best of '07

At Third Factory, Steve Evans is hosting a year-end round-up of the best poetry books of 2007. The lists he's collected are those of Jerrold Shiroma, Bill Berkson, Pam Brown, Simon DeDeo, John Palattella, James Wagner, Jordan Stempleman, Tom Orange, Allyssa Wolf, Laura Carter, Patrick F. Durgin, Michael Scharf, Meredith Quartermain, Simone dos Anjos, Craig Dworkin, Annie Finch, David Dowker, Joshua Clover, Kevin Killian, Graham Foust, Christopher Nealon, John Hyland, Nancy Kuhl, Matvei Yankelevich, Jennifer Scappettone, Chris Pusateri, K. Silem Mohammad, Dana Ward, Anne Boyer, Robert Kelly, Rick Snyder, Jessica Smith, Pierre Joris, John Latta, Amy King, Joshua Edwards, Franklin Bruno, Catherine Taylor, Benjamin Friedlander, Michael Cross, Stephanie Young, Erin Mouré, Susana Gardner, John Sakkis, Michael Gizzi, Anselm Berrigan, and Sina Queyras.

On James Wagner's list is Dodie Bellamy's Academonia, published by Krupskaya in 2006. "Yes, disturbing," Wagner writes. "Yes, funny. Yes, experimenting. But it’s really the fearless drive for opening herself up/into various areas that keeps one reading these great essays."

In this lively, entertaining collection of essays, Dodie Bellamy has written not only a helpful pedagogical tool, but an epic narrative of survival against institutional deadening and the proscriptiveness that shoots the young writer like poison darts from all sides. By the 90s funding for the arts had dwindled and graduate writing programs—“cash cows”—had risen to fill the slack. Simultaneously, literary production moved from an unstable, at times frightening street culture where experiment was privileged beyond all else, to an institutionalized realm—Academonia!—that enforces, or tends to enforce, conservative aesthetic values.

Among the questions Bellamy raises: how does the writer figure out how to write? How will she claim her content among censorious voices? Can the avant-garde create forms that speak to political and spiritual crisis? Can desire exist in a world of networking structures? [link]

One of Pam Brown's choices is the new issue of Tinfish, a magazine edited by Susan Schultz in Hawaii. The cover image for number 17 is here, above left.

What are some things you will find in this issue?

--definitions to words like “skin,” “rock,” “bangungot,” “mynah litatur,” “Guam”;
--American epics (undone)
--13 ways and 14 lines
--poems of exile and estrangement, a prayer
--politics and love, together and apart