Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Trilogy of Quick Notes

Regarding the post below, that of the new Otoliths coming out (the e-edition), well, it came out sooner than I thought it would, with new work from many poets, some older work by me, as well as one piece from Prefab Eulogies.  Again, many thanks to Mark Young, amazing and tireless editor.  The journal will also be available in print in the coming weeks (also in two installments).  From Mark:

Otoliths rounds out its fourth year with another issue that maintains the journal's reputation for excellent offerings across a variety of disciplines & styles. Included in issue sixteen, the southern summer 2010 issue, is work from Thomas Fink, Satu Kaikkonen,  Nate Pritts, Jane A. Lewty, Craig Foltz, Michael Basinski, Stephen C. Middleton, Márton Koppány, Arpine Konyalian Grenier,  Raymond Farr, Jeff Crouch & Sheila E. Murphy, Joel Chace, Caleb Puckett, Philip Byron Oakes, Ed Baker, Tom Beckett interviewing William Allegrezza, William Allegrezza, dan raphael, Alyson Torns, Jeff Harrison, Grzegorz Wróblewski, Michele Leggott, PD Mallamo, Ray Craig, Mark Cunningham, Cecelia Chapman, David-Baptiste Chirot, Vernon Frazer, Helen White & Jeff Crouch, James Yeary, Robert Lee Brewer, Michael Brandonisio, J. D. Nelson, Scott Metz, Geof Huth, Corey Wakeling, John M. Bennett & Thomas M. Cassidy, Sheila E. Murphy & John M. Bennett, John M. Bennett, Rebecca Mertz, Felino Soriano, Cath Vidler, David Wolach, Carlyle Baker, Stu Hatton, Jenny Enochsson, Robert Gauldie, Rebecca Eddy, Joe Balaz,  Bobbi Lurie, Andrew Topel & Márton Koppány, Hugh Tribbey, John Martone, J. Gordon Faylor, Evan Harrison, A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz, Bob Heman, Guillermo Castro, & sean burn. 


Just noticed that Jesse Morse and Allison Cobb will be reading for the Spare Room Series in Portland Feb 7.  I idiotically missed Kyle Schelsinger, Charles Alexander, and Joel Bettridge, which having heard Charles and Joel read before, and knowing Kyle's work quite well, I know would have been a stellar night.  Damn, I was in Detroit of all places, tho didn't know these 3 were reading regardless.  Well, I hope to be able to get away from the teaching cycle for a night to hear Morse and Cobb, two fantastic poets.  For details on the upcoming readings, work from Kyle, Charles, & Joel, and more, visit Spare Room here. 


More on our first winter PRESS event, readings/workshops from Jules Boykoff & Kaia Sand soon-- as soon as Elizabeth Williamson gets back to me with some of the student workshop images...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Issue of Otoliths

The new online version of Otoliths has just been published, with Mark Young's signature blending of the sonic and the visual again on display, with work from poets such as Joel Chace, Nate Pritts, Sheila Murphy, and several (other) Wheelhouse contributors appearing within the jam-packed new issue.  A big thank you to Mark for editing my work, which yet again, causes headaches for anyone involved (not that Mark has said this, mind you).  As the issue hits the Otoliths front page with all the bells and whistles, I'll post the link here.  For now, check out some new and nicely diverse work in text arts.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Yesterday's PRESS event, Jules Boykoff & Kaia Sand reading (after a marathon day of workshopping with Arun Chandra & Elizabeth Williamson's class) was AWESOME.  Both read from their new work: Jules' Hegemonic Love Potion (Factory School) & Kaia's Remember to Wave (Tinfish)

I'll be blogging about this tomorrow, as at moment I'm gathering some images & quotes for the write-up, which will include some discussion on both of these new books.  But for now: a shout-out to Jules & Kaia, for their gracious participation and really amazing reading, & to the students & faculty who packed the house.   If you weren't there, too bad. 

Why So Few Covers in Poetry?

BARGE performance-talk-demo by Buuck.BARGE.
                       David Buuck performs at Evergreen for PRESS Series, 2009

This is a question that I put to David Buuck last October.  David, of course, is one of the few poets who actually does "cover" work by other poets.  Immediately we hit on the promise of money and fame as the answer to my question, and then began to seriously think about who covers and who is most often covered.  Clark Coolidge was one name we came up with who does both, and in fact his The Crystal Text was just covered by a bunch of poets in Portland.  "Language Poetry" and poets working in and around both coasts in the 70s' and 80s' seemed, and still seem, more nimble in this regard, with poets like Joan Retallack not only covering work ranging from John Cage's to Eipcurus, but encouraging this as a poethical pedagogy at Bard College and elsewhere.  The spirit of improvisation, the riff, the collaborative language play of Language Poetry is one of the engines here--thinking just off the top of my head of Ron Silliman's impovs, Hank Lazer stopping to cover work throughout his readings, Charles Bernstein constantly seeking collaborators for his work, more recently, opera.  So too, one could call a lot of what goes on in poets theater (cf post below) cover work, and a lot of "conceptual poetry" might be definable, at least among a few poets, most notably Kenneth Goldsmith, as all cover all the time (though not taken by Kenny G.'s work a lot of the time, I must say his songs, though not covers in the semse I'm talking about--especially the Wittgenstein and the Barthes--are nonetheless especially awesome). And there are others out there doing what might be thought of as cover work, but this is really a small group amidst an already small constellation of people.  

