Friday, December 31, 2010

Thank You

I haven't been blogging over the past few days, save for the abbreviated acknowledgments below. Over the past couple months, since my mother's death, I realized a while ago that I'd been using the blog, among other things--TV, internet searches for random stuff, and the like--more as way to avoid moving through this particular discomfort. Not that the sort of sociality of the blog doesn't provide me a means of accessing the poetic. Not, that is, that the transmission and thinking/feeling thru that the poetic affords here isn't itself restorative, or healing, because it is. But I realized that instead of corresponding also directly with those of you who'd reached out these past couple months, even in order that this space may be social, even additive to the social, I've largely kept it here. Which is a sort of hoard of such pleasures and curatives--beyond an avoidance of responding to you who have reached out, which is, beyond what friendship entails, also deeply restorative.

Besides poetry, teaching, and performing Maledetto & other works as part of Performance Research Group--contiguous activities that simultaneously gave me pleasure and escape, and under more ideal conditions a kind of actionable reconstitution--I avoided doing much else demanding that I interact with others, if even over email as follow up to you here, or as activism, etc. I've long been a social but rather solitary person, not particularly paradoxical, I think; the pain of my condition, and perhaps more so, its fatigue, I'm still somehow ashamed of? I must be, because instead of tell close friends I couldn't get back to them, to you who reached out, for several days or weeks because I was feeling unwell, or instead of telling friends or family that I hadn't gone out to the reading, say, because of the awful fatigue, I'd not say much of anything, contact when I could, and even then felt bad doing so--inadequate? Too late? A shitty friend? It's a complex set of emotions, and I think this is why I have trouble describing the phenomenon to the person who feels well, especially those who seek to care for and about me, especially since October. These social anxieties inevitably become part of the terrain as far as I understand the arc of unremitting illness. In any case, it was my mom's death, not just that she died but how she did, that she died so suddenly while I was on the other end of the line talking with my father, that I could hear the personnel come into the house and begin working on her, that I could hear it happening, that gave me a kind of excuse--?--to go from slow correspondent to off the grid save for the blog. That I think caused me to want to socialize but yet not, a state for which blogging is rather perfect--i.e. it's this aspect of blogging, not the interaction with the transformative that does happen for me, that can make such spaces far emptier than they need be. In short I was just sunk.

I don't write this as attention-seeking, nor does it fully explain my ego and all of those contradictions that define me, my relationship to you. But I was aware of what was happening, and yet it wasn't till recently that I woke up to the fact that it has been you, each of you--not to mention, literally mention, all of those who have cared so much for me, and do so still, regardless of whether you've contacted as of late--but each of you who have been so militantly watching out for me, who give me reason to write and do here--and elsewhere. Caring for and about me, looking after this body that's failed to reciprocate or even, at times, respond. Thank you for getting me through this shite time. Thank you all whose work I have written on here in the past couple months--the restorative potential of the poetic is, in part, its political valence, and despite my ineptitudes in correspondence, I feel better piece by piece for having written what I have. But there are other ways of becoming one can try to ignore without success, so here: thank you to those who have taken care of me lately and who I've largely failed to acknowledge. Thank you.

Thank you to my father and brother, Grant and Michael, for loving my messes.

Thank you to Elizabeth Williamson, for putting up with me for years, then caring for me as my partner--for letting me lean on you when I leaned on nobody else, and not just running away as I might have.

To Eden Schulz, the longest best friend I've ever had, for giving me a place to crash--my other home--and for taking care of me for a year when I first fell ill.

To Rob Halpern, for checking in on me like clockwork in that patient, loving way that I so admire, and sending me that amazing talk of yrs. I am lucky to have your friendship and your trust.

To Kate Robinson for taking such good care of Elizabeth and I and calling us and being there when we've needed you most. A sixth sense. For not killing me when co-designing Occultations!

To Maryam Gunja for also taking such amazing care of Elizabeth and I--your friendship means more to me than one dinner in NY this year, and I hope you know that.

To CA Conrad, for your loving support of me as person, not letting me get away with small talk this month when you knew I was forcing it--your love is too great for this planet, thank gods for aliens. I cannot possibly thank you for all you've done for me, writing in those huge CAPS when excited, or this month, worried for me.

To Brenda Iijima, for the long correspondence, that back and forth getting me thru the first two weeks of October--as if you knew exactly what I needed when. You did, and thank you.

To Thom Donovan for including me in every project discussion, all those invites, and for all those things you "like" on FB of mine--a way, I know it and am thankful for it, of saying, "glad you got out of yr head for awhile, keep it up!"

To Dottie Lasky, who is never far behind in your facebook likings, and never one who doesn't make me laugh--somehow, and on purpose, of course.

To David Buuck, for sending me books and all manner of correspondence--I always knew you weren't really grumpy. I DID know you were a good friend with a very decent heart.

To Jody Kohn for all those ridiculously corny E-cards. Honestly, I can't stand them. But you are too good to me, so things balance out.

