Monday, January 31, 2011

Black Radish Books @ AWP, A Mnemonic: F19

Though unfortunately I cannot make it to AWP--I say unfortunately because this year I sensed I could have fun onsite and not simply off--Black Radish Books will be there. Among many friends.

Come by and visit Black Radish, pick up some books, chat, and treat yourself to a free meal (at the expense of entities not Black Radish or table partner presses). We'll be in very fine company too! From the BR blog:

Black Radish Books, Coconut, Ping Pong, and the Dusie Kollektiv are going to the AWP Book Fair -- table F19. Come by and see us!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Eileen Tabios on Schaeppi's Sonja & Black Radish Books

Eileen Tabios just wrote a lovely recommendation-review of Kathrin Schaeppi's bang-up new collection, Sonja Sekula... In the piece Tabios also gives Black Radish Books a shout-out, some kind words indeed for the press. Many thanks to Tabios. Check out this brief write-up here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Announcements: Schaeppi, Brolaski, Conrad, & Donovan

1. Kathrin Schaeppi's genre-defying book Sonja Sekula: Grace In A Cow's Eye: A Memoir, is the latest title out from Black Radish Books and now available thru SPD. Published on the Black Radish Blog as of today is a 2nd reader response-review of the work, this one by Rebbecca Brown. A really good close read. Check it out.

2. Lots of exciting titles, as usual, announced as new from SPD this month--new work from Arielle Guy out of Dusie, Lisa Robertson's Soft Architecture re-released thru Coach House, etc. I'm particularly excited to see that Julian Brolaski's new UDP book is now out. This work's been coming along for some time--and ever since I heard Julian read from the work in 2009 when we were both reading for The Stain of Poetry Series, I was immediately blown away, intrigued, piqued. Copied from the SPD newsletter:

gowanus atropolis Julian T. Brolaski $15 | paper | 104 pp. Ugly Duckling Presse ISBN: 9781933254814 Poetry. LGBT Studies. GOWANUS ATROPOLIS attempts to reconcile the toxicity of the titular Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn and the east river in "Manahatta" with the poet's search for the pastoral in New York City. A queer elegy for when language might have been prior to thought, where the phrase becomes the thought, rather than the other way around—so that the dystopic might become, if not utopic, at least measurable / pleasurable, "melodious offal." "Once in a while there are poems which create entire fresh terrain. And I'm saying too that it's hard to come home from it, locator dials set anew. I'm jangling from the return, like the world had descended upon me so quickly through the poems it was some time before I realized I was still in one piece, and minted with a beautiful little scar. Julian's deviance is a hazard of poems which bend the muscle of light. I can hardly wait to share our extra strength when we've all read them!"—CAConrad. LINK→

3. NEW PRINT RUN IN THE WORKS: The last batch of the initial print-run of Occultations will be available thru SPD sometime in early Feb. (along with whatever remains from the few in stock now), so pick up yours up today--once sold out, Black Radish Books will be releasing another full print-run / edition of this, my first full-length collection of poems. I appreciate people's support of the book! Those who have gotten copies, of course. And. Many thanks to the Black Radish eds. Nicole Mauro, Marthe Reed, and Susana Gardner--they have worked so hard on the press and this book particularly, and Kate Robinson, co-designer with me of the book's internals. Many thanks too to those who have written on the book within the last 6 months of its existence: from blurbers Joan Retallack, Laura Elrick, CA Conrad, Thom Donovan, and David Buuck, to the several folks who have so far written some really insightful, generous reviews--Matthew Landis for Jacket 40; Rob Halpern, Brenda Iijima, J. Townsend, Jules Boykoff, and Thom Donvan for CA Conrad's PhillySound feature (interview, reviews, poetry) of my work; Nicky Tiso for Tarpaulin Sky Reviews; Kevin Killian and Susana Gardner for Attention Span 2010; Mark Wallace for Thinking Again; Sarah Fox for Montevidayo; Joe Milford for staging the audio reading/interview for his Joe Milford Poetry Show; and most recently Susan Smith Nash for PRESS 1. Links to these features are on the links bar to the right under reviews & ordering info-->

4. The collaborative chapbook by CA Conrad and Thom Donovan, Arthur Echo, from Robert Dewhurst's Scary Topiary Press, will be debuted in a couple days in Philly--the 30th. Check out the details here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Feeling We's Way Thru Michael Cross's Haecceities

Poet-book artist Kate Robinson just posted a few Stan Brakhage films over on her blog, and it triggered in me two auto-responses. First thought is that many Brakhage films, due to their abstraction, their silences, and their length, are probably as accommodating to You Tube as any extant films made for the screen can be. I'm not suggesting that watching one of his films on a large screen in the dark isn't a different, in fact contrastingly rather magical and disturbing experience. Just that there's something about this work, most of it from the late 50s thru the 70s, that is (maybe) both context-sensitive and torsional enough to be twisted, shaped, and transported--like phonemes as they are used and then used again from word to word, and then used and used again as self-contained, prosodic units that arrive within, and as, different material sites of expenditure, but retain shape too. A solidity and a flexibility of usage--and of affective treatment.

