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Posts Tagged ‘K. Silem Mohammad

Attention Span 2010 – Nada Gordon

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Stan Apps | Universal Stories with Unknown Particulars | valeveil e-book | 2009

A work of conscience and searching thought: What does poetry do in the world? What does it do for us?

Lynn Berhrendt | petals, emblems | Lunar Chandelier | forthcoming 2010

My blurb: “The affect-drenched poems in Lynn Behrendt’s Petals/Emblems leap off beauty’s edge right on to the electrified grid of being: that difficult ‘barrage/ of having been born/ at all.’ There (here) everything’s objective correlative: love and pain ‘crave form like alms’ and surely find it, sensuous, phonic, and unsettling, ‘heavy’ with ‘gyn grief’ and ‘undaunted desire.’ ‘This ache to tell you something’ shoots the poems through with yearny rhetorical force like the ‘inward arch’ of ‘nostalgic ocean’: palpable, fluid, engulfing.”

Charles Bernstein | All the Whiskey in Heaven | Farrar | 2010

Do I even need to say why?

Brandon Brown | The Orgy | self-published | 2010

I wrote on Ululations that this book “… spreads a metaphorical net onto the orgy of late capitalism in the hyper-information age (‘this crystal mall must be destroyed’); and most compellingly, to me, it seems to refer back on itself to the orgy of writing that makes itself felt in every moment of this galvanized, kind of emo (in the best possible sense: ‘My heart struggles./ It’s big as a chard, but it never learns.’) poem.”

K. Lorraine Graham | Terminal Humming | Edge | 2009

I blurbed this one, too. [All “this shining and this _utter [!].” Terminal Humming is a very exciting book and I love it. Eavesdropping and borrowing from diverse discourses, K. Lorraine Graham has created a complex “essay on scrounging.” It is a wonderfully violent “attempt to unleash inner badness” in poems that are hot and audacious, in a girly way: “Wonder Woman boots twirl twirl.” Terminal Humming is just the right amount of weird. In it, “kinks become beautiful and obvious,” and “language [hums] as angry form.” Read this “downwind chess urine bird bathing extravaganza” of a book!]

Michael Gottlieb | Memoir and Essay | Faux | 2010

A moving, witty, precise and somewhat theatricalized bildungsroman. How he got this way.

Carla Harryman | Adorno’s Noise | Essay | 2008

Like psychedelics for the intellect.

Rodney Koeneke | Etruria | manuscript

Exquisite. Someone please publish this. This is poetry exuding the most poignant possible elegance.

K. Silem Mohammad | Sonnagrams 1-20 | Slack Buddha | 2010

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself ROLLING ON THE FLOOR LAUGHING upon reading these poems. Seriously. Kasey is my idol.

Mel Nichols | Catalytic Exteriorization Phenomenon | Edge | 2009

Mindbogglingly delicate and audacious, all at once.

Lanny Quarles | chapbooks

He sent us an envelope of chapbooks which I loved. Gary squirreled them away somewhere so I can’t check titles. Endlessly inventive!

Ariana Reines |The Cow | Fence | 2006

I know I’m late to this one, but wow, The Cow. She packs a punch.

Monica de le Torre | Public Domain | Roof | 2008

It’s conceptual! It’s funny! It’s whip-smart! It’s art!

Dana Ward |Typing Wild Speech | Summer BF Press | 2010

All the outspilling radiance of life and death here, like a pop Proust or a more-beatific-than Kerouac Kerouac.

PLUS: live computer-facilitated performances of Danny Snelson (“Mabuse”) and Alejandro Miguel Justino Crawford (“The Ballad of the Death of Spring”) Why limit ourselves to the page? This is a future of poetry.

More Nada Gordon here. Her Attention Span for 2005. Back to directory.

Attention Span 2010 – James Wagner

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Tan Lin | Heath (Plagiarism/Outsource) | Zasterle | 2009
Tan Lin | Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking [AIRPORT NOVEL MUSICAL POEM PAINTING FILM PHOTO HALLUCINATION LANDSCAPE] | Wesleyan | 2010

My review of Seven here.

