Monday, March 28, 2011

Roy & Heavy Chemicals

I believe it is possible to have one identity in your thumb and another in your neck. I think identities can travel between persons who have an unusual mutual sympathy. -- Camille Roy

<-----This resonates, as does the rest of Camille Roy's "Experimentalism. Why." as re-published by Michael Cross over on Cross's blog The Disinhibitor.

I come late to the hoopla (can hoopla be used to denote an exciting to-do without sarcasm? I hope so) -- above/later on Michael's blog is Part 1 of Roy & Cross corresponding (also deeply worthwhile), the interview marking the pre-engagement to Roy's forthcoming book of poems. That series of essays, from Narrativity, is on the whole eye-opening. Pieces by edwards, Roy, Gladman, and Halpern, and others, I've assigned in my poetry/poetics courses, each time spurring surprising seminar discussions. So, thank you Michael & Roy. For your giving instigation at the sound of the opening bell (computer turning on), which would involve, as the evening progressed, needing to work on the second semester of my course on poetry, poetics, and resistance to neoliberal enclosures. The Disinhibitor dis-inhibited once again, proving (proving? No. Something else, something something) that a smidge of online procrastination is potentially generative, this post, e.g., allowing me after reading it to engage in a comparatively articulate conversation with myself about "succinctness" in relation to writing evaluations of student work, an end of semester activity I long-windedly participate in three times a year as part of teaching at Evergreen. A pep-talk for the inevitable tremendous and indulgent failure that would ensue. I had fun.


[ I looked in the mirror when I got up and said aloud: "you are a motor vehicle today." Then began looking at the face, so-called. ]

Action Alert: More Union Busting Legislation

We've just received word – anti-worker legislators in the House are about to make it much more difficult for railway and airline employees to form unions.
House Transportation Chairman John Mica – who has taken more than $620,000 in campaign contributions from the airline industry – quietly slipped a provision into FAA reauthorization legislation that would count non-voters as "no" voters in union elections. So even if there are more "yes" votes than "no" votes, the "yeses" could still lose. Can you think of any other election that works that way? It's as outrageous as it is shamefully undemocratic.Congress could vote on the provision as soon as WEDNESDAY – we need to make sure they know Americans are actually paying attention!
Last year, the National Mediation Board established rules based on fundamental fairness and democratic principles for workers in the rail and airline industry. Now, those workers have the right to vote "yes" for a union or "no" against it. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Beauty Is A Verb

Many thanks to Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northern for bringing several of us together,  who are interested in discourses around "disability," and then spending much of this year editing our collected contributions of poetry and essay to the forthcoming anthology, Beauty Is A Verb: An Anthology of Poetry, Poetics, and Disability. Of course I've yet to see most of the specific contributions herein, but knowing many of the current contributors' work more generally, I think it safe to say that this anthology will, as Jennifer notes below, be wide-ranging within the largely contested bounds of disability studies as examined poetically. Many thanks too to those who contributed to Nonsite Collective's curricula on somatic practices, the commons, and disability/post-abelism. The curricula span the years 2008-present and each suite, as intersecting with the others, has influenced my thinking/writing thru "disability" -- perhaps more than any other one transitory locus of activity. (See the curriculum pages for past talks/discussions/performances etc.)

More on the book as it takes shape. For now, below is Bartlett's note:

Great news! The anthology I have spent the last year co-editing with Sheila Black and Michael Northen, Beauty is a Verb, is coming out in September from Cinco Puntos. It's a collection of poetry and poetics by/on poets with disabilities including Norma Cole, Brian Teare, Dannielle Pufunda, Michael Davidson, Jim Ferris, Larry EignerJosephine Miles, Cynthia Hogue, Denise Leto, Hal Sirowitz, and so on. 

Please help us spread the word. We believe this is the first such collection, and it crosses the genres of Language poetry, narrative poetry, New York School, Disability Poetics, and so on. If you know anyone who might be interested in reviewing the anthology or having a reading or university visit - please by all means, let us know.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cannot Exist Chapbooks! & Cannot Exist 7!

Difficult to contain my excitement about this news. A new CA Conrad (soma)tic chapbook--on the heels of having read The Book of Frank and worked with Conrad's (soma)tics in my class the last 3 weeks. A new issue of Cannot Exist (a wonderful mag edited by Andy Gricevich, of one of my favorite troupes The Nonsense Company), and Sara Larsen's new chap, poems of which I've read and LOVE. Beautiful. The details, from the Cannot Exist blog:

special pre-order deals on new CANNOT EXIST CHAPBOOKS and CANNOT EXIST no.7

We are overjoyed to announce the first four volumes in the new series ofCannot Exist chapbooks, helped into being by editors Andy Gricevich and Lewis Freedman:

MUGGED Into Poetry by CAConrad
Bridge of the World by Roberto Harrison
The Hallucinated by Sara Larsen
How's the Cows by Jess Mynes

and also the imminent appearance of Cannot Exist no.7, featuring astonishing work by:
John Coletti
Corrina Copp
Beverly Dahlen
Connie Deanovich
Laura Elrick
Mike Hauser
Hailey Higdon
Sara Larsen
Kit Robinson
Ron Silliman
Dana Ward

All this will be coming in APRIL!

