Saturday, January 28, 2006
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Writing can be done only in a body to body encounter with language, no doubt in involves listening as well, the emotion of making oneself available to one’s inner voice.
I have always made writing a place of pleasure, a quest, a place of dangerous intensity, a space of turbulence having its own dynamic.
My existence is a walking in writing; I don’t take my eyes of the horizon.
Quotes are from “Fragments of a Conversation with Nicole Brossard” in the recently published collection of Essays on Brossard, which I highly, highly recommend. This is a great series by Guernica. Well done.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Random Posts, Matrix, Brossard, Ian Curtis, 24 Hour Party People, Wayde Compton, Zolf, Bachinsky, Beaulieu, Goodwin, Carson, Joy Division and more
Meanwhile, I also received a few issues of Matrix in the mail. Matrix Magazine is somehow tied to Concordia University in Montreal. I say somehow, because I'm not sure how. These allegiances are always mysterious. The Malahat Review, which I am partial to, is at the University of Victoria, but not part of their Creative Writing Program, while Prism, is an active part of the MFA program at UBC. I'm partial to having these journals tied to MFA programs, although I suppose there are problems with that approach. When I was at Concordia I barked loudly about what I perceived as a lack of opportunity for students of creative writing but Matrix arrived a year later.
And what of the magazine? Well, it has a smart design courtesy of Andy Brown, whom I believe is also publisher of Conundrum (which was just getting started in my day). Matrix has a light, airy feel to it, an Indie, cool-neighbourhood-boys in a basement kind of energy. Not to say it isn't smart, it's plenty smart. Smart everywhere. And aimed at a very particular crowd--one that crosses over with graphic novels and sound-track-of-my-life compilations. It's not an academic journal--say like Prism, the journal attached to the UBC MFA Creative Writing Program--but it is a literary journal, and has reviews. And this issue has a review of Teeth Marks, which is nice. Other highlights of recent issues include a great interview between editor Jon Paul Fiorentino and Rachel Zolf, and an interview by Wayde Compton. I also enjoyed poetry by Elizabeth Bachinsky & Derek Beaulieu, and an excerpt from Portable Alatamont which I keep hearing about and now know why...great stuff. There is also a great response to the work of Betty Goodwin (who Anne Carson writes about in Decreation), by Jason Camlot--another poet I'm looking forward to reading soon.
For me, rock n roll and poetry aren't as closely aligned as for some, but I do admire the energy. I was flipping through recent issues, watching Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People and remembering (fondly) when the night didn't start until midnight (and on the weekends we'd have to move out of our loft so bands could come in...) but you see, that was a long time ago. Still those songs are definitely part of my sound track--just one part of one soundtrack, but a good slice.
If you haven't seen 24 Hour Party People you should--before we're inundated. I hear there is a movie in the works featuring Jude Law as Ian Curtis from Joy Division. How he'll do a better job than the guy who plays Curtis in Winterbottom's tale I don't know...and you know there won't be much joy in it. But Winterbottom's take is amazing. Really.
And if you're curious about the Montreal writing scene--and I know you are--check out Matrix. You won't find any of that Manchester angst. (I guess Bush isn't as bad as the Reagan Thatcher era after all?) But now that Canada has gone conservative on us perhaps we'll see some of that simmer again? Here's me hoping what we don't see is a Harper-Bush alliance any time soon. I know I wouldn't like that soundtrack...it would be a kind of hell.
Oh, and speaking of hell. I have to add a final note about an upcoming film from the director of Fast Runner--another movie I highly recommend. Here's an interview with director Zacharias Kunuk about the making of the first movie. Folks are interested in Iceland, in the Arctic, those last bastions of wild that are melting and assimilating faster than the polar ice cap: cultures going from hunting and gathering to filmmaking in a lifetime (if they're lucky in some cases). The perspective is rich. Not to romanticize it, but I'm fascinated by the odd disjunctions--those of us in the west have had a long time to adjust to the madness we're immersed in. This was one of my favourites bits:
MS: What’s your ultimate goal to come out of video making?
ZK: Just the truth of what happened, because we were really damaged by Christianity. Before Christianity we didn’t know hell existed. We all knew that people went down below, but after they’ve refreshed they would return up to the day. Day-heaven. Everybody went to the day-heaven. But now, Christianity came and ‘snap,’ ‘you’re going to burn in hell if you’re bad.’ We don’t believe that. So, a lot of our cultural ways that survived for thousands of years have been interrupted and completely changed in the last fifty years. Doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense. So, just trying to prove that it doesn’t make sense. That’s my job.
