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Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Schlesinger

Attention Span 2011 | Keith Tuma

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Steven Zultanski | Cop Kisser | Book Thug | Toronto | 2010

“Workers of the world, come on already.” 32 brands of beer matched by 32 Zultanski personalities, Lenin a deck of identity cards, Mao with Zultanski’s mother: this is a collection of long tail poetry taking on the banality of information with insight and wit, its idioms absolutely contemporary, its prosody deadpan, its cover brighter than canary yellow. Rod Smith wouldn’t let me out of Bridge Street Books without it. He was right to insist.

Rae Armantrout | Money Shot | Wesleyan | 2011

“All we ask / is that our thinking / sustain momentum, / identify targets.” I don’t know a poet who thinks more in her poems, via analogy, juxtaposition, definition, and otherwise. Armantrout begins the first poem with a line from the Book of Revelation promising a new world, noting that new worlds are always with us—and also not with us—in “The spray / of all possible paths.” But thinking can’t stop with recognition or contemplation: “Define possible.” Several of the poems think about the collapse of the economy, e.g. “Money Shot” and “Soft Money,” where one notorious phrase from the pornoculture—“so hot”—deflates those who would eroticize social inequality.

Jeff Hilson | In The Assarts | Veer | 2010

A comic sonnet sequence and something of a clearing in the dark wood of recent experimental English poetry, no less serious or engaged for its light touch. The kitsch of England from crossbows to Kinks, Anne Boleyn to Jeremy Irons. “I am sick of the banks of England” in a mix of faux-archaic and contemporary registers where Wyatt meets Berrigan: “I was lost in doe a deer.” Stephen Rodefer gets a cameo, and there’s passing reference to In the American Tree and The Reality Street Book of Sonnets. One poem opens with what is probably a joke about a recent book by Jean-Luc Nancy. That one takes us back to the book’s first poem, where the reader is asked to “Give them thy finger in the Forêt de Nancy.”

William Fuller | Hallucination | Flood Editions | 2011

It’s not only poetry that almost successfully resists the intelligence—try banking: “Several times a day someone passes by the door holding a report.” That’s the first sentence of the book’s last poem, a prose poem called “The Circuit.” Maybe it’s best to indicate the texture and quality of these prose poems making for more than half of Fuller’s book by quoting first lines from a few others: “More numbness from less pain, I heard the preacher say. When does apprehension become extinction? Of what omitted act is it the fruit?” (“Flaming”). “It dreamt that it spoke as it dreamt and wrote down what it spoke in echoes of situations dreamt about which its mind wondered at” (“The Will”). “For the period of thirty lunar days after the receipt of appropriate notice [undefined], the parties [not specified] shall attempt in good faith to resolve whatever dispute has (evidently) arisen by employing the advanced measurement approach, which computes a given event’s penumbra as it tumbles into the lap of someone who studies it.” Seeing as if through fog events apprehended only after the fact constitutes most worlds; these poems map our life “in the dark” while admitting—not always as ominously as “The Circuit” does—the “imperceptible” as fact.

Frances Kruk | Down You Go / Négation de Bruit | Punch | 2011

A series of fragments after Danielle Collobert, two or three lines or clusters of lines per page, white space the silence between them and allowing for their little explosions —“I revolt / project.” “Swarms! We will bang / into the sun Blinded.” Bitterness distilled to an essence: “I ordered a hurricane & I am still / on this island I am still / on this island.” I had to look up “crkl,” which appears twice, and so courtesy of Wikipedia: “Crk-like protein is a protein that in humans is encoded by the CRKL gene…. CRKL has oncogenic potential.” I don’t know Collobert’s work well enough to suggest the most pertinent comparisons, having seen only two books translated by Norma Cole, but I do know that this is a powerful and defiant book—“We come to fuck the mutants / We go to mutant them / I am with the mutant / firing limbs.” One of the best young British poets is Polish-Canadian.

Mina Loy, ed. Sara Crangle | Stories and Essays of Mina Loy | Dalkey Archive | 2011

As Crangle notes in her introduction, this first book-length collection of Loy’s short stories, drama, and commentary is not a “definitive” or “critical” edition, but its apparatus includes a smart and readable introduction and 100 plus pages of notes briefly situating and glossing the work while detailing the nature of the manuscripts involved and listing Loy’s editorial corrections. The book ought to make for the best news of the year in modernist studies, though you can ignore modernist studies and just read it.

