Ways to be

A review of 'Kindergarde'

“They don’t always do as they are told or follow the instructions about how to act on paper or in society. They remind us that there are lots of ways to be,” editor Dana Teen Lomax says of the contributors to Kindergarde: Avant-garde Poems, Plays, Stories, and Songs for Children (viii).

Good fucks

A review of Dodie Bellamy's 'Cunt Norton'

For a while I kept a copy of Harold Bloom’s Genius (subtitled A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds) in my bathroom, with the idea that I would read about one genius each time I shit. But ultimately it was too slowgoing. I slogged through pronouncements such as, “It is difficult to keep up with Whitman; perpetually he passes and surpasses us. Walt Whitman is the poem [sic?] of our climate, the genius of the shores of North America,” [1] and I was confounded by Bloom’s Kabbalah-inspired, baroquely elaborated, and ultimately senseless arrangement of the writers.

Quiet demands

A review of Sarah Gridley's 'Loom'

Cleveland, Ohio, poet Sarah Gridley’s Loom (Omnidawn, 2013), is composed in three sections — “Shadows of the World Appear,” “This Heart is Dependent on the Outside World,” and “Half-Sick of Shadows.” Composed around Lord Alfred Tennyson’s 1842 ballad “The Lady of Shalott,” Gridley’s book — one of the strongest poetry collections I’ve seen in some time — opens with a single line on the first page of the first section: “Still the lady could come to her senses. Cool as a nude or a pressed flower.”

Notes on the discursive

A review of Susan Gevirtz's 'Coming Events'

Look at any word long enough and you will see it open up into a series of faults, into a terrain of particles each containing its own void.[1]A common problem in the critical analysis of experimental writing appears to be an insistence on systematizing a writer’s creative efforts without affording due diligence to that selfsame individual’s specific relation to a/the general social narrative. Leslie Scalapino argued that even a “reconstituting of the general social narrative may be a radical change in expression arising from one’s separation from social convention.”[2]

On drowning

A review of 'I'll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women'

A defining moment in the life cycle of any avant-garde movement is its declaration of aesthetic victory over the preceding team of textual innovators. These declarations of victory have proliferated over the twentieth century and into our own, ever since various modernist poets went to war against the previous century’s Romantic avant-garde’s elevation of ordinary vernaculars, “the real language of men” and “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, recollected in tranquility.”