Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kevin Blechdom (USA) feat. Barnwave + Greg Malcolm & Jenny Ward

kevin blechdom WEB.jpg

Kevin Blechdom (USA) feat. Barnwave

+ Greg Malcolm & Jenny Ward

Wunderbar, Lyttelton

Thursday January 7


Kevin Blechdom is a musician from Tallahassee, Florida, whose solo and collaborative work – as a member of Blectum from Blechdom and Adult Rodeo and as a duo with Eugene Chadbourne – has appeared on labels such as Kid606’s Tigerbeat6 (DJ /rupture, Indian Jewelry, Quintron and Miss Pussycat), Kit Clayton’s Orthlorng Musork (AGF, Akira Rabelais, Ekkehard Ehlers), Sonig (Jason Forrest, Mouse On Mars), Shimmy Disc (Daniel Johnston, Ruins, Shockabilly), Les Disques Victo (Anthony Braxton, Kid Koala, Hijokaidan, Wolf Eyes, Cecil Taylor) and Chicks On Speed Records (Le Tigre, DAT Politics).

Blectum from Blechdom’s first LP won second prize for Digital Music at Ars Electronica in 2001), while the Wire magazine described the duo’s telepathic synergy as a ‘riotous departure from what they regarded as the tight, minimal and earnest tendencies of male-dominated electronica’, approximating the ‘most vivid and literal musical definition yet of the word ‘haywire’”. The 2005 solo album, Eat My Heart Out consisted of a topless Blechdom, clutching the drippy esophagus, heart and lungs of a goat, while the music within was seen as an enactment of this literal evisceration, a confessionalism that has continued to inform her recordings and live performances since. Widely regarded as a retreat from the musical derangements of her practice heretofore, 2009’s Gentlemania is just as harrowingly candid and more unsettling for its ostensible compositional simplicity. A bricolage of Broadway psych, show tune and hillbilly delirium and euphoric faux pas, the album was recorded with Warp label’s Jamie Lidell and stands out as a next-level treatise on interpersonal and inter-species phenomena. Blechdom is currently touring alongside Christopher Fleeger as the duo, BARNWAVE.






Greg Malcolm’s otherworldly abduction of the guitar and re-sounding of its grey acoustic matter has been witnessed across imprints like Kning Disk (James Blackshaw, Machinefabriek), (K-RAA-K)³ (Ignatz, Silvester Anfang, Es, Pan American), Table of the Elements (Thurston Moore, Tony Conrad, Captain Beefhart, John Cale, John Fahey), Interregnum (Robedoor) and Campbell Kneale’s Celebrate Psi Phenomenon. Malcolm co-axes his surgically changed instrument into abstract drifts and moiré-like projections, its implanted contact microphones and sympathetic strings embellishing the subtle dexterity and gleaming nature of his idiosyncratic playing. Malcolm’s duo with Jenny Ward is a radically wronged mutation of decadent alt-country and marginal cabaret, equally as virtuosic but extra-demented and as duplicitously innocent-disturbed as Kevin Blechdom’s recent work. Ward equips Malcolm’s pulp ostinato and cringing jackknife Trippelgitaristen reek-outs with a mélange of walkie-talkie soprano, prurient gargles and puppet-like double-entendre ululations, recalling the halcyon of their earlier days as the touring kid show outfit, Such n Such, albeit weathered by the onset of cynicism, genius and transcendental New Sincerity.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

My New Job

Is not being Catherine Wagner. It's review Editor (with Jared Schickling) for Tarpaulin Sky. As such most of my reviewing will be posted here now, but there'll be links from here (the here without a link, so as to say this blog).
First off the bat will be Laura Sims' Stranger (New from Fence) and a selection from Dusie kollektiv, and I'm expecting more from Fence to write on (Lake Antiquity by Brandon Downing and The Black Automaton by Douglas Kearney) and a selection of new titles from Omnidawn Publishing (possibly the most Beautiful name for a publisher ever), including Myung Mi Kim's latest, Penury.

Farrah Field (and me) on Claire Hero

Farrah Field (and me) on Claire Hero here.

I think that, when Farrah says "She's attune to animal-ness, the meat of it all, the violence of being so bodily body--the sexuality therein, caregiving, killing, the fluids of all that", there is an Artaudian cruelty at work - similar to what Jared White says in the comment stream over there about the Fantastic Mister Fox:
"the way the claymation animals would be so polite and articulate and humanist until a plate of food was put in front of them, at which point they would suddenly tear it to shreds in an orgy of messy teeth and ferocious claws and unchewed swallowing."
This says more (through the anthropomorphism, which, as a porous semantic membrane, allows travel both ways) about the human than the animal - as does Dahl's book, in which the dichotomy of Human/Animal (and all the implications: Good/Evil, Civilised/Barbaric, etc) are turned on their heads - though Hero's work is more subtle than this, exploding the possibility of the binary, as everything infects everything else, and Crackbone, the carnivorous Hunter, is an animalistic force of nature, rather than a site of agency and conciousness.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

k-punk: Post-Apocalypse Now

New post - very good. As always.

"Alongside Blade Runner and Gibson’s Neuromancer, the Terminator films provided some of the fictional resources from which Nick Land constructed his extraordinary fiction-theory texts of the 90s. Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy + Deleuze and Guattari’s Capitalism and Schizophrenia remixed to remove all traces of anti-capitalism and spliced with the inorganic velocities and psychedelic cyber-topologies of Jungle. Accelerationism as inorganic anti-inhumanism: unsheathed Capital as implacable, rapacious death drive; Capital with its mask of humanity torn off, machines not as reified instrumental reason, but as a non-instrumental non-reason, the exorbitant anti-teleology of Capital’s purposiveness without final purpose de-terraforming the planet into a techno-Bochsian scorched earth unfit for human habitation. Capital as Real = Death, with the Terminator machine death’s head as the technological upgrade of Holbein’s anamorphic skull - artificial intelligence as artificial death - not now reduced to a cuttlefish smear blotting the Symbolic, but looming to the fore in a landscape in which not only human beings but the Symbolic itself is close to total extinction, as asignifying data transfer obsolesces . The imaginary-Real of Capital as the automatic autocracy of dead labour, dead production performed by that which never lived, its products the agents of death, for which there is no possible consumer."

New Reconfigurations

Is up. Find it here. There's a poem of mine in it.
I haven't read it yet, but look forward to doing so - more on that soon.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

This is insane.

A dude is suing Blizzard Entertainment, makers of World of Warcraft, for making him "alienated". He's subpoenaed Martin L Gore, of Depeche Mode, as an expert on alienation and depression. I feel kind of insulted that someone like this shares a love for the band (or so I assume). Intentional Falicy, anyone? He also obviously doesn't know that love songs are not always unrequited, and hasn't listened to much previous to Violator. Winona Ryder is also being called up, because she likes A Catcher in the Rye, which makes me wonder if this chap has heard of literary critics (wouldn't that be more appropriate?), or why, if calling Gore, he's not calling JD Salinger?

It's kind of beautiful, in its messiness and absurdity.

(Courtesy of Blake Butler at HTMLGIANT - coverage here and here)

Ron Johnson on Pennsound

There's a reading on Pennsound - the only one.

