Sunday, September 19, 2010

FAMA'S My Spell-w/the rolling R-Check & Other Random Bits


Post-script: in an incomparable comedy of errors, thinking of Farmer's talk while writing, I spelled Steven Fama's name up in the title "Farma..." I think the night-meds-blogging has to.... no, I think I'll keep at it and see where it takes me. Comedy of errors because, again, all while writing this:

Apologies to Andrew JOron & Samantha Giles-- Steven Fama just alerted me via comments field in my long set of notes on the labor day event (below) that I spelled Andrew Joron's name variously "Joron" and "JAron" and that, apparently, Samantha Giles now works at SPD, not SPT. I always spell Joron's name with an "a," which would be fine, were I to spell-check here on the blog & catch it, which I don't. And typing quickly the other nite I wrote that Giles is SPD, when in fact, for those of you who are not poets reading this, she's Executive Director of SPT. You don't need me to say that I neither spell check nor fact check if you are a regular reader. Any case, thanks Steven for the heads up & apologies Andrew & Samantha for the stream-o-consciousness misfires. I think it's all that typing "SPD" lately, given that I just sent (?!??!) Giles Occultations & paltry donation as gift to SPT's latest fundraiser.

Fama did ask this good question of that post:

I listened to the recordings up at the Labor Day site too. You've done more thinking on them than me, and I appreciate you sharing some of your thoughts.

I was puzzled by that part of the opening statement that was meant to explain why academic folks weren't a part of gathering. I think there are all kinds of institutions, and that schools have no monopoly on the corrosive effects of working for one.

I was taking notes in a linear fashion, just riffing, not going back to the post since, and I realize that this creates for confusion. That opening being one. Anyway, I respond to Fama in the comments that I wasn't trying to explain why academics weren't a part of the gathering but rather off the bat getting into Toscano's contribution and riffing on that. For one, I really wasn't sure whether the contributors teach or not, given how many of us have more than one job. For another, it doesn't matter to me very much in itself, in that I think labor is labor, and the questions to the participants were towards how their work lives interacted (or didn't) with their other work lives, poetry. I'm very interested in these questions, questions about the work of poetry, its labors and use value, etc., and also how we might gather differently and organize in order to do so. Responses of which are dependent--but only in part (I am such a vulgar Marxist)--in the sort of work one does, the job one has beyond or as the labor of poetry. Where, agreed, corrosive behaviors abound, corner by corner.

But Fama's question is a good one more generally, what I take to be implicit here, or in any case the statement after the query is. It was/is a point I was/am trying to make, and am always interested in. Seems to me--here was my riff--that poets, teachers and non, spend far too much time discussing "academic poetry" or the "kind" of poetry that "the academy" has or has not produced, where it is often assumed that there is a kind of academic poetry that is markedly less interesting or socially engaged or risky or "experimental" etc. This bores me. Perhaps, in part, because I teach only undergrads (no cash cow MFA at Evergreen), and the class content is up to me (don't get me wrong, this is no utopia--but that I do have that autonomy is not common). So that might be one biased reason why (not unlike Mark Wallace) I find it to be a generalization not worth making: is there such a thing as an "academic" poet? There
are shitty, complacent academics who write poetry and do not give much thought to their jobs, their services, or their responsibilities regarding how to handle having to teach folks who, let's face it, are paying out the nose for a piece of paper plus a few inroads. And there are shitty, complacent poets who work in other fields. Plus, a la Daniels, I don't think academic work is any less work, or any more rarefied, than other forms of production. I am interested in not pedastalizing academic labor, which is different from discounting its importance. To me its classist to conflate the two. If I am ever interested in writing on work (subjective as it is), it's because something about it moves me, compels me, transforms me. Simple. But if I were interested in negative critique, it'd have to take the form, at some time or another, of institutional critique.

