Friday, September 30, 2005
Howl turned 50 this week! The poem that sealed Ginsberg’s fame and shaped a generation of poetics is half a century. Who can resist the pure, unselfconscious energy of Howl? The confidence of it, the determination, the sureness—perhaps rooted in Ginsberg’s knowing that his project was/is a continuation of a grand project started, become American with Whitman, continued with Stein, this grand and biblical writing of America, this desire to capture in full relief, one’s time, the progress or decline; the tenor and tempo.
Hearing Ginsberg read it was an unleashing of sorts for me, recognition of poet as performer, the embodied need to be.
And I love that he refers to the “poles of Canada &/ Paterson, illuminating all the mo-/tionless world of Time between,” Who knew there were so many connections between Canada and New Jersey. New York, sure, every nation can claim that. But New Jersey? Who knew.
Upenn has a manuscript page from Howl here…and I’m trying to find a good audio link.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
There are some new poems in Lodestar Quarterly yet another journal I know little about, but now will be looking at more closely since it seems to be a fairly serious queer literary journal—an online Bloom? They’ve included Edmund White, Jewelle Gomez, Mark Doty and others…
But really this is a good reason to talk about Marilyn Hacker because I have been wanting to put one of her poems up for awhile now, especially as she has been busy translating Vénus Khoury-Ghata and Claire Malroux, and it would be nice to hear from her again. Hacker’s most recent book is Desesperonto, a wonderful, sad, and hopeful exploration of life in Paris and New York. It follows Squares & Courtyards in tone, I think. My favorite however, remains Love, Death and the Changing of the Seasons. Along with being one of the best formal poets of our time, Hacker is unique in her high romanticism, how she seems (and one suspects would be), more at home in the world of Donne, than in the world of internet chat rooms, Bush and Cheney et al., yet, tempted as she might be to slip into another century, exists with full knowledge of and response to, such figures and political facts. A romantic poet she may be, but Hacker role models the kind of active poet role that I envy and respect.
Aside from being an amazing poet and person in the world, Hacker is also one of the most inspiring readers—in fact I can’t believe there isn’t an audio file somewhere on line and perhaps I’ll try to remedy that. I do have some photos, a slideshow from Dodge last year where she captivated us despite the rain and muck and what have you. But 3 people or 300, Hacker is able to transport her audience into a world of poetry that seems as deep as it is timeless. She looks absolutely joyful when reading, and perhaps that’s because she is…
Like Anne Carson, there is a sense of literary time being compressed in Hacker’s work. It’s entirely plausible that Hopkins might arrive, and not merely at a mention, but in spirit, in meter and line. Hacker is also a poet for whom conversation is essential. Her best work is often in the form of letters, or odes. Here’s an excerpt from a poem written for poet Alfred Corn:
Alfred, we both know there's little dactylic pentameter
that can be spotted and quoted from classic anthologies
(although Hephaistion's Handbook on Meters cites "Atthis I
loved you once long ago" as an example, without much on
Sappho, but still, could a presence be much more felicitous ?)
so this epistle is, much like good friendship, unorthodox,
framed both by Sappho and schoolmasters, and, overseeing the
words of itinerants, Wystan? Jean-Arthur ? Elizabeth ?
Aimé and Léopold lighting the Left Bank with Négritude ?
August has shut down the shops and cafés on my market street ;
when they re-open, la rentrée, fresh start, it will be without
me. I'll be back in New York, feeling ten times more alien
than where the polyglot boulevards intersect , linking up
11e and 20e, Maghreb, punk chic, kashruth, chinoiserie.
Once one could say that Manhattan was barely America,
which -- in Manhattan -- was meant as an insider's compliment.
So much depends upon the line, and with Hacker each one is kinetic. Singing. For me, Hacker signifies queer reclamation of the sonnet…perhaps there were others, for sure there were, but for me, she handed the form, meter, lock and key, with such luscious desire. From Love, Death…
You, little one, are just the kind of boy
I would have eyeballed at the bar, and cruised
efficiently, and taken home, and—used?
Hell, no! The bodice-busters say “enjoy,”
and how I do enjoy what girl you bring
back out in me, brought out in time for you
to riff all keys of titillation through
with those square, reddish hands whose quivering
sometimes on mine plucks songs from everything.
