Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Delirious Hem

This is a project worth following, and if they keep to their calendar an audio poem by Cathy Wagner should be put up sometime today:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Whiteprintinc Press Benefit Cleveland 11/15




Mirinda Fleenary is 22 years old and currently resides in Detroit where she makes art. She is working on her fifth collection of poems. She received the Francis Barrett Creative Writing Award (2008) and The Larry Colter Poetry Prize (2007, 2008). Her work is forthcoming (invisibles) from white print inc.

James Hart III lives in southwest Detroit. Currently he has published two manuscripts: the watchable book, Weightless Language Press (2003) and white holes, Marick (2006). Forthcoming, high-coup Slack Buddha Press, Spring (2010). His work has appeared in Dispatch, Door Jamb Press, Past Tents Press on line anthology, and The Cafe Review (ME). He is the director and editor of white print inc, a new avant-garde Detroit press dedicated to emerging and unknown writers, as well as the Cass Corridor history. He curates The Woodward-Line series, currently Detroit’s only independant national venue. He has corresponded with Jacques Derrida, who expressed great interest in his work.

Anita Schmaltz is an artist, writer, photographer, musician and teacher. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the College for Creative Studies and a Masters of Creative Writing degree from Wayne State University. She’s written hundreds of articles and reviews about the arts for the Metro Times. Since 2000, she’s been a creative writing teacher through InsideOut Literary Arts Organization. A founding member of the band Ass, Anita’s currently involved with the music project In Your Hand. She lives in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Intercollegiate Athletic Guide

The Rugby Player

And here is another name, a football name
something else like a tough nickname
a brown suit and slender tie

The Coxswain

Boats are quoted and ships italicized

The Golfer

Fair Isle sweaters and pea coats are function
not fashion again

The Lacrosse Player

No, never mind him
Ben Sherman jackets match Fred Perry shoes
Mohawks and leather on the other side

The Ballplayer

or a film about him
or the poster outside the theater

The Swimmer

Seen here in the convex mirror
around the corner

The Fencer

Stage combat certification
looks good on a resume

The Wrestler

With another name, wear a tuxedo
or a linen shirt and summer shoes
Here, center ring, stained glass

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In the Money (2)

Symptomatic Urn

Romantic Stumpy

Impact Yum Snort

Company Sir Mutt

Cramp Unity Most

In the Money

Clans Mash God

Cash Mans Gold

Glad Hams Cons

Scam Slang Doh

Hang Mass Cold

Sand Gal Schmo

Cads Sham Long

Clams Gash Nod

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Oxford Poetics Group

we shall meet at 7:30pm THIS wednesday (but NOT the following week)

i was half-asleep last week, but vaguely remember something about bringing in extra-textual material to discuss in relation to poetics, with a (preferrably short) film screening as well (this might be a little awkward on our wee TV monitor) -- this should also leave us time to share a couple of our own or others' poems

OH, AND: I desperately need creative types -- writers, though especially artists and graphic designers -- to help out with some exciting forthcoming activist events. I'm currently trying to bring both the lovely and the hilarious Yes Men to campus over the next few months. any help always appreciated



This is for Keith mostly, will you see it? I saw your Attention Span 2009 post about von Hallberg -- whose lyric book I haven't yet read --

"Musicality authenticates poetry, a crucial function in a discourse that strains against social conventions." Von Hallberg links poetry or rather an “orphic tradition” with structures of belief that persist beyond irony and skepticism in a secular culture

OK, musicality. Because of the Rhetoric of Song class I was thinking about lyric vs. song. A duh difference between lyric and song is that songs are performed out loud and a performer and a listener are both present (epos, in Frye's terms). A lyric poem even if spoken aloud doesn't call into being the resonant frequencies associated with music. And of course it's not necessarily performative (calm down cris, I mean performative very narrowly here) though it figures or implies performance.

