Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

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Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Moxley

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 | Robert Stanton

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Rae Armantrout | Money Shot | Wesleyan | 2011

“Just” another incredible book from Armantrout, maybe even her greatest to date. Her best poems—personal favourites here include “Across,” “Fuel” “Soft Money,” “Exact” & “This Is”—are the best poems being written in America (& in American) right now.

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

A whole new way of seeing—& of thinking/feeling/recording what is seen. What more can one ask of a poet? I’m still ploughing through the four volume set, but this already feels like a major event in my reading life. . . .

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

Just when Foust’s more usual gallows-humour-driven expressionistic-minimalist style was in danger of edging into shtick, he diversifies—in this & in To Graham Foust on the Morning of His Fortieth Birthday (The Song Cave, 2010)—into sentence-by-sentence prose meditation, retaining his virtues in concision & upset but presenting them on a much bigger canvas. Like a colder Spicer, a more fucked-up Stevens, he rejuvenates the serial-poem-about-poetry-that’s-really-about-life for a more cynical age. Where will he go next?

Mark Ford | Six Children | Faber | 2011

What a strange, troubling & strangely moving volume this is. Ford’s poetry has been described as a cross between Ashbery’s & Larkin’s—fairly accurately, it must be said, although in itself this doesn’t prepare for the absolute oddness of such an amalgam. A deep student of the New York School, & of Ashbery in particular, Ford can’t summon the playfulness, optimism or confidence of his American forebears, replacing them with chilly despair, repressed anxiety & mortal dread. Death pervades—elegies to the poet’s father, a memorial to a friend & fellow poet—along with a new, for Ford, post-colonial nostalgia-slash-guilt. Like the title poem, which thrillingly instills an ambivalent Whitman with appropriate Miltonic splendor, this book works, & is curiously uplifting in its dejection. Also recommended, on a similarly morbid note: Paul Muldoon’s new volume, Maggot (Faber, 2011).

Barbara Guest | Forces of Imagination | Kelsey St. | 2003

Alongside Eigner & Zanzotto (see below), my third big, belated discovery of the year was, courtesy of John Wilkinson’s critical advocacy, Barbara Guest. I’m still working (wandering) through her Collected Poems, but this collection of “essays” and assorted reflections really caught my attention: a more convincing, fluid meeting of “theory” & “poetry” than any “Language” text I’ve ever encountered. True & precious abstraction. . . .

Geoffrey Hill | Clavics | Enitharmon | 2011

Fun to see—in this & in Oraclau | Oracles (Clutag, 2010)—Hill try to shoehorn his late-won, new-found wilder style back into strict forms (and formalists don’t come much stricter than George Herbert, the obvious model here). Clunky in places, outright bad in others, full of infelicities the younger Hill would never have countenanced, this volume is nevertheless full of a poetic liveliness a 79-year old High Anglican Oxford Professor of Poetry has no earthly right to access. Hills’ Oxford lectures have been enjoyable so far too, especially when he called for a crazier “Mad Meg” spirit he felt was lacking from contemporary British poetry. Maybe he should read more Keston Sutherland (see below).

Joseph Massey | At the Point | Shearsman | 2011

Massey’s sophomore effort proves more of less can sometimes be more. In this case, a more structured, leaner, meaner & altogether poised survey of the same Californian territory already addressed in his impressive debut, Areas of Fog. The obvious byproduct & overflow of a long-sustained & concentrated observation, this new book nevertheless seems to be forever gesturing off at something larger, something just out of view. . . .

Jennifer Moxley | Coastal | The Song Cave | 2011

This should be insufferable: a “9/11” poem long on art & artistic survival techniques, short on political comment & commentary. Moxley, however, pulls it off (again). By tackling self-absorption head on, she somehow embodies, ennobles & transcends it all at once, producing a poem both diagnostic & exemplary in the process, something her less explicitly but more intrinsically narcissistic peers would struggle with. (Between this, the Foust text mentioned above & Peter Gizzi’s wonderfully titled Pinocchio’s Gnosis, The Song Cave gets my vote as press-of-the-year.)

