Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Posts Tagged ‘Johannes Göransson

Attention Span 2011 | Johannes Göransson

with one comment

Jenny Boully | not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them | Tarpaulin Sky | 2011

A poetic novel that inhabits J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, or perhaps a novel that is haunted by the older book, or that haunts it. Much like Sara Stridsberg’s novel (see below) inhabits and is haunted by Nabokov’s text. And like Stridsberg, it’s deeply lyrical and beautiful, as well as disturbing.

Blake Butler| There is No Year | Harper Perennial | 2011

Another hallucinatory poem-as-novel, much like the Lonely Christopher (see below), as well as David Lynch’s “Inland Empire” in its striking images and scenes; and like Lynch’s movie, it’s explores the gothic trope of the “haunted house” in an age of media saturation.

Daniel Borzutzky | The Book of Interfering Bodies | Nightboat | 2011

This book begins with an epigraph from the 9/11 Commission Report: “It is therefore crucial to find a way of routinizing, even bureaucratiizing, the exercise of the imagination.” One response to this might be to write poems as far away from bureaucracies as possible (an escape into nature or some such), but Borzutzky decides to go through the giant bureaucracy of the “war on terror,” pushing the clinical, euphemistic discourses of a patriot-act government into beautiful, disturbing hallucinations.

Aimé Césaire, trans. A. James Arnold and Clayton Eshleman | Solar Throat Slashed | Wesleyan | 2011

This is a new translation of the 1948 unexpurgated edition of this book by the legendary Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, maybe the greatest poet of the 20th century. This was Cesaire’s second book, following the legendary Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, and it extend the disturbing, grotesque, beautiful visions of that book. I’m eternally grateful to Eshleman for not only writing his own fine poems but also for his translations of some of the greatest poets of the 20th century: Césaire, Artaud, Vallejo.

Feng Sun Chen | Ugly Fish | Radioactive Moat | 2011

An extreme case of “ugly feelings,” pushed to the limit and then pushed through the limit. The final section begins with an homage to Plath: “The poet does not survive. / Now she is already dead. / Born for the crate / Pure fat being with ammary and simultaneous craters.” But then she goes through the woman’s body with its insects eggs and ham-iness (in every sense of the term) and ends up in a space overwhelmed by affect, a space of Raúl Zurita carrying “the bodies of Chile like a rattle.” It’s not an epiphany but an intensive state of affect, of meat supersaturated by Art.

Lonely Christopher | The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse | Akaschik | 2011

Short stories as prose poems based on relentless modulations of basic sentence structures and vibrant hallucinations. Seems similar to Butler’s book in its haunted, exhaustive, upsetting, poetic aesthetic.

Seyhan Erözcelik, trans. Murat Nemet-Nejat | Rose-Strikes and Coffee Grinds | Talisman | 2010

The language is positively buzzing, words being broken down and recombined in a saturative zone emblematized by that oldest of symbols, the rose: “Rape me. / With my invisible groom. / In your crime bed.” Comes with Nemet-Nejat’s quixotic interpretative framework. He’s an example of a translator whose fidelity to the original takes him so close to it that he comes out the other side, in a place akin to madness.

Polly Jean Harvey | Let England Shake | Vagrant | 2011

I had no idea PJ Harvey could make such a beautiful, poetic record. I had no idea anybody could make a record this beautiful about “England” and its dead sailors and “deformed children.”

Johan Jönson | Efter arbetschema | Bonnier | 2009

This was published a couple of years ago but frankly it’s so long that it has taken me a while to finish it. Jönson is a leading “conceptual poet” in Sweden, a working-class poet whose subject matter is often his job: shoveling shit at an old people’s home. One might say, in line with the typical claim for conceptual poetry, that this 800-page obsessive-desperate poem-as-diary is “unreadable.” But it strikes me as almost “un-write-able.” Jönson made an early debut in the late 80s as a promising poet, but then he disappeared from the Swedish poetry scene, instead writing plays for political gatherings, such as union meetings or information meetings for battered women. These performances were based on interviews with the audience. Since being rediscovered around 2000, he has written many pieces based on samplings of various kinds (Danielle Collobert’s diary in Collobert Orbital, which I translated a while back for Displaced Press). And the shit-shoveling, the sampling, the diary all come together in this paranoid, almost unreadable, unwrite-able 800-pager.

