Commentaries - December 2012

From Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland comes this digital poem, “Sea and Spar Between” — a poetry generator which defines a space of language populated by a number of stanzas comparable to the number of fish in the sea, around 225 trillion. Each stanza is indicated by two coordinates, as with latitude and longitude. They range from 0 : 0 to 14992383 : 14992383. To operate the system, you may:

• move your mouse;
• press the spacebar to mark the stanza that is in the center of the screen of that moment, bringing its coordinates into the navigation box at the bottom in order to note them and return to this view;
• click your mouse at the right edge of the screen to move right to a new region of texts (to increase the first coordinate); click your mouse at the bottom, left, or top to move similarly in those directions;
• tap the arrow keys to move the visible lattice of stanzas up, right, down, or left by a single stanza;
• scroll the wheel on your mouse or tap the A and Z keys on the keyboard to zoom in and out;
• type a pair of coordinates into the navigation box at the bottom and press enter to move anywhere in the sea of text.

Click here for a description of the process and the sourcetext. Click here to read the poem.

photos and video by Ernesto Livon-Grosman

Program One:
Gerrit Lansing reads selections from his collected poems, The Heavenly Tree / Northern Earth (North Atlantic, 2009)
(26:40): MP3

Program Two:

(55:43): MP3
Gerrit Lansing talks with Charles Bernstein, and guest Susan Howe, at Lansing’s house in Gloucester, Mass. Lansing, a close friend of Charles Olson, discusses the wild of Gloucester, the relation of the magic (and the magical) and the occult to poetic practice, Nerval, queer politics and the poetics identity, New York in the immediate postwar period, parapsychology at Harvard in the late 1940s, Gnosticism versus neo-Platonism, Jewish mysticism, and his connections with Henry Murray, Harry Smith, Alan Watts, Aleister Crowley, Carl Jung, and John Ashbery.

Recorded (witth video and photo) by Eresto Livon-Grosman on December 9, 2012. Produced and edited by Charles Bernstein.

Gerrit Lansing was born in Albany, New York, in 1928, and grew up in Northern Ohio. Educated at Harvard and Columbia Universities, he has taught at Bard College. For many years Lansing has lived in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

and after the show ....


if you have a problem viewing video, go to the new LANSING PennSound page  here.

Also of interest, via EPC Digital Library:

  • Set magazine, ed. Gerrit Lansing, issues 1 (1961) and 2 (1963); also TOC and cover image
  • Swagga Kid (Mikerson Stiverne) recording in Montreal-Nord

    It was a request I couldn’t refuse last July… renowned Canadian documentary filmmaker Magnus Isacsson wrote me to ask if I would create an English version of the rap songs sung in French by young Mikerson “Swagga Kid” Stiverne in what was to be Isacsson’s final film, about young men creating lives for themselves where they could thrive, after rough childhoods and dropping out of school in the poor neighbourhood of Montréal-Nord—where young men of colour have endured a lot of misunderstanding (and even bullets) from the police: My Real Life

    I worked with a  written transcript from the French soundtrack made by the production team, and spent a whole week dancing and singing beside my desk, watching the film over and over, letting the pride and tenacity of these young guys and their music and expression enter my spirit too, and feeling Magnus’s pride and tenacity as well.

    Sometimes I feel I am sewing words into the fabric of lives when I translate. Noises out of silence that remains silence, for I remain silent even as I am speaking, for I speak the words of another, othered to another.

    My favourite challenge was translating the repeated Swagga Kid phrase “pour mieux t’introduire” which is stitched into his song “My Real Life” (a plea to see his life from his view and not to judge him as the police do by his looks and location), and which closes the film in beautiful repetition… in French it reads as introduce/present yourself to new people, but also as “enter into life” to “put yourself in the picture”. Our English “introduce” seems to lean more in the direction of introductions… so to capture the second sense I had to double the word and introduce (hah!) a line saying “just leap in”.

    The songs (you can find them in French by clicking here) are very loungey and urgent at the same time, so Montréal! And the closing scenes and voice-over with these words are so much the philosophy of Magnus Isacsson too: Just leap in and really introduce yourself. A translation with a subjectivity, that honours subjectivity…

    See My Real Life if you can! Magnus Isacsson convenes all of us with our particular contributions, even me with my translations of poetry, into the world of his work – a generous, open work – in film.

    Smoke it up, take it cool,
    But don’t forget to act;
    It makes your life easier
    If you just leap in
    And really introduce yourself;
    Really introduce yourself.

    Fume ta touffe prends ça cool
    mais n'oublie pas d'agir
    Rends-toi la vie un peu plus
    facile pour mieux t'introduire
    Pour mieux t'introduire
    Pour mieux t'introduire

    A feature in Jacket 3

    John Forbes, Petersham, Sydney, 1980, photo (c) John Tranter
    John Forbes, Petersham, Sydney, 1980, photo (c) John Tranter

    Jacket 3, April 1998, is dedicated to the memory of the recently-dead Australian poet John Forbes. Born in 1950, John Forbes suffered a heart attack and died suddenly at his home in Melbourne on 23 January 1998. He was forty-seven.
    He was a subtle, ironic and brilliant poet, wholly dedicated to his art. In this issue: some poems by John, some photos, Gig Ryan’s eulogy, a review of his last book, and some poems by his friends.  — J.T.
    John Forbes — five poems:
    — ‘Speed, A Pastoral
    3 recent poems from Damaged Glamour
    poem: ‘Dean Martin’s definition of happiness’
    Gig Ryan — i.m. John Forbes (with ‘Love Poem’ by John Forbes)

    Ken Bolton — ‘(Two Portraits)’
    Carl Harrison-Ford on John Forbes and his last book of poems
    Rae D.Jones, ‘grim reaper blues’
    John Kinsella, ‘The Dam Busters’
    Nigel Roberts, ‘Dialogue with John Forbes’
    Tracy Ryan, poem
    Also this: Ken Bolton’s 20-page Introduction to the poetry of John Forbes in Jacket 26.
    In my review of his last (posthumous) book «Damaged Glamour», I wrote:
    John Forbes was part of that vigorous generation of young writers whose fresh styles and new ideas began to be noticed in the late 1960s, though he was younger and arrived a little later on the scene than most of them. When I was editing an issue of «Poetry Australia» magazine, I rejected some poems he sent to me — he was still a teenager — in late 1969. But I published his second book, «Stalin’s Holidays», in 1981.
    His growth as a poet and critical thinker during the decade of the 1970s was extraordinary. He absorbed masses of novels, poems, military history, philosophy, and cultural and art theory, and developed a cynical understanding of politics. All this found its way into his subtle and ironic verse.
    What did he write about? Simple-minded poets and earnest readers always want poems to be about matters of the “heart”. Okay, Forbes wrote about the “heart”. Like this, from the poem “Troubador”:
    where the heart burns
          like an old tyre
          filling the air
          with flecks of carbon
          & a terrible stink…
    He wrote about politics too. His “Ode to Karl Marx” begins with a nod to Miss Havisham from «Great Expectations» —
          Old father of the horrible bride whose
          wedding cake has finally collapsed…

    Perednik reads his translation of Bernstein's "Dear Mr. Fanelli" and Bernstein reads Molly Weigel's translation of "Shock of the Lender."
    Video also at Perednik's PennSound page: use that if video does not stream here.