Female names dominate the dedications and acknowledgements of Emily Stewart’s book of poems, Knocks (Vagabond Press: 2016). The closing sentence of the acknowledgements section? “girl poets everywhere: this is for you.”To read Stewart is to be in the company of women. The launches of Knocks have so far embodied this sense of a poetry girl gang. In Sydney, it was launched by Pam Brown, with readings by Elena Gomez and Holly Isemonger (August 14, 2016).
“[I]t is precisely a special way of writing that realism requires,” writes Lyn Hejinian in her essay, “Two Stein Talks.”Site Cite City is a book of realism, in the sense Hejinian uses it: realism is the product of a method, of a “special way of writing.” The realism of Site Cite City is directed less at the “pure products of America” than at the infrastructure in which they interact.
“[I]t is precisely a special way of writing that realism requires,” writes Lyn Hejinian in her essay, “Two Stein Talks.”Site Cite City is a book of realism, in the sense Hejinian uses it: realism is the product of a method, of a “special way of writing.” The realism of
Rosa Alcalá's impressive work with language takes shape as poetry, essays, criticism. A thread running through through much of her work is translation, though perhaps its presence need not always be announced, or even understood.
Juan Carlos Flores has earned recognition for his poems as written texts, and as a translator, I worked primarily within the visually oriented spaces of the page and the screen to recreate his work in English. [Click here to see the University of Alabama Press page for the book.] But Flores takes those same poems as scripts for performance, lending a whole other register to his work. To bring the texts into English without some commentary or other form of addressing performance — like the 2010 video I’m posting at the end of this entry — would greatly limit understanding of the work.
New at PennSound — Jackson Mac Low, Dick Higgins, Petr Kotik, Joseph Kubera, and Chris Nappi perform Emmett Williams’s Cellar Song for Five Voices. This piece was written in 1960. The recording here was made of a performance in 1990, presented by the S.E.M. Ensemble, recorded by Mikhail Liberman at Paula Cooper Gallery, 2/6/1990. Click on this link to the Jackson Mac Low PennSound page: http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Mac-Low.php#cellar .
It is difficult to conceive of a literary work spun out of “spatial motion.” To read and consider a poem that defies iconographic metaphor and symbolic interpretation, a poem intrstead composed out of language’s own phenomenal play, is to butt up against traditional values about poetry that still slide toward the pictorially descriptive.
Note: My inspiration for this interview emerged from a sense that something is missing from conversations about sound and poetry. Sound is not necessarily music. Joshua Liebowitz and angela rawlings (a.rawlings) are two artists I see as deeply engaged with the materiality of sound, and yet their work is extremely different. Joshua’s work uses technology to build and alter sound-structures, while, in angela’s performance-based work, I hear voice and breath sounding the limits of the body.
Sometime around late August/early September, I had lunch with one of the young women writers I see often in New York. She told me she had recently been to a reading in Philadelphia where Holly Melgard had, as she described, “performed childbirth, not actual childbirth, obviously, but just like made noises like she was in labor, and it was really loud, and people were really upset by it.” This performance apparently caused a great reaction. A number of people were furious, some felt insulted; why would some young girl who has never had a baby do something like that? That's what it seemed to boil down to, according to my friend.
Well, only Holly Melgard can answer that. But let's not pretend the WHY question is really just about explanation. Discussion about a controversial choice made by an artist opens up opportunities for all kinds of analysis. And with the sharp increase in people choosing to not bear children, emotions on this issue seem to be running high in our culture. From what I'd heard, Melgard landed herself squarely in the middle of it when she performed in Philly.
Today I present a guest post from Gerald Janecek, who has contributed so much to our understanding of the visual, verbal, and sonic breadth of Russian avant-garde poetry from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day. Jerry’s and my shared interests include the work of the conceptual artist and writer Dmitri Prigov, whose iterative practice spanned a vast range of genres and media from sculpture to performance, poetry to theatre. Some time ago, Jerry shared with me an extraordinary video of Prigov performing with the musician Vladimir Tarasov in the apartment studio of Ilya Kabakov in Moscow in 1986. Below, I present part of this video: Prigov and Tarasov’s performance of the 49-aya azbuka or 49th Alphabet from Prigov’s Alphabet series (you can read the Russian text here). Jerry’s commentary on the work and its performance follows. Together I hope they will serve as an introduction to a writer and artist who deserves to be far better known in the English-speaking world.