Stina Kajaso | Son of Daddy blog | | 2011

Some of my favorite “poems” of the past year has been the ranty entries on performance artist Stina Kajaso’s ultra-gurlesque blog of roughly biographical writing. If it’s biographical it’s in the best sense: performative, fantastic, ridiculous, excessive, over-the-top. And for people who don’t read Swedish, it’s got hilarious, ridiculous collages and videos (such as the one in which she explains how to put a fake sore on your shoulder and why that’s a pretty thing). She’s as likely to talk about eurovision competition as performance art (which is to say she’s likely to talk a lot about both topics).

Sean Kilpatrick | Fuckscapes | Blue Square | 2011

The violent, sexual zone of television and entertainment is made to saturate that safe-haven, the American Family. The result is a zone of violent ambience, a “fuckscape”: where every object or word can be made to do horrific acts. As when torturers use banal objects on its victims, it is the most banal objects that become the most horrific (and hilarious) in Sean Kilpatrick’s brilliant first book.

Alexander McQueen | Savage Beauty | 2011

I love these dresses (outfits, costumes) made in the mode of what McQueen insightfully called “Romantic Gothic” (my favorite genre), dresses that seem to be in the process of hybridizing with the scuffed-up mannequins, generating horns and leaves. When I first got this book earlier this summer, I was in the midst of translating Swedish poet Aase Berg’s masterpiece Dark Matter and it struck me immediately that McQueen’s outfits are perhaps closer aesthetically to this book than just about any book of American (or Swedish) poetry.

Joyelle McSweeney | The Necropastoral | Spork | 2011

This beautiful book, decorated with Andrew Shuta’s Eazy-E-featured collages, includes McSweeney’s “King Prion” possessions, which are both about and formally based on the “prion” that causes Mad Cow’s Disease, as well as two lyrical essays on McSweeney’s concept of “the necropastoral.”

Alice Notley | Culture of One | Penguin | 2011

Notley is one of my absolute favorite poets and this series of interlinked prose pieces meditating on “mercy” (which I read as “Art” with its “thousand tentacles”) might be my favorite of her many books. It’s also her most grotesque, full of odd monster bodies, such as “the death fish.” Absolutely visionary. As in books like Alma and Descent of Alette, Notley uses narrative in a fascinating way—at times in rants, at times in dramatic monologues. I love this book.

Sara Stridsberg | Darling River | Albert Bonnier Förlag | 2010

I love Stridsberg’s previous book, The Dream Department as well. That one is a kind of dream diary of Valerie Solanis. This one is a dreamy story of a series of “Lolitas,” including Nabokov’s original Lolita (which of course was tragically not an original but based on a memory and Edgar Allen Poe’s “Annabelle Lee,” and also supposedly stolen by Nabokov from a Nazi neighbor). The central Lolita, named after Nabokov’s character, drives around in a hallucinatory landscape of forest fires and prostitutes with her dubious father, who has been abandoned by her mother. Together they shoot target practice on her clothes nailed up on trees in the woods. A visionary, baroque novel as poem. Or poem as novel.

Anja Utler, trans. Kurt Beals | engulf – enkindle | Burning Deck |2010

If the sublime is the intrusion of a foreign object, this books gives a kind of negative sublime: the reader as an intrusion into the text, whish “engulf[s]” the reader with an intensity somewhat reminiscent of Danielle Collobert.