Thanks to Charles Bernstein.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

a Collaboration with Jeff Crouch

So Jeff Crouch emailed me a week or so ago asking if I wanted to do a collaboration (more of his work: in Moria, collab. wiht Diana Magallon; Poems in Abjective, pics on Flickr through Jim Leftwich's TEXTIMAGEPOEM).

Here's a sample of the results (from my poem "Birds").

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A reply to a fragment, probably taken out of context, from an interview with David Howard

Tim Jones has interviewed David Howard here. In the course of the interview David states, in the context of a scathing indictment of globalisation, that "Following New Zealand's political reorientation, our poetry has turned from British to American (rather than indigenous) models. This is change but not the liberation that many claim."*

What? Aside from the criticisms of Bill Manhire (which seem to have more to do with the IIML, and by extension VUP and Sport - for which the criticisms should probably be leveled at Fergus Barrowman - than his poetics) there is little or no actual discussion of what this means. Sure, anyone can see the Ashbery influence in Manhire's work (though to be honest I haven't really read much post 1990 - his work seemed to go downhill around then), but what does that mean?Strangely David praises Michele Leggot's DIA, saying that it "deservedly won the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry" in 1994. Michele took her Doctorate in Canada, on the work of American poet Louis Zukofsky. Her first work was published in Canada, and she is heavily influenced by US (and Canadian) language writing, and has been instrumental in bringing US poets to NZ to expose students to a larger range of practices (two talks given at the University of Auckland by Lyn Hejinian are available here and here).

As I've already stated the criticism of US influence in NZ is nothing new (and Allen Curnow's beloved Eliot and Auden were Americans, much as Eliot would have liked it to be otherwise), and besides, what, really is the alternative? Politics of regional genesis seem trite and petty. Just compare Auden to, say, Bruce Andrews, and you will see there are a multitude of different "America"'s, and such a matrix of practices extends beyond the US borders into Canada, the UK ... and has it's genesis in Fin de Siècle Europe.

As such, and in light of the fact that any pretence at autonomy (or regional "authenticity" - though Patrick Evans may disagree) is willful blindness - simply the importation of the idea of poetry (and with it the Greek Poesias) renders the attempt futile), what is the alternative to such? The fact that we now have global, instantaneous communication means that any attempt top cordon off the cultural precinct of our corner of the word (while subsequently trumpeting the "world class" qualities of our arts) is regressive in the extreme. I for one would rather join the world than engage in the CNZ brand of platitudinous marketing of "NZ identity".

*Obviously I'm writing this as a Pakeha writer. I would feel very uncomfortable appropriating "indigenous models" for my work, without the kind of full cultural engagement that I do not feel is possible; and even so I feel that such could easily turn into a kind of cultural tourism - cultural practices as commodities for consumption. The same kind of surface use of Maori idiom that one sees used by people who don't speak fluent Maori - meaning that the use of the word does not have the kind of full semantic underpinning and nuanced understanding of connotation as well as denotation that would be utilised if the word was English.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Ariana Reines' THE COW

In honour of HTMLGIANT celebrating "Ariana Reines Week" I thought I'd post the following. It didn't make the final cut of an essay ("Recent Developments in American Poetry" - and I had to loose 2000 words) to be published in February's Poetry NZ, replying to Lee Posna decrying the amount of so-called bad poetry being published in the States.


[…] Ariana Reines enacts a poetics of disaster, overflow and obscenity. Her first book, THE COW (Fence, 2006), is “is a voluptuary, a vat of mushy ideals and disgusting feelings” (“Sucking: a Statement of Poetics”). She states that she has often “resented the cleanliness and elegance of tight and perfect writing”, and “felt that writing should be dirtier and more excessive”. Dirt and excess abound in these poems, such as in “Nico Said Excrement Filters Through the Brain. It’s a Kit”:

I’m here to work GO GO so I can’t call you. I’m here to work GO GO so I’m alone. When I’m alone I stink. I shit with the door open because there’s nobody here and because there’s nobody here I can taste my GO GO shit.

There’s no malediction. No thought can poison me. (15)

This work is anti-homogenisation, anti-normalization; an assault on ideas of aesthetic, literature, morality, gender, society and pretty much everything else. As James Pate states in his essay “Wittgenstein, Deleuze, and the Political Grotesque”, Reines is functioning “in a similar vein as Burroughs and Godard, who were committed to stealing from any genre that they might find useful in order to create effects that a more normalized aesthetic … could never achieve”. Reines reinforces this in the acknowledgements page at the back of the book: “This book contains text from many sources”, then lists these as variously coming from poetry (John Ashbery, Paul Celan); Philosophy (Deleuze and Guattari); and religious texts (The Bible, The Koran, Alistair Crowley’s Magick Without Tears); alongside Carcass Disposal: a Comprehensive Review by Auverman, Kalabasi and Ahmed; The Merck Veterinary Manual and the website of bioSAFE engineering – manufacturers of the WR2 Tissue DigestorTM, a system for the “disposal of anatomic and pathologic waste” such as “animal tissue and carcasses from biomedical and pharmaceutical research facilities” (bioSAFE website).

The centre of subjectivity in these poems rapidly shifts from site to site, though a stream of carnage, holes, tearing and animality, in which language fails and falls back on tropes of self-doubt, self censorship and interruption: “I am part of something because my life is so stupid” (25), the eruption of “CROTCH” (26), refocusing attention on the materiality of the process of composition. This foregrounding of tics often associated with ‘juvenile’, ‘bad’ or overly emotional (hysterical) writing is reflected in the choice of an epigram from Stein: “Sucking is dangerous. The Danger of Sucking.” This is echoed in the title of her poetics statement, demonstrating her commitment to a poetics of the distasteful, bad, dirty and excessive, dismantling masculine tropes of wholeness, logic, craft and art. In short, a poetics that “sucks”. The poetic enacted in this book problematizes subjectivity through its scattering and stuttering, its privileging of the emotive, the “mushy”, the libidinal and the disgusting.

Failure, expendeture, Sacrifice - Joyelle McSweeney on Poetics

Johannes just posted this piece By Joyelle - apparently the whole piece is in Fence.

Exerpt, in keeping with the discussion here (in the comment stream), follows:

"3)Bataille says “the term poetry [...] can be considered synonymous with expenditure; it in fact signifies, in the most precise way, creation by means of loss. Its meaning is therefore closer to that of sacrifice.’ By sacrifice he means a loss unto extinction; Sacrifice produces sacred objects. Furthermore, “in particular, the success of Christianity must be explained by [...] the Son of God’s ignominious crucifixion, which carries human dread to a representation of loss and limitless degradation.”

"5)Or, put another way, there’s no success like failure."

Thursday, November 5, 2009


is up now.

Special section on Canadian writers, edited by François Luong.
At a glance I'm very impressed with the work by
glenN robsoN.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I've just added a lot to my already massive blogroll (down the side there) - but there is so much amazing writing/writing about writing/post-writing (I'm not sure what else to call it - vispo and the like) out there. Check out, especially, The New Post-literate, mIEKAL aND's work here, Reed Altemus and Ross Priddle. (New Links came from here - there are more).

Two other online poets who I have been following for some time, and whose work is amazing, are John M Bennett and Lanny Quarles (Lanny has another blog here).

