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Posts Tagged ‘Eileen Myles

Attention Span 2011 | Tim Shaner

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Slavoj Zizek | In Defense of Lost Causes | Verso | 2009 

In Defense of Lost Causes has been my favorite of Zizek’s books so far. I admit that this may be due in part to his prose’s public mode of address, but more importantly it is due to the political timeliness of his project: to establish some kind of universal, leftist response to the universality of capitalism, late or not. It’s the risk suggested in the title that makes this ambitious volume such a thoroughly engaging one. Rather than accepting Fukuyama’s thesis of “the end of history,” which Zizek claims the left has effectively done—”the task today is to resist state power by withdrawing from its scope, subtracting oneself from it, creating new spaces outside its control” (339), In Defense looks back over the failed revolutions of the not-too-distant past—from the French Revolution to the Chinese Cultural Revolution—in order to discern where they went wrong and how we might “redeem the emancipatory potential of these failures through avoiding the twin trap of nostalgic attachment to the past and of all-too-slick accommodation to ‘new circumstances’” (3). With chapters provocatively titled “Radical Intellectuals, or, Why Heidegger Took The Right Step (Albeit in the Wrong Direction) in 1933,” “Revolutionary Terror from Robespierre to Mao,” and “Why Populism Is (Sometimes) Good Enough in Practice, but Not in Theory,” Zizek argues in the “Afterword to the Second Edition” that it may be “Better to do nothing than engage in localized acts whose ultimate function is to make the system run more smoothly (acts like providing space for the multitude of new subjectivities, etc.). The threat today is not passivity, but pseudo-activity, the urge to ‘be active,’ to ‘participate,’ to mask the Nothingness of what goes on” (476). He cites José Saramago’s novel Seeing in which the population, en masse, decide not to vote in the country’s latest election, as an example of the ways in which  “violent subtraction” can undermine the seemingly all-powerful state by refusing, like Bartleby, to participate in legitimizing rituals of power. Whether or not one agrees with Zizek’s take on things is less important than the text’s persistent provocation to thought.

Kit Robinson | Train I Ride | BookThug | 2009

Books of poetry are not usually considered page-turners (and all the better for them—isn’t all poetry slow, even fast poetry?). But this volume I found difficult to put down. I say this because the book arrived in the mail just when I was busy preparing to host a poetry reading in Eugene and was in a hurry to bone up on a poet whose work I was largely unfamiliar with at the time. In other words, I was “supposed” to be reading something else (which, needless to say, I found compelling, as well). Not that Train I Ride takes much time to read; at thirty-eight pages, it can be polished off in an afternoon or evening (if “pigging out” is your thing—I preferred to linger in the text as long as I could, not wanting it to end, yet feeling a sense of urgency to read it cover-to-cover rather then in the collage-like, disjunctive manner in which I usually read: hopping from this to that to this and that and so forth, maybe finishing this or that, maybe not, for now). The book—a low-budget gig from Book Thug (a feature that adds to its charm)—arrived in the mail with Robinson’s latest book, the more professional-looking Determination, out from the excellent Cuneiform Press, which I have yet to fully read. Formally, the two texts contrast with each other—the latter more in the minimalist mode we find in The Crave (including some his “Ice Cube”-like, one-word line poems) and the former more along the lines of the new sentence. Sentence after sentence, Train I Ride is full of gems, like these randomly chosen nuggets: “A lost week. I remember everything that happened. But nothing was said.” “The sadness of stadiums. Public life packaged.” “The space inside a lower-case e. You could set up shop there.” Of course, it’s not the cleverness and insight of such lines that ultimately stand out but the masterful way they are assembled that makes them resonate and “pop” off the page (I’ve been watching too much of the Food Network—when exactly did “pop” become part of our TV vocabulary?). Kit Robinson is writing some of the best stuff around these days, in my opinion.

