A constellation of transnational poetics

Left to right: Gerald Vizenor, Don Mee Choi, and Craig Santos Perez. All photos via Wikimedia Commons.

From Deleuze and Guattari’s essay on “Minor Literature” to Alfred Arteaga’s work on Chicanx poetics, theorists have studied the relationship between power and language, describing how creative writers find inventive ways to interrogate monolingual and nationalist logics.[1] Often, personal as well as historical conditions shape an author’s linguistic choices. My interest here lies in how poets use citation and translation as craft techniques in forging poetic languages that challenge powerful configurations and histories.

Nothing made of ink (PoemTalk #180)

Lisa Fishman, 'Mad World, Mad Kings, Mad Composition'

At the Poetry Foundation, from left: Lisa Fishman, Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué, Laynie Browne.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

PoemTalk went on the road again, this time to Chicago, where Al Filreis convened Lisa Fishman, Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué, and Laynie Browne at the Poetry Foundation. Before a lively live audience, the four discussed seven short poems selected from Lisa Fishman’s recent book Mad World, Mad Kings, Mad Composition (Wave Books, 2020). They are: “Many People have heard” (51); “Others could tell the difference” (65); “Have sent a point” and “Who will confess that …” (73); “Taking a sick day to remember Mr. Fishman” (149); “A line through a forest” (150); and “Steering-wheel-in-the-field” (163).

'to be a boundless reflection'

On critical composition in Hejinian and Scalapino's 'Sight' and 'Hearing'

As a writing teacher, I am relentlessly bugged by the question of how to move students toward an organic practice of critical inquiry, to help them feel pulled by it at the most basic, creaturely level. In my search for a pedagogy that feels right and real, I look toward the texts that have become my own exemplars of compelling argumentation and analytic integrity, only to realize that my favorite works of critical writing are, in fact, poetry.

Someone's got to keep this generation honest

Corso editors Raymond Foye and George Scrivani, with William Lessard

Left to right: cover of Gregory Corso’s ‘The Golden Dot’ with photo by Allen Ginsberg; photo of George Scrivani by Raymond Foye; photo of Raymond Foye by Amy Grantham.

The Golden Dot: Last Poems, 1997–2000 (Lithic Press, 2022) is a white-hot summation and extended last word of a poet who was most alone in the company of others and frequently his own worst advocate. The Shelley-infused lyricist, familiar to us from more than a dozen books across forty years, is still in evidence, but there is a newfound clarity and urgency to the work, which is like meeting a long-lost friend after decades apart. 

Note: The youngest foundational Beat is having a revival. After a folio of new poems appeared a few months ago in The Brooklyn Rail, the full collection from which they were excerpted has arrived, and it couldn’t be more of a surprise — and a delight. 

On loss, loss writing, and our forms for living

Illustration by Alfred Concanen from ‘Broadstone Hall, and other poems’ (1875) by William Edward Windus, via the British Library.

I tasked myself with saying one or two things I know about grief and loss and why so many people feel the compulsion to write through them. As an essential motivation for writing, especially poetry, loss events appear to make us both speechless and verbose. I’ve been there, I keep being there. I’ve written a “grief book” a few times now and frankly, I can’t say I find that its product is catharsis or repair. Irritatingly circular, I’d describe it instead — a marathon in a six-inch arena.

Translitigation

A Polish-ish poet on translating a Polish poet

Painting by Grzegorz Wróblewski. Image courtesy of the artist.

Autthor note: Jacket2 has our permission to publish these poems. The original publisher has gone out of business so the rights have reverted back to the author. In turn he has granted me full permission to translate and publish the prose poems of his book Android i anegdota, which translates to An Android and an Anecdote. The working English title is Mr. Z— Peter Burzyński

Golden

Camille Roy's 'Honey Mine'

Photo of Camille Roy (right) by Angela Romagnoli.

The title of this new collection tells the reader a lot: Honey Mine. Honey, that viscous product of the hive, both nutrient and excess, sweet and sticky. Mine — the possessive pronoun and noun, as in gold mine.

Among lesbians the story is a form of sex talk — a joint whereby the community and the couple are of the same body (155) 

'Meeting this strangeness'

Katherine Agyemaa Agard's 'of colour'

Image adapted from cover art of ‘of colour.’

of colour commences in an apology. Rather, Katherine Agyemaa Agard suggests her text was born out of a failure to make a film about the African diaspora “or simply our diaspora. My mother and father and brother and sister and me.”[1It’s come to this is the sentiment at the beginning of the text. It’s come to a textual object because another form failed.

The delight of this work

Women of color celebrate second books

Clockwise from top left: Seema Reza, Gabrielle Civil, Christina Olivares, Rosamond S. King, Purvi Shah.

The inception of this work is relationship. 

Publishing is not pretty for women of color poets. Undue expectations. The need to speak on behalf of whole communities. Elusive second books. 

*a linked engagement with:
Future Botanic. Christina Olivares. Get Fresh Books, forthcoming 2022