Monday, June 29, 2009

K-Punk on Michael Jackson

This is better than anything else I have read.

"The death of this King - "my brother, the Legendary King Of Pop", as Jermaine Jackson described him in his press conference, as if giving Michael his formal title - recalls not the Diana carcrash, but the sad slump of Elvis from catatonic narcosis into the long good night. Perhaps it was only Elvis who managed to insinuate himself into practically every living human being's body and dreams to the same degree that Jackson did, at the microphysical level of enjoyment as well as at the macro-level of spectacular memeplex. Michael Jackson: a figure so subsumed and consumed by the videodrome that it's scarely possible to think of him as an individual human being at all... because he wasn't of course... becoming videoflesh was the price of immortality, and that meant being dead while still alive, and no-one knew that more than Michael..."

And there's some interesting stuff here too:

"In 1995, there were statues of Michael Jackson being floated up the Thames, to promote the portentously named HIStory [...]. Just five years after the statues of Ceaucescu or Dzherzhinsky were falling, Jackson was erecting (presumably fibre glass) colossi of himself everywhere. [...] What Jackson actually looks like here is some glam version of Tito, or Idi Amin, or Jean-Bedel Bokassa, come to visit the Reagans in order to negotiate the exchange of hostages or the commencement of detente".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Matt Ward has a show opening in Nibelheim (the basement under the SOFA gallery, Christchurch Arts Centre) on Thursday at 5:30. Come on down.


The new issue of action yes is up -Vice, Horror and Ecstasy.
Looks very cool - can't wait to get stuck in.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Went and saw Tourettes play on Saturday night. Very cool, and he was nice enough to swap a book for an album. His rhymes are amazing, you should check him out.

His Myspace is here, and there's a review of his latest record, superbly titled "Who Says You Can't Dance to Misery" here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Alistair Patterson: Africa - Coming soon from the Press. After printing, will post here.
Chris Price: The Blind Singer - Also for the Christchurch Press.
David Lyndon Brown: Skin Hunger.

From Action Books:
Lara Glenum: Maximum Gaga.
Sand Florian: The Tree of No.
Aase Berg: Remainland: Selected Poems. Trans. by Johannes Göransson.

Short write-ups, or longer (if I have time) on:
Mark Young: The Lunch Poems
Farrah Field: Rising
Johannes Göransson: In Praise of Virgins & Pilot: Johann the Carousel Horse.

My review of Ted Jenner's Writers in Residence and other Captive Fauna is forthcoming from Scoop.

I also have a poem forthcoming in November's issue of Reconfigurations.

And Rauan Klassnik has given me a plug here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some Thoughts on Tan Lin's BLIPSOAK01

I've been meaning to post this since I started this blog. It was meant to be published quite some time ago, but even when it was written it was a bit late. However then I still had the excuse that BLIPSOAK01 was Lin's last full-length publication, but now there is HEATH (PLAGIARISM OUTSOURCE), which I must get a copy of.
I've mentioned Lin's work in several conversions online recently, so here's the review.

Tan Lin’s latest full-length book, BLIPSOAK01, [Ed: not any more.]like 1999’s Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe (Sun & Moon), draws on those realms opened up by practitioners such as Bruce Andrews and Steve McCaffery. However this book breaks new ground in its genre through its manifestation as what Lin describes in the preface as an “extended play (e. p.) poem” employing theory that draws not only on the work of the Toronto Research Group and ‘language oriented/centred’ poets, but also the work of Kenneth Goldsmith. Goldsmiths theory[1] is echoed in Lin’s preface: “The poem is born out of our mutual dis-interest” (15) and again “the most beautiful page makes you look away accidentally from what you were reading (13)[2]”. However Lin, rather than following Goldsmith’s mantra adapted from the conceptual artist Douglas Huebler that “the world is full of texts, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more" (“Being Boring”), Lin’s ‘boredom’ is rooted not in repetition and non-interventionism but in a-semantics and banality.

In this way one can reconcile the creative output contained in Lin’s work with a pseudo-goldsmith-esque aesthetic of boredom through a dismissal of conventional economies of interest and information in favour of production of response through the privileging of surfaces, repetition, sonority and textual slippage. Thus the poem is carried along by affect and plastic tonality in a propulsion of starts and stops, staggering passages and smooth surfaces.

The poem extends for over 300 printed pages, operating as around 150 two-page splashes, with the lines of text extending over the centrefold. This typographical twitch creates a new plane operating in a similar way to a line-break, an awkward pause of misconstruance and half meaning:

I open the vanish and try to recover the cancer[/] ‘s instructions (126-7).

(note - the gap won't appear here. it's where the [/] is)

It is this awkwardness and start-stop kinesis that informs the trancelike unthinkingness that Lin describes as boredom, the page that is to be “experienced at the synaptic level, which is the level of looking” and thus the experience of reading becomes “very very easy and relaxing”.

Thus there are 300/150 pages of extended ‘un-boring [pseudo-] boredom’, the poem flitting from the opaque plasticity of:

gon___ist ______________ me’enr

ati _____tennis 55 w;______ kio’s ____st98

so mor3#

youl essen _____ ilt ________(148-9)

into faux-lyricism reminiscent of writers such as Lyn Hejinian and Myung Mi Kim.

