Dec 14, 2007
gleefully extend to you more than enough of an excuse \
to break it down book-release-party-style
with three fantastic poet-editors
Morgan Lucas Schuldt
Verge Free Verse Editions (2007)
& editor of
Cue: A Journal of Prose Poetry
Animate, Inanimate Aims Litmus Press (2007)
& editor of
Portable Press at Yo Yo Labs
Astrometry Organon Spuyten Duyvil (forthcoming)
editor of Cy Gist Press
Saturday, December 15th, 8PM
456 Bergen Street
Bring wine etc. We'll bring some,too.
Dec 9, 2007
Cy Gist Press is happy to announce the release of Frank Sherlock’s Daybook of Perversities & Main Events ($6 ppd.). This chapbook-length poem is comprised of brief, almost-formal 5-line stanzas that read like landscape sketches of internal vistas. Opaque and personal at the same time, this poem reveals the sinews, muscles and machines beneath the skin of consciousness. With a fabulous cover by artist Kris Chau.
A beggar from Assisi w/ a bird
on his neck is protected by poems
carved into handles of knives Deep
greens are cut from the patio so
they can be pulled & eaten
Also, please be sure to check out the CY GIST PRESS HOLIDAY SPECIAL. This will be the last opportunity to obtain copies of several out –of-print Cy Gist Press titles.
Dec 7, 2007
Nov 19, 2007
Lifts up your saddened wings to send you soaring?
O how the mountains thrust up high beyond you,
And how the ocean curls its waves about you!
Angels, awaiting his old command to be forgiven,
Lift up your gentle wings for fresh hosannas.
But how the sharp hills grow up high beyond you,
And how the winds blow down to the very heart.
Humility burns, and banishment is eternal; he said,
Too much hope within us makes us die.
And the mountains use up the heavens all around you,
And the winds and waves are crying, to confuse you.
And this is faleshood, Angels, should he call you; but fold
Your remorseful wings and gently forget his love.
For the mountains are there now, very far above you,
And the winds disperse your godhood everywhere.
Nov 11, 2007
Oct 30, 2007
Oct 29, 2007
Oct 18, 2007
On the subject of spam, the following, received from someone calling themselves "Career Poet" is either a hilarious parody or an example of extreme *missing the point*. Perhaps I will forward it on to Mr. Olugbode, in case he wants to take up a more respectable career. The funniest part is the Age of Huts "sell-through"? Would you like some Scalapino with that Silliman?
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2007 12:42:47 -0400
From: "Career Poet"
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Subject: e_Audience Personalization for the Literature Industry (Poets & Presses)
e-Audience Personalization as a Competitive Weapon: 6 Ways to Win with a More Personal Touch
For poets & their presses (referred to at times collectively as the 'Literature Industry'), the competition to win an audience (of consumers, hereafter referred to as 'Audience') has never been fiercer. To grow, they are offering more merchandise and serving segments.
So is this approach winning?
50 percent of the time an audience member lands on a poet's or press' web site, they leave in less than 8 seconds. And even when they do stay, they don't necessarily come back for more.
That means building a loyal audience has never been more important. And yet it has never been harder to get.
From what we're hearing from the Literature Industry, many understand the need to start by showing the audience they understand them -- who they are, what they want, and when they want it. They see a value in personalizing the aesthetic experience.
Personalization starts with knowing who the audience is when she enters your site through any of its many doors, and then guiding her down the right path, using a range of approaches that ultimately result in purchase and loyalty. Some in the Literature Industry get overwhelmed at the mere thought of trying to create a personalized experience for each audience member. But personalization doesn't require you to create an individual plan for each audience member. It's about implementing a plan that feels personal. In fact, employing personalization strategies can enable you to serve different segments dynamically on a single platform, reducing your catalog's requirements and keeping you from having to change.
When executed properly, personalization enables you to extend your existing audience segmentation strategy - and even enhance it - by using additional knowledge that you acquire from learning from your audiences' online behaviors. The result is an audience experience, integrated across the Web, e-mail and contact center that feels customized for the individual but is actually automatically driven by audience segments or "personas."
Putting Personalization into Practice
We hear what those in the Literature Industry are saying. Their challenges, questions, and debates lead me to offer 6 key approaches to consider when evolving your online strategies:
1. The Starting Point: Know your segments and create personas.
Personalization begins with defining the rules by which you interact with your audience. Leverage what you know about your audience based on past and current interactions ( e.g., do they confuse Bernstein with the Berenstain Bears?) Use profile management to store key attributes. These attributes combine to create audience segments or "personas" that enable you to drive relevant interactions. With personas, you can enhance your traditional segments with subjective information that personifies that segment ( e.g., fashion-loving twenty-something poets who live on the east coast of North America). Like segments, personas are informed by audiences' demographics, psychographics, purchase patterns, knowledge of which channel they use, as well as the value associated with their importance – because let's be frank, those chaps aren't going to sell themselves!
2. Anonymous personalization - An oxymoron?
Although audience members these days are more willing to answer a few questions if it improves their experience with you or opportunities to publish themselves, you can choose to let your Web site do the work for you. Your Web site lets you learn about your visitor - even if she remains anonymous - by seeing what links she clicks, what articles she reads, what searches she runs, or what questions she asks in the comment boxes. With this information, your Web site content can be dynamically tailored for your visitor in an instant, as soon as it identifies which persona to associate with the visitor.
3. Personalization informed by history and behavioral targeting.
On the flip side, the more you know about the audience, the more relevance you can infuse into your interactions. Once you can identify, your site should have access to her buying history so that you know what products she already owns as well as which ones have interested her historically. When she puts Elsewhere 1-3 in her shopping cart, you will want to make her a cross-sell offer. But rather than offer her Folly she just bought last week, you'll offer her a different, but related text like Deed .