I want to connect the silencing of the literally performative aspect (musical) aspect of song with the paronomasia of lyric. Of course lyric *figures* the situation of song, but I mean something more literal, to do with the creative process: that when music goes silent and the potential for song is realized silently, maybe that's where we get paronomasia. The resonant energies that would have occupied musical frequencies are diverted into other sonic and semantic registers.

Reductive, and not applicable to all lyric, and totally dreamy speculation --

Sunday, October 4, 2009

revenge of the poetics group !

regular and future poetics group participants!

we will meet at my apartment this wednesday

at 7pm-ish -- methinks it will be groovalicious

note:-- for invite-only membership to the sunday-night Dandy Group
please demonstrate your abilities (red wine consumption, cigarillos,
purple velvet jacket, long swishy-girl hair, foppish walk w/ cane, etc.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Joint Effort!

I’m left thinking about Obama. And Glen Beck. And Reagan. And Clinton. And Hitler. Would you prefer Jefferson? I’m thinking of him too… Walker (paraphrasing Hesiod) suggests the world of “rhetoric” breaks into two clear worlds: in short, the rhetoric of art and the rhetoric of business/politics. That rhetoric (or whatever word will eventually become “rhetoric”) is a “pyschagoogic art” of enthralling the given audience and turning aside listeners’ minds. Literally, taking control of their thoughts and bending them to the task at hand, be it poetry or policy. That the Arts would originally be considered the “secondary” half of the two is not surprising. However, the deduction that the most-successful rhetoric of politics and business actually springs from this “secondary art” is quite interesting to me as a writer and as a teacher and as a citizen, and I think Walker and company are on to something quite empowering here. Back to Obama. He is our President because he’s a good speaker. Period. That’s it. Politics aside, what separated him from that pack and captured the imagination and support of so many a year ago was his ability to speak well. To share his vision in a way that was comprehensible to the “lore and language” (epos) of his mass audiences and supported by the “rhythmic formulae” (epea) of a sweeter discourse clearly found within our churches, streets and cultures. Our ears, suggests Walker, are trained to appreciate these “rhythms” and devices through church, ceremony, art. An epideictic code of an almost Jungian nature that the audience (must never forget the audience) shares collectively. To this, does the master speaker address.
I should just get onto my question: What rhetorical practices that we’ve encountered so far this year in song appear in your favorite “practitioner of pragmatika?” I’ve had a ball the last few days watching Obama speak (on Iran) and Beck rant on Fox. I’ve thought about the best salespersons I’ve ever worked with in the business world. I’ve thought about the “best” teacher I ever had and why... How did he speak? Question #1: What in the language of these practical speakers is similar to the rhetorical devices found in song? From repetition and cadence to expletives and hyperbaton, and everything in between. These devices are learned by the audience from ART, from the poetry of five thousand years of song and story. If Wallace speaks true, we’ll find these same devices in the next speech by your favorite (and least favorite) politician. And if, indeed, the Muses have blessed us with the gift of rhetoric to foster peace and justice on Earth, our very best leaders will those who have assimilated the very best practices of art (rather than the detached “rhetoric”propsed by Aristotle and Socrates). Question #2: As writers and educators and citizens, what rhetorical devices might we learn for ourselves and pass on to the next generation that are lifted from directly from the “bards” of so long ago and today?

