Commentaries - April 2011
New from Roof Books
Joel Kuszai's anarchist-inflected social lyrics wreak havoc on the simulated sense of our surround-sound society. Kuszai's exuberant poems surge with voicings that pierce thought. Accidency is a pleasure of the senses, mindful of eye and ear. This long-awaited debut is scintillating.
from the Afterword:
After identifying a source text or series of texts, mixing, scrambling or sorting them, producing a block of text composed of phrases from the original but out of order … sometimes more than a thousand pages long, I would begin cutting, deleting, editing, trimming in a process more like sculpture than writing …I would begin chipping away, looking for the form inside to emerge. Often it would not and the cutting room floor would represent the tattered fragments of having nothing to say and the tragedy of not finding it said elsewhere. Other times, a lyrical thread would be found, a narrative fragment expressed in leaps across semantic seams.
lake of brackish waters
further to make room
allarum to my eyes
hue all hues or two
from state but speech alone
where to sound thing forgot
thousand torment thrice three-fold
to be crossed
tr. Pierre Joris, ed. Edited by Bernhard Böschenstein and Heino Schmull
The Meridian speech is one of Paul Celan's key works. This meticulous, fascinating, and, finally, compelling edition begins by unlocking what seems to be the work's multifoliate nature. Ultimately, though, and with the help of Pierre Joris's eloquent translation, we discover that that under the many surfaces of this magisterial essay is an abyss of poetic thinking struggling to emerge into the light of our encounter.
Back in October 2003 the Writers House hosted a weekend-long gathering called "Poet-invasion Poetics." On Friday night we went around the room (Arts Cafe at KWH) and most participants read and/or talked. We recorded this session. The next night we held a giant group reading. Among the seminar participants: Rod Smith, Mark McMorris, Ron Silliman, Michael Fried, Erica Hunt, Tracie Morris, Saskia Hamilton, Tim Carmody, Jo Park, Jessica Lowenthal, Kathy Lou Schultz.
Recently Jenny Lesser went back to Fanny Howe's Friday night reading. Jenny listened to the recording and segmented the two poems. They are: "Far and Near" and the poem called "2002". Of course we've added these to PennSound's Fanny Howe page.
Eric Linkser and Jeff Nagy have asked me to post this CNR (call for negative reviews). I told Eric and Jeff, I was ready, willing, and able to write a crippling critique of any one of my books. After all, I am ideally suited for the assignment as I saw where the manufacturer used shoddy materials to save money and speed up the production. However, as I told the guys, I have signed a confidentially agreement. After I got their request, I asked my lawyers to see to if we could get around the agreement in this special case, but they say it ironclad®. As an alternative, I suggested The Claudius App you run an ad for my new line of ironclad® products, from nursery to dementia care. But then I don't know if I want to be running around with a bunch of fast poets. I'd especially like to recant my last book, especially "Recantorium," but it poses a logical problem that I am hoping Caroline Whitbeck, who is workining on a disseration on the "pallinodic strain" will be able to work out for me.
Call for Negative Reviews
The Claudius App has a shortlist of books we're hoping that someone out there will savage (Lerner's Mean Free Path, Zapruder's Come on All You Ghosts, Lin's 7 controlled vocabularies and obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking, Pinsky's just-appeared Selected, Spahr's Well Then There Now, Powell's Chronic), but we are amenable to most any suggestion, including negative reviews of older works that refuse to crumble like Ozymandias (A, My Life, Rivers and Mountains), negative reviews of magazines, of individual poems, of a body of blurbs (Gizzi's modular hyperboles), or, even, critical prose on objects beyond our medium generic boundaries. What we're looking for could come in any length. Speed-reading has no time for page counts. Query firstname.lastname@example.org.