Thursday, April 30, 2009

Craig Arnold Missing--help requested

Bruce Covey sent a message to the members of Coconut Poetry.

Subject: Craig Arnold Missing--help requested

Apologies for this mass email, but this note arrived today from two Coconut contributors concerning poet Craig Arnold:

"I'm writing because a dear friend of mine and an exceptionally talented poet, Craig Arnold, whom some of you know, has gone missing on a small volcanic island in Japan while on a creative exchange fellowship. Craig, an experienced explorer of volcanoes, never returned to his inn after leaving alone to research the island's active volcano for the afternoon. The authorities are on the third day of searching for Craig, and are scouring the small island (of only 160 inhabitants) with dogs and helicopters. If he is not found by the end of the day, the authorities will call off the search.

We need your help to insure that the search will continue. The island and areas surrounding the volcano are small enough that an extended search will surely lead to Craig's discovery.WE NEED PEOPLE TO CONTACT THEIR LOCAL CONGRESSPEOPLE AND SENATORS TO PRESSURE THE JAPANESE STATE DEPARTMENT TO CONTINUE THE SEARCH. WE ALSO NEED HELP SPARKING MEDIA ATTENTION FOR THIS STORY, WHICH WE ALSO HOPE MIGHT INCREASE PRESSURE ON JAPANESE AUTHORITIES TO FIND CRAIG. I have attached a document with background information about Craig, as well as information about the details leading up to his disappearance as well as about the island itself. Please feel free to use this as reference material.

If any of you have ideas or know people who might be able to help, we'd appreciate hearing from you. You can contact Rebecca Lindenberg, Craig's girlfriend, at Please, though, take a minute to contact your senator and congressperson via telephone or even email to explain this problem and insist on their help.

We are so hoping to find Craig today, God-willing not seriously injured. If so, this will not be an issue, but we must ensure that if this isn't resolved today, Craig doesn't end up an unsolved mystery. He is too important to too many people, not to mention to arts and letter generally, for this to happen.

We appreciate your help, good wishes and prayers."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Some Ideas Generated So Far in Experiments In Text (student quotes & paraphrases)

1) Why do poets dislike language? Poets dislike language.

2) The altered book: a violent exploration of the (violent) reading process

3) Movement on the page: like a musical score or like music? A difference?

4) The recipe is most often the stationary command to move in a set, ordered, way

5) Nelson (the UDP book): the dissolve of 1 particular history / 1 particular author

6) Gardner's altered book is more a critique/attempted erasure of its found materials

7) The meaning, where's the meaning? Especially in the altered book: what does it matter, in certain cases, what book you choose?

8) Attempted generation of otherness in the writing process using certain procedures and prompts: perhaps this is performing text, or that is the outcome, but the unearthing of otherness or the "alterior selves" is an illusion. We cannot escape our histories, our (imposed) identities.

9) The problem of the found work: is Osman's argument dialectical or one-sided. In the end are found materials that use the language of mass media, appropriate these materials, doomed to perpetuate the schema of mass culture? Do they always necessarily add to the excess? Is being American one reason these images and tropes and procedures "attractive"? (Vecunia). Or are we able in some small way to investigate and deconstruct the spectacles around us by appropriating the languages that appropriate us every day? (No firm conclusion in class or in the reading...)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Predetermined Lament for Prefab Eulogy


As part of my sprawling, huge, often clunky multi-media expectoration, Prefab Eulogies, I've added yet another branch which dooms itself to the unpublishable. A note, first, about the work:

--interested in the discomfort in contemporary poetry of the poem as obsolete tekne, the accompanying dialectic between long-term practices and the modes by which such practices do or do not do what they set out to do. Not that poetry is obsolete, nor to condone yet another sweeping end of art thesis. Rather, unlike an anxiety of influence, which seems a bit on the wane in American poetry at this moment, there is, to situate the problem in the positive light of sheer possibility, a seemingly restless urge in experimental poetry and poetics, one in which poetry seeks to work out its own discomfort a) within the confines of the normative book page(s), and b) with all the toys electronic that are at our disposal - that do, certainly, open up possibilities for the poet. This seems to occur at intervals, often in parallel with the advent of another toy, or the obsolescence of once-functional materials now ripe for poetical appropriation. The page will not be exhausted (remember the Lettrists? For them, the page was exhausted at Victor Hugo), nor will the materiality of the book (remember the 90s when Drucker was interviewed like a million times about why the book will not simply vanish from the poetic toolbox?), nor will any one particular language game for that matter (cf Derrida's rather badly misinterpreted, but for our purposes useful, interpretation of the later Wittgenstein).