Which got me to my second Kodak half-baked thought-moment: having just received--thank you, Michael--Michael Cross's new Haecceities, tho I am loving this book, it wasn't till I was visited again by Brakhage that I had any idea with regard to how to describe it. (Well, I had some idea due to some very good reviews, and yet mainly due to an interpretive dance by Brenda Iijima, CA Conrad, Erica Kaufman, and Debrah Morkun while I visited Philly in Aug. The dance--a cathecting response of bodily energy transformed, inscribed by the poems--is lovingly influencing my thinking about what Haecceities desires, and so really coloring my thinking here.) The linguistic popping of Haecceities presences, as Talyor Brady implies, an emergent language-labor of what has not yet been foreclosed or what does not yet disclose, where the word-as-unit of measure is often a futuristic or torsional variant of an Elizabethan item, where "words... [arise] weed-like in the interval of that vanishing" "medium of the emblem" and so a particular prosody stemming from careful etymological research treats one so strongly that all one can do is submit to the "strain" of the lines, submit and then revel, hold tight with others in a collective act of squinting, then letting the image be--where what we end up trying to make out, giving into meaning-as-this-prosody, is our own future, instigated, perhaps even shaped, by the poetic in our midst.

This sensation of submitting to the inscription of the future by letting present unknowns carry me in the aftermath of struggle at least gives me a prima facie impression analogous to experiencing Brakhage's work for the first time. In a double sense: in the sense of letting it rake us, the impressions thus becoming a future-making in lyric gestures, of the work getting some handle on us, allowing us to make things of the work's internal and referential relations. And in the sense of reflecting on the process that Brakhage became famous for, manipulating the medium directly by scratching it, painting on celluloid, and via various emulsion techniques. Cross's prosodic elements are dug out, made by casting shadows on word parts and jamming them up against other word parts, or collaging found minerals, forming what Brady points out is a rhythmic duration as extimacy, which I think describes quite beautifully how the work reads by line and as one contoured and communal poem also. And it occurred to me that Brakhage's work is analogous--only analogous, nothing really more--in its extimate movement.

Thus it's worth--after reading the book on its own terms--having one or two parts read to you alongside watching, say, Brakhage's Glaze of Cathexis. Relating, for example, that film via link to the left, with (pg 19):

the many hundred wing-lit hives

so saucily so the onerous fever kenning

the coupling come coupling bound by night

this little things strung plenty like

yield the hollow soft hem the light

It's at the level of a sort of politics, a sort of reclaimed future, that I think said analogy, as any analogy, breaks away, where Haecceities it becomes even more obvious really is an island in our making it (of course islands these days aren't impossible to get to--we have all manner of transportation for that). A unique sense of active commoning as wreading emerges, for instance. As does (alongside that commoning) an imminent critique of the very "vocabulary of heraldry" that Brady identifies, again quite beautifully, as the saying stockpile here. A critique to draw upon from "higher" ground, built out of these units that build that vocabulary, co-created by Cross. By Cross and linguistic bedrock and, well, us.

So, I suppose this speaks to even James's warning about forming hypotheticals, let alone full-blown arguments, out of the Kodak moment, the sense-impression--but I couldn't help myself.

A gorgeous, uncompromising, and singularly unique book, Haecceities.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Speaking of Mills...

Kate Robinson on "Discussion Poetry" and a pdf of its broadside. Here you go.

PS: I'm really touched by Kate's comments, awhile back, regarding the "living room" in which we collaborated, she, Elizabeth, and I, and others collaborated, shot the shit etc., as part of her list of favorite 2010 moments. This is a lovely post all the way around: human moments, recollections of friendship.