What is a poetry "cover" exactly?  Perhaps because the mind often immediately shifts to music and bands, especially jazz and its history of refashioning works "invented" by other artists, the "cover" often seems straightforward.  One could say: why don't more poets read other poets' poems during readings?  And yet, in text arts, we've been (rightly and interestingly) wrangling over questions of agency, authorship, and identity for longer and in deeper ways than have, say, art rockers who turn tunes, say, from Destroy All Monsters into nearly unrecognizable "other" pieces (cf. Sonic Youth).  "We're always doing a cover," one might say, pulling out their Barthes and blowing the dust off it. Maybe get a little political about it too, search around for a wiki quote from Adorno and refashion that: "The cover is impossible, your understanding of authorship is a construct of the culture industry."  We're more deeply entrenched in the nuances of these questions than either extreme--the straightforward notion of the cover and the (now) flippant "it's all rehashed language anyway" notion, one that would encourage me (perhaps rightly, but also incredibly uninterestingly in the 80s conceptual art sort of way) to write a cycle of poems using all advert language from the New York Times and then title it "Of Being Numerous."

Note that this caricature of poetry's conversations re art and agency, language and identity, comes from my situation as a person whose output is born of a process very much entangled in these questions for both aesthetic and (or as) political reasons, my work always not "mine" in a very real sense.  I take poetry to be conversation, and as such, I am keen to point out to myself if not others that what I am doing is making legible these conversations via collage, appropriation, citation, mimicry, and other "appropriative" procedures.  The found and rescued and the lyric are not mutually exclusive, not in a time when the picnoleptic is in each of us as catastrophic self. Occultations is trying and necessarily failing to make this argument in and thru mapping the body as site of resistance and thus shorn, muted, wrecked predicament. And so, sure, in a sense I am, as are many if not most others, making collage, and so doing covers

So the difference is in degree.  Otherwise all of us do covers at readings, therefore none of us do.  Otherwise Buuck, or Kaia Sand and Jules Boykoff last night (the latter reading from Howard Zinn) aren't doing covers.  So the degree of difference allows me to ask without logical ineptitude why it is that when I go to a reading, nearly without exception, poets do not read work by other poets--known work, public work.  And I'm excluding from "covering" reading aloud the lone poem or poem-fragment of another, then moving on to reading, for the rest of the time, one's "own" work.  This latter gesture is often gorgeous and inviting, but is more a nod to a particular work or worker, one that allows us to situate what we are doing within a particular context, and this is a kind of epigraphy.  Nothing against epigraphy, nothing at all: Thom Donovan recently wrote a piece that asked whether he, and if not, who, is afraid that there's too much epigraphy out there, and my answer is that there can't be, that the epigraph serves myriad functions, but most often one that is a gesture of good faith and love to that person or work which one loves. 

And it's the epigraph, this gesture of love (or this public declaration of love for another), that can be, just like our immersing ourselves in critical-creative conversation on the page, the seedling for a good live cover.  The move from turning what we are doing on the page outward and making overt what and who we are covering has somehow become a chasmic leap for us. An unnatural act.  Most of the work in aesthetic practice that I've done is "live" work, and I, too, have done very little to refashion another's work in a sustained way, in a way that makes this work central to the live event as opposed to some smaller part of it.  And this is strange, because much of theater is about covering overtly, as is not just jazz, but the whole history of western music.  

Occultations, for me, is a start--a long book that the writing of which is covering in the sense that most of its pages are "results" of a "feedback loop": rituals and procedures responding to concurrent (occulted) events that imprint themselves on the body and thus manifest publicly as body maps and spatial signs, looped back onto the page once more. This is nothing more than making overt what writing (and many other signing conventions) often does, what its motors, gears, guts look like.  So, the leap into covering that which imprints itself ("a body without organs yet to be formed," as Deleuze puts it) should not be difficult.  And yet it is.