I also just ordered a copy of the Late Great Leigh Davis' Willy's Gazette (The Jack Books reprint) off Abebooks - The first copy I've ever seen for sale (though maybe there are copies floating around up north). I'm eagerly awaiting it's arrival.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Otoliths

Issue 15.


I've been thinking about Scott's review of my chapbook the last couple of days. While it is mostly positive (and more than fair - I am very greatful for his generous reading), There is one thing that bothers me a bit, aside from the Swinburne comment and general (negative) characterization of Victorian excesses (which is relativly standard, but, i think based on masculinist value judgements privileging the (Allen) Curnow-Brasch brand of muscular, austere modernism. Though I must qualify this by saying this is a general comment, Scott does not (wholly) prescribe to this viewpoint, though there is, I think, a subtle indictment in his description of "the flowery, pre-modernist style of unfashionable female writers like Eileen Duggan and Ursula Bethell").

What I found disarming though was his characterisation of my influences being "exotic overseas poets" (my emphasis). I find this strange. Not only does it imply some novelty value, but also, through the ecological connotations of the word (not neccessarily intended, but nevertheless there), that I am involved somehow in bringing "outside influence" - coded (somewhat) negatively - into the pristine enviroment of NZ lit (which, rather than pristine, i would characterise as somewhat stifling, aside from a few notable exceptions).

Firstly I wonder how the importing of, or identifying with, US/Canadian/Continental precidents/influences (which, as Scott notes with regard to Michele Leggott, I am most definately not the first to do. There was those writers grouped around FREED magazine in the late sixties and early seventies, see Murray Edmond and Michele Leggott's anthology Big Smoke. Many of these writers drew from the US, where the recent developments had been documented in Donald Allen's New American Poetry. Later came the influence of Langpo, poststructuralism and fluxus, reflected here in the work most notably of Wystan Curnow and Tony Green, both of whom are active across artistic disciplines, alongside Alan Loney (who straddles both generations) and Michele Leggott.

Secondly, I wonder how this (especially in light of the precidents cited above), is any different from the earlier generation of Curnow, Glover, Brasch et al. Here I quote Curnow (quoted in Alan Loney, "Entitled / Unentitled: New Zealand Poetry" in Reading, Saying, Making: Selected Essays, p 83): "we all began reading Pound and Eliot, [and] shared our modernity with Auden, MacNeice, Day Lewis or Spender”. These NZ writers were hell-bent on creating a distictly 'New Zealand' literature, yet were still modelling there work on old-world (or older-than-us-world, in the case of the Americans mentioned) influences.

Furthermore, in this information age the ability to share influence, theory, thoughts and practice internationally at near instantaneous speed is, i think, something that should be grasped with both hands. No longer is it (particularly) difficult to read diversely. Though most of the shop shelves are dominated my NZ poetry (most of which is published by Victoria or Auckland University Press), that is not all, or even most, of what we have access to. We can read more, and more widely. I find it surprising that more people don't do this - especially when those who read novels tend to read precious little NZ work, and we have such a strong tradition of the novel here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Just bought a copy of Ghost Tantras by Micheal McLure. Its excellent. Here are some for perusal - more here.


cargroooooooo longkarr GRAHHH!
Cowmrooooooose blooooo mewie-weeeep.
Shgrarrr? Yagabb krahr yellow vipt
mwooo? Swooooooooooooo lub byeeee bwack meee!
Grahh pallid! Gr-aaah love nowhr
bwooooooooo krahh noooo-boooooose!
Saba-groooooh stahr zaboth mwoooo
kakra graaaah grahh grrrrrrrr
mweeeeeeeee melt.


Drive drooor from the frcsh repugnance, thou whole,
thou feeling creature. Live not for others but affect thyself
from thy enhanced interior - believing what thou carry.
Thy trillionic multitude of grahh, vhooshes, and silences.
Oh you are heavier and dimmer than you know
and more solid and full of pleasure.
Grahhr! Grahhhr! Ghrahhhrrr! Ghrahhr. Grahhrrr.
Grahhr-grahhhhrr! Grahhr. Gahrahhrr Ghrahhhrrrr.
Gharrrrr. Ghrahhr! Ghrarrrrr. Ghanrrr. Ghrahhhrr.
Ghrahhrr. Ghrahr. Grahhr. Grahharrr. Grahhrr.
Grahhhhr. Grahhhr. Gahar. Ghmhhr. Grahhr. Grahhr.
Ghrahhr. Grahhhr. Grahhr. Gratharrr! Grahhr.
Ghrahrr. Ghraaaaaaahrr. Grhar. Ghhrarrr! Grahhrr.
Ghrahrr. Gharr! Ghrahhhhr. Grahhrr. Ghraherrr.


where the earth is dry garhroon nahh dree-
opeth barhoooth nohdresh beethorr noh
I oh thah meeerdown emrah gahrsoon.
Oooomreeeoh ahn drahgnooze. Theeeow!
Water seeps within the earth
between the roots.
The bee faints with bliss of overwork
and curls her leg.
Snail hunger fills the air with rasping teeth
thrown out from the cave beneath the leaf.
Ooor ahm geahzthow fon kalein.
Wah lahg dooohr ohgreeeazsh shtahr.))

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another Review - in good company

Scott Hamilton has reviewed my chapbook over at Scoop Review of Books, alonside Mark Young's Pelican Dreaming:Poems 1959-2008 (Meritage 2008). If the company wasn't enough, Scott's reading picks up on things others have missed, nameley the presence of Swinburne (who He describes as "rotten-ripe" - true enough, I suppose), and more so Gerard Manley Hopkins. (I also have a weakness for Robert Browning - see Susan Howe's reading of "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" in My Emily Dickenson).

I really apreciate Scott's generous and honest reading.

Mark Young edits Otoliths, and has been good enough to publish some of my work.

Fisher on Gordon: More

"What's interesting, though, is that, in making the logic of racialisation explicit, Griffin stirs the spectre of class. The neoliberal tactic has been to ignore resentment and aggrievement altogether - to maintain that such feelings are a moral, educational or pyschiatric failure of those who have not accepted metropolitan, "modernising" values ("diversity" on the one hand, neoliberal "solutions" on the other). Much of the BNP's appeal derives from its granting of legitimacy to those feelings of resentment and aggrievement - yes, it says, you're right to feel angry and betrayed, you're right to feel that your anxieties are being ignored, you're right to feel that there is something fundamentally wrong. Here, class emerges - because who has done the betraying and the ignoring if not the metropolitan "elite" which Griffin attacked on Thursday? But this brief flash of class antagonism is immediately subsumed by race-logic: the problem is not the class structure itself, the BNP wants us to believe, but the elite's "pandering to minorities". Needless to say, this has it the wrong way round - the real problems, to name only a few of the most glaring, are the precariousness and poorly paid nature of post-Fordist work, the running down of public services, the pathetically low rate of council house building."

Review of Crumb's Genesis

in the NY Times.
(a result of Owen's recent post on the sound of Sheffield's architecture - Depeche Mode bender. I keep forgetting how gorgeous this song is.)

