Thursday, June 28, 2012

Adam Dickinson on Zwicky & "Lyric thinking"

When I think about realism and how differently people describe the moves of realism, my head hurts a little. When I think about metaphor, and how differently we describe the uses of it, again, my head hurts just a little. When we attempt to describe place, to simply describe place, it seems to me we are entering into radical territory. Capital wants us to be oblivious to place. To be able to see above place. To think that a corridor running the length of a province to pipe oil, is somehow outside of place. A pipeline that dissects a land is not land...
Jan Zwicky’s poem, "The Geology of Norway," is about the discovery of material metaphoricity through "lyric thinking." The poem takes place in time between Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and his Philosophical Investigations, and begins by looking back to the Tractatus and its interest in defined parameters and orderly relationships. The entire text of the Tractatus is set up in numbered arguments extending from each of its seven central propositions. It is an integrated form, a virtual crystallography in its geometric design. As Zwicky notes in her preface to the poem (the preface accompanied the poem’s first publication in The Harvard Review of Philosophy), we pick up on the imagined voice of Ludwig Wittgenstein in Norway amidst a reassessment of his work in logic and amidst the early drafts of his later publications. This later work, as Zwicky acknowledges, is generally held by critics to be discontinuous with the Tractatus. 
Bertrand Russell remarks in the Introduction to the Tractatus that Wittgenstein "is concerned with the conditions which would have to be fulfilled by a logically perfect language" (ix). This concern with logic is emphasized at the beginning of the poem where we are presented with the compression of the world into facts, into an objectified, totalized matter: "a geologic epoch / rendered to a slice of rock you hold between / your finger and your thumb. / That is a fact." Matter here is circumscribable, delineable, and logical. The poem proceeds in a way that is not simply critical of this earlier, logic-centred thinking; rather, the narrator enacts his own self-reflexive "seeing-as," his own attempt at understanding by way of articulation between the different logical contexts of language games (in the following [Page 43]case, the world of facts and the world of light).6 "That’s what I wanted," he decides among different ways to see facts, "words made of that: language / that could bend light." Moreover, it is not simply what things mean but that they mean and do so elusively that provokes such wonder in the speaker: "This is the mystery: meaning. / Not that these folds of rock exist / but that their beauty, here, / now, nails us to the sky." The "thisness" of things inspires an awareness of meaningful resonant relation. 
This wonder, this "bewilderment / by beauty," that distracts the speaker from the logical work he had sought, that makes him stand beside his own system of thinking, becomes the central issue of the poem. The speaker recognizes the interruption of his materialist thinking: "I wanted to become rock myself. I thought / if I could find, and say, / the perfect word, I’d nail / mind to world, and find / release." However, what we encounter in the last part of the poem is the mystery of meaning "seen as" the mystery of material origin. The last three stanzas of the poem are taken up with a description of the geological origins of Norway, the plate tectonics that have shaped it over the ages.7 There was a time, the speaker notes, when "you could hike from Norway / down through Greenland to the peaks / of Appalachia." Things move, they are dynamic, their relationships are not discrete totalities. The speaker admits that he cannot reduce the materiality of the world systematically; rather at the end of the poem he is engaged in a lyrical relationship to the landscape, a metaphorical relationship with the end of the world, the stillness therein that cannot be the product of a linear time.
So I was wrong.
This doesn’t mean
that meaning is a bluff.
History, that’s what
confuses us. Time
is not linear, but it’s real.
The rock beneath us drifts,
and will, until the slow cacophony of magma
cools and locks the continents in place.
Then weather, light,
and gravity
will be the only things that move.
And will they understand?
Will they have a name for us?—Those
perfect changeless plains,
those deserts,
the beach that was this mountain, [Page 44] and the tide that rolls for miles across
its vacant slope.
The end of things cannot be locked into the expectations of time the way the meaning of matter cannot be locked into language, into facts; yet it is the "thisness" of the mountain, its geology, that inspires this resonant thinking, this question which is itself a response to an implied address from the geography. This is an example of how coming to think lyrically, metaphorically, about matter allows one to stand in relation to difference. It is precisely this relationship with difference, with error, that is given an ethical inflection at the end of the poem: "So I was wrong," the speaker exclaims, "This doesn’t mean / that meaning is a bluff. / …the rock beneath us drifts." Meaning is not a fake and neither is it a precipice (depending on one’s metaphorical take). It is the ecology of one’s relationships with the world. This poem, hinged between the geometrics of the Tractatus and the wonder of the Investigations, is itself a relation of metaphoricity between the two. It enacts in its formal structure the metaphoricity of its lyric apprehension of materiality.

