Spangled Banner,” with an ethics of enmeshment and implication in place of bellicose nationalist fealty, the poem commemorates the battle between a subject who knows it can neither genuinely connect with others nor retreat to an easy unaffected detachment. The work, accordingly, is not Anacreontic in the traditional sense; if this is a drinking song, it has the bitter taste of necessity rather than cheer—“and that’s a vodka bottle full of quiet bees.” Every sentence goes straight into the stanza, but cannot leave the stanza to itself. Signature design by Jeff Clark.

Robert Grenier | Sentences | Whale Cloth | 1978

Long out of print and exceedingly rare, a score or so of Grenier’s legendary boxes were recently discovered; they had been safely stored inside Michael Waltuch’s printing press and completely forgotten for decades. Each of the 500 cards in Sentences offers an understated epiphany—a quick glimpse of the enlightenment that can only come from sustained meditative attention to the tantric forms of the individual alphabetic letters that filter, distort, and permit the linguistic environment of our everyday experiences. Shuffle ’em up and deal ’em out. The few remaining rediscovered copies are priced for accession by library special collections; see whalecloth.org for details.

P. Inman | now/time | Bronze Skull | 2006

Two volumes of Inman’s collected poetry have been announced by James Davies’ imprint If p Then q; for now, it’s time to puzzle over this performance score. The title translates Walter Benjamin’s keyword Jetztzeit: the pressing immediacy of the present moment—or, more striking, the snapshot image of a past moment grasped with all the fullness of the present in an interrupting flash of profane illumination—isolated from the causal narratives constructed by conventional historical views. In Inman’s text, intersecting lines enact the concept at a syntactic level since each word is freed from the subordinations of grammar and separated from neighboring words by full stops. With “time. occupied. of. my. language.” in this way, words—for a moment—can be seen to be replete without the buttressing hierarchies of semantics. A word, in now/time constitutes a lexical plenum of sound and materiality: “a Nunc-stans,” as Hobbes writes in the Leviathan, “which neither they, nor any else understand.”

Kenneth Irby | The Intent On: Collected Poems, 1962-2006 | North Atlantic | 2009

Irby’s Collected is the secret consistory located somewhere between Placitas and Berkeley, somewhere between intellect and orexis, somewhere between Olson and Ponge, where Peter Inman and John Taggart hold council in lyric tribunal. One would do well to pay the kind of attention to the corpus of Irby’s poetry that it pays to the embodied, numinous world around us.

Joseph Massey | Exit North | BookThug | 2010

Microtonal miniatures from a poet able to gauge the precise, graduated degrees of catenarian variance in the tension of the simplest sentences.

Aram Saroyan | Complete Minimal Poems | Ugly Duckling | 2008

Not truly “complete” and certainly not “minimal,” but completely provocative and prescient works of minimalist poetry (UDP must have intended the title in the topological sense of “complete minimal surfaces,” such as catenoids and helicoids). They may have mean curvatures of zero, but the intensities generated by rotating one of Saroyan’s single words can feel infinite. Challenging Clark Coolidge’s conviction that there cannot be a one-word poem, Saroyan moves between visual poetry, the Bolinas goof, and steely proto-conceptual writing. I always hear Robert Grenier’s “JOE JOE” [from Sentences, see above] as a reply to Saroyan’s “Coffee Coffee.”

More Craig Dworkin here. His Attention Span for 2009, 2007. Back to directory.

Attention Span 2009 – CE Putnam

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Peter Cully | The Age of Briggs & Stratton | New Star Books | 2008

Another set of walks around Hammertown with Mr. Cully. Nature and machine in conflict and decay & Smithsonian bird found-poems from 1910-1954.

& even when they make it over the line

the berm is not permanent

and the fuckraking leafblowers

papercut the air into orange froth.

Mel Nichols | Catalytic Exteriorization Phenomenon | Edge Books | 2009

Fragmented lyric float bubbles: Day Poems. Step carefully.

“do the fish know they are not drowning but in dream photograph with dense knowing”

Takashi Hiraide, trans. Sawako Nakayasu | For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut | New Directions | 2008

111 prose poems (many in a commuter/subway context). I love living in its strange beautiful world. I couldn’t help but think of Yoshida Kenko’s “Essays in Idleness.”

“The soap that transforms in the hand of silence into a living thing. The railway where the claw marks of those approaching death lather fragrantly upon our skin”

Ruth S. Freed & Stanley A. Freed | Ghosts: Life and Death in North India | Anthropological Paper of The American Museum of Natural History | 1993

This anthropological study utilizes an unusual method for naming project informants, resulting in lines like:

“Curmudgeon, who, like all men in the village was much concerned about the perpetuation of the male line of descent, blamed the death of Little Boy on his levirate spouse, Scapegoat.”

