Caleb Beckwith and Suzanne Stein in conversation

'Political Subject'

Note: Caleb Beckwith and I have been corresponding about poetry, poetics, and poetry community since becoming friends sometime in 2015, shortly after he moved to the Bay Area from Philadelphia. Late in 2018, I suggested we have a more formal conversation about his new book, Political Subject, recently released from Roof Books. 

Note: Caleb Beckwith and I have been corresponding about poetry, poetics, and poetry community since becoming friends sometime in 2015, shortly after he moved to the Bay Area from Philadelphia. Late in 2018, I suggested we have a more formal conversation about his new book, Political Subject, recently released from Roof Books.

The poetry of a New York hour

A thousand singers on a mile-long stage

Mile-Long Opera along the High Line in New York City, October 2018. Photo by Iwan Baan.

For six evenings in October 2018, the Mile-Long Opera was performed for free on the High Line, starting at 7:00 p.m. That time is significant: the opera was billed as “a biography of 7:00 p.m.” because the libretto and accompanying texts were based on interviews with hundreds of New Yorkers about the meaning of the hour when day gives way to night.

“No we don’t talk, but people get to know each other just by walking past each other all the time.”

Extreme texts

Design based on images by Nurul Wahidah.

When Jacket2 invited me to compose a CFP for a special feature spanning multiple modes of thinking, it was the summer of 2017 and we were several months into Trump’s presidency. I had just returned to the United States, where I am a naturalized “citizen,” after years in Singapore, where I was employed as a faculty member on a work visa, a status determined almost solely on the state’s articulated understanding of my temporary utility to society — a condition that defines and delimits the lives of immigrants everywhere, but especially in oligarchic states (like Singapore and the US) that bank on the sweat and blood of certain bodies, the profitability of distended indenture (including debt), disenfranchisement, carceral surveillance, and other forms of coercion.

Will wonders never cease?

Laynie Browne's 'You Envelop Me'

I wanted to share both the narrowing and broadening of perception. I wanted to enter the space where all separations are illusory. — Laynie Browne, interview with Rusty Morrison

Wendy Trevino with Levi Bentley and Ted Rees

PennSound podcast #65

Left to right: Wendy Trevino, Levi Bentley, and Ted Rees.

Wendy Trevino joined hosts Levi Bentley and Ted Rees for this PennSound podcast, the first in a series of intimate conversations in Housework’s transition from reading series to recording series. Conversation topics included Barack Obama’s appearance in Best Experimental Writing 2016, post-arrest listmaking, “unequal collateral,” the organizing-specific shifts of self, acknowledging messy comrade conflict, and further associations drawn from Trevino’s 2018 collection Cruel Fiction.

Curnow's reach

Allen Curnow's 'Collected Poems' and Terry Sturm's 'Simply by Sailing in a New Direction'

Allen Curnow (1911­–2001) was a dominant force in New Zealand letters and became an internationally acclaimed poet, anthologist, and critic.[1] Together, the 2017 Auckland University Press poems and biography provide a substantial (1120-page!) recognition of his achievement. Let me offer what follows as a kind of searching tribute.

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. 

Sycorax, spirit, and 'Zong!'

An interview with M. NourbeSe Philip

Editorial note: This exchange between Jordan Scott and NourbeSe Philip, undertaken in 2016 and just now published in Jacket2, centers on the role of spirituality in Philip’s book Zong!, which Evie Shockley has said “enacts a critique, but also effects a catharsis or, more accurately, works through a problem that lies at the intersection of the emotions, the psyche, and the soul, if such a thing can be spoken of in the twenty-first century’s secular spaces.” 

Editorial note: This exchange between Jordan Scott and NourbeSe Philip, undertaken in 2016 and just now published in Jacket2, centers on the role of spirituality in Philip’s book Zong!, which Evie Shockley has said “enacts a critique, but also effects a catharsis or, more accurately, works through a problem that lies at the intersection of the emotions, the psyche, and the soul, if such a thing can be spoken of i

A vacancy one knew

Or: shallows of content; or: casuistry

I have chosen this book / simply because I happen to have come upon a copy of it / but I’m taking it to be fairly representative of Ashbery’s later poetry / by which I would indicate the books that have appeared since Flow Chart (published in 1991 / and succeeded by a new book of lyric poetry every couple of years).

The paradox of the poetic sign is that the more densely textured it becomes, the more it expands its referential power; but this density also turns it into a phenomenon in its own right, throwing its autonomy into relief and thus loosening up its bond with the real world. — Terry Eagleton, The Event of Literature

Being in a body

Samantha Giles and Lauren Levin

Picture of a house under construction.
Photo by Julia Bloch.

Note: Lauren Levin and Samantha Giles live and work in a loosely affiliated social, political, and aesthetic scene in the Bay Area. Nether Giles or Levin has any academic affiliation, but both have continued to participate in the professionalization of poetry as curators, as publishers, and as people who write books. 

Note:Lauren Levin and Samantha Giles live and work in a loosely affiliated social, political, and aesthetic scene in the Bay Area. Nether Giles or Levin has any academic affiliation, but both have continued to participate in the professionalization of poetry as curators, as publishers, and as people who write books.