Forty years ago the New York-based film critic Armond White (who was a year ahead of me at Central High and Wayne State University in Detroit) hired me as a music critic for our college newspaper, The South End, and I started writing pop, rock and r & b record reviews a la Robert Christgau, Dave Marcus, Lester Bangs, Vince Aletti et al (side note: I preferred Creem to Rolling Stone). That model—short, pithy snapshots—was the inspiration for the last three months of chapbook and book reviews here at Jacket2, plus a way to make a dent in those to-be-read stacks of books and chapbooks. I read a lot more books than the ones I reviewed and I learned a lot about my own predilections and prejudices in the process. Below is a list of the chapbooks and books I did not, for a variety of reasons, review but nonetheless like well enough to recommend (with the usual caveat emptor).

Jerome Rothenberg & John Bloomberg-Rissman: from the Pre-Face to Barbaric Vast & Wild (Poems for the Millennium, volume 5)

[What follows is a draft of what will be part of the pre-face to Barbaric Vast & Wild, the assemblage of “outside & subterranean poetry” to be published later this year by Black Widow Press – the de-facto fifth volume of Poems for the Millennium & the culmination for the moment of a project that began nearly fifty years ago with the original publication of Technicians of the Sacred.  I’m posting it now on Poems and Poetics before I head off for six or seven weeks on the road, to engage in readings & performances in

ModPo 2014 starts September 6

a free, open, non-credit, 10-week online course

ModPo – a free, entirely open, non-credit, discussion-based 10-week course on modern & contemporary U.S. poetry – begins its 2014 session on September 6. Everyone is welcome to join us. Click here —  — to enroll.

ModPo 2014 includes several new features in addition to the 10-week survey of mod American poets & poems. New is an entire set of resources for teachers. (We encourage teachers at all levels to join us.) And new, too, is “ModPoPLUS,” a supplemental syllabus that parallels the main ModPo syllabus – additional poems, links to audio and video, and video-recorded close readings of the poems. 

ModPo people gather together for meet-ups in many majors cities around the world. The ModPo team this year will be coming to New York, Washington DC, and Prague.

Brolaski and the metropolitan imaginary

Julian Brolaski, gowanus atropolis (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011), 104 pp., $15.00—Usage begets and outpaces grammatical and syntactical rules. In that sense, usage is equivalent in value to adaptation in evolution. Temporal events, both usage and adaptation nonetheless function within the constraints of an epoch, given to any “us” as the architectonics of space and structure.

Jake Marmer: Nigun Poems & Poetics

[Originally published in Current Musicology's recent issue on “experimental writing about music.”]




This set of poems grew out of my experiences of listening and finding myself inside nigunim(pl; singular nigun or nign), Chassidic chants — mystical, usually wordless songs used as accompaniment for rituals — weddings, prayers, candle-lightings — collective beckoning of transcendence. The nigun experience is fraught with what Amiri Baraka called, referring to blues, the “re/feeling” — proximity and shape of personal history of encounters with unfathomable.