4. Personalization through live interaction.
Monitoring your audience's actions in real time can bring personalization to the truly intimate level. For instance, say she puts a big-ticket item in her cart (say, The Age of Huts (Compleat)). But then she hesitates; rather than checking out, looking at the shipping information page. The new trend here is proactive click to call, a capability that lets you pop up a window and offer live help ("Question about Silliman? Click here to speak with us.") She clicks, goes to the top of the queue, and her phone rings instantly, connecting her to Tom Mandel who completes the sale. You can also extend cross-sell personalization to the call center. If the call center has the right tools, they can increase order size. That is the epitome of effective, cross-channel offer management.
5. Multi-stage, scenario-based personalization.
Artists can no longer expect to communicate with an audience once and "close the sale." A single interaction rarely evolves into a lasting relationship. More sophisticated approaches using multi-stage, scenario-based personalization can help combat this reality. By introducing triggers at critical interaction points that take into account who your customer is and what she wants, you can help lead that customer down the optimal path. With multi-stage personalization, you are monitoring and responding to events as they happen, and reaching out to the customer to start a meaningful and relevant dialogue. The best multi-stage scenarios span across channels ( e.g., a reading, a small reception, then drinks at a bar). Some interactions will trigger an e-mail response, while others may activate a call. Still others may prompt sales. Some of these communications will call for immediate action, while others lay the groundwork for future interactions.
6. Personalization using searchandising and Affinity (or "Automated") Selling.
Searchandising and affinity selling are two new techniques now coming of age and bringing with them the power to truly guide an audience down the desired path. With searchandising, poets and presses can drive how search results are presented, to different audiences - ultimately serving to increase basket size and conversion rates. For example, consider the SPD experience. If you carry 1,000 titles you need to determine what titles you should present, in what order, and with what information. Should you present Notley or Faust? Making that determination starts with recalling the audience's history, profile or segment, and then presenting the titles most in line with that criteria. Taking it a step further, your presentation should match your merchandising strategy. Perhaps you have a particular relationship which favors one title over another, or a particular title on special – attempting to clean out your closet of broken dreams - or knowledge that a particular title sells best within a specific segment. The artist ought to be able to specify, as part of the catalog data, which titles should appear first in a search.
Affinity selling also keeps your audience interactions highly relevant. Think of it as automated personalization. This approach automates recommendations according to both the purchases made and the segment or persona they belong to. It modifies recommendations according to other information you have, rather than assigning segments based solely on their most recent purchases. For example, a UMass poet should always receive recommendations for Slope Editions, even if he bought Hannah Weiner's Open House on one occasion for his girlfriend in Naropa.
Discover more about how leading-edge artists are putting personalization in these various forms into practice and getting bottom-line results in return.
For these artists, personalizing the audience experience takes different forms. But regardless of what form it takes, personalization is one of their best weapons for attracting an audience and building loyalty. I encourage you to spend some time learning how your competition is winning over customers with a more personal touch with Poet Strategies, LLC.
Oct 12, 2007
Our cities crumble (sorry to say folks, but New York is crumbling, stop being the center of the universe for a second and look around--this place is a shambles); our currency becomes more and more worthless relative to other, stronger economies; we are maligned and hated where once we were loved and admired; we cannot take care of our own people--their bodies or their minds--our population is becoming sick and stupid.
Can the process be reversed? I would say probably not. Ergo all that remains to be done is to try and salvage some of our dignity and to step graciously aside and let the next wunderkind through. Life will be better after we fall: think of Athens, think of Rome, think of Great Britain. Nothing will be OK until we admit that our star is fading to the same magnitude of the rest of the constellation.
Oct 8, 2007
What I want to know, is had the spirits attended my reading at the Zinc Bar with Thomas Devaney--and did they enjoy Devaney's work as much as I did. Surely they probably dug my poems concerning Francesca Woodman due to the subject matter alone. A project also not without its uncanny events, as I have described to some of you! If you want to hear more stories about the Woodman book, I will tell you if you like!
Sep 8, 2007
Sleep well, Madeline L'Engle
"Don't worry about Charles Wallace, Meg," her father had once told her. Meg remembered it very clearly because it was shortly before he went away. "There's nothing the matter with his mind. He just does things in his own way and in his own time."
I'm pretty sure A Wrinkle in Time is the first novel I ever read. And Charles Wallace was the first literary character I identified with strongly. We never forget the first time, as it were, and consequently many of the images from L'Engle's books pop up in my work from time to time:
REVISIONIST HISTORY SWEETHEART
A monolith of blue
frozen to a molten
Lit handprints for
Curlicued winds &
a brazen output.
in the border towns.
in the breastbone,
let me be
with this sweet
Aug 23, 2007
Aug 8, 2007
For the record, I don't remember the ENTIRE SYSTEM of the MBTA shutting down WHEN IT RAINS. Actually, I remember taking the T during BLIZZARDS. For the record, many of the stations are also CLIMATE CONTROLLED and the PA systems WORK so you can understand what the announcers are SAYING--despite the fact that they are rarely saying things like "Attention Passengers, there is no N, R, W, F or V services to Astoria, for Queens-bound service...get one of those stupid-ass Razr Scooters!"
Sorry, this hurts me more than it hurts you. I do this not on behalf of myself, but for Rachel, who it took 4 hours to get to work in the LWS today. It also took us 2 hours to get home from the Welcome to Boog City event in the LES on Friday night.
Aug 1, 2007
WELCOME TO BOOG CITY
94 Ave. A, NYC
free with a two-drink minimum
Readings and musical performances
7:30 p.m.-Lauren Russell
7:45 p.m.-Mark Lamoureux
8:00 p.m.-Rachel Lipson (music)
8:30 p.m.-Joanna Fuhrman
9:00 p.m.-I Feel Tractor
9:30 p.m.-Thomas Devaney
9:50 p.m.-The Passenger Pigeons (né The Sparrows)
10:35 p.m.-David Baratier
11:00 p.m.-The Leader
12:00 a.m.-Nan and the Charley Horses
Directions: F/V to 2nd Ave., L to 1st Ave.
Venue is at E.6th St.