On the other hand, I DO find urgent the writings on, and especially actions around, a) labor in "the academy" and b) access to "the academy." Each, of course, are one side of the same coin. Questions that Young & Spahr's recently asked for their conference panel (who else was on it?--didn't go, only read the pieces) I DO think are of pressing concern, and I admire those who are interested in (in various ways, whether in writing or not) demanding that public education be free, that teachers get better support in the form of pay, benefits, and rights--that we be "allowed" in the public and private sectors to affiliate FREELY, without the inevitable resistance. And such affiliation is in solidarity with students and staff, with the pedagogical (work) environment, as the larger interest is in taking back (or taking equally) the workplace, hence the delivery system, design, approach to, and quality of "the service." I take it that like myself Young, for instance, is asking these questions about academic labor because she is an academic laborer, because this is her work environment, not because Young thinks there's something more important (as opposed to important) about teaching/co-learning.

So I think the urgency these discussions have is equal to, but not greater than, discussions around the organizing (re-distribution and re-design of) any workplace. Whether poetry is happening in it or not. And THAT is what I take Daniels in the talk to be getting at when he implores us to remember one word: SOLIDARITY. Solidarity, meaning the most important meta-organizing questions: how can workers from different backgrounds come together, especially given the incredibly hostile environment, and form common practices, modes of resistance, modular organizing campaigns.


In other news:

--Speaking of Fama, just posted on his blog is a great, GREAT overview/set of links/etc regarding the work of fantastic poet Alli Warren. A lot of stuff I didn't know existed. Do Check it out! HERE

--I've moved house, after being kicked out of my previous abode by a landlord who wanted to jack the rent. Hence I've discovered that my new bathroom has a little nail for a frame right above the toilet. As it should. Now, I used to have the ad above. I left it in NY when I moved here in a panic flight. My very closest friend, who I stay with in NY, has it at her apartment. Do I ask for it back? Or do I let her keep it? I do want to hang it above my toilet. Where had been located elsewhere.

--As I head into teaching another semester, I'm STILL getting caught up with my summer work, correspondence, etc., as I did not have email/computer in the woods. So I'm finding lovely things that people did on my behalf, like Michael Cross's Nonsite Collective piece re my talk, with some nice photos (notice the PEPSI addiction), our discussion, workshop etc. MY Nonsite talk notes are still to come. On my to-do list, very close to the top now.

--Since Rachel Zolf is going to be reading here for PRESS soon enough, figured I'd alert you to her Wheelhouse Contribution, her Advancing Feminist Poetics & Activism Conference talk, which includes work from her Neighbour Procedure. I've pasted the news piece from Coach House's site:

Zolf in Wheelhouse Magazine">Rachel Zolf in Wheelhouse Magazine On September 24, 2010, Rachel Zolf spoke at the Advancing Feminist Poetics & Activism Conference about her experience in Israel, her writing process and Neighbour Procedure. The talk was recently published in Wheelhouse Magazine under the title 'The Vocative Call.'

--Slowly adding stuff to the new PRESS blog. Including: photos, audio, video, links to other radical series, collectives etcetera. Please contact me here or backchannel if I've overlooked yr series or... Still working on the site thru this week, so it may be coming. Worth checking, tho.

--Scroll down & look to the left for the PhillySound blog. There you'll notice that--exciting for me anyway--Cornad & Sherlock have a new recording of them reading from The City Real & Imagined, up now, and that Conrad & Erica Kaufman have collaborated on a new (Soma)tic, a really beautiful one. Check em out.

--Last, but not least, if yr in or around Seattle this week, some fine writers are giving a reading at UW as part of a conference on movements & migrations. Friends Robert Mittenthal, Zhang Er, & others will be reading. Here are the details, from Robert:

Five Innovative Writers from Seattle and Beyond
Friday, September 24, 2010, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Henry Auditorium

In tandem with the conference Convergence Zones: Public Cultures and Translocal Practices, sponsored by the UW and Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, five writers read their innovative work.

Jeanne Heuving recently published Transducer (Chax), preceded by Incapacity (Chiasmus), which received a 2004 Book of the Year from Small Press Traffic. She is a professor in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell and on the graduate faculty in English at UW Seattle. She has published multiple critical works on innovative and avant garde writing and is currently finishing work on a manuscript, The Transmutation of Love in Twentieth Century Poetry.

