But too beautiful (PoemTalk #108)

Tracie Morris, 'Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful'

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Camara Brown, Edwin Torres, and Brooke O’Harra joined PoemTalk producer-host Al Filreis for a discussion of Tracie Morris’s “Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful.” The recording used as the basis of this conversation was made at the 2002 Whitney Museum Biennial Exhibit and is available on Morris’s PennSound page. The performance piece/musical poem was first performed at NYU in the 1990s, in a graduate performance theory course, a last-minute improvisation after Morris discovered she misplaced or lost her planned text, accompanied by — and intuitively responsive to — two colleagues whose dance movements, in part, reproduced the sweeping up-down motions of rice harvesting.

Christy Davids interviews erica lewis

PennSound podcast #56

erica lewis (left) and Christy Davids (right).

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Christy Davids visited Kelly Writers House on October 24, 2016, to talk with erica lewis, who was passing through Philadelphia to give a reading in Jason Mitchell’s Frank O’Hara’s Last Lover series in between stops in Pittsburgh and Brooklyn. While in the studio, lewis read some work and talked about her box set trilogy, a three-part project that engages with pop music as memory device and formal procedure, reconsiders “the confessional” as a poetic mode, and delves into female family history in poems that are by turns performative, intertextual, and intensely sonic. 

All volta

A review of Lyn Hejinian's 'The Unfollowing'

review
Image of Lyn Hejinian (right) by Gloria Graham, 2005.

The poems in Lyn Hejinian’s The Unfollowing are to the sonnet what the prose poem is to verse. They are fourteen lines long and, more importantly, poems of love and loss. In the press materials, Omnidawn publisher Rusty Morrison tells us that the poems are “a sequence of elegies” although “they are not sonnets but antisonnets.” 

Part 1: To close the streaming eye 

All is black shadow, but the lucid line
Marked by the light surf on the level sand,
Or where afar the ship-lights faintly shine
Like wandering fairy fires, that oft on land
Mislead the pilgrim — such the dubious ray
That wavering reason lends, in life’s long darkling way. 
Charlotte Smith, “Written Near a Port on a Dark Evening”

I 0we v. I/O

Poetics of veil-piercing on a corporate planet

Pop-up pastoral from Jennifer Scappettone, ‘The Republic of Exit 43: Outtakes and Scores from an Archaeology and Pop-Up Opera of the Corporate Dump’ (Berkeley: Atelos, 2016), 94.

Ten years into tortuous research surrounding a modest seventy-three-acre plot of toxins sitting quiet some hundred feet from the house where I grew up, diffuse obsessive e-digging struck metal hydroxide sludge. In the wilds of Justia.com, suddenly clear-cut by my more sophisticated search strings or their more precisely targeted algorithms, I came upon a document titled “Town of Oyster Bay v. Occidental Chemical Corp., 987 F. Supp. 182 (E.D.N.Y.

An indexical lyric

Print of ‘Lyric Poetry’ by H. D. Walker, a mural in the Library of Congress, which appears as a Detroit Publishing Company postcard. Via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Those interested in theorizing lyric must tread lightly these days, for a great deal of recent critical energy has been invested in sounding the historical and interpretive contours of this “super-sized” modern genre.[1] Much of this work seeks to disrobe lyric of its transhistorical pretensions, revealing by way of materialist critique that what we took for an enduring genre is actually a product of deeply codified — and distinctly post-Romantic — reading practices.

The sea doesn't have to be a wall

Photograph taken by Havana poet Marcelo Morales on August 14, 2015. It depicts poet Richard Blanco with an enthusiastic crowd on the occasion of the reopening of the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba. Courtesy of Marcelo Morales.

At the function dedicated to reopening the US Embassy in Havana, Richard Blanco read from a poem that declared: “No one is other, to the other, to the sea, whether / on hemmed island or vast continent, remember.”[2His poem, “Matters of the Sea,” projects optimism about unity and renewal — or is it didacticism? — diplomacy? All of the above? 

Look
Innocence is important
It has meaning
Look
It can give us
Hope against the very winds that we batter against it.

— Jack Spicer, from Admonitions (1958)[1

At the function dedicated to reopening the US Embassy in Havana, Richard Blanco read from a poem that declared: “No one is other, to the other, to the sea, whether / on hemmed island or vast continent, remember.”[2

On Etel Adnan's 'The Arab Apocalypse'

From page 7 of ‘The Arab Apocalypse,’ which Etel Adnan began writing in January
From page 7 of ‘The Arab Apocalypse,’ which Etel Adnan began writing in January 1975 in Beirut, two months before the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War.

L’Apocalypse arabe is a book-length poem composed in French by the Arab American poet Etel Adnan. It was published in 1980; Adnan’s English translation first appeared in 1989. Of the several rubrics under which The Arab Apocalypse may be read — hybrid text, visual poetry, surrealism, translation, postcolonialism — it is its nature as a work of witness that most commands my attention. 

‘the unspeakable, the unutterable’

Over the past two decades, poet and essayist Patrick Pritchett has been quietly building an impressive and altogether unique body of work, culminating in a recent (2014) new and selected poems, Song X, which is derived from previous collections Gnostic Frequencies (Spuyten Duyvil, 2011), Antiphonal (Pressed Wafer, 2008), Burn: Doxology for Joan of Arc (Chax Press, 2005), and Reside (Dead Metaphor Press, 1999).

Impossible poems at invisible scales

An interview with Amy Catanzano

Note: In May 2015 Jace Brittain and Rachel Zavecz interviewed me about my third book, Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella (Noemi Press, 2014). The book combines narrative fiction — in which three characters, two of whom are named for Greek concepts, join forces to stop a war — with lyric poetry, visual poetry, and memoir.We discuss the book’s cross-genre form, ’pataphysics, quantum poetics, fourth-person narration and the fourth dimension, and more. In addition to talking with me about Starlight in Two Million, Jace and Rachel wrote a collaborative review of the novella for the online arts magazine, Queen Mob’s Teahouse. — Amy Catanzano