Then, I will be manning a table for Cy Gist Press at the Small, Small Press Fair:
SATURDAY - AUGUST 4, 11:00 A.M., 5:00 P.M.
152 Ludlow St.
4th Annual Small, Small Press Fair - Free
Political poets and The Fugs, Village Fugs live
5:15 p.m.-Amy King
5:30 p.m.-Nathaniel Siegel
5:45 p.m.-Christina Strong
6:00 p.m.-Ian Wilder
6:15 p.m.-Frank Sherlock
6:50 p.m.-Greg Fuchs
7:05 p.m.-Kristin Prevallet
7:20 p.m.-Eliot Katz
7:35 p.m.-Rodrigo Toscano and his Collapsible Poetics Theater
7:55 p.m.-The Fugs, Village Fugs.
Stop by the table and do yourself the favor of purchasing all of the new recent Cy Gist Press titles by Sandra Simonds, Ben Mazer, Carrie Hunter and others because, you know, the world could end tomorrow and your life will have been incomplete, not having read these fine chapbooks. No pressure or anything. I'm just saying...
Jul 22, 2007
Jul 11, 2007
Jun 29, 2007
Cy Gist Press is happy to announce the release of Carrie Hunter's Vorticells ($6 ppd.). Vorticells offers crystallized moments of cognition, Hunter’s responses to 15 San Francisco artists show us the mechanism of tranfixion in pulsing detail. Her word-maps incise ghost images right on the reader’s brain, giving us a kind of synesthetic carnival of moments and non-moments, thoughts and non-thoughts that transcends the ekphrastic continuum and forms a harmonious unit from start to finish. For example:
XV. Accordion Accord (Carbon 9)
paper thistles wavering
we are guarded and uncharged
valiant whilst charred
seabodies of the cradled hymn
diamond scars and the babies dream
son as self as shadow as token
not knowing other really is other
cannot be formed, willed, created
we are not shadows of our selves
but selves of our shadows
come fully formed, fully othered
elegant dreams whisper to each other
wishing to be us, to uncurtain themselves
thistle glisten when unshadowed
we glisten when unshadowed
cheap satin drops down slips around
our bodies listen
BLOG SPECIAL: Buy Vorticells with Ben Mazer's Johanna Poems for $5 ppd. each:
Jun 20, 2007
Amy King, Adam Fieled and Mark Lamoureux
Sunday June, 24
6th St. and Avenue A
New York, NY
Jun 8, 2007
May 30, 2007
Went to MASS MoCA this weekend and was lucky enough to see one of Theo Jansen's Strandbeests, Animaris Percipiere, in "person." Jansen's sculptures are kinetic sculptures that he has designed using PVC pipes that employ the wind on the beach to move around in the manner of an "organic" being. He simulates the process of natural selection by nurturing, testing and discarding models which do not work. The Strandbeests have reached a level of sophistication where sensors tell them if they have strayed into the water or into the dry sand of the upper beach where they can't walk, and also if conditions are such that they have to drop anchor until a storm passes or more favorable wind conditions occur. Jansen is another one of these people who are challenging the notion of "Artificial Intelligence," with the concept that, if it acts like it is alive, then perhaps it is alive; sort of like the programmer of the A.L.I.C.E. program who controversially won some AI competitions because his program acted as though it could hold a conversation, based on generic linguistic prompts. The AI community eventually denounced him because the program did not conform to the standards set that determine what "cognition" is, despite the fact, that, to the participant, the program exhibited every characteristic of being "alive."
Jansen hopes to some day release his creations into the wild and allow them to live out their own autonomous lives--to the eye, creatures, despite the fact that they are inorganic. Looking at the Animaric Percipiere got me thinking about poetics, the idea of authorship and the agency we attribute to poems and the creators of poems. It struck me that Jansen's sculptures correspond to my idea of poetics in some pretty profound ways. What I wish to do with poems is to give the veneer of 'intent,' without actually imbuing them with any intent as such. The poem exhibits all of the trappings of life, yet it is inert. It can exist in the wild following the program of its own primitive existence, yet it is only a simulacra, not a living, breathing thing. Yet the difference between the poem and the author seems ultimately academic. I may be an organic being, but generally what I do is react to outside stimuli in a way that is somehow hardwired or preordained. The rituals of my consciousness are not so very different from the programed motions of the Strandbeests. The beauty of the sculptures lies both in their ability to function autonomously, and to the way that they are also avatars of Jansen's own consciousness.
What I want for my poems is to give the illusion of intent, of life, of quickness without instilling in them any actual 'intent' as regards the traditional understandings of cognition. They will make their small motions and protect themselves, as they have been fashioned; but their actual purpose or intent is as obscure as my own actual purpose or intent. If adequately fashioned, they will stumble their way into the world and persevere. Much in the same manner that I, myself, have. Ultimately their purpose is ambiguous, as is the purpose of the herd of Stranbeests lurching along the shore, to eventually dissolve into the sea or to wind up as skeletal debris.
Gazing at the lattice of the Strandbeest I wondered about the Romantic 'I,' and the sacred conventions of art that dictate that the creations of I should be merely shed skins, the scratchings and leavings of I and not entities unto themselves--that the poem I write is simply a trace of my own unmalleable consciousness. That my consciousness exists at all. Perhaps it is the poems that create the person and not vice versa. Most of the time I feel not altogether different from a Strandbeest, lurching around in my preordained ways, my eyes blank windows on the word--betraying every semblance of consciousness, but yet I am merely a process, as the poems themselves are processes. When the wind blows too strong I hammer my little stake into the sand and wait for more hospitable gusts and when the wind blows favorably I scrawl my poems, who, in turn will do the same. Someday you will find them on the beach, fanning their fragile wings and nailing their nails into the strand--perhaps even when I am a significantly less animate but perhaps no less sentient skeleton.