Hank Laze
r has published fifteen books of poetry, most recently Portions (Lavender Ink), The New Spirit (Singing Horse), Elegies & Vacations (Salt), and Days (Lavender Ink). He edits the Modern and Contemporary Poetics Series for the University of Alabama Press. For the past four years, he has been working on a handwritten shape-writing project called the Notebooks (of Being & Time). Lazer is Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and the Executive Director of the Creative Campus initiative at the University of Alabama.

Robert Mittenth
al is author of Value Unmapped (Nomados), Martyr Economy, Ready Terms (Tsunami Editions), and the forthcoming Wax World (Chax). Irrational Dude, a chapbook of collaborative work with Nico Vassilakis, was published last year by tir aux pigeons. Mittenthal was instrumental in creating and curating the Subtext Reading Series in Seattle. For Mittenthal’s blog, se

A native of Southern California, Lou Rowan began his writing career in New York City, during the heyday of experimentation circulating through St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery. He currently lives and writes in Seattle, where he edits Golden Handcuffs Review. His two recent books are the novel My Last Days (Chiasmus) and a story-collection Sweet Potatoes (Ahadada Books).

g Er, born in Beijing, is the author of four collections of poetry in Chinese, most recently Yellow Walls: A String of Doors. She has six chapbooks of her work translated into English, among them, Carved Water (Tinfish) and Sight Progress (Pleasure Boat Studio). Her selected poems occur within two bilingual collections, So Translating Rivers and Cities (Zephyr) and Verses on Bird (Zephyr). She co-edited the bilingual volume Another Kind of Nation: an Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry (Talisman). She teaches at The Evergreen State College in Washingt



  1. DW-
    I have that same poster somewhere & if I can find it I'll send to you for yr terlet.
    and Giles is ED of SPT - small press traffic. dot org
    xo! DB

  2. buuck! i was/am about to--tomorrow-- email you backchannel to talk abt yr future proximity to muself... hope yr well.

    YOU HAVE IT!? i'll pay you good dolla for it! what a lovely offer...thx.

    & yes, I know Giles is ED... i was typing fast in the last post & wrote "SPD" & farma pointed it out to me yesterday... ugh, this is why one re-reads before posting... yeah, hence the joke above about her working at SPD... ok, more soon, but THANK YOU!!! talk later on the other side,
    off to bed, solidaridad,

  3. Tremendous concepto-misspelling of my name here! Way to (rock 'n) roll!

    And thanks much for pointing to the glade post on A. Warren, and the kind words re the same.

    And finally, forgive me here, I know not, but you are in Seattle, so I must suggest, and yes it seems you are very busy and in school, but if you'd like I suggest you look up John Olson, his poetry at least, perhaps it may excite you as it does me.

  4. ha, I love it! that is AWESOME. Farmer's talk, thus the entanglement, or shall I say hybridism, of yr names! I really did mean I cannot spell-check. Some cannot spell. Some have the -check problem down too. I think it's partly being on so many meds and blogging at night, things get loopy and I start constructing weird things, syntax too, should be transferred to pages as artist book, that kinda potential. I like "concepto-misspelling." I do know yr name is "Fama" by the by. I have enjoyed yr work for quite some time... I just can't seem to go back to blog posts and say, Is everything right with this? It's also--and this might be interesting but probably not--I think a rebellion against the medium, using the blogoplace as a sorta public scratch pad. Give me enough time and I'll concepto-misspell every poet I enjoy. I once called Thom Donovan Tom Dhonovan. And he's a close friend... ah, well, happy birthday.

    Anyway, yeah, the glade post is amazing. I mean Warren's work is, what I've read of it. But there's so much to sift thru. I'm in Olympia, close to Seattle. Enough to get ahold of poets I should be reading and knowing--at least reading. Good call. I'll make sure to google "Jon Ohlson" for some online work of his. B/C of disability mainly I don't get to Seattle but once or twice a year. Sadly. But a trip is imminent. So thanks.


  5. PS: are you still doing work on behalf of inmates / prison conditions? a friend is doing some writing now on, esp. San Q, & is interested in interviews...

  6. Hi Davi(dMi chael),

    Yes I still do legal work on behalf of people in state prison in California. Have your friend get in touch, and perhaps I can help.

  7. Oh, great. Glad to hear it. I'll have her contact you. Thanks, Steven. xx/d