Vanessa Place | The Guilt Project | Other | 2010
Vanessa Place | Tragodía 1: Statement of Facts | Blanc | 2010
Vanessa Place | Pussy Codes | Ubu Editions | forthcoming 2010

My interversation with Vanessa here.

Robert Walser | The Microscripts | New Directions | 2010

Anne Boyer | The Two-Thousands, a history of the future in advance of itself | Scribd | 2010

My review here.

Amina Cain | I Go To Some Hollow | Les Figues | 2009

My review here.

K. Silem Mohammad | Sonnagrams 1-20 | Slack Buddha | 2009

My review here.

Steve Timm | Un storia | BlazeVOX | forthcoming 2010

My blurb here.

More James Wagner here. His Attention Span for 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. Back to directory.

Written by Steve Evans

October 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Attention Span 2010 – Benjamin Friedlander

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Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Lawrence Rosenwald | Selected Journals 1820-1842 and 1841-1877 | Library of America | 2010

Memory is the ultimate power, it “holds together past and present, beholding both, existing in both, abides in the flowing, and gives continuity and dignity to human life.” The slackening of that power tells the story—or rather, withholds the story—of Emerson’s final years, in which he suffered from dementia, and which he passed, in part, by rereading these journals.

Herman Melville, ed. Robert C. Ryan, Harrison Hayford, Alma MacDougall Reising, G. Thomas Tanselle; historical note by Hershel Parker | Published Poems: Battle-Pieces, John Marr, Timoleon | Northwestern UP | 2009

Though you wouldn’t think so from their prose, Emerson is the more sensational poet; Melville, the more metaphysical. Even in Battle-Pieces, he attempts to worry the essence of a truth. Which isn’t quite right: his poetry is too adept, too carefully worked, to be a mere attempt; it’s we who do the worrying. Assured as a sailor’s knot. And just as unlovely—unless you love knots.

K. Silem Mohammad | Sonnagrams | Slack Buddha | 2009

From one point of view—mine increasingly—craft is the ability to shape a meaningful context for interesting words. And it’s in this sense that Mohammad lives up to his model. The Bard he takes apart letter by letter, leaving everything changed except the form, had a mammoth vocabulary, and little fear (at least on stage) of the vulgar. But Mohammad has less fear. And more laughs.

Aífe Murray | Maid as Muse: How Servants Changed Emily Dickinson’s Life and Language | U of New Hampshire P | 2009

For a hundred years biographers have overturned stones looking for Emily’s lovers while the ones who knew all the secrets stood invisibly in the shadows. This lovingly researched book helps to part those shadows. A story worthy of James: the hiring of Margaret Maher, fought over by two rich families. Worthy of Tillie Olsen: the poet’s funeral, her white casket hefted by Irish servants. Out the back door and across the fields, a final concession to visibility.

The Charles Olson Research Collection | Thomas J. Dodd Research Center | University of Connecticut Libraries | Storrs

Free with visitors and unimaginably wealthy in unpublished material, the Olson Archive, like the Rembrandt Museum, or Stonehenge I suppose, is well worth a trip across the world. Even with a finding aid, there are plenty of surprises—the papers are organized in service to their editing, which is to say their own logic is subordinated to hierarchies of genre. Which are often arbitrary, even whimsical: notebooks are scattered all through the collection, sometimes marked as notebooks, sometimes as prose, sometimes as poetry. I even found a heavily annotated copy of a John Wieners book marked as poetry, because of a few lines of verse on the inside cover. All of which makes reading into a kind of archaeology. Do you like digging? You will dig it.

Tom Raworth | Windmills in Flames: Old and New Poems | Carcanet | 2010

I wish I could be satisfied with a poem, but what I really seek to know is the mind that made it. And minds I like as little as poems when there’s no body to hold them, no world for the body, no history for the world. Some poets give you their world, or give you their response to it, and some call you into the world, or from it, with a voice that has as much meaning or matter as any discourse. Raworth is the former, but in a manner so unique as to seem the latter. Almost a sonar, sending you back minute-by-minute information, his narration is almost never enough, but has to be heard, a ping-ping-pinging … a sounding that gives you an object and its motion, with little time to react.