May 17, 2007
May 14, 2007
I'll admit it; I favor mid-length to long poems over short ones. To my mind, longer pieces have a greater ability to build satisfying tensions and rhythms than do shorter pieces (excepting serial pieces composed of smaller individual numbered portions--which are more like long poems than a bunch of short poems). When I refer to shorter pieces, I am talking about the contemporary conception of short, which is very short. Once upon a time the sonnet was considered to be a short form in English-language poetry, but our interest in the 20th and 21st cetury in Asian forms like the haiku and renga has shrank our conception of shortness to very, very short. This proclivity can be irksome at times, because it is harder to write good short poems, I'd say, than most people think. And the short-short poem in English is an altogether different animal than an Asian form rendered in an actual Asian language, as much as we'd like to convince ourselves otherwise.
That said, the top few selections in my long-neglected "to-read" pile featured an interesting menagerie of short poems that really mine the potential of the form. The first of these, Aaron Lowinger's Open Night Poems from House Press is a nice collection of uber-personal vignettes in the form primarily of brief poems in the ballpark of 12 lines. Amongst these is an actual formal sonnet, and it is interesting to see Lowinger pay homage to these poems' lineage in a profound way. At their best, short poems offer a kind of youthful exuberance in their ability to address a wide array of subjects in a short time, and these poems with their dark-chocolate-no-saccharine earnestness hearkened back to my mid-20's when small emotions seemed epic and the amorous potential of the world was boundless. These poems are influenced heavily by the New York School as well, in their focus on autobiographical events and real-world names, but in a fashion that is less cloying than the work's progenitors--the New York School if it were not written by snotty New Yorkers (this spoken by a snotty New Yorker).
Next up was Frame #2 from Press4Press, a small square cerulean-colored anthology with work from Thomas A. Clark, Logan Ryan Smith, Jeffery Beam, Sally Ashton, Marjorie Manwaring, Aaron Tieger, Michael Schiavo, Amie Keddy, Whit Griffin and Jess Mynes. Some of these names are familiar to me, such as Aaron Tieger, who over the years has become a master of the short quotidian poem in which a surface banality tilts just out of focus enough to draw interest. Aaron's poems have always been most at home in the corners of one's eyes. I had not read Amie Keddy (one of the editors)'s work before, but the little poems here operate like pared-down fairy tales with their primal sparseness: "the man/ had a piece of wool / from such a lamb / and a jar of milk." Among these, Sally Ashton and Logan Ryan Smith's poems give one a little more legroom, and offer a wider palette of sonic pyrotechnics/
A short poem seems to have two routes to travel, that of hyper-specificity or towards aphoristic enigma, as in Tom Orange's A Day in Switzerland: A Book of Picabian Aphorisms from Susanna Gardner's w/e chaps project. Each of the aphorisms in the little book bears a timestamp and, as such, could be viewed as one long poem. However, the aphorisms are largely self-contained, and, like the paintings of their namesake, offer a poignant distortion of everyday life fueled by desire and melancholy. At times the poems assume a puffed-up oracular voice, "12:12 am Laughter is/ the sublime/ unreason to/ this comedy of life," and at others a naked urgency, "6:10 am I /admire /your /eyes /Will /you /help /me" These little poems seem to extend their frame of reference not by way of a focus on the small or specific, but rather the large and abstract, touch-not-cobble stones.
The poems in these little books definitely inspire me to take another look at short-form poems and give great insight into the future and potential of the genre which is evolving towards a uniquely American short poem, no longer derivative of forms from other languages or of the early Imagist approximations of same.
May 11, 2007
May 9, 2007
the net of swamp plants
shrugged off, engines
kick in. Open sky, it
remembers what it was
made to do--vanishes,
just like that, into
a single winking point.
Sue Storm white-
line ghost me
hovers out to greet you.
What they wanted was
the pliant wax tablet
with my face in it.
Clicking the hungry styli
to deface the impression.
Guess what? Now
the replicas have a little
After all this hugging
the wall, at last the center
of the room slides
into view. There's a seat
for you next to the projector.
Under the fake floor,
99 Furies tilt the ground
in time with my swaying.
May 8, 2007
Now that I am left to my own devices, I will have a chance to catch up on my babelesque "to-read" pile, so perhaps I will post my impressions (not reviews, mind you, impresions) here. The summer bounty of the Dusie chapbook exchange booty has begun to show up, ever-so-slightly mangled, in my mailbox (Dusie folks (or anyone else, for that matter)--please write "DO NOT BEND" on the envelope of anything you send to me. The troglodyte who delivers our mail has the habit of snapping Netflix disks and everything else in half to fit them in our tiny box), so I guess I can also document those here. And the occasional polemic, lest I start getting invited to parties again.
Apr 27, 2007
Apr 26, 2007
Apr 19, 2007
Mar 18, 2007
About a month or so ago I mentioned that I disagreed with several points that Nicholas Manning brought up in his admirably considered and ultimately reasonable review of my long poem Night Season in Galatea Resurrects. My pace in formulating criticism or responses to criticism tends to be glacially slow. It was not until I went to see some of the works in the Minimalist collection at DIA: Beacon that I began to glean an understanding of what, exactly, my point was in differing with some of the notions that Nicholas put forward in his review. I don't really want to offer a point-by-point rebuttal to Nicholas's piece, since I think that it is a fine and self-contained view of the poem in question. Instead, I'd like to offer my thoughts on the matter in relation to my reaction to some of the work at DIA: Beacon and some of my thoughts on precision in art (read: painting, poetry, sculpture, what have you) in general.
