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.

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