Articles

Trouble Songs

A musicological poetics

Trouble Songs: A Musicological Poetics is an investigation of the appearance of the word trouble in twentieth- and twenty-first-century music. It is a book-length project, comprised of three parts, each broken into modular chapters, or Trouble Songs, which build on one another as a series of albums, but are also intended as remixable and programmable singles. What follows is a compilation that spans those three parts.

Finding (the other) Juan Luis Martínez

According to Chilean poet Juan Luis Martínez’s groundbreaking art object La nueva novela (The New Novel, 1977), “The universe is a phantom’s effort to become reality.”[1] In July 2014 I found that phantom. His name is Juan (Luis) Martinez and he is a retired journalist and aid worker for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

'Maybe, it is only on Earth / that we lose the body?'

Williams and the decaying body

Contact sheet (detail), ca. 1960, Beinecke Library Special Collections (photo by Harry Grossman).

The most compelling feature of William Carlos Williams’s poetry, for me, has perhaps always been the complex tango of virility and fragility that fight it out in his deeply autobiographical poetry. The idea that man could be both potent and capable of great frailty was a fact of his work that resonated with the vigorous and clumsy youth I was when I first encountered his work. Williams traces the deterioration and ultimate betrayals of his body in his poetry, reflecting on both the particularities of his condition and the universals of aging.

Engagement, race, and public poetry in America

Ansel Adams, “Roy Takeno at town hall meeting, Manzanar Relocation Center,” (courtesy the Library of Congress).

Has American poetry become more engaged with public events, more politically relevant, in the opening years of the twenty-first century? That is the claim made by The New American Poetry of Engagement, an anthology edited by Ann Keniston and Jeffrey Gray and published in 2012.[1] In their introduction, Keniston and Gray argue that American poets, particularly in the wake of September 11, 2001, have displayed a “turn toward a more engaged poetry” in response to a historical context that “disrupted and threw into question the ‘personal’ concern of much poetry.”

Amuse-Bouche

You came to see human bodies tonight, but she said this is “holy work and it’s dangerous not to know that ’cause you could die like an animal down here.”[1] She was talking about making dances — pacing back and forth across bridges, riding up and down the block, selling loosies on the corner, walking in the middle of the street. The hazard of movement, of moving and being moved, of knowing that we are affected, that we are affective.