Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Creeley

Attention Span 2011 | Jesse Priest

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Danielle Evans | Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self | Riverhead | 2010

A collection of short stories that seek to describe the experience of minority youths in today’s society, Evans goes a step beyond in her writing and captures something of the entirety of human existence. Each story contains a philosophic energy that is best described by one of her own narrators: “your skin crawls with the sensation that something urgent is about to happen, but you never know what, or when.”

Reif Larsen | The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet | Penguin | 2009

Larsen’s novel uses a complex system of notes and annotations made by his narrator to accompany the prose. What results from these smattering of images, charts, maps and drawings is a hybrid visual/written experience that creates a more complete world for his story.

Ander Monson | Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir | Greywolf | 2010

What intrigued me most about this collection of essays and fictionalized non-fiction is Monson’s use of the internet to add another layer to his writing. Many of his pieces contain different links to his website, which avoids seeming like self-promotion and instead creates an opening for the reader to explore additional research and insight into the ideas that Monson suggests.

David Mitchell | Cloud Atlas | Random House | 2004

What drew me to this novel is its format, which Mitchell describes as being similar to Matryoshka dolls. Each section is a self-contained story that connects in direct and indirect ways to the one following it, and halfway through the novel we begin working backwards through the stories again. What made the novel stick with me, however, is Mitchell’s ability to appropriate different genres and styles in a way that feels seamless and dynamic.

Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. Jane Bannard Greene and M.D. Herter Norton | The Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke, 1910-1926 | Norton | 1976

These later letters drip with romance and longing, as well as fascinating observations as Rilke traveled before and during the First World War, searching for a place to feel comfortable and to write. “And how much people do,—I don’t know what they do, but for the most part they look busy or at least in love…”

Margaret Atwood | Selected Poems | Simon & Schuster | 1976

An early collection of Atwood’s recently acquired from the bottom of a relative’s dusty box, I was surprised at how Atwood’s early poems still reverberate both with her more contemporary writing and the world we inhabit now. I especially notice ideas and stylistic similarities with her latest novel, The Year of the Flood, that give new immediacy to these earlier poems.

Charles Olson and Robert Creeley, ed. George F. Butterick | The Complete Correspondence: Volume 2 | Black Sparrow | 1980

This volume of the writers’ correspondence takes place when Olson and Creeley’s friendship was beginning to embolden, and contains much discussion of philosophy, language and poetics. It can also be approached as a sort of manifesto-in-progress as Olson and Creeley mused over the logistics of publishing a magazine.

Thomas James | Letters to a Stranger | Graywolf | 2008

“Instead of all this permanence,/ I would have preferred a bouquet of yellow flowers–/ Buttercups perhaps, petals that might shrivel easily./ If you had wanted to ignite this room,/ You should have settled for a honey jar”

Adrienne Rich | Winterface and other poems | Tinhouse | 2010

“Death, good-looking as only a skeleton can get/ (good looks of keen intelligence)/ sits poised at the typewriter, her local, her pedestal… (I say her but who knows death’s gender/ as with life there are possible variations)”

Marjane Satrapi | Persepolis | Pantheon | 2003

I can’t add much to the discussion of this book. I re-approached it this year through the lens of teaching literature, as well as the interesting complexities involved with teaching graphic texts. I found that imagining how its historical contexts, its presentation, and the combination of words and images could potentially add to classroom setting made this reading of Satrapi’s autobiography my favorite one to date, and possibly my most productive.


More Jesse Priest here.

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Joe, I Like Your Elephantine Works

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lipstickBill Berkson – Hey Joe (1’37”). Recorded on reel-to-reel by Robert Creeley on June 15, 1971 at Intersection in San Francisco and newly archived on PennSound, where one can also find individual pages for Berkson and Brainard. • Previously on Lipstick of Noise, Berkson’s “Dream with Fred Astaire,” Ron Padgett’s “Joe Brainard’s Painting Bingo” in live and studio takes, and Joe Brainard’s “Tuesday, February 18, 1971.”

Written by Steve Evans

July 7, 2009 at 9:53 am

Attention Span – Dawn Michelle Baude

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Keston Sutherland | Neutrality | Barque | 2004

Upon returning from 18 years abroad, I asked two poets tens years my junior what book I should buy. They put Neutrality into my grasping hand. Hence I encountered Sutherland’s work for the first time and fell in love, literally, with the whoosh-plop-boom of that verbal cascade. It surges from its source with a delightful rhythm, to the point that  I suspect the layout on the page provides the syllogistic pretext for the argument of the poem without exerting a durable impact on prosody (this bears further consideration). I like the fact that this work doesn’t take itself too seriously, an important consideration when a lot of what’s available to read in the US seems to move from a homogenous, self-congratulatory careerism.

