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Posts Tagged ‘Nathaniel Otting

Attention Span 2011 | Johannes Göransson

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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 | http://sonofdaddy.blogspot.com/ | 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.

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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 www.montevidayo.com.

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Attention Span 2011 | Nathaniel Otting

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Amanda Nadelberg | Bright Brave Phenomena | Coffee House | 2012

It’s been another Year of the Song Cave & it’s hard to believe that Nadelberg’s Building Castles in Spain, Getting Married, the second book in this peerless series, emerged in November 2009. The Age of the Song Cave is too long (it’s ongoing) to properly document here but it seems wrong not to sing some books: Amaranth Borsuk’s Tonal Saw (“tremble | fire | A | kind | of | fire” & “o | o | o | stumble” & “mmandm | Append”), Jane Gregory’s Some Books (“Instead of this book I set out to prove the birdnoise to the bird as my mind was in my office and my office was in my mind.”) Jared Stanley’s How The Desert Did Me In (“Uh! Principia, uh, I’ll think about it.”), Macgregor Card’s The Archers (“There there, manual severity / of being, bonus being, being general / general poet—”), and Graham Foust’s To Graham Foust on the Morning of His Fortieth Birthday (“Tiny hawks of poetry all over you, you sit at screens to punch a book into the world.”), Lisa Jarnot’s Amedillin Cooperative Nosegay (“odyssia’s very original boobs and the warm apt facts of john thaw”) to list just half the 2010 titles. Songcavewise, 2011 has been nonstop, too. To name only the first few (well, half): Andy Fitch’s solo Island, Rod Smith’s whatwow What’s the Deal, Peter Gizzi’s purplegreen Pinnochio’s Gnosis, Jennifer Moxley’s worldly Coastal, and Dana Ward’s doubleheader, The Squeakquel. When I visited the Cincinnati of The Squeakquel, I told Dana that my dad had left Erga kai hemerai in the car back in Kentucky, so he lent me Bill Luoma’s Works and Days (with a graceful note from Michael Gizzi: “Dear Mr. Ward”) which probably would have just been this list if I hadn’t left it in a car bound for Kentucky. One of the greater Song Caves, Geoffrey G. O’Brien’s Hesiod (“All song at once, isn’t this / like balancing the needs of friends?), a working over of Hesiod’s ‘Days,’ is as beautiful as the original chruson genos, the Golden Age. Like Luoma’s, O’Brien’s Works is as ageless as H’s. (And an H is not even an H.) All of this just to say that Amanda Nadelberg is our age’s poet in an Age of Poets. Awaiting Bright Brave Phenomena is like waiting for the things themselves to appear, brighter and braver and phenomenally more than ever before.

Brandon Brown | The Persians by Aeschylus | Displaced
Farrah Field & Jared White | Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Book Shop | Est. 2011

Bookstores need to get brighter and braver in the Post-Border’s Age and Brooklyn is the beacon. Jon Beacham’s Hermitage presses on, as The Brother in Elysium, on Bedford Ave. Around the bend, Book Thug Nation maintains a sill full of Book Thug (no relation). Above all, may Adam Tobin’s unbeatable Unnameable Books, in Prospect Heights, outlast all of us. Into the fray, enter poets Field and White, whose Berl’s, growing so well it may have a roof before Fall. When I made a pilgrimage to their table at the Brooklyn Flea, I found the only thing one can ask, exactly the one book I was looking for in the whole world. No small feat considering they display around 20 books on any given day. Tyrone Williams’ beautiful, everything-breaking elegy, Pink Tie (Hooke Press, 2011). Chapbooks to seek at Berl’s: Wondrous Things I Have Seen (Mitzvah Chaps, 2010) by Herodotus, jk by Brandon Brown (aka Aeschylus aka Catullus) & Preserving The Old Way Of Life (Factory Hollow Press, 2007) by Shannon Burns.

James Copeland | Fax II | self | 2011
CAConrad | MUGGED Into Poetry | Cannot Exist | 2011.

