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Posts Tagged ‘Christian Hawkey

Attention Span 2011 | Marjorie Perloff

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Caroline Bergvall | Meddle English | Nightboat | 2011

The title poem is Bergvall’s brilliantly satiric version of Chaucer, anatomizing the current socio-cultural scene, but this rich collection also includes the experimental verse of “Goan Atom,” and (my favorite) “Cropper,” Bergvall’s multilingual exploration of sedimentation—of “borders, rules, boundaries, edges, limbos at historical breaches.”

Craig Dworkin | Motes | Roof | 2011

Minimalist procedural lyrics that uncover the secrets within given words and morphemes. Dworkin’s version of Duchamp’s With Hidden Noise, it’s a totally delightful and pleasurable but also intellectually rigorous book.

Peter Gizzi | Threshold Songs | Wesleyan | 2011

This may be Gizzi’s best book to date: the mood is elegiac (the poet’s brother Michael had just died) but also jaunty: whenever the darkness becomes too hard to bear, a colloquial—even funnynote brings us back to the everyday world: “Don’t back away. Turtle into it / with your little force.”

Christian Hawkey | Ventrakl | Ugly Duckling | 2010

Hawkey’s surreal lyric sequence, prompted by the life and work of Georg Trakl. Using a great variety of verse forms and prose interludes, Hawkey produces a terrifying and moving poem about legacy, memory, and the stories we tell ourselves so as to avoid self-recognition.

Heinrich Heine, trans. into Portuguese and with an introd. by André Vallias | Heine, hein? – Poeta dos contrários | Sao Paulo: Perspectiva | 2011

Heine, one of the great lyric poets of all time, is still very little known in the US and translations have been partial and problematic. But Vallias, himself a fine poet, has produced an amazing book, including all the major poems as well as essays, letters, and bibliographical material. My Portuguese is very rudimentary but I marvel at what can—and is being—done elsewhere to bring one nation’s poetry into the present of another’s.

Christian Marclay, dir. | The Clock | a film | 2010

To my mind, the finest conceptual work ever produced: this 24-hour montage of film clips played in real time (featuring an infinite variety of clocks, watches, and verbal signals indicating that exact time in each shot) is endlessly enchanting—a Waiting for Godot for the 21st Century where we are always waiting—for the event that never happens and which is immediately eclipsed and displaced by another event. Can life be this dramatic? The Clock is nerve-wracking, funny, moving: and when you come out of the gallery (I saw about 8 hours worth at LACMA) you think you’re still in the picture, about to witness the bank robbery or the wake-up call, even as the music bleeds unaccountably from one scene into the next.

Vanessa Place | Tragodía: 1: Statement of Facts | Blanc | 2010

This compendium of court testimonies and police reports—all of them taken from Place’s own files (she is an appellate criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles) has raised enormous controversy: Place has been accused of being soft on rapists. But the fact of this Statement of Facts is that she has simply arranged her material so as to tell it like it is—no sides taken, no points made, and yet an unforgettable image of how events in the contemporary city play themselves out. The book reads like a Henry James novel: what, we ask at every turn, really happened?

Srikanth Reddy | Voyager | California | 2011

Reddy’s writing-through of Kurt Waldheim’s memoir (3 times in 3 different ways) is a devastating exposé of political mendacity and maudlin self-justification. It’s a brilliantly rendered work that literally “speaks for itself.”

Jonathan Stalling | Yingelishi | Counterpath | 2011

Yingelishi (pronounced yeen guh lee shr) sounds like an accented pronunciation of the word “English,” even as, for the Chinese reader, its characters spell out “chanted songs, beautiful poetry.” Spalding combines homophonic translatation, with the dictionary meaning of the different phrases as well as their Chinese characters so as to demonstrate what the new language of some 350 million people looks and feels like. Comes with a website so that we can hear these sounds spoken and chanted. It’s a brilliant tour de force.

Uljana Wolf, trans. Susan Bernofsky | False Friends | Ugly Duckling | 2011

These DICHTionary poems are based on so-called “false friends” in German and English—words that look and/or sound familiar in both languages but differ in meaning.  The comedy that results is full of surprises—a lovely sequence for our multilingual moment. And Ugly Duckling’s production is, as always, a pleasure.

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Susan Howe | THAT THIS | New Directions | 2010

I list this last and separately because Howe’s very important book won the Bollingen Prize and I was one of three judges so my comment on it is a part of the award citation.

