Articles - April 2011

On Daisy Aldan, 'A New Folder'

When discussing poetry in the year 1960, there’s perhaps no volume more important than Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry. [1] However, I’d like to argue that there’s another anthology that, in terms of both prescience and precedent, sketches out a blueprint for Allen’s collection and in some ways even supersedes his achievement. Nearly forgotten half a century later, A New Folder and its editor, Daisy Aldan, are certainly deserving of a greater critical recognition. [2]

On Brion Gysin, 'Minutes to Go'

Pick up a book    any book     cut it up
slice down the middle    dice into sections
piece together a masterpiece    a week
use better materials        more highly charged words
there is no longer a need    to drum up a season of
the writing machine        is for everybody

On Jackson Mac Low, 'Stanzas for Iris Lezak'

Mac Low as a shadow beatnik

Chris Funkhouser (left, photo by Ben Friedlander) and Jackson Mac Low (photo by Anne Tardos)

For years I heard about Stanzas for Iris Lezak and read excerpts from it in Representative Works: 1938–1985 and Thing of Beauty: New and Selected Works, though never held a copy until recently. [1] When I did, I made a surprising discovery: the great extent to which Jackson Mac Low’s work at this juncture joins with the Beat zeitgeist.

On LeRoi Jones, 'Preface to A Twenty-Volume Suicide Note'

Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, LeRoi Jones’s first book, was composed between 1957 and 1961. [1] Arranged chronologically, the book feels distinct from the work Jones/Baraka is known for. That work, tho suggested here in isolated snatches, is yet to be written. In this sense the book truly is a “preface.”

The making of 'Tender Buttons'

Gertrude Stein's subjects, objects, and the illegible

Opening pages of Gertrude Stein's manuscript for Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Photo courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

In the summer of 1912, while vacationing in Spain, Gertrude Stein began to write short prose poems on discrete objects and little events (shopping, eating, talking) that comprised ordinary daily living. Generating poems from such mundane experience was not on its own anything too radical, but Stein paired such ordinary objects and experiences with an extraordinary new grammar.