Hannah Arendt | Men in Dark Times | Mariner | 1968

I first came across Arendt’s writing when reading her introduction to Walter Benjamin’s Illuminations back in the mid-80s. I remember at the time thinking that I was as inspired by the introduction as I was the writings of Benjamin himself. But it wasn’t until, years later, when, thanks to a friend and colleague in graduate school, I was recommended The Human Condition (1958) that Arendt became a critical component of my theoretical thinking. Her discussion of labor, work, and action was crucial to my dissertation on poets and their jobs. There was thus a real sense of urgency when I learned, while listening to a recording of Kathy Acker’s talk at Charles Bernstein’s poetics seminar in Buffalo (available at her web page at the EPC), that Men in Dark Times was one of Acker’s favorite books (along with Deleuze and Guatarri’s Anti-Oedipus). The title, which is somewhat misleading since the book is composed of essays on women as well as men (though mostly the latter), comes from the excellent opening essay “On Humanity in Dark Times: Thoughts About Lessing” which offers up some important advice for our own dark times: “Pleasure, which is fundamentally the intensified awareness of reality, springs from a passionate openness to the world and love of it. Not even the knowledge that man may be destroyed by the world detracts from the ‘tragic pleasure’” (6). But it is her discussion of Lessing’s valorization of friendship (our desire to “share the world” with others) over fraternity (our allegiance to a truth that binds us to like-minded thinkers) that makes this chapter (and the book) so relevant to our increasingly polarized society. Noting that “for the Greeks the essence of friendship consisted in discourse” (24) about the world (the “world” being that which “lies between people” [4]) rather than “the intimate talk in which individuals talk about themselves” [24]), Arendt writes that when it came down to choosing fidelity to truth (doctrine) over friendship, Lessing critically chose the latter: “Any doctrine that in principle barred the possibility of friendship between two human beings would have been rejected by his untrammeled and unerring conscience” (29). I tried to keep this in mind while visiting with my (Tea Party) in-laws over the summer in Indiana.

Eileen Myles | Inferno: A Poet’s Novel | Or | 2010

Reading Inferno: A Poet’s Novel during my daughter’s soccer season, her team’s name “The Inferno,” the parents at the games commenting on the irony of it, not that they’d think to read it—we complain of our children not reading, but where do we find adults today who take reading seriously (outside of academia)

The print is not justified, hence the prose’s jagged right margin gives off a hint of poetry with its line breaks—this is a “poet’s novel”

The vagina passage is what draws the most attention, perhaps, and certainly the most laughs at readings, but it’s just one thing

Myles prose is sometimes deliberately awkward, disjunctive, even though mostly it’s quite fluid and loose

I love novels about poets, especially the kind of poets Myles writes about; it’s all so much fun

So much of my reading comes from what I’m reading, where Myles will mention Acker who will mention Arendt who mentions Broch and so forth

Zizek will mention Agamben who will mention Robert Walser and so forth

I’d list the two Kathy Acker novels I’m reading—My Mother: Demonology, a novel and Empire of the Senseless—but they’re currently on hold (for some reason); my favorite so far is Blood and Guts in Highschool, which I mistakenly recommended to the pregnant bartender at The Bier Stein in Eugene—she was reading Bukowski at the time and so I thought she might like Acker (not that I meant to suggest an equivalency) what with her tattoos and the punk-like air she projected

Kaia Sand | Remember to Wave | Tinfish | 2010

Remember to Wave is an inspired book and Tinfish Press has done an equally inspired job of publishing it, which is no easy task, considering the formal inventiveness of the text. It’s like a cross between Susan Howe and Muriel Rukeyser, combining the documentary spirit of the Proletarian poets with the Situationists’ derives. Sand’s poetics is grounded in ethics and in the idea that poetry cannot but be political. In Remember to Wave, this means mapping the ground she literally walks on: Portland, Oregon with its buried histories of Japanese-American Internment camps during WWII and institutionalized racism. As we learn from the book, it was only in 1925 that Oregon “repealed from its constitution: ‘No free negro, or mulatto, not residing in this State at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall come, reside, or be within this State.’” Yet, if we learn a lot from Sand’s investigative poetics, we do so as much through the information Sand digs up as through the artistic play she brings to her construction of the book. Just flipping through Remember to Wave is a visual delight.

