Reviews

Cooking a book with low-level durational energy

How to read Tan Lin's 'Seven Controlled Vocabularies'

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.

A community so well versed in the other possibilities of the computer

On the tenth anniversary of the Electronic Poetry Festival

Festival organizer Loss Pequeño Glazier welcomes everyone to Buffalo and the fes
Festival organizer Loss Pequeño Glazier welcomes everyone to Buffalo and the festival. Photo by Chris Funkhouser.

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.

The through thing

Static in Karen Weiser

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)

Fanny Howe's revelation

A review of 'Emergence'

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.

When even the good seems violent

A review of '100 Notes on Violence'

One reason to be celibate is this: you can die. When you are not bound by particular loves, you are freed to love whole peoples, or places. You are freed to become a tree-sitter, say, or Óscar Romero. The great sorrow when Norman Morrison lit himself on fire outside Robert S. MacNamara’s office wasn’t the war in Vietnam, it was that his fifteen-month-old daughter had just been in his arms.

Becoming a mother or father binds us more surely to the common good, even as it tears us away. We want clean and abundant water for our children, yes, and will work for it, but if there’s just one cup left, we’re likely to steal it, too.

Julie Carr’s 100 Notes On Violence is the book of a thinker bound by particular loves. There is Ben; there is Alice; there is the baby whom her sister calls “unavailable,” “By which she seems to mean / beloved” (109). The speaker is ringed with them, “Feet like little suns,” and breathing them, “wet sky: an infant mouth on mine” (1).