(and this is new. Still beautiful.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Johannes: Hipsters, Kitsch and the Specter of Mass Culture

Johannes has a great post here. And there's a Laibach video in the middle of it. Those "Slovenian Retrogardists"....

I especially like the "kitching of the image":

"∑ Adorno argues that the High Modern move towards abstraction is a move away from the kitsch of the image (“mimetic enchantment”).

∑ Steven Shaviro: “Behind all these supposedly materialist attacks on the ideological illusions built into the cinematic apparatus, should we not rather see the opposite, an idealist’s fear of the ontological instability of the image, and of the materiality of affect and sensation?”"

Mark Fisher is the Truth: on Nick Griffin and the BNP

"The fact that Griffin's 'arguments' don't stand up to rational scrutiny means nothing. Since when has racism relied on rational argument?"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nada Gordon on Flarf and 'generation'

"Let's discuss this, shall we? Or rather, deconstruct it. Firstly, Flarf is not (in the robotic sense of the term) "generated." Flarf poems are written. Their materials are, in Kasey's term, sought. I almost prefer the word rescued. Some poems may be "generated," like that wonderful "Random Poem Generator" that was hanging around the internet for a while, but Flarf poems are very much willed and constructed.

In a larger sense of the term, I suppose you could say this poem was generated if that is how you think of the mechanism of creation: I do often think of poems as almost biological extrusions, like skin tags or fibroids or, as I posted recently on facebook, reflux."

Read the whole post. It's very good. Especially the thing about "valor sets".

Though I would have to argue that a "generated poem", be it aleotory work like that of Mac Low, or a found text, or even the product of the "Random Poem Generator" Nada mentions, is still "Willed and Constructed", though in various different ways. Cages Mesostics allow for the insertion of intentionally chosen "Wing Words", and Mac Low would carefully recraft the proccesses he used if the initial product did not turn out as he wanted. The craft, the will and the construction are simply removed a level from the text.

In the case of generators and the like (i use various online text-alteration programs in my own work - the two pieces in Brief and the sequence in Otoliths utilised these - these could be thought of as collaborations of a sort; and even on the most basic level there is will and construction inherent in the act of pressing a button, and in recognising what comes out as a poem.

Self and Interconnectivity

Over at Mez's blog (_knot404_):

"The self that results is actively defined in terms of its connections and
associations, in varying degrees of intimacy and intensity. The emphasis
is not on person but persona: as Mez Breeze has suggested, this self is
an assembly generated through clusters of distributed identity markers,
which does not add up to stable meanings or groundlevel actualities
because it also coalesces in terms of the volume, degree and intensity of
its connections. Less a reductive experientiality than a connective

-Jordan Crandall, Artivistic 2009 Lecture.

She's got a piece in the latest Brief (as do I), and it's got me very interested.

The piece linked to in there is very interesting. Recommended. (hence the link).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pierre Joris: a Poetic of Nomadism

Jerome Rothenberg posted this. It's great. Peirre blogs here.


"A nomadic poetics is a war machine, always on the move, always changing, morphing,moving through languages, cultures, terrains, times without stopping. Refuelling halts are called poases, they last a night or a day, the time of a poem, & then move on. The sufi poets spoke of mawqif - we will come back to this.
A nomadic poetics needs mindfulness. In & of the drift (dérive) there is no at-home-ness here but only an ever more displaced drifting. The fallacy would be to think of language as at-home-ness while "all else" drifts, because for language to be accurate to the condition of nomadicty, it too has to be drifting, to be "on the way" as Celan puts it.
If the mind is only the body's invisibility (Merleau-Ponty) then the poem is merely the unreadability, the non-transparency, the opaqueness of that mind. An opacity grounded in the materiality of language as much / if not more than in the viscosity of psyche. A turbulent opacity -not a monumental, laminary , marble-or-granite opaqueness."

Catalyst 8 - launching!

Wednesday 4th November - time TBCAl's Bar, 31 Dundas St Christchurch

Just advance notice about the biggest party of our year! Please come along, celebrate the launch of the best Catalyst yet, maybe even buy a copy. Or three. We'll be selling subscriptions on the night also: get your Catalyst delivered!Stay tuned for more information leading up to the launch.

Courtesy of the Catalyst boys.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dog Food

Jared has a new blog. I'm not sure what was wrong with the old one, but hey.

It's here. There's erasure works.

Dominic Fox: What is / to be done

This is fantastic. I recommend you follow the link and read the rest of it.

"My main observation is that we have two crises to contend with. The first is the fundamental crisis affecting not only the financial markets as they now stand (or totter), but the entire modus of “financialisation” as it was developed during the Reagan/Thatcher years and subsequently elaborated to its current pitch of sophistication. The markets may recover, to a greater or lesser degree, but it’s widely accepted that such a recovery cannot readily be secured against a likely future catastrophe: the conditions for such a catastrophe are endemic to the global financial system as it currently operates. This system, therefore, is acknowledged to be in crisis, and whatever happens next (on a grand scale, e.g. “to capitalism”) will happen in response to this crisis. “Regulation” is unlikely to turn out to be the preferred answer.

"The second crisis is “the crisis” as it is instrumentalised by the ruling class in their efforts to impose “reform” and restructuring on institutions. Here the stage is set for a series of confrontations, between workers – faced with job losses, pay cuts, casualisation, increased hours and workload and the general evisceration of any service ethic covertly developed on the job in favour of an endless carousel of stupid and insulting cost-cutting shenanigans – and the management bureaucracy which will seek to enforce these losses as a matter of (regrettable, but non-negotiable) necessity. These confrontations will keep “the left” busy for quite some time. There may be some real gains to be won, and certainly some real losses to be resisted, but in an important sense the conflict over “the crisis” will be a kind of phoney war, a war in defence of an old covenant with exploitation against the privations and indignities of the new."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two from Action Books: Sandy Florian and Lara Glenum

The Tree of No
Sandy Florian.

Maximum Gaga
Lara Glenum
South Bend, IN: Action books 2008

It was inevitable that Florian's book would invite comparison, in my mind at least, with Ronald Johnson’s RADI OS, his epic reworking of Paradise Lost through the lens of Blake and by a process of erasure. However Sandy Florian’s book is a totally different animal. Johnson’s text opens:
______________into the World,

___________________________the chosen

Rose out of Chaos:

____________________________ song, (3)
Sparse, contemplative, verging on the hermetic, these lines/fragments sailing in a sea of metaphysical whiteness. Constrained by the properties of the original text, Johnson’s writing takes place between the words by a process of removal, “with God and Satan crossed out” (as the book’s blurb states), “reduc[ing] Milton’s baroque poem to elemental forces” and giving those words that remain space to breathe outside the strictures of Milton’s syntax. Johnson writes silence as an invocation of the primal and the metaphysical, and the silence enacted by the deletion of the divine, in the face of unanswered prayers, becomes inaction of the texts intertwining of chaos and celestial order, chaos out of which rises man, or out of which springs this new-blossoming flower. Here I am also reminded of Paul Celan’s “Psalm” and it’s “Niemandsrose”, the “No-one’s-rose”. The implications of this metaphysics of absence or deletion are to vast to go into here; perhaps the place for this is another essay. There is a kind of deformance at work (see Lisa Samuels and Jerome McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation” available through Samuels’ EPC author page), and this is also evedent in Celan’s reversal of prayer in “Tenebrae”: “Bete, Herr, / bete zu Uns, / Wir sind nah” (Pray, lord, / pray to us, / we are near).