To David Abel and Chris Daniels. I love both of you and have such respect for both of you and show quite the opposite. I love the friendship you two have developed over the years. I'm sorry for having not written you Chris and saying that, thanking you for all those beautiful books, not least yours, and that kindness when we took a walk in SF after you came to the Nonsite talk, for sharing with me words that resonate so deeply still; and David, for allowing me the opportunity to postpone dinner twice now, knowing we'll get there, all the while you keeping me in the loop just in case I come around.

To Eleni Stecopoulos, for your beautiful letters to me, and your beautiful book--your patience waiting for me to get to reviewing what should be in everyone's hands. For your Armies of Compassion.

To Mark Wallace and Lorraine Graham for your friendship, yr well wishes, and your understanding when I totally dropped out on hosting you in October.

To Leonard Schwartz for sending me condolences during difficult times--your friendship out here means more than I let on.

To Jules Boykoff and Kaia Sand and Rodney Koeneke: your persistent kindness is only matched by your political convictions. You gave us reprieve during a bad time, such a necessary one, and with such little fanfare. Thank you for being there.

To Sara Larsen and David Brazil, for your loving hospitality and the way you live...for friendships, poetry, social justice. I love that you both sign off with "Love," and mean it.

To Kevin Killian for thinking to send the photo and getting my good side.

To Nicole Mauro for continuing to work the Black Radish magic, publishing others' amazing books and yet still working on my book despite my near total absence on it as of late.

To Maida Rosenstein, my labor organizing mentor, for the note of condolences. This year Local 2110, with Maida as President, celebrated its 25th anniversary! Congrats. As one of the few radical left-wing unions led, for the most part, by African American and Latina women, I'm proud to have been a part of many negotiations, strikes, and recognition campaigns!

To all those Black Radishes who have provided much needed conversation, collaboration, cheerleading, and new-found friendships this year.

To Jane Sprague for telling me not to belittle my poetry--my labor.

To Thomas Bartscherer and Rebecca Smylie for being so patient and understanding waiting on what I promised to get you over a month ago now. Both of your notes were so kind.

To George Quasha for your new friendship and your new forthcoming book--to be able to meditate on your preverbs, how, like the stones, they balance impossibly, those lines that are visible and those that aren't.

To Sam Truitt, for your kindest wishes and your humor and your unfathomable "positive vibes." Above average, as you say.

To Catherine Taylor and Stephen Cope--for the love you've both sent over and again. It's an understated love for you on my part I apologize for, as understated as you are about your poetries. I'll cut it out. If you do.

To Debrah Morkun and Jamie Towsend, and Matt Landis, and Carlos Soto-Roman, you inspire the best in me. One of the last great times I had was with all of you--and it's a fantastic accident of history--or maybe Conrad and Frank's magic--that you've befriended each other, and you me. And all of you of NPPs, thank you.

To Michael Cross, Taylor Brady, and Tanya Hollis of Nonsite Collective, and all in the Collective, for your warmth and inviting me into the fold with open arms.

To Stephen Vincent for the beautiful haptic. I will always treasure that.

To Amber DiPietra and Petra Kuppers for your stunning work as poets and activists, and equally, for showing me that I should probably get off my ass and do.

To Frank Sherlock for your patience with my (non) correspondence. For your baritone and your psychogeopolitical and poetic drifts, real and imagined.

To Geoffrey Gatza for your patience and your understated work for BlazeVox, not just on my multimedia transliteration, but on all those books!

To Emily Carr for your beautiful insights and your directions for flying and that lasting image: smoking with Jack.

To Nicky Tiso. Thank you for your calls and emails. You are an amazing person. Let your love be known.

To Rachel Levitsky for reaching out to me over and again, and especially your kind check-ins these past weeks.

To N. Stephens for your letters: they are so rich I feel like publishing them. And they come unexpected, like most wondrous things.

To Rachel Zolf for everything this Oct. So patient and supportive. I wish we'd have had the time together to catch up and etc that I'd planned on. Next time.

To Laura Elrick for writing on my behalf, and with such incredible depth of relating. I look forward to meeting up in Feb.

To Joan Retallack for supporting my work, and for your mind, and your modeling for so many of us a pedagogy that is irreplaceable, though should be free. Thank you for all that administrative slogging on our behalf, and for your taking the time to write for me. Here's to a better and better time of it!

To Kristin Prevallet for your small, unexpected reprieves--and for showing me so much, always. For opening up all these friendships via Bard L&T. And most lately for your note and just before that a dinner during which the realization that "we're all fucking contradictions" made such sense to me I now keep that in my back pocket as one of a handful of mantras.

To Arun Chandra for gently pushing me out of doors as one of my few close friends here, helping us with so much despite no expectation for even a thanks, and so often--I secretly share in *some* of your skepticism of *some* contemporary poetry, and more importantly, I openly fist-pump your clarity and courage as a composer, and your unapologetic politics--the belief that art has a social function that isn't wrapped up in commodity fetishism.

To Tonya Foster for your note. Here, again, is to wishing us a truly happy new year.

To Erica Kaufman for your lasting friendship. Seeing you is rare and so good for me. Let's do that more often--since neither of us "do" email very well.

