Hot and cold (PoemTalk #168)

Jayne Cortez, 'She Got He Got'

Jayne Cortez


Amber Rose Johnson, Daniel Bergmann, and Yolanda Wisher joined Al Filreis to discuss a poem/performance piece by Jayne Cortez, “She Got He Got.” This poem was apparently the final number — or possibly the encore — concluding a set presented under the title “A Dialogue Between Voice and Drums,” before a live audience at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, New York, on October 23, 2010. Fortunately a recording was made; the audio can be heard at the start of our podcast, as usual, and the video is also made available here below. Jayne Cortez is of course the voice, while Denardo Coleman (her and Ornette Coleman’s son, and a member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet) is on drums.

'Bands Around the Throat,' J. H. Prynne, racial capitalism


Image adapted from cover of ‘Bands Around the Throat.’

Author note: What follows is a modified version of a section of my master’s thesis, “Resetting Bands Around the Throat” (University of Sussex, 2020). While some of what is implied below is treated somewhat more fully in the thesis, it itself is still essentially an introduction to a larger set of questions.

Violent holidays in Russia

An interview with Kirill Medvedev

A screenshot from our interview with Kirill Medvedev.

Note: Kirill Medvedev’s brief, shocking “On the Day of My Thirty-Seventh Birthday” details what happens to a revolutionary who has just been involved in killing the president. After acting as a lookout and messenger during the assassination, he mistakenly shoots and kills a fan, whom he mistakes for the secret services but who simply wanted an autograph. Facing this revelation, the poet thinks to himself, “Shit … what a missfire. / A tragic missfire, a mistake, / which means the good-for-nothing president / is still alive.”[1

'El corno emplumado' and poetry's hemispheric sixties

Image adapted from cover of ‘El corno emplumado’ 1.

Before he became Muhammad Ali, the boxer Cassius Clay wrote a few verses protesting the war in Vietnam. He sent them to a new magazine in Mexico City, El corno emplumado/the Plumed Horn, which had begun putting out bilingual issues of writing and visual art by writers from every corner of the Americas. The editor, Margaret Randall, turned down Clay’s “haiku-like poems,” a decision she came to regret.

'Poetry is in the world'

Gillian Conoley and Christy Davids in conversation

An interview with Gillian Conoley and Christy Davids

Note: Gillian Conoley’s A Little More Red Sun on the Human: New and Selected Poems, with Nightboat Books, won the thirty-ninth annual Northern California Book Award in 2020. She received the 2017 Shelley Memorial Award for lifetime achievement from the Poetry Society of America and was also awarded the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a Fund for Poetry Award.

Partial objects

Jennifer K. Dick's 'Lilith: A Novel in Fragments'

Author photo (left) courtesy of Jennifer K. Dick.

Artifact, from the Latin arte, “by or using art,” + factum, “something made.” But an “artefact,” in French, is also something accidental, a residual effect created by human beings that distorts observation of a natural phenomenon, like footsteps distorting a seismic measurement. Jennifer K. Dick’s Lilith revolves in part around this ambiguous status between the accidental and the deliberately formed: the reader encounters a series of enigmatic textual objects that seem alternately laden with meaning.

Beasts of no nation

On the poetics of invasion and Marwa Helal

Image adapted from cover of ‘Invasive Species.’

When they adopted the term “invasive species,” midcentury ecologists imposed a lexicon of human violence onto the migration of organisms, suffusing natural phenomena with political flavor. Invasion is a versatile metaphor for all kinds of unwanted arrivals and threats to national borders; the term supercharges crusades against overly dominant flora and fauna with xenophobic emotion.

               who made this taxonomy?
unmake it
Marwa Helal, Invasive Species[1]

Non-object art

From representation to action

Photo courtesy of Clemente Padín.

In a recording of a performance from Clemente Padín’s archives described by Jill Kuhnheim, Padín reads a poem to a group of schoolchildren until he reaches the line “‘este verso debe repetirse’ [this line should be repeated].” Taking his own words as instruction, Padín closes the gap between the text of the poem and its performance, repeating the words again and again until one of the children exclaims “‘este verso debe culminar’ [this line should finish].” Rather than an interruption of a prescripted performance, the playful, improvisatory response of the child perfectly completes Padín’s poem.