Commentaries - February 2014

Henry Munn: From 'The Uniqueness of María Sabina' (In Memoriam)

[In the years in which I was working with many others toward the creation of an ethnopoetics, the presence and work of Henry Munn was of extraordinary importance.  His death in February puts an end to what had been a life of intellectual questing, carried on in large part without recognition but always with an inquisitiveness  & intelligence that contributed immeasurably to the work of others of us who were able to operate in a more public sphere.  His translations, along with his brother-in-law Alvaro Estrada, of the chants and oral autobiogr

First reading of M. NourbeSe Philip's 'Zong!' #6 (2)

Arlene Keizer

Arlene Keizer’s first reading of Philip’s Zong! #6 is the second in a series of five such readings we are currently publishing. Recently we published Evie Shockley’s, and soon we will publish pieces by Kathy Lou Schultz, Meta DuEwa Jones, and Gary Barwin. — Brian Reed, Craig Dworkin, and Al Filreis

The Bone Alphabet

I came to M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! (2008) with too much knowledge to offer the text the complete and utter astonishment it deserves. When I received the invitation to write about Zong! #6, I was already thinking about the way Philip’s book disassembles language and forces readers to consider how “un-telling” the already partial and fragmented tale of an obscene, unspeakable sea voyage might shake the structures that made such a voyage possible (structures that have been altered but are still in place).

First reading of Rae Armantrout's 'Spin' (5)

Stephen Burt

Stephen Burt’s short essay on Rae Armantrout’s “Spin” is the fifth of five first readings of that poem we are publishing in this new series. The series page can be found here. — Brian Reed, Craig Dworkin, and Al Filreis

* * *

           That we are composed

Composed: put together, by someone, like novels, cantatas, or poems; or else put together by no one, as rocks are composed of chemically and geologically distinct minerals, as atoms are composed of electron shells around a nucleus. We have distinct and separable elements (we contain multitudes). We may not know it. What are those elements?

Reading the Difficulties: new from University of Alabama Press (discount offer)

Reading the Difficulties
Dialogues with Contemporary American Innovative Poetry

Edited by Thomas Fink (CUNY), Judith Halden-Sullivan (Millersville University, PA)
Modern and Contemporary Poetics Series: Charles Bernstein and Hank Lazer, series editors 

A passage solution: Coolidge's 'The Lid'

Coolidge, Solution PassageI remember being able (late 1990s) to return to Solution Passage more productively after reading Barrett Watten’s essay in Total Syntax and seeing more representative samples of Coolidge’s early writing there, in In The American Tree and in the xeroxes of complete early books and chapbooks I made at the University of Louisville poetry collection.

I particularly remember grooving on the poems found towards the end of Part Four and the beginning of Part Five.