My girlfriend Rachel had discussed some of the thinking of one of her professors on the subject of minimalism and the rhetoric of power, which I initially dismissed since I'm generally resistant to the shibboleth of the connection between aesthetics and politics in favor of meeting the work itself in the decontextualized moment of initial contact between artist an audience. Minimalism was, by most reckonings, a reaction to the uber-personalized, gestural aesthetics of the Abstract Expressionists. What the artists were up to was a depersonalization of art and a flattening of affect in order to foreground the idea of art-as-object or art-as-process. These impulses, as I assessed initially are fundamentally populist and aesthetic rather than political. When confronted with the work itself, however, looking at Sol LeWitt's meticulously constructed angles in his "Drawing Series" and Walter De Maria's austere geometries one thing came to mind: the depersonalized machinery of fascism. However, I had exactly the opposite reaction when regarding Agnes Martin's fecund fields of blank penmanship paper, awaiting the immanence of the word, or Joseph Beuys' sound-deadening piles of ragged felt. What I began to realize is that I had no problem with the minimal, on the contrary, those works in the collection that I did not react negatively to, I liked very much; but rather, what I found disquieting was the precision of certain pieces, and how that referenced the power dynamic. I think it probably is not a coincidence that the work I objected to the most was mainly by white males--whereas Agnes Martin seemed to be rejecting some sort of gestural phallic "present-ness" in her work, Lewitt, De Maria and others seemed to be offering a kind of antagonistic swipe at gestural particularities. There is erasing the page, and there is destroying the page.
This is perhaps an intensely subjective reaction to the work, and a cliched conflation of aesthetic precision with the well-worn adumbration that Italian fascism "got the trains running on time"; nevertheless, it was the fundamental reaction I had, and conspicuously close to Rachel's professor's assertion that the resonance of Richard Serra's "Tilted Arc," lies not with its formal purity, but rather with the fact that the work killed people. This, I'd say, is a fine metaphor for the ideological implications of depersonalized formalism--what do the forms do to us when we have withdrawn our human intervention. "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work Makes Us Free") unfettered of its context, hanging above the doorway to the concentration camp. This is a hyperbolic example, but its theoretical and aesthetic underpinnings are sound: the stripping of a people of their humanity is the first ingredient in genocide, the stripping of a work of art of its humanity thows it dangerously into the sphere of the depersonalized rhetoric of power. In Philip Gourevitch's We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, he speaks of the organization and precision necessary in orchestrating the deaths of thousands of people employing a few guns, machetes and spiked clubs alone. To me, this is the inevitable end result of precision for precision's sake. Ultimately each and every one of us will be saved or blessed by an error. Insofar as humanity itself is a kind of error, we must embrace imperfection as the very source of our own existence and our own life-force.
What does this have to do with poetry, and with Nicholas's thinking about my poem? I am certainly not calling Nicholas a fascist! However, those moments he objects to in Night Season are those that he deems 'imprecise,' 'mundane' or 'overwritten.' And it is true that they are, in fact, all of those things, as I react strongly against precision in poetry, in the same way that I do against precision in art.
The rhetoric of power is different in poetry. "Minimalism" in poetry is more often than not focused on a kind of gestural preciousness that, while often cloying, is not depersonalizing and doesn't inspire in me the same revulsion as some of the minimalist painters and sculptors. I think the analogous impulse occurs not in minimalist poetics, but rather on a "craft-centered" (Serra's work is often centered on "materials" in the same way) poetics. It is easy to single out "workshop poetics" (as parodied, hilariously in Tim Petersen's "Tarzan Workshop": "Do student know Louise Gluck make over FORTY DRAFT of single poem, and over half of draft just CHANGE SEMICOLON? Do student know that most “serious poet” do nothing than sit at desk and REVISE POEM ALL DAY LONG? Because Tarzan poem “never finished”!") But some culpability also lies elsewhere with writing that completely emphasizes form or process over the human gesture (note, I don't say "content" here, because I don't believe in content, only human marks made): the oftentimes hermetically-sealed irony of Flarf can be guilty of this, as can some Oulipo-type writing that entirely foregrounds procedural devices. Language poetry most often seems in keeping with Martin's fecund immanence, to my mind at least, though I'm sure some who are sympathetic to this perspective would differ with me. (I am speaking generally here, it is important to recognize that there is actually a fairly vast variety of work which falls under the aegis of such blanket terms as "Flarf," "Oulipo," "Langpo," "Minimalism," and any other critical marker that we use out of convenience to classify a body of related work. And, as you probably guessed, I am against these makers anyway (with all due respect to Joshua Corey and other "classifiers"...))
I am most sympathetic to writing that is self-consciously "flawed" (though not necessarily as relentlessly and pristinely "flawed" as Flarf, which is sometimes like a shelf of identically pre-ripped jeans) or "excessive" in some way--poetic Art Brut of a fashion: thus leading to my fondness for Hopkins, Crane, Stein and Duncan to name a few 'canonical' types. I won't name contemporaries in order to avoid sounding cliquish. This is something I strive for in my own work, and the impetus which leads to the undermining of say, "May my death never come." with "Still--I am just / a plant like all the rest," or the borderline cliche of "We sleep even/as figures/ march/ through snow/ or dust to enact/ violence." It is certainly a reaction against precision when I push myself to "overwrite" moments of extreme psychic intensity or extreme biliousness. I'm drawn to the excess of the Weimar Republic or the fecund pond of Rococo or the gestural purity of Abstract Expressionism more than I am the austerity of minimalism or bald-faced formalism.
Mar 11, 2007
Cy Gist Press is pleased to announce the release of Ben Mazer’s Johanna Poems. Steven Sturgeon Says of Johanna Poems:
“Whose poems are these? It looks like the heads of a hundred people made them, yet there is no disjunction, no coil of expression, no tragic dissolution here that fails our understanding. Don Juan, at the end of his life entrapped in a mineshaft, might have called these poems up to us. We need more of these poems, quickly, and we are in a state of distinguished penury now, for only one person, Ben Mazer, can supply them, and however much he provides there will always be gasping for more.”
From the poems:
This forgotten weather lets me down.
The unexpected slow boat out of summer
burns with color and complete. Missing only
all the words that needed to be said
which yet they are full of mostly now,
the purpled shriveled trees, standing and waiting,
those long low roads where day and evening cross
in an admonition like a longing.
It is a cipher, nothing else will do
to still the fullness in air or cement,
black or blue in shadow, no eye hear
any sign, smiling in the sighing of sorry
flower, laughing in the corn
like fairy tales, telling us what to do.