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Marjorie Perloff‘s most recent book is Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century. Her Wittgenstein’s Ladder has just been translated into Spanish and is soon coming out in French. She is Professor Emerita of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University.

Perloff’s Attention Span for 2006, 2004. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Erín Moure

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Theodor Adorno, trans. Rodney Livingstone | Lectures on Negative Dialectics | Polity | 2008

Not Negative Dialectics in itself, but a real way into that book, this book holds Adorno’s preparation notes for his lectures on his theory of intellectual experience that became ND. The lectures provide both a way into Adorno’s methodology in that book, and also lay out a kind of field of responsiveness, as Adorno prepares to address an audience, and moves his ideas outward. I love books like this, that let me enter into a practice more deeply.

Oana Avasilichioaei | Spelles | No Press and Hex Laboratorium | 2010

Echoes of the medieval distaff gospels, and of performance of poetry as voice (for there is a CD) and as spelling, performance of spelling (and the “elle” in “spelles” is a critical gendering of the text) as performance of the book without author (for the author’s name figures nowhere on or in the object/book), now in the hands of the reader. Echoes yes of Bergvall and Robertson here, and of the performancing in and out of English that is characteristic of Avasilichioaei’s work.

Caroline Bergvall | Meddle English | Nightboat | 2011

Bergvall’s strange rich turnings in and returnings to an English that is old, raw, syncopated, new. And feminist!

Natalee Caple | The Semi-Conducting Dictionary | ECW | 2010

Strindberg’s life. Poems amazing in their structures and a book that opens a wonderful presence and questioning of gendering.

Paul Celan, trans. Pierre Joris, ed. Bernhard Böschenstein and Heino Schmull | The Meridian: Final Version—Drafts—Materials | Stanford | 2011

Drafts, preparatory notes, revisions, and references to Paul Celan’s seminal speech on poetics, the Meridian speech. A poetics in movement, meticulously prepared. Essential.

Phil Hall | Killdeer | BookThug | 2011

These long-lined essays in poetic form are both a poetics and an autobiography of a poetic practice, and are an incredible entry (like the Adorno, like the Celan) into a poetics of space, movement, articulation, process, by a Canadian poet often underestimated.

Christian Hawkey | Ventrakl | Ugly Duckling | 2010

Trakl tracked and trailed by Hawkey, keenly on-key. Tremulous, lovely, Hawkey explores language’s strangeness by entering the foreign language—German, here—in its physicality and in its links with a human person, Georg Trakl, and another human person, Christian Hawkey. Curiously, as well, the book makes a lovely pairing with my own O Resplandor (also 2010). To enter the body of the other, by reading, in any language, making one’s own language strange.

Anxo Angueira and Teresa Bermúdez, eds. | Que lle podo ofrecer a quen me intente? un monográfico sobre Lois Pereiro | Xerais and U Vigo | 2011

A look at the work and life of the iconoclastic Galician poet Lois Pereiro (1958-1996) that includes an anthology of his poetry in translation, portraits of him by other writers, a transcript of a major reading he gave in A Coruña shortly before his death, critical articles, and new poems by others.

Meredith Quartermain | Recipes from the Red Planet | BookThug | 2010

These stories simply delighted me. Their broken turns of logic and semantics are lovely and reflect, somehow, the way I think. To read and reread.

Timothy Snyder | Bloodlands | Basic | 2011

The most comprehensive look at Eastern European 20th century history, at the turmoils, genocides, exclusions across an entire territory between Germany and Russia. A history that was kept from me, in any case, in school in Canada, and that, I suspect, is still not taught. Snyder’s book enables a new look at the area and will inspire future historians; a signal book.

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More Erín Moure here.

Moure’s Attention Span for 20102008. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Patrick Pritchett

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Rachel Blau DuPlessis | Pitch: Drafts 77-95 | Salt | 2010

The penultimate volume to the now rapidly concluding Drafts. The angel of history (AKA midrash) is alive and kicking in these fantastically sculpted and minutely attentive poem-narratives. DuPlessis may have been all along creating a whole new genre here. This angel is the principle of continual poetic revision as intervention. It reads and writes the past not as it was, but as it is found: deeply fractured by contingency, open to an ongoing process of revision. The midrashic angel takes up its task not merely by bearing witness to what it sees, but through actively constructing new alignments of meaning from the scattered wreckage of the debris field. The highlights, for me, are “Draft 87-Trace Element,” and the already legendary “Draft 85-Hard Copy.” For more, see the feature on RBD in Jacket2.