J. H. Prynne | Sub Songs | Barque | 2010

After the bleak To Pollen and the (pleasingly) rebarbative Streak~~~Willing~~~Entourage ARTESIAN, these nine lyrics seem, presented in an elegant and generous outsize folio as they are, positively relaxed by recent Prynne standards. It’s all relative, of course:

……………………………………………….The place-work of
willed repeats gains a familiar tremor in jointure, we say
sustainable our mouth assents slave dental unbroken torrid reason
will commute previous and lie down. None more credible, mirror
make up flat sat batch pinup gruesome genome. Now get out.

Keston Sutherland | Stress Position | Barque | 2009

Slow on the uptake here, probably because Sutherland’s previous volume, 2007’s Hot White Andy, scared the hell out of me (blazing as it was). Stress Position is intense too, but in a more diffused manner, making room for a cast of thousands (Ali whoever, Black Beauty, Dot, etc.), a bouncy elastic form (seven line stanzas, roughly seven beat lines, the odd extended prose footnote) & numerous scenic shifts (public toilet-set sexual assault, yacht-based cooking contest, etc.). Like David Cronenberg rewriting The Rape of the Lock, Stress Position evades any pat analogy you can throw at it. My vote for it as poem of the year (2009) elects it king of something or other. The same terrain is roundly abused again in The Stats on Infinity (Crater, 2010) & his prose study Stupefaction (Seagull, forthcoming 2011) looks promising too. Best English-language poet of his generation? Quite possibly.

Christian Wiman | Every Riven Thing | Farrar | 2010

This year’s mainstream-book-I-liked-much-more-than-I-expected-to. A new formalist previously overly interested in narrative (with very mixed results: see the sequence “Being Serious” for serious overwrought bathetic wallowing of the first water), Wiman is here thrown back onto his own story by a cancer diagnosis & its subsequent aftermath, becoming an intense, driven, forceful & skilful religious poet as a result. Everyday epiphanies meet convincingly apocalyptic tinges in a volume that, thankfully, rises above the merely confessional.

“Bubbling Under” (couldn’t resist a second eleven): works by Stephen Collis; Emily Critchley; Roy Fisher; Susan Howe; Paul Muldoon; Wendy Mulford (the Howe & Mulford texts here—That This & The Land Between—are properly, powerfully “adult” responses to grief and morality: an interesting contrast to the sometimes gleeful outlook of Ford & Muldoon); Ezra Pound (ed. Richard Sieburth); Tom Raworth; Rimbaud (trans. John Ashbery); David Foster Wallace (a pure joy—too funny to be the work of a suicide, surely?); Andrea Zanzotto (& Antonio Porta & Franco Buffoni & Milo de Angelis & Valerio Magrelli & Mario Luzi & Patrizia Cavalli—it’s been a very Italian year for me, all-told, reading-wise).

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Rob Stanton was born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, UK in 1977, raised outside Birmingham, educated in Cardiff and Leeds and currently lives in Savannah, Georgia, USA with wife, daughter and cats. His first book of poetry, The Method, was published by Penned in the Margins in 2011.

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

Attention Span 2011 | Daniel Bouchard

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Benjamin Friedlander | Citizen Cain | Salt | 2011