Bad, brash, and skinless, not a boy at all,
between boot-tops and that surprising small
waist is where my hands and mouth would slide,
effortless and attentive to you, guide
you, ride you to the place we both belong.
Here’s a profile of Hacker by poet, Rafael Campo.
I notice there is also a poem from Scott Hightower, who is a lovely poet and human being—more on him in another post. I want to think about the sheer number of queer poets who are also formalists in the US, but another time.
Here’s a snippet from the Mouré translation of Andrés Ajens, as described in the previous post.
iv. rough trial (auto).
The automobile bile, one wheel off-keel, the
moirai to the left, atrop-ical behind,
as for those other two, so eternally unerring,
with bits of one, child of a flirt whose permit's suspended,
(m)aimed toward home, the
co-reign of herbicides fervently afar, with
magdalene at a slight advantage, with
all three above, Orion
wheel, waning, lady luck's draw,
arisaromalvamberish blood, roughed bloom.
That day she looked up into the Milky Way and skidded off the road.
What I love about this is the sense of language, like the bicycle wheel, spinning, in motion. Meaning random and not random simultaneously. Everything succinct, and yet, spin the wheel. What you think is merely under foot drifts up, very actively, to your nose. The world is not neutral. Nor is the translator. She enters the poem, albeit under the line, but she does enter.
I’m not sure how literal the translation is, but what I notice is how well Mouré chooses her projects. How well they fit…
Monday, September 26, 2005
Sunday, September 25, 2005
They have two chapbooks, one by Andrés Ajens translated by Erin Mouré (again, again!) and it’s really something. In her usual way she has chosen a smart, smart poet to translate, a poet who is multiple and spare and large enough of spirit to handle the depth, and humour, of her translations. This is a fabulous little chapbook. I want to physically hold it however, and I’m not sure that it will ever exist in such a state.
They are also building a formidable archive. I was happy to discover Ronald Johnson’s chapbook The Book of the Green Man, which I had not been able to find anywhere in print.
I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing through, but what I have read, I’ve enjoyed. Definitely worth a look.
For more on mclennan check out his blog, and poetics.ca among other sites. The blog is ever-changing, and tends to cover a fairly wide slice of Canadian poetic activity--where does he get the time? There are mini-reviews and round-ups, and an ever-increasing number of links. A great blog to keep track of all things Canadian. Poetics.ca is updated quarterly and includes pieces from other Canadian poets. There's a little more meat on the offerings here, and it's a great addition to the Canadian Literary scene. Oh, and just to keep things consistant, I might mention that there was a great little essay on translating Pessoa by Moure a few issues back. Well worth a look.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Monday, September 26th @ 7:30 PM
Scheduled readers of poetry, fiction and drama:
Sina Queyras (aka Lemon Hound)
189 East 3rd Street
between Ave A & B
New York City
Subway: F or V to 2nd Ave.
(Happy Hour-- 7:00 PM-8:00 PM--$2.00 Rheingolds)
Thursday, September 22, 2005
So, I pulled out Search Procedures, and then A Frame of the Book, and O Cidadan, and then Little Theatres, because the poem I wanted was in Little Theatres and here it is now:
THE GRAMMAR OF THE DOG
I have a little dog of water
It is just a little peg
my dog of water
Do you see it
so worn down across the field
nosing low in the bended grasses?
It is my dog of water.
Each leaf of grass dips a scarf into its passing.
Even the grass today is running.
Even the grass today touches the dog of water.
Erin Moure, from Little Theatres
But then I got to looking at the other ones too, and time passed and I thought, why didn't I think of Erin Moure when I was looking at Beckett? And why don't I think of Beckett more when I read Erin Moure? And so I did. And that is what I'm off to do more of now. I'm going to watch Breath, and Play, and maybe even End Game, and I'm going to read Little Theatres and Sheep's Vigil once again. And if you follow that link you can hear Moure reading from Sheep's Vigil for a Fervent Person, which is one of my all time favourite books of poetry. Aside from all of Moure's other books, and well, Lisa Robertson's, and Anne Carson's, and well, okay, still it's one of my favourite books.