 William Corbett | The Whalen Poem | Hanging Loose | 2010

The maestro at the top of his game, swinging loose and easy—nothing to it. There’s a luxurious liberation coursing through this poem that abounds with grace notes and is overflowing with his customary generosity toward memory and experience, the sweet, raspy pellicles of detail, that is, finally, the history of a life, and of writing a life, inner and outer, moment by moment, and is deeply moving.

Forrest Gander | Core Samples from the World | New Directions | 2011

An itinerary of otherness, strewn with uncanny moments of tenderness and glancing blows that crack the fragility of conscience. The earth’s alien powder is sifted through, poured out, regathered in rich pulses of telluric current from the far side of everywhere. Poem, photo, and prose fold into and out of each other, remapping their own contours. The overlap and feedback amplifies into a kind of 21st Century global witness that is porous and humbling and weird. I can’t think of another book like it. Utterly extraordinary.

Christian Hawkey | Ventrakl | Ugly Duckling | 2011

Officially a tour de force, this is a magnificent accomplishment, one that completely mesmerized me. Hawkey has reinvented the gorgeous and tortured weirdness of Trakl for the 21st Century. More than that, he has carried the logic of the translator’s task forward into a region that is all “interpass, penetrate.” The cumulative effect, when read straight through (and it’s that rare book of poetry, almost impossible to put down), is—how to say this without sounding absurd?—one of the most precisely calibrated vulnerability. Reader, I was carried away.

Fanny Howe | Come and See | Greywolf | 2011

These poems are like messages from a skeptical clairvoyant. The sense of recognition here is humbling and amazing, like the call for justice contained in the simple gesture of saying “you are here.” Everything superfluous is stripped away and what’s left is haunting. “A Hymn” seems to sum up all her concerns and convictions. (Harry Lime as a mix of Paul Celan and Oscar Levant?) These poems insist on an order of seeing that is miraculous, like the movies, and where forgiveness is all about how we do the work of looking. Like a form of levitation, they will break your heart with clarity.

Sharon Howell | Girl in Everytime | Pressed Wafer | 2011

There’s a freshness and insouciance to these lyrical forays that balance the prosaic and the ordinary against the privileged and the secret. The effect overall is one of constant surprise and delight. Spicer, a presence here surely, as has been noted. But behind Spicer, Wordsworth—not the bloated, complacent Will.I.Am of the Preludes, but the swift, sharp gleaner of chthonic music and the joyous spookiness of being alive.

Andrew Joron | Trance Archive: Selected and New Poems | City Lights | 2010

Lines decrypted from a dark book, pitched to an arcane thrum, a holy thread of labyrinthine sound that interweaves the soul’s salt with the sugar of the tongue. In this divinatory praxis, Joron capitalizes on the generative slippages which govern the chance combinatory properties of language. Following the logic of paronomasia, the poems here teeter, at times, on the brink of decay, yet what rescues them is the commitment to the sublime yield of phonemic constellation and all the spaces, and nodes, of micrological difference that open up between each slip-gap, each meld-slide, within a horizon of negation and wonder. The gravity well of logos is mitigated only by the poem’s own negentropic counter-thrust.

Peter O’Leary | Luminous Epinoia | Cultural Society | 2010

A book of impossible risk and endless doxology: in the end, they are the same thing. Liturgical datastreams downloaded and uploaded continually, like the angels in Jacob’s Dream. Fervent and unabashedly naked in its declaration of poetic vision. It reduces to so much kitsch the weak ironies of slacker emo-whimsy emanating from Brooklyn or the timid affirmations of bourgeois pathos praised in the Sunday Times, both of which somehow pass for “spirit” in the late imperium. This is a poetics that dares and ratifies the visionary ratios of song. Written out of what Abraham Joshua Heschel called “spiritual audacity,” Luminous Epinoia is a hymn to the theophanic. This is poetry of vatic kerygma—pure proclamation.