Monday, January 23, 2006
bp Nichol Audio Archive, ed. Lori Emerson
This is great news. But someone, please, create a similar site dedicated to Canadian poets and poetics. Is there funding out there for this? It would go a long way to making this, and new experimental work, more visible and accessible in and outside of Canada. But it could also be a site that houses readings and performances across the board--where are our sound files?? Aside from a few on UBU and Philly, and now the files that the Griffin Site is adding, there is relatively little out there. Where are files of Dionne Brand, Tim Lilburn, Chris Dewdney, Christian Bok--all the great readers we have and no resource?! How can that be?
I want to use this as a teaching tool. Create please. CBC? Anyone?
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Sullivan's work was equally mesmerizing, history layered though costume, most effective when we saw the same actor gesturing in multiple costumes. However, unlike Breitz, Sullivan is creating entirely new visuals, not simply recycling and shaping. Furthermore, the music, composed for this installation, was brilliant. Bravo to composer Sean Griffin for nailing the mood (if you follow that link you'll find a sample). I've heard this described as "avant film noir" and yes, there is something in that. But there was something infinitely warm and inviting about Sullivan's piece--down to the choice of laying carpet, which created a muffled, parlour room feel.
This is a play on the 18th century idea of acting--we've see this recently in Restoration based narratives--but there is also something Steinian in this work. The variety of patterns, random combinations, but persistant repititions all add up to a moving experience.
The title comes from an insurance company that uses the lighthouse as its logo. But it is a choice that resonates powerfully even if you don't know that the lighthouse is positioned on Poverty Island--surely a place we all want to steer clear of.
The show closes this weekend at Metro Pictures, but continues at the Tate , until March 5th.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Oh, and here's the e-text version of the novel, Tristram Shandy.
Next thing you know language poets will be taking up with lyric poets, and then where will we be? Of course the snake is probably just depressed, wanting out and on a hunger strike...
Instead of indulging, however, Aochan took to the furry rodent, according to keeper Kazuya Yamamoto. The pair have shared a cage since.
“I've never seen anything like it. Gohan sometimes even climbs onto Aochan to take a nap on his back,” Mr. Yamamoto said.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Monday, January 16, 2006
But the question is endlessly fascinating. And I find myself drawn to autobiographical writing as much as I'm repelled. It's hard to find one quite as intriguing as The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which I'm reading again. Yet again. It's pure candy, essential laid up with the flu reading... The New York Times offers you chapter one for free, right here.
And here is Richard Howard on the Library of American Edition published in 1998.
No, it isn't strange to follow Wordsworth with Stein, and I'm sure this isn't the last post on this whole question. Hopefully the next will be a little less fractured.
And so I dare to hope
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was, when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led; more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by,)
To me was all in all. -- I cannot paint
What then I was, The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite: a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, or any interest
Unborrowed from the eye. -- That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur: other gifts
Have followed, for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Not harsh or grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half-create,5
This line has a close resemblance to an admirable line
of Young, the exact expression of which I cannot recollect.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Saturday, January 14, 2006
His lens misses her,Or from "Written The Day I Was To Begin A Residency at The State Penitentiary"
the leaves cast double reflections
on the glass. The one
is his shadow; as he leans up
he discovers a new perspective...
Inmates put an acetylene torch to another inmate's face,and later:
seared out his eyes.
I tell myself to be open to all experience,and finally:
to take what is ugly and find something nourishing in it...
I figure their chances, without people caring,which aligns the narrator in a way with the reader, but doesn't dislocate the meaning, nor offer a kind of congratulatory "aha" moment.
are 'an ice cube's chance in hell.'
The poem sequence "The Leaves Of A Dream Are The Leaves Of An Onion", is wonderful. The second poem begins with the line "A Galapagos turtle has nothing to do/with the world of the neutrino" and ends with a line about a man throwing a molotov cocktail having everything to do with a sunflower bending towrad the light. A sense of hopeful connection is everywhere in Sze's work. But by the time we get to "Archipelago," the newer work dated 1995, there are enormous gaps in the text, like delicious springs of water:
True or false:and in another section,
termites release methane and add to the greenhouse effect;
the skin of a blowfish is lethal;
a flayed elephant skin;what we are witness to here is the pulling, scraping, seeing, movement of self on earth, the attempt to connect and acceptance of disconnect, not embracing, noticing. As Tony Barnstone points out in Rain Taxi, Archipelago is Sze's "breakthrough book", the moment where his work reaches its "developmental arc." And as a translator of Chinese poetry, and a Chinese American, Sze is steeped in meditative poetry, so his minimalist project makes sense.
she stir-fries tea leaves in a wok.