Tom Raworth | Earn Your Milk: Collected Prose | Salt | 2009

Turning to Raworth’s prose from his poetry is a little like clicking on the plus sign on Google maps, watching the world grow larger within a shrinking horizon, ever more knowable. At one point, there are even street names. Hell, there are even directions available. It’s the same world, but close up. I’d call it comfy, but that’s going way too far.

T. D. Rice, ed. W. T. Lhamon Jr. | Jim Crow, American: Selected Songs and Plays | Harvard UP | 2009

Blackface minstrelsy has always been disreputable, but before it became synonymous with racial domination it formed the cutting edge of popular culture—and Rice, if anyone, held the blade. Hard to believe this is the first collection of writings to bear his name on the cover.

Lisa Robertson | R’s Boat | U of California P | 2010

Robertson’s poetry is tactile; and dense, but pliable. Reading it is a little like pressing one’s way through a spongy medium, like a fly in marmalade. Alive in a substance that nourishes, or suffocates; that has to be escaped. Except that this is language, not jam, so Robertson abets our escape, guiding our senses beyond the medium, toward a world of imagination, possibility, desire.

Gianni Vattimo with Piergiorgio Paterlini, , trans. William McCuaig | Not Being God: A Collaborative Autobiography | Columbia UP | 2009

The story of a professor’s life, which is to say: a life of the mind lived as something other than the spirit of history. “Although a decent knowledge of languages has helped me along in life, I confess that vis-à-vis Gadamer I felt like a worm. As far as I could tell, the only one who understood less than me was a beautiful prince from some African tribe, whom I tried to seduce. Unsuccessfully, because of the language barrier.” A bit of a feint, since Vattimo understood well enough—he was the first to translate Truth and Method. Thus: “Gadamer in the end is a watered down Hegelian, like me.” Which is only deprecatory if you want to be God—modesty is Vattimo’s own truth and method. Making him a good seducer; and this, a thoroughly likeable book.

Albery Allson Whitman, ed. Ivy G. Wilson | At the Dusk of Dawn: Selected Poetry and Prose | Northeastern UP | 2009

The most ambitious African American poet of the nineteenth century, formally speaking, and the most prolific up until Dunbar (with whom he shared a stage at the Chicago World’s Fair), A. A. Whitman is hardly known, even to experts. Born a slave in Kentucky, he became a pastor in the A.M.E. church, publishing six volumes of verse between 1871 and 1901, the first of which is no longer extant. But despite his church affiliation, there is little religion in his poetry. For the most part, he’s a cultural nationalist, a little like Tolson, who shares Whitman’s narrative scale and sense of form. Not to give any false impression of Modernism: this is a poetry indebted to Bryant’s neoclassical side. It’s a shame that all four long poems appear in extract—that this could not be a Collected (especially since the book is already too expensive for casual purchase)—but what a gift to have any edition at all, especially one so scrupulously researched. Opening this book makes the nineteenth century a little larger.

More Benjamin Friedlander here. His Attention Span for 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003. Back to directory.

Attention Span 2010 – Keith Tuma

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Tom Leonard | Outside the Narrative | Etruscan | 2009

Outside the Narrative includes all that Tom Leonard wants to keep of his poems written between 1965 and 2009. Readers wanting to know what he left out will also need his earlier volumes of selected poems, Intimate Voices and access to the silence; this is the most beautifully designed of the three books, its fonts especially. The other week on the UKPoetry listserv Keston Sutherland wondered if “Tom Leonard’s work [is] one of the only great contributions to the European realist tradition that we have in British poetry of the past 50 years.” Robin Purves chimed in with a word on behalf of the influence of William Carlos Williams, praising the poetry’s “patient, accurate notation of phonetic detail” and Leonard’s “meticulous placing of phrases on the page” as these combine to “give each voice a presence with a quality I can only describe as unarguable.” Malcolm Phillips remembered his mother reading Leonard’s poems aloud at dinner and laughing, which led me to wonder how much poetry gets read at the dinner table these days. I have been practicing this one, a section from Leonard’s “Ghostie Men” sequence, in case I get a chance somewhere:

baa baa black sheep
have you any wool
yes sir yes sir
three bags full

one for thi master
n anuthir wan fur thi master
n wan fur thi fuckin church

Clark Coolidge | The Act of Providence | Combo | 2010

If you were the manager of the World League of Poetry, would you trade J. H. Prynne for Clark Coolidge and a Webster’s to be named later? This latest book by Coolidge is tremendous fun, a book of American prosodies, beginning in its first several sections with variations on Whitmanian sprung anaphora as bebopped by Ginsberg and others, here spritzed with a Coolidge twist—the phrasal echoes heavy, the nouns changed. That’s before the poem practically explodes in section 11, “A Chronology.” Suddenly, and only for a moment, you’re in some strange chronicle thinking maybe this is an epic poem after all, like Paterson or something, except that they haven’t made epic poems like this until now. Then you see that Coolidge has still more hat to chinchilla: Professor Providence has not yet begun his dialogues with Providence. All of which is to say—duh—this poem keeps on surprising. On the evidence of one remark in Coolidge’s Jacket interview with Tom Orange, Coolidge seems to have been working on it since 1996. Would it make a difference if I knew his hometown better or more about King Philip’s War (1675-1676) and that kind of history? Probably, but this is Providence “intuited,” as the poem says at one point. Photographs are included, one of a book or magazine open to a chapter called “Poetry,” where at the bottom of the page on the left I can make out “I wish poets could be clearer, shouted my wife angrily from the next room.” A few lines from the first section, where the poet is warming up:

Providence is missing a lad
Providence is short a load
Providence sloshes tacks like the cogs melt in rootbeer
I have a livid fear of lights by the end of Westminster Road

. . .

I celebrate the something out of too much tobacco
Providence stands and wins then slips and deuterium
Here comes the sun, it’s its duty

In section six Coolidge pauses to say—”Providence silliness taking over the poem”—which is just right at that moment in the poem. I steamed on, as I hadn’t had such a good time since On the Nameways. Two lines for dinner recitation: “Poets are lost in the cold but keep yacking / yadda yadda and fry the rest.”

Bill Griffiths | Collected Earlier Poems (1966-80) | Reality Street | 2010

Alan Halsey and Ken Edwards have done us all a big favor by assembling the early poems of the late, great Bill Griffiths. By all accounts this task was not easy, given the poet’s habit of revisiting material and the sheer size of his work—think Hugh MacDiarmid maybe, though Griffiths has a richer sense of humor. It made sense some years ago when etruscan books put poems by Griffiths beside poems by Tom Leonard and Tom Raworth. Of the three poets, Griffiths is likely to make for the most challenging reading for Americans. Anarchist and classical pianist, publisher, translator of Old English, scholar of North East dialects, a legendary figure among the British avant-garde, Griffiths created “a body of work second to none in its formal enterprise and necessary aggression against what this country has become, a deteriorated tyranny, both economically and culturally.” That’s Eric Mottram writing in 1983, as reprinted in The Salt Companion to Bill Griffiths, a useful volume for glossing a few of the poet’s many concerns, first among which might be the law, as a friend said to me some years ago. The volume’s highlights include the sequences Cycles and War W / Windsor, but it is consistently mind-boggling from first to last, not even close to any writing I know for its idioms and frames of reference. Peter Middleton has written about the first poem in the Cycles sequence, which opens “Ictus! / as I ain’t like ever to be still but / kaleidoscope, / lock and knock my sleeping.” And here’s the opening of “Mandrake Song”:

who, obscene hey?

you’re in my fairground yep

I bawl
about
about about by my navel

I oped
Both Eyes

it groweth in the greas
ov dangled men

There’s a good review of the book by Tony Baker at Jacket.

