Saturday, July 31, 2010

What Can YOU Do In 20 Days? I Can Help Set Precedent Against Reclamation of Public Spaces

Woke up today prepared to sit down and write up my Nonsite talk notes on commoning & the body; get back to Robert Kocik, who sent me an AMAZING essay on commoning; do some prep for Bard, for which I leave in 2 days. Instead: slumlord of ours gave us 20 days notice to move out, outlined over email. I'll be 3,000 miles away, we said. I'll be unable to put down for a house if we have to move this quickly, I said. Asshole won't budge. I forget her name but will seditiously post it here--apologies for such a delay, not on a first name basis with my slumlord. Gotta run & go look at a house rental. So, instead of getting into the intricacies of ball-gag property law, that of the need to mortgage away one's body to the bank in order to escape immediate harm, thereby also giving up, via becoming the conduit for land ownership the potential to organize against long-term structural enclosure models, e.g., by giving my body over to friends (and thus another structural model), I'll leave you with this, copied from from Alli Warren's blog :

"If I should demand of the poor man of the country what thing he thinks to be the cause of Sedition, I know his answer. He would tell me that the great farmers, the graziers, the rich butchers, the men of law, the merchants, the gentlemen, the knights, the lords, and I cannot tell who; men that have no name because they are doers in all things that any gain hangs upon. Men without conscience. Men utterly void of God's fear. Yea, mean that live as though there were no God at all! Men that would have all in their own hands; men that would leave nothing for others; men that would be alone on the earth; men that be never satisfied. Cormorants, greedy gulls; yea, men that would eat up men, women, and children, are the causes of Sedition. They take our houses over our heads, they buy our grounds out of our hands, they raise our rents, they levy (yea, unreasonable) fines, they enclose our commons!"

~ Robert Crowley

Friday, July 30, 2010

Stephen Vincent's Haptic

click images to enlarge

As response to my Nonsite talk / conversation on commoning & the body (post & Nonsite web contribution coming soon), on the heels of a reading the night before (chronicled on Michael Cross's blog), Stephen Vincent made one of his beautiful "haptics." These are energy translations, or in his terms, made by picking up on the energy of the voices/poetry in the room & letting the pen move without picking it up from the paper. The relational results are beautiful. As is this one, which Stephen sent me. Really touched--many thanks to the absolutely lovely, genuine Stephen.

I sent the haptic to Clay Banes for his tireless efforts to support Occultations & the small presses over at SPD. The below is what he sent back. Love it. Circuit complete. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Upcoming Readings-Performances

From Cadmium Text Blog: photo of the abandon mine where we will be performing @ The 20th Annual Subterranean Poetry Festival

Many thanks to the curators of the Cadmium Text Series (Anne Gorrick et al), Joe Milford (of the Joe Milford Poetry Show), and the NPP Series curators (New Philadelphia Poets, including Debrah Morkun, who has been in contact with me re this particular reading). I'll be reading-performing work with a great group of artists at the end of August & 1st week of Sept before hitting the west coast again:

  • 20th Annual Subterranean Festival: Saturday Aug 28, 1pm (in the Cave) -- including: Druis Beasley, Cara Benson, Steve Cotten, Geof Huth, Maryrose Larkin with Eric Matchett, Sharon Mesmer, Wayne Montecalvo, Lori Anderson Moseman with Tom Moseman, Michael Peters, Richard Rizzi, R. Dionysius Whiteurs with Phillip Levine and David Wolach 
                      Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 1pm
                      The Widow Jane Mine 
                      at Century House Historical Society
                      Rosendale, NY 12472
                      A $5 donation is suggested. This event is a benefit for CHHS.
                      For directions, kindly visit the website for 

***PS: just found out, after posting this, that CA Conrad is hosting "Transgressors," a multiple author reading next to the DOW CHEMICAL plant in Philly. Go Conrad! And: the lineup is fab, includes Holly Melgard, a friend, a great poet/performance artist, and former student. Wish I could go. Check out the website / details HERE.