Rebecca Brown on Kathrin Schaeppi's Sonja Sekula

Just ahead of the release of Kathrin Schaeppi's Sonja Sekula: Grace in a Cow's Eye: A Memoir comes an appropriately dark and shifting review of the title from fellow poet Rebecca Brown. It's over at the Black Radish Blog. I also appreciate the review because it enacts the narrative problematics of Schaeppi's wonderful book without getting too much into what is just as exciting but more obvious: the genre-breakage, the physicality, the painterly. Sonja should be available thru SPD, I'm told, in the coming days.

Peaches & Bats 7

Sam Lohmann seems to have done it again, editing another fine lineup for Peaches & Bats. I'll take this as an opportunity to give a shout-out to former student (studied philosophy-lit theory with me), now poet and wanderer, I believe, out of CA, Jen Burris, whose poetry shows up in the current issue. Jen's poetry is special. It's doing its own thing so honestly and in ways that pretty much every time I've read it gives me stabbing pains someplace between the back of the neck and the shoulder-blades. So, thrilled to see her work showing up in print more.

From Sam, Spare Roomie and very talented designer:

Peaches and Bats #7
features drawings by:
Dana Dart-McLean
Daniel J. Mitchell
Nate Orton
and poetry by:
Jennifer Bartlett
Jen Burris
Allen Edwin Butt
Joel Chace
Jen Coleman
Adriana Grant
Lindsay Hill
Jane Joritz-Nakagawa
Sarah Kelly
Sam Lohmann
Kyle Schlesinger
Cedar Sigo
James Yeary
64-page handsewn zine with letterpressed cover
(includes shipping in North America)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two Labor Day Links

Because I am SO slow to read stuff online, even stuff I'm deeply interested in and feel real kinship with, here are a couple links besides my own (written from afar, choppy, run-on) blog post, that speak to the Labor Day Event of 2010 organized by Brandon Brown, Sara Larsen, Suzanne Stein, Alli Warren, and David Brazil. One at A Tonalist Notes and another at Suzanne Stein's blog. Both in different ways mention the importance of non-academics taking the mic and giving talks about labor in relation to each discussant's poetry practices--insights those of us who teach should learn from (just as the converse, those outside academia going to or giving academic talks and learning likewise, as I used to when a full-time labor organizer--to speak for solidarity here in the same breath--has often been the case). Since any job sector is increasingly corporate, alienating, and de-humanizing, the questions here have shaken out as both unique to poetry and typical of binaries that have emerged, between work and personal time, out of the 70-hour work week: how might "we" gather together and think, write, and act--plan for action with regard to labor and, and of, poetry & poetics? To make room for our vocations to paraphrase Larsen and Brazil? To organize across-differences? Poetry's role (or non-role) as investigative, even labor-activist, here?

Awhile back--archived as pdf here and to the right under "critical writing online"--I wrote on this set of discussions in part because I really am glad these questions got asked in such fullness, and cross-generationally too. The tenured professoriate hasn't had much luck with their often less interested tenured colleagues, when trying to do so, in re-distributing resources internally or services externally. Most poetry teachers are contingent or casual workers, don't have much power in this regard and yet are interested in such shifts, and in numbers do the have organizing power to accomplish quite a bit. And what about for those who do have institutional power, those who aren't academic "interlopers" or otherwise casual, or part-time? I take it as not surprising that most of the flourishing faculty unionism and alternative pedagogy in higher ed is contingent or otherwise non-tenured faculty-led (or if not led, then very much co-created). And that, again not surprisingly, much of the bridge-building between academia and beyond, i.e., much of the interest in how to think anew about the politics and community of poetry pedagogy, comes out of non-full-time faculty working with folks from all manner of backgrounds who are poets, curators, critics. One can get stuck in the classroom. Especially when one doesn't have office windows.

I've made it no secret that (and this is my experience organizing, among many workers, academics) I find way too much complacency and lack of solidarity in academia. Too much myopia with regard to what engagement is or can be, too much interest in self in this short-term way, in actually self-defeating, pedagogy-defeating, colleague-defeating, and public service-defeating ways (careerism taking the place of wider engagements--and in many ways understandably: very few members of any faculty have any real job security, especially in the non-union private sector). Tho I caution myself at the same time here not to make wholesale generalizations: writers who are regular teachers such as Mark Wallace or Jules Boykoff or Juliana Spahr or Kaia Sand or Susan Schultz, and any number of others, have been tireless organizers and community activists. I myself am a regular teacher of text arts, mainly poetry, and an activist, albeit not a very effective one (choose your pick as to which "one" I'm talking about, ugh). And not to pretend that academia is any more complacent than many, maybe most other job categories. But especially at academic departments with prestige, whatever that means, and/or with writing MFA prorgams (mills rather than the more unusual small, more radical program such as Mills--capital versus small "M"), most faculty interested in labor and workplace, hence pedagogical radicalism, feel like a handful of folks in a sea of otherwise less-than-active folks. This felt especially true when organizing with adjuncts and teaching and research assistants at Ivy league institutions--the tenured faculty there were largely (not wholly) useless. "I'm supportive, but I have to go home at 5pm" seemed to be the motto.