Tom Pickard | More Pricks Than Prizes | Pressed Wafer | 2010

A brief memoir of the 1970s that has Pickard’s arrest, imprisonment, and eventual acquittal on charges of selling marijuana as its central story, with glimpses of Eric Mottram and Jeff Nuttall and a more extensive account of Basil Bunting and what he did for Pickard as mentor and character witness at the trial. I wish we had more of this kind of thing about the days of the so-called British Poetry Revival. I’d trade it for a dozen academic studies. Written in a no-nonsense prose, with one moment where Pickard puts his foot on the gas. That’s where he’s detailing a scheme to use books as ballast in crates previously emptied of “almost one ton of Ugandan bush” and writes of selling the people who were doing this all of his copies of The Strand Magazine, his sets of The Times History of World War I and Encyclopedia Britannica. That’s not enough to make the weight so he starts buying up crap books all over London. Here’s the Homeric moment: “The ancient bookseller was blissful as we bought much of his space wasting dust gathering, back breaking, spirit deadening unread and unreadable religious and military texts; all those pounds of printed pages by puffing parsons, anaemic academics, bloated bishops, geriatric generals, corpulent combatants and high ranking haemorrhoidal heroes. All that catechistic cataplasm, the militarist mucus, that pedantic pus from festering farts. The engaging entrails of emetic ambassadors, pestiferous papers by prudish pedagogues. I struggled to the wagon with arms full of books, and still he wasn’t satisfied—so I purchased conquering chronicles by conceited commanders….” This goes on for another 40 or fifty lines and ends as follows: “And it still wasn’t enough so I bought the works of talk show hosts, canting sofa cunts coughing up chintzy chunder, bloated volumes by toady poets who sit in circles blowing prizes up each other’s arseholes with straws—until we’d filled the crates.”

Jed Birmingham and Kyle Schlesinger, eds. | Mimeo Mimeo 4 | Winter 2010

Like Pickard’s memoir, a valuable resource for those who want to catch up with the British poetry that matters most, including the “only known essay” by Asa Benveniste, whose poems ought to have more readers, interviews about small press publishing with Tom Raworth and David Meltzer, essays by Ken Edwards and Alan Halsey (on the mimeo editions of Bill Griffiths), and selections from Eric Mottram’s correspondence with Jeff Nuttall. It concludes with Miles Champion’s interview with Trevor Winkfield.

Gizelle Gajelonia | Thirteen Ways of Looking at TheBus | Tinfish Press | 2010

The modernist canon as read and written through in Hawaii—Stevens, Bishop, Crane, Ashbery, and Eliot’s “The Waste Land” for starters. Here’s the Eliot poem’s opening lines:

He Do Da Kine in Different Voices

January February March April May June
July August September October November
December is the cruelest month, mass breeding
Plumeria leis out of homestead land, mixing
Exoticism with desire, stirring
Dull roots with windward and mauka showers….

The chapbook ends with prose titled “The Day I Overthrew The Kingdom of Hawai‘i”: “I remember filling out the application form. Gajelonia, Gizelle, Evangelista. My middle name is my mother’s maiden name because I’m Filipino. ‘Are you an American citizen?’ the form asked. No, I told you I’m Filipino. Technically. I have a green card. And a green passport. But I’m an American. I’ve been here 4 years. I got my period here. My first love was an American boy named David Powers. My favorite boy band was N Sync, not Backstreet Boys. I’m in the ninth grade. In the Philippines there’s no such thing as a ninth grade. I’m not sure what I am. Is that an option? Call my mother in case of an emergency….”

Rachel Warriner | Eleven Days | RunAmok | 2011

One poem each day between the IMF’s arrival in Ireland and the agreement signed: “burn me up / in anonymous austerity / your fat face / lies / in last sovereign days” is how it begins and “sold out and done” is how it ends. For now. Promising work from a new press in Cork.