Paul Lafargue | The Right to be Lazy | Kerr | 1989

Speaking of visual delights, Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company’s paperback edition of (Karl Marx’s son-in-law) Paul Lafargue’s The Right to be Lazy, “Produced by 100% Union Labor,” is a sight that sores the eyes, at least its cover. (I’ll explain shortly.) I stumbled upon this book, though I had been meaning to read it in its entirety (which is not much, running at approximately fifty pages) for some time, while trying to track down Arendt’s Men in Dark Times and anything by Robert Walser, a writer (greatly admired by the likes of Kafka, Musil, Walter Benjamin, and W.G. Sebald, as it says on the back of The Assistant) I had never heard of until I read Agamben’s The Coming Community, and finally Foucault’s The Care of the Self at Eugene’s Smith Family Bookstore, which reminds me of the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan. (We’re fortunate to have a number of quality used bookstores in this town.) This was one of those good days when everything I was looking for I found, with the added bonus of Lafargue’s little text which I came upon unexpectedly, the goofy, cartoonish lettering of this paperback standing out amid the spines of the larger hardbounds. This last little find made my day; it’s not often you walk into a bookstore these days and walk away with such a treasure. Now, as alluded to in the comic book-like lettering found on its spine, the front cover, with its cartoon drawing of a worker laying in a hammock strung between two factory smokestacks, snoring away (“zzzzz”s bubbling out of his mouth) with an open book dangling in his hand below the hammock, his boss, with his fist raised, ineffectively shouting something up at him, makes you think you’re reading a comic book, like something from the comic strip Andy Capp. But once you get past the cover and open the book, you find that the aesthetics have changed quite dramatically. Above the print, which consists of a quote from Lafargue’s pamphlet, is a naturalist drawing of a Meadow Lark, its genus name italicized beside it in parentheses. The quote below it reads:

A strange delusion possesses the working classes of the nations where capitalist civilization holds sway. This delusion is the love of work, the furious passion for work. The proletariat, the great class embracing all the producers of civilized nations, has let itself be perverted by the dogma of work. Rude and terrible has been its punishment. All its individual and social woes are born of its passion for work.

It turns out that these naturalistic drawings of birds are littered throughout the text, which includes both an introduction called “The War on Leisure” by Joseph Jablonski and a “bio-bibliographical” essay by Fred Thompson. Yet, from my examination, there’s no explanation to be found for the inclusion of these naturalistic drawings. I love this aspect of the book. In fact, the entire book is worth reading, not least Lafargue’s essay. I enjoyed delving back into the Marxist, revolutionary rhetoric I read so much of when combing the old, crumbling editions of The New Masses and other Depression era publications at SUNY-Buffalo’s main library. You just got to love the confidence of such statements as: “Social discords will vanish. Bond holders and capitalists will be first to rally to the popular party, once convinced that far from wishing them harm, its purpose is rather to relieve them of the labor of over-consumption and waste, with which they have been overwhelmed since their birth.”

Giorgio Agamben | The Coming Community | Minnesota | 2007

I started The Coming Community (originally published in 1990) a couple years ago but wasn’t ready for it. For some reason, this time around I found it, like Kit Robinson’s Train I Ride, difficult to put down, which is perhaps due to having been primed by my reading of Agamben’s The State of Exception, an important book but one I found somewhat burdened by the necessity of historicizing and hence theorizing its subject. (The gist of the book can be discerned from reading the first chapter.) In contrast, The Coming Community reads like poetry, much of it centered around the task of reconstructing our notion of subjectivity away from the specificity of identity toward what Agamben, in a somewhat unfortunate, though unavoidable translation, calls “whatever being,” a mode of “being-in-language” (and in the world: “being-such”) that moves beyond singularity and, its opposite, the abstract universal:

The Whatever in question here relates to singularity not in its indifference with respect to a common property (to a concept, for example: being red, being French, being Muslim), but only in its being such as it is. Singularity is thus freed from the false dilemma that obliges knowledge to choose between the ineffability of the individual and the intelligibility of the universal. The intelligible . . . is neither a universal nor an individual included in a series, but rather “singularity insofar as it is whatever singularity.” (1)

This rather difficult concept, which, admittedly, I have not done a very good job of explaining here, inevitably leads to the discussion of its political significance in the final chapter—though not the last, which consists of an appendix—of this short, though dense, book called “Tiananmen.” Suggesting that identity works to the advantage of the State in terms of controlling people, Agamben writes: “What the State cannot tolerate in any way . . . is that the singularities form a community without affirming an identity, that humans co-belong without any representable condition of belonging (even in the form of a simple presupposition)” (86).

Peter Clark | The English Alehouse: A Social History 1200-1830 | Longman | 1983

“One does not need to adopt an alcoholic interpretation of history to appreciate the contribution of drinking houses to the social development of premodern Europe and North America.”

If poets and their jobs—the dilemma livelihood presents for the writer—was the focus of my dissertation, which is also the focus of Wig, the magazine I edit with Kristen Gallagher, my real interest has always been leisure, or, as I prefer to call it, loafing. As such, I decided that I’d spend the summer break (financed, I should add, by my industrious wife) working on a project begun last summer called “The Institute of Loafing.” Seated one day in mid-June, at my favorite bar in Eugene, the Bier Stein, thinking and talking about loafing to one of my Bier Stein friends, who being a Eugenian, naturally shared an interest in loafing, it suddenly occurred to me that bar life is most certainly a part of the loafing life. And, in fact, this is confirmed by Peter Clark’s book. Over and over again we read of workers heading to the bar at day’s end. While the alehouse—to be distinguished from the Inn and the Tavern in regards to class, with the former at the top of hierarchy and the alehouse at the bottom—was first and foremost a drinking establishment, it served many other purposes, as well, from lodging to commerce to reading room to what amounts to an employment agency. As Clark writes in the introduction, the alehouse was also a prime source of revenue for the government, noting, ironically that “the American War of Independence was fought by British troops and mercenaries heavily financed by a tax on domestic alehouse drinkers against colonists whose military headquarters, as at Boston in 1774-75, were often taverns” (3).

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Tim Shaner’s work has appeared in Word for/Word, Jacket, Kiosk, P-Queue, Shampoo, 88: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry, The Portable Lower Eastside, Ambit (UK), The Rialto (UK), and other magazines. He is the co-editor of Wig, a magazine devoted to poetry written on the job, and curates A New Poetry Series in Eugene, Oregon. He has a Ph.D. from SUNY-Buffalo’s Poetics Program and works as a full-time part-timer at Lane Community College and Umpqua Community College.

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Written by Steve Evans

October 29, 2011 at 11:21 am

Attention Span 2011 | Melanie Neilson

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Rae Armantrout | Versed | Wesleyan | 2009

Anne Boyer | The Romance of Happy Workers | Coffee House | 2008

Rod Smith | Deed | Iowa | 2007

CA Conrad | The Book of Frank | Chax | 2009

Jennifer Moxley | Clampdown | Flood | 2009

Steve Farmer | Glowball | Theenk | 2010

Eileen Myles | The Importance of Being Iceland | Semiotext(e) | 2009

Sianne Ngai | Ugly Feelings | Harvard | 2005

Jerry Lewis | The Total Film-Maker | Random | 1971

Kevin Killian | Impossible Princess | City Lights | 2009

Monica de la Torre | Public Domain | Roof | 2008

Mel Nichols | Catalytic Exteriorization Phenomenon | Edge | 2009

Gertrude Stein | Lucy Church Amiably | Something Else | 1930 reissued 1969

Jack Spicer, ed. Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian | My Vocabulary Did This to Me | Wesleyan | 2008