But I go by my gut reaction, and this is mine: as the collection proceeds I find myself feeling more and more hopeful, more and more light in my step as the poems become more serious in a way and focused. I suspect this has something to do with the gaps. Room to elbow in and peer into the eye of a dragonfly myself, perhaps?
Friday, January 13, 2006
Jon Paul Fiorentino
Nathaniel G. Moore
Mark Anthony Jarman
Tony Burgess (w/ Derek McCormack)
Dan Wells and
Women marked **. How is that for a gender breakdown? I'm not going to stop mentioning this till things change people!! Check out the bad stats at the Paris Review as well...
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger & Tonto...
Raymond Carver, Where I'm calling from
Lydia Davis, Break it Down
Junot Diaz, Drown
Mary Gaitskill, anything
Sheila Heti, The Middle Stories
Etgar Keret, "Crazy Glue" (anything really “Crazy Glue” and “Fatso” are favorites).
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Interpreter of Maladies
Lorrie Moore, Like Life, Birds of America
George Saunders, pretty much anything in small doses only!
Gertrude Stein, "Miss Furr & Miss Skeene"
Linda Svendsen, "White Shoulders"
Virginia Woolf, "The Mark on the Wall" or "Kew Gardens"
I have to note that this is "short fiction". The novel wouldn't necessarily be the same list, though there are people who would be on both.
Guess I'll mosy over to Big Jim Industries and have a look see... What a mess. And now Random House having to offer refunds!
And it was interesting to see two different approaches to the political poem, though Benka largely read new work and not from a box of longing with fifty drawers, published by Softskull this fall. More on Benka to come, but I wanted to meditate on the divide in the poetry world. We hear all the time about a divide between language and formal poets, but I want to argue that there is a more intense, more subtle divide than that, one more difficult to articulate, but I sense it's more a divide of the humorous, or the uber "hip" and the earnest. The earnest being somehow less fashionable than the "protest as requisite mating call contained within a pre-dinner preamble." Can we thank Billy Collins for this? Or Paul Muldoon? I bring up Muldoon because flipping through his selection for the Best American Poetry this year makes one think that we're in a golden era of oozey kind of glory days...many of the poems are great individually, but all together like that it's like eating too much cotton candy and then going on the Cyclone, something is coming up.
I don't think Whitman was coiffing himself for the masses, nor I suspect was Ginsberg, and that's part of what made them "way cool". I think they really just meant the poetry. I get that sense from Benka. Here's a teaser from her "poetic deconstruction of America" through one of its essential documents, the Preamble to the US Constitution. Benka gives us one poem for each word in that Preamble and I give you "United," "Justice" and "America."
to stand alone together
one theory suggests
that all theories
in their translation to practice
rely on innocent people
to pay the price for progress.
an unsolved mathematical equation:
land plus people divided by people minus land
times ocean times forest times rive.
escape and the delusion of discovery:
across the mad ocean to the rocky shore
step foot onto land call it yours.
promised land lemonade stand.
auction block stew poet.
of corn field wheat field tobacco field oil
of iron cage slave trade cotton plantation
of hog farm dairy farm cattle ranch range
of mississipi mason-dixon mountains
of territories salt lake lottery gold
of saw mill steel mill coal mine diamond.
industry and war.
a box of longing
with fifty drawers.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Two slices of squished pizza
One man without legs
Two babies in red caps
One man with seven facial piercings
The tail of an animal
Too many discarded metro cards to count
Three women handing out Watchtowers
A man with an ear like a glazed donut
A woman whistling
One baby dressed in black faux leather
One man with a cigar, shuffling
The sky Tiffany blue
A bulldog shitting
The Luxepop condo salesman scratching his head
One (only one) discarded computer screen
Two piles of Christmas trees
Two men smoking outside of Kutz
The firemen, all six of them, outside sweeping
THE MILLION POEMS SHOW
Wednesday, January 11
Bowery Poetry Club
and then 8 pm
Jordan Davis & Susan Wheeler
The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church
131 E 10th St (2nd Ave)
SATURDAY, JANUARY 14th 2006
Stacy Szymaszek & Diane Ward
Seque Reading Series
Bowery Poetry Club
4-6pm (which i think is also happy hour!)
Finally, like I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again, I also think it's an effective tool for cutting out many of the female voices. I'm not sure many women have time to piss into the wind, and it seems like few are ever heard in the kind of shouting matches that occur in these forums.
Having said that, I miss the kinds of dialogues that were happening a few years ago when I first joined, and when poets were analyzing, or elucidating certain moments or aspects of poetics, I was impressed by the knowledge, and care taken with posts. I marvel that folks can sustain that kind of attention for so long--as with Silliman--day after day of intelligent, thoughtful responses. In fact overall I've found it inspiring. I just wish it were a little more welcoming.
Language of Women*
Hey you guys,
From sight progress by Zang Er
Translated from Chinese with Rachel Levitsky
*NuShu literally translated as ‘female script’ was a written language invented and used exclusively among women in rural southern China. Scripts look like a feminine version of regular Chinese characters, with special signs, slender shape. Because women were not allowed to go to school to have formal education, Nushu was taught from mother to daughter. And used among female friends and lovers. It is speculated to have been used for thousands of years. The earliest specimen collected dates back 500 years or so, a letter on a silk garment from a palace concubine to someone in her family (a mother or sister perhaps) outside the palace to complain about her loneliness since she saw her husband, the emperor, only three times during 17 years… It was used more or less in that vein, women complaining of their situation in the family, sharing and comforting each other through a medium protected by the censorship of the male world, as no man was able to read it. It has basically disappeared from use now that girls go to school and learn standard Chinese. Only a handful of ladies in their 90s know how to read and write it. NuShu was the subject of a recent exhibition at the public library in New York City.
Prufrock's question "Do I dare eat a peach?" has no place in the world of Tender Buttons, where indeed one dares to eat a peach but where, in any case, the issue is not conformity to this or that social norm, but the nature of peachness itself.So, to meditate on "ordinary things is to refigure one's own place in the world of objects", and yet how do we meditate? How do we refigure ourselves now some eighty years after Tender Buttons? Why do so many poems still get stuck asking the question of whether or not to dare eat a peach?
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Yes, I'll order Open Letter, but it's not the same...
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Tuesday January 3rd, 8PM
Battle Hill at Below
209 Smith St, Brooklyn
Cross Street: Baltic Avenue
Phone: (718) 694-2277
Kazim Ali & Paolo Javier
Wednesday, January 4 at 8:00 pm
St. Marks Poetry Project
131 East 10th Street at 2nd Avenue
You can't think "My life is more important than the work" and get the work. You have to think the work is paramount in your life. An artist's life is adventurous. One new thing after another.And yet it's impossible to impart such a simple message. One always thinks, yes, yes, I understand that, now where is my rare Turkish fruit?
Monday, January 02, 2006
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Matheson's renewed interest in cut-up-style beats and burbling, fluid melodies harkens back to his earlier affairs, but the ghostly feelings and six-string plucking that informed The Isolationist are still lurking about, making Anger an intermittently eerie and uplifting amalgamation…These guys are fabulous—all the tracks I was able to hear online in any case. Grey Knowledge was the only CD I could get through Amazon, and it’s as wonderfully uplifting and collage like. Really, it feels as though these guys have spun a few decades up in the air and sample the very best “gestures” or “nuances” of those moments. Loved it.
Broken Social Scene is equally burbling and playfully random—a kind of Paul Austerish approach to music if ever there was one. And now there is a label too. Noisefactory seems to have sprung up to deal with this great new sound. I haven’t been this excited about a cd since Morcheeba released Big Calm, or Saint Germaine’s Tourist, or Air's Moon Safari. Nor have I written much about music since high school—and I’m a long way from those days—but I can’t help myself. First Martha (below), and now these guys. Check it out.
"Oh, my God, you completely forget that it's two men. You in particular will love it."
"You just will, trust me."
But I don't trust him. If two cowboys, male icons who are 100 percent all-man, can succumb, what chance to do I have, half- to a quarter of a man, depending on whom I'm with at the time? I'm a very susceptible person, easily influenced, a natural-born follower with no sales-resistance. When I walk into a store, clerks wrestle one another trying to get to me first. My wife won't let me watch infomercials because of all the junk I've ordered that's now piled up in the garage. My medicine cabinet is filled with vitamins and bald cures.
So who's to say I won't become enamored with the whole gay business? Let's face it, there is some appeal there. I know I've always gotten along great with men. I never once paced in my room rehearsing what to say before asking a guy if he wanted to go to the movies. And I generally don't pay for men, which of course is their most appealing attribute.
And gay guys always seem like they're having a great time. At the Christmas party I went to, they were the only ones who sang. Boy that looked like fun. I would love to sing, but this weighty, self-conscious heterosexuality I'm saddled with won't permit it.
I just know if I saw that movie, the voice inside my head that delights in torturing me would have a field day. "You like those cowboys, don't you? They're kind of cute. Go ahead, admit it, they're cute. You can't fool me, gay man. Go ahead, stop fighting it. You're gay! You're gay!"
Not that there's anything wrong with it.