Commentaries - May 2015

'Whaddup doe?': Chace Morris at ArtX Detroit

Guest author: Sarah Fewkes

Woodward Avenue, often referred to as Detroit’s “Main Street,” stretches 21 miles from Pontiac to Detroit. In Midtown, it’s been gutted in preparation for summer construction. It’s here that Chace “Mic Write” Morris performed, in the Garden Theater, as part of ArtX Detroit, a ten-day festival held throughout the city that includes presentations by 2013-2014 Kresge Fellows.


Views from Thoor Ballylee

Last night my cousin Sarah Nic Pháidín and I drove to Thoor Ballylee, some 30 kilometers or so outside Galway. Yeats bought the tower (or fortress/castle, more accurately) in 1916 for a nominal sum, becoming, as one of his sisters noted at the time with a typical mix of wry humor and affection, the first Yeats to own property in Ireland.

Bright arrogance, gallery B

Transduction, transposition, translation

from the notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat

It is a truism for the experimental translator that as Google Translate gets better, it actually gets worse.  Witness the demise of the ability to "Turn Your Google Translate Into a Beatbox."  If you follow the instructions now, you only get a perfunctory recitation of consonants, alas.

Homero Aridjis and Pierre Joris: Two pieces on the PEN American Center Award to Charlie Hebdo

[For the record & because I’m feeling some irritation following the recent PEN Center / Charlie Hebdo brouhaha, I’m posting these two pieces on today’s Poems and Poetics.  Both Joris & Aridjis have been very close to me over the years, & their pieces, taken together, provide as strong a statement as needed in the present instance.  My own sense of the issues goes back to forerunners like the Dada poet Richard Huelsenbeck who spoke out against the “misbelievers” of religion & in favor of the “dis

Ammons on Rezi: 'Slight artistic interest'

Ammons to the left; Reznikoff to the right

I've been writing about Charles Reznikoff’s Inscriptions, which collected 53 short post-holocaust poems written in the late 1940s to mid-1950s and published finally — self-published by Rezi, actually — in 1959. Reviewers got to it in 1960 and ’61. I came across A. R. Ammons's review in the April 1960 issue of Poetry. Ammons is reviewing Bob Brown's amazing, fabulously unusual 1450-1950, a book published by Jonathan Williams that consists of hand drawings, in a sense reversing the era of the book (marked by the dates of the title) — an avant-garde undoing. Ammons liked the book, although thought of it as a high modernist throwback: “a cool breeze from the Twenties for our hot, dry, thermonuclear times.” Most of the review is taken up by Ammons's assessment of Robert Duncan’s City Lights Selected Poems, and there’s nothing per se wrong with that. But Reznikoff’s Inscriptions deserves more than the 55 words it gets here.