In contrast with Johnson’s stillness, Florian’s book is one of perpetual movement. Her poem opens:

Beastly I fall at Adam under the shade, unclocked, first frocked, ovened at the core, from words no western man can wet. Beastly I fall at Adam under the shade, shaking shadows from the shadows, pretending, beastly, that the toads aboard the oncoming train are throned, green toads of the godliest worth. Beastly, debarred, hunted, wanton, I take refuge in the timber, entrapped in the awkward position of waking. (1)

The text is dense, animalistic and driven. It is “beastly” and “wanton”, enacting a very different conception of humankind’s creation “under the tree of no” (2). The dawn of humanity is in falling, in movement, timelessness and heat, and “words no western man can wet” brings to mind Emanuel Levinas’ ur-language – a language of communion and contact prior to any necessity of signification or “regime of signs” (Deleuze and Guattari).

The tree of the title is the Biblical/Miltonian tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This, however, becomes far more complex through the dissolution of this moral binary, and the appropriation of the signifier as the title, and designator, of the text itself. The “No” within this title becomes the unutterable/blasphemous statement of God/”Montgomery’s impotence and complicity in humanity’s fall, evil, and “beastly” nature, created “fit to stand, fit to fall” and, in God’s own image, “unhesitant[ing] to taste the waste”.

The “No” becomes a pseudo-synonym for the post-human “I” enacted within the text, denoting a collectivity or assemblage of humanity as flow and flux, driven and driving at breakneck speed (in parallel with the text’s analogous performance) toward destruction, absolution, or something different. This No becomes, paradoxically (and in true Nietzschian fashion) an affirmation of human animalistic passion and velocity: “But the sin in me says ‘I’”.

This arboreal metaphor mirrors the post-human assemblage, supplemented (and made more realistically complex) by the text’s rhizomatic network of interrelations, mirrorings, stammers and repetitions.

A certain post-human quality is also apparent in Lara Glenum’s second collection Maximum Gaga. Her first book, The Hounds of No (also published by Action Books) placed her at the forefront of the group of poets whose aesthetic tendencies Arielle Greenberg has termed “Gurlesque”, including Sabrina Orah Mark, Catherine Wagner and Chelsey Minnis. These poets work by drawing on overt femininity, kitsch, gratuitous ornamentation and a open, often aggressive sexuality, all tainted by a grotesque treatment[1]. Maximum Gaga builds on the groundwork of her earlier collection, taking the use of recurrent characters, theatricality and perverted romantic quests as the basis for this books oscillation between drama and verse in a baroque grotesquerie. The verse transforms into a horrific parody of Jacobian theatrical spectacle, literalising Deluzian tropes such as the Desiring Machine and the Schizophrenic machine alongside abominations such as Trannie Mermaids, Ultraclowns and Normopaths.

The text becomes the stage for a burlesque revue of perverse horror and debauchery, the players being assemblages of disparate parts and organs, orifices and frills, taking on roles as parts of sexual assemblages that mirror and move beyond those of De Sade and Pierre Guyotat.

Within the heavily ornamented theatricality of the text, where agitprop hangs “like gonads / from the walls of [the] voluptorium” the logic of gender and biology is lost in a seething mass of folds, questing phalli and labia that Minky Momo can stretch “around her body and [zip] herself inside”.

All concepts of bodily and sexual normalcy are destroyed, crushed under the tread of the “Visual Mercenaries”. Their rallying cry to “beg refuge in Maximum Gaga and its glorious excesses” paradoxically implies the amoral ethic of the collection: that these anti-real excesses are not something to take refuge from, but to enter into, and escape is only possible obeying their call to “submit to Maximum Gaga”.

This is what James Pate, writing on her first collection The Hounds of No, describes as the power of “obscenity as a site of possible liberation”. Submitting to the horror and excess allows the manifestation of escape from totalising realism and its hegemonic politicality, “through the secret side-door to the Sublime rather than through the mock world of realism”, manifesting itself as the “displace{ment of] causal logic with a totalizing logic of violence”. . The performance of gender and sexuality becomes conflated with violence as a liberating force, clensing these sites of the hegemonic forces of normativity / reterritorialization, allowing for a utopian (used in full knowledge of the words etymology), anti-realist project of construction to take place on the ashes of what once was.

This collection (assemblage?) is truly arresting, and truly liberating in its voluptuous carnage. It must be read to be believed.

[1] See Greenberg’s essay here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Would Ayn Rand like Radiohead? or: You Are a Target Market

Adam Fieled, in a post (largely( about WCW, concluded by saying someone found his blog by googling this question.

Weird world, huh?

However,I think she would.

(tangent - this is very, very cool)

Let me justify myself (while still being as voiciferous as is to be expected in such a situation).

Radiohead, in my view, are/were kind of like the Pink Floyd of the 90s, and are comprable to Sonic Youth in their appeal to an audience of disaffected middle class youth (often University Students - witness both band's success being driven by exposion on college radio) who are, by and large, disenchanted with capitalism though still heavily invested in the individualism that they have been (though the capitalist apparatus) intdoctrinated with. This paradox, plus this generation's (that's my generation, by the way) largely apathetic outlook on political action, spurred by a dissilliusionment with the efacacy of such, creates a situation where the anti-captialist (or more accurately ambivilant-toward-capitalist) sentiment finds unlikely bedfellows in the political apathy and individualism that are direct product of the capitalist aparatus, and this individualist ideology has it's logical (it's what we're taught) expression in consumption.

This means that the kids buy DVDs called Meeting People is Easy, with "You are a target market" plastered in large, uppercase type across the front cover, with mocking (and partial) awareness that this banner is true; and, i'll warrant, less awareness that they are behaving just as the trained consumers that they are looking down their noses at.

Watching all of this, Ayn Rand laughs.

Ted Jenner's Writers in Residence and Other Captive Fauna

Writers in Residence and Other Captive Fauna
Ted Jenner
Titus, 2009

(This review first appeared in Breif 38)