As I read through Walker's essay I couldn't help but focus in on the sophist as he defines (if they can at all be defined fully) one. A "...professional intellectual, a 'wiseman,' 'sage,' or the possesor , performer, and a professor of some special skill...The sophist might, perhaps, even be a 'wizard'..." (37). This is because they seemed to translate as poets, in that a poet must be some type of wizard to pull the audience into the text/performance with grace. I use the word pull because I am imagining now a ribbon in the wind that a speaker must extend to the audience in order to reach them. The audience might not always be able to catch the ribbon (meaning the imagery or every word spoken) but that the image/text/performance is ever present, dancing before them. The subject matter in poetry can be stronger or more engaging when it dangles in from an audience, leads them to or through a story. This is most clear in poems such as Edmund Spenser's "Aegloga Quarta" and Shakespeare's "It Was a Lover and His Lass" where the story seems whimsical, fluid, song-like. And, of course these are song-like, as Spenser has a, sort-of duet with these two voices talking back and forth to one another. And as Shakespeare writes with refrain using "with a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino" Sophists are poets in the sense that they bridge the gap, or more importantly, overlap the epideictic and pragmatic speech. So, to the question. If poets like Blake, Spenser, and Donne are capable of creating poems that are "timeless," in the sense in that they "embody an ancient, ancestral wisdom," (23) speaking as "sages," how then, can modern poets such as Langston Hughes or Geoffrey Hill immortalize their poems? Are they steeped in the language of the present and is that language song-like enough to keep us from forgetting it or its importance/success as a "timeless" art? P.S. Does anyone still have the Lip Gloss song in their head? Man, I can't stop singing/humming it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Regionalism in Practice: Lessons from Architecture

a Plum Academy Forum
at SPACES Gallery, Cleveland OH
Tuesdays October 6, 13 & 20 6:30pm

What would it mean to paint a uniquely Cleveland painting, construct a uniquely Great Lakes installation piece, write a uniquely Midwest poem, compose a uniquely Rust Belt song or dance? What makes these regions different from any other regions of the world, and how does that something get expressed or translated into art? Does it happen at the level of themes, content, materials, shapes, forms, or something else? As it turns out, architectural theory has a well-developed body of writing on what constitutes regionalism in building design and construction. Our job in this forum will be to study and discuss the basic ideas in architectural regionalism, and then determine the extent to which these ideas can be applied to other forms or creative practices. Please note: this forum is NOT about architecture per se; we are testing specific architectural theory as it applies to other creative practices.

facebook event page
plum academy page

A night of Slack Buddha Press poets

The Woodward Line presents:

A night of Slack Buddha Press poets
featuring William Howe, L.A. Howe and Tom Orange
Wednesday October 21, 7 PM
Scarab Club 217 E. Farnsworth (at John R.)
Detroit, Michigan
Admission is free

Saturday, September 26, 2009

healthcare hits close to home

"A 22-year-old woman from Oxford, Ohio, died from swine flu on Wednesday. Kimberly Young graduated from Miami University in December and continued to live in Oxford, Ohio, within Minority Leader John Boehner’s congressional distrct. Reports now indicate that after initially getting sick, Young put off treatment because she was uninsured..."

full story at

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm Conducting Research

Thanks to Brett for mentioning I'm actually, currently attempting to conduct some research on the site (for the purpose of bringing in a bit of funding for my endeavor). If you are a fan of the site or if you have thoughts about it, I'd love to do some informal chat interviews to gather some info. I've also created a one-page e-mail survey. If you are interested, give me an e-mail at

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wednesday Night Poetics Discussion

For those of you whose email address I don't have:

This is just a reminder that we're planning on meeting at Mark's apartment Wednesday night, around 7:30.

Come, bring something to drink if you like, and remember that last time we discussed bringing an example of what you DO NOT want to be doing with your verse--

I believe we're still planning on discussing the poems that Meghan sent around, so bring your copies of those along as well.

And: I'm not sure if Jade ever posted a link to his new online poetry magazine Toxic Poetry, so if you haven't checked it out, follow the link. (Hope that's alright, Jade)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gertrude Stein