To Maryrose Larkin for inviting me into the world of Spare Rooms. For the back and forth that I know we both feel with such rawness. And so I look to you again.

To Christian Peet for your emerging friendship this year. Your loving advocacy for a just world I admire, though I worry it takes too much of you. It DOES make a difference, even if it's too slow day to day to see it.

To Nico Vassilakis and Robert Mittenthal for inviting me into Seattle poetry. I'm getting there slowly--literally. I deeply appreciate--and look forward to--our talks, even if I seem like I don't due to taking so long to come back. I-5 isn't the best excuse, so I'll stop with it.

To Robert Kocik for not just inspiring me for years now, but for your recent, kind, and so deeply considered correspondence. I apologize for taking so long getting back to you. To such a giving set of thoughts regarding what we are both obviously so passionate about.

To Will Owen for your invites and constant support of my work. And for your much appreciated support as of late. And, of course, for letting me use you as one of the windows into Vancouver poetry and politics. Reg, Aaron--such amazing people.

To Paige Clifton-Steele for last-second reading AND curating our last PRESS event, and to Megan Bontempo and Giana D'Emilio for doing ALL that running around and helping last-second for same. It fits an overall pattern.

To Lionel Lints. You are one of the best distractions. And one of the most loving people. Not a common combo. Thank you.

To James Yeary for going with the flow and collaborating on the spot with me. Great sport. Excellent impromptu performer and writer. Let's do that again?

To C.J. Martin, thanks for your well wishes, and for the amazing quotes you kept digging up.

To Reb Livingston for your note and for fixing my errors!

To B.T. Shaw for reaching out when we read together--your advice is still resonant, thank you.

To Sarah Mangold for being there from Oct onward, for your kind notes. It was great to finally see you again when you came out for the Maledetto performance. The conservative poetry anthology--I'm on it if you are.

To Robin Tremblay-McGaw for the well wishes and the updates regarding mutual friends, not to mention Bay Area poetry.

To Meghan and Caitlin Doyle for taking care of my father and I. For all the food. I'm sorry for your recent troubles. If I was a better friend I'd have known about them. Hang in there.

To Clay Banes for all your help over at SPD. And of course to everyone at SPD. But Clay, you've been so responsive and don't get the props often enough, I'm sure. And your recent note--thank you.

To all friends over at FB who sent their condolences, thank you. It meant a lot.

To everyone in the collaborative performance group--you're outstanding.

To McKenzine Carrigan for your recent note of condolences--I'm sorry I didn't write you back a much needed thanks.

And to my students this past semester--thank you for sticking with me and picking up the slack.

Because I've been so distracted and depressed there are doubtless several friends that have been reaching out to me and that I forgot to acknowledge here. I hope you know that I love and appreciate you. And that, more importantly, I'm resolved this year to express that more often, and more directly.

Sarah Fox // Faves of 2010

Many thanks to Sarah Fox and eds at Montevidayo for including Occultations as one of several favorite reads of 2010. Love Fox's list, regardless of Occultations' inclusion, as it offers those students in my class, for example, a quick reference to a visionary aesthetico-politics of the body. Check it out...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

& Same Regarding David Buuck...

Thanks too, to David Buuck for the shout-out on Michael Cross's The Disinhibitor (see post below). By the way, check out this blog (press link on the blogroll or below)--it offers excellent short analyses, and importantly, long excerpts of poetry, essay, talk. Excellent resource for those looking for new works, aforementioned shout-outs notwithstanding.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sara Larsen's Favorite Art Moments of 2010

I'm working on (and off on) a post currently as to why, save for this post, I'm not blogging till the new year. Which includes a shout out to Sara Larsen and David Brazil, and so when I noticed Sara's shout out in the other direction, the both of us yet triangulating on the same slice of space-time, I figured I'd better acknowledge that first. So, many thanks to Sarah for including the reading Rob Halpern and I did in the Bay this past summer, and our respective works, Rob's Trolley's Kind and my Occultations, as one of her favorite art moments of 2010--Favorite Things is published by Michael Cross over at his The Disinhibitor blog. Indeed, certainly one of my favorite art moments of 2010 too. Perhaps simpliciter.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Many thanks to Kevin Killian, Susana Gardner, Steve Evans, and commenters for collaborating to make Occultations, my new book from Black Radish Books, a frequently mentioned/reviewed title of 2010. Thanks also to Lars Palm and Ungovernable Press for publishing a chapbook of poems in 2009, book alter(ed), some of which ultimately wound up included in Occultations as parts of a section of the same title. Happy new decade, all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some of Us Are Old Farts Now

Writer-artist Dorothee Lang and her The Blueprint Review (also editor of the Daily s-Press, and now the ongoing blog anthology Language + Place - yes, she has what seems to be an endless amount of energy) has teamed up with the folks at Tarpaulin Sky to sketch out a list of some of the earliest online literary zines. Check it out. Many of the zines are still going, and range from starting in 1995 to the early zeros. Do also check out Language + Place, also a very cool project.

