I’m completing this book having recently participated in the 2011 E-Poetry Festival. For my own part, as a performer, I assembled a panhemispheric musical group named grope uSurp, comprised of other multimedia artists and friends attending the festival; Lucio Agra, John Cayley, Stephen Cope, Andrew Klobucar, Siew-wai Kok, and Eugenio Tisselli joined me onstage. One of our pieces, proposed by Cayley, remade a Neil Young lyric (“Albuquerque”) that was particularly apt to the gathering. In one verse Cayley sings, “I’ve been flying / through the code / Words are starving / to loose their hold” (E-Poetry). This sensibility happened to echo observations presented in my talk at the event (“Bearing the Fruits of E-Poetry: A Personal Decennial View”), which describes how my 2001 E-Poetry band “9 way mind” strove to emphasize language in its performance, whereas this year’s band’s preparations largely focused on using MIDI technology to compose images and language interactively — a transition indicative of the aesthetic course the field as a whole has taken.
Tan Lin’s Seven Controlled Vocabularies (7CV) is not about what many people seem to think it’s about. I’ve seen reviews that take the story of meeting his wife at a Macy’s event as if it were straight autobiography; I’ve seen its reproduction of Laura (Riding) Jackson’s Foreword to Rational Meaning taken as an affinity between his book and her theory; I’ve heard people compare it to Adorno or say that it is a manifesto.
This past weekend, the Electronic Poetry Festival returned to Buffalo, New York, to celebrate its tenth anniversary. Since the first festival in 2001, the event has been held every two years in a new location: Morgantown in 2003, London in 2005, Paris in 2007, and Barcelona in 2009. This year the event took place mostly at the Center for the Arts on SUNY Buffalo’s North Campus, with some events held in downtown Buffalo at Sugar City and Squeaky Wheel. The festival ran May 17–21 and was dedicated to Robert Creeley (1926–2005), who founded the near legendary Poetics Program at Buffalo with Charles Bernstein in 1991.
In the introduction of To Light Out, Karen Weiser outlines the origins of her overarching conceit, which fuses Emmanuel Swedenborg’s theory of “correspondences” with Jack Spicer’s notion that “the poet is a radio” and the mid-twentieth-century discovery that the “mysterious sound” of static “springs from the big bang, its radiation continuing to move through space as it expands” (11). Correspondingly, she writes:
When I became pregnant my brain and body were suddenly filled with static […] a sense that the flickering snow on a tv screen had been made into a liquid and pumped into my veins. (12)
It is no secret that, in general, Christianity makes today’s experimental American poets nervous. Considering that genuine religious conversation in this country has been hijacked by the evangelical bloc and their teabag-toting allies on the Right whose thinly veiled homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, and militarism are accompanied by a WWJD bumper sticker, this generational rejection of the religious is unsurprising. And when we establish the philosophical foundations of a diverse American avant-garde — Marxism and subsequent theories of historical materialism, modern science, antiauthoritarianism, poststructuralism — we see not only an apparent incompatibility between religion and experimental poetry but a historical antagonism, a feud.