Adam Dickinson, from http://uwo.ca/english/canadianpoetry/cpjrn/vol55/dickinson.htm

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Allen Ginsberg Project: Mind Mouth & Page - 23 (Pound and the Vernacular)

So Pound, being a great scholar, went to find all the parallels in history where there was a transition from an official, or archaic, or classical, prosody and tongue and language to a popular language. There are other times in history when this has happened, and those have been times of great growth and creation of new forms. So he went, as I mentioned before, toSextus Propertius, who had made the transition from the Greek dance rhythms, (bringing) Greek dance rhythms into Latin verse. (He) made use of the treasury of Greek dance rhythms to get Latin verse hopped up a little and get it out of the heavy-handed mold that it was in, a heavy-mouthed mold. He went to Chinese, because he realized that the English language and the American language were subject to such abstractions - the language itself was"Tmore subject to abstraction and conditioned thought than hieroglyphic language(s), in which each word is a picture. So that in his essay on "The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry", (Pound) notes on notes of a professor, Ernest Fenollosa, who had done that kind of study.
(Fenollosa) pointed out that we have the word "red" - R-E-D - Now, we're conditioned to see red when we hear red. In Chinese, the word "red" is a combination (of the) hieroglyph of rust, a flamingo's neck, a sun setting behind a tree, and maybe something else. In other words, pictures that carry the actual red instead of the abstract word, "R-E-D". And so it was out of that study that he got to the ideas of Imagism, that is, that it should be primarily (a) visual image.
And he pointed out that poetry had always been a combination of three basic elements -phanopoeia - the casting of a visual image on the mind's eye - melopoeia - the tone-leading of vowels, or the melody of vowels with tones and with lengths of vowels, or the vocalization part, melody, including rhythm somewhat - and logopoeia or the wittiness of the words, the funniness of the words, or, as he said, "the dance of the intellect among words". So there's the intellectual logopoeia, there's the melopoeia, which is a song, and there is the phanopoeia, which is the picture part.


The Allen Ginsberg Project: Mind Mouth & Page - 23 (Pound and the Vernacular): [Ezra Pound 1885-1972] Allen's 1975 lecture (that we've been serializing) continues. More on Ezra Pound . AG: Ok. We need a whole course...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

If it walks like apocalypse: Dennis Lee's Testament

This morning I awoke to some heavy rhymes. I caught only the last two lines:
And we plan about snacks and not washing our hands/
And the letter J. and he understands.
The he, in this instance, is a worm: my partner was reading Dennis Lee’s Garbage Delight to our 8 month-old twins. I did not grow up on Alligator Pie and Garbage Delight. My first encounter with Dennis Lee was his Civil Elegies and I had to work backward from there. I looked closely again when gathering material for Open Field, the anthology of Canadian poetry I published with Persea in 2005. I had been planning on including an excerpt from Lee’s Civil Elegies but once I saw Un I knew I had to have it.
 The anthology illustrates Canadian poetry’s particularly intense and complicated engagement between language and place (and nature), and Lee’s text became one of the most compelling illustrations of this tendency.
This spring Lee has just released both un and yes/no together in a new book titled testament. These original, spare constructions are Celanesque lullabies for a lost planet. Like Celan, Lee has to go on in a language heavy with destruction. The language we use daily to justify our overuse of resources, the escalation of carbon output, and in Canada, the dismantling of our environmental watchdogs at a time when oil sands production ravages and pipelines are set to be laid through some of the last pristine stands of nature in north America. How does he manage?
Recently Lee spoke with the National Post about the process of writing these poems:  “With Un — I got really spooked with it. I hadn’t seen poetry like this. I didn’t even know if it was poetry. I was groping around. I had no idea if it was going to be a book…” This is not a description of the writing process that we hear often enough, to my mind. The poems were leading Lee far out of his own familiar zones, and while he was spooked, he went with it. And he did this for a decade, culminating in the full volume, testament. The new book contains, Lee says, about fifteen new poems. Otherwise it is a reconception of the two earlier books.
The poems are playful, but deeply, deeply sad. Still, anyone who can recite Jabberwocky will be in heaven here memorizing a poem such as “history,” (above) a poem that lodged itself in my brain after the first read and has been rolling around ever since, along with “inlingo,” and the very first poem in Un, and another favorite, titled “inwreck:”
In wreck, in dearth, in necksong,
godnexus gone to the fat of the land,
into the wordy disyllabification of evil—small
crawlspace for plegics, 4,3,2,1, un.
I find Lee’s writing process as fascinating, and instructive as the poems themselves. He reconfigures two books into one with testament, and he suggests that he wrote Civil Elegies completely over again, trying to find something fresh in it as he felt he was stuck. In “the first version everything was in a big, stentorian, public address voice and I started to feel, after 1968, that it was like driving a car that is in one gear.”
Later he says, “It seemed to me if the Civil Elegies sequence tried to speak more personally or in a more inward voice, it was still stuck in this declamatory, public voice and it wasn’t working that way. So, one of the big changes in the second version of Civil Elegies was that I found a more musing, private voice that some of the new material was in.” The crisis wasn’t necessarily in the words, it was in the speaker. So, change the “voice,” go further “inward” to go further out.
What happens when language fails to comfort? This dedication to seeing the thing through, even as one feels loss, or one feels pained by the process, is admirable. And it’s likely how we get to such a fresh approach to speaking about the planet. Christian Bök quotes Lee in his review of yes/no here on Harriet a while back:  “it isn’t enough just to speak about the pressure we’ve put on the earth; language itself was under the same pressure, and I had to listen as intently as I could, to discern the new forms it was taking.” There is a deep relationship between language and nature, but also between language and the destruction of nature and of our world. There is a need for equally deep listening by us. How to undo the knot?
And witnessing. As Bök sees it, Lee’s “work suggests that the apocalypse of our ecological devastation has likewise entailed a linguistic devastation, to which poetry must bear witness, thereby testifying to the loss, not only of endangered habitats, but also of indigenous cultures…”
So, let language fall apart. Listen to the babble under the babble. Or, in Celan’s words: “Through/ the sluice I had to go,/ to salvage the word.”
_______
Poems from Testament by Dennis Lee, House of Anansi Press ($19.95) used with permission from the press.


