Zoning in, zoning out

A trialogue

Note: When I first met Edgar and Jose-Luis in Chicago some six years ago, and then again two years later, it seemed like we had known each other forever. Three nerdy, studious, politically minded Cali blokes far from home (they in Chicago, me in New Orleans) couldn’t talk fast enough to connect the dots between us historically, philosophically, politically, and poetically. And since meeting them, the range of accomplished publications they’ve both produced presented me with rich materials from which I felt I could engage them both — at the same time.

Perilous bodies (PoemTalk #163)

Daphne Marlatt, 'Steveston, B.C.'

Ships loading canned salmon at Steveston, Fraser River, British Columbia, circa 1898; photograph by Stephen Joseph Thompson.

This episode of PoemTalk features a poem by Daphne Marlatt called “Steveston, B.C.” We were joined by Davy Knittle, Jane Robbins Mize, and Karis Shearer. The poem is in a sense — although not quite exactly — the title poem in a much-admired book published in 1974. Steveston sits at the mouth of the South Arm of the Fraser River, near Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2001 Ronsdale Press published a new edition of the book, with a new poem and photographs by Robert Minden. That volume is an easily accessible source for our poem. Another is Intertidal, The Collected Earlier Poems, 1968–2008 (Talonbooks), a volume of 560 pages of Marlatt’s poems, including, of course, all of Steveston. “Steveston, B.C.” raises vital, interconnected concerns: industrial devastation of waterways, migrations of exploited immigrant labor, the human concept of home, the malignant politics of settlement and resettlement, and commercial and technological abuse of the intreprid instinct of aquatic life.

'A useful extreme'

Wendy Burk's representation of human-plant communication

Image adapted from the cover of ’Tree Talks.’

Increasingly, poets have been concerned with exploring and transforming human relations to plant and animal life, while resisting human exceptionalism and attempting to escape or minimize anthropocentrism; their practice aligns with posthumanist investigations across the environmental humanities into the manifestations among more-than-human beings of powers of mind and consciousness once thought to be distinctively human.  

Recent ecopoetics has demonstrated considerable interest in what Joan Retallack speaks of as “reinvestigat[ing] our species’ relation to other inhabitants of the fragile and finite territory our species named, claimed, exploited, sentimentalized, and aggrandized as ‘our world.’”[1] Increasingly, poets have been concerned with exploring and transforming human relations to plant and animal life, while resisting human exceptionalism and attempting to escape or minimize anthropocentrism; their practice aligns with posthumanist investigations across the environmental humanities

'I am the hydra of I / and soon I will be the next thing'

A review of 'The Malevolent Volume' by Justin Phillip Reed

Photo of Justin Phillip Reed by Aysia Berlynn (@aysiaberlynn).

The questions Reed asks are as ambitious as the ways in which he explores them. Do myths obfuscate reality? How does society demonize what it fears and what might topple its configuration?

Justin Phillip Reed’s second collection of poetry — following his 2018 National Book Award for Poetry–winning debut Indecency — is a tour-de-force featuring a striking voice and artistry that will dazzle the vision, stun the ear, and demand attention. 

Non-object art

From representation to action

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Photo courtesy of Clemente Padín.

In a recording of a performance from Clemente Padín’s archives described by Jill Kuhnheim, Padín reads a poem to a group of schoolchildren until he reaches the line “‘este verso debe repetirse’ [this line should be repeated].” Taking his own words as instruction, Padín closes the gap between the text of the poem and its performance, repeating the words again and again until one of the children exclaims “‘este verso debe culminar’ [this line should finish].” Rather than an interruption of a prescripted performance, the playful, improvisatory response of the child perfectly completes Padín’s poem. 

Between the hardly real and the barely there

Rae Armantrout's 'Conjure'

“Perennial,” 2019, North Cascades, WA. Photo by Tony Beeman.

How can anyone engage with language in an essential way now? The numbness brought on by the language of politics and advertising — one that the Language writers of the 1970s and ’80s sought to quell — has been compounded by global capitalism, a ravaged planet, social media, and the rest of the internet’s anesthetizing algorithms. And yet it’s as if Rae Armantrout moves through the world in just this essential way, experiencing language in its most elemental, and often absurd, form.

How can anyone engage with language in an essential way now? The numbness brought on by the language of politics and advertising — one that the Language writers of the 1970s and ’80s sought to quell — has been compounded by global capitalism, a ravaged planet, social media, and the rest of the internet’s anesthetizing algorithms.

Dots in the distance

A dialogue with Mark Francis Johnson

Photo of Michael Nardone (left) by Richmond Lam. Photo of Mark Francis Johnson (right) by Sarah DeGiorgis.

Note: Mark Francis Johnson’s work first absorbed me into its worlds at an event for Make Now Books in New York in 2015. He was there to launch his poet’s novel ​After Such Knowledge Park. His reading from the book was, as I remember it, immersive from its first moment. The narration begins in a shed of some kind, in a hinterland or interzone space, and inside the shed resides a recluse.

Les chemins

An introduction to contemporary Ivorian poetry

Photo by Todd Fredson.

So, which Côte d’Ivoire? Yet, even that designation is not so stable — leftist nationalists of the recent wars often proclaim, not Côte d’Ivoire, but the state of Éburnie; Éburnie is proposed as a change to the country name, a change that would help move the country further from the status of residual French colony or international resource extraction zone. And as the country split during the civil wars, rebels in the north referred to a Republic of the North. So, who is an Ivorian poet?

XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics, 1997–2010 (ed. Mark Nowak)

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XCP Nº18, 2007

Reissues is thrilled to partner with Open Door Archive (ed. Harris Feinsod et al.) to cohost the digital afterlife of the extraordinary journal, XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics (ed. Mark Nowak). If ever a journal might inspire elaborate forms of postdigital crossposting, it’s this one.XCP forged a network of global poetics and protest rarely seen in an editorial project.

 

Reissues is thrilled to partner with Open Door Archive (ed. Harris Feinsod et al.) to cohost the digital afterlife of the extraordinary journal, XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics (ed. Mark Nowak). If ever a journal might inspire elaborate forms of postdigital crossposting, it’s this one. XCP likely needs no introduction to readers of Jacket2.