Mar 9, 2007
Mar 6, 2007
Feb 23, 2007
1. This Film is not Yet Rated. A fascinating glimpse into the MPAA and its crypto-fascist program for censoring the film industry. Worth it for the endearing and hilarious exploits of Kirby Dick's hired "Private Eye" alone.
2. Ballets Russes. Yeah, yeah, say whatever you want about me. This was a great documentary--I found the ballerinas to be perhaps the closest analogs to poets that I've enountered thusfar, the same devotion to an art that is considered elitist and outmoded, and the same (perhaps consequent) megalomanaical pettiness. The film is very sad because most of them die before the film is released.
3. Better Living Through Circuitry. There seems to be a documentary theme going here. Having missed out on the rave scene of the mid-90's but being spiritually sympathetic to its motivating principles, this was a great glimpse into the culture that spawned much of the music that I listen to now as a creepy nearly-middled-aged guy who listens to electronic music... Genesis P. Orridge's bits are the best.
4. Au Hasard Balthasar. Fanny Howe said of this film, "A luminous pallor surges out of the screen, spreads over every face and form in the picture; it is the colour of consciousness. The subtitles are ghostly and easily submerged in the background light.
Squalor bleeds into this whiteness. Blends.
The plot follows an erratic line until it is swallowed in bells and sheep."
5. Grizzly Man. I am a fan of messianic nutjobs because I am one.
6. Transformers: The Movie. Robots got me through my miserable childhood, so shut up. Killing Optimus Prime was definitely a big leap and a decent bit of "realistic perspective on death," in a kids' movie. Never mind that he is a robot and not actually alive, but anyway. Featuring a dessicated Orson Welles in one of his last performances as the voice of...a planet... Nice period-piece Hair Metal also. I await eagerly the live-action one this summer (& the "second coming" of OP.)
7. Slither. 2006 was a bad year for horror films (my favorite genre, more or less) and this was about as good as it got (screw "The Descent," it was lousy; "An American Haunting" and "The Grudge 2" were crappy as well). The best thing about "Slither" was that it was pretty much OK with the fact that it was a silly horror film: which is kind of the cornerstone of the form.
8. Meredith Monk's Ellis Island. This is one of the Film Poems films. I showed this to my first semester Freshman composition class and one kid said, "So, like, was that supposed to be good or something?"
9. I am running out of films, time to switch to only 4-star rated films from my Netflix... Good Night & Good Luck. Anything that bashes McCarthy is Ok by me.
10. Time Regained. Only fun if you are a Proust geek; pretty much a manifestation of the "which-of-my-friends-would-I-get-to-play-Mme. Swann" game.
I usually refrain from tagging people in these things, but having felt very jilted at not having been tagged by anyone for anything in the past 9 months or so, I will go ahead and tag people in case they happen to be feeling the same way: Tom, Aaron, Matina and Joel.
Feb 21, 2007
"I'll Buy You One More Frozen Orange Juice," The Cakekitchen
The whole record it comes from, "Everything's Driving You Crazy Cos You Can't Get What You Want," is pretty great, including the sublimely banal "I Think I Had Too Much To Drink Last Night."
Seriously, though, kudos to Tony, Brent, Ken, Stacy, Chris and Eric for assembling another formidable issue with highlights too numerous to list here.
Feb 19, 2007
Mark Lamoureux & Mohammad Ali Niazmand
@ St. Mark's Poetry Project
Monday, 8:00 pm
Mark Lamoureux is the author of four chapbooks: Traceland, 29 Cheeseburgers, Film Poems and City/Temple. His first full-length collection of poems, Astrometry Organon is due out from Spuyten Duyvil/Meeting Eyes Bindery in early 2007. He is the editor of Cy Gist Press, a micropress focusing on ekphrastic poetry, as well as the the Printed Matter editor for Boog City.
Mohammad Ali Niazmand was born in Tehran, Iran in 1977. He is of Iranian and Iraqi decent, migrated to the USA in 1988, learned english from the hill of Mt. Tamalpais, to the streets of San Francisco, and the alleys of New York City. He is the author of four collections of poetry including Wizard Poisonings, and Change of Atmosphere.
Feb 18, 2007
Cy Gist Press is happy to announce the release of Sandra Simonds' The Humble Travelogues of Mr. Ian Worthington, Written from Land & Sea (Or Notes on the Life and Letters).
“These travelogues record realms and entities sprung, spit, spattered, spun from the off-kilter pottery wheel of the author’s subconscious in fully-fledged bursts — organic forms! — of visionary lyricism. Before the reader’s eyes -- and most importantly the ears — a kaleidoscopic dream world is enacted in real-time complete with “velvety mammoths,” a four day stay in a lighthouse, a maze, Mary Magdalene, dolphins, bear cubs balancing eggs on their noses, glass pineapples, and much more. Simonds crafts a world whose phantasmagoria folds over the reader like a strobe-light on Jesus Juice. She is the reincarnation of Artaud, Mina Loy, and Gilda Radner. The Humble Travelogues of Mr. Ian Worthington is a wild stroke of poetic power, and cooler than the Crocodile Hunter (RIP)!”
— Joseph Massey
“To traverse a barreness, this plane, tracking series of condemned, black with melancholy, all hunched and shuffling toward their end. Who knows how figures get made, but imprinted and upright, they fall in line. It’s the fate of flesh: even spirit, even the lightest wit, assumes space. They say reading happens in time, but Sandra Simonds doesn’t believe it. Her travelogues are white meanderings, inklings of worlds to come, a tiny island. This voyage of bare facts, that everything is, that wonders appear, that earth abides, quiets geography. Unpretending itinerary, all she knows is that we don’t is this.”
— R.M. Berry
A sample poem:
Prose Poem Written at the OK Corral
I went to visit the amputee. He lived in a teepee made of stained glass. Precious stones lined the pathway leading up to his teepee. There were gardens in the area mostly gardens of light green moss. There was a forest of glass pineapples. I want to ask him many questions like do you take vitamins and if you do, what sort of vitamins do you take. I also want to ask him if he ever experiences the phantom limb phenomenon. When he says yes, I have a phantom limb I ask him: does it feel pain? or does it tickle the rest of your body. He said he lost his limb in the great war of 44444444444. According to the Kabbalah this was a "no nonsense" war. A war among wars.