I used to think of “flarf’ as embodying the poetics of insincerity. Ben Friedlander’s book has changed my mind. This is a sincere book, and it’s really weird and wonderful. This stanza, opening the poem (title lifted from Baraka) “Somebody Blew Up America,” provides a kind of framework for the collection’s many modes: “The poem you just heard was ironic and this one is sincere. / How can you tell? Because it was written in ‘my’ voice.” Don’t ask the criteria for insincerity but rather think what the search terms might have been: “The special sin that arouses God’s anger is in reality an aborted baby.” That’s just language from the Web, right? How about “the sticky / white load he pumped on her toes. / Bookmark this site.” I’ve never read such a variety of contemporary voices commandeered in poems. Yet for all the noise that might suggest the poems read with consistent grace and an even pace despite their detachment from the Literary. And they’re hard voices to identify. Maybe it’s better not to think too much about who they may be or represent or where they come from, either as individuals or composites. The Web is dark and strange: your keyboard is a Ouija board that can summon a wide array of spirits. They show up and begin to reflect or speak to your preoccupations, even demons. Better to read with your eyes slightly out of focus (like being online too long) to get a picture of the poet shaping these poems (in 4, 3, or 2 line stanzas, almost exclusively) and the umami of sensibility. This is a good book of poetry. This is a funny book. “Remember Vietnam? No, not really. / But I do remember what shaq did / last year in the playoffs. Hoooooooo!” (16) Jewish culture, user feedback, user profiles, modern poetry, politics (“Senator shithead”), internet porn: not many books published today make me think ‘oh, I could never write this’ and also elicit respect in the form of envy. Pound appears throughout the book, a significantly higher number of times than placenta, and placenta is no small presence. Read “Alterity Cudgel,” “The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry,” and “Me and My Gang” (“Sexy Librarians of the Future \ are behind you, with a big strapon \ called Knowledge . . .”) and then just jump around. If someone who doesn’t regularly read poetry wants to know what book they should purchase by a living poet, Citizen Cain is a lively choice.

Rachel Blau DuPlessis | The Collage Poems of Drafts | Salt | 2011

It’s not a difficult shift from the thickness and rich verbal density of all the preceding of DuPlessis’s Drafts to this new mostly-visually based format. The mode of collage isn’t new to Drafts and the pictorial element (four color at that!) in this collection has strong ligatures cementing the continuity of the overall project. Somewhere she has said she thinks of Schwitters all the time, a claim substantiated and made quite apparent in the materials and arrangements of these works. Attentive readers will see familiar themes, processes and words sustained here from earlier incarnations and with a similar richness resulting: “A process of scraping, of ripping, of pasting. . . . Mite and mote.”

Edgar Lee Masters | The Great Valley | MacMillan | 1916

Published a year after Spoon River Anthology, Masters broadens his sustained meditation on American history and society in a book that is very long and very prosaic. But its flatness is somewhat countered by the sheer range of interest the poet takes in so many things, and the belief that there is so much to give voice to, and so many worthy. The title refers to Illinois, and the elegies within sing of long forgotten figures, mostly local. The Lincoln–Douglas debates, Dreiser, and Robert Ingersoll are among the better known subjects. (I couldn’t help but think of Sufjan Stevens’s Illinoise throughout.) Honestly, I lost interest about halfway thru the book but I am glad I read the entire thing. Masters is a lot more than just the famous Spoon River. There is a fat selected poems waiting to be created. It should aim to bring the best of his work back into view.

Bryher | The Fourteenth of October | Pantheon | 1952
Bryher | Roman Wall | Pantheon | 1954
Bryher | Beowulf | Pantheon | 1956
Bryher | Ruan | Pantheon | 1960

Byher’s historic novels have a pattern: a boy’s coming of age tale in which he is caught up in the forces of history. His native land is in the throes of turmoil: Saxon England fighting the Norman invasion; a Roman outpost fighting the plundering Goths; London during the Blitz; a druid heir fleeing the conversion of Cornwall to Christianity. In each narrative there is a slackness or incoherency to the society which makes it vulnerable. Old ties and traditions will soon be washed away. There is usually one character who knows better and can see the peril coming but no one will listen to them and then it’s too late. In this, Bryher herself is represented directly. She wrote in her memoirs that she saw WWII coming years before it began. But, alas, no one would listen. She acknowledges a deep influence by G.A. Henty, a nineteenth century novelist who wrote adventure stories for juveniles. Bryher’s attention to detail for what life may have been like for common people at turning points of history across many centuries makes her stories vivid and interesting. All of the books can be read rather quickly. The Player’s Boy and The Coin of Carthage are among her best. Her two memoirs, The Heart of Artemis and The Days of Mars, are not to be missed.

Brook Holgum, ed. | The Capilano Review: George Stanley issue | Vancouver | 2011

A festschrift for George Stanley, San Francisco-born Canadian poet: interviews, photographs, recollections, dedicatory poems and critical takes. As if that were not enough the issue also contains the debut of Stanley’s serial poem After Desire which alone is worth the price of admission.

