Commentaries - February 2013

Rochelle Owens: 'Hermaphropoetics' / 'Desire'

In this story

ripening on the vine so to speak


In this story a warhol-like



a vinyl fruit of desire

teasing femme/homme


bringing millions to their knees


Why archive dead media?

A question for Lori Emerson

Lori Emerson using an Apple Lisa in the Media Archaeology Lab

A fair amount of contemporary writing and art would benefit from media-historical analysis. What media at what time made this work possible? What media are brought together in this work? When we want to analyze form in the contemporary, are we not sometimes talking about technical supports, the bridgings between various media the work relies on?  

A Walkthrough of 'Total Walkthrough'

With Alejandro Miguel Justino Crawford

reading at Penn Book Center; making poetic wallpaper at 319 Scholes

Alejandro Crawford practices poetry at one of its most experimental edges, where it crosses with and benefits from the special capacities of computing. Crawford has done impressive work already in both fields; in 2007 he won a Fulbright and moved to Lisbon, Portugal where he had been commissioned to perform his operation “transmutilation” working, in part, with Orpheu, the magazine published by Fernando Pessoa and friends. Crawford’s radically recut remix based in part on poems from Orpheu is titled Morpheu (BlazeVox 2010). In 2009 Crawford moved to NYC to study in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU Tisch. His ongoing work with electronic communications media has expanded his arsenal of poetic technique to include things like video and sound-mixing and the reappropriation of video game hardware to run text-manipulating algorithms. But what he does is not only technically cutting edge, it's weird and funny and fun.

The Cambridge connection

King's College, Cambridge University
King's College, Cambridge (© Richard Humphrey, Creative Commons license)

C.P. Cavafy’s introduction to the English literary world was accomplished largely through the efforts of E.M. Forster. Forster met Cavafy during the First World War in Alexandria where, as a conscientious objector, he served with the Red Cross. Already a successful novelist, he was intrigued by both the poet (Daniel Mendelsohn characterizes Forster’s interest as a “crush”) and his work. He composed a vivid portrait of Cavafy, published in 1919 in The Nation and the Atheneum and again in his collection Pharos and Pharillon, which included the description — by now a cliché — of “a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe.” This essay also featured a translation of “The God Abandons Antony.” After the war Forster brought Cavafy’s poems to the attention of T.S. Eliot, who published “Ithaca” in The Criterion in 1924, and Leonard Woolf, who published “The City” in The Nation and the Atheneum the same year. The translations of all these poems were made, with Cavafy’s involvement, by George Valassopoulo. Woolf also tried unsuccessfully for years to persuade Cavafy (who did not publish a book of his poems in Greek during his lifetime) to let the Hogarth Press bring out a collection of Valassopoulo’s English versions.[1] Cavafy and Forster continued to correspond until the poet’s death.

Jonathan Williams: The lord of orchards

A giant feature in Jacket 38

Jonathan Williams
Jonathan Williams

[»»] Jeffery Beam and Richard Owens: The Lord of Orchards: Jonathan Williams at 80: (Excerpt:) Throughout his life in poetry and the arts Williams preferred active involvement with artists and the world at large over cloistered study or administrative labor: “I clearly did not want to become a Byzantinist in the basement of The Morgan Library; or an art critic for The New Yorker; nor did I want to live in the world of competitive business.” His work in the arts thus demanded direct and persistent engagement with the world — a form of engagement that gave rise to both enduring friendships and irreconcilable conflicts. 

Jonathan Williams: A Life in Pictures
Basil Bunting: Comment on Jonathan Williams
Dear JW: Erica Van Horn
James McGarrell: Mountainside Reader; for JW
Ann McGarrell: À mon cher Stodge
Anne Midgette: On With It
Bob Arnold: Swept in with the Rain
[»»] Charles Lambert: Acts of Kindness
[»»] Diana C. Stoll: Jonathan Williams: More Mouth on that Man
[»»] Gary Carden: The Bard of Scaly Mountain
[»»] Harry Gilonis: from Pliny: Naturalis Historia XXVII. xvi 58
[»»] John Mitzel: Jonathan Williams: An Appreciation
[»»] Michael Rumaker’s Last Letter to Jonathan Williams
[»»] Robert Kelly: Colonel Generosity — Saying Thank You to Jonathan Williams
[»»] Ronald Johnson: A Microscopic/ Telescopic Collage of «The Empire Finals at Verona»