When the great war of 4445454545454523243 ended many people were walking around the continent looking for their limbs. Prosthetics were invented only much earlier so he was fortunate enough not to bear the shame of a false-limb. The sham of it. He says I am an elitist and if I have lost a limb then I shall not hide from a night of googly eye stars. I lack nothing. I have all of my limbs.
He showed me his pet goat. He said the goat likes to drink saline solution and the goat chews black bubble gum. I was getting annoyed with myself. Would I ever be able to really understand the amputee in the teepee? Strange days. Strange days, friend. The moon is that dried clot of blood on a dried flower in my left pocket. Does the limb ooze cloud? I took out my ATM card because the teepee had a snack bar and I was getting hungry. Limb, llama, buccaneer, despair. a Ghastly fear!
The amputee would ask me to play a game of pick-up sticks. Notice that his left leg is missing and he wants to play only if a towel is tied around the missing limb. It�s okay. I will tie the towel to the missing limb. He says please go outside the fort and pick us a few glass pears so that we can dine tonight and play our games in peace with full stomachs and I will put on some Schubert for the goat. It�s the uselessness of milk, I tell you. The red breasts thrown out to Chernobyl sized skin cancer mutts.
In the months that followed the amputee disclosed the much needed information and though he had a violet temper I got all of the facts Jack. He moved into a dormitory-style �old folks� home and he killed his pet goat in a sacrificial ritual that could only be understood in terms of biblical prophecy. I was moved to a different case. Oh my caseload is heavy! Peking duck, marbles, Joan of Arc.
Feb 17, 2007
* What does next year have in store for me?-- "Untitled," Red Monkey. The iOracle equivalent to "ask again later," I guess. Lame, Nadja, lame.
* What does my love life look like?-- "Soul Seven," The Undertones. Accurate enough if you look at the lyrics.
* What do I say when life gets hard?-- "Place to Be," Robert Creeley. Yes, Creeley remains there for all of us, still.
* What do I think of when I get up in the morning? Op. 23 No. 3 "Le Secret," Gabriel Faure. Faure is the person that the composer Vinteuil in Remembrance of Things Past is based on, so I suppose it is appropriately quotidian.
* What song will I dance to at my wedding? "Psyche," Love Spirals Downwards. I will have to invite some goths to my wedding, I guess.
* What do I want for my career? "With a Man of Leisure," Harry Partch (from "17 Lyrics of Li Po.") Hehehe...right on.
* Favorite saying? "She's a Dog," The Geraldine Fibbers. Uh....not really.
* Favorite place? "Winter," Bebel Gilberto. Oh so metaphoric, Nadja.
* What do I think of my parents? "Just Another Soldier," The Minutemen. Yeah, pretty much.
* Where would I go on a first date? "Downtown Venus," PM Dawn. Classy. (Though, as in any song about Venus, it is easy to insert "Penis." No pun intended.)
* Drug of Choice? "Ghost City," Ghost in the Shell Soundtrack. Whoa, creepy. The StatMeter name for my blog is "Ghost City."
* How do I describe myself? "Coolin' Out," LTJ Bukem. I don't know if I would describe myself using an elided g. Elided, G.
* What is the thing I like doing the most? "The Judgment is the Mirror," Dali’s Car. Nadja has been talking to my shrink.
* What is my state of mind like at the moment? "Naïve Journey" feat. Marlon – DJ Icey. OK.
* How will I die? "The Hook," The Sonora Pine. Yeesh.
* Song they'll play at my funeral? "Jongleur Grey," The Durutti Column. Well, he did write an Elegy for Ian Curtis, so why not. Though not that appropriate if I haven't... err... hooked myself.
* What song will I put as the subject of this post? "Bad Night is Falling," Styrofoam. Well, there you have it.
Feb 16, 2007
Ultimately what anyone wants is their work to be read carefully, so hear hear.
The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery@ Bleecker
New York, NY
$20 suggested donation (please give what you can)
Our good friend Frank Sherlock was rushed to the hospital January 22nd with a sudden and mysterious illness which turned out to be a serious case of meningitis. He needed emergency surgery and also suffered a heart attack and kidney failure as a result of symptoms related to the illness. His friends have come together to help him at this critical time. We are reaching out to other friends and the poetry community on Frank's behalf. Frank's poetry page can be found here: http://FrankSherlock.blogspot.com
THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT, AND PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD,
from the Friends of Frank Sherlock
Feb 13, 2007
Justine views the carousel
through the mod angles
of the tent caterpillars.
She cuts her foot on the barb
of the horseshoe crab.
Justine feels cooler where
the jailhouse bands
of shadow hit, she knows
how the world acts
upon the body like a
She thinks of the faces
of strangers, how they
ebb into & out of death.
All the faces that have ever
been pressed into the deltas
of air the arms
of the tree make.
Justine runs on the sand
& watches the man
A star will dislodge
from its firmament
& she will know
it is all
a game, it is all
a question of scale.
Justine sees the olive trees
know the word
for mistakes, the bronze
fish lives in a pail
of salty water.
Justine wants to let it go,
but she knows it will
in the hungry wheel
of the riverboat,
propelled by parcels
of water along the bay
shaped like a comma
upside down. Justine looks up
at the sky & knows you
can’t look into the ground
in the same way. This proves
death is forever.
Justine will write her epitaph
in the aforementioned
sand, protestations of the quick
given to the sea.
Justine will wait until the lost
ocean things walk
back up upon shore. She knows
each thing will happen, if given
A spider will inch backwards
up the wall, the sun
will turn to milk, the
shadows will burn onto the water
with the smell of wood;
in enough time, each
thing is possible, even
Feb 7, 2007
Jan 30, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 3:00pm
Poetry in the Presence of Sculpture
Brenda Iijima, Jill Magi, Sawako Nakayasu and Srikanth Reddy share work that
resonates with the renowned Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988)
in the exquisite museum and rock garden dedicated to his art.