JULY 31ST, 2010
sw corner of sixth and market, philly
poetry readings by


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bay Area Reflections 1

Since I spent three days in the Bay Area, I figured I'd write three posts reflecting on the trip, going chronologically (what is time for, really, but the internet?). First full night there Rob Halpern and I gave a reading for David Brazil & Sara Larsen's Life Long Dream Come True Series, which, it turns out, was the final one. Some observations:

Rob, Lee, Elizabeth & I get out of the car & head up the walkway to the house, run into Chris Daniels, who heads up with us. Both of us are still on a high from an evening of reading, discussion & late night talk with David Abel at Evergreen last month, when the two read for the PRESS Series. A relief to see Chris, very happy to see him. When together there's some good silences; much like with Rob, I don't have to say anything sometimes. We're speaking in that way, & his calling all of us "human creatures" I think about often, thought about then, challenge myself to be that human creature he demands of us, himself included. We talked nonetheless thru the night, feel like we've known each other for a hundred years.

We go inside & David & Sara greet us. Get big hugs from both. David's embrace is crushing - nice, and I can't help think about how he could stand similar care about now. Embrace is genuine & happy. David & Sara are so lovely, their house is so inviting--just kind people. Period. More on both in my next installment. Brandon Brown is there too, very kind person--his work has influenced mine, from poetry to (contiguously) pedagogy, thankful for that. Of course I can't put faces to names at all, so don't even know who he is, despite having big lettering "BROWN" on his shirt, which is brown. Owe him an email to say thanks for existing. Same for Bruce Boone, who is also there by the time we get to the house, & who was mythic to me before then, his Century of Clouds crucial to my understanding of poetry, counter-narrative, what Halpern has got me calling the "insurrection" of performed speech (I'd forgotten about that, & am returning to the term's active verb from, "insurrects," as it's spot-on).  So, blown away by that, & I think to myself that Bruce Boone is not only a great poet, but he's a good dresser & handsome. 

Anyway, soon a bunch of people arrive, house gets packed. Lots of energy--frenetic but also careful, generous in ways I don't remember NYC having been, at least not consistently. Carrie Hunter shows up, part of Black Radish Books, really good to finally meet her, & I'm editing her manuscript right now, which is kick ass. Of course by the time I get my edits back to her it'll be published, & probably for the better. A bunch of us on the long stairway of David & Sara's house leading up to the front door, nice night. Meet Joceyln Saidenberg, whose Negativity (Atelos) is awesome, & find that the title isn't operative as moniker - she herself is decidedly not negative... good, short conversation about Evergreen. No sooner does that conversation end, then Lindsay Boldt (Evergreen grad) and recent grad & designer of Occultations, Kate Robinson, show up. Kate reads with me later on. Lindsay reads the following evening (another post to come about that reading, wow). Two really lovely folks show up - Ted Rees & Brian Ang, both fine poets, good politics. Alli Warren, Dana Ward, Lauren Shufran, & Erika Staiti are among several poets whose work I really love but who I only briefly got to say hello to. Then a cadre of students from the 95 Cent Skool show up, which was really cool, as I got to talk about how that was going--all were excited for the thing to start in a couple days, all really interesting people. By now the stairs and rooms have become packed, David Buuck has shown up--great to see him again, looking forward to seeing him again when school starts up at Bard in a week--and we get down to reading, Rob & I.

My reading, don't know about how it went other than that I really fed off the energy the people there gifted me. It was one of the most pleasurable, familial (or better, communal) feelings I've had reading/performing, which unless done by machines (multi-media) or by machines plus other players (usually the case), I get cranky about, timid, intimidated, anxious, etc. None of that this evening, liked that close proximity to people, the interaction, the lack of mediation between myself and other human creatures. 

