ambient poetics

Further explorations of found poems in card catalogues

Or: fighting against fear

photograph by Meredith Bergmann

Ever since I saw the photographs associated with Erica Baum's book of photographed juxtapositional found poems, Card Catalogue (1997), I've been rather obsessed with the project. I've taught it to my students many times. I can't think of a better way of extending forward the lessons they and I learn when encountering imagism and other radically condensed juxtapositional language at the beginning of poetic modernism. Baum of course has often photographed the language she finds out there and is especially attracted to categorizing systems, such as the codex (Dog Ear) or the catalogue. This conceptualist consciousness — and devotion to words in the ambience (as in: who needs to create them? they're there) — I find extraordinarily teachable and infectious. One of my students is a young autistic man, Dan Bergmann. Readers of this ongoing commentary will surely have heard of Dan’s feats of talking (writing, really — or, still better: spelling). What is even more remarkable is the way in which Dan becomes aware of categories and meaning-systems.

Celebrate Tan Lin with us

TAN LIN is coming to to the Writers House. On Wednesday, April 21st, the EDIT series (Danny Snelson) will host this poet, whose work, says Charles Bernstein, “sparkles with unoriginality and falsification.” Join us for a live publication event entitled “Handmade book, PDF, Appendix, Powerpoint, Kanban Board/Post-Its, Blurbs, Dual Language (Chinese/English) Edition, micro lecture, Selectric II interview, wine/cheese reception, Q&A; (xerox) and a film.” A reception will open at 6PM, to be followed by Q&A;, printing, and micro-lectures beginning at 7PM. For more information call 215-746 POEM or email

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