However, the impulse to explore technologies has been, not surprisingly, tempered in the past ten years or so by the swift commercialization of these technologies, specifically codes and platforms that were once open source. Open source work was absorbed by The Spectacle nearly as soon as various groundbreaking scripts - Python, XHTML, etc - were interfaced with the internet. And the neat/terrifying thing about information technologies is that their inventions speed up by orders of magnitude the rate at which The Spectacle absorbs and appropriates them. So, from the basic online journal editor to the new media artist, today's politically engaged and formally risk taking poets find themselves, it seems to me, wanting to exploit various technologies but concerned with perpetuating a corporatization that has every bit to do with class, access, power. How to make intimate, thoughtful work in new media when the very medium is now unavoidably malignant. [CF BLOGGER]

--also interested in product versus process: seems to me (again, a sense I get from my own eye corner) that we are in an exciting period in poetry. The avant-garde is increasingly interested in collaboration, translation, and ephemerality. These are pluralisms I can certainly live with. And again, these are interests that seem to wax and wane at intervals, as the (diverse) interest in specifically socially conscious interrogation of poetic language games in the 60s and 70s birthed, of course, one of the most vibrant poetry movements, that of LANGUAGE (too broadly speaking), North America has ever seen. Globalism, as opposed to globalization has done at least one good thing: it has sped up our interest to cultivate new, diverse, relationships across borders. And process-oriented work, a focus on how we do what we do, and who we do the writing with, taking some of the stage away from the poem-product itself, interests me insofar as it opens up the possibility for a new collectivism in experimental poetry. Yet, again, my excitement is tempered by the appearance of collaboration, connection, human interaction that falls outside normative interactions, the appearance of the discursive and dialogic, when often we are substituting information technologies and ease of the "communique" for the difficult work of the face to face poetic negotiation. We blog and chat and publish online at speeds unimagined a decade ago, and this is exciting, yet is also potential barrier.

And this plays out in the pastiche of some new forms, the un-self-reflexive use of digital creoles instead of the appropriation of such creoles with a mind towards imminent critique, doubt as to whether the hyper-non-closural empties itself of the disruptive-interrogative seen, say, in the earlier New York schools (1 and 2). There is a lot of cute visual poetry, especially cute hypertext and Flash work, work that for all its actual movement (like moving letters) has very little actual movement (like making the reader move, even move away from the poem itself). There are wonderful visual works as well, of course, but there are many, many hybrid and new media forms that are playful but do (and cause) a tenth of the work that, say, a Robert Duncan, or a Zukofsky, or a Tina Darragh poem does - each absent buttons and buzzers and ironies and mouseover acrobatics to which I am sometimes drawn.

With all of this threading in my head, spooling out as real-time quandary, the section I've added involves working from paper book to online medium, wherein the book's section "Emergent / Tense" plays with code-as poetry, plays with the visual, aural, and kinetic aspects of the languages that are often hidden from online viewing (the guts of that which we use, as it were), then links (via website prompt) to online pages, each of which houses a poem written in a quasi-lyrical mode, one that explores the language of the book artifact, the artist book, as it were. One such short example (spacing and formatting absent/messed up due to blogger limitations):

m v b e y e w n e

o a l t p a t d

: : lament post facto : :

"clsid:D27CD B6E- AE6D-
11cf-96B8- 444553540000" codebase="http://downlowed. swf 5,0,0,0" width="384" height="288">


me=scale value , moral =noborderfence>
ame=wmode va lue= transparent lies>
e=bgcolor value=#black/hispanic > +++
uality=high scalingfence=noborderelectricfence warmode=transparent colorbarrier ="#000000" with="384" height="288" type="application/x-blacks/hispanics"
pluginspage= " P1_Pro d_

ckwaveF lash out">< / e mbed>

Were the poems to work as poems, it wouldn't matter, of course. Who (and this is a semi-rhetorical question, but only semi-) will read a page of a book in their hands, then type in a web address to read its counterpart, then go back and do it again, say 26 times? (CA Congrad did it once in his Deviant Propulsion - & I did contact you, subsidy included $$$!) I am interested, though, in the potential for the book to make the whole body move (or at least more than the eyes), to, in effect, make large the bodily movements we often find ourselves trying to control when in the act of reading/meaning making. Regardless of outcome, the experiment thus far, and far from never having been done before, has been, from a process standpoint, agitating and worthwhile. Of course I've just begun, and these pages and links and etc. are mockups. Perhaps I will think differently about the whole whole in the morning.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Re-ReadingWriting Beckett, Trilogy

From Beckett's Molloy:

if I have always behaved like a pig, the fault lies not with me but with my superiors, who corrected me only on points of detail instead of showing me the essence of the system (25)

I am apt to feel this way.