Composer Arun Chandra and I have committed ourselves to constructing a series of covers to be performed, well, when we're done with the thing--spring?  I'm starting to roll out a few covers here and there and it's not just incredibly fun/generative, but it's intimate.  In direct opposition to the ironic reenactment, the questions are still similar: how can I (we) refashion, torque, etc., the existing structure such that the structure is recognizably what it is, yet riff on the work on what I (we) perceive to be its own terms?  What's the harmonic spectrum the work affords?  Where are its joints and why are they there?  This is a close reading turned outward, and it's also a recovery project of sorts.  I say "of sorts" because many times the work needs not be recovered--it's alive and well in the consciousness of those phantom collaborators I (we) project to be involved in making the piece legible during an evening.  

At moment we're at work on a piece by Buuck, a piece which has already been covered elsewhere, "Side Effect."  Along with it, so far we're working on a new Tina Darragh's agit-prop, Weiss's Vietnam play for 15 voices, and the third book of Williams' Paterson (this one not my choice, but what the hell).  What we end up with in terms of an hour piece of staged covers, each maybe 10-20 minutes long, I don't know.  Still in the process of trying things out, with me at poetry readings the guinea pig, covering various short poems.  Admittedly, I did do an ironic reenactment of a Gerald Stern poem at a reading a month ago, using four music boxes as sound track.  Buuck's is so far the most challenging insofar as it is a darkly difficult play on "autobiography."  So, we'll see how it goes, but the hope is that we can perform work that we love in ways that interest those beyond ourselves.  Speaking of side effects, one such is that you don't have to hear "my" poems, which really is a plus for many, not just me.

The "why" here I think has a lot to do with the economics of poetry-text arts. Note there is one, and note too that the line "poetry doesn't sell, ergo there is no economy" should ring hollow. The reader is invited to read their work, not somebody else's.  Audience expectation, even if the audience is all of 20 people, reinforces this.  Audience expectation then understandably becomes curator expectation. So, that I'm working on a cover show doesn't really get at the problem, as expectations shift when the thing is billed as a cover show. Moreover, all these expectations feed into the "author's" expectations, and expectation becomes burden.  I only have 20 minutes to get an audience to learn who I am, and so there is no room for me to perform others' work.  The sheer number of working poets out there giving readings, poets who have books to peddle, who justifiably want people to know and enjoy their work, dictates that the cover will always be backgrounded.  

This is too bad, in my estimation, as there's a lot we can do with and for each other if we dig more deeply into each other's passions while suspending--for just a minute--the discourse of critique, the ego of ownership.  From Buuck experiencing a "cover" of Side Effect:

It was very hard to stand in back and watch/listen to someone else read that piece. To some degree because of content – it’s about my personal life, with some ‘embarrassing’ bits that I think I would not be as aware of as being publicly shared if I was reading it myself (ie experiencing it as the performing of language). But also I’m apparently even more of a control queen that I previously imagined. And my sense of duration changed – I mean, when you read at a poetry reading, often you can totally lose any sense of ‘regular’ time, but listening to my work being read (esp. work I’d only typed up two nights before) while I stood ‘helpless’ seemed to take forever. But all that was kind of the point – to see what would happen, how I would feel, to be ‘exposed’ to an audience in a different way, to give up the control of holding the text in my hands, at the front of the room, in charge of its dissemination, etc.

And the commodity discourse in poetry outlined need not be the case necessarily.  In the hottest commodity sphere, the most pressurized aesthetic "market" of hip-hop, the cover is standard operating procedure.  So, why not in poetry?  Instead of reviews, why not more covers?


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Upcoming Readings Volume 1

Well, sluggishly I'm getting a reading schedule together for these forthcoming books, both out by the end of the first week in April, stated dates April 1.  Hence, I'm asking for your help.  I suck at these things, love doing collaborative readings/performances, etc. don't get me wrong, but setting them up feels far too self-promotional to me.  So far I've been asked by friends and future friends to read in various locales, and so by the hospitality of others, actually have something like a schedule.  Now, say friends, I should actually seek out reading venues, you know.  Get out of my house once in awhile.

So now that I've developed a skeletal schedule thanks to lovely and giving persons, I figured I'd a) ask all of you if you or anyone you know would like to host a poet who washes dishes, to read at your (or your friends') venue, and b) if yes or no, and if in one of these areas, join us at one or two of the below events.  If you are interested in hosting me, or know someone who is, I'm especially interested in figuring out (fleshing out) east coast, west coast, and midwest dates--basically to avoid paying for more than one trip per region.  Hell, I can't pay for more than 3 or 4 trips over the next year or two anyway.     

This list will grow a bit, dates will be made firm, etc., and so from time to time I'll put the updated schedule here on the blog. 

