The hand's reach (PoemTalk #115)

Lorenzo Thomas, 'An Arc Still Open'

William J. Harris, Tyrone Williams, and Aldon Nielsen join Al Filreis to talk about a poem by Lorenzo Thomas. The poem is “An Arc Still Open,” written as a commemoration of the muralist John Biggers, who had died in January 2001. The poem was published soon after as part of a John Biggers memorial feature in a magazine produced at University of Houston-Downtown, where since 1997 there had hung a huge (10' x 27') Biggers mural Salt Marsh. Our text of the poem comes from the UHD publication, New Horizons, and our recording, now found on PennSound’s Lorenzo Thomas page, was made in San Diego in 2001.

Ambivalent romantics and jagged kinesthetics

A conversation between Angela Peñaredondo and Jai Arun Ravine

Images above courtesy of the authors.

Editorial note: The following is a transcript of a conversation between two artist-poets on their recent publications. Jai Arun Ravine, director of the short film Tom/Trans/Thai and author of The Romance of Siam: a Pocket Guide as well as แล้ว and then entwine: lesson plans, poems, knots, specializes in genres of blended identity, gender, and race. Currently based in Philadelphia, they take the time to sit down and discuss the themes of orientalism, colonialism, and tourism prevalent in their work.

On the central tensions of being

An interview between Christy Davids and Allison Cobb

Photo of Allison Cobb (left) by Kerry Davis.

Note: Allison Cobb is the author of four books, most recently After We All Died, which was published by Ahsahta in late 2016. Her poetry is invested in locating the self in the landscape of the world, and does so with an eye toward ecology and an ear toward music. Her work incorporates research, considers historical and scientific contexts, and regularly plays with the boundaries of poetry and essay. 

Menacing archives

A review of Jennifer Scappettone's 'The Republic of Exit 43'

Trucks dump garbage at Fresh Kills Landfill, May 1973. Photo by Chester Higgins with the EPA, via Wikimedia Commons.

What kind of archive is the landfill? How do disposable technologies haunt — or annul — the imaginaries of urban ecologies? Landfills and wastelands often preserve more than personal and communal memories: narratives of city development, domestic and global economies, cultural infrastructures, and processes that underpin technological innovations. 

What kind of archive is the landfill? How do disposable technologies haunt — or annul — the imaginaries of urban ecologies? Landfills and wastelands often preserve more than personal and communal memories: narratives of city development, domestic and global economies, cultural infrastructures, and processes that underpin technological innovations.

'The personal is environmental'

Gabriel Ojeda-Sague interviews Eric Sneathen and Lauren Levin

Note: On December 11, 2016, I talked with authors Eric Sneathen and Lauren Levin over Google Docs. Eric was in a café in the Bay; Lauren was also in the Bay, in bed with her daughter running in and out of the room; and I was sitting at my dining table in Philadelphia. Eric and Lauren are the two newest authors of the small press Krupskaya, which has published their books Snail Poems and The Braid (respectively). Both of these books were their debuts.

Note: On December 11, 2016, I talked with authors Eric Sneathen and Lauren Levin over Google Docs. Eric was in a café in the Bay; Lauren was also in the Bay, in bed with her daughter running in and out of the room; and I was sitting at my dining table in Philadelphia. Eric and Lauren are the two newest authors of the small press Krupskaya, which has published their books Snail Poems and The Braid (respectively). Both of these books were their debuts.

Total translation

Navajo song and the story of US modernism

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In her deconstruction of Mary Austin’s ‘The American Rhythm,’ Leah Dilworth argu
In her deconstruction of Mary Austin’s ‘The American Rhythm,’ Leah Dilworth argues that modernists held American Indian culture to be fundamentally analogous to that of ancient Africa and China. Above: Austin's 'American Rhythm,' Eda Lou Walton's 'Dawn Boy,' and 'Navajo Songs,’ 1933 and 1940 field recordings from settlements in New Mexico and Arizona courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

American Indian culture attracted many white poets to the Southwest in the early and mid-twentieth century. Educated in Anglo American traditions, but compelled by the modernist urge to develop new poetic forms, poets from Mary Austin to Jerome Rothenberg went to great lengths to represent what they were hearing and feeling. D. H. Lawrence wrote of his experience of Hopi dance, and he and Witter Bynner composed lyrics purportedly inspired by the Taos Pueblo. In American Rhythm, Austin “re-expressed” the music of several peoples, including the Paiute and Shoshone, and in Red Earth, Alice Corbin Henderson claimed to write “from the Indian,” naming the San Ildefonso and Tesuque pueblos. 

American Indian[1] culture attracted many white poets to the Southwest in the early and mid-twentieth century. Educated in Anglo American traditions, but compelled by the modernist urge to develop new poetic forms, poets from Mary Austin to Jerome Rothenberg went to great lengths to represent what they were hearing and feeling. D. H. Lawrence wrote of his experience of Hopi dance, and he and Witter Bynner composed lyrics purportedly inspired by the Taos Pueblo.

The posthuman humane

On James Pate's 'Flowers Among the Carrion'

Image at right courtesy of James Pate.

“Poetry tends to be smarter than philosophy and critical theory.” So writes James Pate in the terminal essay to his Flowers Among the Carrion: Essays On the Gothic in Contemporary Poetry. The occasion for this observation is a discussion of poetry’s relationship to materialism, especially as corporeal experience, simultaneously carnal and consciousness-haunted, constitutes the substance (as distinguished from the subject) of Feng Sun Chen’s work. 

“Poetry tends to be smarter than philosophy and critical theory.”[1] So writes James Pate in the terminal essay to his Flowers Among the Carrion: Essays On the Gothic in Contemporary Poetry. The occasion for this observation is a discussion of poetry’s relationship to materialism, especially as corporeal experience, simultaneously carnal and consciousness-haunted, constitutes the substance (as distinguished from the subject) of Feng Sun Chen’s work.

(Re)animating the city

A review of 'Deep City' by Megan Kaminski

Photo courtesy of Megan Kaminski.

In Deep City, Megan Kaminski extends Guest’s poetics, centering on the city as both physical, social phenomenon, and as ever-expanding dreamscape or imaginarium. In so doing, Kaminski creates a boundless repository for our often-intersecting and ever-shifting experiences of the present moment. As if setting a lens over the landscape of a collage-like city (at points the city seems determinable, at others not), Kaminski unearths a myriad of sense perceptions in organic (secular) time.

In “A Reason for Poetics,” collected in Forces of Imagination: Writing on Writing, Barbara Guest addresses the tension between physical and “mysterious” dimensions of poetry. Beginning a section titled “Poetic Codes,” Guest writes: