Commentaries - December 2012

Jacket 39: Rewriting Australia feature

40 printed pages: edited by Pam Brown

Australia pin
Australia pin

Pam Brown's recent gigantic feature for Jacket2 titled "51 Contemporary Poets from Australia" had a ghostly foreshadowing a year or so ago, in Pam's "Rewriting Australia" feature in Jacket 39, where some Australian poets wrestle with their poetic forebears. Banjo Paterson shows up as a punching bag several times, perhaps because he is an old, dead, conservative white male with his portrait on the Australian ten dollar bill.

[»»] Pam Brown: Rewriting Canonical Australian Poems: Introduction
[»»] David Brooks: Cracks in the Fray: Re-reading ‘The Man From Snowy River’
[»»] Justin Clemens: Dürer: Innsbruck 1495
[»»] Michael Farrell: the king
[»»] Michael Farrell: Anti-Clockwise Judith Wright: A ‘Widdershins’ Reading of ‘Bullocky’
[»»] Duncan Hose: Blue Hill 404
[»»] Banjo Paterson: The Man From Snowy River; John Tranter: Snowy
[»»] David Prater: Three poems: Red Dawn Ward / Oz / “The Campfires of the Lost”

Jacket 21 feature: Edwin Denby, 1903-1983

Edited by Karlien van den Beukel

Edwin Denby in Venice
Edwin Denby in Venice

[»»] Rudy Burckhardt: ‘And then I met Edwin...’: Rudy Burckhardt talks to Simon Pettet
[»»] Yvonne Jacquette Burckhardt: Edwin Denby
[»»] Jacob Burckhardt: Martens Bar (with photo of Martens Bar and MP3 audio file of Edwin Denby reading ‘Disorder, mental, strikes, me; I’)
[»»] ‘The Cinema of Looking’: Rudy Burckhardt and Edwin Denby in conversation with Joe Giordano

Karlien van den Beukel

Photo: Karlein van den Beukel, Rotterdam, 2005, photo by John Tranter

'Their echoes split us'

Sean Bonney rewrites Baudelaire and Rimbaud

Sean Bonney's translation of Baudelaire's "Correspondances"
Sean Bonney's translation of Baudelaire's "Correspondances"

Sean Bonney is another poet who turns to a poetics of iteration as a poetics of revolution. Especially in Baudelaire in English and Happiness: Poems after Rimbaud, Bonney adapts iteration to revolutionary poetic and political ends. In these two books, Bonney attends to the way revolutionary writing, if too direct or smooth, can become implicated in the power structures it seeks to overcome. Bonney’s Baudelaire in English concludes: “the poem is in danger of becoming an overly smooth surface fit only for the lobbies of office buildings and as illustrations / expensive gallery catalogues, that kind of bullshit.” In Baudelaire in English, Bonney stresses the relation between echoes and cracks in the smoothness in his version of “Correspondances,” which contains the phrase “their echoes split us.” Bonney’s texts are idiosyncratic translations of Baudelaire’s poems so breaking the smooth surface of standard translations. Bonney’s translations overlay lines of typewritten text to the point of illegibility, even as they superimpose twenty-first-century London onto nineteenth-century Paris. Through grainy photographs of neglected and forgotten places in London, Bonney (like Baudelaire) emphasizes the ruins and decay of the modern city, the fissure lines and suffering that are the neglected side of the progress of modernity.

In Happiness: Poems after Rimbaud, Bonney again makes the city of London his subject, this time through a focus on the protests against the existing economic and political order that took place in 2010 and 2011 in the wake of the financial crisis. Much of Happiness first appeared on Bonney’s Abandoned Buildings blog so that the book functions as a retrospective archiving and framing of poems written as news, as part of and in response to a movement for revolutionary change.

Jerome Rothenberg: From 'The Gorky Variations' (in progress), 'Child of an Idumean Night'

 Arshile Gorky: Child of an Idumean Night
Arshile Gorky: Child of an Idumean Night

(1)
Every hair in his beard was bristling.

Every flag along the border brought war closer,
pierced the father’s heart,
architects & gardeners baled water,
tigers roamed the city,
singers chanting beard to beard.

Jerusalem drew closer to Philistia,
God watching how the holy race leapt from the fire

Mechanics were the last to leave,
all in a row.

American & fat,
fucked senseless.


(2)
They celebrate a crystal solstice,
a sound behind them of a brass harmonica,

St Mark's Talks (1985)

Erica Hunt, Bruce Boone, Peter Inman, Jackson Mac Low, David Antin, Barbara Guest, Lorenzo Thomas, Steve McCaffery, Kathleen Fraser, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Nathaniel Mackey, Ron Silliman, Bob Perelman, Anne Waldman, Nick Piombino

In 1985, Eileen Myles was the new director of the St. Mark's Poetry Project in New York. She asked me to curate a lecture series, the first such program at the church. I modelled the series at the Poetry Project on my earlier series New York Talk, giving it the amusing title, given the sometimes seeming resistance to poetics at the St. Marks at the time, St. Marks Talks. And talk it did.