Rob's reading was terrific, simply uncanny. Intense, funny, coded--as he sits in a chair with Michael Cross's wiener dog w/blanket next to him. Two pieces: first was a short excerpt from his forthcoming Music for Porn (more on that later), & then a longer piece, a very early short story that came out of Dodie Bellamy's workshop back in, I think, 1995, published in full in 98. David Brazil republished the first part of "Trolley's Kind" in the new issue of Try, along with some poems of mine, his, & others affiliated with the events of the weekend, much devoted to commoning. All I can say is READ THIS PIECE. Wish it'd been recorded, as tho Rob read with the intensity he always does, reaching a kind of zone that is simply eviscerating, this piece was his going back, rediscovering older work with some level of comfort about it now, about that time, indeed prose, which surprised me despite his pushing narrative in newer work. The reading allowed us to share in that recovery, which ultimately made for the most intimate of gestures. 

The night ended with some after-reading conversation with Taylor Brady and Michael Cross, Elizabeth, David & Sara, Chris, Rob, Lee--a few of us remaining till the end as we wound down. At this point I forget what we were talking about, as I was (I know, this sounds sappy) just completely satiated, actually calm for the first time in a long while. Can't remember last time I was this calm. 

POSTSCRIPT (July 30): Rob's Trolley's Kind IS now available as pdf, thanks to Michael Cross (& Rob, of course). Head over to Cross's blog The Disinhibitor to view the uploaded story.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review of Occultations in Tarpaulin Sky, Daily S-Press feature

I am absolutely buzzing about the time I shared with such generous people, such caring folks in the Bay Area this past weekend. Two amazing readings, a fantastic welcoming and conversation on the body and commong with Nonsite Collective's participants. I'll report on this incredibly busy and generative trip in my next post. Am gathering up my notes for Nonsite Collective (will post here and there); some images; some notes I took at the readings - David Brazil, Lindsey Boldt one evening and Rob Halpern and I another. Took home all manner of reading, including a special limited run chap from Rob Halpern's Music for Porn (more on this next post), David Brazil's chapbook (same), the new issue of Try, featuring the writers who read this weekend, plus affinities, etc. So, an IOU. Meantime, check out:

-- a really generous review of Occultations @ Tarpaulin Sky Press, review by Nicky Tiso. 

--And a feature on the book over at Daily S-Press

Thanks so much to Nicky, to the editors at TSP, and to Dorothee Lang of Daily S-Press. A fine coupla surprises to come home to upon opening up the dreaded inbox this morning. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Now back on the west coast (for a hot second), I haven't been doing much but studying, researching, writing--mostly for upcoming teaching. BUT: yesterday the faculty @ The Evergreen State College, several students, & alumni, led by my partner Elizabeth Williamson & collaborator & friend Arun Chandra, held an Evergreen book launch/surprise birthday party for me at Orca Books. Most everyone there grabbed printed out sections of Occultations (as well as Hospitalogy, if they so chose), and performed these pieces in any way they wanted to. Some hammed it up, others rehearsed these beautiful (as far as the book can get, anyway) polyvocal pieces, and others walked in, grabbed a page or two, and read on the spot. Aside from Arun Chandra / Elizabeth Williamson's piece (they performed a whole section of the book), if I had to choose a piece of virtuosity, I might go with Sarah Yamasaki's Star Trek version of the books' beginning: each noun replaced by a Trek noun, some other on-the-spot replacements, and the thing sounded quite like a scene in one of the shows. 

Nice to see friends Leonard Schwartz & Steven Hendricks, Holly Melgard, Jenny Paris, some of whom I hadn't seen in a year. Anyway, huge thanks to everyone who put the reading & afterparty together, especially Arun & Elizabeth, & including Orca Books.

So, I don't have any photos of that reading (tho somebody might?), so instead I decided to put these up on the blog: of my east coast (official) book launch for Occultations. Just got these from co-designer of the book, Kate Robinson, so first time I've seen these. Dark theater. Really nice theater. No Dottie Lasky, who was one of the 4 readers, due to pesky camera batteries. 