Co-sponsored by The Noguchi Museum.
@ The Noguchi Museum
9-01 33 rd Road at Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
(N to Broadway in Queens, walk west on Broadway to Vernon Blvd.
For information about shuttle buses to the Museum, visit www.noguchi.org)
$10, $5 for seniors and students, Free to Poets House & Noguchi Museum Members
Jan 28, 2007
"Tucked in the folds of numerous fugitive, finely construed, delicately manifested chapbooks of Mark’s are soulful immediacies emitted in a syntactic stream of synestetic particulars. The largess of dreams is shattered and shattered again into pressurized miniatures of detail where desiccation and nostalgia meet. Pressures and stresses are psychic. Swirling and careening between planetary cycles, somewheres hover. Mark’s lyric is crowded with the delicate filaments of ghosts, monsters, spirits, mythology, stuff of existence, banal trinkets, detritus and the numina inhabiting the objectified world of these visionary subjects. Planetary cycles and desire pull these details into focus, suture the traces, suspend animation—there is a tug between the ethereal and the terrestrial. This is a revenant’s teleology, a kind of doctrine that tells us phenomena are guided not only by mechanical forces but that they also move toward certain goals of self realization—there are vibes. Each utterance of Mark's is a divining voice. Where is water, where are the gods, what is war, and love’s necessities? Each calibration is a tension aligning beauty and the psyche. This, from his poem Spica.
“A matter of elephantine
through the flax, its huge
knees, tedious effluvium:
the egg-timer of the sky
ripostes: purple flashes
in the middle places,
invigored motes goad
the flapping field:
the rocks are alive
Do you hear me?
the rocks are alive.”
Jan 27, 2007
On the positive side, I can finally update my links.
Jan 26, 2007
Now the wine tastes like melted ice
Winnowing. The night. Split. Like an orange.
Take the train into the wide mouth
Liminal door goldfish brain
Aporetic nave, intercapillary umbilical
Sponge-mouthed & needing
A forest of sutures adopts a stance like
Necromancy romantic, thin blue lips
Rock candy cage, splinters
Furrowed broken shattered trussed
This is empty like the air around a ship
Laburnum walk ghost break
This is the unending end
Doffed & quartered & shunt
The tidemark of the blood
Sugar rain spilled into the inkpot
A copper plain marred by speech
Go into the somber maze
We were all dying for a crack
There was no place, it was said
Jan 25, 2007
From Yahoo! news:
"A huge explosion rocked central Baghdad just be for sunset Thursday."
I guess it's hard to copyedit when things are blowing up around you. One collosal mistake spawns a million little ones.
I know I, myself, am for sunset.
Jan 24, 2007
I am hoping you can take a moment and list any ekphrastic poems you can think of and backchannel to email@example.com with the subject heading "Ekphrastic Poems." The only criteria are that the poet be one who has published in the 20th or 21st centuries. I am limiting the scope to published poems in an attempt to control the size of the project a little bit.
I am hoping to display the poem side-by-side with the image (or an image of the work in the case of sculpture) that the poem is about; so the poems should be about works of art that I could hypothetically obtain an image of.
Jan 18, 2007
Jan 10, 2007
Speaking of reviews, I need reviewers and reviews for Boog City. Backchannel me if you are interested in reviewing something or you have a review to proffer. Generally speaking I only run reviews of chapbooks and/or "larger" books from small presses, but if you have a review of something 'mainstream' you are dying to see in print I could be persuaded if it is a good book or a good review (good reviews of bad books are fine, bad reviews of good books-not so much.) I have plenty of review copies to offer.
Jan 9, 2007
Frank Sherlock & Mark Lamoureux
Saturday, January 13th, 4-6 PM (please be punctual--we are starting on time!)
Segue Reading Series at The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery, just north of Houston
New York, New York
Frank Sherlock is the author of Spring Diet of Flowers at Night, ISO, and 13, and has engaged in collaborative projects with CA Conrad, Jennifer Coleman and sound artist/DJ Alex Welsh. He is a contributing editor for XConnect: Writers for the Information Age.
Mark Lamoureux's first full-length book of poems, Astrometry Organon, is due out from Spuyten Duyvil/Meeting Eyes Bindery in early 2007. He is the editor of Cy Gist Press, a micropress focusing on ekphrastic poetry, and teaches English at Kingsborough Community College.
curated by Brenda Iijima & Evelyn Reilly
Jan 5, 2007
As befits the birthplace of a civilization, Greece was beautiful and friendly. A place so old it is young again, the way an old human becomes an infant. No drastic catharsis as expected, but rather a place of subtleties--as in the way the innumerable mountains give way to horizons in gradated hues of blue or green depending on the weather. A city-dweller dropped in an always distant skyline--even at the pinnacle of the metropolis--gives way to a new perception of phenonmena and noumena--one's buglike blip on the long curve of the land and the vast expanse of everything after. A funeral stele persists in a museum--etched lists of names pawed at by scholars. Posterity is never what you think it will be. Even after gods die, it is their temples that remain, so it is with humans. A tiny candle burning in the roadside shrine in the hearty winds--somebody had to light it--someone keeps it burning. The boughs of xenia shade even the Ugly American while not so far away we enact televised murder. The man on the beach says Sophocles knew how things were always worse for the victor. "You don't look like an American" = "You don't seem so bad." Sour-faced guards at the Homeland Security checkpoint upon return remind me again that we're the Bad Guys now. Emblems & drastically enacted policies--rules, rules, rules. Immaculate smooth-stoned squares indicate it's not rules but people that pick up the trash. Further proof we are clots of rules and desires and not people. Nobody's trash blowing in tiny cyclones along the avenue.
If you happen to be interested, the inordinate amount of photos I took can be found here.
Happy New Year everyone.