Hoa Nguyen | Hecate Lochia | Hot Whiskey | 2009

There are a couple of thoughtful reviews of this book up on the web, too, one by John Latta, who might be the best close reader of the poetry bloggers I read. I don’t have more to say about Nguyen’s “sparse (sprawl’d), notational, constellatory, measured” writing as it is grounded in domestic and daily life and “liable to jut off anywhere,” or about her work’s precursors (Mayer, Notley, Whalen, others), or the care with which what appears as “notational” is composed, the eclectic “myth-hints” of her poems, or anything else, unless it’s to say that Nguyen can also be funny, as she is toward the end of this book’s final poem: “Make afterlife banknotes / for your ancestors and burn them / in an impressive wad.” She’s not afraid of statement, of offering practical wisdom, so the light touch helps. I found reading the book immensely reassuring—calming, as if Nguyen sees the same horrible news we all see and wants to write about it but won’t always, won’t obsess and let it altogether dominate her life. She has found a way to carry on because she must, which might mean there’s hope for the rest of us. Here’s a poem with a final couplet that underscores Latta’s point about the precision of this writing—its last word is perfectly placed:

Washington

Washington (George) is not in
This poem         powdered wig powdery
And anyway who chops down a fruit
Tree       (idiots)
My sense of
History lies        We buy things
::::chicken wings:::::butter::::

Yesterday Dave took away
My office            my boss         Saturday

Tom Raworth | Windmills in Flames: Old and New Poems | Carcanet | 2010

The old poems are poems lost or forgotten when the Carcanet collected poems was assembled in 2003, mostly poems from Pleasant Butter (1972). And the old couldn’t be newer, “Breeding the Arsenic-Proof Baby” about hearing about China, “Into the Wild Blue Yonder” opening with two lines—”prisoner / christmas”—that might have been occasioned by news about—what prisoner swap would have it been? The new poems are from Caller and Let Baby Fall with a few more added. Excerpts for the reader’s guide to blinking mind: “sometimes a fragment of language / illuminates a world not consistently round / breathing its air” [from “Baggage Claim (a slugging welterweight natural)”] and “where do they go / these things we know we know” [“Title Forgotten”]. Also an errata list for the collected poems. “Nothing wasted” here, as usual.

Francis Crot (aka Jow Lindsay) | Pressure in Cheshire | Veer | 2009

On the evidence of the poems I’ve seen, Jow Lindsay has pushed about as near to Renaissance lyric as any of the younger poets in England: Thomas Wyatt, here’s your trousers. He’s a love poet in the first of three texts included in this little book, though the text is not poetry but prose fiction, with a plot even. It concerns Arthur House trying to get across a police line to the 7-Eleven while hoping he won’t be killed—crushed—by a woman jumping off the bridge. That’s part of it anyway. Arthur works little at his corporate job. He’s been offered a promotion he doesn’t want and regularly pongs insults with co-workers, one of them apparently the lover of the officer holding back the crowd. The story is more or less told by Arthur (with what is likely treated found material cut in) and addressed to his recently estranged lover—he’s said something stupid. The story moves fast without really moving, “unfolding certain diverse speeches in the canting tongue” as the prefatory note has it. It contains some of the best prose I read all year. The second piece in the book crashes poetry and poetry gossip into language about the disbursement of foreign aid (conditional aid). I was briefly reminded of Prynne’s Plant Time Manifold transcripts, which Lindsay has written about in Quid 17. The third text is out of Sir Thomas Pope Blount, with bits cut in from elsewhere, “Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross” and other sources: I haven’t parsed it sufficiently to see what’s worked up and how. It’s Blount on the spewing of volcanoes, words, and thoughts; the word “bowels” recurs: “The truth is, its cities are built upon ruins, and its fields and countries stand upon broken arches and vaults, and so does the greatest part of the outward part of the globe, and therefore it is no wonder if it be often shaken.” I think this was written before the top blew off Iceland.

Barbara Claire Freeman | Incivilities | Counterpath | 2010

One of the two blurbs is by Judith Butler, which caught my eye: I’m not sure I’ve seen Butler blurb poetry previously. She says the poems “range in form and style” and “participate in an austerity, a political edge, and what one poem calls ‘abbreviated violence.’” Four of the poems are called “georgics.” There’s a welcome earnestness throughout, even a hint of “solemnity”—to borrow a word from the first poem, titled “The Second Inaugural.” Freeman samples political rhetoric (of Washington and Lincoln) and her writing in places takes on some of its characteristics. Butler is right that her forms are various, and her line, but this is writing that knows about the prose virtues Pound wrote about long ago. The three-poem sequence “Incivilities” especially held my attention. It might have been written as the stock market was crashing in October 2008: “Then shall they be cut: the sovereign debt, the wailer, // the whistler, the sloped yield curve, the rearing traveler. . . .”

