Kent Johnson

The spectral resistance

A review of 'The OBU Manifestos'

Right: IWW ‘One Big Union’ sticker from the 1910s. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

A few weeks ago I went into the city to see a revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1974 play Travesties, in which Henry Carr, an elderly English civil servant, looks back on his time as a diplomat in Zurich in 1917, where he was witness to the various antics of James Joyce (composing Ulysses), Tristan Tzara (fomenting Dada), and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (plotting communist revolution).

Jaime Saenz: Five strange poems, and more ...

Forrest Gander and Kent Johnson, Jacket 8 and Jacket 25

Bolivian poet Jaime Saenz (1921–1986) dressed in a beggar’s jacket.
Bolivian poet Jaime Saenz (1921–1986) dressed in a beggar’s jacket.

Jaime Saenz (1921–1986) is Bolivia’s leading writer of the 20th century. Prolific as poet, novelist, and non-fiction writer, his baroque, propulsive syntax and dedication to themes of death, alcoholism, and otherness make his poetry among the most idiosyncratic in the Spanish-speaking world.

[»»] Jaime Saenz: Five poems from: As the Comet Passes, translated by Kent Johnson and Forrest Gander

[»»] Jaime Saenz: excerpts from: Immanent Visitor, translated by Kent Johnson and Forrest Gander

[»»] Forrest Gander and Kent Johnson: Jaime Saenz — Some Days in the Life of The Night: Notes from Bolivia, June 20–30, 2004

“It was with a human leg that Jaime Saenz, Bolivia’s visionary and most influential poet, came home from the university. Still living with his mother. Death, his constant companion.

Revolutions per minute

Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein reads/plays "stop it"
Charles Bernstein at a Poets Against the War reading, Buffalo, March 5, 2003

In the essay “The Conspiracy of Us” (first published in 1979, in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E), Charles Bernstein anticipated a key driver of the iterative turn in contemporary poetry when he described his anxiety about collective identity and action and argued for the revolutionary power of poetry to disrupt the certainty of our collective positions.

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