Thanks much so far to Amy King, Thom Donovan, Rachel Zolf, Rachel Levitsky, Andy Grecivich, Leonard Schwartz, David Buuck, & Rob Halpern for helping me with all this. For now:

March 21 (with Reg Johanson)
Big Pelt Talk Series (talk on new guerilla poetry & the poetics of public space / poetry reading)

Madison, WI
April 4
Reading, sponsored by Andy Grecivich of Cannot Exist

New York, NY
April 13
Belladonna Books / Dixon Sponsored Book Launch: Rachel Zolf, Eleni Stecopolous, David Wolach

May 15 (with Jen Coleman)
The Spare Room Reading Series (poetry)

Olympia, WA (The Evergreen State College)
June 10
Evergreen Book Launch (readings by several, discussion)

SF/Oakland/Santa B. 
Late June--Early July (TBA)
Nonsite Collective (talk, reading, performance)
Other Venues (TBA)

LA/San Diego
Early July (TBA)

Most East Coast Readings 
July---> (TBA)

Some Mediations for Untangling,

--Belladonna has a new web page on facebook (the blog is down now, but probably--guessing here--just for remodelling).  Anyhow, go here for news & notes (you need to log in to facebook), such as: 

--New from Belladonna is Carla Harryman's Open Box (Improvisations).  Laura Elrick's write-up:

From one of our most mind- and genre-bending of writers comes a poem. Don’t expect the poem however: “The page will not inflate / lungs do.” Carla Harryman’s startling new improvisations sound the edges between life and word, text and body, presence and a future (“in the hands of a shovel”). Notes that do not sing open the transfiguring “clink between / Thud and shine”… “Between us and a thing / Not yours, not mine / That owns us.” Thus an intense sort of music arises from the “wasting” gratitude of this Open Box. Syntactically figured through doubles and negatives, its “window window” beckons while it cloaks, reveals as it extends, as intimately as that rack of garments (the plush and the frayed) hanging from our mirrored backs.
--Laura Elrick

--From friend & political economy professor (one of the planners of EconVergence) Pete Bohmer regarding the sort of death that seems like a nail in the collective coffin, Howard Zinn (he was due to speak here later this week, for my class as well as others):

Howard Zinn contributed in so many important ways to creating an understanding of  U.S. history that put at the center the struggles of oppressed people for dignity, and for economic and social justice. His classic, A People’s History of the United States, has had a profound effect in this regard. It is my favorite book.   I have probably given away  30 copies as gifts over the last 25 years and used it in countless classes. Howard was a very wise and humane person who relentlessly criticized our unjust capitalist system while believing in and giving us historical examples of individuals and movements who in ways big and small worked and struggled against all injustice and for a just society.   In language and analysis that was simple but not simplistic, radical but accessible, Howard Zinn’s  anti-racism and anti-imperialism and his strong identification with working people stood out. So did his strong anti-war commitment and perspective.  He listened to and respected the non-elites, those usually omitted in the official histories.

While motivated in his writing by his values of the right to self-determination, of the centrality of ending poverty and all forms of oppression such as sexism and racism, and for peace and justice, Howard told the truth and did not exaggerate and omit facts that were uncomfortable to his beliefs. He also acted on them by participating in countless demonstrations and other forms of activism from the 1930’s until the present.

Based on Howard’s  profound  historical understanding of the U.S. history and his respect for people and his understanding of the obscene  inequality and militarism that marks the United States today, Howard Zinn continued to have hope and believed that we, the people, of the United States, could and would transform this society into some form of democratic socialism that lived in harmony with the rest of the world.    We can all learn from this truly outstanding thinker, historian and human being. Howard Zinn presente!

Sadly, Peter Bohmer

--And yet, there are those whose hope & tireless organizing / creative lather causes various little futures to open up here & there.  Such as Jules Boykoff.  And Kaia Sand.  They're reading tonight, discussing where to go from here tonight, so please do come if you are a STUDENT, FACULTY MEMBER, STAFF MEMBER, or OTHER PERSON LIVING IN OR AROUND OLYMPIA.  Both are always on.  

Born in large part out of Elizabeth Williamson's hard work: 

Winter's first  PRESS EVENT:

Join poet/activists Jules Boykoff and Kaia Sand for a tour of their latest work

The Evergreen State College
        Where: Sem II C1105
    When: January 28,7:30pm 

Boykoff and Sand helped organize the recent Econvergence conference in Portland( They are the founders of the Tangent Press and reading series in Portland ( and co-authored a new book on guerrilla poetry entitled Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry and Public Space (Palm Press 2008). 
Boykoff is the author, most recently, of Hegemonic Love Potion (Factory School, 2009) and Once Upon a Neoliberal Rocket Badge (Edge Books, 2006). He has also published and lectured widely on the suppression of dissent in the United States. He is a contributor to scholarly journals like Antipode, Social Movement Studies, andNew Political Science as well as popular publications like the Guardian, Common Dreams, and XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics. He was an  invited speaker at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi, Kenya (2006), where he presented research he carried out on U.S. media coverage of global warming.  