Philip Whalen, ed. Michael Rothenberg | The Collected Poems | Wesleyan | 2007

Lew Welch, ed. Donald Allen | Ring of Bone: Collected 1950-1970 | Grey Fox | 1979

Donald Bogle | Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters | Harper Collins | 2011

Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. | Race Music | California |2003

Bern Porter | Found Poems | Nightboat | 2011

Jessica B. Harris | High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America | Bloomsbury | 2011

James Lee Burke | Detective Dave Robicheaux series of 18 thrillers set in Louisiana: The Neon Rain to The Glass Rainbow | Pocket | 1989-2010

Lewis Klahr, Engram Sepals | Melodramas (sequence of seven 16mm films, 75 minutes) | 1994-2000

Elvis Presley | The Country Side of Elvis | RCA | 2001

Raymond Chandler, performed by Elliott Gould | Red Wind (1938) | New Millennium Audio | 2002

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More Melanie Neilson here.

Neilson’s Attention Span for 2009. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Sara Wintz

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Richard Cándida-Smith | Utopia and Dissent: Art, Poetry, And Politics in California | California | 1996
Jack Spicer | The House That Jack Built: The Selected Lectures of Jack Spicer | Wesleyan | 1998
Josephine Miles | “What We Compose” | College Composition and Communication, Vol. 14, No.3 | 1963
Carl Maas | The Penguin Guide to California | Penguin | 1947
David Zwirner Gallery | Primary Atmospheres: Works from California 1960-1970

At some point I became super interested in California. Well, actually I was always interested in California but this year I read a lot about it. Utopia and Dissent is a book that I found on a shelf at the library at Mills College: where I went to undergrad. I started reading it beginning with the introduction because I couldn’t understand California art. Why did it all look different than what I saw as a teenager growing up in New York? The Introduction to Utopia and Dissent was/is a good introduction. Cándida-Smith touches on some of the origins of California art: that it developed in isolation from much of the United States, that the art that people made was created for each other—as opposed to being shown in galleries—and the difficulties of bringing a canvas across country in a wagon. This year I read the rest of the book. The chapters on Joan Brown+Jay Defeo, Wallace Berman, and Kenneth Rexroth I particularly loved.

Joan Didion | Where I Was From | Vintage | 2004
Eileen Myles | Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) | OR | 2010

I read Where I Was From and started crying on the airplane from San Diego to Newark coming home from family vacation. My mom was sitting next to me. I’m surprised that she didn’t say anything but I’m sure that I concealed it fairly well. I’ve had conversations with two different women this year about the relationship between geography and identity and Where I Was From came up both times. (Though one time it was [#oops] invoked by me.) Didion’s a powerhouse—I always use her essay “In Bed” (from The White Album) as an example—that she can write an essay about being stuck in bed with a migraine and still make it interesting. Justin Taylor told me to read Inferno after I had a tough time at a poetry reading. I borrowed his copy and read it on my way to work at Pratt on the G train at the beginning of summer. It ruled.

George Oppen | Of Being Numerous | Complete Reading Broadcast by KPFA | August 22, 1968

George Oppen is another one that I got into in undergrad. I read Of Being Numerous while sitting outside of the music building at Mills. I think I pretty much read it in one sitting and when I finished I thought, “This is my favorite book.” It’s still one of my favorites. Oppen was invoked a lot last summer at Bard—I think that he was on a lot of people’s minds. I love that phrase “the crystal fact.” I wonder why I keep hearing about him. I guess that this happens with lots of writers sometimes. I rode the bus from New York to Boston to crash a wedding with Andrew Kenower in the spring of this year and listened to this recording of Oppen reading Of Being Numerous while staring out the window and when I arrived in Boston Andrew was reading Oppen too.