Does this matter?

To whom, if so?

One clue to a possible mistake:

taking language as transparently communicative ----------
insisting on ignoring the silence that underlines words...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Noteable Books Received That Deserve My (Written) Attention At Some Point (Soon?)

--CA Conrad, Deviant Propulsion (Soft Skull)

--Emma Bee Bernstein, A Tribute to Emma Bee Bernstein: Emma Bee Bernstein, Marjorie Perloff, Susan Bee (Belladonna's Elder's Series)

--Chad Sweeney, An Architecture (BlazeVox)

--Will Alexander, Above the Human Nerve Domain (Pavement Saw)

Titles I hope find the time/$$ to get soon (among others with whom I have yet to speak):

New books from Rob Halpern, Erica Kaufman, Ana Bozicevic, Thalia Field, Susan Schultz, Sam Truitt, Juliet Cook, and the Gabbert/Rooney series.


For now, reviewing the wonderful Jessica Baron chap from BlazeVox, working on that blurb.

yum yum.

"David Wolach" Does Not Deserve This Poem, Whoever (S)He Is(n't)



ME: "blah blah, otherness, blah blah..."

STUDENT: "try being a transgendered asian american in the northwestern woods and i'll show you otherness."



Upon returning from more healthcareful fun, I found in my inbox waiting for me a poem by Amy King, dedicated to me, which (my addition) is to say, us. This is neither the time nor place (do they exist here?) to perform an exegesis on Amy's poem. Rather, I was really touched, and the poem itself is beautiful - jagged, open lines that subtly torque the personal pronoun and gender such that the reader/writer/worker comes out, in such a careful (and politically fist pumping) way as (in trying to find the right way to describe it) this poetic acknowledgment of a "familiar other." From "What Is Is Not There":

I will fall for one woman
when his heart’s got the right circuits on board.
I till the fields till then.

For all the talk and writing and etc regarding torquing pronouns and obliteration (attempted) of the myth of the stability of selfhood, the tyranny of the subject treated as objective in poetry since god knows when, I think one only begins to find that this talk, so many books dedicated to voice, etc., are hitting on something not just politically important (libertarianism be damned!) but phenomenologically true when something happens such that the reading of it is supplemented by the getting it. Lately I've been discussing my illness with Amy, and Amy has been so deeply supportive and present as a human being that I've begun to come out of my shell regarding being sick. More importantly, I think it takes something - maybe not getting sick and having the body rebel on you, but maybe something strikingly mundane, like a simple thought fart about one's sense of self or lack thereof, to feel the otherness of oneself, thus helping one to acknowledge the importance of that otherness on another. Amy King's poetry does so many wonderful things, but what I often find most striking beyond the sheer [new] music is how her work plays with these multiplicities as up against normative notions of identification and nomination - the dangers of "the fit."

Just the thing I needed after a bad week. And who says people can't form connections online? Oh, I do. But you can certainly make those connections stronger via simple acts of human recognition. Human: there's a category I think I'll keep, self-identify with, at least for awhile.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Alter (ed) Book, Red(e)ux


Speaking as one who likes to work with physical objects (the book in the hand, say) but has been niched as a digital composer & editor: It's certainly very difficult, if not impossible, to appreciate the altered book from the vantage point of the digital snapshot. Not to say that Drucker's repository, for instance, is not an incredible resource, doesn't provide an approximating kind of information, as well as a prompt to seek out. But artist books, as most altered books are, rely on their materiality - that is often the necessary condition for a work's being an altered book as opposed to, say, a used book. Many examples of this exist in the world - see Drucker's repository and seek out - but one clear example that is in my head right now, that of the necessary condition of materiality, its un-reproducibility online, is this: last week a student in my class (ours - I teach this course with fantastic book artist Steven Hendricks) "scented" her book object, a handful of altered pages from Beckett's trilogy. She did several other interesting things with the pages, as did the other students, but I pick this out out for obvious reasons: the altered book, altered by the scent of a particular flower, cannot be smelled differently online. Not yet, anyway.