Seeds in Cars & Houses

for Brenda Iijima

Frame|d milk on brown
Oval ply|wood o monu
Meant.  Pour moi poor
Moi pic’d the doors

Jam|ed the hole|d
Spaces in me say and
Say for stay|ed
Wood.                         Ward.                         Ave.

Cars enshrine|d the yearly
The early drive slow|ed
To see the grammar of engines
Post-Fordian             low hum names a
Time|d for skill|ed death these
Scratches            [escratches]

Never snapp|ed shots
Like the eye this is,
Drinks some re verbs
This statue|d can I talk
To a 74 chevy novas

Imagine|d registers
The monetary value
Of my mother said
Stead.                        Read.                        Drink

Up before the sun
Comes unhinge|d
For strong bones
To with|stand to cup
The shear of History

Pavements a bust of pre
The ave|s sponsors
In|stalled a deadhouse
After house says xe says
Frame|d how each

Mile we drove we
Drive stands in
For a future             WORD
Speed  ometer reads us
Crystalline, milk|ed still.              Sill.                        Steel.

Comp in
The margins  
Log of names a chasse
What writes itself
A question comes apart

Slows as pour|ed us may
Be back fires burn
Outs in wait for shows:            what

Rises to the surface is
All ways has been            a             has
Been in the interval?

Keep the Pressure On: Wisc. Judge Issues Restraining Order Against Anti-Worker Legislation, Rallies Continue

This is a cross post from the Wisconsin State Journal

A Dane County judge Friday issued a temporary order blocking implementation of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial measure limiting collective bargaining rights for public employees, saying a legislative committee likely violated the state Open Meetings Law when it rushed passage of the bill March 9.
Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued the order around 10:30 a.m. in a lawsuit brought by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.
The ruling bars Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law, the last step before it can take effect. La Follette had planned to publish the law on March 25, which would cause it to take effect the following day.
Walker, who signed the bill last week, had asked La Follette to publish it sooner. But La Follette said he saw no urgency to move the law ahead and wanted to give legal challenges a chance to run their course.
The crowd kept growing today as thousands marched on the Wisconsin state capitol to support the right of workers to bargain for a good life. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

from Occultations @ Greg Bem's Stale Attitude, Plus Heroldo de Campos

Greg Bem (co-curator of The Bredline Performance Series, to the left), I've discovered, is another person who seems to have an endless well of energy, and more importantly, a desire to start trouble in the best ways here amid the growing Seattle poetry communities. He's curating many things, helping out with others, and got his sleeves generally rolled up when it comes to making stuff. After we met and talked at the Hedreed Gallery reading awhile back, he emailed me the devastating de Campos poem "Transient Servitude." And asked if I would send him the poem I read from Occultations, "song for neighborhood watches," first published in Elective Affinities....

Greg has kindly published it here. Regarding the limitations of the body: I think we don't know what the body as a body desires. Or, maybe: "the body" is an empty picture frame. Only certain people can hold it up or hook it with an "=". Corporate persons, mirrors, ghosts. I am curious about the functional substrates of the marionette. What can't we do?


Charles Bernstein has written of de Campos that unlike the latter's concrete poetry, the lineated work and prose poems can't be translated other than radically, due to their multicultural/syncretic and citational "thickness." Properties which come from de Campos's particular practices of radical translation: an appropriation that resists export (hence commodified reduction thru translation) and also a notion of import that is tied to fidelity and autonomy (where translation bows in citational exactitude to its source material, its found authors, as "greater than" rather than for the love of...).  Since I do not read Portuguese (or speak it), really since I don't know de Campos's work very well either, I would not know what to think of this claim in relation to others that can be made of the poet's poetics and politics viz. translation and appropriation. So I think, instantly, of translator-poet Chris Daniels as one source for enlightenment here, someone who I need contact to hear more. Regardless of "accuracy" tho, I can see why Bem moves from de Campos to the talk we had, and the couple poems I read as part of that talk, but more so to the body and its status as pain-sensor and refractive collage conscious of its own desires, the consciousness dependent on social triggering and long-term administration (Grosz, "Bodies and Cities"). Questions about limit, sovereignty, and share-ability (perhaps what can only be translatability) of senses, desires, and the constative-performative polyglot aspects of utterance heard in shared vs unshared context. Under what conditions is that Poundian prima facie violence of rending--radical translating--not a kind of expropriation or subsumption of voice? In both Pound and in de Campos, and also in Zukofsky and in (my mind wanders) Cage, and early 20th cent. American and European composers such as Krenek, the ethos of radical translation is made possible, perhaps, by building these appropriational structures on a foundation of intimacy, i.e., solidarity, with that source. And by solidarity I mean to muddy the waters: I'd hope that to avoid expropriation or subsumption there would need be an affinity with people whose works one mines, but clearly with Pound that's not so tout court. His lack of solidarity with some of the people whose work he cites might be matched only by his solidarity with their poetries--which, however contradictory that may be, is also a typical position for modernist authors convinced that poets were potentially separate (I say potentially because Barthes hasn't become fashionable yet) from their poems (with the proviso that when one likes the person and the poetry, the two are exceptionally one). "Penetration" and "touch" as contiguous I think as I write this, relating these initial flickers back to both Halpern and Finch on Oppen, where I take Halpern and Oppen to be especially nuanced with regard to being concerned with care (of bodies, of thoughts, of texts) on the one hand and staging of dissensus via submission and vulnerability, on the other: in both the either/or here collapses, the hands come together so to speak.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Exciting Read O The Day: Williams on Toscano on Williams on CPT

[I cannot watch the news any longer. The images are too much. Panic attack earlier I think precipitated by them. On in background as I heard first in the morn about the traveling radiation. Selfishly thought about my mother. Went back to bed. Then: The death toll, as of my return tonight to this, the afternoon break-from-work post, is at 13,000 and rising in Japan. And the discussion over the numbers and images is what this means for the American and global economies, which is to say the stock market... Panic does you no good my grandpa used to say in the showers before going in his retiree complex pool... afraid not of the pool but the showers, toxic I used to know they were toxic to us.]


Doing my once-a-day break n read, then write, I came across new responses to the Labor Day 2010 event now on that event's blog, which as I write this, "event's blog" feels productively problematic in relation to the conversation that had me getting up from my chair and pacing several times in a row (first time that's happened this week). I've only read one response, the others later, but the Williams-Toscano piece is a deeply exciting one. I suspect Alli Warren, Suzanne Stein, Brandon Brown, David Brazil, and Sara Larsen (and contributors to) will not mind me excerpting what I take to be one of the disappearing axes of Tyrone Williams' piece on Toscano (or Toscano's on Williams, or the two as they morph thru each other):

CPT (even the small part I witnessed at Miami University, Ohio in early 2009) relentlessly puts forth the dilemma of articulating positions for resistance, if not opposition, and the seemingly impossibility (or difficulty) of locating positions for resistance, and yet the radical non-site of CPT suggests that this indeterminate (in space and time) resistance might be more potent than any kind of localized/specified politics of opposition since the “opposite” itself has been annexed by capitalism/imperialism and the historical failure of a Marxism contorted into “premature” states—a prematurity that resulted in totalitarianism. Would these histories serve as warnings for what is posed at the outset of CPT, that “premature truncation into social discourse in general”? Would poetic discourse, here, serve as a kind of anti-absorptive obstacle and reserve for a culture and economics founded on the innovation/obsolescence dyad?

Rodrigo Toscano from (New Resistant Subjects [Bot to Bot]} part 4 of Conditions of Poetic Production and Reception

One way that [kari] edwards invited the precariousness that we‘re talking about (―not an avant-garde that must think itself in relation to an ‗outside‘…or one that plays in sandboxes of semiotics forever either‖) was by incorporating biological-physical death as an inbuilt limit to key life-making processes (labor, art, sex); and by extension, the ―freedoms‖ that these processes suggest, that they must be embraced as completely as possible. But I would suggest too that these same ―life-making processes,‖ – that they too, be understood as constrictions to yet other life-making processes, ones that are as yet unidentified. This would suggest a rather strange embrace of anti-―purpose‖ (even as voluntary degradation!) so that we have to make curiosity, make the chimerical, make the evanescent even, that is, in contrast to ―research.

There is not only translation of a poetics into a space there is only translation of the body into the body in another space even if—especially if—the body is the “same.” This body typing this today, 1/18/10, MLK Day, a “national holiday,” is not the same body that will soon arise from this chair.. 

Williams' and Toscano's (re)turn to the body here is crucial for current and future political-poetic (aesthetic) engagement. The body as first site(s) of resistance and transformation, of becoming; and the absorptive economy that blocks and threatens to block a return (or turn) to the body as such. There's more than an analogy between labor organizing in the concerted, more directly goal-driven way one thinks of such organizing, and the CPT discussion Williams and Toscano engage in here (not to mention Williams' poetry, and in CPT itself).

It's that "getting up from my chair" or "arise from this chair" moment, the determinate coordinates of that getting up or not getting up, and the indeterminacy-potential of that motion, that I'm interested in. In Williams' beautiful reminder of the little deaths each of us undergoes in the moment the body rises. But also in the parameters (perceived and "actual") in the moment between starting to rise and having risen into (unto?) something else. Here getting "stuck" in that middle position can be thought of as an affective disability now re- or de-articulated as liminal strength, as capacity of/thru the as-yet and the un-named. I'm interested in this. And in relation to Williams' wondering whether CPT enacts thru its continual moments of release-time (where bodies under stressful reaching--these entities--desire us to release them for more pleasurable future positions), an indeterminate resistance (and tension) that might be "more potent than any kind of localized/specified politics of opposition, since the "opposite" itself has been annexed by capitalism/imperialism."

[ Toscano and Williams discuss edwards' commitment to the possibilities the body's embrace (as acknowledgment, as limit, but as therefore possibility-making) of its own death in this regard, as to embrace life-making processes of labor, sex, art, to truly hold onto them, is to allow for the body to translate into another, for these little deaths to occur along the way (a letting go and return, a continual dispersal and return, an urgency there in this process). And what edwards' poetics and activism might afford us here (a gorgeous right-on connection come what may), and my thinking of the counter-commonsense involved in that giving over to another, in a kind of death of self and so its return but transfigured, this embrace (presence), instancing a poetic that closes gaps between just-then and just-now, between representation and non, between bodies (life-giving contact and giving up of propriety in a sense, a more than acknowledgment, in each instance, sex, art, labor, speaking of de-privatization), where radical liminality, even disappearance or non-legibility at moments of contact (not in general but in these generative moments of greatest urgency, intimate) can be counter-intuitively a potent resistance of indeterminacy, becoming--hence a making or opening up to what Toscano senses these processes might be constricting? I don't know... I think of edwards here in relation to Dean Spade lately, having just read the work of both, together...]

That unexpected difficulty--prima facie impossibility, for some--of getting up (where "to get up" isn't an abelist or normative notion, but obviously metaphorical of any social or other movement) I take as the zero-moment of resistance, hence central to the problem with what reads, to me, in an otherwise uncompromisingly nuanced piece, as flat distinction between local political opposition on the one hand and indeterminate resistance instanced as "non-site" by CPT on the other (this reading, of course, hinges on what Williams means by "local," not so much on what counts as as oppositional). Or: that "political opposition" is not also potentially laden with indeterminacy in that praxis-oriented or dialogic way that CPT opens up and that "hides" from inoculation by capitalism. Not that I take Williams to be asserting this near-binary tout court, or not that I take CPT to be recapitulating it either. Since rather than an assertion, a deduction, we get "warning" here. As resistance to categorical splits, to border generally, the positive articulation of that warning perhaps, i.e., part of the poetics of CPT.

I've felt the very illegibility of unhousing fixed self, felt the tiny death, these small chasms in my risings, and felt them as not poetic, not in political organizing, not either--but in/as both. Moments of radicalization. But also a legibility or fixity inherent in, or as possible consequence of, that (repetitive) motion of rising up from my chair, feeling the exposure of that (a feeling of completing the task, as it were, that is this body's enclosed shape to the world, body-snapshot). I've felt its compliment, not getting up (resistance lacking), or mistaking not doing so with doing so, via the virtualization of the motion, which is to say in failing to get stuck, the increasing likelihood of mistaking the motion of clicking into as getting up or as getting stuck, going somewhere- (becoming some I-) else, mistaking virtualization as social becoming rather than the next legibility-making position (the next release) to occur, ["click-ing/link-ing/scroll-ing"] mistaken often enough as something other than monument to its prior iteration. A fixed body, or isolated body, or body that becomes slowly and alone, stills until it is monument to your future you. The thinking ahead that the body parameters in CPT (these tension moments) induce in me, a compression and/or a projection of subjective times... feels markedly different from the virtualization of action (the virtual rise writing this) in its inverse-ness (its lack of potential for projecting ahead, with no-thing to project ahead to, non-expectation in a negative or void sense), and yet the inverse relation is not not obviously so maybe, but I've felt it, from my experience of CPT the several times I've encountered it, that very projecting ahead Williams writes about (or is it Toscano?). As sitting audience. The experience for me also speaks to Toscano's notion--which Williams enacts in his own writing a world in On Spec--that "our languages need to be freed for us to be free... in a sense." And so the book gives way to radio play, radio play still not "enough," the thing needs wiggle out into the live-gestural. There's an after-effect (affect?) of CPT participation as audience (but more so as entity perhaps) that I think hopes to undermine the stranglehold of privatized language (the languages of globalization) but also privacy (online activism, a mono-linguistic non-gesture eg) has on us. And so CPT is agitational. Agitation for the agitators. But then the "is" maybe drops away in favor of another illegibility. Or I should say: another bug. (Williams' hope for less de-bugging, riffing on Toscano's boogie and sexualizing it, this erotic multi-coding is something necessary, I think. For Toscano's delineating differences between strikes and orgies is also to talk about their contiguity, their shared aspects. --- in "Strikes & Orgies," Wheelhouse PRESS Anthology 2009, also in Try Mag Issue ?)

Elsewhere I've written (in relation to CPT too) that organizing is (or often is) poetic in its indeterminacy and potential for constant becoming and embrace (or gift) of death ("even self-degradation!"), contiguous with the array of poetic motions of resistance. Though the poetic "of" organizing (of local political resistance with an eye towards non-border) is often enough pointed out to be threatened by the sedimentation of fixed opposition (hence exclusion and all else), not unlike the either/or moment of getting up/clicking over, that threat is pervasive, not of course unique to what we might think of as local political resistance (unless, by chance, such resistance is localized insofar as it willingly or unwittingly fortifies tactical, strategic, or social borders). What strikes me as the challenge here, is: how to translate into without raising the specter of necessary distinction above (potential binary) when evoking what is at least alluring for me--that the the poetic of organizing can be that "anti-absorptive obstacle" Williams sees CPT as pointing towards. Perhaps instead: organizing as potentially part of, and catalyst for, a diverse (trans-national or trans-) spectrum of un-activated possibilities ("as yet undefined" "life-making processes") the social in general carries around like a heavy shadow.

And that for organizing, Toscano and Williams' crucial challenges here seem to be: what might an organizing of indeterminacy with resistance to the things that block non-border look like, i.e., concretely? Or as pervasively as to no longer be legible as such? Or as I think of it: how might the organizing conversation (linguistic and non) itself (the poetic intentionalized), a social form Toscano is intimately familiar with, inform, making less demarcated, the larger political frame? ----if one asserts the mechanics of these conversations to be potentially right there in the name: dialogic, indeterminate, trans-bordering and so trans-national, not legible as system of binaries and partitions but as organized opposition or resistance to structures and systems that seek to kill that becoming? I suspect I may be reading Williams and Toscano wrongly here, taking this conversation a bit far afield (tho it hopefully speaks to the spirit of their larger works, at least), with perhaps my presupposition--that political organizing can involve both resistance-as-becoming as well as be oppositional (or resistance) to what would make that conversation illegal, and still not necessarily be a social form that's closural or sedimented enough to be, almost definitionally, necessarily subsumable by capitalism/imperialism. Which would make the organizing conversation potentially contiguous with other ways we can take up (or try to articulate) indeterminate spaces, CPT among them. Nonetheless, CPT and Williams' work I've taken for some time to be pressing on the seemingly intractable problems of articulating a social resistance of trans-localism (in the narrower sense of the local than I'm using above), indeterminacy viz. what, so to speak, Lenin famously calls the "temporary dictorship needed" (instrumentalized concession) to get to Toscano's getting "somewhere else." And not just the seemingly intractable problems, but the concrete paradoxes and contradictions seen especially in goal-oriented sociality under capitalism/imperialism.

Turning non-site into site (to continue the Smithson/Nonsite reference made by Williams), or performing the contiguous arc of living poetically via making new language forms, then organizing from them, and again, etc., treating these as contiguous poetic activities, or a contiguous activity, seems on the edges (or maybe is one of the hidden vortices) of Toscano's CPT. And Williams' On Spec. So, then, what happens "after" we "get up" from our chairs after interacting with CPT's Pig Angels? A question, again, that assumes we do get up, that the body translates into the body--necessarily? Can we imagine circumstances in which this is not the case? Or only not noticeably the case? And what of the relationship between CPT and Toscano's other work in the labor movement? How do these motions inform and transform one another, translate that body into another, and then another, and so forth? The question isn't about authorship. It's about the potentially generative "oscillation" of activities, or maybe more precisely, the contiguous movement from CPT to its related union organizing, as, for lack of a better way of saying it, a becoming of recursion.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Future of Working

Yesterday I read Juliana Spahr's thoughtful blog post/talk (and loving challenge to each of us), "The Future of Writing," on the increased privatization of poetry landscapes, many she has helped build and nurture, landscapes that are made up of readings of various stripes, conferences, presses, collaborations, ephemera, political engagements, friendships, books, blogs, coteries, various and varying commodity forms and institutional systems of patronage--an increasingly virtual landscape made up of what Spahr aptly calls "psychosocialsexual poetry scenes." Not that I necessarily experience poetry communities this way, but the potential for things to feel or become increasingly privatized, notes Spahr, is out there. And for Spahr, who has done a lot more poetic traveling than I, does feel an increasing fragmentation and dispersal...READ THE REST HERE.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Catching Trains 2: After Blindness

That part of us
That has no name

Is who we are.


After the dogs
Take over.

After the dogs
Have taken shelter
Inside our skin.
Inside our skin, they eat

A vaulted darkness.
The roof is smooth, the
Marrow inside bones
A stucco arch.

The dogs they say
Can smell the after

--Math of crisis.


Sacks hang light
What lanterns
That we are

And are read from.

The grammar of death
Makes our names

Turn pink
In snowdrifts  [I didn't do nothing. I watched hir hang from the stars. I watched them hoist hir up. I sat on the steps of the old railyard where in the time of other wars

a Wobblie lay draped like a rag. A book says he had his throat slit there, and that the cause was. Infectious

For us.]


(No huddled
Forms us.)


Xe is powerlines someone said. Xe is the undertow of the Detroit. After this time of dogs I will walk to the river for you. But not nothing. A necessary condition of doing nothing

is the realization of utopia.


Who would have known
The rain would make us

Weep, wander into dead
Streets, into dead
Houses, into washed


The pulse they say
Has no heat. "Come in. Come in!  This is your home now! Come in. Come. I can hear the dogs. They're getting closer. I can hear them in the absence of cars. In the mono-rail's function as a wrecking ball. I can hear them in cyclone fences. I can hear them on the news. In the groundwater. Come."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Notes from Wisconsin's Streets @ Montevidayo

A really uplifting dispatch from Wisconsin by Brenda Cardenas. After you go to the AFL-CIO or the Working Families Party and hook into the nationwide rallies and/or petitions, check out the rest of this piece. From Cardenas (at Montevidayo):

"In the past several weeks, I’ve made about six trips to the Madison Capitol to protest Walker’s “budget dis-repair bill” and biennial budget. On the first trip, I found myself among 10 or 15,000 others. By day three, the crowd had swelled to 30,000 who were flooding the elevators, hallways, and stairwells to the third floor, trying to out shout any possible Senate vote when, in a surreal moment, thousands of “Shhhhh’s” flew across the rotunda like a flock of swallows. Then the news that the 14 Democrats had fled the state to prohibit the corrupt vote. The roar that followed erupted louder than any I’ve ever heard at any concert or sporting event, even those filling stadiums, perhaps because it was a desperate roar, one born of ransacked hopes and hearts." 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Catching Trains

It is horrendous, this world's condition of dying. Loss of life is the most arduous vista of pain. Let us honor Akilah's life and legacy, and honor her advance toward death as "a field of investigation" by writing a poem....While on your back fold your fingers with fingertips pressing into your chest, this way you conduct the flow of energy back inside you. Occasionally PRESS your fingertips deeper into your chest to better sense your recycled circuitry.... Let the poems and music become an entirely new PLACE you go to. When the CD ends light a candle. WRITE THESE PARTICULAR NOTES BY CANDLELIGHT ONLY!... Notes about death, notes about living with death, notes about the topography of grief, of darkness, isolation, forgiveness, and what it means to give and receive mercy. For the next week keep your notes on you at all times. Walk everywhere with them and BE READY to add to them, or to begin PULLING them and kneading them into a poem, a poem you write for the living who are dying everyday. And STOP sleeping so much! We sleep TOO MUCH!  --- CAConrad, excerpted from Akilah's Legacy, (Soma)tic # 55

This body is constructing a plexiglass box, 8 by 5, that it can get into via a hatch n lock system above, needs knock to be let out of. I've been told there is a magician who is named Chris Angel and that he is a "Mind Freak." A  student said to me that this Chris Angel places himself in suchlike contraptions. And people stare in awe at how he is able to fit into these spaces, how he can endure the cramped extremes of his own doing for so long. Ok, I said, but I was taking the construction of this box--sitting in the middle of my office/bedroom in lying sheets--as a place of banality, making visible the sort of enclosures we're married to most of the time. A place from which to write and a place to stare out of. Suspicion of blind-spots to the cube I inhabit. I will move at the end of the month into a house the bank has owned for two generations. Some enclosures are larger, where  still we perform invisible, intimate, virtuosic, acts of production--like organelles, say, for a nervous system guarded by board members. What's magical about living in a box? Maybe a lot, if the question is what COULD be magical about living in a box? 

I am from the midwest. 

The Amtrak station has not been 
what it names for a long time 
now. It's a clenched limb, monumental cut in the horizon for the sky that breathes. [A gag system also, that sings. The throat of grief. And me pissing in a bucket projected silently on a screen behind the live me pissing in a bucket. I say to E that public incontinence is as rare as public grieving. It's not a matter of who will strain for you, but who will strain with you. Of a once-was. In an is-shape. Post-industrial tape choking off air as it wraps the gullet is also love. "Why?" "The sound is tremendous. Shared and tormented the wind and the skin cohere, so we collect and backlight  the voices 

resolve. This restoration of our electrical current. We will each have mended spines at least once."] A deco foot trapped in a boot of fences. 

One time playing postwar there an Israeli named Zvi fell thru the rotted floorboard to the mezzanine. He didn't die. But it was dark inside, and that fantastic echo, and magic really could steal your fears. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thank you Robin Tremblay-McGaw!

It certainly would have been great, during my visit to the Bay, to catch up with poet-essayist-fine coffee brewer Robin Tremblay-McGaw. But our paths didn't cross. Blame capitalism. More specifically, Right to Work (not write to work) laws like those being forced down the gullets of working people in the midwest right now. Work getting in the way. No matter how much one enjoys one's job (a rarity, but I suspect we both do), it still sucks that our lives become so truncated and often desperate... Anyway...Then, oh, yesterday I believe, I wake up to see Robin's written a mini-exegesis on Occultations, quoted from it, and overall had some deeply giving and insightful things to say (again, the question of writing publicly thru doubt, and in common, comes up--writing under constant, common yet also commonly illusory pressures--the forms that make our bodies legible as such, and conversely, and that shape, then, the form our conversations take, and conversely...).

I'm touched by Robin's gesture--a public, extimate "missing" of a friend. And yet I'm not surprised. Robin is in a constant state, it seems to me (at least within the circumstances of our friendship, teaching at Bard College L&T together and us responding to one another via blog, email, etc.) of giving her energies over to others in ways that call up for me the term "care." She's looked after me quite a bit at Bard (I'm comparatively a mess, of course), me hearing the constant and important friendly refrain: "how many coffees HAVE you had today?" She's got a calming presence, one that draws folks together. And then puncturing them with her exciting poetry and prose during readings. Carrot and stick, eh?! This calm giving comes thru in her really wonderful close readings and honest attention to peers' work, or to readings by folks who blow thru town and that she's managed to catch. At SPT. At 21 Grand. Wherever. XPoetics being one of the blogs I go to for close, careful readings that also revel in their own subjectivity, the results often startling, encouraging us, for instance, to go back to familiar texts and re-create them, let them dance with McGaw's wreading. Which, by the way, she outlines rather beautifully over at Bard L&T's new blog, a fantastic post about cross-wiring of reading-writing, the altered state one enters when writing thru X rather than simply and only talking about X, etc, hooking these suggestive ideas up to non-normative notions of community. Anyway, the blog does its thing, like Robin, without pomp, without banging around. I hope very much to see her next time we're in the same town. Meanwhile, I thank her for the shout-out!

Another Box Link for Your Sock Drawer

Distraction Zone Staging for Hospitals and Clinics ("Room" transliterated for Occultations, now part of the performance pieces for Hospitalogy--the two "books" were at one point to exist together as one). This work is part of a multi-media performance (audio composition with live voice and video projection) that  was initially commissioned for The Electroacoustic Music Festival, Olympia WA 2011. The audio here is still unfinished (see note below).  This is the 2nd in a series of electroacoustic pieces that translates extant text for performance, both so far translating parts of the section "modular arterial cacophony," which is to say that they are really one piece in two movements, each designed for a different site (the whispered text carries over and is finished in this piece). Said found text was published as watermarked pages in Occultations a few months ago, with new print-run/edition out soon. The other "movement" is available here as link under "Selected Sound and Video Poetry Online" and is called "Wave." Eff Why I.

Note: really the only way for the piece to be as grating and grungey as it would sound, say, with huge theater speakers, would be to listen via headphones. Or so I've come to experience it anyhow.

Details/Specs: 4-Channel Composition using statistical recursion software and decay modulation using manual reverbing (one recording is played back into a microphone, then again, and so forth, four times). All manipulated sounds aside from the voiced text source from recording the inside of the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Machine during test (of brain and cervical spine). Recording from 2006. Ambient noise (what may sound like static) comes from the ambient sounds of the room--tech voices, footsteps, body moving/adjusting near the machine, etc. This work is still in draft form: each layer still needs be filtered more so that the original recording (necessarily low quality) can be maximized for high quality resolution speakers.

Video components include a "silent shadow" of the live actions: a live reading during slow compression of the neck by use of ducked tape that is wound round the throat and cervical spine as subject lies on folding table. The live voice's capacity for projection is thus suppressed until it is no longer audible over the recorded layers. Video projects same, but inside the room I did not leave for 2 months, save to go to work, and once to a reading. I was thinking about neoliberal enclosure enclosures: the enclosures that we build within neoliberal enclosures, recapitulation, miniature zones of constriction that pass as entertainment and domicile. Or something.


In other news, I got to hear a helluva concert this evening, despite my sadness of not being able to head to NY this week--still feeling poorly, so glad I made the "right" choice, but still. The concert was darn good distraction from that disappointment tho. I read some work with E, participatory, fun to have use of the experimental theater and be with lovely (and deeply exciting!) composers. We, poetic interlopers! Stephane Brun has gone to our ensemble's rehearsals while in town, has been so kind and helpful in critique--such a lovely person. Check out his work in performing arts (out of Chicago, Urbana, where for years now some of the more exciting cybernetic composition and other performing arts collaborating has been going on--a quick google of his work aught to be well worth it). I'll write a "review" (debrief/overview) of the evening's guest composers' work in another post. But for now just to say the evening was great and that the ensemble I work with, their stuff I thoroughly enjoyed (was nice this week to be more on the periphery, more audience to the art-making). I liked how poetry met musical composition tonight, rarer from the "music side" of things than one would imagine (these folks from Urbana, like those out of Madison and elsewhere, many involved in The School for Designing Society and The Nonsense Company respectively, these folks are rather special in that their interests are wide-open, their aesthetic production isn't interested in categories or commodity, and their enthusiasm for collaboration is infectious). New work from Arun Chandra was fantastic, first time I've heard this new piece he's been working on. But of all the work put forth by our ensemble (again, more on the other composers' work later), I have to say that the highlight for me was a "Cagean" work by Ben Michaelis and Molly McDermott, Ben an Evergreen alum and Molly a current student. They performed a work for kitchen utensils, metallic beads, calculator, keys, water, and voice--that had me (oddly) fist-pumping. The score itself is pretty gorgeous, so I'm hoping to borrow it to scan it in here at a later date. It was/is, perhaps, the most astonishingly fresh piece of the evening. And of course I had to read poetry right after them!

Quite tired, long day, but glad I was dragged out for a bit to hear new work tonight. But now... now I can't sleep. 4:08am. G'night.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

NONSITE || "Common/Ground" Town Hall Discussion

The Nonsite Collective invites you to participate in a Town Hall discussion at SF Camerawork on Thursday, March 3, from 6-8pm. We will explore the implications of San Francisco's Sit/Lie ordinance, Prop L, and plan a city-wide day of action in March in which we will incorporate our cameras and our words towards reversing Prop L. 
Common/Ground is part of Nonsite's ongoing residency COMMON/USE, throughout the duration of SF Camerawork's show, As Yet Untitled, (running January - April, 2011). 
Thursday, March 3, 6-8 pm, in the SF Camerawork gallery
657 Mission St, 2nd floor, San Francisco Nonsite's Common/Use events:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Space of Doubt @ Mrs. Maybe

My sincere thanks to very fine poet Lauren Levin--who I found out my first time in the Bay went to school with E!!--for her kind and thoughtful blog post on the SPT reading I was part of last week. Levin interestingly identifies connections by way of doubt and its public spaces, to assert doubt performatively. I'm quite taken by those connections/questions and their counter-assertions, as they seem to clear up some of my fuzzy thinking (while also complicating it quite a bit) regarding the emergent "themes" of the evening (a few posts below). Any case, check it out.  And do check out the forth. Mrs. Maybe (Levin's mag), which will feature Lara Durback's work, among that by many others.

What is Electroacoustic Music? It's Not the CD of Rain Falling You Use to Fall Asleep...

If in or around the Olympia area, please join us for this special engagement, curated by Michaud Savage and Ben Kamen. I can't say that the work I'll be performing will be mind-blowing (eh, finishing it momentarily), but small works by others from our Performance Research Ensemble are really shaping up and quite excellent. And, of course, the other composers who will perform new compositions tomorrow eve are, well, always rather mind-blowing. I've had the rare pleasure of hearing Truax's riverrun in one of the few area theaters equipped to play full surround 8-channel compositions, and I can remember that experience like it was tomorrow...

The announcement:

May I have your attention please!

"Electroacoustic" is a broad term referring to music resulting from the manipulation of recorded or generated sound, emanating from loudspeakers, without an obvious human performer. Electroacoustic music is rooted in the mid-20th century, particularly in the work of two groups of composers, Musique concrète in Paris and elektronische Musik in Cologne .

Wednesday, March 2nd, Students for Contemporary and New Music present a collection of performances from Ben Kamen, The Performance Research Ensemble, Jenny Magnus, Arun Chandra, and Barry Truax. This evening of electronic, acoustic, and electroacoustic performances begins at 7 in COM 110, presented to you by Students for Contemporary and New Music.

Barry Truax is a Professor in both the School of Communication and (formerly) the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University where he teaches courses in acoustic communication and electroacoustic composition, specializing in soundscape composition. He has worked with the World Soundscape Project, editing its Handbook for Acoustic Ecology, and has published a book Acoustic Communication dealing with all aspects of sound and technology. As a composer, Truax is best known for his work with the PODX computer music system which he has used for tape solo works and those which combine tape with live performers or computer graphics. A selection of these pieces may be heard on the recording Sequence of Earlier Heaven, and the Compact Discs Digital Soundscapes, Pacific Rim, Song of Songs, Inside, Islands, and Twin Souls, all on the Cambridge Street Records label, as well as the double CD of the opera Powers of Two and the latest CD, Spirit Journies. In 1991 his work, Riverrun, was awarded the Magisterium at the International Competition of Electroacoustic Music in Bourges, France, a category open only to electroacoustic composers of 20 or more years experience. He is also the recipient of one of the 1999 Awards for Teaching Excellence at Simon Fraser University Barry is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre and a founding member of the Canadian Electroacoustic Community and the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology.

Jenny Magnus is a Chicago-based performer, writer, director, producer and teacher. Founding member of the Maestro Subgum and the Whole, Magnus' voice is front and center on just released, Songs From Shows. Magnus has contributed to cultural life in Chicago for 25 years as a founding member of The Curious Theatre Branch. Magnus produces her original work, produces and contributes to the annual Rhino Theater Festival, and tours her work internationally. She has performed recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art , teaches performance and writing at Columbia College Chicago, the School of the Art Institute, and many other schools.

The Performance Research Ensemble is a loose amalgamation of students, faculty, and community members. Our collective work began in Fall 2010 with several performances of Kenneth Gaburo's Maledetto, and has continued this season with compositions based on David Wolach's Occultations. Group members for tonight's performance are: Arun Chandra, Terra Glick, Molly McDermott, Ben Michaelis, Clayton Norman, Willy Smart, Elizabeth Williamson and David Wolach.

Arun Chandra and Ben Kamen are both music faculty at Evergreen.

There is no charge to attend the event.

Michaud Savage