Humbert Wolfe | Humoresque | E Benn | 1926

Wikipedia describes him as “an Italian-born English poet, man of letters and civil servant, from a Jewish family background.” A contemporary of Pound and Eliot, Wolfe’s work falls to the lighter side of poetry. Prolific in the 1920s and 30s (he died in 1940) he left a largely forgettable body of work. But once in a while there is a gem:

I looked back suddenly
into the empty room
and saw the lamp that I had lit
still shining on the little table by the window
and throwing its light on the tumbled sheets of paper
on which I had been writing.

And I felt as though long years ago a man,
whom I had know very little,
had lighted that lamp,
and sat by the window writing and believing that he was a poet,
and then he came out of the room and found the letter.

He would not go into the room again:
And not he, but I will go in softly
And put out the lamp,
And lay aside the useless paper.

Joseph Torra | What’s So Funny | Pressed Wafer | 2011

This short novel is the narrative of a washed-up comedian on the verge of quitting his trade. Angry, depressed, misanthropic, not even his trademark biting humor gives him satisfaction anymore. “Is there anything more sickening than a couple falling in love?” His marriage is long over, his family distant, dead or in decline. “Could there be anything sicker than the concept of baptism? That some precious newborn baby is born in sin, and has to be cleansed?” The pathos of the story, the loneliness and sadness of an individual who can’t see or won’t admit or simply can’t overcome the causes of his suffering, is nearly drowned by the humor with which the material, and life, attempts to redeem itself. Finally you realize you are reading the transcript of one long comedy routine. Childhood, sex, race, religion, dating, therapy, war, porn, the usual and not so usual material of stand up, are all grist for the mill. “If everyone would lie about Santa, they’ll lie about God.”

Joe Elliot | Homework | Lunar Chandelier | 2010

Cedar Sigo | Stranger in Town | City Lights | 2010

Jennifer Moxley | Coastal | The Song Cave | 2011

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Daniel Bouchard’s poetry books include The Filaments (Zasterle Press) and Some Mountains Removed (Subpress). He edited The Poker for many years. An essay on George Stanley’s work appeared recently in The Capilano Review, and an essay on Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s Drafts is posted at Jacket2.

Bouchard’s Attention Span for 201020092005. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Kevin Killian

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Martine Bellen | Ghosts! | Spuyten Duyvil | 2011

Martine Bellen is one of the poets I most often wish I had met; when I read her work I feel the thrill of making a new friend, someone just for me. Her new book Ghosts! begins with a sensational, almost flip title and never looks back. Sketched within three series of poems, a woman’s story reflects and refracts through the brackets of life and death, and the “story,” as I have called it, never manages to dry into any flat sort of wholeness. How to see her? It would be like defining what Ingrid Bergman was like through the six films she made with Rossellini. What happens in Ghosts! is, on the other hand, strikingly similar to what happens to Ingrid in Europa 51 and that one with George Sanders—we change, change utterly as the words mount up to our waists like dry leaves in a red country.

Gregg Biglieri | Little Richard the Second | Ugly Duckling | 2011

Ugly Duckling puts out some striking books and this one, without a spine or really much of anything holding it together except for a length of brown string and a trio of tiny bored holes, is one of the fairest. Biglieri’s poem is pretty short and is printed I think all on one side of a length of paper with two dozen folds in it. Every time you turn a page you’re conscious of the pages as uncut; squeeze them between your fingers and they balloon out, revealing blank folds underneath. The writing produces an uncanny, And Then There Were None feel of words eating themselves, disappearing before one’s eyes, often enough through a puns and anagrams approach Mel Taub himself might envy. Or “Captain Mnemo,” Biglieri’s mascot. “Hurt his iris/Hiss her ear.” Yes, it’s a short book, but humankind cannot stand much reality.