1945, post-war, from The GI's

That evening I went over to talk to the soldiers, and to hear what they had to say, we all got very excited, Sergeant Santiani who had asked me to come complained that I confused the minds of his men but why shouldn't their minds be confused, gracious goodness, are we going to be like the Germans, only believe in the Aryans that is our own race, a mixed race if you like but all having the same point of view. I got very angry with them, they admitted they liked the Germans better than the other Europeans. Of course you do, I said, they flatter you and they obey you, when the other countries don't like you and say so, and personally you have not been awfully ready to meet them halfway, well naturally if they don't like you they show it, the Germans don't like you but they flatter you, doggone it, I said I bet you Fourth of July they will all be putting up our flag, and all you big babies will just be flattered to death, literally to death, I said bitterly because you will have to fight again. Well said one of them after all we are on top. Yes I said and is there any spot on earth more dangerous than on top. You don't like the Latins, or the Arabs or the Wops, or the British, well don't you forget a country can't live without friends, I want you all to get to know other countries so that you can be friends, make a little effort, try to find out what it is all about. We all got very excited, they passed me cognac, but I don't drink so they found me some grapefruit juice, and they patted me and sat me down, and there it all was.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Circle Makers

A newish poem, with slight revisions since some saw it in workshop. Cuts, a few new line breaks.

Inspired somewhat by Wallace Stevens and his "priest of the invisible" quote. Still playing with a title-- originally it was "The Circle Game" until I realized I ripped it off from Margaret Atwood.

The Circle Makers

I am drawing circles around
what cannot be drawn—tighter
& tighter, until only a thin line
defines the unknown.

& I have been squatting at the edge
of each, attempting to sound
gray—never to strike firm earth but
plumbing depth all the same.

Once, I saw someone drawing circles
wider than I imagined possible—so wide
they encompassed themselves. In the shallows,
they were on their bellies, drowning in what
they refused to know.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

cheek in toronto

Aug.29 in Toronto:

A poetry/sound/multimedia performance--

*cris cheek *(London/US)
+ *Barnyard Drama *[Christine Duncan/Jean Martin] (Toronto)

8pm, at
Somewhere There
Live Creative Music in Toronto
340 Dufferin Street - one block South of Queen Street
** entrance from Melbourne Ave. **

$8 cover, or free admission if you purchase cris's new book *part: short
life housing *(specially priced for this event at $16!)

*ABOUT CRIS CHEEK: *cris cheek is a sound artist, poet, photographer,
mixed-media practitioner and interdisciplinary performer, whose works have
been commissioned and shown locally and trans-locally, in multiple versions
using diverse media for their production and circulation. Born in London in
1955, he lived and worked there until the early 1990s, a performance writer
very much a part of what was going on with poetry in that capital city. His
musical collaborations include Slant (a trio with Phillip Jeck and Sianed
Jones) and Garam Masala; he also collaborated in 1999-2007 with Kirsten
Lavers on the cross-disciplinary project Things Not Worth Keeping ( . He currently lives in the southwest Ohio
River Valley.

cris's most recent book is *part: short life housing *(Toronto: The Gig,
2009), a collection of six texts from the 1980s and 1990s, including
canning town chronicles, a scathing set of verbal accretions that emerged
from the wreckage of the Thatcher era; and f o g s a series of
typestracts quarried from verbal improvisations recorded during outdoor
walks in densely foggy weather.

For more info contact:

Nate Dorward
109 Hounslow Ave., North York, ON, M2N 2B1, Canada - 416 221 6865

Sunday, August 23, 2009

translanations one

Great news: Bill Howe's book is out:

The site links to Amazon, which lists the book as ready to ship. Get on the boat, and take your lifejacket.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ride to Cinci on Thursday

Hey All,

If anyone is interested in a ride down to Cincinnati on Thursday for the reading at CCAC, I'm driving and will probably leave Oxford around 5:40ish. (I have't looked to see where in Cincinnati it is, but I'm guessing that's enough time.)

I have room for four others, so email or call if you'd like a ride.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

This from Sandra Doller at 1913

"& psst. i'm starting a reviews bloggy thing via 1913 if your students have any desire to write some wacky po or non-po reviews...wld love to have someone write on R Wolff's newest & how bout a review of yr 4 recent chappies eh? anyone in mind for such tasks, do send em my way..."

