Biologically speaking (PoemTalk #160)

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 'Love Is Not All' & 'I Shall Forget You Presently'

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Al Filreis convened Lisa New, Jane Malcolm, and Sophia DuRose to talk about two well-known sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay, “I Shall Forget You Presently” and “Love Is Not All.” “I Shall Forget You Presently” became widely available as one of the four sonnets presented at the end of the book A Few Figs from Thistles (first published in 1920). “Love Is Not All” of 1931 was in Millay’s collection of fifty-two sonnets, Fatal Interview.  Both poems were performed by Millay in an undated recording we include on our Millay PennSound page.

The longer short of it

An interview with Hiroaki Sato

Photo courtesy of Nancy Sato.

Note: In early 2020, Eve Luckring (writer and visual artist) and Scott Metz (poet and editor) began a lengthy email conversation with essayist and award-winning translator Hiroaki Sato. A New York City resident since moving to the US in 1968, Sato has translated more than thirty books of Japanese literature into English, authored several books on Japanese cultural history and poetry, and translated the likes of John Ashbery, Jerome Rothenberg, and Charles Reznikoff into the Japanese language.

Les chemins

An introduction to contemporary Ivorian poetry

Photo by Todd Fredson.

This gathering of Ivorian poets has been organized around the theme of chemin. Most literally, chemin is the French word for “path.” Its sense changes across these poems. 

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

reissue
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.

Empathy under late capitalism

PennSound podcast #71

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Levi Bentley, Ted Rees, and Danielle LaFrance met in the Wexler Studio in November 2019 to discuss LaFrance’s books Just Like I Like It and Friendly + Fire as a part of the Housework series.

Victoria Chang's negative elegy

A review of 'Obit'

Photo of Victoria Chang by Margaret Malloy.

Victoria Chang’s Obit is a book of grief. Yet cutting across its overt autobiographical subject matter, the death of Chang’s mother, the book joins a tradition of apophatic lyricism that runs through Keats, Dickinson, and Ashbery, as well as Chang’s own prior books.

Victoria Chang’s Obit is a book of grief. Yet cutting across its overt autobiographical subject matter, the death of Chang’s mother, the book joins a tradition of apophatic lyricism that runs through Keats, Dickinson, and Ashbery, as well as Chang’s own prior books. (Here’s how she defined love in her previous book, Barbie Chang: “a slow drip without a puddle a faded / paddle on the beach // that the eye cannot see.”[1]) Death is the ultimate object for a secularized apophatic poetics, and Obit anatomizes the unsayability of loss.

The confessing image

Trisha Low's screenshot poetics

Click here for an enlarged version of the above screenshot.

When I think of Tumblr, and of Trisha Low, I think of sitting on the Caltrain on vacation in the summer of 2015, scrolling through Tumblr on my phone and seeing the last ​essay​ in Low’s “On Being-Hated” series for SFMOMA’s ​Open Space​ magazine. I remember reading around it: a block quote on my dashboard, posted by my then-boyfriend, a series of posts on Low’s own ​Tumblr​, and then the essay itself: about the fraught racial politics of the avant-garde. 

Editorial note: Readers can view larger versions of each of the images below by clicking them; they will open in another window.

When you think of Tumblr, it’s not just, like, your Tumblr dashboard, but it’s like a memory of a screenshot of your Tumblr dashboard that’s​ on​ your Tumblr dashboard.
— Trisha Low, “Hunting Season

'Collective poesy'

The disruptive pleasures of Caroline Bergvall's 'Alisoun Sings'

Photo by Helena Wikström, courtesy of Caroline Bergvall, 'Drift Umeå,' NorrlandsOperan, Sweden.

During an interview from the afterlife, Jack Spicer tells Hoa Nguyen that in making a poem, “you start with a syllable machine and see what ghosts you catch.” Similarly, Bergvall’s Alisoun Sings channels a polyphonous “voice-cluster” of pop stars and feminist icons of art and literature. Bergvall and Alisoun form a “collective poesy” (104) through queer networks of affiliation to explore pleasure’s physical and linguistic role in disbanding the national ties that constrain us.

During an interview from the afterlife, Jack Spicer tells Hoa Nguyen that in making a poem, “you start with a syllable machine and see what ghosts you catch.” Similarly spirited, Caroline Bergvall’s Alisoun Sings channels a polyphonous “voice-cluster”[1] of pop stars and feminist icons of art and literature, all centered around Alisoun, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath.

Reading weed acts

A review of Carol Watts's 'Dockfield'

Broad-leaved (left) and curled (right) dock. Photos by R. A. Nonenmacher.
Broad-leaved (left) and curled (right) dock. Photos by R. A. Nonenmacher.

In many ways, the structure of this poetry is parabolic. Points of reference are plotted along a curve that eventually returns to the same site of origin — the dockfield — before continuing onward.

Carol Watts’s Dockfield opens with an epigraph from Emily Dickinson — “Like Rain it sounded till it curved.” This attention to sound and structure also informs the opening lines of the first poem:

Step through on a curve,
a grand elliptic.

I will find you. Always.

A message sent up from simple frequencies.[1]

A provisional map of who/what/where we are

A review of 'Inciting Poetics: Thinking and Writing Poetry'

Photos courtesy of the authors.

On one level at least, Inciting Poetics would seem to be in dialogue with Donald Allen’s 1960 iconoclastic anthology The New American Poetry. With the majority of this volume’s contributors having come of age in the 1960s and 1970s and now in their sixties and seventies, the essays collected here tell a particular narrative, one that seems acutely linked to the political upheavals and cultural shifts of those formative decades. 

When I first learned that the University of New Mexico Press was publishing Inciting Poetics, a collection of essays edited by Jeanne Heuving and Tyrone Williams, I was excited for a number of reasons.