[EDITOR’S NOTE. The following are a reminder of the pivotal role played by Alison Knowles in what can be described in retrospect as the Fluxus revolution of the 1960s. With their deceptively simple surface Knowles’s performance works exemplified the thrust of many artists, poets & performers to build on what Allan Kaprow & John Cage spoke of as an erasure of the boundaries between art & life.
[In a previous posting on Poems & Poetics I followed Susan Howe’s lead in calling attention to the effort by George Quasha & myself – in America a Prophecy (1973) – to create a new form of anthology, not so much a ranking of notable American poets as a juxtaposition of disparate, often incongruous voices, putting collage or assemblage at the service of a new omnipoetics, “from pre-Columbian times to the present.” While that much was clear to some at the time of first publication, to others – like Helen Vendler in a characteristically obtuse review of the book – the point of the work was clearly beyond their tolerance or comprehension. What appears here, then, are the four opening poems from America a Prophecy, brought together as a foretelling of the total work to follow. That work, after a long hiatus, is newly re-available through Quasha’s Station Hill Press – a limited printing but enough to get the book back into circulation. ]
[NOTE. Michael Davidson has been a major thinker toward the construction of a new poetics of disability, which raises questions as well as to how disabilities, physical as well as mental, might affect ideas of outsiderness that I’ve been exploring in these postings & that John Bloomberg-Rissman and I are moving toward publication in an anthology still in progress. It is in particular the connection between the physical body and the structure & shape of the poemthat Davidson gets at clearly in the following, which should be read as well in connection to anearlierposting in Poems&Poetics. (J.R.)]
My title refers to Larry Eigner, a significant figure in the New American Poetry, who is missing in a number of senses. On a personal level, I miss Larry, who died in February 1996 as a poet whose curiosity and attentiveness remain a model of poetic integrity. Although his movements were extremely restricted due to cerebral palsy contracted at birth, he was by no means “missing” from the poetry world, particularly after his move to Berkeley. Thanks to the efforts of Bob Grenier, Kathleen Frumkin and Jack Foley, Larry was present at many readings, talks, and parties throughout the 1980s. Nor, as those who knew him can attest, was a reticent presence at such events. He was a central influence on the emerging “language-writing” movement of the mid-1970s, publishing in their magazines (L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, Bezoar, This, Hills) and participating in their talk and reading series. His emphasis on clear, direct presentation of moment-to-moment perceptions also linked him to the older Objectivists (George Oppen, Carl Rakosi, Charles Reznikoff, and Louis Zukofsky) as well as poets of his own generation living in the San Francisco Bay region such as Robert Duncan and Michael McClure.
NOTE. The following offers a first look at what will be the fourth volume of Poems for the Millennium, the experimental anthology that Pierre Joris and I initiated in the mid-1990s as an attempt to lay out & map what I've more recently come to describe as a global or omnipoetics. With volume 4, Joris & Habib Tengour move the focus to a particular demographic & cultural area, exploring it over a 2000-year span & with a sense of the often unacknowledged diversities (both formal & cultural) that such a region & history contain. Their workings will otherwise speak for themselves. (J.R.)