Commentaries - May 2016

'Denken dat ik denk dat ik denk'

Denken dat ik denk dat ik denk: Dutch translations by Ton Van 't Hof, Sarah Posman en Samuel Vriezen, now out from Stanza. Cover painting by Susan Bee.

'Short Course' by Ted Greenwald and Charles Bernstein, new from Chax Press

First publication from The Course, a collaboration I have been working on with Ted Greenwald since July. A beautiful edition from Chax, the book includes "Breaking News" ("Séance in triple meter"); "As You Know" ("Wishful clouds / Kind of affection / Scoop out night); "Still Life with Thought" ("Venuses, desperate"); "Too Late for Tears" ("It’s not the intent it’s the effect / Matters")' "Silent Seething" ("Not we, even more slowly, but you."); and "White Lightning" ("Hotdog bungees").

Antonin Artaud's 'Contradictions'

Nancy Spero, "All Writing Is Pigshit." Photo: Courtesy of Sophie Kitching.
Nancy Spero, "All Writing Is Pigshit." Photo: Courtesy of Sophie Kitching.

Two and a half years before his death, Antonin Artaud declared that he was “born otherwise, out of my works and not out of a mother.”[1] This assertion appears in a letter to Henri Parisot, Artaud’s editor at Editions Flammarion, who was soon to publish A Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumara. The letter to Parisot was intended to supplant an earlier preface to the book in which Artaud had stated his conversion to Christianity.

Scott Ezell: Ishi, from 'Songs from a Yahi Bow'

The 100th anniversary of Ishi’s death brings to mind the publication several years ago of a small book, Songs from a Yahi Bow – really a mini-anthology of writings on Ishi – assembled by Scott Ezell & including poems by Ezell, Yusef Komunyakaa, & Mike O’Connor, along with Thomas Merton’s 1968 essay “Ishi: A Meditation.”  Ishi (the Yahi word means “man” or “human”) is well known through the writings of Theodora & Alfred L. Kroeber as the last known survivor of a small Indian community that suffered displacement & genocide during the final European conquest of America.  That memory of course is a warning of dangers & holocausts to come, and much of Ezell’s work is concerned with a range of non-state cultures & a chronicling thereby of globally diverse crises & survivals.

for the hundredth year anniversary of ishi’s death


Die into what the earth requires of you.

The Fales Library Angel Hair archive

Angel Hair 1 Cover

It feels both hugely restorative and humbling, in our age of digital media, to visit an archive and hold a fifty year-old literary magazine, carefully made and preserved, yet still fleetingly physical, in your hand. Anne Waldman, co-editor (with Lewish Warsh) of the small magazine Angel Hair, describes the significance of that experience in this quote from her introductory essay to the 2002 Angel Hair feature in Jacket: “ ephemera, lovingly and painstakingly produced, have tremendous power. They signify meticulous human attention and intelligence, like the outline of a hand in a Cro-Magnon cave.” This “tremendous power” can be applied specifically to Angel Hair, which published the work of Ted Berrigan, Denise Levertov, Joe Brainard, Michael Brownstein, and Warsh and Waldman themselves, among others, early in their lives as poets.