Since momentum is in part a numbers (density) game, I should point out (to myself as well as anybody else) the myriad dejections workers have faced in the past decade of casualization--anti-union rulings by national boards, huge budget cuts, etc, all of it has made organizing that much more difficult, has amounted in the past 20 years to academics, especially at private institutions, where unionism was systematically made non-binding by Reagan--where institutions did not need anymore to legally recognize their faculty unions--rather disengaged and all the more careerist. So I suspect activism would haven been higher in academia, making those walls more permeable, had there not been such an historic loss of momentum. Luckily--however, due to some really even more difficult times--things are changing slowly. But for poetry the consequences have been very profound. Just as they have been in other job (and job-volunteer, i.e., unpaid job) sectors, where, again, organizing density and momentum is (and has been for even longer) staggeringly low due to corporate (managerial) resistances. At least this is part of the story anyhow.

Anyhow. Two really excellent synopses of these cross-job-category labor and poetry talks and discussions, covering much of these pressing concerns, are on the other side of the links above--great quotes from notes. Wish I'd checked these out sooner, but alas. They provide more thoroughness that I did, and, I'm sure, more accurate reportage.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Incorporated so what
Masked. Screen-

Shot, written to not now

Worn. Does this re-
Mind me

Of vacant houses

And the people
Who knock and re-
Turn without distance.

Spring Course 2011 (description)

For those interested, either because you read the course blog or because, and especially, you are a student at Evergreen, here's what's up for spring. Special thanks to those participants in Nonsite Collective's project on the commons, including those such as Kaia Sand, who have contributed to commoning discourses over at Nonsite at other times, under different--of course quite connected--curricula.

Experiments in Text: Art And The Reclamation Of Public Spaces

Faculty: David Wolach

Days & Times: 5-7p Wed & 4-6p Sat

Location: TBA

Enrollment: 24

Web Site: Course Blog: David's Public Text Arts & Politics Blog:

This course will focus on creative writing, but it will examine other art forms (critical writing, performance, visual arts and activist movements) that are concerned with the reclamation of public, lived spaces in the wake of increasing privatization and corporatization--creating "landscapes of dissent." From the investigation of institutions of education to artistic-activist collaborations, from treating the body as site of resistance to discussing its use and misuse as object to be commodified, we’ll ask whether art, and very often poetry, as poet and critic Thom Donovan writes, can “model the commons — how might [art and poetry] provide experiments in the practical organization against anti-democratic social hierarchies and the expropriation of labor, land, and natural resources?” We'll respond to this and similar questions by building individual text arts portfolios and by collaborating in small groups on more sustained text arts projects that seek to experiment, dissent and intervene.

Since one important function of this course will be to develop projects that can serve to both investigate and confront neoliberal (often corporate) enclosures, we'll be moving from the abstraction of the page to the streets. We'll therefore interrogate the “artistic” and "poetic" in relation to the “political,” stretching our understanding of both activism and creative writing. We will do this both by making our own creative works and by looking at the examples provided by other writers, visual artists, and scholars, such as Jules Boykoff & Kaia Sand, CA Conrad & Frank Sherlock, Robert Kocik & Daria Fain, Kristin Prevallet, Laura Elrick, Amy Balkin, Sylvia Federici, Juliana Spahr, Stephanie Young, Jacques Ranciere, Karl Marx, George Oppen, Brenda Coultas, Tonya Foster, Stephen Collis, The Situationists, Nonsite Collective, and several others. This course will build on some of the material introduced in “Experiments in Text: Transgressive Art & Transgressive Bodies” (Winter 2011), but it is notnecessary to have taken the previous course—nor is it necessary to have any prior experience in creative writing, art, or literary-critical theory. This is an all-level course.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Marathon Reading: The Maximus Poems

Reminder to all out here in the NW: Spare Room Collective is co-sponsoring the marathon reading of Olson's The Maximus Poems in Portland this weekend. Going on now thru the 16th. I hope to get down there on the 16th (teaching otherwise). Do check out the marathon if you have the chance. From the Spare Room Collective website:

Joining the celebrations of poet Charles Olson's centennial that have taken place around the country over the past year, Spare Room has organized a three-day/three-location marathon reading of Olson's book-length epic, The Maximus Poems.