I wd rather yall not review anything of mine but do send something to her

she's at
1913press ( gmail (dot) com

Ode to Eczema

it puts the lotion on its skin
& then it gets the hose again!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Indian Meadows Campground
Pentress, WV
August 14, 15, 16 2009
featuring many ohio musicians and sound artists including emeralds, aaron dilloway, jason zeh, ryan jewel, tusco terror, skin graft, bee mask, and fluxmonkey aka bbob drake.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Linking Ohio by rail

Communities of all sizes across the state are touting their best assets in hopes of being chosen as one of the stops for the proposed passenger rail line from Cleveland to Cincinnati. [...]

As the dream of passenger rail between Cleveland and Cincinnati moves closer to reality -- with officials seeking up to $400 million in federal stimulus money and Amtrak undertaking a study -- communities along the line are lobbying for a stop. It even has spawned competition in parts of the state. [...]

Community leaders say the service would bring economic development, tourism and a chance to recapture the time when passenger rail was a primary form of transportation in the state. Cross-state service ended in 1971. [...]

Middletown City Manager Judy Gilleland said her community is perfect for a train station.

"We are centrally located in the middle of Dayton and Cincinnati," she said. She added that a station would attract business and pleasure travelers and Miami University students. The city has a bus system and a regional airport and is close to Interstate 75, she said.
full story here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Dream in Day

Jessica and Tony call it quits.
I’d see they’d go from fight to fight.
The mountains had butterflies on their first date,
wanting to puke into a cup holder.
It took forever to put together an outfit,
and all those keys. When he tried leaning
Over the table free from thought,
white lions never dated a person so simple.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Eleanor Antin's 100 Boots

"100 Boots Go East"

Taken on my birthday.

Can also be seen on the cover of Rae Armantrout's Up to Speed.

See more of the series:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Local food and an historic avant garde

This past Sunday's Plain Dealer contained two pieces of particular, and for me not unrelated, interest.

First, a nice little feature on City Fresh, the farm share coop i've been working with the past few months. City Fresh is a CSA (community-supported argiculture) co-op: several times a week a truck that runs on vegetable oil makes the rounds of organic farms in nearby Summit and Portage counties buying available produce and bringing it back to various distribution points throughout the city, where shareholders have placed advance orders for whatever the farms have available that week. This is rare among CSAs, which usually require shareholders to purchase an entire season's worth of produce in advance, usually from a single farm provider. Our weekly shares are also priced on a two-tier system so that those who can afford it subsidize those who otherwise couldn't.

Second, a backgrounder on the Kokoon Arts Klub of Cleveland, which promoted experimental arts dance and lifestyle even before the famous 1913 Armory show in New York City. Founded mostly by disgruntled German lithographers who were bored with commercial art (particularly movie posters coming out of Cleveland's then-major lithography industry), the KAK held an annual "Bal Masque" or fundraising soiree that featured some rather outlandish for-the-time attractions. But they were also committed to the kinds of innovate arts emerging elsewhere to the local Clevleand audience. The Klub's history and their work are featured in an exhibit running though March 2010 at the Kent State University Museum.

A critique of growth default? Sometimes it's important to make a virtue of necessity; from Plain Dealer Reporter Robert L. Smith:
The U.S. Census Bureau will announce today that Cleveland lost nearly 10 percent of its population this decade, the fastest rate of decline of any major American city except New Orleans, which weathered a hurricane and is bouncing back.[...]

Across Ohio, two out of three villages and cities have lost population since 2000. The exodus is most pronounced in the major cities. Among Ohio's 10 largest cities, seven lost population this decade, none more than Cleveland.[...]

Three major Ohio cities likely will celebrate the 2010 census. Both Cincinnati and Columbus grew this decade, Columbus by a state-leading 41,879 people. But the biggest surprise may be Lorain. Hard hit by factory closings, Ohio's 10th-largest city saw its population climb by about 1,500 people this decade. The North Coast Building Industry Association credits home building on the city's west side that borders Amherst.

Factory closings and job losses are emptying cities, experts say, but sprawl is also a powerful force. Three of Ohio's 10 fastest growing cities are the far western suburbs of Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville. [Where I just moved from!]