Sometimes exceptions breed whole new sub-categories (noting that categories are always negotiable despite what the advertisers and snake oil salespeople may say - let's just call them "phenomena"). One phenomenon I've become increasingly interested in since delving more deeply into Matina Stamatakis's work, is that of the digitally altered book artifact - a form of altering via scanning, typographical erasure, warping, hyperlinking, among other things, that allows for the appearance of materiality. Or, more precisely: the digitally altered text that gives the appearance of depth. Since, in reality, the digital artifact is also sheer materiality, such that this clarification highlights the obvious fact that change in medium or materials is a change in the work, with the underlying question (or challenge) being: of what traces of the former can be retained or exploited in the later, and why may the exploitation of the trace be interesting? Susana Gardner's ruby large enow from her Dusie Press is the best example I've seen of the altered book, digitally scanned, that retains depth of field, the sensation of perforation, shadow, erasure by brute force or excision, etc., that the work-in-hand has - an aura, in a Benjaminian or Mallarmean sense. And this appearance is not simply mimetic - if that were so, it'd be something like "an attempted copy" or akin to the "reproduction" in painting. Rather, the work's apparent tactile elements cause a direct tension with its lacks - precisely these elements. It also causes the tension between its lacks and its typographical content - the characters & line structure. We have what I'd call "a performance of the text" in a double sense - the initial alteration of EBB (the work from which ruby large enow emerges) and its digital iteration of itself. Gardner, it seems, is aware of these tensions, as the poetry anti-communicates (in Herbert Brun's sense of the term) its dissolution out of surgical maneuvering and scanning...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Currently on the Roller

So many wonderful projects about to hit the drying rack, via Wheelhouse Magazine & Press and free agency -

Reviewing forthcoming book by Joel Chace - oh so good, as usual unusual.

Writing a BlazeVox blurb for a forthcoming book by upcoming poet, also Wheelhouse contributor, Jessica Baron. For now: an exquisite use of negative space & rehearsals of its (and the other's) mourning. Rehearsal here becomes a mourning of the ineffability of "to mourn, the act of."

2 new chaps forthcoming from Wheelhouse Press - from Juliet Cook and Thom Donnovan, respectively. Can't go wrong there. Unless our cover designs suck so much that they threaten to drain some of the life out of these hot, textual underthings.

Is it possible to have more fun? Details soon. Remember: the teaser is luscious.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Altered Book as Performing Text?

After Linh Dinh went to great lengths, for his journal, formatting a long excerpt of my altered book, Living Rooms, I've been thinking about the altered book as - beyond an artist's book - a performance of text. That the work, in this particular case, is constructed (in part) via statistical software I've been tweaking, questions emerge, not necessarily fully formed. The altered book in one sense is a killing off of that which, often enough, one either dislikes in its originally published state or loves beyond comprehension--for why otherwise alter that which one is inclined to attach "ironically bad" (reason 1) , "usefully outmoded," where "useful" here means "for appropriation, " (reason 2) or "aura" (reason 3) in the first place? The murderous retrofitting is also admittedly an erotic endeavor--this sort of impulse (or compulsion?) to mix somewhat violently. Nonetheless - to take the notion of "killing off" here and situated within an erotics/and or ritualization of the book, the act seems like so much sacrifice (on the one hand) and attempted resurrection (hope for rebirth) on the other. Of course, I'm a Jew, and a secular one at that, so what do I know?

What interested me this time--after doing a few book alterations already--was that the added use of machine meant that I turned otherness into otherness. Hell, after I wrote the program, and until I began to sculpt the thing, I simply pressed a button. And so viz. performative poetics on which I've written a great deal, the term "performance" was, through this process, complicated. Reading to self is a kind of performance, I'd argue, albeit of a not-so-elaborate or public sort. So, the term can stretch in all sorts of ways, and definitions are not particularly interesting to me. Rather, what kind of performance is the alteration process absent (or missing for much of the time) its author? It isn't, as in the case of much of the performative poetics on which I've written in the past, seeking the liminality between "poem" and "poem event," this anxiety the poem has of its status on the page, its book as no-longer-enoughness - or, the moment the poem becomes aware of its own discomfort as potentially obsolescent form. No, here is a reaching for ritual, almost a devolution back into the practices of the sacred (or sacrilegious). Or, since I am a Jew: its regression back into the room of rooms, The Book, as Jabes might have had it, the Talmudic practice of continual self-reimagining within the space it is (was) afforded.