Alligator Zine: Levinson, Alexander

Stochastic Model of X-Ray Emission from Interstellar Winds

Woke up this morning. Woke up this afternoon to my daily ritual: meditate, read a little bit if not for shits and giggles then in order to fully use my prefrontal cortex for whatever lifting needs get done, get down to work. Work for awhile, feel the unusual fatigue of sickness, blog. Return to work. Nowadays I'm lucky to get four, five hours in. It's why, in part, I'm so slow with everything--would like to say it's a matter of taking care, but it's not entirely that, sometimes not at all. I dislike that it gets dark out so early. The dark is only good insofar as there is something to contrast it to. Anyhow, I woke this morning. Woke up this afternoon and checked my email (dreaded, hardly ever do that), and the first thing occurring after the requisite penis enlargement, big-breasted, British lotto correspondence w/pics, was a kind email from Wheelhouse contributor Heller Levinson saying hello, sending me a link to Alligator Zine, which has just lately published a collaboration between Levinson and artist Linda Lynch (see front page). The term "underrated" came to mind as I read slash took in the work, this very dreamlike and sort of magical poetry--laden with movement via sonic play--echoing the dancerly whirring of the sketches. Then I thought that that term was awful and wondered why anyone would use it for anything. Does anyone truly want to be "correctly rated" or "appropriately rated"? Rated? "Underrepresented," ? no, that's a term that should be reserved for humans and human communities and requires impersonal wrongs and their acknowledgment, and it says things about this interior that either term would be tried out as the caboose for reflection summary after reading. Unlike for Heller or for Elizabeth--she's reading The Book of Frank in bed right now in prep for a collaborative review discussion, I just poked my head in after relieving myself and checking on the coffee (full)--these my recesses (strikethru possessive but not now) they must be shaped by rationalistic taxonomy, drawn to reductionisms, perhaps conditioned by years of baseball and later, Goodreads. Stars, checks, Xs out some finite number of each. Usually 3, 4 or 5. "Levinson's work is often a 5 but he doesn't get the credit for it." "Levinson's work is underrepresented." What could this knee-jerk shorthand-shopping mean? One's vocabulary has higher stakes than a 70s open classroom, not-what-you-think-but-how-you think pedagogy discloses--cf. how the speaker is either pushed into or absorbed by taxonomic and also racial connotation, the combination sick?... upon... reflection. Will Alexander is one of the editors of this exciting virtual international hub Alligator Zine. Will Alexander's work is under-read (spell check says this term is unfamiliar enough to need a hyphen). Is what upon reflection I believe I figured. His Above the Human Nerve Domain from Pavement Saw (1998) was one of the first contemporary poetry books--like, having just come out shortly before reading it--that got me excited in the way Emily Dickinson had, or WW, or whoever had electrified me in the Detroit public library during the gas shortage and for several years after until leaving it back there. I was writing my first poems back there and I wanted to find a way out of this skin and into that one or that one. I was also studying for neuroscience in college, and physics, in college, which is a kind of alchemy, and here was a book that dreamed up new languages using these long lines, so long they'd have to spill over after reaching the lip of the extra-long book, using alchemical recipes this creole vocab--physics/magic/philosophy/English/Politics with a small p American Standard English--metaphor heavy and elliptical and with a precision that balled all it up, made a pin-like thing which got under your skin like a pin can, just beneath the first two layers no pain but a nervy sensation and an effect of self-surgery, feeling of accomplishment of discovery and limber accessorizing. In 2006 when I started in earnest on writing Occultations, one of the sections I was working on at the time was Your Nerve Center Taxonomy, and although I wouldn't expect anyone to assume it, the title for that section, that series of poems and procedures I hoped would empty me of taxonomic systems-scientism and decenter me, marginalize the me-me directorate choking off other parts (hands? liver?) not-numb to the material horrors such enactments were confronting (by leaks, many now terroristic), that section's title was lovingly referencing (as way, perhaps, of saying "here is a movement beyond but not forgetful of a kind of monological tyranny") and yet also critiquing (are these automatisms, Alexander's book or these poems here, inert bi-products of an ill-timed, ill-conceived strategy set? And anyhow rationalistic besides--one decides to dream, no?) Alexander's Above the Human Nerve Domain. Elizabeth has gotten up and break's almost over--time to get back to the other fictions. I was, long point made, quite distracted by Levinson and Lynch's new, beautiful work, and Will Alexander's, and the figuring that both should be read, or anyhow maybe written on, more than they are.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Unapologetically Vocational & Necessary"

Today I'm rolling my occasional Elective Affinities check-in (meaning: check it out) into a heads up about the new installment over at Thom Donovan and Participants' Others Letters. EA features David Brazil this week--among several really outstanding contributors in the past month and more since I wrote about the journal. Brazil, from "Understanding the Material Practices of Glamour":

sk for bread of what's to come,

"the world is coming to an

end & no one cares,"

vide second epigraph, American

Psycho, also Talking Heads.