Carlos Reygada, dir. | Stellet licht | Mantarraya Producciones | 2007

A big screen is a must for this one. I had the chance to see it at the NW Film Forum earlier this year. This film tells the story of a love-triangle in a secluded Mennonite community in Chihuahua, Mexico. The film is gorgeous to look at and it moves at a very very slow & quiet pace (watching a sunrise/sunset speed), but it builds and builds and storms. The lack of a musical soundtrack & great sound editing/effects (crunching snow, an unnerving ticking of a kitchen clock, etc.) add tension / agitation. Unforgettable ending. Dialogue in German and Spanish w/ English Subtitles.

Endless Boogie | Focus Level | No Quarter Records | 2008

I STILL can’t stop listening to these NYC 50-somethings as they punch me out with “Safe as Milk” era Captain Beefheart vocals (a low-key growllllllly mumble rather than annoying) riding atop an “endless boogie” of psychedelic blues jams. Tough, rough and raw. Fire up the grill. We are “Smoking Figs In The Yard.”

Joshua Beckman | Take It | Wave Books | 2009

Starts like this:

Dear Angry Mob,

Oak Wood Trail is closed to you. We

feel it unnecessary to defend our position,

for we have always thought of ourselves

(and rightly, I venture) as a haven for

those seeking a quiet and solitary

contemplation. We are truly sorry

for the inconvenience.

Signed,

Ranger Lil

Portable Shrines Shows | Seattle, WA | Various Locations (Funhouse/Comet Tavern)

Portable Shrines is a new “psychedelic music” collective that has just started putting on shows and experimental sound events in the Seattle Area. It’s a homegrown thing, sheets on the walls for projections, etc. (really enjoyed “Yoko Ono’s Fly flim during the Oko Yono set the other week—and Treetarantula and AFCGT were pretty good too). Anyway, haven’t been as excited about a Seattle scene since pre-Nevermind Nirvana. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

Aram Saroyan | Complete Minimal Poems | Ugly Duckling Presse | 2007

“typewriter kittens”

Kenneth Patchen | Hallelujah Anyway | New Directions | 1966

Maybe it’s the effect of living with a two-year-old, but I’m especially enjoying the curly words and crazy critters in these “picture poems.” A nice old edition. The kind that you can still find (sometimes) in U-District used bookshops.

A Geo-Bibliography of Anomalies: Primary Access to Observations of UFOs, Ghosts, and Other Mysterious Phenomena Compiled by George M. Eberhart | Greenwood Press | 1980

My selection for reference book of the year (1980). Organized by geographic regions of North America it documents over 22,000 separate events in 10,500 geographic locations with a Subject AND an Observer Index.

Erratic Starfish, 261

Moving lamp fixture, 611

Mystery balls of fiber, 34

Phantom cabin, 574

Pink squirrel, 839

Water forecasting rock, 498

Weeping mounted deer’s head, 497, 865

More CE Putnam here.

Attention Span – Mark Truscott

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Laynie Browne | Daily Sonnets | Counterpath Press | 2007

Courageously and delightfully open.

Donato Mancini | Hell Passport No. 22 | Perro Verlag | 2007

Like much of Mancini’s work, this circuitry of messy tracings forces us to wonder not just how we read but what reading might be.

Carl Andre | Cuts: Texts 1959-2004 | MIT | 2005

I’m not too hot on Andre’s poetry, but I suspect pieces such as “Anaxial Symmetry” and “The Dialectic Between Two States” will keep me going for years.

Aram Saroyan | Collected Minimal Poems | Ugly Duckling Presse | 2007

Not only a music heard, but seen.

Derek Beaulieu | Flatland | Information as Material | 2007

Bullseye.

Jessica Wyman, ed. | Pro Forma: Language/Text/Visual Art | YYZBooks | 2007

Simon Glass’s annotated translation of Genesis 11:1-9 is worth the price of admission on its own.

Jordan Scott | blert | Coach House | 2008

I haven’t actually read this for a little while, but it was finally published in the spring. Go read it.

Trevor Joyce | What’s in Store | NWP & The Gig | 2007

This year’s discovery. Thanks, Nate.

Angela Carr | Ropewalk | Snare | 2006

Reads a bit like a grad school creative thesis, which it is, but glimmers dazzle.

Clint Burnham | Smoke Show | Arsenal Pulp Press | 2005

Holy shit.

Stephen Collis | Phyllis Webb and the Common Good: Poetry/Anarchy/Abstraction | Talonbooks | 2007

An illuminating reaquaintance with an important foremother. I loved The Commons too.

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More Mark Truscott here.