This collection should be compulsory for anyone interested in innovative writing from New Zealand, and Scott Hamilton’s introduction offers a fantastic entry-point into what is a startling and difficult oeuvre. The opening piece, “A Quiet Shape”, is dense and somewhat daunting; but like the best of Jenner’s work becomes a sparse lyric, steeped in the detail of minutiae and with a diction pillaged from various sciences (in this case anatomy and biochemistry), and is as rewarding as the best texts of other notoriously difficult writers such as Samuel Beckett.
However unlike Beckett these texts are not empty, devoid of meaning, or demonstrative of hopeless existential angst. There is a profound thirst for knowledge at work here, a keen mind, and a very sharp wit. This comes across with great joie de vivre in “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Shirt” an analytic and self aware investigation into absurdism, reminiscent more of Donald Barthelme channelling Ludwig Wittgenstein than James Joyce.
Barthelme and Joyce, alongside Beckett, are good comparisons, as Jenner shares with them an astute, occasionally hermetic (and I do not mean this in a pejorative sense) wit. This is bolstered by a keen eye and ear for the absurd, and a healthy sense of the play and the performative in language. A good example of this is the piece “Arthur’s Pass”, the pun in the title being intended I’m sure, most likely with a grin and a knowing wink. The circular recurrence of the text mirrors the figure-of-eight path of Arthur’s run, with all the implications of a symbol for infinity. The paragraphs themselves in the third section (“He Fits Her Description”) rush headlong onwards, “don’t stop, no, you’ll never stop” (36), lacking final punctuation marks, having an impetus all of their own independent of speaker, narrator or writer. This piece reminds me somewhat of John Cheever’s “The Swimmer”, a favourite in creative writing classes, but my opinion is that Jenner has outdone him. This being said I must add that I was never a particular fan of Cheever.
In an uncanny parallel with Scott Hamilton, who has written a fantastic introduction to the volume, I too first encountered Jenner’s work through his piece “Progress Report on an Annotated Checklist for a Motuihe Island Gazetteer of Ethnographical Topology and Comparative Onomatography”, though this was in an old back-issue of Parallax, the short-lived journal of “Postmodern Literature and Art” edited by Alan Loney 1982-3. I’d become interested in ‘Language’ writing through the work of Michele Leggott, and was surprised to find that Charles Bernstein, co-editor of the movement’s eponymous magazine, had been published in a NZ journal, and was interested to find what other gems were there. There was Jenner’s prolix title, alongside the work of such as Tony Green, another innovator long overlooked (in New Zealand at least; he has recently recorded for the PennSound archive of audio poetry based at Pennsylvania State University). I encountered Jenner’s poetry through the long out of print volume A Memorial Brass, produced by Loney’s Hawk Press, and am glad to see his poetry, as well as his prose, included in this volume.
Poetry, though, is often besides the point when it comes to Jenner’s work, which can oscillate between genres, or (again with a grin and a wink) refuse to fit nicely into the category of either poetry or prose (again, much like Joyce in Finnegans Wake, or in the later chapters of Ulysses). Take, for example, the following passage from “A Concise Natural History of Southern Malawi”:

tropical boubou ma tew tew ma tew tew three-streaked
twitter swizzle bunting larklike twitter zack blackcap tew tew (82)

This piece, like “Progress Report…” titles itself as a scientific treatise, however rather than masquerading as such on a textual level (as “Progress Report” does, at least at an initial glance), “Natural History” functions in a similar way to the avant-garde poetics of Gertrude Stein, Ronald Johnson and Clark Coolidge, privileging the phonemic aspects of the words, their sounds and feelings, over any normal coherency. The piece as a whole is held together thematically by naturalistic and taxonomic references (in keeping with the title). The result is a piece of great beauty.
This is a fantastic, and long overdue book, full of the unexpected, that constantly startles and surprises. It doesn’t get boring, it doesn’t get old, and I have a suspicion that it is one I will return to and find completely different at each reading.
I've been treated (/painted/obscured/abused) by Ron Klassnik.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Alan Loney has included me in the addenda to his top ten NZ poetry books.

It's a good list, I'd second books by Wystan Curnow, Michele Leggot, Murray Edmond and Tony Green, Though those listed by the latter three I haven't got copies of, and in the case of Tony's book I haven't read (I've got his three pamphlets from the 70s though - Doc Oxide, Londonettes/Underground Reading and Untold Angels (all published by Gee)). I'd replace Wystan Curnow's Cancer Daybook (though it is fantastic) with Back in the USA (Black Light, 1983), and add Ian Wedde's Earthly: Sonnets for Carlos (Amphedesma Press 1975), David Mitchell's Pipe Dreams in Ponsonby (Stephen Chan 1972), some of Alan's own work (though I'm not sure what at this stage - I do very much like his latest (?) Day's Eye (Rubicon 2008)- and probably some late period Allen Curnow, Probably Trees, Effegies and Moving Objects (Cats Paw Press 1972) or The Loop in Lone Kauri Road (Auckland University Press 1986).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Scott Hamilton interviews Michael Arnold.

RIP Leigh Davis

Liegh Davis has died.

For those of you who don't know, he was a seminal figure in the NZ experimental poetry community through his work at Jack Books, and his editing the shortlived but hugely influential magazine AND. The publication of Willy's Gazzette in 1983 (self-published as a collection of stapled photocopies) was a massive event, recalled by Alan Loney here.

Though it was reprinted by the Writers' Group in 1999, it is still a hugely sought after publication, and I haven't been able to get my hands on it (though I have a selection of the sonnets in various magazines).

He will be sorely missed.

ADDENDA: Charles Bernstein has an obit here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Johnson vs. Goldsmith

Johannes has linked to a very interesting post by Robert P Baird on Kent Johnson's plagurism of Kenneth Goldsmith's Day.
Johnson: Here
Goldsmith: Here


Issue one of Boo, a "Journal of Terrific Things", is up. It is edited by Nick Demske, and "exclusively publishes offensive things".

Contributions by Rebecca Wolff, K Silem Mohammad, Johannes Goränsson, and others.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I both love and hate waiting for books. The frustration is infuriating, seeing the postman cycle past without stopping, but the books will be amazing when they arrive. And my father is in the US at the moment, and I've had some books posted to him to save on shipping (A Selection from Carnival, by Steve McCafferey, published by bpNichol's gr0nk press, and Jed Rasula's Syncopations: the Stress of Innovation in Contemporary American Poetry).

Aside from my contributor's copies of the new Brief (see a previous post - or feel free to contact me and I'll let you know how to get copies), I'm waiting on Catherine Meng's Dokument (Petrichord), Kate Durbin's The Ravenous Audience (Black Goat Press/ Akashic Books) and Michael Leong's e.s.p. (Silenced Press). All promise to be fantastic - I'll have a review of Kate's Fragements Found in a 1937 Aviator's Boot (Dancing Girl Press) up here very shortly.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Brief 38

[Cover image: Emma Smith, "Wolfwhistler" (2007)]

Editor: Jen Crawford
Number 38 (August [September] 2009)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Open Mic

Catalyst Poetry Open Mic
Wednesday 7th October, 8pm
Al's Bar, 31 Dundas St
Christchurch (behind Pak n' Save)
BYO poetry

Production, Art, Genius, the Book

Robert P. Baird has posted on Jed Rasula's new book Mod­ernism and Poetic Inspiration
and Romanticism over at Digital Emunction. As I stated in the comments stream of Johannes' post on the subject, I was surprised by the following attempt to equate "productive artist genius type" with "fighter against capitalism":

"If I were more hip than I am, I might say that the divi­sion of labor between the artist and arti­san is unthink­able out­side cap­i­tal­ism, which deploys the same split to divide a pop­u­la­tion of col­lars into white and blue."

The idea of Artist-as-genius is not only a product of Romanticism, but also early-modern capitalism, hand in hand with the genesis of copyright law. If I'm not mistaken, the whole Fluxus ethos, langpo's penchant for collaboration, and various "shared identity" projects undertaken by movements such as neoism, or John Cage, Jackson Mac Low et al working in aleatory writing, in the latter half of last century were all deliberate attempts to undermine such ideas. There is, of course room to dispute the levels of success of these various projects - Kent rightly states that it is "hard to see how two or five legal Author names on a text instead of one is really much of an "undermining" of anything". However I do think that these arguments, to a greater or lesser degree (especially around the origins of copyright) still stand.