Steve Dixon | Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation | MIT | 2007
Sally Banes | Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance | Wesleyan | 1987
Sue-Ellen Case | Performing Science and the Virtual | Routledge | 2006
Cecilia Corrigan | Selected YouTube Videos | Philadelphia | —

I became interested in performance. Partly because of my job this past year writing about performance for Peak Performances @Montclair’s outreach blog and partly by my own volition. The Steve Dixon book I’m still working my way through. I’ve been highlighting it like a textbook. Cecilia Corrigan came to read for me and Thom Donovan at Segue last winter and totally rocked the house. Her YouTube videos are smart and poignant: I love em. Her too.

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Sara Wintz is the author of WALKING ACROSS A FIELD WE ARE FOCUSED ON AT THIS TIME NOW (forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse). Her work has been published in Jacket, 6×6, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Try!, Openned, HTML Giant, and on Ceptuetics (with Kareem Estefan). She lives in Berkeley.

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Attention Span 2011 | Julie Carr

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Jennifer Moxley | Coastal | The Song Cave | 2011

Brutally honest, and masterfully formed. It feels intimate and distant at once. I read it five times in a day trying to figure out how she strikes that balance.

Linda Norton | The Public Gardens | Pressed Wafer | 2011

I’ve been waiting for and needing this book for years. The voices of Boston and Brooklyn. Mixing genres sweetly, powerfully.

Dawn Lundy Martin | Discipline | Nightboat | 2011

One of the strongest uses of the prose poem I’ve seen maybe ever. Each page hits it.

John Keene | Annotations | New Directions | 1995

Gorgeous language. The sentence is played like a viola. Fast, unexpected, but deeply connected.

Michael Ondaatje | Coming Through the Slaughter | Vintage | 1976

Reading this for the first time. Stunned by the surprises of it, the shifting voices, and by its musicality.

Tim Roberts | Drizzle Pocket | Blazevox | 2011

Though I am married to the author, the book is by someone I only meet by reading it. Scary and great and unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

Noah Eli Gordon | The Source | Futurepoem | 2011

Though this is a procedural work, the poems press way beyond their method. This is my favorite of Noah’s books. It’s funny and sharp, but in many moments also quite meditative and moving.

Lydia Davis | The Collected Stories | Picador|  2010

This is the first time I’ve really gotten all the way into Lydia Davis, and I read every story in this 752 page book in three days. In my favorite ones, the speaker is estranged, lonely, and frightened. A good book to bring on a midlife crisis.

Caroline Bergvall | Reading at Naropa | Naropa SWP | 2010

Caroline’s new book, Meddle English (Nightboat, 2011), is amazing. But I am reporting on hearing her read from it. I would travel pretty far to hear her again. One of those readings that will stay with me a very long time. Life giving.

Eileen Myles | The Inferno | O/R Books | 2010

Um. Pure pleasure—and a little embarrassing to read on an airplane when someone’s looking over your shoulder.

Joseph Lease | Testify | Coffee House | 2011

I blurbed this book, so to paraphrase myself: political/personal poems that matter and sing. Tough and necessary.

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Julie Carr is the author of Sarah—Of Fragments and Lines and 100 Notes on Violence and co-publisher with Tim Roberts of Counterpath Press.

Carr’s Attention Span for 2010. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Meredith Quartermain

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George Bowering | My Darling Nellie Gray | Talonbooks | 2010

Political. Playful. A textbook in procedural possibilities. Also thoughtful and heartfelt.

Sheila Heti | How Should a Person Be? | Anansi | 2010

I think of this as a conceptual novel as all the characters are real people. It’s constantly making us think about arbitrary boundaries between fiction and “the real.” Questioning and extending the form of the novel, too.

