The confessing image

Trisha Low's screenshot poetics

Click here for an enlarged version of the above screenshot.

When I think of Tumblr, and of Trisha Low, I think of sitting on the Caltrain on vacation with my family in the summer of 2015, scrolling through Tumblr on my phone and seeing the last ​essay​ in Low’s “On Being-Hated” series for SFMOMA’s ​Open Space​ magazine. I remember reading it and reading around it: first a block quote on my dashboard, posted by my then-boyfriend, then a series of posts on Low’s own ​Tumblr​, and finally the essay itself, which I downed greedily, looking for answers about what I was then just beginning to learn about the fraught racial politics of the avant-garde. 

Editorial note: Readers can view larger versions of each of the images below by clicking them; they will open in another window.

When you think of Tumblr, it’s not just, like, your Tumblr dashboard, but it’s like a memory of a screenshot of your Tumblr dashboard that’s​ on​ your Tumblr dashboard.
— Trisha Low, “Hunting Season

Rousing earth to excel (PoemTalk #153)

Daphne Marlatt, 'Arriving'

From left: Daphne Marlatt, Fred Wah, Meredith Quartermain

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

In January 2020, Al Filreis and the PoemTalk team traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia, where at the home of friends Richard Cook and Lucy Oh Cook they met up with Meredith Quartermain, Fred Wah, and Daphne Marlatt to talk about Daphne’s poem “Arriving.” The discussion was witnessed by a lively live audience and was filmed. The unabridged video is available here below and also on YouTube. Chris Martin expertly engineered the sound, and Zach Carduner graced us with his talented camerawork.

O Books, 1988–2009 (ed. Leslie Scalapino et al.)

reissue
From O/Three: War (1993)
From O/Three: War (1993)

Breaking with standard Reissues format, this release celebrates an extraordinary set of editorial projects by a single editor over three related initiatives. Spanning twenty-one years from 1988 until 2009, Leslie Scalapino produced four O Books Anthologies, a single-issue magazine coedited with Rick London called enough, and a four-issue run of a magazine called War and Peace (coedited with Judith Goldman for issues 2–4).

Reading weed acts

A review of Carol Watts's 'Dockfield'

Broad-leaved (left) and curled (right) dock. Photos by R. A. Nonenmacher.
Broad-leaved (left) and curled (right) dock. Photos by R. A. Nonenmacher.

In many ways, the structure of this poetry is parabolic. Points of reference are plotted along a curve that eventually returns to the same site of origin — the dockfield — before continuing onward. This is reflected in the release and retraction of words and images within parts of lines as well as in the broader sweep and curve of deep, transhuman time to which the text aspires. 

Carol Watts’s Dockfield opens with an epigraph from Emily Dickinson — “Like Rain it sounded till it curved.” This attention to sound and structure also informs the opening lines of the first poem:

Step through on a curve,
a grand elliptic.

I will find you. Always.

A message sent up from simple frequencies.[1]

Sounding/listening through the fog

On Kathryn Scanlan and Friederike Mayröcker

Reading the introductions to Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog and Friederike Mayröcker’s from Embracing the Sparrow-Wall or 1 Schumann-Madness (trans. Jonathan Larson), I find myself charged with an imperative to listen. Mayröcker’s Embracing is a translated radio play, a Hörspiel — which literally means a “listening play.” 

Reading the introductions to Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog and Friederike Mayröcker’s from Embracing the Sparrow-Wall or 1 Schumann-Madness (trans. Jonathan Larson), I find myself charged with an imperative to listen. Mayröcker’s Embracing is a translated radio play, a Hörspiel — which literally means a “listening play.” Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog is a translated diary, taken from the voice of an eighty-six-year-old and recapitulated from the author’s subjectivity.

Hers to elegize

Aria Aber's 'Hard Damage'

Photo of Aria Aber by Nadine Aber.

Aber is the child of Afghan refugees who was raised in Germany and educated, in part, in the United States. Her poems in Hard Damage wrestle with the challenge of writing of a place and a political crisis that she neither lived through nor witnessed, but whose presence remains central in her life through traumatized relatives, news of the seemingly perpetual war in Afghanistan, and her own longing for a home where she has never set foot. 

“Not yours to elegize,”[1] instructs a relative in Aria Aber’s debut volume of poems, Hard Damage. However, Aber’s Prairie Schooner Prize–winning book could be read as an attempt to mourn those losses from which the consoling voice seeks to redirect her. Aber is the child of Afghan refugees who was raised in Germany and educated, in part, in the United States.

'the voice of a cricket in a museum of city sanitation'

An introduction to the work of Afrizal Malna

Asked about his conception of poetry in a 2001 interview with Spanish poet and translator Emilio Araúxo, Afrizal Malna wrote, “Poetry doesn’t live in itself. Poetry lives in the reader who is open to their own memories, their various private and social experiences. Everything that we consider fixed in its position, through the semiotic play of poetry, can attain new correspondences. Those positions open wide and defy us to join them together with fresh contrasts and combinations.”

Infrastructures of feeling

Fugitive fugues in the undying present

Photo by Jessie Eastland, via Wikimedia Commons

Syd Staiti’s novel The Undying Present opens with a somewhat startling brief scene wherein the narrator smashes their watch on their desk, ripping off its hands, before entering out into the world and its “present and continuous catastrophe” (11). What — outside of crisis — thrusts us into the pure present other than an escape from — or rebellion against — (modern, capitalist) time?

Time is the cousin of punishment Syd Staiti, The Undying Present[1]

The 'now what' question of music and poetics

Rodrigo Toscano with Clare Louise Harmon

Photo of Clare Harmon by Chloé Azzopardi. Photo of Rodrigo Toscano by Clare Welsh.

Note: I first met Rodrigo through a mutual friend at a gallery opening; I think I said something about being a classical musician, because, there, among the photographs, Rodrigo launched into a thick analysis of Frescobaldi and Couperin (the elder); I remember being completely shocked at the level of knowledge — something I hadn’t experienced since my days in graduate school. Maybe we talked about Ligeti’s Continuum (a favorite of mine), too.

Note: I first met Rodrigo through a mutual friend at a gallery opening; I think I said something about being a classical musician, because, there, among the photographs, Rodrigo launched into a thick analysis of Frescobaldi and Couperin (the elder); I remember being completely shocked at the level of knowledge — something I hadn’t experienced since my days in graduate school. Maybe we talked about Ligeti’s Continuum (a favorite of mine), too.