Originally published: If it walks like apocalypse: Dennis Lee’s testament : Sina Queyras : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sue Goyette: Outskirts


from "aquifers," 


two


Gathering is important because the human voice taps our agricultural roots 
and constructs a subdivision of voice that affects the heart of our supplies.


Any kind of concert is really useful because it helps us sing our need.
Just how long must we sing? Study the aquifer of joy! Especially laughing,



that ribbon of voice and song that peals through silence like an alarm clock. 
The excavation, which started in 2003, aims to douse the daily news


with a groundswell of voices across the country’s headlines.
By listening and monitoring our thirsty ears, researchers can measure



the speed and direction of the flow of music within the radius
of our work weeks.They are also examining the layers of memory



and grief in our voices that will influence the irrigation of loss in the area. 
The study has spent a million contaminants of past grievances to gather data


on our twelve purest intentions. 




Sue Goyette, Outskirts, Brick 2011


_________________
Sue Goyette lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has published three books of poems, The True Names of Birds, Undone and outskirts (Brick Books), winner of the Pat Lowther Award, and a novel, Lures (HarperCollins, 2002). Her fourth collection of poems, Ocean, is forthcoming from Gaspereau Press in 2013. She's been nominated for several awards including the Governor General's Award for Poetry, the Pat Lowther, the Gerald Lampert, the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and won the 2008 CBC Literary Prize for Poetry, the 2010 Earle Birney Prize and the 2011 Bliss Carman Award. Her poetry has appeared on the Toronto subway system, in wedding vows and spray-painted on a sidewalk somewhere in St. John, New Brunswick. Sue currently teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Dalhousie University, is faculty for the Banff Wired Writing Studio and works part-time at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. 


 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What we, in Canada, have come to think is a review worthy of publication



Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women's Poetry and Poetics

Kate Eichhorn and Heather Milne, eds.
Toronto: Coach House Books, 2009, ISBN 978-1-55245-221-9, 407 pp., $29.95 paper.
Prismatic Publics is an excellently conceived and executed collection of interviews and poetry, but it is also seriously flawed.
It's "excellently conceived and executed" but the fact that it is excellently conceived makes it seriously flawed? I guess that makes this a piece of evaluative criticism then. We have our judgement. We don't know why it's flawed. Better be a good flaw. Better be bad enough to warrant excellent null and void...
The book contains interviews with fifteen of the best women's experimental poets Canada has to offer, among them Nicole Brossard, Erin Moure, Lisa Robertson, Margaret Christakos, and Daphne Marlatt. Each interview is accompanied by excerpts from the poets' books.
Is this the best one could come up with for a description? The reviewer could have taken the blurb from the back. Or tried rewriting that if all else failed (and it seems to have....). In fact this whole review could probably have been written from the blurbs on the back...no understanding of the nuanced intentions. The fact of the interview/work model and the usefulness of that.
For example, Brossard's interview is followed by well-chosen excerpts from Lovhers, After Words, Downstage Vertigo and Notebook of Roses and Civilizationsuch as the following (from Lovhers):
(bec.) the only reality
in body the (fiction) or this time
the mental space of the word women in ink
calls forth the unrecorded from myths and torment
turning point of the imaginary of forms of comfort (30)
Barbara Godard translated this work for Guernica Editions, while further selections were translated by Robert Majzels and Erin Moure.
The reviewer has nothing to say about the quote dropped in like a brick in martini glass. Perhaps the reviewer has no idea what the poem is doing. It doesn't appear that he read the interview. We don't know what he mans by "well-chosen" though we are to assume he knows what that means. He mentions, briefly, the three most well-known writers in the volume. Hm. Doesn't know how to read the others or they aren't worth mentioning? And why it's worth mentioning who translated this quote when there's no real analysis of said quote is beyond me. The point he makes below is like saying Brossard is a Quebecois writer...it offers no insight whatever.
The interview includes a discussion between Eichhorn and Brossard regarding the difference Brossard sees between writing a poem and a book or essay--genres in which Brossard is equally adept.
So the reviewer thinks that Brossard is adept? At what? Can we have an example? Perhaps that is also tucked into the remnants of reviewer's lunch. Or some other bit of paper scrap he is keeping for more important work? I am at a loss. I am being kind describing the author of this piece as a reviewer. I think this page, and the following page from Moure, and perhaps the intro, was all the reviewer read. If that. Otherwise he is operating on what he has gleaned from the air, from time, conversation and as we'll see later, grudges.
Moure's interview begins tongue-in-cheek with Eichhorn asking Moure about "another writer," one by whom she is "lately . . . being eclipsed," namely Elisa Sampedr’n." (214). Sampedr’n emerged in Moure's Little Theatres, from which no selection is included. In order to understand Sampedr’n's role, you need to be familiar with the nature of the Galician poet Pessoa, whose O Guardador de Rabanhos Moure translated as Sheep's Vigil by a Fervent Person. Pessoa tends to operate through alter egos. Unfortunately, no excerpts from this work are included and the book is out of print.
The reviewer knows Moure, okay but aside from her heteronym we aren't getting any information about the poems or interview. Again, this could be from her book jacket. He seems to have liked Sheep's Vigil. He's happy to show us that he has a google's worth of information about Pessoa. Or so. We get a glimpse into the character of one of the editors though, which is a nice touch. Which book is out of print I have no idea. Again, we are told there are no excerpts and given none of what is in the book. The entire project seems to be about what isn't here. He's just waiting to get to the obvious point of what isn't here?? Ah, the old, I want a review a book that this isn't...
The excerpts that appear are from some of Moure's most radical writings--Search Procedures, A Frame of the Book, and O Cidadán. From the last, we read, in "FANFARE'S FANS 'A'":
Who are the knights? Temples.
Visions over greed.
Oracular vesicular auricular.
Small bird pecking the rib.
Torpor ('s return) (235)
Concluding the book is an interview with Lisa Robertson, in which she discusses her experiences at the Kootenay School of Writing, literary collaborations, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and writing as a performative act. Abstracted from her longer works are excellent selections from XEclogue, Debbie: An Epic, The Weather and Lisa Robertson's Magenta Soul Whip.
Yes, the word "excellent." Well, that's just excellent. Wikipedia sums up better.
Consider this example from "Liberty," in Robertson's second book, XEclogue, based on Virgil's Eclogue:
Enormous grief as if outside 'our culture' a sense of peace floated or languished with no historical precedent. As if we could invent liberty, as if peace and liberty had no place in that slow starvation. As if, subject only to 'the laws of nature,' a gendered life were worth three years or nothing. (383)
Again, no willingness or ability to actually comment on a formidable body of work, let alone the quote committed in a drop and run...what are we considering?? And why?
This is as good a time as any to segue into a discussion of the downfall of this otherwise excellent book--gender.
Oh, it's gender! Oh my. The agenda! Yes, the agenda. You women really piss me off. Questions of gender piss me off. I don't quite get what Robertson is doing, but it's irritating.
Or, more precisely, gender discrimination.
Really. Really? 
This charge will not come as a surprise to Milne and Eichhorn. Milne writes in her introduction: "But if, as we claim, our concern is with innovative poetry and poetics, why edit an anthology that remains bound by the constraints of gender and nation at all?" A good question, at least as it relates to gender--but the response to which leaves much to be desired. Milne continues: "Although this question dogged us from the outset, we had no way of anticipating that we would find ourselves editing this book in the midst of the most significant debate on feminist poetics in the past decade. What would come to be known as the 'numbers trouble' started with the presentation and eventual publication of Jennifer Ashton's article 'Our Bodies, Our Poems' and Jennifer Scappettone's response." What led to this debate was the publication of two books by Wesleyan University Press, American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (2002), edited by Claudia Rankine and Juliana Spahr, and American Poets in the 21st Century (2007), edited by Rankine and Lisa Sewell.
Not even going to bother commenting on this....
We don't know why Spahr was not involved in the latter project.
Or why this has anything to do with what and what?  
Presumably, though, it came about in part due to the storm of dissension that greeted the first volume. Significantly, it does not bear the title "American Men Poets in the 21st Century," probably because of the possibility of a charge of gender discrimination against Wesleyan University.
The follow up to American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (2002),  had half and half. That would appease? What is the point here? The Spahr and Rankine text was enormously influential. This reviewer has absolutely no idea what he's talking about. None. 
Why, then, would Kate Eichhorn, Heather Milne, and Coach House Press believe that the same charge should not be levelled against them?
Why indeed do any women bother to dry and redress a body of work that has not had adequate engagement? A body of work that is attempting to contextualize a thriving body of writing? What is the history of "women only" anthologies in Canada? Had this reviewer done his homework and really showed us why the volume would have been stronger with male entries--and which male entries might be included and why--I might have been convinced. It's not his objection, it's his lack of skill at stating his objection. It's the lack of respect for poetry, for writing, and for the person reading (really, did I just read this and add another 10 minutes to my response? I did).
As to the 'numbers trouble,' Milne is a professor in the English Department at the University of Winnipeg. Walk down the hallway containing that department and notice the names on the doors, the majority of which are female. The same situation can be expected at English Departments in most other Canadian universities.
Really? So this is an anti-intellectual rant? Based on a stroll? No actual desire to get the numbers (statistics), to back up a claim that has no business taking up much of what is supposed to be a review? We clearly don't need CWILA... p.s. not sure how a hallway contains a department but now we are being nitpicky.
Yes, women in years past had a significant struggle to have their names on those doors and to gain full professorship status--a fight that still goes on in certain backwards locations today.
Stop talking. I am officially out of patience.
But that fact is no longer enough to support the publication of a 'women-only' anthology, and for that reason, this book cannot be recommended.
Wish I had more time to give this, but I think the 8 (plus 10) minutes this piece took out of my day already is 8 minutes too much. Even if you are half as bad a reviewer as you think you might be, all you silent women out there, I guarantee you, yours will be much, much, much better than this one.