Copeland knows, and how, his Hölderlin. Does Coolidge (circa THIS 6) know his Copeland, writ large? Fax II exists, tho it doesn’t say so. Andy Gricevich’s Cannot Exist (Issue 7 has Conrad + Coletti, Copp, Hauser, Higdon, Larsen, Ward, &c) exists chapbooks! Besides Conrad’s: Roberto Harrison’s Bridge of the World, Sara Larsen’s The Hallucinated, Jess Mynes’ How’s the Cows. Conrad continues being amazing. His devastating reading of “MUGGED Into Poetry” (written after he was mugged en route to a reading by new CE co-editor Lewis Freedman) at the Supermachine 3 launch awed my mom. Cannot wait to get her A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon (Wave Books, 2012). Until then, I got her Heather Christle’s The Trees, The Trees (Octopus Books, 2011).

Tim Dlugos | A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos | Nightboat | 2011
Patrick James Dunagan | A Gustonbook | Post-Apollo Press | 2011

“It’s hard enough to find a parachute / in New York City, I remember thinking, / but finding one the right shade / of canary is the accomplishment / of the sort of citizen with whom / I wish to populate my life.” Dlugos’ “Parachute” (and Conrad’s devastating reading of it) is one of the saddest, and most beautiful, wakes, and makes me cry every time. And “G-9”, with its double wake, is the great elegy of our time. If Steve Carey was the news of 2010, and to me, too, he was, Dlugos is, to me (with Carey, still, too) the news of 2011. Except to me (tho nothing new is in print) the news was, and will be for some time, Peter Seaton, who would not have existed so suddenly and indispensably in my life without Craig Dworkin’s Eclipse. A Book + Craig Dworkin = Eclipse. (Dworkin’s own The Perverse Library, like all of his books, is to be owned.) I’ve only started settling into Dunagan’s There Are People Who Think That Painters Shouldn’t Talk: A Gustonbook, but already it’s taken its place next to Coolidge’s Guston’s Collected Writings (UC, 2010). Banes’ (copy of) Rodefer’s Four Lectures aside, “Writers paint, they don’t speak.”

Emily Pettit | Goat in the Snow | Birds, LLC | 2012
Ben Estes | Alan Felsenthal | The Song Cave | Sea Ranch

I’ve been in love with Pettit and her poems since I first read three of them, in the second issue of Seth Landman’s Invisible Ear, in October 2008. Her poetry workshop at Flying Object is a laboratory for making poets, and no wonder why: reading her poems taught me how to write. There are so many great Bens (at least ten), and Ben Estes, whose Cymbals (“Like a container for a flower inside of a flower.”) opened The Song Cave, is beyond exception. If Estes’ Lamp Like L’Map (Factory Hollow Press, 2009) is every indication, and it is, his The Strings of Walnetto Arrangements (Flowers and Cream, 2011) will be every sensation.  There are a few Alans, too, but only one this one. The ultimate symmetry would be an ultimate Song Cave; until then, the inaugural Sea Ranch, a split with his co-editor, is the best start imaginable. Long live, Song Cave, up with the Sea Ranch. P.S. Dos-a-dos are the new split 7”s. Flying Object paired James Copeland w/ Alex Phillips. I would like to hear Will Edmiston’s effing great Effie (3 Sad Tigers Press, 2011) b/w Lewis Freedman’s Freedman’s font-glossed Non-Symbolic Non Symbolic Non-Symbolic (for Catherine Malabou)

Renee Gladman | Event Factory | Dorothy, A Publishing Project | 2010
Rachel B. Glaser | Pee on Water | Publishing Genius | 2010

Prose by poets, does saying that make this not bending my own one-from-2011 rules? Whatever, Glaser is killing it in 2011: poems plenty, “Turid,” the soon famous “Ellen” story. Gladman, of course, is one of the Greats, and who wouldn’t have started a press, as Danielle Dutton (whose Sprawl, Siglio, 2010 fits right in here) did, to publish Gladman’s Ravicka trilogy? That the sequel, The Ravickians (Dorothy, 2011), is to be published on the same day as Gary Lutz’s Divorcer (Calamari Press, 2011) will make deciding what two books to read on that day very easy.

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