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.

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. 

Biologically speaking (PoemTalk #160)

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

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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.

Mourning worlds

A review of Prageeta Sharma's 'Grief Sequence'

Photo of Prageeta Sharma by Mike Stussy.

Prageeta Sharma’s Grief Sequence opens in the long aftermath of a loss, in grief’s viscosity, which seems to choke out every poem it encounters. The grieving process — looking, not looking, feeling, not feeling, hearing, not hearing — has become a string of aesthetic encounters, together with refusals to encounter, that risks exhausting itself. 

Prageeta Sharma’s Grief Sequence opens in the long aftermath of a loss, in grief’s viscosity, which seems to choke out every poem it encounters. The grieving process — looking, not looking, feeling, not feeling, hearing, not hearing — has become a string of aesthetic encounters, together with refusals to encounter, that risks exhausting itself. At the hospice, where her husband will soon die from esophageal cancer, Sharma recalls wanting to know “the tools and methods poets and artists had to say goodbye.”[1] It doesn’t matter, she decides.

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.

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.

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.

'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.