Ron Silliman | Wharf Hypothesis | LINESchapbooks | 2011

I’d lost track of Silliman’s poetry since the The Alphabet was published entire and found it pleasant and interesting to look over his shoulder on the train from Victoria to the Text Festival in Bury, England, noticing him noticing this and that (missing baseball diamonds) and thinking about writing and about kissing while punning along (“feeling blurby—Simon / mit Garfunkel”). Like Dickens in America—maybe—and Dickens ends the poem, which is said to belong to “Northern Soul,” which is in turn said to be a part of Universe. Beautifully produced, with a cover photograph by Tom Raworth.


Keith Tuma‘s On Leave: A Book of Anecdotes is due from Salt later this year.

Tuma’s Attention Span for 2010, 2009 . Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2010 – Brent Cunningham

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Mel Nichols | Catalytic Exteriorization Phenomenon | Edge | 2009

The title of Nichols’s book, to my ear, indicates a kind of linguistic density that actually the poems inside don’t much have—instead you get poems of such emotional authority and seriousness of purpose that immediately I was ready to go anywhere with them. There’s lightness and levity as well, lots, but it’s in the refreshing context of feeling like the poet really, deeply knows what she’s doing, I mean really. Even the formal moves, the spacing, leaving phrases off in space, composition by field and the like, has a kind of rightness and intentionality to it that I don’t often accept so unquestionly. This is the kind of book I take around with me to remind me how to write as well as how to read. What else can I say? I know it came out last year and was mentioned often then, but I just love this book

Aaron Kunin | The Sore Throat & Other Poems | Fence | 2010

A lot of writers are influnced by philosophy, but Kunin is one of very few living poet I know where I feel like I’m reading someone with truly philosophical sensibilities and skills, i.e. who really lives in a Kantian or maybe in this case more a Spinozian reality. What his work shows, I think, is in part how much feeling there is in thinking, and also how much pleasure there is in the artistic distanciation of self-conciousness

Khaled Mattawa | Tocqueville | New Issues Poetry & Prose | 2010

I’m not entirely persuaded by all the elements of Mattawa’s work, but I like to mention him since I think he’s completely worthwhile yet almost completely off the radar of most self-identified experimental writers. This makes sense if you read his early, more conventional and overly-wringing writing, or if you look at those who blurb his books, etc., but this book is serious and thoughtful about its politics, courageous in its formal experimentation, and fervent in its contempt for false emotion. If you read one book blurbed by Yusef Komunyakaa this year, it should be this one, etc.

Brenda Iijima, ed. | eco language reader | Nightboat | 2010

To the properly sceptical this book probably won’t, and probably shouldn’t, prove there’s a new movement or even a new sensibility afoot, but whatever Iijima’s anthology is or isn’t claiming in those terms it is certainly very well edited, filled with a great group of contributors, and embarrasingly rich with new ideas and new passions.

Laura Moriarty | A Tonalist | Nightboat | 2010

I should perhaps recuse myself here since I’m one of Laura’s “A Tonalists,” but whether the pseudo-movement/anti-movement/non-movement of the title has any reality or not, Moriarty has used the idea of groups and groupings to make a fierce, delicate, layered text that stands as a work, and an art, of its own.

Douglas Rothschild | Theogony | Subpress | 2009

Rothschild has, basically, a classical sensibility (where “classical” is considered as running the gamut from the unadornedness of certain ancient greek writers to the unadornedness of Ted Berrigan), which is then shot through with a whole lot of eccentric, baroque intelligence. I may have been a little less taken with the long middle section about NYC than some: it’s what seem to be framed as the more “minor” poems that really have stayed with me. And in a way that makes perfect sense because the significance of the minor is what Rothschild himself is so productively interested in.

Tan Lin | Heath (Plagiarism/Outsource) | Zasterle | 2009

There’s something fascinating about limit cases, and Lin has been exploring those frontiers for a few books now, but this is the first time I really & completely got it. I like to carry around what I’ll call Heath (the title is a subject of debate by the way) just to show aspiring conceptualists how tepid and obvious their plans often are, by comparison. Really I can’t think of another book that seems to have gone farther off the grid of our presumptions about “the book” and “poetry” than this pleasantly transgressive text. It’s a further mystery that it remains, inexplicably, rather readable (with the right kind of approach). Everything in it—images, computer code, emails, texts—have the feeling of being placed, not overly systematically, but such that they beg for your own thinking to complete them.