Sand is the author most recently of Remember to Wave, forthcoming this winter with Tinfish Press. This collection investigates political geography in Portland, Oregon, and contains a poetry walk she guides. Her  collection, interval (Edge Books 2004), was selected as a Small Press Traffic Book of the Year and she is also the author/designer of several chapbooks through the Dusie Kollektiv. She is a contributor to Jim Dine’s Hot Dreams series (Steidl Editions 2008) and recently performed poetry collaged entirely from the North American Free Trade Agreement at the Positions Colloquium of the Kootenay School of Writing in Vancouver, British Columbia. At present, she is at work on The Happy Valley Project, multi-media collaborations investigating housing foreclosures and finance.

Sponsored by: Performing Meaning, Translating Thought; Music and the Environment; The Writing Center; The Office of the Budget Dean 


--Last, on Feb 3 poet Yan Li will be at our Tacoma Campus, hosted by amazing poet (and person) Zhang Er.  From an email invite she sent (more later on this blog regarding the event):

You are Invited to Chinese Poet Yan Li's reading at

The Evergreen State College – Tacoma

1210 – 6th Ave, Tacoma WA 98405, Room 218

February 3, 2010, 2:00-4:00 pm

Yan Li is a well-known poet and painter based in Shanghai. He belonged to the loose organized young poets group active in China in the late 1970s to mid-1980s, which was labeled as the "misty" school. He is the founding editor in chief of the unofficial, yet influential poetry journal First Line since 1987. He exhibited his art works in a 1979 show by a group of avant-garde artists later known as The Stars. His one man show in 1984 at People’s Park in Shanghai was the first one-man Avant-garde art exhibition after 1949 in mainland China . He has held many exhibitions and published numerous books since the 1980s. In his poetry and fiction work, Yan Li pushes the boundary between vernacular and written, capricious and philosophical, transient and historical, private and public, realistic and imaginary, humorous and solemn, contemporary and canonical. He has maintained his intellectual and artistic integrity under the not so subtle inducement of commercialization or propaganda for the party. He has also been an unfailing supporter and magnet for generations of younger poets and artists who seek his advice and help. His poetry has been translated into many languages including English.


The reading is supported in part by the Cycle Makers and Cycle Breakers Program.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Trip Down Memory Lain

Here's Mr. Wolach again, this time presenting his multi-media piece. I love this. If you can't read it, he's listed various forms of poetry for sale.  Okay, so that's Round 1 of photos and commentary and it only covers Day 1. So, chew on that and I'll get some more ready for you.  --Snapshot of Prefab Eulogies, from Lidsey Boldt's blog slideshow

So, with Kaia Sand & Jules Boykoff about to kick off winter's PRESS events (David Buuck did so in fall, on the heels of the amazing EconVergence Conference in Portland), I decided it was time to take a trip down memory lane, revisiting our every-two-years large PRESS Conference, as well as listing some of the PRESS artists/activists who have helped make the series hum over the past 3 years.  Here's a thank you to the organizers and guests.  First, the conference: in late 2008 300 of us crammed into various buildings on Evergreen's campus, and in a semi-abandoned 4-story structure downtown for the reclamation of public space public readings.  It was the first of what we hope to be several such conferences that explore various intersections between aesthetic and political practices.  This year we are planning for the next conference (next year), with Rachel Zolf so far trying to come out here on her own dime because the U.S. won't allow her, as student visa holder, to get paid.  The 2008 conference was generative, and so hats off to the student organizers, who really made the whole thing go, spending their summer planning the conference instead of doing more sexy things.

Here's Lindsey Boldt's blog slideshow of the conference.  Nice write-up, giving one the sense of what we did.

There are several other slideshows online, including a very comprehensive one by Tom Orange on Flickr.  You need to log in to see that slideshow.

And here's one of two websites for PRESS, this one for guest info, list of panels, readings, etc. Photos by Shaun Johnson, website by Chris Hoard, now both graduated.

A year later the PRESS: Activism & The Avant-Garde Anthology was published thru Wheelhouse Press (one of the main sponsors of the event).  All guest poets/writers contributed work to the anthology, as did many--but not all--of the activists and/or students.  

Several nice reviews of both the conference and the anthology appear online and in print, but here is one that was published just recently in the journal Prick of the Spindle (interview and review).

After the conference, we got down to work on continuing the series.  And now we're back in the conference planning stages, rethinking it, both in terms of thematics and finances.  How will this recession both negatively impact the conference and be a major site of resistance/excavation?  Since this is your conference too, feel free to send ideas for workshops, performances, and panels, here as blog comments.