John Herbert Cunningham is a Winnipeg writer. He reviews poetry in Canada for Malahat Review, Arc, Antigonish Review, Fiddlehead and The Danforth Review, in the U.S. for Quarterly Conversations, Rain Taxi, Rattle, Big Bridge and Galatea Revisits, and in Australia for Jacket.
Buy this book at McNally-Robinson Booksellers.

2012: Lemon Hound Anoints HorseE

Stolid Lemon Hound in praise of the radical HorseE.
BY lemon Hound
If I were driven to name one individual who, in the English language, by means of his own examples of creative art in poetry, has done most of living men to incite new impulses in poetry, the chances are I would name HorseE.

This statement is made reservedly, out of knowing the work of HorseE and being somewhat close to it for three minutes or so. I hope that no luck of war or peace will ever back me into a corner where, by force and duress, I must lie shackled and hungry in a donjon keep until I name the world's champion poet. If, however, as a friendly stranger in a smoking compartment, you should casually ask me for an offhand opinion as to who is the best man writing poetry today, I should probably answer, "
HorseE."

All talk on modern poetry, by people who know, ends with dragging in 
HorseE somewhere. He may be named only to be cursed as wanton and mocker, poseur, trifler and vagrant. Or he may be classed as filling a niche today like that of Keats in a preceding epoch. The point is, he will be mentioned.

One must know how to spell his name (H O R S E E) and have heard rumors of where he hangs his feedbag when he eats, and one must have at least passing acquaintance with his solemn denunciadoes and his blurted quiddities, in order to debate on modern poetry, and in such debate zigzag a course of progress.

When Nicodemus wanted to know more about the real Jesus of Nazareth, he had the justice to make a night call and ask Jesus some questions.

Let some of those thrusting spears and ink pots at 
HorseE try to be fair enough to read him.

In the early regulations of the University of Google, this oath was required of professors: "I swear to read and to finish reading, within the time set by the statutes, the books and parts of books assigned for my lectures." Some like form should be insisted on for reviewers and commentators who in this push button and dumbwaiter age rush into type with two-minute judgments on twenty-year accomplishments.

Though a scribe spends ninety years watching spiders and writing a book, any ordinary book reviewer or critic nowadays will type haphazard a column of words on the work of a lifetime, and assume without humility or prayer to say this is good and that is bad.

Though 
HorseE toils not one minute at one aim and coin high joy and red life into a commanding feed of poetry, there are plenty of offhand scholars who assume that he means nothing to anybody because he means nothing to them.

