Commentaries

Stanley Cavell (1926–2018)

Cavell at home, April 9, 2014. © Charles Bernstein

I met Stanley Cavell almost fifty years ago and he and his work have been constant companions since that time. I am grateful for his friendship and that of Cathleen Cavell, over all these years.

Heriberto Yépez: What Are the United States and Why Are There So Many of Them (Work in Progress)

Originally published in S/N New World Poetics, a publication edited by Charles Bernstein and Eduardo Espina. Copyright © 2012. All Rights Reserved.

We cover our girlish faces. We are the war.

I began to write: Style by Dolores Dorantes slashes fuchsia through structures of totalitarian authority and gendered domination. A swarm of girls declares (with their erotics, not without their erotics, that outermost fastener to sociality which is first to be disturbed, dismantled, deactivated, deadened or rerouted by overt acts of domination and prosaic paths of power), “We will blossom without your consent.” This blossoming makes war, or is war —“We are the fresh fruits of war.” The liveliness of the girls shoots way up beyond any concept of “survival.” Their efficacious energy volleys violence back in the language of desire. My theory there, swimming up through slick black obsidian black light obliterating black ruffled feathers of traumatic experience, is that survivors of social violence get their social radiance disturbed, their social legibility obscured. The very thing which connects, communicates, exchanges, seeks out, and secures inclusion in networks necessary for survival — self possession — is challenged. Taking away a person from their body is also casting out that person from the social world, even if just for a moment. We could conceive of Style as a dress cinching the absolute abjection of social vanquishment with the perfect waist-defining sash: a way to clothe bare life. 

“In the absence of a licit space for the captive female’s desire, it too, becomes engulfed as crime.” Saidiya V. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection

Artists across another terrain: Non-Kiwi interpretations of Kiwi poetry

Overseas representations of New Zealand poetry

Overseas representations of New Zealand poetry
the drift project

Kia ora ano [Hello again].

As promised in the previous commentary, in these variegated tangents away from the vast soft white underbelly of New Zealand poetry, I here focus on two non–New Zealanders and their valuable and vitally different representations of Kiwi poets and their mahi, or work. One is French, one is American; both have been keenly involved in publishing or producing New Zealand poems for quite some time now. Both are visual artists. Alphabetically, I now approach them — America to France.

Clayton Eshleman: 'Chauvet. First Impressions' (a new poem)

NOTE: See also the poem “Chauvet: Left Wall of End Chamber” in Reciprocal Distillations (Hot Whiskey Press, 2007) reprinted in CE / The Essential Poetry (1960–2015). With James O’Hern, I visited Chauvet Cave with Jean-Marie Chauvet (one of the 1994 discoverers) on January 8, 2004. My gratitude to Dominique Baffier for arranging our visit. Excellent color photographs of the wall with the paintings addressed in my poem may be found in Chauvet Cave / The Art of Earliest Times, directed by Jean Clottes (The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, 2003).

The depth of body.

The depth    of a hollow

     animal belly

imagination fills out to an agreeable convexity, &

the tenderness in a bear drawing

like a loom within stone.

Seesaw pitch of breath & stasis:

my heart pounding   Take Heed   halfway