Mel Nichols | The Beginning of Beauty | Edge  | 2007

Nichols is one of my favorite poets and this book is full of what she does best: the insightful quotidian of being human, combined with a wacky, prickly sense of humor and inflected with a staunch political acumen—Kyger and Notley reverberate here, with a little of Hejinian and Darragh in the mix. Nichols is capable of range—The Beginning of Beauty has an acerbic wit that takes a back seat in her “Day Poem” series, where the mood is quieter and engages a flexible, compelling query into the new humanism—I’m a devoted fan of the Day Poems. Beauty is, of course, beautiful—a joy to hold, with its intimate, polysemous blue secret. That tip-in is so erotic.

Robert Creeley | The Niagara Magazine: Robert Creeley—A Dialogue | 1978

Oh Lord—what a gem—everything so deeply, irrevocably Creeley, in conversation with Kevin Power in Buffalo in 1976. If a book had arms, I’d want to crawl into them here. I found this issue which managed, somehow, to survive the pulverizing fists of time at a very cool second-hand bookshop specialized in impossibly hard-to-find poetry publications—Hermitage—in Beacon, Lower Hudson Valley.

Joseph Lease | Broken World | Coffee House | 2007

I’ve carried this book from country to country for the last year and a half, picking it up whenever I need to think—or rather hear—the poem. Lease has something of Palmer in him, something of Creeley, a bit of Spicer. The argument of the book is chilling, and sad, and somehow, redemptive. I’m into reading books where I actually feel a poet on the other side, the flesh & blood one, who knows when to cast identity upon the page like a stone tossed into the lake. I read a book like this and I want to borrow some of his moves and drink a glass of Merlot.

VA | The Grand Piano: An Experiment in Collective Autobiography | Mode A | 2006-

Basically anywhere that Barrett Watten’s brain has been I want to check out. It’s like going in for an oil change—are we thinking? Really thinking? As someone who’s had a voyeur’s view of the Language Poets from the get-go, I like to keep an eye on them, all of them. And the Grand Piano series is not a disappointment. If I can recuperate the word “panoptic” to employ in a pre-Foucaultian/Bentham sense, I would. But the quantum viewpoint might be better to describe this document in collective autobiography. At any rate, for a movement that has consistently faced accusations of mannerism (and a lot worse), the embodied narratives of Grand Piano provide the waves that those hard-copy particles need. Give a Language Poet a hug.

Buck Downs | Let It Rip | Washington, DC | 2007

I came across these poems this summer and I had to re-read. Downs’ line is so tight, the torque between words so high, the potential energy would seem a bit dangerous, were it not for lyric commitments. Tenderness, especially. The focus on juxtaposition of grammatical units functions differently from the trajectories we’re accustomed to follow, given the predictable paratactic idioms of our age. You have to read these poems slowly, word by word, as if the conditions of their making required more than a casual performative reconstruction. There’s wit here, in abundance, and keen social commentary, and a kind of revelatory intimacy, too.

Andrew Schelling | Wild Form & Savage Grammar | La Alameda | 2003

I didn’t know the US had any kind o f Ecological movement in poetry until I recently came across this book. The question that Schelling poses—how can we have a writing that also commits to the compelling issues of Ecology—is certainly worth considering, even (or especially) at this belated standpoint. Since Ecology is not, as far as I can ascertain, anywhere near the heart of contemporary poetics, Schelling turns often to Asia for ideas that were waylaid in history, a tendency that endears me to this book since many US poets have truncated their connection to the past as a source of meaningful information and finally end-up looking awfully provincial. Schelling is a good, clear essayist, so he took me places I hadn’t been before.

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

Sharp, witty, incisive—this book has a lot to keep me busy. The prosody (the driving issue for this reader) catches my eye because Davies has a lot of textured variation. The main thrust, so to speak, of the poet’s concerns is contemporary social commentary, and this commentary is rich and informed. But it’s the reoccurring pig image/references that hooked me! Since I’ve been out of the country for so long, Davies is a wonderful discovery.


More Dawn Michelle Baude here.

Attention Span – Rod Smith

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John Ashbery | Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems | Ecco

Robert Creeley | Selected Letters | manuscript

Mark Cunningham | 80 Beetles | Otilith

Kevin Davies | The Golden Age of Paraphernalia | Edge

Peter Gizzi | The Outernationale | Wesleyan

Aerial 10: Lyn Hejinian Special Issue | manuscript

Joanne Kyger | About Now: Collected Poems | National Poetry Foundation

Sharon Mesmer | Annoying Diabetic Bitch | Combo

Mel Nichols | Bicycle Day | Slack Buddha

Tom Raworth | Let Baby Fall | Critical Documents

plus one:

McKenzie Wark | 50 Years of Recuperation of the Situationist International | Buell Center/Forum


More Rod Smith here.