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Posts Tagged ‘Larry Eigner

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).

§

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 2010 – C.E. Putnam

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David Winters, dir. | RAQUEL! | 1970

Filmed in Acapulco, London, ,Mexico City, Paris, and Sun Valley, Idaho, USA! RAQUEL! is a 1970 made-for-TV variety special where Raquel skis in slo-mo soft power, sings with Tom Jones, does “numbers” with Bob Hope and John Wayne, and dances around the 1968 Mexico City Olympic park in a space-age-of-aquarius costume designed by Bob Mackie!

David Moe | Plug in the Electric Dictionary | The Community Press | 1973

“HOMEINGsplit it’s you circuits socrates golding fat take off next necks space
eggs built dostoevsky’s nostril SEEING CONSCIOUS solar sidereal thrill
twoways glaze pats increasing secrets be ouiji…”

Ethan Fugate | Cadence | Honey Hoggle | 2009

“Squid thoughts aren’t as impressive on
the deck of the boat
as they are under the water.”

Allison Cobb | Green-Wood | Factory School | 2010

“The first year I didn’t set foot inside the cemetery. The still smoking hole across the water held my attention, a smell curling inside the minds of the million–headed city, even in sleep

a weather breath resurrects

CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock | The City Real & Imagined | Factory School | 2010

“when will I
vanish at
all my
want
dear
impatient
city I
Love?”

“There is a dirty hole

There is something about to be

planted”

Edgar Allan Poe | Arthur Gordon Pym | Oxford | 1998

“So rapidly had these events passed, that we could scarcely believe in their reality, and were standing over the bodies of the dead in a species of stupid contemplation, when we were brought to recollection by the sound of shouts in the distance.”

Larry Eigner | another time in fragments | Fulcrum | 1967

“birds

are apples

an upward ground
the gray bark
spring direction”

D.C.A. Hillman | The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization | Thomas Dunne | 2008

“In writing The Chemical Muse, I wanted to show that recreational drugs were an integral aspect of the same societies that gave us valuable concepts like democracy and the scientific method. I wanted the modern West to see that its founding fathers were drug users, plain and simple; they grew the stuff, they sold the stuff, and most important, used the stuff.”

The Chemical Muse is an expanded version of a chapter in the author’s dissertation, a chapter that the Classics faculty required he remove in order to pass his dissertation exam! Academic Revenge!

Kevin Varrone | g-point almanac: passyunk lost | Ugly Duckling | 2010

“I felt what you felt: a ball in space

a great astrofuge.
I felt blue & white or wonder.”

Paul Nelson | A Time Before Slaughter | Apprentice House | 2010

Paul Nelson’s Patersonesque telling of the story of Auburn, Wa. (formerly Slaughter).

“Slaughter is the rush of Stuck through rocks on a rainy August  F r i d a y.”

Gaslamp Killer | All Killer. Finders Keepers Records 1-20 Mixed By The Gaslamp Killer | Twisted Nerve | 2009

Fantastic mix of retro-international-psych-rock sounds (Turkey / India / Pakistan) with lo-profile beats to string it all together. Fun, wonderful and surprising and every turn.

Example: Track 3 contains sounds from the following: Mustafa Özkent – Zeytinyagi (Fkr010) / Susan Christie – Europa (Poetry) (Fkr018) / Jir’ Slitr & Jir’ Sust- Sugar Stealers / Man With A Typewriter (Fkr013)

More C.E. Putnam here. His Attention Span for 2009, 2008. Back to directory.

Attention Span 2010 – Paul Stephens

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Seth Price | How to Disappear in America | Leopard | 2008

The ultimate how-to guide for the hobo Houdini in us all.  The book itself has almost disappeared from circulation—for now at least, it can be ordered online from Ooga Booga.

Robert Kelly | Fire Exit | Black Widow | 2009

R Kelly may have reached the height of his fame in the 70s; he may be reaching the height of his powers in his 70s. The strongest case yet made against flarf….

Monica de la Torre | Public Domain | Roof | 2008

Will the real Monica de la Torre please stand up? An important addition to the growing pantheon of conceptual writing.

Miles Champion | Eventually | The Rest Press | 2008

The cover, the endpapers, the front matter, the body, the colophon…. A true chapbook de résistance.