Needs be more thought here. I think this has to do with LW: "I destroy, I destroy, I destroy." Which, in itself, is a religiously-inflected frustration with the impulse to masturbate, sometimes quite literally. And when the machine began to pray.... Hayles came out with another book.

So: more later - interested in thoughts. Meantime, from Linh Dinh's The Lower Half (thanks, Linh):

Excerpt w/o drawings & schematics [altered book: S. Weil, "Surgical Anatomy," 1901]

(relaxation, amplitude >16mz)

we rind round the spines & gutters
of the ischia

“won’t go much deeper than”

line B

drawn from

the anus as is

line A

as are lines D


F etc

gerald stern?
billy collins?
loop of bowel?
3 different volumes of robert frost?
herniated groin?
necrotic striations at the right upper tibialus?
three thousand clams for 15 min “visit” w/o happy ending

“Demands lateral incisions!”

“Implies lateral promotions!”

“Suggestive of lateral sclerosis!”

“Definition is always a pity!”

go to the rack
go in the direction of the C D
the pelvic fascia
the M P 3 the inject-able dialec-table
that aren’t

ad hering to

the base of the body

“The baseness of the body”

“The baseness of any body”

“The baseness of anybody”

enter orbital
or if thresh-
old keeps
questions & visions
make do
& like-
wise find no-
thing approxi-
mating barthian
bliss why is it that poetry is
at best


Op-ed to Seattle Times

David Wolach
March 30, 2009

Little over a week ago, the Obama administration's rationale, vociferously backed by Congress post-facto, for last minute "adjustments" to the Stimulus Bill (which most people fluent in American Capitalism have called "a loophole" that allowed AIG to pay out huge sums of money to its incompetent middle management), the excuse for these smooth middle of the night tweaks, was that government simply cannot break contracts between employer and employee willy nilly. Such contracts (which most people fluent in American Capitalism have called "bonuses") were "iron clad" and there would be "many lawsuits" if Treasury just went in with a jackhammer and retroactively nullified those contracts. By now we all know that this language protecting AIG bigwigs was inserted when most in Congress were asleep at their desks after a long night of "working on behalf of the people." The bill passed, and now about thirty major financial players in our current recession are getting death threats, or, on occasion, being asked to commit suicide by apparently homicidal Senate Republicans. Okay, fast forward a week. Obama's on television announcing what all of us from hard-working union families feared his administration might announce: that the American auto industry does not "qualify" at this moment in time for Federal assistance (read: no more big bad bailouts), and major restructuring, including "difficult concessions" by the workers will have to be made (read: structured bankruptcy where the workers carry the heaviest burden).

So, let me get this right: it's perfectly fine to open up and gut mutually hard-fought, and lawful union contracts, but Wall Street bonuses are sacred, they're irreversible, they were earned! For over a week I've gone to bed trying to figure out the consistency for this argument. Then today it hit me: this is Washington Politics (sound of hand slapping forehead)! Washington Politics does not use logic the way ordinary Americans do. So, after a great deal of patience, like many left wingers taken slipped a Temporary Democrat pill, I'm finally outraged. There's been a lot of talk on the Republican side about "class warfare." And they're half right--class warfare has indeed become more visible lately. The problem is, it's not true, as the Republicans would have it, that the Obama administration is fighting on behalf of workers, i.e., the working and middle class, i.e., people--at the expense of "the more well to do" (read: the rich) and has therefore predicated the "war." Precisely the opposite: if one looks at his policy rather than his rhetoric, Obama and his administration have drawn a line in the sand: we will be protecting Wall Street interests it says, we will be protecting our political interests, at the expense of working families. Period. By breaking the UAW (and other manufacturing unions tied to the auto sector), one of the oldest, most respected collection of hard-working people in this country--in fact, one of the backbones of the American economy in the very worst of times--Obama has outed himself as the same-old-same old, a union-buster, yet another President that the shrinking middle class cannot rely on for any progressive labor policy whatsoever.