Elizabeth Arnold | Effacement | Flood | 2010

One of the poems in this book-length sequence describes summer-long radiation treatments for breast cancer and does so matter-of-factly, in seven short lines. Emotions attending mastectomy and reconstructive surgery are on view throughout the sequence, but what impresses is the way Arnold looks outward to situate her experience. The book is charged with compact, unpretentious, smart reflection on body and mind, and not only on varieties of damage and “effacement” but also on surgical and emotional repair. The poem uses diverse materials to think with—Phillip Johnson’s glass house, passages from David Jones and Dante, case studies of surgery, studies of the fish of the hadal depths, the war drawings and letters of Henry Tonks, more. In some ways I was reminded of the longer poems of Frank Bidart, without the theater.

Frederick Farryl Goodwin | Buber’s Bag Man | The Gig | 2010

This is a chapbook containing eighteen poems and a final fragment (“To light up posthumously, / leeke a word”). Three texts are prose, or poetry and prose—imagine Rimbaud with a sense of humor. A few lines from “The Bouncer”: “I was caught up in a maze of Oscar Kokochkas. The Ger man s / w/ their potato mashers to the head. I swooned in small barbaric rooms.” Words fall apart, or rather their letters migrate, attaching to and forming other words, or simply mangling them. The self is much the same, on the edge of disintegration but also somehow spirited and genuine and funny. I take it that Goodwin must have worked as a bouncer at some point: “I felt like a cuckoo clock with its cuckoo guts cut out.”

K. Silem Mohammad | Sonnagrams 1-20 | Slack Buddha | 2009

The compositional process is explained by a note in the back: “I feed Shakespeare’s sonnets one line at a time into an anagram engine, thus generating a new group of words from each line, which I then paste into a Microsoft Word document. This initial textual output gives me a bank of raw material that is quantitatively equivalent to Shakespeare’s poem at the most basic linguistic level: the letter. At the same time, it sufficiently alters the lexical structure of the original poem so that I am not overtly influenced by Shakespeare’s semantic content. I click and drag the text generated by the anagram engine by letter until I am able to rework it into a new sonnet in iambic pentameter, with the English rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. The letters that are inevitably left over are used to make a title.” The resulting pentameter thumps a bit at times, the syntax bending for it, but it’s an interesting experiment to be sure, given the source material. Leftover letters being allowed for the title makes for a lot of wiggle room. Some of the poems are funny in the way light verse can be funny: we could use more of that. I laughed when I heard Mohammad read them aloud; his timing and deep bass tones had the whole room in stitches.

Lisa Samuels | Throe | Oystercatcher | 2009

Samuels’ Tomorrowland, a book-length poem about New Zealand and “bodily transit and colonial forgetting” (to quote from the publisher’s description) also appeared (from Shearsman) in 2009, and it’s in a stack of poetry books and chapbooks I read with interest this year and thought I might include among my eleven, but now I’ve run out of room. I thought I’d list this one and Mohammad’s book above to support chapbook publishers, Oystercatcher one of the best of these in the UK as Slack Buddha is in the USA. Not to forget a-bend press and Tinfish, Wild Honey active again, Punch Press, Ugly Duckling, Critical Documents, and many others. Throe is twelve shorter poems. I won’t try to characterize them except to say that the first poem has some very funny lines (“I have heard that story before. She lifts her leg and / it’s a social occasion”). Funny is obviously one thing I’ve been looking for this year. You can read the whole poem at Jacket.

More Keith Tuma here. His Attention Span for 2009. Back to directory.

Attention Span 2009 – K. Silem Mohammad

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Kevin Davies | The Golden Age of Paraphernalia | Edge Books | 2008

Like Davies’ earlier Comp, this is structurally little more than a series of sound bites strung together as “verse.” Yet also like Comp, it crackles with Ecclesiastical scorn and verve. The conscious and subconscious minds are sitting together on a sofa trying to relate the big game to the latest CSPAN feed of senate hearings, and these broadcasts interrupt them.