Stuart Bailey, ed. | Dot Dot Dot 18 & 19 | Dexter Sinister | 2009-2010

The ne plus ultra of contemporary meta-journal design. Not well enough known among poetry types, Dot Dot Dot regularly features writing by Seth Price, Angie Keefer, Liam Gillick and more. Conceptual? Relational? Quasi-conceptual? Or all of the above.

Clark Coolidge | The Act of Providence | Combo | 2010

The graphomanic master returns with a hometown epic. In the grand tradition of Maximus and Paterson—sort of.

Chris Burnett | SprawlCode: descriptions | Preacher’s Biscuit | 2006

Got forty dollars burning a hole in your pocket? You could buy one share of BP and hate yourself. Or you could procure this beautifully printed, brilliantly conceived book that somehow hasn’t yet sold out, despite having been printed in an edition of only 100 copies. Consider cornering the market. (Special shout out also to Journal of Artists’ Books 24 edited by Craig Dworkin and Kyle Schlesinger, which features a fascinating meta-road trip dialogue between Burnett and Tate Shaw.)

Reza Negarestani | Cyclonopedia: Complicity With Anonymous Materials | re: press | 2008

Page turning theory-fiction. One part Bataille, one part Deleuze, one part Said, one part Pynchon: put them in a blender and you have an inimitably paranoid critique of the global petrocracy as seen from the perspective of the underground noosphere.

Drew Daniel | 20 Jazz Funk Greats | Continuum | 2008

A completely engrossing account of Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats. Just the right mix of fandom and critical distance. Read it as you listen to the album—you won’t be bored.

Larry Eigner, ed. Curtis Faville and Robert Grenier | Collected Poems | Stanford | 2010

Who wants a wi-fi Kindle for $139 when you can have the four-volume Collected Poems of Larry Eigner? At $120, 3,072 poems comes out to less than four cents each. A bargain in disguise.

More Paul Stephens here. Back to directory.

Attention Span 2010 – Craig Dworkin

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George Albon | Step | Post-Apollo | 2006

A book-length meditation on the moment between one foot leaving the earth and its back-again fall, or what Marcel Duchamp termed the “inframince”:

“le bruit ou la musique faits par un pantalon de velours côtelé comme celui ci quand on le fait bouger [the noise or music made by corduroy pants like these rubbing when one moves]”; pantalons de velours—/ leur sifflotement (dans la) march par/ frottement des 2 jambes est une/ séparation infra-mince signalée/ par le son [velvet trousers—/ their whistling sound (in) walking by/ brushing of the 2 legs is an/ infra-mince separation signaled/ by sound].”

Following the lead of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Samuel Beckett, and Bruce Nauman, Albon puts the locomotive gesture in the service of philosophy. It’s been out a few years now, but I just came across this book and it’s the most intellectually exciting and sonically exacting poetry I have read in a decade. Absolutely thrilling.

Christian Bök | The Xenotext Experiment | manuscript | forthcoming

I have seen the future of writing, and its name is Deinococcus radiodurans. Bök has encrypted alphabetic letters as amino acids, writing a poem in the medium of genetic nucleotides inscribed in an animate biological substrate. With that sequence implanted in its DNA, the bacterium, through gene expression, manufactures a protein which can then be decoded in turn, using the same cipher, as an equally legible poem. It is not surprising that Bök has set himself an Herculean formal task and a nearly impossible lettristic puzzle. Nor is it surprising that he solved it with aplomb. But what will shock you is the degree to which the alphabetic code generates a style of wispy late-romantic lyricism (with a Steinian twist at the end).

Clark Coolidge | The Act of Providence | Combo | 2010

Just enough sense to encourage referential pursuits, but not enough to let semantics get the upper hand in the contest of percussive sound patterns and the grammatical slap of words in willful categorematic insubordination. Speed along the I-95 overpass of phrasal rhythm (“The city lulls you/ as you farm on by”) or settle down in the Armory district of documentary polaroids (“Having a good time? Lock right down”). Either way, “Providence rates.”

Michael Cross | In Felt Treeling: a libretto | Chax | 2008

This little book suggests tracery in both sense of the word: a delicate interweaving of open-work lines as well as phrases traced from archaic sources. With syllabically based sonic densities and fleeting gossamer hints of sylvan drama, Cross’ perspective shifts between the mottled-shade expanse of the forest and the hardwood singularity of every individual tree. Exquisite.