Michael Cross, Thom Donovan, Kyle Schlesinger, eds. | ON: Contemporary Practice, Issue #2 | Cuneiform | 2010

Some will say the structure of this magazine, where poets talk about the work of poets, will only add to the feeling that experimental poetry is a small coterie with a secret knock to get in. Others, including me, find ON to be just what was lacking, and will find it far less about in-group backslapping than one might presume (very much like the Attention Span project, which has a lot in common with ON). Coterie is a sword of the two-edged variety, and ON is a much needed venue for poets to not only talk about works by their contemporaries but to fashion a renewed sense of basic, shared critical values.

Yedda Morrison | Girl Scout Nation | Displaced Press | 2008

This is the oldest book on my list but I only just got to read it. I had the pleasure of hearing a lot of the poems in this book for a few years at various readings, but the effect of reading them all together is fierce and splendid and at an entirely other level. Anger and love seem to be Morrison’s twin obsessions here and in other works—the love that both lies and lies in every anger, maybe. These concerns dovetail into her starkly eco/feminist/activist/understandably-pissed-off approach in ways that I find enviously original. She’s doing some great work and to me this book is both sweeping and, despite or because of the intensity, suprisingly personal.

Tyrone Williams | The Hero Project of the Century | The Backwaters Press | 2010

Unlike a decade ago Williams is not a secret anymore, but he’s still one of those poets I always read no matter what. I’d say I liked this book just a sliver less than On Spec, but it’s still terrific. Compared to On Spec it’s driven a bit more by content than form, but regardless TW is always, to me, most compelling in the way he works with linguistic density, counterpunctuating it with sudden moments of simple anger and direct content. I never thought enjambed aesthetic complexity could come across as so persuasive and natural, but it is here.

More Brent Cunningham here. Back to directory.

Attention Span 2009 – Harold Abramowitz

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Allison Carter | A Fixed, Formal Arrangement | Les Figues Press | 2009

Ara Shirinyan | Handsome Fish Offices | Insert Press | 2008

Carlos Blackburn | Selected Poems of Hamster | Ugly Duckling Presse | 2008

C.J. Martin | Lo, Bittern | Atticus Finch | 2008

Deborah Meadows | Goodbye Tissues | Shearsman | 2009

Dolores Dorantes | SEXOPUROSEXOVELOZ And SEPTIEMBRE | Kenning Editions-Counterpath Press | 2008

Jane Sprague, ed. | Palm Press | 2008-2009

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

Kim Rosenfield | re: evolution | Les Figues Press | 2009

Kyle Schlesinger, Thom Donovan and Michael Cross, eds. | ON Contemporary Practice 1 | Cuneiform Press | 2008

Mairéad Byrne | Example As Figure | Ubu Editions – Publishing The Unpublishable | 2008

Mathew Timmons | Lip Service | Slack Buddha Press | 2009

Matthew Klane | Sons and Followers | Matthew Klane | 2009

Rosa Alcalá, Ash Smith, Sasha Steensen | UNDOCUMENTARY, Water Shed, The Future Of An Illusion | Dos Press | 2009

Stan Apps | Grover Fuel | Scantily Clad Press | 2009

Stephanie Rioux | Sticks | Mindmade Books | 2009

The Pines | “Peek thru the pines” | | 2008-2009

More Harold Abramowitz here.

Attention Span – Andrew Rippeon

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(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.

Attention Span – Richard Deming

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Patrick Pritchett | Antiphonal | Pressed Wafer | 2008

Sarah Riggs | Chain of Miniscule Decisions in the Form of a Feeling | Reality Street | 2007

Nancy Kuhl | Nocturnal Factory | Ugly Duckling | 2008

P. Adams Sitney | Eyes Upside Down: Visionary Filmmakers and the Emersonian
Heritage | Oxford | 2008

Susan Howe | Souls of the Labadie Tract | New Directions | 2008

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds | Dig, Lazarus, Dig! | Mute Records | 2008

Lawrence Jordan | The Lawrence Jordan Album | Facets Video | 2008

Joe Brainard | The Nancy Book | Siglio | 2008

Kyle Schlesinger | Hello Helicopter | BlazeVox | 2007

Michael Kelleher | Human Scale | BlazeVox | 2007


More about Richard Deming here.