Craig Dworkin | Parse | Atelos | 2008

Page after page of … parsing. And the text that is parsed (an 1874 grammar manual by Edwin A. Abbott) is itself a treatise on parsing. One might think that this is a perfect example of a “conceptualist” book that asks merely to be thought about rather than read, and for some people that is probably the more attractive option. But those people will miss the metagrammatical massage that prods the reader’s brain into little shudders (not quite paroxysms) of attentiveness, of alertness, of being-in-poetry.

Robert Fitterman | Rob the Plagiarist | Roof Books | 2009

Contains the already-classic “This Window Makes Me Feel,” as well as other manipulations of public discourse and commercial sense-input. Fitterman plays the part of a Benjaminian flaneur, but one as he might exist in the world of John Carpenter’s They Live—a flaneur who is not wearing those special glasses that let you see the aliens and the capitalist dystopia they have erected for what they are.

Robert Fitterman and Vanessa Place | Notes on Conceptualisms | Ugly Duckling Presse | 2009

Shallow art-theory rehash or stimulating commentary on contemporary poetics? Both? Oh, it couldn’t be both. Admit it: for a week or two, you too were reading this little blue booklet and actually trying to make sense of the proposition that conceptual writing is allegorical writing.

K. Lorraine Graham | Terminal Humming | Edge Books | 2009

A deftly casual versish essay on different stages of social ambience (from “droll” to “malignant”). Its timbre is perfectly captured in the title pun: either a bustling public nexus, or a fatal condition of subverbal singing-along. Graham hits a perfect balance of easygoing “girlishness” and sardonic bemusement.

Kevin Killian | Action Kylie | ingirumimusnocteetcomsumimurigni | 2009

There should be a periodic announcement made over loudspeakers on the main streets of major cities: Citizens! Why do so many of you seem to have neglected to notice that Kevin Killian is one of our finest poets? Because you were too busy being impressed by his fiction? No excuse. He is also (this is me now, not the loudspeaker) one of the few poets writing today who can still do transmissive (e.g., Spicerian) lyric convincingly. Heartbreakingly.

David Larsen | Names of the Lion | Atticus/Finch 2009

Go find a book that is either a more beautiful physical object or a more stunning instance of creative scholarship. Larsen’s loving translation of Ibn Khalawayh’s treatise (with commentary) should be written up in every arts and literature review section of every major newspaper and magazine worldwide as a major publishing event. Mindbogglingly, this unbearably gorgeous Atticus/Finch “chapbook” (too humble a word) costs only $10.

Chris Nealon | Plummet | Edge Books | 2009

It’s hard to think, in the world of contemporary poetry, of very many books that spawn a popular (I mean, popular among other poets, anyway) catch phrase within what seems like mere moments of their publication. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “I am not gay, I am from the future!” on T-shirts and bumper stickers soon. The obvious stylistic reference point for Nealon’s “voice” is O’Hara, but this is far from being derivative nth-generation New York School; it’s absolutely modern in all the right ways.

Mel Nichols | Catalytic Exteriorization Phenomenon | Edge Books | 2009

Nichols asks early in this book, “can a woman compete with the city”? The question is answered in the pages that follow by a flurry of winged images and phrases like paper scraps from a shredded diary flying down busy streets, between skyscrapers, in and out of shops and offices and homes. Nichols renders both the sensually vivid and mundanely bureaucratic details of everyday life with a lyric attentiveness that constantly places the “nucleus of the individual / in productive tension with the collective expanse of white.”

Jordan Scott | Blert | Coach House Books | 2008

The author, a chronic stutterer, set out deliberately to write poetry that would be hard for him to read aloud. A pretty rudimentary concept, but the resulting verbal bumper car ride taps into essential currents of recent prosodic weather patterns. Rubbery, blubbery, heap big unheimlich fun.

Stephanie Young | Picture Palace | ingirumimusnocteetcomsumimurigni | 2009

Sometimes I forget that Stephanie Young is not a phenomenally famous pop-soul diva. I really don’t have words to describe the complex and passionate effects her work produces. Tonally and formally, it’s all over the map, and it makes the map look fabulous. Maybe my favorite move of hers (among the many she routinely busts) is her talent for the abrupt declaration of a devastating, obvious fact, such as her observation that “of course the revolution won’t be televised! Not because the most important things don’t appear on television but because the revolution will knock out electrical plants and the TV itself will collapse under the collapsing house.”