And of course you can also find Moure (and the others!) in Open Field. See slideshow for more shots of her, and others reading here in NY, see here.
Ms. Olds, in a letter on the Web site of The Nation (thenation.com/doc/20051010/olds), said she found the invitation appealing. "But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you," she wrote in a letter to Mrs. Bush. "I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush administration. . . . So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it."My hat is off. Really. Although it may seem like a no-brainer to decline such an invitation, it's still a gutsy move. I found the statement about "breaking bread" particularly moving. And particularly so because we are talking about Sharon Olds, and this is a poet who does get right to the heart of the matter. Breaking bread. Condoning. Condoning. Yes, what we implicitly and explicitly support every day.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
That said, Border Crossings has never once disappointed me. I have been in love with its glossy pages since I stumbled upon it in the small town in northern BC where I spent my high school years. I can still recall the moment I saw it among the other titles (Tractor pull, Northern logger?), and the feeling, upon first slipping in between its covers, as though I had walked into an art gallery. A contemporary art gallery. Of course I had never been in one before. This is impossible to imagine for the average New Yorker or Torontonian, having grown up with art at one's fingertips, but there are in fact 16 year old gallery virgins and I was one of them.
And now, I check online as I often do, to see what's up at Border Crossings and I find an appreciation of Olds by Meeka Walsh, who clearly is in love with her for some of the reasons I once was. After all, reading the Gold Cell, was as surprising to me as stumbling upon a gallery in a magazine, circa 1979. Walsh talks about discovering Olds through the artist who provided the cover for one of her books, the synchronicity of stumbling upon both artist and requisite poem in the New Yorker on the same day--a fate that would seal anyone's love of a poet to be sure. But she also sums up Olds with great precision:
Olds writes about her immediate world and the relationships close around her. She writes with an almost untenable candour, with urgency, at a pitch, with heat, with the emotional extravagance and almost imbalance of the Baroque (in the sense of intemperance and eccentricity). Sparks: Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004) is an autobiography. Beginning with the cover—Janet Fish’s work, Arcanum, 1990, might as well have been painted in response to the poems contained inside. Arcanum means secret or hidden knowledge: the goldfish in their bowl are the subject of a mean poem, “Killing My Sister’s Fish,” the pink, unfolded conch shell—a ready metaphor for a woman’s sex, the cosmology of the night sky vast and mysterious, uncharted and dream-inducing, appearing in the intimacy of night, and the fecundity of the alstroemeria with their sleepy droop and fleshy tones.--Border Crossings
I admit that, even now, after having run into now here and there in the city, and always finding her charming and open, I am still deeply suspicious of the "sameness" of her work. Of her inability to move on. I want her to move away from her desk, to be out in the world, to try a different line length. And damn it, I want her to concentrate on a line break or two! But Walsh's piece reminds me of what she does best, and now I'll have to go back to the poems--maybe even pick up this selected--and reconsider. Maybe I ask too much of her. Maybe what she has done is enough.
Oh, and for sure I'm going to subscribe to Border Crossings. It is my favourite Canadian magazine--art or otherwise. And for my money, the best.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Didn't catch a glimpse of Smithson's Floating Island , yesterday, my first trip to Chelsea of the season, but I love the idea of this floating barge filled with trees floating around Manhattan. The photos have the trees in full autumn colour, which would be even more spectacular: photos in the Times of them assembling the barge suggested a recent planting which would mean a NY climate zone. What I want to see is them literally floating the barge down the Hudson to NY. I want to see them move a chunk of upstate downstate, season intact
not just a planting for the occasion, a real, living chunk. Now that would be interesting.
Smithson is of course, responsible for Spiral Jetty (1970). He was one of the seminal 'earth artists' of the late 60s early 70s--recently I viewed his film on the making of Spiral Jetty at the AGO in Toronto. Worth seeking out. Smithson died in 1973, but this floating island had long been a dream of his.