Belladonna Series Big Spring Book Launch, NYC & Dixon Place Theater: (above) David Wolach, w/help from book designer Kate Robinson (Occultations, Black Radish Books). (below) David; Eleni Stecopolous (Armies of Compassion, Palm Press); Brenda Iijima (revv. you'll--ution, Displaced Press, If Not Metamorphic, Ahsahta Press). Not Pictured b/c Kate's camera batteries died & she read last: Dottie Lasky (Black Life, Wave Books)  

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thom Donvan for Nonsite this Sunday / Yrs Truly July 25

Here's the Nonsite Collective announcement for the talk/discussion/workshop I'll be giving as part of Nonsite Collective's summer series/curriculum, "Project on the Commons." I'll be giving a house reading in the Bay area with Rob Halpern on the 24th.  Thx much to Rob, Taylor Brady, Michael Cross, David Brazil, & others Nonsite affiliates for inviting & hosting me.

Please join us Sunday, July 25th at 2 PM for the third installment of the Nonsite Collective's summer suite: David Wolach on "The Commons and the Body". Wolach will lead a discussion linking ideas around embodied art practices, the commons, and illness.

Through the lens of living with chronic pain, Wolach will draw out the relation(s) between the physico-socially "unfit" body and the aesthetically trans-gressive body.  How might the affective and relational capacities of the body inflect our thinking about "the commons"? How can recent discussions on the paradoxes of "ownership", "property", and "architecture" inform how we speak about and treat "the body"?

David has posted some preliminary notes and questions here. 

In addition, he has contributed a more sustained set of reflections to the Project on the Commons workbook, where he also introduces himself and his work.

We'll meet promptly at 2:00 pm on Sunday 7/25 at Nicole Hollis Studios to begin the discussion: 

935 Natoma Street, San Francisco
between 10th and 11th Streets
and between Mission and Howard
close to the Civic Center BART Station
and the Van Ness MUNI station

Hope to see you there!

Occultations in Big Other, Reed & McCreary in Dialogue's End

Three quick poetry news notes. First, thanks much to Michael Leong for his feature/review of Occultations over at the collective lit journal, Big Other. Check out Leong's work--a hard working & excellent poet, whose work reminds me of nobody I can think of. And diverse too--from sound & visual work to lyric... honored he took the time.


Speaking of taking the time. An EXCELLENT pair of reviews plus interview over at Christophe Cassamina's Dialogue's End.  Chris McCreary & Marthe Reed were asked to review one another's new books--Reed's Gaze & McCreary's Undone: a Fakebook--and then interview one another. The format allows for a really in-depth and open dialog, one that Chris and Marthe take full advantage of, covering all kinds of poetic & other ground. This is the first feature among several "inter(re)views," in which two presses are paired. Emily Carr and I will be up next, discussing Directions For Flying & Occultations, among other things, as part of the second installment of this first feature that pairs Black Radish Books with Furniture Press. So, go read, and look out for installment 2, appearing by end of this month.


My (unedited) sustained reflection on the body, commoning, & art practice is now up at Nonsite Collective's website. If interested in the politics of the body and/or reclamation of public space, commons, etc., take a look. This set of reflections is for a talk/discussion I'll be facilitating for the Nonsite Collective on July 25. And the talk/discussion is part of Nonsite's summer events on the commons. Elliot Anderson gave a fascinating talk on his work / Smithson's The Monuments of Silicon Valley. Michael Cross's report about this two-part discussion is on the website as well. This Sunday Thom Donovan will lead an urgent discussion on art practices, land art, property law, and commoning. If in or around SF this Sunday, do go. I wish I could be there! Well, from here, click on the link & enjoy. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Corporate Persons & Call to Action