I love, among other things, David's use of heavy enjambment here. The words otherwise spare form line parts that sear on follow-thru. Plus there's DB's collision of the allegorical with, sure, the pop-iconographic, but more than that--synthesized, references bring us smack into a present tense, where objects get their auras back, or in any case become subjective and wrapped up in a relation between ethics and memory. Which is what, in part, the fantastic Alli Warren-DB correspondence touches on, with Warren's simple but totally important question about the function or use of poetry-preoccupation is in a time of social-political catastrophe, setting in motion a rich, long response from DB. Check out the materials via the links above.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Year's Resolution Reading List & Kaia Sand's Remember to Wave

Ok, enough with the lists! But no. First, I am surprised that Remember to Wave by Kaia Sand, one of my favorite books I've read, period, is a 2010 release. I thought 2009, and that I listed it last year as such--also NO--so didn't include it in my No Tell Motel list of recommended titles from 2010. This is partly Arun Chandra's fault--my musical composer friend and collaborator--since he's borrowed it. But I should have looked it up. My apologies, Kaia. If you're reading this post (the other you, not Kaia) and haven't read this Tinfish title, do so--it's a rich, and, I feel, exciting book (as I noted recently in writing on Laura Elrick's Stalk).

Also. I confess that there are dozens of books I'd like to buy. Unique as I often am, desire unfulfilled, plus listing books I've read and loved this year, got me thinking about what ten books of the dozens I've window shopped and said "I want that" and I daydream about, wondering often: "what's inside that thing?" I am resolved, as per late capitalist guideline 2104A (see further the Cable News Act of 1992 and the FCC's Television Advertising Volume Act of 2001), to do, which is to say to buy, some thing or things that are "good for me." That will, in the sense that this vaguely Christian notion implies, better me. This we call the New Year's Resolution. A rule nearly as lawlike, to be followed almost to the letter, nearly as iron clad, as the corporate messaging that's implied it. So, what 10 books that have come out in the past year am I hereby resolved to purchase? Which, in seriousness means should get as holiday gift to another but will instead purchase by my birthday and keep and cherish and read and most likely fall for? In no particular order:

1) Michael Cross, Haecceities from Cuneiform Books
2) Lisa Robertson, R's Boat, U of California Press
3) N. Stephens, We Press Ourselves Plainly, Nightboat
4) Chris McCreary, Undone: a fakebook, Furniture Press (which published the highly recommended, really amazing 2009 Directions for Flying by Emily Carr, see our interview & review in the "reviews" sidebar link to the right to read it)
5) Laura Moriarty, A Tonalist, Nightboat
6) Tyrone Williams, The Hero Project of the Century, The Backwaters Press
7) Elizabeth Bryant, (nevertheless enjoyment, Quale Press
8) Eileen Myles, Inferno, OR Books
9) Bhanu Kapil, Humanimal, Kelsey Street Press
10) Tonya Foster, A Swarm of Bees in High Court (forth.), Belladonna Books/Futurepoem, 2011

Here's to hoping that in the next 6 months I get a raise. I read slowly, so nearly two books a month feels about right. I'd love some suggestions. Because I also don't get out much.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Action Alert LGTB Resolution

Demand that the Member States of the United Nations condemn extrajudicial, summary andarbitrary executions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Act Now!

UN Votes on LGBT Lives

This Monday, December 20th, the
United Nations General Assembly will vote on whether to include protection for LGBT people in a crucial resolution on extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings. This resolution urges States to thoroughly and promptly investigate all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, even on the basis of sexual orientation.

This is extremely important because it is the only UN resolution ever to include explicit reference to sexual orientation.

The resolution passed successfully for the past ten years. However in a UN committee just last month, a number of States proposed to remove the reference to sexual orientation. Shockingly, this amendment passed. Seventy-nine States voted to remove the reference to sexual orientation, 70 supported its retention, and 43 States abstained or did not vote. This amounted to a serious defeat for
LGBT rights at the UN.

On Monday, we have an opportunity to turn this around. States will have the chance to restore the reference to sexual orientation – and hopefully extend it to also include
gender identity – when the resolution is voted on by the full UN General Assembly.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Speaking of Recommendations...CJ Martin's WIW?3 and Delete Press, Redux

It's now been almost a year since I promised to write a review of CJ Martin's Delete Press chapbook WIW?3. In all honesty, I totally forgot to collate my notes into a review, and as a result it stalled. I don't usually promise to review (essay) on work unless I am prepared to immediately begin note-taking and whatnot and collating, really start writing on the work, especially here where I try out unruly ideas. Which I didn't, leaving for summer teaching instead. Jared Schickling's new and quite exciting Econlinguistics mail-journal project, along with just now ordering his new book from BlazeVox, Zero's Blooming Excursion (the excerpts I've read are stunning), that got me to suddenly, and with some anxiety, realize I'd forgotten about Martin's work. Martin, who is also co-editor of the always-innovative journal Little Red Leaves (and E-Chap Series--look for the awesome new chap from Tina Darragh), we featured in our Wheelhouse Issue 9. (Schickling's work will be featured in our next regular issue.) Martin's critical work is also outstanding: his reading of Rob Halpern's Disaster Suites in the critical ON Journal (No. 2), beyond being incredibly insightful, employs an array of ideas about fractured (Martin: "cosmetic") lyric, each of which has influenced my thinking, and, indeed, writing.