It was a muggy, humid, grey day. Too hot and wet for many folks to be out, but still art thrives. Still we have art on the street, art on barges, art in a traveling moving van. All day I was thinking, as I have been this past year, what is all this fuss about art? I mean I know I love it, I trot myself out regularly to view it, I'm not calling its value into question, rather I'm wondering what function it fulfills not only in our lives, but quite literally in our minds... What is it we're looking for when we look at art? And perhaps more interesting for me to ponder than that question is, the question of who is actually, physically, doing the looking? I find myself equally, if not more so, fascinated by the spaces of art and the people in the spaces, how they move and how they look...
Most of the shots included in the latest Bill Owens' America show are from his earlier work, Suburbia, a fabulous collection of photos taken over several years in the early 1970s. these are spectacularly honest, objective portraits of suburbia in its youthful naivety, and they capture that era beautifully. The portraits are full of hope, delusion, disconnection and absolute faith in the moment. The details are surprisingly spot on. This show, at the James Cohan gallery had a few shots I've never seen before, and a few larger colour shots I'm not sure quite belonged. For some reason they chose not to include the accompanying text. Owens took statements from everyone he photographed. I missed the text. But I always love seeing Owens' work. He left the art world for a while to start a brewery but now he's back.
Other faces, Other rooms, at the Robert Miller, like Owens', features mostly work we've seen before--particularly at the recent retrospective. However there were a few shots that seemed new and it was nice to see them in a small gallery with room to linger. The retrospective was so packed one couldn't so much view as parade, in a long line, with a limited time to stand. The photos themselves seemed sad. Not just the subjects, but artifacts, long lingering last looks through the lens of a woman who seemed to love, but wasn't able to connect.
I thought that If you see something was a fun piece. A projection of scenes that make it seem as though one is looking at intimate moments through frosted panes of glass. One of which was a dog sniffing at the window. Great, I thought, from the outside looking in or in looking out. Either way, it was a reversal that seemed to poke fun at the world of intrigue, the post 9/11 world of If you see something, say something. People going on about their days, sharing intimate moments.
However, the stories themselves--which I heard only snippets of--apparently each recount an "abuse of power" a "forced confession" of some kind. The artist's statement suggests, "blurred distinctions" between "us and them", real and assumed, etc.
These are intense subjects. The statement further suggests that the artist will "create a commemorative space devoted to American victims and survivors of the war in Iraq". If you say so. And that's an important criticism it seems to me: if you say so. For without the statement attached I don't see any way to interpret this installation so darkly. I loved it, but I found a wide gulf between intention and experience.
These paintings purport to explore"the link between classical mythology and contemporary Legends". Hm. SUBurban Lengends at Claire Oliver, are very modern, vibrant paintings of 50s style men and lines of young girls practicing archery. Colourful, fun, and mischievous these paintings appear to literally have a glow. As if, in the vein of junior high cartoonists, the artist has painted glowing halos radiating around all objects in site.
I've seen this before, and in much better focus, but I did love the content of these paintings, particularly the dozen or so heads on small canvases (although even that has become a cliche).
Last stop, a new installation by Laurie Anderson titled The Waters Reglitterized--taken from Henry Miller. The Sean Kelley Gallery is at the northern reaches of Chelsea, and requires passing by a taxi cab fueling station and garage. I could have had any one of several dates with cab drivers. It must have been shift change. I have no idea what this would look like but I admit I was pondering the shape of a cab driver date as I entered into Laurie Anderson's world which may have made for an even more bizarre encounter than usual.
The stills that accompany the show are printed on what seems to be slightly clingy, matte, Saran Wrap. I knew instantly what she was going for because the night before I had found wide strips of tape hanging off of light posts in Soho and had taken several pictures through them. Like looking from the inside of a grape (as Woolf described her habit of trying to recreate childhood memory). Anderson's stills are of images from her dreams, and the dreams make up the installation.
Stay away from dreams I was always told as a young creative person, and yet again and again we come back to them. The question to ask is whether there is anything new in Anderson's investigation? Well, the first thing is her presence in the film. We are invited--and the gallery has what appeared to be yoga mats on the floor for this purpose--we are invited to lie down and either witness, or enter into her nightmares. Or, we can, as she is doing in the film, cling to the curtains at the threshold of the room and peak in. Either way we are voyeurs to the artist's voyeurism. In fact you can see Anderson on the far right of the photograph below, looking on.