Meanwhile, eight of Ohio's 10 fastest shrinking cities are Cleveland inner-ring suburbs. Brooklyn, Lakewood, Fairview Park, University Heights, Shaker Heights, Euclid, South Euclid and East Cleveland and all lost 10 percent or more of their populations this decade.
Full story here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

work in progress

(today's draft, which could disappear very soon depending on x and y and z--Keith)

The King of Pop

“Michael Jackson showed me that you can actually see the beat.”
                                                P. Diddy

You can see the beat, all right,
though it’s better to feel it,
even if we’re talking moonwalk.
You can slow it to a crawl
with Demerol. You can tour
with Bubbles the chimp and name
your children Prince or Blanket.
You can cut your own nose off
and sell it to a sheik. It’s not enough.

There’s always a little more
if the show goes on, as it must.
There’s the history of racism,
for instance.  If God exists
so does P.T. Barnum. Peter Pan.
You wouldn’t know it by the numbers
but death is white, very white.
God bless you Michael, big as Elvis.
God bless America, and good night.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

two birthday poems

hey all, a couple occasional poems, kind of Englishy (in my mind anyway). The second is a swerve on Halsey's style. PM often wears a black t-shirt.

For P. Manson’s birthday

The t-shirt says: “I do not exist. I am not stainable.”
The soil has smutched it. Have you tasted the bag
of the bee? Oh so dark, so sweet is he,
and I am...making conversation easily with Peter Manson,
like a little nasturtium nasty tertiary shtum; he responds nodding
like son of flower whose poem was blown in on a hot rail,
a didact frown or flounce he metaguarded. I dream-said,
“If you cut her, you can drink Gala-Tea,” meaning poetry,
because she is “lovely and alive,” to turn wave-function
into wire fence and undulate the terms.

For A. Halsey’s birthday

A letter arrives, he sends it packing
tape worm uses up best syllabub
in gay misrule. Scylla breaks down
syllables and morphemes—
Ah, foam and contrail! Fumetime.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Allen Ginsberg Sings William Blake

from ubuweb: Allen Ginsberg Sings William Blake (1969) [MP3] - Recorded New York, December 15, 1969 Songs of Innocence...

Fun stuff.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Test of Bioregional Knowledge

  1. What soil series are you standing on?
  2. When was the last time a fire burned your area?
  3. Name five native edible plants in your region and their seasons of availability.
  4. From what direction do winter storms generally come in your region?
  5. Where does your garbage go?
  6. How long is the growing season where you live?
  7. Name five grasses in your area. Are any of them native?
  8. Name five resident and five migratory birds in your area.
  9. What primary geological event or processes influenced the land from where you live?
  10. What species have become extinct in your area?
  11. What are the major plant associations in your region?
from CoEvolution Quarterly 32 (Winter 1981-82), quoted in David Orr, Ecological Literacy (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992), page 137.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


One of you 651 students has already had a review accepted for publication (I will reveal the party in question if I get permission) -- yay! send em on out, the rest of you, if you haven't already.


Keith Tuma's new THE PARIS HILTON is out from Critical Documents -- Keith read some of these at the evening thingy at cris's in late spring -- sharp sharp funny stuff -- go get!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Recommended Niedecker



Monday, June 8, 2009

New Pudding and More

Thought you all should know that cris cheek's book part: short life housing is now in the world.  Information about ordering it directly from the publisher--a better option than Small Press Distribution in this case-- can be found here: 

You really ought to have this book.  Buy a copy and a second for your landlord.

While you're at it, pick up a copy of the latest Miami University Press poetry book, Frederick Goodwin's Virgil's Cow, which you can buy from Small Press Distribution here:'s+cow

or via the Miami University Press link to Pathway:

Follow-up from PPN

from Cori C: "Since I'm just starting out, I'm soliciting most of [the reviews] for the Oct/Nov, and just don't have much room! But perhaps in the future? Oh and if you look at the Books Received link on the PP site (, you'll see what we've got. They can always shoot me an email." (Write me & I'll send you her address.)

