Al Filreis brought together Michelle Taransky, Brooke O’Harra, and Christopher Funkhouser to talk about a piece created, performed, and recorded by John Giorno, titled “Everyone is a complete disappointment.” It was included on the album John Giorno and Anne Waldman: A Kulchur Selection, released in 1977 from the Giorno Poetry Systems label. Among the album’s cuts are two Giorno pieces and four by Anne Waldman (famously among the latter: “Fast Speaking Woman” and “White Eyes”). “Everyone Is a Complete Disappointment” was recorded on May 1, 1977, at ZBS Media.
Note: I conducted this interview with John Tranter via email on May 7, 2013, as research for an article I was writing. After I sent John my questions, he replied with a .txt file that contained my questions and his answers. I cited some of his comments in my article, “The Online Literary Magazine: Some Preliminary Responses,” Letteratura e Letterature 8 (2014), reprinted in The Routledge Companion to the British and North American Literary Magazine (2022). The “Left Hand” essay mentioned below refers to Tranter’s “The Left Hand of Capitalism: … about Jacket magazine” (1999). — Seth Perlow
Note: I conducted this interview with John Tranter via email on May 7, 2013, as research for an article I was writing. After I sent John my questions, he replied with a .txt file that contained my questions and his answers.
According to Merriam Webster, the word is “a term of uncertain meaning found in the Hebrew text of the Psalms and Habakkuk carried over untranslated into some English versions.” Hypotheses abound: it could be a liturgical-musical mark, an instruction to “stop and listen,” a blessing meaning “forever,” an injunction to destroy bad people, or maybe an instruction to delete language that crept into a psalm and should be skipped. Some, including the authors of The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, interpret it as “exalt.”
In Laura Walker’s psalmbook, this word appears: first, large and lowercase, on the page where ordinarily you’d find a dedication, and then another three times in the book, including in the last poem.
Note: Joe Hall and Marty Cain met over the internet in the mid-2010s, and since then, they’ve corresponded, read each other’s work, swum in gorges, and played in a punk band, Joyous Shrub. Joe currently lives in Buffalo, New York, and Marty lives in Ithaca, New York (although Joe also once lived near Ithaca for a brief period). In this cointerview, they discuss their books — Marty Cain’s The Prelude (Action Books, 2023) and Joe Hall’s Fugue and Strike (Black Ocean, 2023) — and matters concerning locality, labor, and the relationship between art and political action, among other subjects.
Note: Joe Hall and Marty Cain met over the internet in the mid-2010s, and since then, they’ve corresponded, read each other’s work, swum in gorges, and played in a punk band, Joyous Shrub. Joe currently lives in Buffalo, New York, and Marty lives in Ithaca, New York (although Joe also once lived near Ithaca for a brief period).
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. 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.
For me, that tension between poetry, writing, and drawing is utterly captivating. So much so that I have spent the last two years writing poems that enter into conversations with Twombly’s work, a project I have found both humbling and transformative. In fact, the last real public outing I engaged in before the pandemic lockdown was a visit to the Cy Twombly Gallery at the Menil Collection in Houston.
Interpretation, based on the highly dubious theory that a work of art is composed of items of content, violates art. — Susan Sontag, “Against Interpretation”
What is an ostrakon? And what does an ostrakon have to do with the work of N. H. Pritchard? Norman Henry Pritchard was a member of the Umbra poets in the Lower East Side in the 1960s and a self-avowed “transrealist” who blended visual and sound poetry in many of his poems, some of which might be termed quasisurrealist or quasi-imagistic.
When I was a baby adult and even broker than I am now, I participated for pay in a study at a university that involved lying in a creaky old MRI machine, hooked up to two dozen electrodes that monitored my brain and systematically inflicted pain on my arms. My task was to look, via a tiny mirror, at a screen that displayed a blue square, then a red circle, then a blue circle, then a red square, or whatever, while the scientists applied a particular intensity of punishment as an accompaniment to each. I lay on my back contentedly and “rated” how much it hurt on a scale of one to ten.
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.