Locations, times, and readers are listed below. (Readers are listed in scheduled order, which is subject to change.)

For a compendium of Olson resources, including links to recordings, interviews, essays, and other documents, see the Olson pages at SUNY Buffalo's Electronic Poetry Center and the Poetry Foundation.

Occultations Reviewed in the New Press 1

Many thanks to the editors of PRESS 1, Arlene Ang, Jordan Schilling, and Valerie Fox, for publishing Susan Smith Nash's review of Occultations in the latest issue of the journal. I'm just now cracking open the journal to check out the new poetry inside, which as usual, lives alongside some vibrant visual art. From Nash: Wolach creates a frame of “body maps and distraction zones” which suggests how poetics represents the way in which the body becomes a zone of invasion that parallels the meta-politic...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Washington State Book Awards

Many thanks to Black Radish Books, The Washington Center for the Book, and others for nominating Occultations for the 2010 Washington State Book Award. Got word a few days ago but it's been the first week of our semester--so my apologies for just getting to this now.

The Three P's For a Fair Budget: Party, Performance, Picket

Please join us Jan 15-16 for the first annual Fair Budget Fair (doesn't that name indicate how sorely you're needed?). Talks, performances, and readings will occur throughout the day and night, with full schedule available at the OlyBlog and the where/when below. I'll be reading/performing Saturday Jan 15 at 630, and several members of our performance research ensemble will be contributing work throughout the two days.

The First Annual Fair Budget Fair

Jan 15 2011
Jan 16 2011

From today's inbox:

Brought to you by the Olympia Coalition for a Fair Budget

THE FIRST ANNUAL FAIR BUDGET FAIR urgently needed community response to the continuing -and worsening- cuts to the state budget

Saturday 1/15 11:00am --- 8:00pm Sunday 1/16
The Eagles Hall (bottom floor)
805 4th Ave E
Olympia, WA

The governor's new budget proposal calls for the elimination of Basic Health, the only source of healthcare for 66,000 people as well as eliminating healthcare for 27,000 children. 49,000 people with disabilities will lose state assistance. K-12 education is losing $2.2 billion, and higher education is under attack again too, with higher costs and lower quality.

Community groups, artists, musicians, activists, and anybody else who wants to participate are coming together to inform and get informed about the cuts and to make plans for saving our jobs, and all the public services so many of us need and rely on. There will also be information about local resources for meeting our needs as funding for state programs are whittled away.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's January of the New Year: ALL HANDS ON DECK

As my old union Local 2110 UAW celebrates its 25th anniversary (before that it was part of the storied--and just as radical--District 65 UAW), we enter another year of budget cuts and potentially precedent-setting worker victories in just about every sector and job category; and yet we need recognize that these cuts, from layoffs to decreased wages, rights and benefits for workers, don't share a simple cause-effect relationship to the recession. The recession, though a very real consequence of two wars and other disastrous neoliberal policies, in my experience as organizer during the current crisis and just after 9-11, is used as an effective excuse to bust unions and deny workers rights, as excuse to cut services in the public sector (education, here in WA, or in CA, for example), and as a corporate pressure point in lobbying for more Wall Street bonuses and fewer (no) controls.

This isn't cynicism--this is the day to day operation of huge law firms like Proskauer Rose LLP, representing NYU administrators in their battle to deny teaching assistants and research assistants there, and at Columbia University (not to mention countless other workers in other fields) the right to form legally recognized unions. This is the day to day operations of in-house counsel working alongside PR firms and upper managements who are wanting to maintain a level of institutional control, and a lifestyle they are used to, on the backs of folks who are not them but who they owe. Increased commodification of workers is coming in wave after wave of proposed legislation. See Mark Wallace's latest post regarding proposed Cal State cuts and its faculty association letter warning against the cuts, which of course come in the wake of huge cuts to the UC system (and in preparation for future cuts at UC). The new proposed budget cuts to education here in Washington represent not only an existing reality for current union contract negotiations such as ours at Evergreen, but will continue to be used at every turn as an excuse for demanding furloughs, hiring freezes, and tuition increases, but also the rejection of proposals for worker safety, curricular freedoms, educational outreach, stronger grievance procedures, financial aid programs, and so forth--since management and state labor lawyers know very well that such rights and services are a tougher sell to voters facing the rhetoric as well as the reality of a worsening economy than they usually are--who are facing similar from counsel at their workplaces. See Labor Notes' (link below) expose' on systematic cuts to public sector labor and services this month--and the Building and Trades predictable complicity here--as an example of an unwillingness to bargain in good faith and come up with collaborative, collective decisions that can ensure all are shouldering responsibilities equally, i.e., in relation to their stake at their workplace, as well as in relation to whether it'd run if these folks weren't working there: that is, policies that ensure both worker benefit increases and long-term "fiscal sustainability."