However another thing that's been bugging me about Bobby's piece is the argument he sets out about the Idea vs. Execution:

"But there’s some­thing else in there, too, isn’t there? The kind of equiv­o­ca­tion Rasula describes isn’t just about resist­ing com­ple­tion, à la Kafka or Beck­ett or Lan­guage poetry. As I put it to John in an email, Rasula’s equiv­o­ca­tion also seems like a Trojan horse for the Andy Warhol/Factory kind of of art­mak­ing, whose directest [sic] and purest ter­mi­nus in writ­ing is Kenny Goldsmith’s uncre­ativ­ity. Once you insist that the idea mat­ters more than the exe­cu­tion, you’re not talk­ing about art, you’re talk­ing about outsourcing.

"[...] What does matter is matter: which is to say that art is dif­fer­ent from think­ing not in its made­ness (which is also a qual­ity of thought) but in its thing­ness, its essen­tial con­tact with non-​neuronal matter.

"[...] The real equiv­o­ca­tors in Rasula’s schematic aren’t Valéry or Joyce, they’re Koons and Hirst, pur­vey­ors of the $100 mil­lion idea that some­one else can go worry about putting together, just like an iPhone or Subaru."

The problem with this is, that if one hold these views about (visual) art - and extrapolates them into literature (through Kenny Goldsmith, et al.) then this brings up very complex issues surrounding the distribution/dissemination of literary works, namely through the most popular mode, the book. (this being said the criticism of Warhol, Koons and Hirst doesn't hold water, as it would require, "Once you insist that the idea mat­ters more than the exe­cu­tion", that the execution of their works is poor - and this is a wholly different matter than that of concept versus craft).

Who produces the book? And, in regard to said argument, what is the difference between, say, Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons and a Subaru?

What is really at question here is where the (literary) work exists, and how one conceptualizes the text-as-object's existence; as part of a book-object (a la Joanna Drucker's work at Granary, or Alan Loney's various presses), or as a matrix of signifiers the vehicle for which is secondary.

Susan M Schutz has posted on the issue, and has some interesting things to say about it.

I'm not going to draw any conclusions as yet, but these are interesting, and important, issues.

There's a host of good material out there on these issues. If I may recommenced any, they would be A Book of the Book: Some Works & Projections about the Book & Writing Edited by Steven Clay and Jerome Rothenberg (Granary), and the Collected essays of Alan Loney, Reading Saying Making, which I suspect is out of print.

several things

Some interesting things going on over on Johannes' blog:
Discussions of Aestheticism and the 'Hipster'. I'm going to post on this stuff (and on what Kent was saying about The Artist) later today, all things being equal.

There's also an interview with Joyelle McSweeney here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Militant Dysphoria

k-punk has a great post on Margaret Atwood's surfacing:
Surfacing belongs to the same moment as Baudrillard's Symbolic Exchange And Death, Lyotard's Libidinal Economy, Irigaray's Speculum: Of The Other Woman - and Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus. Though it is A Thousand Plateaus that Surfacing most obviously prefigures - yet what separates Surfacing's "terrifying Deleuzian devenir-animal" (Jameson) from Deleuze and Guattari is precisely Atwood's refusal of affirmation(ism). At her moment of schizophrenic break-rapture, the narrator certainly sounds like a good Deleuzean: "they think I should be filled with death, I should be in mourning. But nothing has died, everything is alive, everything is waiting to become alive", but this febrile delirium is more in tune with Ben Woodard's "dark vitalism" than Deleuze, and what flows and stalks in the body-without-organs zone of animal- and water-becomings is something like Ben's sinister "creep of life". "I hear breathing, witheld, observant, not in the house but all around it." The place beyond the mortifications of the Symbolic is not only the space of an obscene, non-lingustic "life" but also where everything deadened and dead goes, once it has been expelled from civilization. "This is where I threw the dead things..." Beyond the living death of the Symbolic is the kingdom of the dead. "It was below me, drifting towards me from the furthest level where there was no life, a dark oval trailing limbs. It was blurred but it had eyes, they were open, it was something I knew about, a dead thing, it was dead."

This Militant Dysphoria, or Dark Vitalism,as a framework could contribute much to the discussion of poets such as such as Aese Berg, Ariana Reines, and Johannes Göransson; and as Dominic Fox has stated, in the Black Metal of acts like Striborg and Xasthur. Also worth considering would be the work of musicians such as Kevin Drumm, Campbell Kneale (as Birchville Cat Motel/Our Love Will Destroy the World and Black Boned Angel), Wolf Eyes, et al.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This Friday

Charles [Charlotte?] Burgess at Goodbye Blue Monday

25th Sept, 10pm-12pm

Following (A reitteration)


________________________160 HIGH ST
____________xNOBBQx (AUS),
_________________BRUCE RUSSEL
____________9PM, 84 LICHFIELD ST

____________FRIDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2009
________________________(rsvp for catalogue)

[84 Lichefield being the new HSP location]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

TS Eliot whined too much

This is the way the world

(no end__in ever so
as the bough bends)

__Whorl of words


__no whimper

Explosion effervescent

Honeysuckle, __Lilac

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I feel compelled to say that this book, [ lapsed insel weary ], is one of the most beautiful things I have read in a long time. It is available here, and the author (who curates Dusie Press) blogs here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009




K-punk on eco-politics: "anti-organic anti-capitalism"

"...I still don't think that there is anything particulary controversial about saying that capitalism is now the prime cause of climate change. Everyone - in the sense of the big Other - can accept this, which is precisely why a film like Wall-E, which places the blame for environmental disaster firmly with multinational corporations, can be produced in the gleaming citadel at the heart of capitalism. The problem is of a different order - it concerns not the belief that capitalism causes environmental depredation, but the sense that anything could be done about it. That's why I'm profoundly sceptical of any campaign based on spreading the magical elixir "awareness", with its implication that the main reason people don't live in ecotopia is that they don't "know" things, or that, as soon as they do know, a critical mass will be achieved that will force change. It seems to me, however, that the problem is not lack of awareness: the actual issues are organisational and libidinal."

Friday, September 11, 2009

[BTW, there's a Joy Division tribite band playing at Goodbye Blue Monday tonight. There good.]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two things

"....their writing is [...] a space where the Cartesian model of mind and body breaks down"
- An interview with Johannes Göransson over at HTMLGIANT. He mentions me, which feels really weird.

And I'm working on Grant/Residency.Scholarship applications at the moment, and thinking "how are people who generally give stuff to VUP novelists and the like going to react to me essentially saying "I want you to give me money to stick words together, regardless of anything, just based on the fact that it sounds cool, like Jazz" (self-caricature, but probably how they're going to react I fear).

Any pointers? Anyone?

Monday, September 7, 2009

I've been really busy lately, hence the silence. More stuff coming soon - reviews and whatnot.

I've also been playing far too much chess. If you want a game, I'm here.

