Commentaries - January 2013

St Francis

As the 'inconvenient elder'

St Francis:  flickr photo by dawnzy58
St Francis: flickr photo by dawnzy58

When he ceded control of the group, Francis [Saint Francis of Assisi, AD 1181–1226] hoped that he could still lead the men by example, but his influence quickly waned. This enraged him. “Who are these who have ripped my order and my brothers out of my hands?” he shouted. Once, when he saw a new building that he thought the community had erected for itself, in disregard of the rule of poverty, he climbed up to the roof and began prying off the tiles and throwing them to the ground. Breaking with his earlier, gentle practice, he cursed people who opposed his ideas.

Why teenage girls?

A question for Trisha Low

One segment for this Jacket2 column will be titled “WHY__________?” in which I will ask certain people Why questions. Participant responses must be between 100-300 words. One of the first people I had a Why question for was Trisha Low. Because it’s a thread running through all her writing and performance work (she reads their diaries, their feminist blog comments, their love letters; she dresses like one in performance then throws up fake blood on herself) I asked her: Why Teenage Girls? Here’s her answer.

After Tiqqun’s Theory of a Young Girl, I think Poetry thinks of teenage girls the way some magazine editor looks at a contact sheet, selecting the spectacle and then pulling it up on the screen for the airbrusher going “INFLATE HER HAIR SO WE CAN SEE THAT FRAGILE VACUITY. I WANT TO SEE THOSE CAPITALISTIC PROCESSES NOT THAT CELLULITE. HAVE THIS SHIT ON MY DESK BY 2.”

Talkin' Politics of Poetic Form (the recordings)

25th anniversary

New at PennSound (site link for these recordings)

a series of talks I curated in 1988 at The New School (New York) and collected in The Politics of Poetic Form, Roof Books (1990)

From sea to screen

Yang Lian and John Cayley's iterations

Where the Sea Stands Still
Yang Lian's Where the Sea Stands Still (London: Wellsweep, 1995), translated by Brian Holton and published by John Cayley

The long poem “Dahai tingzhi zhi chu” 大海停止之处 by Yang Lian 杨炼 and its transformation into the collaborative digital and performance piece Where the Sea Stands Still illustrate an iterative response to digital technologies and globalization. The iterative structure of Yang Lian’s long poem produces an expanding sense of space and geography that, like the title, combines perpetual repetition with continuous change.

The long poem comprises four poems, each entitled “Dahai tingzhi zhi chu” (“Where the Sea Stands Still”). There is no numbering: each poem’s title is identical to all the others. Each has three sections and ends with “zhi chu” 之处 (where/the place where). These final characters combine stillness, spatial and temporal arrest with the sea’s ceaseless repetitive movements.

Kitasono Katue: Three poems from 'BLACK FIRE (Kuroi hi),' 1951, with a note on typography

Translation & note by John Solt

Kitasono Katue: Plastic Poem (Even from Trifling Objects), 1966
Kitasono Katue: Plastic Poem (Even from Trifling Objects), 1966

[Kitasono Katue (1902-1978), whom Pound admired & renamed Kit Kat, was on his own grounds a major, truly experimental poet & artist. Beyond that, in the 1950s, he designed the first four covers of Black Mountain Review, & Robert Creeley’s Divers Press published a book of his poems in his own English translations & containing a few of his colored drawings (or”katto” [cuts] as they say in Japanese – or so John Solt informs me).