Brandon Brown | The Persians by Aeschylus | Displaced | 2011

 Displaced Press from Michigan has put forward an awesome initiative, printing the first books of a handful of young American poets I’ve been following for some time. One of them is Brandon Brown, a figure on the San Francisco poetry scene whom I first met some years ago when I enlisted him to help me and Peter Gizzi and our work on collecting Jack Spicer’s poetry. Brown is a classicist and it shows up in his work to an almost irksome degree, but his book is a rousing reminder, not perhaps of the relevance of ancient Greek drama, but of the ways in which change is forever written into all things, a golden thread amid the dreck. I remember hearing about the poets’ production of The Persians, held outdoors at the Presidio, and I was actually present for a scene or two Brown delivered onstage at Timken Hall, where the parallels between the Persians of Aeschylus’ days, and the Iranians of ours, were made very clear through deft riffs of stagecraft, declamation, and an Olsonian take on the function of the city in poetry.

Stacy Doris| The Cake Part | Publication Studio | 2011

People know so little about the French revolution, but they do remember the cake part. Publication Studio is a sort of “print on demand” company based in Portland (Oregon) that can take on the most innovative and complicated sort of project, and has made a perfect match with Stacy Doris’ unique text application. Part found poem, part manifesto, part investigative poetry, and sometimes as silly as Ronald Firbank. In recent months she asked a whole bunch of poets and other friends to make little videos based on assigned parts of her book, so I got to know “mine” pretty well, and to launch the book she posted them all on her own Vimeo channel which please check out. This sort of history lesson is infectious, like a show and tell lesson combined with a trip in the Wayback Machine—there can be nothing, literally, more outlandish.

Jennifer Natalya Fink | Thirteen Fugues | Dark Coast | 2011

Fink is the veteran author of several books, but she keeps surprising the attentive reader. Her stories share textual strategies with prose poetry, woven together out of myriad weaves and looms, tying themselves together in what I, if I knew more about music, would ascribe to some sort of fugal structure. Here the stories slash prose passages accrete into what could almost be a novel in the hands of a lesser writer, and sometimes prose itself breaks down into the stronger and harsher mode of poetry itself, line breaks and all, when “Tanya,” Fink’s appealing and yet scary heroine, decides to stop making sense and to give her soul a little room to breathe. Fink ignores also the conventional geographies of writing, and her book transports itself with abandon from South America, to Canada, to the US suburbs of her deep affection.

Colleen Lookingbill | A Forgetting Of | Lyric& | 2011

Did you ever write something, almost a book’s worth of it, and then you put it away for one reason or another? Perhaps life intervened, perhaps something more interesting than life. In the gritty and determined world of A Forgetting Of, Colleen Lookingbill performs a complex and dangerous operation, that of reviving a forgotten body of poems. She had made a wonderful debut in the 1990s with her first book, Incognita, and then nothing. So much talent and grace, however, coupled with a health scare while she was still young, could not let the matter rest. From somewhere deep within, and accompanied by a suite of full color paintings very much in the Romantic vein of the poems, a book came to life, and a family of fans, at last, finds entertainment.

Deborah Meadows | Saccade Patterns | BlazeVOX | 2011

She has published ten books of poetry since 2003, and here comes an eleventh. I’m sure that, like Leslie Scalapino used to, she will forgive you if you haven’t read all of her oeuvre. (RIP Leslie!) Saccade Patterns are apparently the movements of your eyeballs in your heads, back and forth, up and down, the rotations eyes make continually until pattern recognition momentarily soothes that restless urge to know. Meadows has been good at evoking patterns (of loss, of recognition, of right and wrong) for a decade, and here she steps back from the powers of her own sight and applies what she’s learned to the social and political problems that engorge our times.

Jennifer Moxley | Coastal | The Song Cave | 2011

Steve, you thought you could box in Jennifer by referring to her then-ongoing long poem “Coastal” as “your 9/11 poem”? Ha ha, she responds with a quick twist of her poniard. But I sympathize with you because to all intents and purposes I agree a little. “Coastal” is a continuous unfolding of a book that contrasts the southern Maine of Moxley’s present surround, with the Southern California in which she grew up, and in the telling, Maine comes to stand in synecdochically for middle age itself, San Diego for youth. And the poem organizes itself along these lines (there’s also a James Schuyler/Rae Armantrout dialectic) until the artist reveals that despite obvious differences, the similarities that link worlds together—poetry and painting—the East and the West—the heterosexual and the lesbian—the past and the present—are more provocative, more enigmatic. I’m sure you were just testing this theory when you made your now famous faux pas.