Eileen Myles | Inferno: A Poet’s Novel| OR Books | 2010

Cross-cuts are dynamite, I wrote across the top of page 76, the chapter entitled “Poetry is making money.” It’s a poetry page-turner.

Louis Cabri | Poetryworld | CUE Books | 2010

Louis has invented a whole new genre of sound-sight-reference cross-play unlike any poetry you’ve read anywhere.

Miriam Nichols | Radical Affections | Alabama | 2010

A brilliant synthesis of the last 50 years of literary history (the relation of poetry to philosophy), and a map of where we could go from here.

Dodie Bellamy | Pink Steam | Suspect Thoughts | 2004

I read Bellamy for her fascinating house of mirrors.

Kate Eichhorn | Field Notes | BookThug | 2010

Turns the anthropological machine on its head.

Renee Rodin | Subject to Change | Talonbooks | 2010

Renee speaks from the heart—across her kitchen table—about parents dying, about friends who survived the holocaust, about being young and in love.

Stephen Collis | On the Material | Talonbooks | 2010

Winner of this year’s BC Book Prize for poetry. And well deserved too!

Michael Boughn | Cosmographia: A Post-Lucretian Faux Micro-Epic | BookThug | 2010

Who could refuse an epic with Holstein cows grazing in it?

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Meredith Quartermain’s Vancouver Walking won a BC Book Award for Poetry. The Dalhousie Review described Matter and Nightmarker as “perhaps the two most noteworthy titles” in recent radical poetry, “prescient, daring,” and “undoing the knot of human understanding.” Recipes from the Red Planet has been shortlisted for a BC Book Award for Fiction and the ReLit prize. Quartermain’s Attention Span for 2010200920082007200620052004. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2010 – Susana Gardner

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aRb (ar)/ARB (Rb) | joy as Tiresome Vandalism | if p then q then others | 2008

Definitely acquired from James Davies up in Manchester. I have had these two beautifully wax-sealed documents. I didn’t want to open them, that is a shame because I finally broke the seal of one today to find a wondrously spineless collaboration with public spaces both poetic and photographic. As chance would have it I opened them incorrectly (2nd first, etc) This has the feeling of poetic grab-bag, especially in the confusion of my opening them wrong. This is a wonderful response project.

Elizabeth Bryant | (nevertheless enjoyment | Quale | 2010

Fantastic book—an inquisition of what if or what were in that space of nevertheless? Where it not this, were it not what it is in this temporal state. Clever in what is not said as it is in what is. The title, (nevertheless enjoyment crafts the book and utilizes the itself to its utmost possibility, denoted by space itself, the reader must remind themselves of the title again and again—with each new page and poem. Deliberate wanton poetic spaces, hapless and wondrous, with numerous possibility toward further want and understanding.

Harry Gilonis | North Hill | Free Poetry | December 2009

A syntactic consequence or take on two classical Chinese Poets, Tu mu and Yu Hsüan-chi —Gilonis makes the ancients new again. Each poem begins, or quite a way after Tu Mu (c. 803-852 AD) (or Yu Hsüan-chi 844-869 AD)

drinking alone

open window winds in snow
embrace embrasure   open wine
yawning like a yawl in the rain
unreefed  asleep  solitude  a star

for Peter Manson bis Mallarmé

Danielle Pafunda | iatrogenic: their tesitmonies | noemi | 2010

Wicked. Pafunda is at her best. Even had you dared to get iatrogenic with her, well it’s no surprise she beat us all in her craft and cunning. Though I do wonder if their is a poetic possibility of iatrogenic disorder we as poets could, say inherit or intuit from our poet forbears? Perhaps this is what Pafunda is trying to get at, versus owning the role of palpitating patient? Hypnotically hip and positively derisive!