Impossible? Nah. Been done before--and under worse conditions. It may prima facie sound legitimate that steep cuts in a state's budget, or a downturn in the private sector, should translate into cuts jobs, in worker pay and benefits, but such arguments rely not on logic or even economic soundness (most often this is a modification of trickle-down saving strategies--Reganomics) but on fear: "we don't make cuts here, you'll be the one to carry the burden there." Fear, as in divide and conquer--on site, and between sectors. One look at the general decline of unionism since the 50s, or the widening gap in wage to cost of living, or the drastic decline in production, and one can see the flaws in such corporate rhetoric. Things haven't gotten better for the vast majority of us--the real economy--since at latest the 75 gas shortage, so why should continuing to agree to the same worker cuts, giving in to the same divide and conquer strategy, or otherwise caving on the same free-marketeering rhetoric, produce different results now? The same folks who tell us we have to spend money to make money say we they have to save money to make money. Which is it? And what, pray tell, are the states' priorities? Education? No. Healthcare? No. There will be no long term administration--let alone thriving--of a population sans systematic resistance to policies that afford no distribution of wealth.

As bubbles form quicker and pop quicker too, as commodity gets purer every day, we are asked to form the surplus value of what is otherwise a brokering shell. More money for no service becomes the public motto, shell out becomes the private one. Why'd we tolerate buying nothing, or less, for more? Which in education, eg, amounts to paying more each year for fewer services (cf the rise in for-profit educational enrollments, the increased enrollments at sate institutions despite drastic increases in cost)? Because the phraseaology has a built in ethical demand: help your struggling economy today and you'll go to heaven, or at least feel good about yourself, tomorrow. Whether that means contributing to the sub-prime student loan bubble because you're out of work now or because it's time to go to college, alongside the pressure of such "investment" by the de-regulated marketplace, is a rhetoric that feels quite "natural" but is, in fact, wholeheartedly manufactured: "things are bad everywhere--schools have to raise tuition; they must layoff workers/cut services. What else are they supposed to do?" This is a manufactured rhetoric that says: this temporary moment of buying nothing equals charitable giving.

Below are some places to start, for any of those interested in further resources and news regarding your labor's movement, and yet know not where to begin. Just a few starter links (I focus here on education somewhat because of recent education-related legislative and other developments, but the AFL-CIO link alongside the Labor Notes link--the latter who often, and sometimes quite rightly, criticize the AFL--should get those interested started, with Labor Notes, eg, linking to several radical Marxist-anarchist organizations that aren't, eg, affiliated with the AFL, and conversely):

AFL-CIO BLOG & WEBSITE (see different departments, with links to UC's UAW local, tuition-hike resistance coalition, etc, and links to petitions and ways to help organize)

Education: UAW (United Auto Workers), AFT (American Federation of Teachers), LOCAL 2110 UAW (radical union, one of the leaders in higher ed organizing) - each of these have action campaigns to hook into.

For Writers - The NWU

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"To School An Intelligence And Make It A Soul..."

Am writing the essay-review on it as of this week, and then this. This is Frank. This is right.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Imaginary Syllabi

Been excited about this project since hearing about it when I first met Jane at Bard College in 2008. Now out is the Sprague/Palm Press ed. anthology, Imaginary Syllabi. As one who regularly teaches a course on radical pedagogy, poetry, & politics, this will certainly be on my, ahem, syllabus next time around. And as one who is often confused by the rhetoric around the (to me) unnecessary--or imaginary--divide between academics who write poetry and those who work in other fields, I think this series of complications will help clarify (in a non-discursive way) the structural, systematic, i.e., impersonal crisis of American education, that cleft between the simple and conservative cost-benefit economics of the corporate university and the yet-to-exist radical potential of the critical pedagogical environment (so, by "academic" I don't mean the tenured power-wielding asshole, the department chair, the staid game player, the complicit manager, but--as is usually the case--the contingent or otherwise power-less faculty, every bit as contingent and often as alienated as those outside the university). Yet I think this will be a book important for anyone invested in the social-political potential of writing and writing pedagogy, those who are paid faculty and those who are "teachers" or "co-learners" in a different, perhaps more generative sense--since what I just described I take to be one aspect, or set of concerns, among myriad others covered here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Nonsite Collective & SF Camerawork Residency