Levels of consciousness peeled back. For Anderson states that she wants to shift her perspective to understand not only her dreams as illusions but her waking life. Anderson says she kept track of her dreams for months after her tour of the last show (the Moon show). What I wonder is why she chose this dream. A rather pedestrian dream figuring a dead, female body in the centre of a seraglio-like room. An ultra romantic, perhaps primordially victim-centred dream complete with male gaze (her brother in this instance), and fairy tale fox (not really a fox, which would have been so much better!), layers of crimson and other romantic painterly props...
Still, I loved that she had framed the piece with herself looking in. Especially since this line of inquiry is so urgent for me at the moment. Why do we go to galleries? Why do we circle canvases, dogs in tow? What are we looking for? How do we look? And how do galleries move us through. And why are certain visions more potent than others? Are artists thinking of the audience as they purport to be? Does it matter if anyone but Laurie Anderson has access to her mythos? Or is it that Anderson's desire to extend her dreamlife, her vision, is simply more colourful, more willful, and therefore, ultimately more interesting, more relevant... Certainly the installation was heightened for me because it was Laurie Anderson's consciousness we were entering into, but I thought if it wasn't her I wouldn't be so intrigued...
The "film" itself did not hold me. If it had been my dream, I certainly would have switched channels. And if I couldn't manage that, I would certainly have got up for some warm milk.
For more shots, see my arts & artists slideshow.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
A major event at the Drawing Center last night. Lineage at the center--lines of inquiry, lines of text, lines of wool, and many, many folks. Across at the Drawing Room, carnival drawings (see above) and a Steel band playing. It made for a dynamic evening that spilled out onto the street. The season, as they say, is upon us.
Work of note: Adam Fowler's drawings--are they drawings? They are spirals, they look like drawn lines but they seem to be cut out. Layers then of lines cut that give beautiful depth to the pieces. Also cariana carianne's piece on identity--how do we become who we are? I have to go back and spend more time with that.
Friday, September 16, 2005
LineAge: Selections Fall 2005
September 17 – October 29, 2005
LineAge presents nine emerging artists who explore the genealogy of the drawn line, whether in terms of formal development, biographical content, or demarcations of identity. The participating artists, selected through the Viewing Program, are: CarianaCarianne, Susan D'Amato Franklin Evans, Adam Fowler, Monika Grzymala, Molly Larkey, Judy Stevens, David Tallitsch, and Stefanie Victor.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
What an amazing feat! I stumbled upon this preparing for my playwriting workshop. I wanted to show Happy Days, one of my favourite Beckett plays, which we are reading along with Canadian playwrights Sally Clark and Morris Panych. Found a vintage version of it, but also discovered the following. Turns out someone has had the brilliant notion to film all of Beckett's plays in one year. Different casts, different directors, but an over-riding vision in terms of production values and packaging. You can actually own them all. In a box. Can you believe it? What wonders? I am still in shock. And can I tell you how bloody excellent they are? The ones I've seen that is because there are 19 of them and not all available at the Rutgers library (in fact yes they are so will follow up next week). Meanwhile I did get a sneak preview of each of them in the dvd I saw earlier (yes, this evening), which recounts the making of the films and snippets of each (except for Breath, which I suppose might be unfair to include a snippet of since the entire piece is less than a minute?) and also a few whole productions such as Waiting for Godot which is brilliant and also Not I with Julianne Moore. Unfortunately only snippets of Happy Days directed by Patricia Rozema... The one I really am most intrigued by is Play, which for some reason I knew nothing about prior to seeing this dvd. I'm making a slide show of images from these pieces. I couldn't resist. I was absolutely blown away.
Theatre! God, I've missed theatre!!! Here's my slideshow.
Launch reading for The Best American Poetry 2005
edited by Paul Muldoon
Thursday, September 15, 2005
7 pm New School, 66 West 12 Street, Tishman Auditorium
Guest editor Paul Muldoon
Series editor David Lehman
and 20 contributors to The Best American Poetry 2005:
Order of Proceedings
David Lehman, series editor, brief opening remarks
Paul Muldoon, guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2005,
A. R. Ammons read by Lehman
Jennifer Michael Hecht
Donald Justice read by Muldoon
Each will read his or her poem in the volume.
