Commentaries - May 2012

Il Manifesto, ABR review, the company (photo op)

IL MANIFESTO (Italian daily) May 17, 2012
Daniela Daniele interviews me and writes a related article, focussing mainly on the Poetics of OWS and the Poets & Critics seminars in Paris in March. In the same issue Marco Giovenale write about Jennifer Scappatone's translation of Ameli Rosselli, Locomotrix, from the University of Chicago Press. PDF of the pages here.

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American Book Review review of Attack of the Difficult Poems by Rosemary Winslow

Fluking it, with Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards at Sappho's, 2011 (photo by Toby Fitch)

The mis-translations, mis-quotations and bricolage poetry of  Sydneysider Chris Edwards has made several appearances in Jacket magazine.

In 2001 Jacket published three of his poems that are recombinations of David Baratier talking with Simon Perchik and Ward, Lock & Company's illustrated Great Inventors and other poems made from diverse sources including Isaac Asimov, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Arthur C. Clarke, Marilynne Robinson, Richard Wright, Roland Barthes and a number of other writers. There is a terrific sense of play in Chris's work and unlike many experimenting postmodern projects it is always uncannily engaging. Chris is also a typographer and graphic designer (designing, among other things, many of the books published by the irrepressible Vagabond Press) something that is evident in the careful arrangement in cascading poems like 'Aha!', from his own recent Vagabond collection People of Earth -

State-of-the-Nation poems (3)

Cilla McQueen, ‘Living Here’ (1982)

cilla mcqueen
Cilla McQueen in Auckland (March 29, 2012)

Time for a change of gear, I think. Curnow’s and Baxter’s poems seem designed to wrestle with the big questions, to provoke that “You must change your life” epiphany Rilke got from his Archaic Torso of Apollo. There’s a sense of mission about both of them as writers.

Karen Finley's holocaust memorial at Gusen, Austria

One of Karen Finley’s recent installations is an ongoing (annual) holocaust memorial at the remains and site of the Gusen concentration camp in Austria.

PROPOSED ADDITION: Documentary poetry as instruction manual

Harvest of documentary poetry projects, Fall, 2012

I’ve just finished a semester of teaching documentary poetry to a group of graduate students.  This mixed form proved extremely generative. Student projects focused on women in prison, a homeless woman, a forgotten city, a planned town and its secrets, tourism, food and activism, and a lost grandfather.  All of these projects (chapbooks and one on-line text) worked like accordians, moving back and forth between material and abstraction, between persons and communities.  If a drawer can said to be an accordian, then Donovan Kūhiō Colleps’s project, which takes as its central artifact a filing cabinet containing his late grandfather’s papers, breathes its histories in and out.  (See the project above: “from The Files of Curtis P. Ah You.")  Another of the central images in his chapbook, made out of file folders, is the Pulmo-Aide Respirator, whose instruction guide he uses in the central poem.  As the respirator is put together, according to the instructions, we learn about his grandfather’s links (broken and sustained) to his past, and of his love for — among other things — University of Hawai`i women’s volleyball.  (A cultural marker if there ever was one.)