Commentaries - December 2011

Ron Silliman, 2009

“Can you curl your tongue?” from “Force”

In this 2009 publication celebration of the Alphabet, Ron Silliman reads 48 minutes of selections from across the book.

Ron Silliman
The Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania, February 17, 2009
Introduction by Jessica Lowenthal
Recorded statement by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, “Silliman’s Alphabet and Poesis” (an excerpt is played at the celebration)
Introduction by Charles Bernstein
Introduction by Bob Perelman
Reading (from the Alphabet, 2008):

  • “Albany” (1979-80; pp. 1-2)
  • “Force” (1979-80; pp. 43-48)
  • from “Non” (1987-89; “In Gargoyle 32/33, Dan Beaver writes…,” pp. 356-357)
  • from “Paradise” (1984; first section, pp. 410-411; last two sections, pp. 425-431)
  • from “VOG” (circa 1985-99): “For Larry Eigner, Silent” (pp. 607-609)

The celebration begins with a deluxe set of introductions. Jessica Lowenthal notes that “Ron Silliman’s Alphabet has been in the making for three decades,” with its composition beginning in 1979 with “Force.” Rachel Blau DuPlessis argues counter-intuitively that “writing a long poem for Silliman was not a decision about length or grandeur or the sublime. It was a way of solving certain problems. The length is extraneous. Working out a problem—sentences for Silliman—was the trigger. Some length is needed to make the point.”

Alice Notley

Alice Notley at the Kelly Writers House for a lunchtime reading on November 3, 2011.

George Kuchar’s Otherworldly Humanity

by Charles Bernstein & Susan Bee (Brooklyn Rail Dec/Jan 2011)

photo: Felix Bernstein

full article from Brooklyn Rail

. . .  In his films, Kuchar is always poking fun and always having a good time, in an apparently sweet and charmingly self-deprecating way. Yet this court jester of avant-garde cinema had a sardonic edge that was as sharp as an editor’s blade. His vision bubbled out of the cauldron of his gay, Catholic, working-class childhood. This led to his lifelong tango with the high, and often dry, seriousness of the art world. . . .

You Can’t Evict an Idea: the poetics of Occupy Wall Street

A Conversation between Jane Malcolm and Charles Bernstein

Rogelio Lopez-Cuenca

 Jane Malcolm: How would you characterize your involvement with Occupy Wall Street (OWS)  and the Occupy movement?  I've seen the footage you've taken as part of the crowd, and I imagine that as a New Yorker you must have especially strong feelings about it.

Circumfluent time: Sampling mescal in Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano

Lift up your eyes unto the hills, I seem to hear a voice saying. Sometimes, when I see the little red mail plane fly in from Acapulco at seven in the morning over the strange hills, or more probably hear, lying trembling, shaking, and dying in bed (when I am in bed at that time)—just a tiny roar and gone—as I reach out babbling for the glass of mescal, the drink that I can never believe even in raising to my lips is real, that I have had the marvellous foresight to put within easy reach the night before, I think that you will be on it, on that plane every morning as it goes by, and will have come to save me. Then the morning goes by and you have not come. But oh, I pray for this now, that you will come. On second thoughts I do not see why from Acapulco. But for God's sake, Yvonne, hear me, my defences are down, at the moment they are down—and there goes the plane, I heard it in the distance then, just for an instant, beyond Tomalín—come back, come back. I will stop drinking, anything. I am dying without you. For Christ Jesus sake Yvonne come back to me, hear me, it is a cry, come back to me, Yvonne, if only for a day.

 "It's mescal with me... Tequila, no, that is healthful... and delightful. Just like beer. Good for you. But if I ever start to drink mescal again, I'm afraid, yes, that would be the end," the Consul said dreamily.