Commentaries - April 2015

Bright arrogance #5

'Extraordinary experience will not be locatable'

Detail of Clark Lunberry's "Bodies of Water: Somebody—Nobody"

Emily Dickinson’s poetry is perhaps the closest thing canonical American literature has to a “sacred language.” In Robert Duncan’s lectures on Dickinson, we could say that he posits her as the ultimate untranslatable poet, even within her own language. In her poems she “bring[s] us to the line where everything is so fraught with meaning that we can’t find the meaning.”  

The poetry of unexecutable code

An unexecutable code poem by Mez Breeze
An unexecutable code poem by Mez Breeze

Along with the growth of executable code poetry, code poets are writing poems that draw on the aesthetic, formal, and visual dimensions of computer code without focusing on the executability of the code itself. The work of Mez Breeze, is one such example. Breeze is an Australian net.artist who uses the internet as a primary medium for her work. Her digital multimedia work combines sound, image, text, and code, and her writing includes electronic literature and code poems.

Tactical Mapping, II: Mapping Dark Sites

Trevor Paglen and John Emerson, “Selected CIA Aircraft Routes, 2001 – 2006,” An Atlas of Radical Cartography, 2007.

Trevor Paglen’s work mingles print journalism, experimental cartography, and conceptual art to document and critique contemporary warfare. His photographic series include treatments of CIA black sites, drones, military insignia, and the architecture of intelligence agencies. The Other Night Sky, for instance, captures images of classified American satellites; Limit Telephotography pictures restricted military bases and installations; another  untitled series depicts the headquarters’ of the three largest US intelligence agencies: the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

The New Broadside Lotus Press

Gwendolyn Brooks “We Real Cool,” Broadside #6. Image from UMass Amherst Special Collections.

Naomi Long Madgett is 91 years old, but she continues to shape Detroit poetry.  Author of 10 books of poetry and a professor emerita of Eastern Michigan University's English Langage and Literature department, Madgett's awards are too many to list: highlights include poet laureate of Detroit in 2001, the Kresge Eminant Artist award in 2012, and a number of honorary doctorates.

Jerome Rothenberg: Readings & launches April to November 2015

[In line with the recent publication of Poems for the Millennium, volume 5: Barbaric Vast & Wild and other new writings in English & other languages, the following readings & launches are scheduled for the coming year.  I will be posting & re-posting further details on these & others as the year progresses. (J.R.)]

Participant, Poesia en Voz Alta (festival), with Charles Bernstein, Serge Pey, & others, Mexico, D.F., April 14-19, 2015.