I can argue all day (or, for like another couple hundred more words) about why I think Obama has chosen this path, why he has, in fact, broken his late campaign promises to the working people who voted for him. But I'd rather alert all of us to something more important, more fundamental to why breaking these contracts, and indeed failing to support above all, the workers who make the cars in this country, is bad for the economy. The classic neo-liberal move, master-minded by Larry Summers under the Clinton administration (now Obama's chief economic adviser), was to feign support of the middle-class while dismantling what little labor law there was left, relying on the economics of "market self-correction," and making free trade agreements absent any real fair standards for labor cost adjustments. This, many economists now say, including Paul Krugman (once a neo-liberal himself and now just a talking head), helped lead to our current recession. In fact, since Regan, we've seen a speedier systematic effort on the part of special interests, lobbyists (the secretive, rich, Republican, and powerful National Right to Work Committee, chief among them), and "foreign trading partners," working hand-in-hand with our elected officials, to dismantle the rights of Americans to form unions in our own workplaces--hence the rights of international workers seeking some kind of precedent contra "trade agreements." During this same time, household median incomes first stagnated (under Regan, Bush One and Clinton), then declined (under Bush Two and now Obama) for the first time in a century. It is a basic law of our bad economics that when people have less and less money, they have less purchasing power, and when they have less purchasing power, they buy fewer things and the heart of the economy--production and export--begins to sag. Major sectors begin to show cracks, then start to crumble, as we are less and less able to buy the very things that others, say, auto workers, would make. You hear this myth, generated as Republican talking points, that the problem with the auto sector is that people are buying foreign cars because they are better and cheaper, and that the reason for this is that the labor costs for foreign cars is lower. And who is to blame? The big bad unions. Everyone has heard this myth, but it is a myth. This global recession within a temporally unrelenting income gap, caused in large part by decades of structural erosion of the middle class, the busting of unions, the dismantling of labor laws, it's not just hurting American autos. It's hurting foreign manufacturers as well. Week after week Honda, Toyota, Nissan, are laying off their "cheaper" employees and shutting down their plants. Truth is, the difference in pay between American and foreign manufacturers is, on average, about $2.00 per hour. And that's causing our recession? Are you kidding? No, we are living at a time when the middle class is now teetering on non-existent, when everyone is taking out loans and leases, not purchasing, major products. It was only a matter of time before this was to occur: and the only structures holding this economy up right now are those of us either in unions or eligible to be in unions, that is, us.

So the way I see it, we have a great responsibility here. We are the protectors of our own livelihoods. Most of us are beginning to realize this. The reason I think I fall into that small category of Americans for who this realization occurred many years ago is simply due to luck, bad luck. I grew up in Detroit. I have been living in a recessionary state for most of my adult life. My family, like most families in Michigan, has direct ties to the auto industry. We've been through bankruptcies and fallen below the poverty line. And we are a hard working bunch. And so I suppose I understand that having the right to form a union is a good thing because for us, being in the UAW was the only way our family could have health care. And my mother and myself have chronic illnesses, which, absent health care, would kill us. It's not that I'm any smarter or wiser than other Americans who are just now realizing the damage breaking union contracts and worker's rights has done to this economy. It's just that I have had years of experience noting just how lucky we were to be able to be part of the UAW, to have real rights on the job in the best and worst of times (and the "best" of times in Detroit were no walk in the park). 

So I'm not trying to sound like some pundit when I say that what we need now is to pressure the you-know-what out of our elected officials, our Congressional leaders, and yes, our President to pass some very important legislation--the Employee Free Choice Act. This legislation would give workers more rights on the job at a time when we really need those rights. The legislation allows us to freely form unions without intimidation, to protect ourselves, and most importantly, the Employee Free Choice Act simply gives us back some of the rights we used to have when the economy was in good shape because of our hard work. I'll do it if you do it: call your Congressional leaders this week and tell them to vote for this very important legislation. Then, if you feel like I do, go and write other elected officials in more conservative states, try scare tactics if need be. These are desperate times. And as Obama showed this week, we as a working class are going to have to act if we are to maintain, let alone improve, our livelihoods. We cannot rely on politicians to get the job done for us.

David Wolach is a former member of the United Auto Workers, Local 2110 and Local 6000. He is now a professor of Creative Writing and Philosophy at The Evergreen State College, a Visiting professor in Bard College's Workshop In Language & Thinking, and editor of Wheelhouse Magazine .