Ronaldo Wilson | Poems of the Black Object | Futurepoem | 2010

Poems not only about America’s “wound culture” but in and of America’s “wound culture.” Out of those wounds leaks Art. Grotesquely beautiful. Wilson’s first book, The Narrative of the Brown Boy and White Man is also a good book. My favorite pieces in the first book recount dreams; the entire second book generates a kind of wounded dream space where Wilson explores the violence and sexuality that surrounds race in our culture.

Uljana Wolf, trans. Nathaniel Otting | My Cadastre | Nor By | 2009

Wolf explores a tension between the hierarchical/Freudian family with an ambient language-scape where fathers and daughters multiply and get rearranged in language. And of course this kind of language-scape is interesting for purposes of translation. Especially with words like “Cadastre” or “flurbuch,” the “ownership” that seems to be “translated” away. The accounts are unsettled.


Johannes Göransson is the author of four books, most recently Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate as well as several books of Swedish poetry in translation. He teaches at the University of Notre Dame, co-edits Action Books and Action, Yes, and blogs at

Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span – Andrew Rippeon

leave a comment »

(symmetry, reciprocal community)

Jed Birmingham & Kyle Schlesinger, eds. | Mimeo Mimeo vol. 1 | Brooklyn, NY | 2008

Saddle-stapled, glossy covers, 8 by 11, with essays by Christopher Harter (mimeo history) and Jed Birmingham (Burroughs and My Own Mag), an interview conducted by Kyle Schlesinger with Alistair Johnston, and a hybrid piece by Stephen Vincent reading Jack Spicer. Harter notes the importance of locale, community, and affordable technology; Birmingham’s essay details the potential for author-editor relationships in the small press world, and Schlesinger’s Johnston interview is incredible at once for the gossip, the shop talk, and the lesson in how much energy it really takes to make something great. And if you’re looking to map the field, the dozen or so pages of ads in the back are a great place to start.

Kyle Schlesinger | The Pink | Kenning Editions (ed. Patrick Durgin) | Chicago, IL | 2008

Ten poems in a variety of registers, from manipulations and repetitions in the mode of a poet like Ted Greenwald to poems that demonstrate a belief that a poem might be a place where we can find each other. But this is also a bookmaker’s book, full of “the serif[s] in / the surf’s curl,” and here it’s important to point to Quemadura’s book-making and design-work. The Pink is saddle-stapled and bound in what feels like a shirt cardboard, with titling running from back to front in what appears to be a thin plastic appliqué on the rough cover. With the poems printed on a marled, cream-colored stock, the page is completely opaque—the poems are really there. I’m unsure to what degree Schlesinger was involved in the design, but I can’t imagine any poet any less than completely thrilled to find their work in a container so perfect. It feels like opening a box in which the poems were shipped.

David Hadbawnik, ed. | kadar koli 1.2 | San Marcos, TX | 2007

“kadar koli” = “kuhdur coly” = “whenever.” Rumor is, this magazine used to be produced after-hours on borrowed copier time, and slipped into the mail bin when no one was looking. Featuring Mary Burger, Marcus Civin, Tom Clark, Nick Courtright, Lauren Dixon, Amy King, C.J. Martin, Andrew Neuendorf, Rich Owens, Tom Peters, John Phillips, Micah Robbins, Marcia Roberts, Elizabeth Robinson, Kyle Schlesinger, and Mathew Timmons, the magazine is notable at once for the range of emerging and established writers, the number of contributors who are literary publishers or promoters, and the range of formal-generic experiment across the contributions. Recently relocated from San Marcos, Texas, to Buffalo, hopefully “whenever” now means “more often” and “under less duress.”

David Hadbawnik | Ovid in Exile | Interbirth Books (ed. Micah Robbins) | Austin, TX | 2007

I picked this up at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair this year. Rich Owens had raved about the book, and there’d also been a review here and there. Forty-four pages of incredible poetry blending over half a dozen personae and collapsing two millennia into a multiply inflected palimpsest that most registers the erotic charge of time laying on time, persona on persona: “That awkward dance / is a kind of looking / that takes place / at the end of the smile / gradually takes the place / of it caries the I / back into sleep.” And there’s nothing chaste about Robbins’ book design, either. Hand-sewn, five signatures (red thread), wrapped in exquisite boards, and unless I’m mistaken, the pages are deckled by each of them being hand torn. Ovid, priapic, wilts by comparison.