Olumide Popoola | This Is Not About Sadness | Unrast Verlag | 2010

The reverberations of African revolution shake up a mixed neighborhood in a working class backwater of London. This is the first full-length book by the Nigerian-German author Olumide Popoola, published in English in Munster. Wait, is that the same as Munich? When “Olu” came to San Francisco recently, introduced to me and Bob Glück by UK novelist Shaun Levin and by Olu’s advisor the poet Tim Atkins, we had the feeling that a necessary voice was being heard, and that the world had expanded from within. “We don’t measure in impossibility/ in anguish or that which sliups/ through our hands,” writes Popoola. Two women, one old, the other young, meet in London—two different Africas in their pasts, and the secrets they have kept begin to break down under London’s weak and tenuous sun.

Jane Sprague, ed. | Imaginary Syllabi! | Palm Press | 2011

This has got to be the funnest book I’ve read in eons. Editor Sprague’s opening statement tells us that she has made up a book by multiple authors “that aims to collect writings which […] essentially challenge pedagogical strategies pursuant to the work of teaching writing and other disciplines.” The book has some utopian syllabi, but not all of them are as imaginary as others, and some have actually been taught in classes in college programs in official “and mongrel” schools. An expansiveness fills the volume, even when the courses offered have a touch of our 21st century despair to them; Sprague must have felt like, oh who was it put out that “curriculum of the soul” and assigned all his favorite poets to writer on all those topics in the 1970s? Anyhow I think you get the gist. OK, not all of the contributions are of equal value, but I can see myself as an eternal student making use of them all for my own edification. And if I ever teach a poetry course I’ll be thinking primarily not of my own students, but of how to make my syllabus thrilling enough to get into Sprague 2.0.

Nicholas James Whittington | Slough | Bird & Beckett | 2010

I read the whole book several times and only now, as I struggle to type out the author’s name and the name of his book for the demanding readers of “Attention Span” have I realized that the book is not called Slouch, but Slough. It is the sort of California-landscape poetry, honed and polished to a few memorable lines per page, that I think of as the province of sloughmaster Joseph Massey of Arcata, but no, in fact it is written by someone totally different, and someone with his own sort of dreamy and visionary consciousness, a man with more air in his slough, with more than a trace of Beat DNA in his blood. And Jabès too. It is a wellshaped book, not quite small enough to fit in your hip pocket, but you could slip it into a trenchcoat pocket without protest and with a certain synchronicity. “Tell me where you live,” Whittington writes, “light’s particles shall settle in/ troughs of your voice.” I’m saying he ain’t no slouch.

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Kevin Killian is a San Francisco writer  His books include Bedrooms Have Windows, Shy, Little Men, Arctic Summer, Argento Series, I Cry Like a Baby, and Action Kylie.  His new book of stories is called Impossible Princess (from City Lights Books).

Killian’s Attention Span for 2010200920072006200520042003. Back to 2011 directory.

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 | John Palattella

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Annie Dillard | Pilgrim at Tinker Creek | Harper | 1974

The electron is like a muskrat; it cannot be perfectly stalked.

T.S. Eliot, eds. Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton | The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume 2: 1923–1925 | Faber | 2009

…the Editor has to combine and reconcile principle, sensibility, and business sense. That is why an editor’s life is such a bloody sweat.

Merrill Gilfillan | The Bark of the Dog | Flood | 2010

Sprigs for sunrise,
sprigs for Taos, and soldiers
on the steep blue sea.

Peter Gizzi | Threshold Songs | Wesleyan | 2011

And my body also
a commotion of sound
and form. Of tides.

Tony Judt | Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 | Penguin | 2005

The much-anticipated transition from capitalism to socialism had been theorized ad nauseum in academies, universities and coffee bars from Belgrade to Berkeley; but no-one had thought to offer a blueprint for the transition from socialism to capitalism.