Two Events


________________________160 HIGH ST
____________xNOBBQx (AUS),
_________________BRUCE RUSSEL
____________9PM, 84 LICHFIELD ST

____________FRIDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2009
________________________(rsvp for catalogue)

[84 Lichefield being the new HSP location]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Birthday, and wonderful letterboxings

Today was my Birthday - 24 on the 24th of August. And I was greeted by a wonderful package in my mailbox - a conglomeration of wonderful books and chaps from Dusie Press (curtosy of the wonderful Susana Gardner), all the way from Zurich, Switzerland. Everything in said package is wonderful, and I will be writing about such soon (also several prizes from Dancing Girl Press, which I have been criminally late in writing about).

Two other great chapbook arrivals, though not new publications, were Alice Notley's City Of, from Rain Taxi, and Tan Lin's Ambience is a Novel With a Logo, from Katalanche Press.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This is GREAT

"...Alot of younger writers followed suit and started using the actual word "language" too much in their poems or, like Silliman, used the word "syntax" too much..."

Though, where it is stated that "[Contemporary Poetry] closes it them [sic] off from general audiences and starts talking to itself (talking to itself in an institution… contemporary poetry is mentally handicapped)", I'm suspicious of this as a flippant pejorative. Why is being analogous to non-normative psychological function necessarily bad? I would argue that part of the function of poetry is to explore/investigate/interrogate alternative epistemologies/ontologies/modes of perception/production (I'm thinking here of Alice Notley, Ron Johnson, Lara Glenum...), and the Schizo-positive thought experiment of Deleuze and Guattari provides a good opening for this (whether or not it succeeds or fails - and is the failure of an experiment such a bad thing anyway?).

In the discussion of "schools", "cliques" etc, I see another thing that, through discussions with Jared Wells (generally involving a large quantity of beer), I have come to believe is flawed - the idea that, when writing poetry, appealing to a small audience is essentially elitist (though this, in the post in question, is implied rather than stated - it may not be there, but there is a general feeling that this is true in the wider poetic community - Kenneth Goldsmith implies simmilar things about populism and accessibility here, paragraphs 10 & 11). To expect everybody to like your work is preposterous (even if you are Billy Colllins or Seamus Heaney), and I feel that writing, for instance, aeleotory works drawing from obscure 17th Century arcana is no different in principle from writing, say fan fiction based on a b-grade 80s sci-fi series, or playing Goth-Rock. If I just get on with it, and some people like, and maybe publish or buy my work, then that's great.

Just a couple of thoughts.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


After finding spam in the comments on this blog, I've had to turn on comment moderation.

My apologies - I will endevour to process comments as quickly as possible (not that there are many at this stage; hopefully it won't be a problem).

It pisses me off that this has happened, but there hasn't been a huge amount of discussion going on here, though I hope this will change.

To those who are reading this blog, do jump in if you have something to contribute - that's one of the joys of this medium; it's potential as a forum for the discussion and dissemination of ideas.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Another Plug!

People like me (or my work), and I like them back for it. This time it's the wonderful Farrah Field.

Her book, Rising (Four Way Books) is excellent as well, and once you've bought mine you should buy hers as well.

Or, if you don't like capitalism (even when it's supporting the arts) you can do a trade, as that's how Farrah and I got hold of each other's stuff. Email me if you're keen on that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Scatological in Artistic production

I tend to think of poetry (and art in general) as somehow scatological - in that it is part of a process of consumption; expulsion, waste and expenditure - one chews stuff up and shits stuff out, leaving a trail of effluvia (be it poetry, sculpture, sound...) and ends up creating by a process of digestion/transfiguration; the old alchemical dream of turning shit into gold (See the Coil Back catalog - "Gold is the metal with the broadest shoulders").

Art is waste - see my comments on political practice, viz. Adorno on Art's functioning outside of the normative economy of exchange/function. This applies to poetry too - poetry is, by nature, not discursive, it eschews the normative economy of meaning-production through mimesis/signification. Normally such a description is only applied to Langpo, but this is not the case - If the aim of poetic expression (pun intended) was straight communication, then the communicator would be best to chose a form more suited to such (assumed) transparency. Rhyme, metaphor, metonymy, parallelism, sonic patterning - all of these cause noise in the channel. Form (and style) inform the reader, are part of the content that is consumed. there is white noise, pink noise ... the unintended, the pun, the "trans-segmental drift"; all of this functions alchemically, as processes of digestion/transubstantiation.

Last night I was talking to a friend, and let slip that I'm not so big on Auden. He replied that September the 1st, 1939 was about Truth, and that one either agrees with old Wystan, and likes the poem, or doesn't. I beg to differ. If such was the case, then I'd probably like half the faux-beatnik political ranting that goes on, but no such luck I'm afraid. I'd rather they shat out Free Jazz. Auden, like Eliot, is restraint in practice. Language reterritorialized. Give me the sprawling morass of Stein, or Pound, or Schuyler, or the Sibylline Hysteria of Alice Notley any day.

[Robert McLean's comments have been removed at his request]

Johannes Göransson on the American Hybrid

This review, originally in Rain Taxi, is excellent.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Alistair Patterson's Africa: //Kabbo, Mantis and the Porcupine’s Daughter

This Review originally appeared in The Press on Saturday, August 1.

in Africa: //Kabbo, Mantis and the Porcupine’s Daughter, Alistair Patterson takes on nothing less then the history of humanity – or, more specifically, our collective origins deep in the continent of the title. In his forward Patterson reveals the genesis of the poem in Neil Bennon’s The Broken String, an account of Victorian linguist and philologist Wilhelm Bleek’s studies of the language, culture and mythology of the now vanished /Xam-ka !ei, a branch of the San people, a tribe of bushmen who dwelt in South Africa. The //Kabbo of the title was one of the /Xam-ka !ei who Bleek, along with Lucy Lloyd, interviewed and learned the language from.

Patterson Writes of reading Bennon’s book that: “I was unwell and increasingly aware of my own mortality. The visionary views and beliefs of the /Xam-ka !ei – their conviction that animals, people and their spirits, the past and present, coexist with each other […] resonated with me” (7). These conceptions of history as perpetual and the universal oneness of things manifest themselves on the poem’s narrative structure, which flits backward and forward across millennia. It is through these techniques of temporal distortion that Patterson once again proves himself one of this country’s most skilled practitioners of the extended lyric. Through the almost exclusive use of the present tense as a means to lend immediacy to the past, he brings events such as Pearl Harbour and the voyage of the Beagle into the present, placing current events alongside half-forgotten myths and the legacy of the colonial past. This juxtaposition intertwines events, causing them to imbue each other with a new significance:

//Kabbo hasn’t

heard about it –

about what happened

in the Middle East

of how Israel’s dawn raid

‘rocked the truce’

& if he’d heard of it, what

Would he have thought:

of his brother

who’d been murdered

while he slept (28)

And one of the most powerful lines, given a stanza to itself:

_______________The British have left India … (64)

Or again:

_______________Columbus discovers

_______________the indies … (39)

which we are told earlier “was always there” (25).

This is a beautiful book, and not just for what it contains. Puriri Press’s effort is to be commended. The book is a hand-stitched hardback, and the interior paper stock has a beautiful heft and weight, which makes for a wonderful reading experience, and emphasises the book as an object. This lends the poem a sense of permanence, and adds to its treatment of time and history.