Michael Cross, Michelle Detorie, Johannes Göransson | Dos Press Chapbook, no. 2, ser. 1 (ed. Julia Drescher and C.J. Martin) | San Marcos, TX | 2007

At this point, more people need to know about this series, and more people need to be writing about it. Dos no. 1, ser. 1 was mentioned here last year (featuring Carter Smith, Hoa Nguyen, and Andrea Strudensky), and the project continues—one book, two spines, three authors—as one of the most interesting publication venues for emerging poets. The featured author in no. 2 is Detorie, and her “A Coincidence of Wants” is a twenty or so page collection drenched in assonance and imagery: “…Anyways, it is // us in the underneath aftershock sucking / pink and pretending everything is ours.” Turn the book over, and the Cross/Göransson signature holds Cross’s ten-poem “Throne” and Göransson’s “Majakovskij en tragedy.” Göransson’s piece is devastatingly corporeal: “I repeat with pig meat / I have blond hair blue eyes / and the crackliest carnation / you’ve ever dug a shovel / through I have a ribcage / and a stripped woman I hold / with my fire arm and / a shuddered woman I kiss / with my pet mouth”. And with regard to Cross’s “Throne,” I can only say that in the weeks before he left Buffalo, a reading of this sequence sparked a conversation that left a head-wound in its wake. Which is finally to say, thinking of all three writers here, that Drescher and Martin have put together a beautiful collection of work that names its own stakes. And these stakes are high.

Julia Drescher | Mock Martyrs / Abound | Dancing Girl Press (ed. Kristy Bowen) | Chicago, IL | 2008

Drescher one time told me that the poems she’d given me were designed to make publication problematic. I’m still impressed and bewildered by this, now more so by the fact that I can see nothing compromised in Mock Martyrs / Abound, and yet, here it is. It’s part of an ongoing project that’s thinking really, really hard about how words, even down to the single word, make it onto the page. And once there, if they have the merit to remain. Bowen’s design is right on the mark here: At first, it seems appropriately stark: covers black on charcoal (almost black on black), and the book is small and square when closed. It’s after reading the book, closing it, and regarding the cover again—no images, (no serifs, even), just title in caps, that virgule, and the author’s name—that we see in Bowen’s design an exquisite reading of Drescher’s project: the text becoming, throughout the book, an image of itself and what it’s meant to contain:

knowing in some other darker place this : is what a face looks like
: growing : her hair in her / on her & : using touch to hear (i.e. : her
threads) soft some- : what blind delineations : common enough : some
misplaced private life that is : she builds her wheel between : trees
: though someone is : bound to tangle : through :

C.J. Martin | Lo, Bittern | Atticus/Finch (ed. Michael Cross) | Buffalo, NY | 2008

In the two or so years I’ve been reading Martin, the work has always stunned. It’s generous in that it gives new resource to the lyric, and demanding, as it asks the lyric to earn what he gives it: “This in a cluster cut for you from parcelside: / We were never littles for bigs, / who formerly share- / cropping, monument, for a day’s work / – whose thought alone, who / loved you better”. Here is the gift and the demand—both freight and circumstance declare themselves in the verse, and yet neither the act of carrying, nor what must be carried suffer to each other. This leaves the urge to get behind, into, the work, and Cross’s design—metallic pink covers in cellophane sleeves, titling cut across the signature, and perfect dimensions for these small poems that are only small in size—has done exactly this. If you put your hands on this book, you put your hands on the poems themselves.


The goal was to think reciprocally, working the space between poet-publishers, and this list could just as easily have been a list of Birmingham, Durgin, Robbins, and Bowen. One of the joys that is also one of the risks of community is that there’s always another formulation of it.


More Andrew Rippeon here.