James Longenbach | The Iron Key | Norton | 2010

Hephaestus, carve me a hollow cup!
The dark earth drinks, and the trees drink the earth.
The sea drinks the wind,
The sun drinks the sea.

Jennifer Moxley | Coastal | The Song Cave | 2011

A muggy sunny day, better for plants than people.

Lorine Niedecker, ed. Jenny Penberthy | Collected Works | California | 2002

Ruby of corundum
lapis lazuli
from changing limestone
glow-apricot red-brown
carnelian sard
Greek named
Exodus-antique
kicked up in America’s
Northwest
you have been in my mind
between my toes
agate

David Rieff | Swimming in a Sea of Death | Simon & Schuster | 2008

My mother’s “default mode” had always been the transcendental, or, perhaps more accurately, that of the exemplary student who also aspires to be the exemplary soul. Don’t laugh or smile condescendingly, dear reader: there are more ignoble ambitions.

Marilynne Robinson | The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought | Houghton Mifflin | 1998

Economics, the great model now among us, indulges and deprives, builds and abandons, threatens and promises. Its imperium is manifest, irrefragable—as in fact it has been since antiquity. Yet suddenly we act as if the reality of economics were really reality itself, the one Truth to which everything must refer. I can only suggest that terror at complexity has driven us back on this very crude monism. We have reached a point where cosmology permits us to say that everything might in fact be made of nothing, so we cling desperately to the idea that something is real and necessary, and we have chosen, oddly enough, competition and market forces, taking refuge from the wild epic of cosmic ontogeny by hiding our head in the ledger.

W.B. Yeats | The Poems | Macmillan | 1983

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The hearts grown brutal from the fare;
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love; O honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

§

John Palattella is the Literary Editor for The Nation. Palattella’s Attention Span for 201020092008200720062005. Back to 2011 Directory.


Attention Span 2010 – Marcella Durand

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George Albon | Empire Life | Littoral | 1998

“Mass resets interior.” Tight.

Kamau Brathwaite | SAVE COWPASTOR | www.tomraworth.com/wordpress

The complete archives of this Web site, spanning many years, are word-in-and-as-witness to CowPastor’s destruction.

Peter Culley | Hammertown | New Star | 2003

A double writing this, but within sevens, form springs beauty.

Emily Dickinson | Selected Letters | Harvard | 1986

There’s probably a better and fuller edition out there somewhere, and if not, there should be. All the same, life-changing.

Paul Foster Johnson | Refrains/Unworkings | Apostrophe | 2008

We may be “immoderate,” but this book says it beautifully moderately.

Rachel Levitsky | Neighbor | Ugly Duckling | 2009

This book illuminated the complex workings of my 30-unit tenement building within the larger political and social systems within which we exist.

Michèle Métail | La route de cinq pieds | Tarabuste | 2006

Another example of Métail’s innovating form around content around form (going way past Oulipo): in this case, a route through China in five-syllable form drawn from Chinese classical poetry.

Jennifer Moxley | Clampdown | Flood | 2009

Bought at and devoured after her reading at the Poetry Project this spring. (And The Middle Room shortly thereafter.)

Charles Olson | Call Me Ismael | Johns Hopkins | 1997

Some necessary ecology to which I was way too long delayed.

Kristin Prevallet | [I, Afterlife] [Essay in Mourning Time] | Essay Press | 2007

Gets into, beautifully, the disconnects between land, life, death, action, “me” and “world.”

Karen Weiser | To Light Out | Ugly Duckling | 2009

Communiqués from the gorgeous static of growing things.

Honorable mentions: Lyx Ish’s essay in Avant-Gardening, Black Geographies and the Politics of Place; C.S. Giscombe’s Prairie Style; Maurice Maeterlinck and L.L. Langstroth’s books on bees; Kevin Varrone reading from passyunk lost at the Poetry Project (and now the book has finally arrived!).

More about Marcella Durand here. Her Attention Span for 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004. Back to directory.