Anyhow, one can always get to writing on work--and as it turns out, Martin sent me (which I also forgot)--other work from the ongoing series WIW? All 3 installations published can be (should be, if possible) ordered thru their respective publishers. So, in lieu of what should be a review of the work already at hand, an apologetic IOU (it WILL get written before I'm dead), plus an, er, gulp, nearly 1-year anniversary "reprint" of my bumping into this astounding (I mean daring, pushing at the limits of text arts, that which I've never seen the likes of before...) book of Martin's, and press called Delete. My bad book artist eye nonetheless caught the latter's unusual level of care in making the hand-bound limited edition chapbook, which made me query further. So I wrote to C.J and the folks at Delete Press. What I got back was a mini-essay from Schickling. Reprinted below, from the, er, archives:

New News: Delete Press

In writing a review of CJ Martin's latest book, out from the new Delete Press, I asked Crane Giamo, one of the editors, for background information on Delete. Martin's chapbook, WIW?3, part of a series, is startlingly good, really one of the best books of poetry I've read this year (which is why I'm SLOWLY writing a review of it), yet as amateur book artist, I couldn't help but delve into the object itself. The book is beautifully constructed, coptic bound, the cardstock thick and letterpressed typesetting gorgeous. Each comes with its own handmade sleeve (again, beautiful). All materials (I think) are recycled. So, I emailed Delete and asked them what gave rise to this new press, as well as how they worked with CJ. The latter will be another post--here I'll just say that Crane said they worked quite closely with CJ throughout on the design of the book. For now, I want to pass along what Crane forwarded me--fellow editor Jared Schickling's mission statement, or mini-essay-as-response to my question.

Why Delete Press?


We start interning at a university-affiliated journal and notice a number of things right off the bat. Despite advertising itself as a journal seeking “new” and “upcoming” writers, suggesting that unsolicited submissions have a fighting chance of getting through the selection process, the journal’spermanent editorial board solicits the vast majority of its published material. These editors, English department faculty and staff, solicit work from writers they admire and from their friends, and it’s common for an issue to contain not one unsolicited poem. Someone working in the field tells us one builds a successful journal through solicitations, which we believe is true. Our problems are with the posturing of the journal and the quality of the work finally printed. Most of the work that we see reach publication is mired in popular and established models of writing and thinking being pushed and explored in mostly prominent English departments. We notice how many poems, often in obtuse ways, use all the coveted buzzwords of the day—“location,” “Other,” “cartography,” etc.

But perhaps our biggest problem is the manner in which unsolicited manuscripts are treated. They go through an evaluation process resembling an assembly line. A row of graduate students read the same manuscripts successively—if at any point a reader doesn’t like one, that manuscript is rejected. There is little conversation—one likes it or one doesn’t. We notice that the most mild, broadly appealing poetry can get through all those different readers, many of whom seem new to the manifold worlds of innovative, contemporary, at times underground poetry of the past century. Furthermore, if at any time a manuscript manages to satisfy all of these readers, hungry and curious and perhaps easily excitable at “discovering” titillating poets and poetry, the work still has to pass that issue’s lead editor. (Return to first point; and note that student readers are students of thepermanent editorial board.)

The press that publishes the journal also runs an annual book contest. We literally despise every book that wins, aware of the innovative, important, and more interesting work happening elsewhere at presses that aren’t asking reading fees, submitting artistic endeavors to a “contest,” nor offering cash prizes. The contest model amounts to extortion. Artists, such as many writers are, will produce and distribute their work in the absence of support from markets, academies and presses. History shows this. Writers don’t need presses. Presses, however, need writers. As we work with five different presses currently, we’ll add that we value the work many editors and publishers are doing. They give us our books and digital media in aesthetically pleasing formats, and in this can do a great honor and service to a writer’s work. They create space in which a work may live. But how is it that we’ve arrived at a moment where publication with wide distribution, cash prizes, and the institutional praise attending that are the barometers by which the work of a press is valued and comes to be desired? To suggest that this isn’t the case is to simply deny the actual situation. We have a publisher friend who can’t tell us one title published by such-and-such press, but yet he wants his press to affiliate with theirs and be welcomed into its larger community of writers and presses—why? And he requires, by requiring contest fees, that writers support him financially in his endeavor, as his press’s books aren’t selling as well as he’d like. What values are exposed in this situation? Presses requiring reading fees will argue it’s the only way to sustain their projects—but do we need presses that can’t sustain themselves by virtue of the work they’re producing? Why do we go to presses? What exactly are we looking for?

The problems with the contest model also include the nature of judging. The ideal judge for a contest is one that meets with the press’s aesthetic, and one who is famous, making the contest look attractive to aspiring writers, thereby attracting more submissions and the accompanying fees. The writer thinks, “If Eileen Myles or Billy Collins or…would only choose…endorse my work,” and thus, the winning manuscript will be one that conforms to pre-existing notions of what constitutes “winning” poetry. It is not possible to run an “ethical” contest despite the lip service couched in the CLMPCode of Ethics. The contest model of publishing is antithetical to the health and evolution of poetry and its forms.

