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.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Otoliths is Live

It's one minute into August on the Tropic of Capricorn, & that means it's time to let loose issue fourteen of Otoliths.

As always it's full of variety. There's work by Kirsten Kaschock, Pat Nolan, Márton Koppány, Jim Meirose , Anne Gorrick, Caleb Puckett, Peter Schwartz, Fredrick Zydek, Ed Baker, Ross Brighton (thats ME!), Derek Henderson, John M. Bennett, John M. Bennett & Sheila E. Murphy, Raymond Farr, Jill Chan, John Martone, Bob Heman, Philip Byron Oakes, Ric Carfagna, Eileen R. Tabios, Justin Mulrooney, Jeff Harrison, Eric Burke, K. R. Copeland & Jeff Crouch, Crane Giamo, Paula Kolek, Daniel f Bradley, Arthur Leung, Joseph Harrington, Iain Britton, Thomas Fink, Tan Lin, Kristine Marie Darling , Joel Chace, Paul Siegell, Mariana Isara, Jay Snodgrass, Bill Drennan, Jill Jones, Stu Hatton, Nicholas Michael Ravnikar, Mara Patricia Hernandez, Felino Soriano, Matt Hetherington, Marcia Arrieta, Charles Freeland, Vernon Frazer, Grzegorz Wróblewski, Julian Jason Haladyn, Martin Edmond, harry k stammer, Reed Altemus, Randall Brock, Anny Ballardini, sean burn, A. Scott Britton, David-Baptiste Chirot, Joan Harvey, Mary Ellen Derwis, Bobbi Lurie, John Moore Williams, Sarah Ahmad, Scott Metz, Theodoros Chiotis, & Sheila E. Murphy.


Mark Young