As announced by David Buuck on his blog, thus reminding me to do same, Nonsite Collective and SF Camerawork have embarked on a 4-month collaborative residency focusing on various questions and problems related to the disappearing commons and commoning, as part of As Yet Untitled: Artists and Writers In Collaboration. The opening was yesterday. If even to check things out in Feb, I hope to participate in this exciting collaboration, but due to living out in WA and, frankly, due to recent personal tragedies, I've been out of the loop on this important work. So, now that things are underway, I'm again excited by tonight's opening, and what's to come for this partnership/set of collaborations, actions, and etc. Go to Nonsite for info about the ideas/problems being wrestled with here, and then head over to SF Camerawork for details about the whole project, aesthetic objects beyond this collaboration that SF Camerawork sponsors, curates, etc.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

IWW Halo? I'll Take Two

Will Owen, Seattle poet and curator of last month's show of spatial poetry "An Opening Is Nothing" at Ver(a)rt Gallery, sent me a photostream of pics from that evening, among them some great shots of work by Nico Vassilakis, Jeff Derksen, Bethany Ides, and shots of our ensemble performing Kenneth Gaburo's Maledetto. In the email Will pointed out that the Vera Project logo just above my head shares design (and in some ways political) affinity with the IWW logo. What do you think? I think that were I to want a halo of something, it just might be that consisting of the IWW logo.

New Series @ The Common: Brown, Spahr, Fitterman

I'm very pleased to have received this, the below, from amazing poet, translator, person, Brandon Brown. A pretty great way to kick things off too! If in or around the Bay Area, check er out...

I'm thrilled to announce a new reading series in San Francisco at THE COMMON (1077 Mission Street at 7th. ONE BLOCK from CIVIC CENTER BART). The inaugural reading features JULIANA SPAHR and ROB FITTERMAN. It all goes down THURSDAY, JANUARY 13th at 7:30 p.m. It costs $5. This is a good one!
I hope to see you there!
Robert Fitterman is the author of 10 books of poetry including: The Sun Also Also Rises, war the musical, Metropolis XXX: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Edge Books), Metropolis 16-29 (Coach House Press), Metropolis 1-15 (Sun & Moon Press), This Window Makes Me Feel ( Metropolis 1-15 was awarded the Sun & Moon “New American Poetry Award (2000)” and Metropolis 16-29 was awarded the Small Press Traffic “Book of the Year Award (2003)”. With novelist Rodrigo Rey Rosa, he co-authored the film What Sebastian Dreamt which was selected for the Sundance Film Festival (2004) and the Lincoln Center LatinBeat Festival (2004). He has been a full-time faculty member in NYU’s Liberal Studies Program since 1993. He also teaches poetry at the Milton Avery School of Graduate Studies at Bard College.

Juliana Spahr lives in Berkeley. Her next book, A Megaphone: Some Enactments, Some Numbers, and Some Essays about the Continued Usefulness of Crotchless-pants-and-a-machine-gun Feminism (co-edited with Stephanie Young) went to the printer this week

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Blood Sport

CA Conrad relays an account of another case, so it seems, of bullying difference to death. Whether the boy at his former high school had been bullied to suicide because he was gay or whether due to autism, or both... matters and doesn't, Conrad notes. Because here is what's so goddamn important. I felt this in Detroit too. A BIG city. Here is what is important, in any case. From Conrad:

I'm sad that the sharp taste of blood is still on the tongues out there in rural Pennsylvania. Taste for destroying the different. It's easy to be transgressive in such a repressive environment.

It's easy to die transgressing out there. What to do?