Submitting reviews

This is for the grad workshop -- for all of yall that wrote reviews of poetry books last semester --

Here are some places to try sending your revised reviews. It's honestly not impossible to imagine you guys being published in these places. Read some sample reviews and get a sense of the style and aesthetic and standard length before you send, and check over any guidelines. Anyone want to add some other review venues?

Rain Taxi, all-review magazine edited by Eric Lorberer. 500-word reviews. See guidelines.

Boston Review -- see submission guidelines. Microreviews are probably what you should try for with BR rather than the bigger essay-reviews; they're 300-350 words long. Sample microreview.

Galatea Resurrects, edited by Eileen Tabios. See guidelines. Contact Eileen by emailing her or commenting on the top post. Also scan the list below the guidelines to see whether there's anything there you'd like to review.

Jacket, edited by John Tranter. See guidelines. The home page says: "If you’d like to submit a review, article or interview, send a half-page synopsis with your return email address to "

Poetry Project Newsletter: I have written to Corina Copp, who's now editing reviews there, to ask about your submitting there. Will get back to you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


“In geology, subduction is the process
…at convergent boundaries
one tectonic plate moves
under another”(Wikipedia)

Recording Earthquakes

The trench forms volcanoes above
the subduction and water sweats out.

I think behind the face which called
from Japan (and brought back the coasters).

I told her love can interfere
where it’s hot; then injury and absence

are igneous corridors of wronged heat
extending down trenches--no dopamine.


"Lorenz…developed…fixed action patterns….
a fixed action pattern is…instinctive
indivisible …and runs to completion…
invariant and…produced by
a neural network…in response to…
(a)sign stimulus…from one individual
to another" (Wikipedia)

It’s not how you do it it's what you do,
because how is what.

War Chest
(Inner Demons)

Inner demons unify a poet’s target enemy,
And guerrilla work is work done on what’s left,
Of the cheating, awkwardness, and lethargy.
New utterance changes our fortitude into
A trembling adrenaline of being.
The age of despair is a loosening void
Now renewed towards a more current seeing.
And all that’s uncanny from old sublimations
Is now in a spoil-chest from an earlier war,
all that commotion from un-imprinting
oppressive tongues and their hallowed lore.
It’s a difficult age minus aged that’s become,
which leaves little room for the sum of before.

The Memorial

She no longer talks of how he refused
her father's help with the building a fire.
An arrow arcs then lingers below
water in its wake: the fire
Always quieting, a return that's different:
no bedsores, no womb swish, no sea lights at the synapse;
and smells electrical soften me
over to some sort of dimming; more dimming.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The failures of interdisciplinarity

or, Why ecocompositionists are IMHO missing the boat (in their own words):
Many of us working in ecocomposition have moved to this area of study through careers in composition studies. That is to say, ecocompositionists are, for the most part, compositionists who have brought their concerns for environmental protection and ecological literacy to composition classrooms and composition research. We have yet to identify the ecologist whose interest in writing has led him or her to ecocomposition.
--Sidney I. Dobrin and Christian R. Weissner, Natural Discourse: Towards Ecocomposition (SUNY Press 2002), page 58.
True interdisciplinarity reciprocates!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Warren Ellis on pretentiousness:
'We're deathly afraid of that stabbing word "pretentious," the word that students use to curse each other's ambition. It's a young person's word, a shortcut-to-thinking word.

I'm a big fan of pretension. It means "an aspiration or intention that may or may not reach fulfillment." It doesn't mean failing upward. It means trying to exceed your grasp. Which is how things grow.'

Publishing big and small

In "The Long Goodbye? The Book Business and its Woes," Elisabeth Sifton gives a compelling account of the book industry's accelerated demise, one that makes me wonder how small press poetry has responded and will respond in the short-to-medium run.