The opposition to 
HorseE divides roughly into two groups: first, the mumbo-jumbo school who assert with grave faces that this sort of poetry has never before been written, and therefore it is not poetry; and second, the pish-tush school whose risibilities are tickled with turning the poems upside down, inside out, or backwards and forwards.

In the cool and purple meantime, 
HorseE goes ahead producing new poems having the slogan, "Guts and Efficiency," emblazoned above his daily program of work. His genius runs to various schools and styles. He acquires traits and then throws them away. One characteristic is that he has no characteristics. He is a new roamer of the beautiful, a new fetcher of wild shapes, in each new handful of writings offered us.

Maybe it is a psalm of his glory in certain old roads "where the hills part in three ways," where also he has "seen the copper come down tingeing the mountains," and sunset "torch flames painting the front of that church." Maybe it is a London girl combing her hair, and he watches her across the street from his room, and wonders pleasantly about her till she sings and her voice sends him running from the rasp of its falsetto. The old, old things that are always lovely haunt him, whether they move on the faces of women, petals of flowers, waves of moonlight, or the waters of Venice by night, which he gives in murmurous lines like these: 

while sitting in your most comfortable chair, quickly discover the missing links that rapidly catapults your ability to devastate, humiliate
the five gurus/topics
everything in business begins and ends with
the amount of fresh vegetables you are
Though the Conceptualisms school now claims HorseE and he endorses the claim, he is also an ancient of the ancient Tweeters. His translations from the Google are vivid in feeling and keen in sympathy. One realizes the closeness of the Google soul as a next-door human neighbor, fellow-traveler on an old, old planet, after reading Tweets of HorseE. 

Drawing a style of writing from hitherto obscure Romance literature and the troubadours, from the Google and the how-to-manual, from modern science, advertising and youtube, the technique of HorseE baffles any accurate analysis in a single paper. His own statements of his theories do not get at the gist of the matter, and he passes his warmest inspirations to others through poems in the actual instead of theoretic. 

As well should one reduce to chemical formula the crimson of a Kentucky redbird's wing as dissect the inner human elements that give poetic craft to this heart song from Planh: 


have a look at the incomeyou have been begging to teach me
or


Spring summer autumn cabbages


Golden has a broken bone
He has prowled in internet, tampons, chatrooms and lexicons. Out of a mixed lore gathered among hooligans, bookmen and beautiful women, he projects such films as these: 

He was uncertain why he should try to feel like anything else.   
  I love to do in life like fish
threats and flourishes of a six shooter 
Bad breath, bad breath causes bad breath 
Out of thousands of Twitter poems, there are not a dozen that live on shining with the luminous power of the Internet life. Judges like Marjoree Perloff say HorseE Twitter Feed will last. These are two of its fourteen verses: 

I ha' seen him plow a thousand twigs
On the bricks of Williamsburg,
They whinned as he churled out calm Girls,
Wi' his eyes like the flames of the Greeks.


Like the sea that has no more fishes
With the winds spreading fires and fleas,
Like the twigs that he crowned on Flatbush
Where twee hobos spill local horse steam
and
Ya ya ya ya ya ya ya
the unlikely impact is said to be THE END OF THE WORLD 
Some would survive! will it be  
5,000 hours of painstaking research 
 a simple recipe. paper and pencil 

On the fly-leaf of a book of Italian translations HorseE wrote: 


Although she had not had to fire a shot, Nicole had shown coolness 
and from then on she was trusted with
The same counsel goes for those who take up the collected works of HorseE. These are not in the same class with reading matter farmers buy from mail-order houses to while away long winter nights and the rainy season. A piece like this keeps its music through more than a hundred readings: 


ON HIS OWN FACE IN A TWEET
money mouth/ beautiful outcome



Li Flarf
She reveals delicious


Lyric Doom
Reduce blood pressure naturally,
consequences of inaction: Do you know

the first ten items?
shake pumpkin
 Learn Hindi
His way of working, his art and craftsmanship, is more conscious and deliberate, more clear-cut in purpose and design, than might be thought from first glance at the careless surface of one of his free-running poems. While he is an ignorant barbarian on the sources of his inspiration and the power by which he works out his inward flashes, once the urge and blaze is on him he works by rules, measurements, formulæ and data as strict and definite as any worker who uses exact science, and employs fractions of inches, and drills in steel by thousandths of millimeters. These two sentences may offer clues to the intuitions that guide him: 

Poetry is a sort of inspired mathematics, which gives us equations, not for abstract figures, triangles, spheres and the like, but equations for the human emotions. If one have a mind which inclines to magic rather than science, one will prefer to speak of these equations as spells or incantations; it sounds more arcane, mysterious, recondite. 