Here the process of reading is informed by dislocation and juxtaposition, starts and stops, the not said and the almost said. The reader’s consciousness flits across the surfaces, making connections and basking in the almost-meaning and meandering sprawl of repetitions:

Somewhere, it begins to rain, somewhere

it begins to be boring

If it is February, I wrote of your clutter

If it is February, you are listening at the door where snow is falling (104-5)

the reader is invited to read (non-) meaning or enjoy the poem’s surfaces as a field of play. The poem’s “extended” nature creates manifold openings, hollows and creases in this surface, allowing for reading/play as a series of constructions and deconstructions of conflicting (mis-)readings, interacting, contradicting and rubbing up against one another.

The poem is a constant, and a flow. The reader can step in and out at will, and re-reading/re-turning offers new experiences and (non-)meanings, as the “content” is not fixed-dogmatic-finite. This way the economy of reading exits the closed system where meaning production can exhaust itself, into new, empty openness.

[1] for example his essay “Being Boring”, available through Goldsmith’s author page on the EPC at

[2] Lin’s critical work on goldsmith can also be accessed through the EPC

Wow. when I cut and paste, footnotes come too. Good to know.


There is an interview re HEATH.... here, and a review here. Thanks to Tan for the links.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Walks with Celan

Pierre Joris has an extract from a memoir, and it is gorgeous.

Please read it.

Booklaunch - a report.

The launch was last night, and couldn't have gone better. I was really stunned at the turnout, and overwhelmed by all the people buying books, and getting them signed, and congratulating me, and the like. i-Rory's set was great, and noisy, and messy, just the way I like my music. People seemed to be really digging it, both his improv and my poetry, I've never known people to be so receptive of experimental work.

So thanks to everyone for their support, I'm really overwhelmed.

People who aren't in Christchurch, or aren't in NZ, I'll be posting books out next week.

Anti-trust investigation into google books

Yep. more here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This Week

Thurs: Goodbye Blue Monday, 6:00 Tony De Lautour launches the catalog for his recent retrospective at the Pysics Room.

Fri: GBBM, 6:30 My booklauch. Details above.

Sun: International Knit in Public Day! The Dux De Lux 11:00

___ The Basement Poetic! part of the Lyttelton Festival of Lights. ___snuggle down by the open fire and listen to guest poets recite ___ their own work. Have a go yourself with the open mic, groovy ___ tunes and cash bar.
___The Basement @ 33a London St, entrance off London St under ___the ‘Nice People Only” sign, down the stairs it‘s on your right, ___ 6pm $5 entry

Ornamental Superfluity

Discussion here.

Addenda: It continues.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kindlefilm by Ed Lust

SFA Campus Gallery 19-22 April. Click images to enlarge.

There is energy and stasis. Bursts of light and movement. The capture of this in images renders the show plaintive, especially in the cold light of a winter's day. At the opening there were crowds milling around, with sci-fi techno music and lovely red wine. Now there are no people, just the hum of the air conditioning.

The sound of the Millennium Falcon was a malfunctioning air-con unit.

This show is elegiac, a nostalgic tribute to a lost future. Growing up with the Hubble space telescope. Star Trek. Ender's Game.

A time when we could dream of interstellar empires.

All of that is gone now, and Orson Scott Card is a homophobe. The pieces are strangely soothing, in their evocation of the cold, quiet expanses of space; and unsettling, unearthly beauty.

I sat for hours, watching, listening to the almost-subaudiable hum, finding shapes and losing them amongst the bursts of colour.

I wanted to say more, but alas, am swamped. Ed's good. That's all that needs to be said in the end.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why Sonic Youth Should Not Be

Belated, I know, by almost a month, but this post (Avant-Conservativism) over at k-punk is well worth the read.

"....there's a massive difference between being a person of good taste and being a great artist...."
"....It seems to me that Sonic Youth's very long career has been based almost exclusively on their being "people of good taste" - curators, in other words, who can turn a notionally ignorant audience on to cool stuff. I think this is subtly but decisively different from being a portal: a portal is itself intensifying, there is a mutual process of libidinization between the portal and what it opens onto, whereas SY now derive practically all their credibility from gesturing to artists more marginal than them...."

New Links

I've just added links to both Critical Inquiry and Textual Practice, archives of which are availible in pdf. They're worth checking out.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stephen Burt's "New Thing" - Some Notes in Response

Stephen Burt's Essay is here. There are very articulate responses here as well, Stan Apps being great, and these mean I do not have to talk about the reductive characterization of WCW in Burt's piece.