We quit to work with a smaller press doing chapbook contests with the occasional full length. The contests continue to prove disappointing—in six or seven contests we are excited for one manuscript, but the judge doesn’t choose it. The founders of the press admit to publishing work in which they have no interest. They hand their most important decisions over to someone whose interests are not necessarily in line with the publishers’ needs and desires. So again the question, whom and what is the press serving? All the while various ideas on how to publish work that excites us are mired in what ifs that are irrelevant, centering on how to create a popular and commercially viable press. Instead of engaging in more satisfactory work, all we do is talk about it, a discussion accounting matters perpetually sidetrack. A few of us talk it over and decide the nature of the aspiration—success, fame—is the problem, a dumb dream masking the fact that evolutionary poetry begins as an unknown, and often remains so throughout its author’s life.

We decide it will be possible to run a self-sustaining press by soliciting and publishing work we deem important. Period. The trick will be to choose truly (according to our lights) outstanding work, to put much care into the construction of the book, and to do this in small, limited edition print runs that don’t cost too much. The measure of “too much” will be something we can’t afford funding out-of-pocket. It may seem idealistic to suggest that a press doesn’t need to rely on reading fees in order to happen, that it can sustain itself on the quality of the work it produces, in light of how few consumers of poetry there are and the many presses they already know and can choose from. But here we are with our first print run almost sold out and our money investment returned. We put this next to our remembrances of boxes stuffed with contest winners and journals from ten years ago awaiting their readers. We don’t try to account for the possible truth involved with our own dream, other than to say that we have faith that other readers and writers share our vision—where the quality of the work is all that matters—we have faith that there will be buyers for work that hasn’t thought once in terms of posterity, popularity or commerce.

We won’t suggest that vanity and conflicting interests do not attend this experiment called Delete Press. We benefit in ways that have little to do directly with its work, and we appreciate those benefits. But we run the press with the interests of the press in mind, because we’re whores to poetry.

At No Tell Motel Blog - 10 Recommended Titles

Many thanks to Reb Livingston, one of the hardest working poets-editors out there. For again featuring No Tell Motel contributor holiday poetry recommendations and "best of" lists (a way to highlight one's favorite books from this year, hence various authors and small presses) through December.

The list of some of the poetry books that blew me away from this year is up at No Tell Motel as of this morning. Of course, as Reb knows, were we to have much more room than 2-10 books, most of us would easily have tripled the number of books we list, perhaps ending the blog as we know it. The Book of Frank (obviously) comes to mind. But I listed the Chax edition last year. I forgot to list Sonja Sekula, by Kathrin Schaeppi (hadn't come out when I first made the list), out of my publisher Black Radish Books. That's a daring book, and beautiful. I could easily pick any one title from Essay Press. Or the last three releases from Belladonna Books, each excellent. Same can be said of the books Litmus Press puts out. Or Alli Warren's chapbook from OMG (still need to get her other books). Or, though it's late 2009, Debrah Morkun's Projection Machine from BlazeVox, a stunner. Or I could have stretched it a little and gone for the Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater. To me probably one of the most important releases of the last several years, but not a single-author book (or straight up collab, etc.). Or Joan Retallack's--gorgeous.

So I figured on setting myself some narrowing rules: try to go for presses and/or authors I didn't list but could have last year (mix it up); list books that haven't been listed by other contributors (OK, Dottie Lasky's Black Life, but hell--that's a fantastic book). And try to go for the not-as-obvious, i.e., works that maybe get critical attention and are by authors that you've read before, but aren't works that basically every poet or reader has heard of. That's a hard one, since I really have no idea what you've heard of or not. I'm a hermit who lives in the woods. Anyway. Check out the No Tell Motel blog for further gift ideas. Ho. Ho. Ho.

POSTSCRIPT: read this just recently on break from work (read, blog = my break). So speaking of recommendations, here's this prose-poetic short by Amber DiPietera. Published at Tarpaulin Sky some time ago. Wow. Wow...

Friday, December 17, 2010


My notes/analysis of Kenneth Gaburo's Maledetto and Rick Burkhardt's essay on Maldetto is now available online HERE. For any interested. For those who are low vision, I've made the type bigger, so if you had trouble reading the older blog post from which I wrote the essay, this will hopefully help a little bit.

Brilliant poet and performer Holly Melgard, former student of poetry & poetics at Evergreen, just wrote me to say she's been writing on Gaburo's work as of late. And, as of late, Holly's also been doing some readings around town. Here's one.

Bard College's Language & Thinking Program, where I teach every summer, has a new blog, which I hope to contribute to soon. Check it out. Posts by Erica Kaufman and other faculty; Joan Retallack news, etc. Excellent resource for former, current, and future Bard students, but also generally for those interested in alternative, progressive pedagogy and experimental writing.

