Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

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Posts Tagged ‘Jalal Toufic

Attention Span 2010 – Jennifer Scappettone

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Leslie Scalapino | The Dihedrons Gazelle Dihedrals Zoom | ms developed out of sound-based routes through a new dictionary; video of reading by Konrad Steiner available here | 2010

“[T]heir whole as bodies in the underground petroleum…holes spurting here and there, and the sky turned indigo, as did the ocean, now petroleum.”

As recorded on 2/14/10. Enough said. Leslie, we miss you.

Etel Adnan | The Arab Apocalypse (reprinted with a foreword by Jalal Toufic) | Post-Apollo | 2007

The illegible substance of the language of childhood persists through the blasts of civil war. To be read alongside “To Write in a Foreign Language,” available here.

Tonya Foster | mss in progress including “A Swarm of Bees in High Court” (forthcoming from Belladonna/Futurepoem in 2010), “Monkey Talk,” and “A Mathematics of Chaos: Pay Attention to Where You At/From” | extracts can be heard here | ongoing/forthcoming

“Geography can be transformative—the way a bullet to the body can be transformed.”

Edouard Glissant, trans. Nathalie Stephens (Nathanaël) | Poetic Intention | Nightboat | 2010

“Whence, for the individual, this simple obligation: to open and to ravish the body of knowledge.”

“The work of a poet appears…derisory: it is only ever the foam of that ocean from which he wants to extract a cathedral, a definite architecture.”

“Yes: we are each in this drama the overseas of others.”

I could go on. But that would be to abstract tracts of a text so urgent in contextual detail, or what Glissant calls (& Stephens translates as) the “thrashed truth of one’s materiality.” This book, published as L’intention poétique in 1969, needs to change the way “we” understand modernism, the sixties, postwar theory, etc.

Bhanu Kapil | Humanimal: A Project for Future Children | Kelsey St. | 2009

Because it’s the latest which is bound, but everything, and latest on color. See also “Was Jack Kerouac a Punjabi?” and the posts preceding her choice to defect from the now defunct Harriet. On reading: “I read in order to be a writer in the time I am in, which is a closed time. I read to open myself to time, which is the time that opens in turn to writing. I read to flee taut death; to embrace wet or sinking deaths instead.”

Henri Meschonnic, trans. Lisa Robertson & Avra Spector | “The Rhythm Manifesto” | ms, they tell me it’s available here | 2010

“Against all poeticizations, I say there is a poem only if a shape of life transforms a shape of language and if reciprocally a shape of language transforms a shape of life. I say that it is only in this way that poetry, as the activity of poems, can live in society, can do what only a poem can do for people who, without poems, wouldn’t even realize that they were undoing their subjectivity and their historicity to become nothing other than products in the market of ideas, the market of feelings, and the market of manners.” Much-needed antidote to what’s modish—in poetry, I mean. Feeding a steadily-becoming-obsession of mine with a focus on rhythm and meter in the postwar epos (early 1960s, against semiotics). Further resonance with Daria Fain & Robert Kocik’s Phoneme Choir, ongoing & described at

Judd Morrissey | RC_AI | | 2010

Text—recombinatory speakings out of Robert Coover’s Pinocchio in Venice—as panorama, 380,000 pixels—or 422 feet—long. Ends with bubbly digital schmaltz, delightsome.

Pier Paolo Pasolini | La Ricotta | part of Ro.Go.Pa.G., & supplementary material on Criterion Collection edition of Mamma Roma | 1962

I searched for this film for over a decade and recovered it accidentally when permitting myself to watch Mamma Roma for the nth time. Stracci (“rags”) is enjoined to play Christ in a restaging of the Passion directed by a Pasolini figure played by Orson Welles. Couldn’t be more of a corrective to Gibson far before the fact; censored “for insulting the religion of the state,” so that he had to remove Welles’s final line, “dropping dead was his only means of revolution.” Hypercitational: poetry, philosophy, music, film, painting of others punctures the half-hour. At one point a tableau vivant of Rosso Fiorentino’s and Pontormo’s magisterially weird Depositions, typifying this short’s neorealist mannerism or mannerist neorealism.