I think Stan Apps sums it up pretty well, that the purported “newness” is not new at all. It seems to be a selective reading of contemporary poetry, finding similarities, and presenting them as indicative of a trend, direction or movement. Critics always seem to need to label and construct a "new big thing", and it does a disservice to vital heterogeneity of the contemporary moment to try and put it in boxes, say "this [and by implication only this] is what is important in poetry now". It's even worse when it's something boring, that people in the past have done a much better job of. In writing this piece Burt not only misrepresents Dr. Williams, but also makes the Objectivists, HD, Robert Duncan and the great Ronald Johnson (one of my favorite poets) seem aligned with this laconic, sparse verse. Johnson's work is Joyful and expansive, even in the parts that seem small, such as that Burt cites:
___________________of holly
Johnson's poetic is one in which every part is part of something larger, the smallest detail is part of the great spinning universe, everything is meaningful and contributes to the fullness of the whole in all its metaphysical incomprehensibility. You cannot read his work in a selective avoidance of ARK, in spite of its "daunting and hermetic" nature. That's like pretending Pound was an imagist who never wrote the Cantos.
Here I'm going to go through things in a roughly chronological order. And get lazy and not comment on everything. I think I've got a relatively good argument though.
The General tendency of the essay seems to point more toward what Burt likes in poetry, rather than anything else - I read a lot, and much of what I read, most of what I enjoy, doesn't fit under his rubric, or my conception of poetry in general. The thing that struck me most, made me do a double take, was his latching on to a quote by Rae Armantrout: “I’m phobic, somehow, about ‘making things up’.” Burt latches onto this, praising her for her "accuracy", and I'm left baffled. Isn’t that what poets do, by definition? poesias: the act of making (up). I have said before that, to invert the old Sydney-esque moral justification for poetry (poets use lies in order to tell the truth) I use lies to tell bigger lies. I consider this to be just as “serious” and socially necessary (an interrogation, if you will), as any self-important, faux-Whitman-poet-as-prophet-ism (and more honest through its acceptance of the truths of poem-as-artifice, poem as marginal, poem as functionless).

Later: “…the best new books that seem to have goals in common, that is, to constitute a tendency” The best new books I have read recently surprise me, are various, do not need the assurance of being part of a ‘club’ in order to justify their work. If I want to be reassured about my world-view and aesthetics, that I have good taste and judgement, then I'll read a magazine of the newspaper.
“The new poetry, the new thing, seeks, as Williams did, well-made, attentive, unornamented things”. Poetry in its functionless superfluity, is ornamental. Sparse, laconic, colloquial poems that mirror “real speech” are boring, because real speech is boring. Andrews: “I HATE SPEECH”. This is why the majority of poetry written in New Zealand (my home) is of little or no interest to me.

“humility” in poetry – don’t make me laugh. If you have the ego to think that your poetry is of interest to other people, that they are going to take the time to read it, and maybe write about it, this is nothing more than Uriah Heep-ism.

These are my thoughts.

Methinks there's a realy good essay in the recasting of masculinity in the work of Johnson, Duncan and Robin Blaser. And in the music of Coil.

Fast Talking PI by Selina Tusatala Marsh

This review first appeared in the Christchurch Press Saturday 30 May 2009.

Selena Tusitala Marsh's debut collection reads like something spoken, rather than written. This cements her a place in the longstanding tradition of volumes published by performance poets in New Zealand. Notable precedents include David Mitchell, Apirana Taylor and of course Tusiata Avia. The central position of the poem as spoken work is further emphasised by the CD included with the book.

Marsh demonstrates a strong understanding of how the poem's placement on the page, its punctuation and use of repetition can inform the way it is read, evident in the impetus and speed of "Googling Tusitalia", "Not Another Nafanua Poem" and "Has the Whole Tribe Come Out From England?", contrasting with the slow meditation of "Langston's Mother" and "Contact 101".

Also at work is an astute knowledge of precedent and tradition, through which Marsh demonstrates an acute awareness of the history of both New Zealand and the Pacific. The legend of Himemoa and Tutanekai is invoked alongside the Samoan goddess Nafanua (Familliar from Avia's book Bloodclot) and the Hawaiian volcano deity Pele-'ai'honua; Gauguin makes an appearance, as does Bligh with his fellow mutineers from the Bounty. In "Realpolitik" Captain James Cook's Journals are pillaged in a more politically overt echo of Alan Loney's similar treatment in his A Great Antiskorbutick. The eponymous poem of the collection is dedicated to Anne Waldman, to whose Fast Speaking Woman the poem's title does homage. Also present is the ghost of the Oxacan Shamaness-seer María Sabina, whose trance-like chants permeate both Marsh and Waldman’s texts.

Having said all this there are several qualifications that I would like to make, though these are generally on matters of taste rather than objective issues of quality. Certain poems seem weak when compared to other, stronger poems in the collection, and some that are technically strong are let down by their underlying concepts or subject matter, or vice versa. An example of this is “Two Nudes on a Tahitian Beach, 1894”, where the subject matter, the sexual objectification of Pasifika Women in Gauguin’s painting of the same name, and the associated rage, are let down by predictable treatment. Compared with the real emotional impact that a persona poem can manifest as demonstrated in “Mutiny on Pitcairn”, and the stronger treatment of the same theme in “Guys Like Gauguin”, the former poem seems lacking.

In spite of this the collection is a very strong debut, and “Le Amataga”, “Afakasi”, “Cirlce of Stones” and the two Hawai’i poems are reason enough to continue rereading this book time and time again.