I'm rounding out my syllabus for winter semester here at Evergreen, a course titled "Transgressive Art/The Transgressive Body." On poetics & politics of embodiment &. Primarily a creative writing course, but wherein we'll look at several texts, film, and other artistic media in investigating the relationships between "the body" (a set of social-linguistic constructions, western and non) and "a body" (what in the west we often take to be the material, or corporeal, entity that moves or talks or breathes - i.e., a material instance of what in part helps determine western concepts of "the body"...), and works of art that narrate, critique or otherwise speak to or use these constructions, from live art to performative poetry, from post-ableist poetry to experimental video and text arts that interrogate or critique heteronormativity. So, in the home stretch, I'd be thankful for any suggestions regarding short readings, short filim/video, or other works (expository too), western or non, that you feel are either musts for such a course were you teaching it in a couple weeks. Or suggestions for any work that's perhaps not central but maybe often overlooked or not well known and you feel is important. Happy for any suggestions, so if you wrote something and you think we could use it, or should--let me know. So, feel free to make suggestions and converse via the comments form, or to email me backchannel. I'm especially looking for open source or otherwise free readings or works that we pay for but are inexpensive small press texts. Last, I'm looking for work that can serve students with varying degrees of experience in text arts/poetry-poetics, as this is an all level course, not an advanced or senior course. The syllabus is basically complete, but I'd like for students to look at at least a couple items not familiar to us, which right now means me since the course has yet to begin. Thanks, all!

SPT Spring Schedule, Feb 18: David Wolach, Laura Elrick & Lara Durback

I'm pleased to announce that, likely right in time for the release of a 2nd, slightly updated edition (w/full print run) of my new book Occultations, I'll be heading to the Bay to read alongside Laura Elrick and Lara Durback for SPT on Feb 18. This reading and discussion is part of the spring season, and one of several readings/discussions that will make up the series At the Borders: Intersections of Politics and Practice. I'm thrilled to read alongside Laura and Lara. Laura's work I've loved for many years; it's been deeply influential (sorry, Laura) to my own thinking and writing. And Lara Durback's work I've just now come to and was blown away by it, thanks to David Buuck who sent me Durback's Zine Chapbook. I wrote a brief rec. review of it here a couple weeks ago, which will appear over at No Tell Motel for Reb Livingston's holiday recommendations in a week or so.

Many, many thanks to Samantha Giles for the invite, and to all of those folks who've worked on the spring schedule, making the lineup below possible. Wish I could stay a month... at very least I'll have to come back for an event or two as I begin a spring-summer reading schedule on the west & east coasts. From SPT's blog, here is that lineup:

We are so excited to announce our upcoming season! Please come be a part of our 37th year of providing a venue for some of our most interesting and daring minds!

*all events begin at 7:30pm
Friday and Saturday January 28 and 29, 2011
10th Annual Poets Theater Extravaganza
with plays by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, David Brazil and Evan Kennedy, Laynie Browne, Christine Choi and Drew Fernando, Tom Comitta, Corina Copp, C.S. Giscombe, Brent Cunningham, Ariel Goldberg, Rodrigo Toscano and more!
Timken Hall, CCA SF_________________________________________________

Friday, February 11, 2011 At the Borders: Intersections of Politics and Practice
with readings and discussions by Sueyuen Juliette Lee and Maxi Kim
with special guest Jackqueline Frost
Timken Hall, CCA, SF__________________________________________________

Friday, February 18, 2011 At the Borders: Intersections of Politics and Practice
with readings and discussions by David Wolach and Laura Elrick
with special guest Lara Durback
Timken Hall, CCA, SF__________________________________________________

Sunday March 6, 2011 The Document: An investigation in the remains
Co-sponsorship with ATA and the Poetry Center
The New Talkies hosted by Jen Hofer and Konrad Steiner
with Tisa Bryant, Jennifer Nellis, Ron Palmer, Erin Morrill and C.S. Giscombe

Artist Television Access, SF________________________________________________

Friday, March 11, 2011The Document: An investigation in the remains
with readings and discussions byThalia Field and Allison Cobb
with a special guest Erin Morrill
Timken Hall, CCA SF________________________________________________

Friday, March 18, 2011The Document: An investigation in the remains
Divya Victor and Brian Kim Stefans
with special guest Meg Day
Timken Hall, CCA SF________________________________________________

Friday, April 8, 2011 At the Borders: Intersections of Politics and Practice
with readings and discussions by Jena Osman and Brian Whitener
with special guest Ted Rees
Mackey Hall, CCA Oakland_______________________________________________

Friday, April 22, 2011 The Document: An investigation in the remains
with readings and discussions by K. Silem Mohammad and Rodney Koeneke
with special guest Lindsey Boldt

Mackey Hall, CCA Oakland_______________________________________________

Saturday May 21, 2011The Reliquarium
featuring an auction of reliquary objects representing the artistic DNA of the smart and famous.
venue: TBA________________________________________________

Friday May 27, 2011
Join us for the launch of th Leslie Scalapino Lecture in 21st century poetics with Joan Retallack

Timken Hall, CCA SF__________________________________________________________