PRESS Guest Participants (by year):


Sarah Mangold (poetry, talk on Bird Dog Magazine)
Jessica Balsam (TACO founder, installation art)
Bill Porter (translator, Chinese poetry)
Erica Lord (installation art)
Zhang Er (poetry, translation)
Julia Zay (film, experimental critical writing)
Jeffrey Silverthorne (photography)


Rodgrio Toscano (poetry/poetics theater/panel discussion)
Kristin Prevallet (poetry)
Lindsey Boldt (poetry/panel discussion)
Mark Wallace (poetry/panel discussion)
Jessica Baron (poetry/panel discussion)
K. Lorraine Graham (poetry/panel discussion)
Holly Melgard (poetry/sound art)
Jules Boykoff (poetry/panel discussion)
Tom Orange (poetry/panel discussion/poetics theater)
Jennifer Bartlett (poetry/panel discussion)
Alice Templeton (poetry/talk)
Jais Brohinsky (Agit-Prop Theater)
Nicholas Hayes (poetry/panel discussion)
Steven Hendricks (prose/book arts workshop)
Zhang Er (poetry)
Leonard Schwartz (poetry)
Kaia Sand (poetry/panel discussion)
Tung Hui-Hu (poetry/panel discussion)
Laura Elrick (poetry/panel discussion)


Rob Halpern (poetry, workshop)
David Buuck (poetry/performance)
Jules Boykoff & Kaia Sand 
Chris Mann 
CA Conrad (forthcoming Soma(tic) workshop/PACE Action/Reading--March 4 & March 7)
David Abel (forthcoming reading/workshop--last Thursday of May)

Sarah Mangold (forthcoming)
Eleni Stecopolous (forthcoming)


Rachel Zolf (forthcoming)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Book Received: Remember to Wave by Kaia Sand (Tinfish Press)

In the rush to finish a ton of things, including a spring course on public space, dissent and guerilla poetry, a reprieve: the beautiful Remember to Wave by Kaia Sand just came in the mail today. My very own copy.  I only had a  chance to glance at the work so far, thumbing thru the thing & stopping here & there, but it's hard hitting, transporting, & gorgeously designed - and beauty here takes on many forms, not least the "zine" feel to a lot of the adverts, and other found signage that Sand uses here to help re-map the not-so-beautiful understructures of Portland.  Wow, this is a cool book.  And just in time for me to include at least part of it in my syllabus for spring, and just in time for Kaia's and Jules Boykoff's PRESS Event talk/reading at Evergreen (post below) on Thursday @ 730.  More on this book soon.  For now, back to working on lecture for Wednesday: aptly, Ranciere, redistributon of the sensible, Nonsite Collective, & other autonomous / radical pedagogical models.   

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Notes for a Night Not Well

Now that I've gotten that victorianism-as-header out of the way, I'm feeling unwell.  Or, rather, more less well than usual.  This has its downsides, not being able to get much work done chief among them.  And between finishing rec letters for former students and teaching, there's a lot of work that needs to get done.  Plus, I need to get down to work on the design aspects of Occultations, with now the April 1 publishing deadline looming.  

And yet, feeling unwell allows me to go thru my overflowing inbox, bit by bit--I'm on this week's correspondence still.  Interesting things abound.  

--My BlazeVox Prefab Eulogies book page is now up, and in the coming days, some sound files from the larger project that is Prefab Eulogies (performative pieces that appear in the book and that don't) will be installed here.  Look out for those if you want your ears to bleed slightly.

--Ditch, the journal of "experimental Canadian Poetry and Featured International Poets" and the publisher  (Tranwreck Press) of one of my first chapbooks, Fractions of M (from a large unfinished book, Scripto-Erratum), has just published Ditch, Anthology 1: Innovative Canadian Poets.  I'm happy for editor John Goodman.  He's been pretty tireless in his efforts to seek out new work, including that of Nathalie/Nathaniel Stephens, who beyond being a truly innovative writer, is also a lovely human being (I think, now that I think of it... I spelled Nathalie's name wrong in my forth. book??!!?).  The full list of contributors:

rob mclennan
Alessandro Porco
Todd Swift
David UU
Nathalie Stephens
Erín Moure
Jay MillAr
Asher Ghaffar
Mark Truscott
Geoffrey Hlibchuk

Natalie Simpson
Jordan Scott
derek beaulieu
Daniel f. Bradley
Margaret Christakos
Jon Paul Fiorentino
Alice Burdick
Gary Barwin
Lynn Crosbie
gustave morin
Elizabeth Bachinsky

Louise Bak
Stephen Cain
Sean Moreland
Frances Kruk
Judith Copithorne
Natalie Zina Walschots
Marcus McCann
Meredith Quartermain
Camille Martin
Nathaniel G. Moore
f.ward (cover art)

--Also, got word that the first title from the Black Radish Books (Collective), Marthe Reed's Gaze, is due out in less than a month.  And the press's website, being revamped by Susana Gardner at moment, will be up soon as well.  Excited to read Marthe's book.  I am deeply interested in her poetry; my introduction to it was her wonderful Dusie Press chapbook.