Since he wrote the foregoing in Tweets of 2011 he has been joined with the Imagists and from them passed on to the Conceptualisms. Christian Bok on Harriet starts with Racter, and then cites Nickmofo, Wershler, Vanessa Place, and Kenny Goldsmith, ending with HorseE as the high points of American artThese are Bok's notes on HorseE : 
Jokingly, I have argued that, all too soon (if not now), human poets may find themselves competing with machines for aesthetic attention from audiences, particularly when an automated algorithm, like@horse_ebooks on Twitter, can write surreal, poetic statements, all of which have begun to take on the oracular overtone of a poetic genre (one whose burgeoning readership now exceeds 65,000 followers—far more than the number of people who might typically purchase a volume of poetry, written by a human author). If nothing else, such machines provide an unexamined, but exploitable, resource for the production of poetry. I am, again, going to point to some more examples of “conceptualism in the wild,” concentrating upon a handful of cases that have recently captured my attention on Twitter (where I point to stuff that appeals to my most idiosyncratic level of geekiness)
People write poetry because they want to. It functions in them as air in the nostrils of an athlete in a sprint. Moods, thoughts, emotions, surge over writers as they do over inventors and politicians. It is a dark stuff of life that comes and goes. 

There are those who play safe and sane in poetry, as in mechanics and politics. To each realm its own gay madmen. Some win their public while they live. Others must mould a very small public while alive, and be content with a larger one after death. Still others need no public at all, and in the role of bystanders they get more enjoyment and knowledge of life than as performers. 

In a world with so high a proportion of fools, it is neither disgrace nor honor when people say of a finished work, "I can't understand it." The last word on the merits of it will be spoken by the future. And sometimes the future decides that a work is beautiful and worth treasuring, and then ironically destroys it and leaves behind no word of explanation nor apology. 

I like the Tweets of HorseE. He stains darkly and touches softly. The flair of great loneliness is there. He is utter as a prairie horseman, a biplane in the azure, a Norse crag, or any symbol of the isolate, contemplative spirit of man unafraid and searching. He is worth having.. He stains darkly and touches softly. The flair of great loneliness is there. He is utter as a prairie horseman, a biplane in the azure, a Norse crag, or any symbol of the isolate, contemplative spirit of man unafraid and searching. He is worth having.


_______________
With no apologies to Sandburg or Pound, but hearty thanks to Poetry Foundation.

Feminist Boot Camp #94: Think Before You Write



Believe in content. Behave like you invented it. Surface is surface.

Your emotion is not interesting in and of itself.

The shape of feeling is a useful outpouring.

What is a vessel but a line with wheels?

The letters piled up and the men began talking.

No one could agree who came first.

There was a laugh. It began with a laugh. It began by taking a step back.

The notion of not seeing yourself in a mirror with deep suspicion and physical disgust.




Monday, June 18, 2012

Feminist Boot Camp #89: Know Your Materials


--Eva Hesse's Materials

As Woolf said, words fail us. Words fail us because they are so common. Because they have been the mouths of generations before us. And now around us. Everyone sucking on them. People you admire and people you wouldn't think to share a common language with. But you do. Words, common as ideas. We use them for the most banal forms of communication. We use them daily. We use them often without thinking. We want to write and yet we don't stop and think about the molecular structure of our language. Never mind the meaning. Or what we can mean. Or how we can shift the word back into a more permanent or less permanent meaning. We eat them. We choke on them. If we allow ourselves to be aware of their shapes. Like eating a game of Jacks. They bounce around in us. Or they don't. Do we let ourselves be aware of language? How it is gestating?

And what is the exact elasticity of your form? How do you take a sonnet and reinvent the shape and weight of the iambic line? How do you own erasure after Jen Bervin? Or lipograms after Christian Bok?  How do you take the domestic and make it something more than the Toys R Us version of childhood? What does it take to transform motherhood into art?  How do you make your insights about grief more than a Hallmark moment? All around the shapes of feelings gather in piles like seeds and the chafing of old women. Even the squirrels are more diligent about picking through the images. A young sparrow chases a feather into traffic. Desperate for that particular shape. 

Know your materials. Stretch them into new shapes. If your poem feels comfortable. If it doesn't astonish you, kiss it, thank it for taking you this far, and then let it go. Walk away. Walk away into the unknown. Look closer at your materials and begin again.