M. Nourbese Philip | Zong! | Wesleyan | 2008

Hauntological, as Philip notes, ululating effort to identify, localize the murdered Africans reduced by the illogic of law to cargo aboard the Zong, at the apex of Enlightenment. Alters “reading”: drowns the eye. Taught following Kamau Brathwaite’s 2005 Wesleyan title Born to Slow Horses, which also insists that the Atlantic is alive and history—despite all other proclamations and appearances—undead.

Lauren Shufran | The Birds | self-published chapbook | 2010

Riddled with antient rid-’ems: “Prior to this tryst my debt was pretty damn van- / Illa; kinkless, even—like interject- / Ing damns between my speech to impound flavors, or / Jouncing into fountains up in Rome in / Simplex Latin:.…” Just received, still trying to divine the architectonics of this padded echo chamber. “Ery spoken word performance hankers for its pri- / Vate Melos to corroborate that Venuses / De Milo and Baghdadi artifacts can still / Be looted—I mean, disinhumed—from loci all / Entombed by massacres your gifted homeboys mount- / Ed.” Close kin to Brandon Brown’s amazing translations of Catullus, another one for my short-list: but where are they? Shelves are a chaos and I can’t find ‘em. The awkward encrustations of tempo in this work—the making, the deriving—rebuke the voiding of historicity that is such the rage at present. Taking a cue from Mallarmé via Meschonnic via Robertson/Spector: “to mysteriously work toward lateness or neverness.”

Emilio Villa, ed. Claudio Parmiggiani | Emilio Villa: poeta e scrittore | Edizioni Mazzotta | 2008

Catalog of a retrospective of poetry, criticism, and artworks surrounding this crucial but elusive-by-choice border-crosser. Includes some of the poet’s concrete and visual poems, multilingual texts, collaborations with artists such as Alberto Burri, translations from various ancients, and notes toward an etymological dictionary of Italian that would do away with “positivist linguistics” and the “Romance fervor” by plumbing the roots of words in the archaic zones of Mesopotamia, the Syro-Babylonian coasts, and the pre- and protohistoric Mediterranean. So much food for thought and further work.

More Jennifer Scappettone here. Her Attention Span for 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003. Back to directory.

Attention Span 2009 – Omar Berrada

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Hélène Bessette | Suite suisse | Léo Scheer | 2008 (1st edition Gallimard 1965)

Hélène Bessette (1918-2000), who invented the GRP (Gang du Roman Poétique!), was much admired by the likes of Raymond Queneau, Marguerite Duras, Jean Dubuffet, Dominique Aury. A couple of years ago she was almost completely forgotten and her 13 extraordinary novels, published by Gallimard between 1953 and 1973, utterly un-findable, even in libraries. Thanks to a few admirers’ efforts, Hélène Bessette is slowly being republished and rediscovered. No English translations available, except for 4 pages translated by Keith Waldrop for the journal Avec in 1990.

Edgardo Cozarinsky | Museo del chisme | Emecé editores | 2005

The title translates as The Gossip Museum. After a theoretical introduction on “indefensible narratives”, and following Karl Kraus’ precept that most things are insignificant but everything signifies, the book presents 69 anecdotes, mainly about writers and artists from various countries and generations, culled from books or from oral sources. Absolute hilarious gems.

Mark Z. Danielewski | Only Revolutions | Doubleday | 2006

Very impressive semantic, syntactic, typographic, poetic and narrative tour de force. Beautiful to look at, intriguing and often exhilarating to read. This “Democracy of Two, set out and chronologically arranged” has two teenagers in love, perpetually 16, on a road trip, with US and world history flashing by the side of the road (i.e. the margin of the book), over a period of 200 years (and 360 pages, with 360 words on each, to be read from the beginning and from the end –upside down).

Dominique Fourcade | Citizen Do | P.O.L | 2009

In this book Merce Cunningham meets Nicolas Poussin, and René Char meets Saskia, the author’s grand-daughter. Fourcade meets Welles, and language meets the world, hence citizen-ship (“à ce point, réel de la langue et réel du monde ne font qu’un”). In such “écriture-contact”, verse meets prose, songs are systems and lyricism is ethical. “Poésie est identification et séparation et dislocation systémiques”.