--I've read one Black Radish book so far, helping edit Carrie Hunter's The Incompossible.  Which is extraordinary--reminded me, without being at all derivative of anything, of Rosemarie Waldrop, were Waldrop to suddenly develop a fableistic archeology of thought's action a la Helene Cixous.  Hmmm.  A Cixous-Waldrop mix.  Hence the non-derivative proviso, this contrast on a par with Cixous' "all two of them."  So, perhaps just read this book when it's out--which is soon!

--I'm also pleased to find out that David Abel, Maryrose Larkin, and all the organizers, have booked me for a Spare Room reading on May 15, where I'll be performing some (with any luck) chunk of the new collaboration with Arun Chandra, a sound-text polyvocal live/not live composition, "Modular Arterial Cacophony," from Occultations.  More exciting, perhaps, I think David will be participating in this year's PRESS Series, hopefully sometime in March-April.  Yet more exciting!, I get to read with Jen Coleman again!  I love her work, and this time, since we've now done it before, maybe we can cross-wire, perhaps do something--say, one thing during the evening--collaborative.

There's also this, from Thom Donovan:

"This weekend I will be presenting with Rob Halpern and Robert Kocik at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Counsel about the histories and futures of commoning. The title of our presentation is “How Things Hold Together And How The Way In Which We’re Currently Going About Things As A Society Is Not How Things Hold Together” and is subtitled “a practical discussion about common interest, the economy, and the social production of artwork.” Rob’s talk, “The Promise of Use-Value: Art at the Limits of Social Practice,” or “Recovering Use from Exchange: New Enclosures / New Commons,” will make special reference to artist Amy Balkin’s works Public Domain and Public Smog, which grapple with the expropriation of land and atmosphere. 

Rob Halpern briefly mentioned last we spoke that he was going to be doing this event, but given that I'm here and they are in NYC, it'd slipped my mind till Thom wrote on it.  I look forward to hearing what came out of this discussion.  For those of you who have not read Robert Kocik's work, I recommend it--highly.

--And finally, I'm hearing that Thom will be reviewing Rachel Zolf's forthcoming Neighbour Procedure (Coach House) in the next Poetry Project Newsletter.  I'm really looking forward to the review, of course, but especially to this highly anticipated book.  I'm hoping to set up a reading in NYC either with Rachel, or if not with, then during the time that Neighbour will be coming out, hence hoping to catch her reading from it regardless.

So, the political world is a disgusting mess, and I'm about as dystopian as I've ever been.  But things are popping in poetry, and as such, this is a kind of pushing back, of the small, sideways kind that poetry is capable of, whether overtly seeking to or not.   So, here's to that.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Poets Theater Week 2010 at XPoetics

Over at XPoetics today, and on the heels of David Brazil and Kevin Killian's new and exciting poets theater anthology (1945-1985), there's a nice run-down on what went down during Poets Theater Week 2010 in the Bay Area. Friend/colleague Tonya Foster performed her new work, which is exciting, given that I have often nudgingly asked her why she doesn't publish/show her work more.  Wish I could have been there, and in fact was about to perform some work, with an early query from David Buuck, but I'm smack in the middle of teaching, so perhaps another year. Seems like I missed a lot of exciting stuff.  From XPoetics:

Poets Theater 2010 was curated by David Buuck, C.S. Giscombe, and Lauren Shufran.

SPT'second night of Poets Theater 2010 was entirely different from its first. In part a celebration of Patrick Durgin's 
The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater 1945-1985, edited by Kevin Killian and David Brazil, the night's festivities offered several plays from the anthology: Russell Atkins's "The Corpse," Robert Duncan's "The Origin of Old Son," Joe Brainard's "The Gay Way," and Bruce Andrew's "Song #3." The evening also featured two new plays, Tonya Foster's "Monkey Talk" and cassandra smith's "Interview."

Several of these plays included multimedia stagings. smith's "Interview" featured photographs of David Buuck eerily inhabiting the form of 
Jackson Pollock and Brandon Brown as Frank O'Hara. Pollock remained mute throughout, while most of the lines belonged to the garrulous Henry Haberdash who queried Pollack about his painting and the relationship of one drop to another. After each one-way dialogue, Haberdash blurted out, "Thanks, Jack, I feel great!"

Foster's "Monkey Talk" included excerpts from videotaped interviews with southern good-ole white boy Carl Denham and Queen Kong whose authenticity as a black southern woman was interrogated by Denham and Agent Driscoll. Onstage, Sojourner Williams and Agent Driscoll commented on this documentary "evidence," discussed Kong's essay "Seems" (Seams?) in a battle of interpretation. The play exposes the perilous and powerful valences of location and perspective, exploring how they undergird racism on the one hand, and enable resistances on the other. Some of the lines I jotted down:

"Blackness requires one to see from multiple perspectives" says Williams. 