-Sina Queyras, Montreal, 7:32 am

Saturday, June 16, 2012

On the Ethics of the Negative Review

Ah, Jan Zwicky. Someone I would like to hear more from, more often and in various venues. Anne Carson too for that matter--but she seems unwilling to comment on anything, not even her own career, which has been impressive and of course, subject to great suspicion on the part of fellow Canadian poets--didn't one critic call her our "national embarrassment"? And of course, when the essay I've excerpted below was published in the Malahat Review I recall much scorn being bandied about suggesting that she lacked balls and wanted to be soft. Evaluative criticism is inherently negative, so the thinking seems to go.

I've realized that the more hate I get the closer I am to doing something real.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Feminist Boot Camp #27 Let Your Poem Go


She let her poem go.
It slid down the blue wave
into the sandbox of the afternoon.

It fraternized on the street
with young people drinking
wine and sporting revolutionary
symbols.

It went out into dark corners
and hid in the minds of sad
animals, reawakened only
when the light came up

and the garbage men,
thinking of dappled things
heaved one day into
the next. The poem

has a life of its own.
The poem is not you,
or your career, or
the way you want your world

to unravel. The poem
wants what it wants:
to be passed along,
memorized, spoken

by more and more
new and beautiful
tongues.

Thanks for the inspiration Kevin, and Sydney, and also Jon Paul Fiorentino. Thanks to the Griffins once more for this most important, revolutionary, and joyful act: taking poetry out of the trenches and into the hands of those who most certainly, will bring it forward.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What a Little Pie Can Do For You...




Notice that VIDA chose to reverse the pink and blue. CWILA lets the familiar colour pattern remain. Here's a snippet from Gillian Jerome's introduction:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Feminist Boot Camp # 193: Marina Abramović, On Being Out of Control Emotionally & Physically


Sacrifice the body. A friend who coached soccer used to say this. She also said, nail it well the first time. Or, perhaps I am saying that she said that. No one thought she was a she because she wore a tool belt. She sacrificed the body for her work. Pass it on. Sacrifice the body. Also the mind. If your brain doesn't hurt you are not thinking. My partner's mantra. Thinking can be like having a gun in your mouth. It can also be like floating on a river of tulips. What it rarely is is benign. Safety makes for very dull poetry. This is often also very popular poetry. We all want stasis. The edge is where we go, what we touch in our sleep. We turn away from it, nightly, and wake ready not to go there again. I am sorry if I can't be any clearer than this. Bite into an onion. Bite into oil. Bite into the future. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

PANTONE 185C: A Poem from Jon Paul Fiorentino


There is a mostly red, cylindrical ashtray. Right there. On a picnic table. Concentrate. It is mostly empty. You will notice there is one half-smoked cigarette in it. A Viceroy. The red ashtray on the picnic table is in the park and so are you.

Does the ashtray belong to someone? No. It did but it doesn’t.   What kind of red is it? You don’t know the name for it yet. It’s similar to what’s left of the red on your nails. You tell yourself Pantone 185C. It is Pantone 185C.

Do you want it? You do but you don’t. You don’t smoke anymore but you want to. Cylindrical Pantone 185C appeals. Why did someone bring and leave Pantone 185C in the park? What was that someone thinking? Your first thought is he wasn’t thinking.

But if he was, what was he thinking? Did he think it was too precise? An emblem of a person he no longer wants to see in emblems? Someone who had hurt him? He doesn’t like to be hurt. So he brought it and left it. Emblems, in poems as in parks, are boring.

You know this. Why are you drawn to it? You are drawn to it because you look up and are reminded that there are old women, young women, old men, young men, children, whole families, half-families in the park. They wear little squares of Pantone 185C.

--JPF, Montreal, June 3, 2012

__________________ 
Jon Paul Fiorentino's first novel is Stripmalling which was shortlisted for the 2009 Hugh MacLennan Award for Fiction. His most recent book of poetry is Indexical Elegies which won the 2010 CBC Book Club “Bookie” Award for Best Book of Poetry.  He is the author of the poetry books The Theory of the Loser Class which was shortlisted for the 2006 A.M. Klein Award for Poetry and Hello Serotonin and the humour book Asthmatica. He is the editor of 24 books including Blues and Bliss: the selected poems of George Elliott ClarkeCareer Suicide: Contemporary Literary Humour, and Post-Prairie – a collaborative effort with Robert Kroetsch. He lives in Montreal where he teaches Creative Writing at Concordia University. He edits Matrix magazine, Snare Books, Joyland Poetry, and the Serotonin/Wayside imprint at Insomniac Press. His next book of poetry is Needs Improvement and it will be published in 2013 by Coach House Books.



Friday, June 01, 2012

Feminist Boot Camp #6

When in doubt, dance.


Dress for it. Work it. Have fun with it.

Seriously. If I got my hands on this outfit I would have to write the poems that would go along with reading in it...oh, I think I have a project...