Kaia Sand | Remember to Wave | Tinfish | 2010

Here, the poet (Sand) crosses into new genre or territory of poet toward that of poet-journalist. Remember to Wave should be read as testimony, a position of witness in a time the world we live in simply want to forget. Tracing the city on foot, Sand unveils the lost story, a story that is told more through the landscape of archives as it is through the contemporary retelling of the Japanese-American POW camp experiences, and subsequent devastation of a people and culture. An incredible beauty is also unveiled in the city’s foot-journey and Sand’s mapped coordinates, and it is this: Every city needs a poet like Sand. In her own way, Sand challenges every poet to take on the city in which they live and perhaps bear the witness or voice of those that can no longer tell the story.

David Wolach | OCCULTATIONS | Black Radish | 2010

Wolach’s Occultations is at once bawdy, beautiful and electrifying. No stops are missed, whether it be textural vispo imagery sidling other occultations and palimpsestic frameworks of a new body-poetic taxonomy. If ever a book needed to stand for a poet as they are daily as much as they are poetic, Occultations meets that challenge as it speaks plainly as well as being concurrently laden with contradictory fire and in your face farce— ‘in the forest in the dilated pores of firenight/ I dare you to devour me’.

Jeff Hilson, ed. | The Reality Street Book of Sonnets | Reality Street | 2008

This is an amazing, must have collection of sonnets. I am a bit embarrassed that I did not have a copy until now. The amazing breadth and inclusion even of very anti-sonnet sonnets is fantastic. Notably for me, Sean Bonney’s, Astrophil and Stella, Bern Porter’s Sonnet for An Elizabethan Virgin (imagine oA oA oA oA oA in a sonnet), or Mary Ellen Solt’s Moon Shot Sonnet, Paul Duton’s sonic so’net (s), Alan Halsey’s Discomposed Sonnets, John Gibbens’ leaf matter sonnets, from Underscore, or Philip Nikoayev’s Letters from Aldenderry, for which I must add I once asked, what is the opposite of an erasure…I think Nikolayev has given me the answer here. Props to Hilson and Reality Street for getting this beauty into the world.

Recently acquired goodies which I am very excited about reading…

Cara Benson | (made) | book thug | 2010

Francesca Lisette |As the Rushes Were (chapbook) | Grasp  | 2010

Tom Jenks | * | if p then q | 2010

Tom Jenks | a priori | if p then q | 2008

Brenda Iijima | If Not Metaphoric | Ashanta | 2010

Zoe Skoulding |You will have your own Cathedral (with cd) | Seren | 2008

Scott Thurston | Internal Rhyme | Shearsman | 2010

Scott Thurston, ed. | The Salt Companion to Geraldine Monk | Salt | 007

want list:

I got to see Byrne, Myles and Wagner read this summer, sadly did not get my hands on their books (yet). But all gave amazing readings and I will get their books before the new year.

Mairéad Byrne | The Best of (what’s left of) Heaven (first edition) | Publishing Genius | na

Eileen Myles | Inferno: ( a Poet’s Novel | OR Press | 2010

Catherine Wagner | My New Job | Fence | 2009

More Susana Gardner here. Here Attention Span for 2007. Back to directory.



Attention Span 2009 – Tim Peterson

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Filip Marinovich | Zero Readership | Ugly Duckling Presse | 2008

Paolo Javier | Megton Gasgan Krakooom | manuscript

Evelyn Reilly | Styrofoam | Roof Books | 2009

Sueyeun Juliette Lee | Mental Commitment Robots | Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs | 2007

Andrew Levy | Memories of My Father | Self-published | 2008

Brenda Iijima | revv.you’ll—ution | Displaced Books | forthcoming 2009

Eileen Myles | The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art | Semiotext(e) | 2009

Charles Borkhuis | Disappearing Acts | manuscript

Julian T. Brolaski | Gowanus Atropolis | Ugly Duckling Presse | forthcoming 2010

Tenney Nathanson | Ghost Snow Falls Through the Void (Globalization) | manuscript

Charles Alexander | Pushing Water | manuscript

More Tim Peterson here.