"If Eve had been a black woman, she might have made the same choices, but at least she would have seen where the snake was coming from."

"I wasn't willing to be the exceptional other." 

"Maybe I just saw others, behind the other." 

. . . Head over to XPoetics for more . . . 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sacrificial Trees

                                             full book cover proof, Prefab Eulogies Vol 1: Nothings Houses (BlazeVox, forth. 2010)

Several projects are coming to a close, and as I now settle into teaching after a semester off, some trees are going to be sacrificed.  I'm not sorry given the tiny number of poetry / poetics books that are sold.  For instance, I expect to sell only about a million copies of Occultations, an artist book (designed by Jill Stengel & Mark Lamoureux) from Black Radish Books (Collective) that I've now got a release date for: April 1, & available thru SPD a couple weeks later, mid-April.  And given what Neo-Liberals have done to save the economy, I suspect I'll only manage to sell six hundred thousand copies of Prefab Eulogies Volume 1: Nothings Houses (BlazeVox).

I'm happy to find out from Geoffrey Gatza at BlazeVox that the final proof is now off to the printers, which should make the book available for purchase very soon; early Spring I'd imagine, at latest.  I'm really happy with what Geoffrey did in helping design the cover--taking my crap collages and making them legible.  So, my sincerest gratitude to Geoffrey.  

And my sincerest gratitude to Linh Dinh, Amy King, Jules Boykoff, and Catherine Taylor for writing too kind blurbs for the back of the book & website.

I just found out as well that Lourdes Vazquez found a home for an essay I wrote on her work a couple years ago, now part of a book I'm slowly working on--Necrophiliology: Aesthetic Practice During the Bush Regime.  She submitted it to and got it placed in the Brazilian journal of literature Sibila, edited by Charles Bernstein and poet Regis Bonvicino (English/Portuguese/Spanish).  That's cool: I've never had to do so little (nothing) to share my work with you.

Here is the English version.

Finally, a sincere thanks to Carlos Soto-Roman (post below), for formatting and re-formatting--basically spending too much time--my poems for Elective Affinities.  I've been working my way thru the pieces.  Really digging on Frank Sherlock's long poem at moment.

Finally finally, it's been a long haul, waiting on various pieces to arrive, making sure our chapbooks are able to come out with and soon after, but the new issue of Wheelhouse is nearly ready to be uploaded by designer-editor, Eden Schulz.  Excited for this issue and for the chapbooks, work from Uche Nduka, Stan Apps, & contributions to the journal from an amazing group of folks.  

Last, finally.  The new ON: A Journal of Contemporary Practice is coming out!  I'll post on this again when it is published.  Editors Michael Cross, Thom Donovan, and Kyle Schelsinger put out an amazing constellation of critical writings on contemporary poetries in the first issue. I've read some of the work from the new issue, and I'm certainly going to be ordering a couple copies asap.  Of course, they're beautiful art objects as well, with Cross (Atticus/Finch) and Schlesinger (Cuneiform) some of the finest book artist around.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

PRESS 2009-2010: Jules Boykoff & Kaia Sand

Join poet/activists Jules Boykoff and Kaia Sand for a tour of their latest work


The Evergreen State College
Where: Sem II Building, Room C1105
    When: January 28, 7:30pm 

Boykoff and Sand helped organize the recent Econvergence conference in Portland ( They are the founders of the Tangent Press and reading series in Portland ( and co-authored a new book on guerrilla poetry entitled Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry and Public Space (Palm Press 2008). 
Boykoff is the author, most recently, of Hegemonic Love Potion (Factory School, 2009) and Once Upon a Neoliberal Rocket Badge (Edge Books, 2006). He has also published and lectured widely on the suppression of dissent in the United States. He is a contributor to scholarly journals like Antipode, Social Movement Studies, and New Political Science as well as popular publications like the Guardian, Common Dreams, and XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics. He was an  invited speaker at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi, Kenya (2006), where he presented research he carried out on U.S. media coverage of global warming.  

Sand is the author most recently of Remember to Wave, forthcoming this winter with Tinfish Press. This collection investigates political geography in Portland, Oregon, and contains a poetry walk she guides. Her  collection, interval (Edge Books 2004), was selected as a Small Press Traffic Book of the Year and she is also the author/designer of several chapbooks through the Dusie Kollektiv. She is a contributor to Jim Dine’s Hot Dreams series (Steidl Editions 2008) and recently performed poetry collaged entirely from the North American Free Trade Agreement at the Positions Colloquium of the Kootenay School of Writing in Vancouver, British Columbia. At present, she is at work on The Happy Valley Project, multi-media collaborations investigating housing foreclosures and finance.