Les chemins

An introduction to contemporary Ivorian poetry

Photo by Todd Fredson.

This gathering of Ivorian poets has been organized around the theme of chemin. Most literally, chemin is the French word for “path.” Its sense changes across these poems. 

With a little string and a sharp stone (PT #158)

Bob Kaufman, 'Suicide'

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Al Filreis convened Christopher Stackhouse, Maria Damon, and Devorah Major to talk about a poem by Bob Kaufman titled “Suicide.” The recording of Kaufman performing the poem — outdoors in San Francisco, in a park, it seems — can be seen and heard in one of the final scenes of Billy Woodberry’s documentary about Kaufman’s life and work, And When I Die I Won’t Stay Dead. We have extracted an audio-only copy of the poem as performed and you can hear it here. The text of the poem can be found on p. 112 of the Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman (City Lights), coedited by Neeli Cherkovsky, Raymond Foye, and Tate Swindel.

XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics, 1997–2010 (ed. Mark Nowak)

reissue
XCP Nº18, 2007

Reissues is thrilled to partner with Open Door Archive (ed. Harris Feinsod et al.) to cohost the digital afterlife of the extraordinary journal, XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics (ed. Mark Nowak). If ever a journal might inspire elaborate forms of postdigital crossposting, it’s this one. XCP likely needs no introduction to readers of Jacket2. Over thirteen years and across twenty-three stacked issues, XCP forged a network of global poetics and protest rarely seen in an editorial project.

 

Reissues is thrilled to partner with Open Door Archive (ed. Harris Feinsod et al.) to cohost the digital afterlife of the extraordinary journal, XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics (ed. Mark Nowak). If ever a journal might inspire elaborate forms of postdigital crossposting, it’s this one. XCP likely needs no introduction to readers of Jacket2.

Empathy under late capitalism

PennSound podcast #71

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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.

Victoria Chang's negative elegy

A review of 'Obit'

Photo of Victoria Chang by Margaret Malloy.

Victoria Chang’s Obit is a book of grief. Yet cutting across its overt autobiographical subject matter, the death of Chang’s mother, the book joins a tradition of apophatic lyricism that runs through Keats, Dickinson, and Ashbery, as well as Chang’s own prior books.

Victoria Chang’s Obit is a book of grief. Yet cutting across its overt autobiographical subject matter, the death of Chang’s mother, the book joins a tradition of apophatic lyricism that runs through Keats, Dickinson, and Ashbery, as well as Chang’s own prior books. (Here’s how she defined love in her previous book, Barbie Chang: “a slow drip without a puddle a faded / paddle on the beach // that the eye cannot see.”[1]) Death is the ultimate object for a secularized apophatic poetics, and Obit anatomizes the unsayability of loss.

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, Bergvall’s Alisoun Sings channels a polyphonous “voice-cluster” of pop stars and feminist icons of art and literature, all centered around Alisoun. 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.

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.

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]

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 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. 

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.