It's easy to transgress out there--one false move, absolutely. Matter of life and death, not a fancy choice, is it? No answer to his question, of course. It's worth attempting a response, tho. Transgressing in numbers, or to feel one is doing so, should I think be generated via an organizing-as-support structure, and rarely is. I was beaten pretty badly by a bully jock in high school. After he broke my cheekbone and smashed my face in he joined the Air Force. Then he told everyone he was a sexual deviant too! And quit a few years later. Or now that I think about it, was probably kicked out. I didn't feel much in common with him then, or after. Or now. So I guess my response to Conrad's all important question is: What caused this person to be a violent homophobe? What was it that led me to avoid that all-too-easy self-loathing and destructive behavior? In many respects we were (maybe still are) quite similar. Quite. I don't suffer from the delusion that there's some simple causal relation to be had. And am glad about that. But there's something that Conrad's TBOF, its world, allegorizes: not necessarily lack of love, but lack of thoughtful struggle with and support for, a support which can--and often should--manifest as outrage, or perhaps less normatively, militancy in the sense that the boy who beat me didn't get from the Air Force, or, apparently, from the satisfaction of making somebody else besides him bleed for it. It's the lack allegorized in TBOF which, on my reading, heightens a feeling of urgency for it. Of aching for it. An unrelenting lack transforms allegorical figures into their ghosts. Lacks thus making invisible the pulsing lifeblood of the place, its very meager subsistence. Precisely the inverse of the real world Conrad's in a rush to co-create, not by proxy but by poetry--i.e., the poetic, which is to suggest a way of becoming in and of the world that is both loving and militant, grounded in the every day and filled with magic. How to get there? How to organize for it?

Hold It

I'd like to thank Lindsey Boldt for adding the reading Rob Halpern and I did at David Brazil & Sara Larsen's Life Long Dream Come True Series as one of her favorite things of 2010. Now, I also want to thank Lindsey for kindly holding it till the very end--the climax, as it stands--of the evening. I mean, if there is one way to define the poetic I think it just might be: an action of a transitory decor for which one would sacrifice life, limb, and glandular plosive, when necessary, up to and including holding it, as in its fullest expression, participation in said action is equal to or greater than the regenerative force of a painful laughter, and/or the damaging effects of the pee pee dance.

I would add that a night after our reading (I think? Or two.) Lindsey read with David Brazil, which for sure is one of my favorite moments of 2010. Or any year. Both readings were awesome in really different, but oddly complimentary, ways. I wrote on that reading back in Aug, so available in the archives. Boldt's prose-PT mixture narrating the hostile takeover by a hundred-foot Goldie Hawn of downtown SF, and the Goldie of Overboard no less--fabulous. Which, by the way, for those uninterested in following the IMDB link here, gives this as the movie's official tagline:

Rich bitch Joanna hires country carpenter Dean to build a closet on her yacht. When the two don't see eye-to-eye...

Reading it to self aloud in the movie trailer guy voice (you know, that voice) doesn't help here. The only marginal salvation of the tagline is in the hardly veiled double-coding gatcha of the metaphors, "closet" and "closet," etc., as the IMDB--Amazon-like hetero corporate giant it is--kickoff for this movie's page...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Stephen Vincent's New Haptic Book

Speaking of Stephen Vincent and his haptics--as I did in my thank you note below--got word of Stephen's new codex-like book of Haptics, big & beautiful judging from the photos. Really amazing work. Check out his blog for those photos and a full description of the project. And for the beautiful smaller haptic he did of my Nonsite talk, re the body, Occultations, commoning, I thank him again for that lovely gift of an aesthetic transliteration. Meanwhile, below is mini-description of the book and how it came about--a teaser from his blog:

In December (already last year!) during my Djerassi residency, for several hours each day I roamed up, down, over and around the 500 acres of forests(Redwood, Oak, Pine, Madrone), late fall grass meadows, rocky mountain tops (from which I could see the Pacific Ocean some 10 miles away), deep canyons, and a deep creek filled canyon. Light varied from luminous to the darkest of Redwood forest shades. With me I carried an array of pens and, at the start, a blank accordion fold book. Composed of 46 adjoining panels, each one 3.5 x 11.5″ (vertical).
In advance, without exactly knowing where, I decided go to 20 different sites and make 2 haptic drawings for each site.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Quote of the Eve...

I used to internalize others' fear of poetry as an aggression against me. I see poetry fear now as a fear of magic, terror that meaning will be thrown up in the air, juggled, and then spilled on the floor like balls, or like bananas. Code orange for the poetry terror level.

---Susan Schultz, from her blog

Cuneiform Press Turning 10

As Cuneiform Press celebrates its 10th anniversary, Rob McClennan interviews editor (and co-editor with Thom Donovan and Michael Cross of ON: A Journal of Contemporary practice), Kyle Schlesinger. I've been an admirer not just of the press and of Kyle's poetry for some time, but, like many of us, what he does as book artist. He and Cross work rather beautifully together--and as individual designers. Good terrain covered on the Cuneiform blog and via the interview by Rob. So. Do check out the incisive discussion here.