More K. Silem Mohammad here.

Attention Span 2009 – Brandon Brown

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K. Silem Mohammad | Sonnagrams | Unpublished

Kasey’s most recent work complicates any orthodox aesthetics of Flarf. While it surely deploys the twin, cardinal rules of computer aid and histrionically “bad” content, the “Sonnagrams” are for me also work of conceptual translation, doubly or triply nuanced by Mohammad’s own training as a Shakespearean scholar. And this is Shakespeare 2009: “Then do I pray this adage may hold tight / Mohammad sweetens seagull panties right.”

Vanessa Place and Robert Fitterman | Notes on Conceptualism| Ugly Duckling Presse | 2009

The “Notes” themselves an experiment in conceptual collaboration, the NOC were as controversial in summer 2009 as “The Call” Don Denkinger made correctly in the 1985 World Series. I found them extremely generative, useful, and profound.

Sara Larsen and David Brazil | Try!| stapled magazine | 2008-2009

Try! is heir to the rich tradition of Xeroxed, stapled, hand-delivered, often-appearing magazines in the Bay Area. Try! comes out every two weeks—and it really does! It also manages to collect the newest, most vibrant writings that surpass the alienating categories of genre and xenophobic (read: your given “local poetry community” xenophobia) coterie-or-nuthin’ loyalties. I love it. You love it.

Kevin Killian | Action Kylie | In Girum | 2008

I spent the oughts waiting for this book to come out and thanks to In Girum Nocte etc. press it has.

Rob Halpern | Disaster Suites | Palm Press | 2009

Disaster Suites is an outrageous work, the word that has accompanied my living adjacent to and with Rob over the last few years of his writing and reading these magnificent polemics against complicity and the tonal shifts of global capital.

Madeline Gins | What The President Will Say And Do!! | Station Hill | 1984

Not quite a neglectorina and certainly not a new release, but since this is my first “Attention Span” I’ve got to include one of my all-time favorites.

Anne Tardos | I Am You | Salt | 2008

Woah. Seriously. The high point for me probably the sudden photograph of Anne glaring at the reader into the ostensible Macbook camera, literalizing the transgression of the lyric already at work through the bloodbath and beyond.

Dana Ward | The Drought | Open 24 Hours Press | 2009

The drought is over thanks to O24HPress. Fundamentally an advancement of the lyric impulse as mediated not only by “post-avant” poetics (including contemporary post-avant manifestations—Ward’s work stands not as an emblem of some categorical “other” or “hybridity” to some bicameral hegemony of flarfists and conceptualists, but for me it is one of the finest proofs of a world out there) but fulsome ecologies of pop prosody and interpenetrations.

T.I. | Paper Trail | Grand Hustle / Atlantic | 2008

T.I.P.’s sixth studio effort is the shining mainstream hip hop LP of the fiscal year. The classic Clifford approach (the breathless Whitmanian line, the essential Atlantan drawl) inflected by his impending jail sentence—the record’s carpe diem message amplified by its anthemic choruses.

Anne Boyer | odalisqued.blogspot.com | Internet | 2008-2009

The thresholds between Anne’s “books” and her activity on the blog are constantly threatened and renewed. What you get in both places is a contemporary lyric, made in the place where web-based simulacra meets the real-time alienated worker, all the while expressive of Anne’s sui generis aesthetic and integrity.

More Brandon Brown here.

Featured Title – The Nancy Book by Joe Brainard

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Joe Brainard | The Nancy Book | Siglio | 2008 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 4 mentions in Attention Span 2008

brainard-nancyA much-anticipated event, heightened even further for me by getting to see the exhibit at Colby College, Maine, at which many of these works were on display, earlier this summer. (K. Silem Mohammad)

“I have burned down the sky.” (C.E. Putnam)

Also mentioned by Richard Deming and Gina Myers,

Written by Steve Evans

June 5, 2009 at 4:22 pm