Making the invisible visible

Jennifer Scappettone and Tonya Foster in conversation, 2010

Editorial note: The following conversation has been adapted from an Emergency Reading Series event hosted by Julia Bloch and Sarah Dowling on January 21, 2010, at the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. It was transcribed by Michael Nardone and edited for publication; additional commentary by the speakers is included below in brackets. The conversation, between Jennifer Scappettone and Tonya Foster, explores topics ranging from Disneyfication to the Greek chorus.

Editorial note: The following conversation has been adapted from an Emergency Reading Series event hosted by Julia Bloch and Sarah Dowling on January 21, 2010, at the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. It was transcribed by Michael Nardone and edited for publication; additional commentary by the speakers is included below in brackets.

Of beautiful tangents (PoemTalk #128)

Sueyeun Juliette Lee, 'Perfect Villagers'

From left: Sawako Nakayasu, Gabriel Ojeda-Sague, Donato Mancini

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Sawako Nakayasu, Donato Mancini, and Gabriel Ojeda-Sague joined Al Filreis to talk about two poems by Sueyuen Juliette Lee. The poems were published in a chapbook titled Perfect Villagers (2006) and later collected in That Gorgeous Feeling (2008). Dear Margaret Cho (actually one of two poems of that title) and “Daniel Dae Kim” were among the pieces from the “perfect villagers” series performed by Lee in a reading she gave at the Kelly Writers House in January of 2007. The recording can be found at Lee’s PennSound page.

If nothing ever ended

PoemTalk #38: Norman Fischer's 'I’d Like to See It'

Photo of Norman Fischer (left) by Laura Trippi, via Wikimedia Commons.

Editorial note: The following conversation has been adapted and edited from episode 38 of PoemTalk, recorded December 9, 2010, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and transcribed by Michael Nardone. The episode discusses the poem “I’d Like to See It” from Norman Fischer’s Turn Left in Order to Turn Right (O Books, 1989). Fischer is associated with the Bay Area Language poets and is the former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center.

Building sex

Renee Gladman's 'Prose Architectures'

Images from 'Prose Architectures' courtesy of Renee Gladman and Wave Books.

One easily forgets that writing is an act of drawing. On this, Renee Gladman insists: “Drawing was a process of thought — that was true, and so, and especially, was writing.”[1] This notion can be grasped in two ways: on the one hand, inscription is visual. A letter is always a mark, something scrawled. It is only when the mark is given meaning that we come to know and understand it as writing, so that A is A. The architecture of shapes and lines become letters, words, writing. 

One easily forgets that writing is an act of drawing. On this, Renee Gladman insists: “Drawing was a process of thought — that was true, and so, and especially, was writing.”[1] This notion can be grasped in two ways: on the one hand, inscription is visual. A letter is always a mark, something scrawled. It is only when the mark is given meaning that we come to know and understand it as writing, so that A is A. The architecture of shapes and lines become letters, words, writing.

A child's history of conflict

A review of 'Hardly War' by Don Mee Choi

Photo of Don Mee Choi (left) by Jay Weaver, courtesy of Don Mee Choi.

Before we reach the table of contents of Hardly War, Don Mee Choi’s concerns are clear. The epigraphs set three boundaries. Choi sets up Gertrude Stein as a foremother, whose style she will adapt and whose words she will intersperse with the other voices of the text — “It is funny about wars, they ought to be different but they are not.” 

Before we reach the table of contents of Hardly War, Don Mee Choi’s concerns are clear. The epigraphs set three boundaries. Choi sets up Gertrude Stein as a foremother, whose style she will adapt and whose words she will intersperse with the other voices of the text — “It is funny about wars, they ought to be different but they are not.” Roland Barthes’s discourse on photography as “a shared hallucination […] a mad image” prefigures the text’s discourse on photography, its interweaving of treatises on photography, and the reality/unreality of war. Lastly, C. D.

from 'The Premises of Poetry'

Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s handwriting, inscribed in a first-edition copy of ‘Éloge de la philosophie.’ Image courtesy of Librairie le Feu Follet.

Editorial note: The excerpts below are from Michael Heller’s decades-long endeavor, “The Premises of Poetry.” They are drawn from Heller’s notes and entries from the 1980s through 2018. Heller describes the work as follows: “‘The Premises of Poetry,’ an ongoing project of prose and citation going back nearly fifty years, is derived from my notebooks and informal observations on readings in poetry, philosophy, history, and current affairs.

Editorial note: The excerpts below are from Michael Heller’s decades-long endeavor, “The Premises of Poetry.” They are drawn from Heller’s notes and entries from the 1980s through 2018. Heller describes the work as follows: “‘The Premises of Poetry,’ an ongoing project of prose and citation going back nearly fifty years, is derived from my notebooks and informal observations on readings in poetry, philosophy, history, and current affairs.

'From A to Z'

Forty years later

Pages from the 1977 edition of 'From A to Z.'

From A to Z was published/printed in 1977. The book was a long year in the making, and as a work that was essentially an enormous scrabble game, it required a number of procedural steps for its realization. The most coherent (looking) sections were the ones written and set first. Then the “sorts” had to be used up by making $ubstitution$, f/puns, us!ng punctuation, and abbrev:at:ns, among other tricks.

“Quick, tell me the differences among Olson, Williams, and Pound.” Placed at the bottom of the “Introduction,” this line speaks volumes about the encounter between modern poetry and print publication that is documented in the bibliography-a-clé, From A to Z.

'playback on the rise'

The Señal chapbook series

US cultural diplomacy with Latin America seems a low priority under the current administration, and this makes me more grateful than ever for the Señal poetry chapbook series. These poems and their English translations engage questions about the intersections of Latin American and US history, culture, and language — implying that what is received in literature and culture bears examination.

Stalling in 'Solidarity Texts'

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“I am wont to join the collective that has the miracle and privilege of flowering. The unblooming, then, is the motion I sit with — this lag time that goes on.” Photo by Reginald A. Malby and Co., Southwark Local History Archive and Library, via Wikimedia Commons.

I sit with Solidarity Texts, and I am drawn to its states of motion: Anne Waldman’s metabolizing, M. NourbeSe Philip’s ruminating on what cannibalizes, Levi Bentley’s “Destroy them […] Keep moving,” everyone’s marching; and — yet — all the stall therein. What to make of ritual time, written and henceforth read; of the memorial, the eulogy, the flash obituary kept here.