Sited

On Jenny Xie and the fate of the flâneur

Photo of Jenny Xie by Robert Bredvad.

It’s 1967, and Guy Debord, grumpy but prescient, senses a change in the air. Throughout his treatise The Society of the Spectacle, he attempts to show how mass media and late-capitalist modes of production degrade social relations. Together, they reorient human organization around images detached from lived reality. Their slogan: “What appears is good; what is good appears.”

Perceptual distance may turn into mental distance,
and the phenomenon of disinterested beholding may emerge,
this essential ingredient in what we call “objectivity” — Hans Jonas[1]

September 1941 (PoemTalk #141)

Rosmarie Waldrop, 'Memory Tree'

From left: Laynie Browne, Mónica de la Torre, Kate Colby, and Rosmarie Waldrop.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

The ModPo team went on the road to Providence, Rhode Island — joined by Laynie Browne — to film some new collaborative readings of poems to add to the ModPoPLUS syllabus. Of course while there they just had to stop at the remarkable home of Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop, where Laynie, Kate Colby, and Mónica de la Torre (and, in a cameo appearance here, Lee Ann Brown), recorded a special episode of PoemTalk. This episode is presented here as an audio podcast, and as a video too. The poem discussed, “Memory Tree,” is from Rosmarie Waldrop’s book Split Infinites (published by Gil Ott’s Singing Horse Press in 1998). Here is a link to the text of the prose poem.

A short history of Tom Weatherly

We’re familiar by now with the designation of neglected writers as “poets’ poets”— essentially, an excuse for their continuing neglect. And we are, or should be, even more familiar with the neglect heaped on African American innovative writers, especially those who refuse to be easily pigeonholed into secure ideological or formal categories. Thomas Elias Weatherly (1942–2014) fits both categories.

Symptoms and sources

A review of Lauren Levin's 'Justice Piece // Transmission'

Lauren Levin’s second book, Justice Piece // Transmission, is comprised of two essayistic poems that continually untangle and reconstruct the web of contradictions that shape the speaker’s ever-complex, and always self-questioning, inner narrative. 

Lauren Levin’s second book, Justice Piece // Transmission, is comprised of two essayistic poems that continually untangle and reconstruct the web of contradictions that shape the speaker’s ever-complex, and always self-questioning, inner narrative. In both pieces, Levin traces anxiety back and forth from its source: the social, material fabric that challenges any “total” understanding of what it means to be a person — a queer person — and a queer gender-fluid person — in the world right now.

Lineated time

Some thoughts on the line in poetry

Prague astronomical clock. Photo by Andrew Shiva.

Two problems, first of beginning, then of cohering, beset me as I worried the topic of this talk. Beginning and cohering, obviously, elementary features of typical expository forms, but problematic, more so for a topic that one finds, at the same time, fundamental and elusive, elusive because fundamental, in one’s own practice of reading and writing.

Two problems, first of beginning, then of cohering, beset me as I worried the topic of this talk. Beginning and cohering, obviously, elementary features of typical expository forms, but problematic, more so for a topic that one finds, at the same time, fundamental and elusive, elusive because fundamental, in one’s own practice of reading and writing.

But here are three thoughts to possibly begin with:

Dani Zelko with Jennifer Ponce de León

PennSound podcast #66

Photo by Dani Zelko.
Photo by Dani Zelko.

Argentine poet Dani Zelko was joined in the Wexler Studio at the Kelly Writers House by Jennifer Ponce de León to discuss North Border: forced migrations (Gato Negro, 2019)the latest installment of Zelko’s Reunión project. Zelko and Ponce de León’s conversation explores the Reunión writing procedure as a “reciprocal work,” the book as a political object, migrant and feminist agencies, and artistic production as means to form community.

Honesty is the best policy

Photo of Steven Zultanski by Lanny Jordan Jackson.
Photo of Steven Zultanski by Lanny Jordan Jackson.

What are we to make of this short book? Is it poetry? Well, it doesn’t look like poetry. It is set up like prose, but these aren’t prose poems. They look like stories, or chapters. But are they? There is a voice, a narrator — is it the author, is it Steven Zultanski? — we aren’t quite sure. No name is offered. Let us call him the narrator. And are these sections, or chapters? This certainly doesn’t seem to be a novel, nor a collection of stories. And they are all in the first person.

What are we to make of this short book? Is it poetry? Well, it doesn’t look like poetry. It is set up like prose, but these aren’t prose poems. They look like stories, or chapters. But are they? There is a voice, a narrator — is it the author, is it Steven Zultanski? — we aren’t quite sure. No name is offered. Let us call him the narrator. And are these sections, or chapters? This certainly doesn’t seem to be a novel, nor a collection of stories. And they are all in the first person.

Dollbaby

The poetics of hysteria and motherhood

Trigger warning: abuse, suicide 
 
The following document is an archive of two years of my life when I lost custody of my children after I tried to end an abusive marriage. The court took my kids from me based on the art I create: appropriately, the art in this case centers around historical instances when real women also lost their voices, autonomy, and their lives due to their own inability to have freedom and safety in this world. It’s 2019, and women are still not safe.

Under the beach, the office

On 'The Work of Art in the Age of Deindustrialization'

Photo by Jonny Erixon via Wikimedia Commons.

“Society can absorb almost anything that purports to attack it,” Kenneth Rexroth would conclude in the early 1960s, seeing few new political prospects in the wave of oppositional literature emerging from the Beat generation. One only had to look at the fate suffered by their rebellious literary predecessors: “Who laughed uproariously at the antics of the petty bourgeois upstart Père Ubu?

FOIA request #SC 15–102-S

The detainee library

I was never left alone at Gitmo, though I was permitted to collect a variety of field recordings and write poems and notes on my iPhone. For security reasons, I was not permitted to record what one public affairs (PA) representative referred to as “nonpermissible human voice.” I attempted to record everything else, and I transcribed as much overheard speech as I could.