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

I have to confess that I never really understood all the fuss about Eigner. But then, every once in a while, I catch a glimpse. Like the poem first published in Bob Perelman’s journal Hills (Number 4; May, 1977): “Whoppers   Whoppers   Whoppers!/ memory fails/ these are the days.” I think of it every time I pass a Burger King. Here, that poem is number 952, on page 1267 of Volume III, leaving another 825 poems to go before the end of Volume IV. A luxury production (each book has the heft and gloss of a volume of the Oxford English Dictionary), the set is marketed for institutional sales. Put in an acquisition request with your local library.

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

Discursive, chatty, and topical by Foust’s standards, To Anacreon in Heaven is more direct and less wryly torqued than his previous books. But all the pain and precision are there in full. An alternative “Star Spangled Banner,” with an ethics of enmeshment and implication in place of bellicose nationalist fealty, the poem commemorates the battle between a subject who knows it can neither genuinely connect with others nor retreat to an easy unaffected detachment. The work, accordingly, is not Anacreontic in the traditional sense; if this is a drinking song, it has the bitter taste of necessity rather than cheer—“and that’s a vodka bottle full of quiet bees.” Every sentence goes straight into the stanza, but cannot leave the stanza to itself. Signature design by Jeff Clark.

Robert Grenier | Sentences | Whale Cloth | 1978

Long out of print and exceedingly rare, a score or so of Grenier’s legendary boxes were recently discovered; they had been safely stored inside Michael Waltuch’s printing press and completely forgotten for decades. Each of the 500 cards in Sentences offers an understated epiphany—a quick glimpse of the enlightenment that can only come from sustained meditative attention to the tantric forms of the individual alphabetic letters that filter, distort, and permit the linguistic environment of our everyday experiences. Shuffle ’em up and deal ’em out. The few remaining rediscovered copies are priced for accession by library special collections; see whalecloth.org for details.

P. Inman | now/time | Bronze Skull | 2006

Two volumes of Inman’s collected poetry have been announced by James Davies’ imprint If p Then q; for now, it’s time to puzzle over this performance score. The title translates Walter Benjamin’s keyword Jetztzeit: the pressing immediacy of the present moment—or, more striking, the snapshot image of a past moment grasped with all the fullness of the present in an interrupting flash of profane illumination—isolated from the causal narratives constructed by conventional historical views. In Inman’s text, intersecting lines enact the concept at a syntactic level since each word is freed from the subordinations of grammar and separated from neighboring words by full stops. With “time. occupied. of. my. language.” in this way, words—for a moment—can be seen to be replete without the buttressing hierarchies of semantics. A word, in now/time constitutes a lexical plenum of sound and materiality: “a Nunc-stans,” as Hobbes writes in the Leviathan, “which neither they, nor any else understand.”

Kenneth Irby | The Intent On: Collected Poems, 1962-2006 | North Atlantic | 2009

Irby’s Collected is the secret consistory located somewhere between Placitas and Berkeley, somewhere between intellect and orexis, somewhere between Olson and Ponge, where Peter Inman and John Taggart hold council in lyric tribunal. One would do well to pay the kind of attention to the corpus of Irby’s poetry that it pays to the embodied, numinous world around us.

Joseph Massey | Exit North | BookThug | 2010

Microtonal miniatures from a poet able to gauge the precise, graduated degrees of catenarian variance in the tension of the simplest sentences.

Aram Saroyan | Complete Minimal Poems | Ugly Duckling | 2008

Not truly “complete” and certainly not “minimal,” but completely provocative and prescient works of minimalist poetry (UDP must have intended the title in the topological sense of “complete minimal surfaces,” such as catenoids and helicoids). They may have mean curvatures of zero, but the intensities generated by rotating one of Saroyan’s single words can feel infinite. Challenging Clark Coolidge’s conviction that there cannot be a one-word poem, Saroyan moves between visual poetry, the Bolinas goof, and steely proto-conceptual writing. I always hear Robert Grenier’s “JOE JOE” [from Sentences, see above] as a reply to Saroyan’s “Coffee Coffee.”

More Craig Dworkin here. His Attention Span for 2009, 2007. Back to directory.