Promise to go on (PoemTalk #154)

Elizabeth Willis, 'The Similitude of This Great Flower'

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

For this 154th episode of the PoemTalk series, Al Filreis remotely convened Simone White, Kate Colby, and Angela Carr to talk about a prose poem by Elizabeth Willis, “The Similitude of This Great Flower.” The poem was first published in the Cordite Poetry Review in January of 2008. Our recording of the poem comes from a Close Listening session hosted by Charles Bernstein on March 17, 2008.

Empathy under late capitalism

PennSound podcast #71

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Levi Bentley, Ted Rees, and Danielle LaFrance met in the Wexler Studio in November 2019 to discuss LaFrance’s books Just Like I Like It and Friendly + Fire as a part of the Housework series. Their conversation touched on the gross and grotesque, “it” as ideology, abolishing the self and the “sovereign I,” and the discomfort of being both a participant in and host to parasitic social injustice.

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 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: 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

'Collective poesy'

The disruptive pleasures of Caroline Bergvall's 'Alisoun Sings'

Photo by Helena Wikström, courtesy of Caroline Bergvall, 'Drift Umeå,' NorrlandsOperan, Sweden.

During an interview from the afterlife, Jack Spicer tells Hoa Nguyen that in making a poem, “you start with a syllable machine and see what ghosts you catch.” Similarly spirited, Caroline Bergvall’s Alisoun Sings channels a polyphonous “voice-cluster” of pop stars and feminist icons of art and literature, all centered around Alisoun, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath. Together across time, Bergvall and Alisoun form a “collective poesy” (104) through queer networks of affiliation to explore pleasure’s physical and linguistic role in disbanding the national ties that constrain us and allowing us to re-form in new, more livable configurations.

During an interview from the afterlife, Jack Spicer tells Hoa Nguyen that in making a poem, “you start with a syllable machine and see what ghosts you catch.” Similarly spirited, Caroline Bergvall’s Alisoun Sings channels a polyphonous “voice-cluster”[1] of pop stars and feminist icons of art and literature, all centered around Alisoun, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath.

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. In the later poems, as the pace of crisis picks up, and images of ecological horror stumble into each other within a dervish of lyrical speaking over and silencing, there is still an inevitable return to the still center of the dockfield.

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]

A provisional map of who/what/where we are

A review of 'Inciting Poetics: Thinking and Writing Poetry'

Photos courtesy of the authors.

On one level at least, Inciting Poetics would seem to be in dialogue with Donald Allen’s 1960 iconoclastic anthology of poetry and poetics, The New American Poetry. With the majority of this volume’s contributors having come of age in the 1960s and 1970s and now in their sixties and seventies, the essays collected here tell a particular narrative, one that seems acutely linked to the political upheavals and cultural shifts of those formative decades. 

When I first learned that the University of New Mexico Press was publishing Inciting Poetics, a collection of essays edited by Jeanne Heuving and Tyrone Williams, I was excited for a number of reasons.

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.

'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.”