Michel Gauthier | Les promesses du zéro | les presses du réel | 2009

Brilliant art criticism. Six essays, on Robert Smithson, Carsten Höller, Ed Ruscha, Martin Creed, John Armleder, Tino Sehgal and how their work can help us not look for meaning or an ultimate essence, but rather develop our inability to see and/or our capacity to get lost.

Also recommended, Michel Gauthier’s previous book, L’Anarchème (anarcheme, as in, unit of anarchy), about artworks that sabotage their own authority by de-focalizing the viewer’s gaze away from themselves (Peter Downsbrough, Claude Rutault, Steven Parrino, Jessica Stockholder, Cécile Bart…)

Daniel Heller-Roazen | Echolalias | Zone Books | 2005

This is a book « on the Forgetting of Language », which reads the history of language as multiple stories of oblivion and loss and recovery (of sounds, letters, texts, idioms). With multilingual sources ranging from the Zohar to Chomsky and from medieval Arabic texts to Proust, a feat of extraordinary erudition that is also an immensely pleasurable read.

François Noudelmann | Hors de moi | Léo Scheer | 2006

This is a book angry, if polite, against genealogy, or rather, against conservative contemporary uses of (the concept of) genealogy that stray away from the genius and method of Nietzsche and, after him, say Foucault. Everyone seems to be endeavoring to find their family origins, psychogenealogists are on the rise as the transmission of values is rumored to be dysfunctional. This echoes a general form of thinking that strives to restore linearity and causality and to reestablish ‘lost’ continuities and analogies. Noudelmann, on the contrary, vigorously calls for alternative, radical, non-pure modes of kinship, in thought and in life.

Avital Ronell | Crack Wars | U. of Nebraska Press | 1992

Already a classic. Still über-exciting. A work of resistance written at a time when chasing crack users boiled down to a sheer ethnocide. Taking her cue from Nietzsche, Avital Ronell sets out to show that “the history of narcotica is almost the history of ‘culture’, of our so-called high culture”. She does so by exploring not the expected canonical texts (Burroughs, Baudelaire, Benjamin…) but rather Emma Bovary as addicted body (“EB on ice”). Flaubert as you’ve never read her.

Jalal Toufic | Two or Three Things I’m Dying to Tell You | The Post-Apollo Press | 2005

Jalal Toufic is always surprising. He keeps arresting my interior monologue (see his first book, Distracted). Here Spielberg, Rilke and Lewis Carroll are read together in the light of Lebanese politics, and Lyn Hejinian’s A Border Comedy in the light of The Thousand and One Nights as well as other, mystical, Arabic texts. Toufic also invents a fascinating double feature titled Rear Window Vertigo (1954-1958), directed by Alfred Hitchcock where, from the first part to the second, James Stewart aka L.B. Jefferies/John (Scottie) Ferguson had a psychogenic fugue leading him west, to San Francisco.

Bénédicte Vilgrain | Ngà | Héros-Limite | 2009

For a few years now, Bénédicte Vilgrain has been making poetry out of tales and proverbs culled from old Tibetan grammar treatises. Her own version of a Tibetan grammar has been coming out, chapter after chapter, in various forms of publication. Ngà is chapter 8, the longest so far, a little book of its own with Geneva-based éditions Héros-Limite. I don’t always get it but i love to read it. Beautiful, mysterious and unflinching.

Marina Warner | Managing Monsters | Vintage | 1994

“Queen Victoria opened the first dinosaur theme park at Sydenham in South London in 1852”. Thus begins Managing Monsters – Six myths of our time. These are 6 essays that Marina Warner gave as the Reith lectures on the BBC in 1994. She packs in, with radio-lightness, a lot of ideas about gender and myth and contemporary society that get more substantial development in her other, heftier, books (From the Beast to the Blonde, Monuments and Maidens, etc.). She looks at the origins of six modern myths: monstrous mothers, warrior heroes, diabolical innocents, wild beasts, savage strangers and the myth of origin, or of home. The book ends “without sentimentality, without rancour, always resisting the sweet seduction of despair”.

More Omar Berrada here.