Michael Palmer | Thread | New Directions | 2011

Simply put, his best work since At Passages. There’s a certain kind of reader who can’t get past Palmer’s apparent break from the heavily encrypted style of his earlier work. Narrow constructionists, they want every book to be Sun or Notes for Echo Lake. But the idiom he has been exactingly developing since 1988, a kind of theater of the neo-allegorical that juxtaposes the driest of satire with a messianic thirst for the impossible ur-sprach, continues what were always his deepest concerns. Here, they are brought to a vivid pitch in this delicate and powerful collection. Flashing with spiked barbs of humor, these poems still inhabit the melancholy landscape where language ratifies itself by signifying its own failure. Written under the sign of Saturn, they are harrowing in their humility and directness. Simplicity here is neither a reduction nor a retreat, but the earned complexity of a late style in a late hour. To call the title sequence a tour de force is to defame it. These “threads” are addresses, colloquies, homages, haunted questions that concentrate Palmer’s concerns for the art as a site for making counter-meanings, the micro-resistances that push back against the crushing sense of fatigue born of suffering and slaughter. This is elegy as crystalline paleography. Every word is merely on loan from the thief’s journal. They haunt the dream of memory with the hope for the Not-Yet.

Andrew Schelling | From the Arapaho Songbook | La Alameda | 2011

This may well be the best thing Schelling’s ever done. Superbly attentive to the discrete seams where language and geography ripple over and through each other, this is an initiation into another world—one that exists side by side with the everyday. These poems track pathways back and forth between the ancient and the contemporary, language and the natural, without ever sliding into the false a-historicism of the romantic. The care with words—guttural, elusive, probing, shamanic—and the handling of the line breaks—is deliciously deft and subtle. A beautifully wrought, intimate book.

Rosmarie Waldrop | Driven to Abstraction | New Directions | 2010

The title sequence is superb. Waldrop’s extraordinary constellation—beginning with “Zero or, the Opening Position”—reads like a history of the metaphysical comedy of negation, its failures and its hopes, as traced through everything from cosmology to monetary exchange. It is a poem about the manifold ways nothing is implicated in everything, whether the via negativa of Pseudo-Dionysus or the khora of Derrida. A recitation of zero and its history as a concept. Of its migration into the West from medieval Arabic mathematics and its subsequent role as a placeholder for the underlying, the foundational that is anti-foundational, “zero, the corrosive number,” as she calls it, without which nothing counts.

Elizabeth Willis | Address | Wesleyan | 2011

I heard Willis read “Blacklist” two years ago at MLA and it fairly took the top of my head off. In this poem, the legacy of the Salem witches is made over as a noble tradition of transgression, a powerful and ongoing voice of resistance to the state, the system, and the boss. Woody Guthrie was a witch! After the headiness of the dazzling Meteoric Flowers, the tune and turn of this collection digs deeper into the marrow of the word, refining down to nubs and particles, a process not to be confused with simplicity. To say the thing austerely turns out to be incredibly complicated.

Lissa Wolsak | Squeezed Light: Collected Poems 1994-2005 | Station Hill | 2010

The summa of an extraordinary ambition. If the stutter is the plot, then what to say of the hyphen, the line-break, the neologism reaching after a glimpse of fugitive cognition in a cascade of vowels? The fragment here becomes fragrant, imbued with a fragile knowing. The letter, atomized, becomes the law of spirit—darkened with matter, made radiant by it. It is by such carefully broken apart attentions that these poems stage extravagance as investigation. They generate a singing that both binds and unravels, spelling out a new form of orthography that makes the traces of the invisible not only legible, but achingly near to us.

Andrew Zawacki | Roche Limit | Tir Aux Pigeons | 2011

Laid out in four-line stanzas, each one marked by roughly four beats per line, this short, perfect poem surges forward in a compelling rhythm capable of surprising turns and reverberating with fractal resonances—the complex echo chamber of attractions and resistances as words slide through one another and into their own process of associative elision and repetition, a principle of rime, as Duncan might say, that recalls the innermost linguistic and ontological structures for mapping levels of relation.

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Patrick Pritchett is the author of several books of poems, including Burn, Antiphonal, and Salt, My Love. Recent projects include editing a feature on Rachel Blau DuPlessis for Jacket 2, a talk for MSA on Pound, Sobin, and the ruins of modernism, and a book project on the messianic turn in postwar poetry. He is currently a Lecturer in the History and Literature Program at Harvard University and Visiting Lecturer in Poetry at Amherst College. Pritchett’s Attention Span for 2010, 2009, 2008. Back to 2011 directory.