From Dan Cantor, Working Families Party, please forward. With a coupla comments from me. Ironic, no horrific, ruling a while back, coming on as one train car of many that are filled with pieces of law that bolster corporate person status while further subjugating individuals--persons & our bodies. This, too, while I'm busy working on a talk & workshop on commoning & the body. Remember: corporate personhood legislation has been modified in parallel with the stripping of individual rights (habeas corpus, labor rights, etc) for many years now, more fully in the past decade. So, time to act. Only thing: we actually have LESS rights than corporations do in regard to political campaign dollars. Just a minor correction to what is otherwise an important call to action from WFP. Not ideal legislation by any stretch, but the proposal would get us occult body parts a little bit more substance, i.e., existence, in relation to the thinking thing that is this evil demon that apparently owns us and determines our movements. List of telephone numbers @ the link below: 

The U.S. Supreme Court recently made one of its worst rulings in decades: It said that large corporations are legally considered "people" with the same Constitutional Rights as you or I to speak out - and spend money - in political campaigns

That stunning ruling opened the floodgates for big business to influence our elections. BP or Goldman Sachs can now spend millions more to help elect candidates who will do their bidding in office. 

But real people like you and me can still fight back - and if we act now, New York State can lead that fight. 

Our State Legislature is about to vote on a law that would make all New York-based companies get shareholder approval before they spend money for political purposes. Can you e-mail your State Legislators right now to make sure they support this bill?

If this compaign finance reform bill passes, anyone who owns stock in a New York corporation will get to vote on what candidates or political causes that company can support. If a majority of shareholders vote against certain political spending, then the corporation can't do it. 

This law -- proposed by Senate Majority Leader John Sampson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver -- would give real people a say in corporate political spending without violating the Supreme Court's ruling. It's an important first step to limit corporate influence in our elections, and could become a national model. 

And that's not all this reform bill does. It also requires all people or groups who spend over $1,000 to influence a New York election to publicly report their spending, and it will make it easier to investigate election irregularities. 

Tell your elected officials to pass this bill now:

Out-of-control corporate spending is one of the most harmful parts of our political process, and one of the hardest to stop. Only a system of public financing of elections can truly limit the power of big special interests and restore our democracy -- but we need to take the first step now. 

If you believe that corporations shouldn't have the same political rights as real people, will you take a moment to email your legislators and urge them to pass this law ASAP?


Dan Cantor
WFP Executive Director

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thank you, Clay Banes, for your (rather superhuman) work for SPD's web announcements, site work, etc. Thanks too to SPD. Occultations is now officially yours to order, read, then promptly give away... Oh, & fyi: SPD has a gigantic sale on prose books at moment, which I shall take advantage of this weekend...!

& Thanks very much to Matthew Landis, who reviewed Occultations in the latest  Jacket.

Try Electronic Ordering! SPD is on Pubnet: SAN 1066617
Questions? Contact Mr. Banes at |
1.800.869.7553 | fax: 1.510.524.0852

New Poetry from Black Radish Books
David Wolach 
$15 | paper | 168 pp. 
Black Radish Books 
ISBN: 9780982573129 

Poetry. Joan Retallack writes that OCCULTATIONS
enacts the "courage of paradoxical evocation." For
David Buuck, such evocation helps us consider
that "the body-in-crisis is not some theoretical
abstraction but a lived condition, subject not only
to the 'surveillance-industrial complex' but also to the
limitations of language's ability to fully articulate 'what
work this dying is.'" In (un)mapping its state of accelerated
becoming, this (collective) body asks whether it can, through
radical re-narration of its (re)constitution by neo-liberal
capitalism and militarism, allegorize the wider catastrophic
affects these logic-systems have on an ecosystem. "Is it possible,"
asks Laura Elrick, "to construct the parameters through which the
practiced lie of control might be relinquished, through which, at the same
time,the fault-lines out of whose collisions our lives are rent might
be sense-d?" As place, the occulted recursively struggles to perform
exploratory surgery on normative valuations of its capacities, on what
is taken to be possible and what is not.