Books will be available for purchase, and the poets and editors will
Free with student or faculty ID.
For more information call the New School Writing Program at 212 229
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
This event will showcase poems by Fernanda Laguna, Cecilia Pavón, & Gabriela Bejerman .
Tuesday, September 13, 7PM
@ Dixon Place (258 Bowery, 2 nd Floor—Between Houston & Prince)
A $7-10 donation is suggested.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Here's an excerpt from with wax, published by Coach House. A book I found fascinating and absolutely original and instructive. beaulieu's work is clearly mindful and continuing bp Nichol's project, often with the same sort of blend of intelligence and humour and WARMTH, as much as innovation.
I'm the first to confess to an evolving and spiraling poetic. I won't deny it, in fact I'll embrace it. I want to be as inclusive and curious as I can be in my work and reading and thinking. What makes good poetry? What is essential? Innovative? Formal or conceptual? Confessional or constraint-based? Language? Purely? Language poetry? What is that? I'm still not completely clear. Nor am I convinced yet that the lines or definitions are anywhere near where or what the brightest poetic minds are defining them to be.
Call it muddling. Call it fence-sitting. Call it what you will. I choose to look for work that stuns me on many levels, from heart to its formal innovation. I choose to remain open. My school is what I make it.
update: please check out derek beaulieu's essay on concrete poetry here at ubu web.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Did I mention funny?
Friday, September 09, 2005
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Jen BENKA, Michael GOTTLIEB, Heidi Lynn STAPLES, Robyn ART
2 p.m. on Saturday, September 10
@ The Four-Faced Liar
165 West 4th Street (between 6th & 7th Ave), NY, NY
Now, when I read here back in the spring, one of my co-readers
was heckled by a group of rather drunk soccer fans from England.
He very nearly broke out in some "real" English poetry for us, but
luckily there was another table of slightly less intoxicated women,
also from England (Manchester I think), who said they wanted "the
show" to go on.Ah, the village. Ah, poetry.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Saturday, September 03, 2005
But I've also found that it has become a distraction, a curious leak in my daily focus and practice--whether I post or not it takes up psychic space. And furthermore, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the practice of instant publication. What does one expect when one blogs? Replies? Silence? The creation of a community? A soapbox? A journal online? Why put a journal online? Why disperse, instantly one's thoughts? The practice of blogging is central to our times. Everyone from Rosie O'Donnell, to Hurricane watch, to bloggers for Bush, to Golf sales, to Viagra pills, commercial, political, reasonable and shamefully pornographic, blogs are everywhere. Having said that, I'm still not sure it's a great development. And while I find the impulse fascinating, I'm not convinced I want to take part.
So, with the academic season upon us, this experiment will be winding down. I'm not sure when, but sometime in the next few weeks this blog, with the click of the delete button, will vanish. Instantly. The way it appeared.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Hurricanes come in two waves. First comes the rainstorm, and then comes what the historian John Barry calls the "human storm" - the recriminations, the political conflict and the battle over compensation. Floods wash away the surface of society, the settled way things have been done. They expose the underlying power structures, the injustices, the patterns of corruption and the unacknowledged inequalities. When you look back over the meteorological turbulence in this nation's history, it's striking how often political turbulence followed.
The coverage from this is heartbreaking, but the coverage itself is also heartbreaking. And the "America will be stronger for this" line? Tell that to the young women being raped in the SkyDome. This is indeed a flood that shows an all too familiar side of America:
Civic arrangements work or they fail. Leaders are found worthy or wanting. What's happening in New Orleans and Mississippi today is a human tragedy. But take a close look at the people you see wandering, devastated, around New Orleans: they are predominantly black and poor. The political disturbances are still to come.
But now. Right now! Get those people out of that chaos, and bring relief! Donate: Red Cross.
Craig's List has a missing persons , and services offered site. Promising offers of beds for folks who are fleeing the area. Rutgers has offered students from any of the devestated universities the opportunity to come up and start classes here immediately, paperwork to follow. There is hope. In the face of such clearly blind, indeed ineffectual, leadership, there is some hope.