Funeral rites

On Nanni Balestrini's 'Blackout'

Nanni Balestrini’s Blackout is a requiem for the generation of 1968, whose hopes and ideals were exhausted by the time of the poem’s composition in 1979. The original impetus for the poem was the blackout in New York on July 13, 1977, that lasted for twenty-five hours and drew widespread media attention due to countless episodes of violence and looting. 

To understand Italy one must understand the United States. — Sylvère Lotringer / Christian Marazzi 

These squiggles (PoemTalk #142)

Charles Bernstein, 'As If the Trees by Their Very Roots Had Hold of Us'

From left: Charles Bernstein, Tracie Morris, Marjorie Perloff, Danny Snelson

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Tracie Morris, Danny Snelson, and Marjorie Perloff joined Al Filreis to talk about one of Charles Bernstein’s early poems, “As If the Trees by Their Very Roots Had Hold of Us.” It originally appeared in Senses of Responsibility (1979) and in 2010 was chosen by Bernstein to be included in All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems. We know the writing of the poem dates at least to 1977, which is when he performed it at a reading at the Place Center in New York (on December 18); he read that day with Kathy Acker. 

Glimpsing the new normal

On Kristen Gallagher’s ‘85% True/Minor Ecologies’

Writing that tends to take an anthropocentric consideration of the physical world — e.g., a traditional nature writing that privileges human observation — implies a certain hierarchical separation between subject and material. It is the same assumption that leads to the glaring dismissal of other actants, especially those considered to be alien (i.e., not human). When the fantasy of privileged human experience is dissolved, there is an equitable condition, where people and their environments are slipped, or perhaps coerced, into substance.

Sited

On Jenny Xie and the fate of the flâneur

Photo of Jenny Xie by Robert Bredvad.

It’s 1967, and Guy Debord, grumpy but prescient, senses a change in the air. Throughout his treatise The Society of the Spectacle, he attempts to show how mass media and late-capitalist modes of production degrade social relations. Together, they reorient human organization around images detached from lived reality. Their slogan: “What appears is good; what is good appears.”

Perceptual distance may turn into mental distance,
and the phenomenon of disinterested beholding may emerge,
this essential ingredient in what we call “objectivity” — Hans Jonas[1]

Razor feminine

A review of 'Small Siren'

Photo of Alexandra Mattraw (left) by Adam Thorman.

If Alexandra Mattraw’s first full-length collection Small Siren is a book of the feminine, we have been misunderstanding the feminine all along, misunderstanding its capacity and complexity. This is the feminine as slant of mind, position of articulation, embodied cerebral. In its linguistic inventions and its distinctive grammars, Small Siren rewrites the intimate registers in which mind encounters world.

If Alexandra Mattraw’s first full-length collection Small Siren is a book of the feminine, we have been misunderstanding the feminine all along, misunderstanding its capacity and complexity. This is the feminine as slant of mind, position of articulation, embodied cerebral.

A short history of Tom Weatherly

We’re familiar by now with the designation of neglected writers as “poets’ poets”— essentially, an excuse for their continuing neglect. And we are, or should be, even more familiar with the neglect heaped on African American innovative writers, especially those who refuse to be easily pigeonholed into secure ideological or formal categories. Thomas Elias Weatherly (1942–2014) fits both categories.

Dani Zelko with Jennifer Ponce de León

PennSound podcast #66

Photo by Dani Zelko.
Photo by Dani Zelko.

Argentine poet Dani Zelko was joined in the Wexler Studio at the Kelly Writers House by Jennifer Ponce de León to discuss North Border: forced migrations (Gato Negro, 2019)the latest installment of Zelko’s Reunión project. Zelko and Ponce de León’s conversation explores the Reunión writing procedure as a “reciprocal work,” the book as a political object, migrant and feminist agencies, and artistic production as means to form community.

Thus I am inwardly my police

A review of Daniel Poppick's 'The Police'

Photo of Daniel Poppick (left) by Charlotte McCurdy.
“Speech is the fourth wall made permanent,” Daniel Poppick writes in the title poem of his debut collection, The Police.[1] Speech is a performance, he suggests: a performance that cuts us off from others, making them, first, an audience, and then constructing a barrier between speaker and audience.

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. 

Janky materiality

Artifice and interface

We live in machines but are not machines. Restless forms imagine new presents, where past and future meet. As becoming-digital beings, we retain and engage the problem of embodiment, which needs a world, needs other forms, needs to die. Death is our stake: neither early nor late.

Poetry is music, and nothing but music. — Amiri Baraka 

Poetry is heard; it is the heard thing. — Erín Moure

Materiality and embodiment