Wheelhouse & Million Writers Award, No Tell Recs, & Etc

A coupla quick notes here, rushing off to the studio to cut my first stand-up album.  

First, again a big thanks to Reb Livingston & Elieen Tabios.  Reb, one of the hardest working poets on behalf of poets (and non-poet readers of poetry, all 40 of them), finished up curating a month of Recommended Summer Readings. This is a cool list of recommendations from contributors to the No Tell journal; as I mentioned briefly, but it was buried in an email-like post, the service provides me--and so I suspect you--with various lists of books that might otherwise go unnoticed but that are nonetheless exciting. Not that Occultations fits that description necessarily, but I appreciate the shout-out from mega-reader and editor, also one of the hardest working poets on behalf of others thru Galatea Resurrects, Eileen Tabios, for choosing Occultations as one of the titles she recommended. Since I live in a place of perpetual winter (yes, the U.S., but I mean Olympia WA), it's nice to be reminded of the seasons too. Thanks much to both.

The books are selling via SPD, but there are copies left. Support yr small presses here, at SPD.


Mark Lamoureux's Spectre is about to be released thru Black Radish Books and I can't wait to read it.  His Astrometry Organon (BlazeVox 2008) I love, and pretty much every wild poem I've read of his I love. Do check out his work--some is available online thru poetry journals. Any case, look out for this book, which editors have told me is really, really good. More on Spectre soon.


Second, just found out, as our new issue, No. 9 (which includes a re-issue of the PRESS Anthology), is finally about to be published, that Wheelhouse Magazine contributor Summer Block won the Million Writers Award, First Prize, 2010 for her prose piece "Hospitality." Many thanks to Jason Sanford, the judges, and Story South, for nominating the story as one of their top ten of the web of 2009, and then to readers for voting for the piece as their favorite. I am quite partial to it, of course. Congrats to Summer Block, whose poetry is quite good too, I might add.


Last, check this out.  Rachel Zolf has new video readings over at PennSound. Just listened while on break. Highly recommended. Speaking of past and future (next issue) Wheelhouse contributors. Of course, well beyond that, Rachel's one of the finest poets writing today, and her new Neighbour Procedure is I think her best book to date, which is saying quite a bit given the depth & innovation of her earlier work. This and Rachel Levitsky's Neighbor would certainly be my top two recommended readings this summer, especially given the borders both cross and blur in strangely complimentary ways. And CA Conrad & Frank Sherlock's The City Real & Imagined. And pretty much the whole Heretical Texts series this year--Simone White, Allison Cobb, Jules Boykoff, Frank Sherlock's Here (which I'm reading right now), each of the books by these authors I've come back to and have carried with me. And then of course there's the incredible Remember to Wave by Kaia Sand. And Brenda Iijima's Revv. you'll--ution. And Dottie Lasky's Black Life. And Eleni Stecopolous' Armies of Compassion. And Marthe Reed's Gaze. Well, fuck it, I need to stop writing. Too much to read, so too much to write. Is the problem. Right now I'm reading, in addition to Frank's new book, a wonderful book by Emily Carr from Furniture Press, Directions for Flying. More on that in another post.

What I mean to express is that, since getting the SPD newsletter today, when scrolling thru the titles and wanting to get nearly everything, realizing I am also pretty broke, I both lamented and celebrated the fact that poetry books, and readings for that matter, are not like visual artworks, which can at least be studied via facsimile (ok, there's Eclipse, etc., but not much out there, right?). I thanked the gift economy that is poetry, then cursed it (I get amazing books for free from extraordinary and kind people, and give out, well, my books for free, but poetry is, after all, someone's labor, so I do want to buy the books I receive). But mainly I complained about free-marketeers and their big houses and shitty books today without doing much of anything about it. And connected, I also resent the giveaway bins at local libraries (bless them), or rather, those who donate the books: the books are usually terrible. Thankfully I don't read very much because I have always read--and written--slowly... Does this feeling ever, per chance, wash over you?