Herself a senior VP at FS&G, Sifton writes as a bibliophile who nevertheless spares no stern gaze upon her own industry; she is no technophobe but also clearly gets that we are subject to our technologies, and that change to the human species is being exacted in our move from print to screen and beyond:
for centuries books have been intimately woven into our
sense of ourselves, into the means by which we find out
who we are and who we want to be.... Books have had a
kind of spooky power, embedded as they are in the very
structures of learning, commerce and culture by which
we have absorbed, stored and transmitted information,
opinion, art and wisdom.
She recounts the consolidation and increasing monopolization of the book industry dating back to the 1960s, the more recently manifested "truly vast corporate fecklessness, which has brought us a world-historical economic meltdown that dwarfs everything," and the wretched business models with which mainstream publishers have limped along even before the now imminent collapse of print journalism.
Here I want only to stress that the loss of so many
book-review pages nationwide is crippling all aspects
of our literary life. And I mean all. Book news and
criticism were fundamental to the old model of book
publishing and to the education of writers; Internet
coverage of books, much of it witty and interesting,
does not begin to compensate for their loss.
And here I start to wonder how divergent our small press publishing practices really are. Surely, efforts by Rain Taxi, the Poetry Project Newsletter and the online Galatea Resurrects notwithstanding, our indy reviewing practices are also suffering -- as some 32 poets and critics (including yours truly) discussed in a recent online roundtable.

Sifton then points to the sheer glut of published product, pointing out how "Every week the trade bulletins report hundreds of new books being signed up, sometimes for absurd amounts of money, by dozens of publishers." Clearly money is rarely if ever at issue in the small press world, but one wonders what the stats would look like if all the small press product being published below the radar of the trade journals were included! "Self-indulgent excess doesn't go away," Sifton continues. "This exorbitance in the book sector, as in the gigantic financial and housing sectors, has been weakening our culture for decades." And again I can't help thinking, while her analogies to finance and housing are probably accurate in some respects but tenuous in most, that our alternative, avant-garde, experimental, innovative and non-mainstream publishing practices ought not even draw the remotest parallels to these rapacious megacorporate blunders.

Sifton goes on to the traditional gruntwork of a mainstream publisher (sexism duly noted, perhaps intentional on her part):
the editorial and advocacy work his staff did on behalf
of the nascent books, building an audience for them,
preparing the ground; the copy-editing, proofreading
and legal checks; the typographical designs devised
and manufacturing quality achieved; the efforts made
to get attention paid to, and sales consummated of,
books that might otherwise go unnoticed in the
noisy, trivializing, inattentive world where readers
Who among our small press publishers would refuse the same diligence (and relish a paid support staff) for similar notice from that small market segment of "the noisy, trivilizing, inattentive world" otherwise known as the national or even international small press poetry audience?

When her history of the book industry's ongoing demise arrives at the present, Sifton continues to pose interesting questions even if her outlook remains bleak at best:
In this dystopia, one can scarcely get attention paid
to new books except those that fit in with the flora and
fauna already found there. True, you can easily reach
niche audiences and specialty communities for your
oh-so-unique book, but what of the general culture?
How is your book being read? And in what manner might
you try--say, ten years from now--to write something
new? How will you know if it's any good? How will it
become known? Will it be a book?
But the bleakness of her outlook is predicated on some assumptions I do not share: that widespread attention to our work is not only desirable but necessary, that "niche audiences and specialty communities" are somehow less desirable in and for themselves than some presence in "the general culture" (whatever that is), that values and judgments of quality are best derived from sources (presumably "the general culture") outside the locality or the region of production and consumption, that notoriety is important, and that writing is somehow contingent upon and even exclusive to the form of the book.

I am most recently compelled by Lewis Mumford's 1967 call for efforts "that have been initiated by animated individual minds, small groups, and local communities nibbling at the edges of the power structure by breaking routines and defying regulations. Such an attack seeks, not to capture the citadel of power, but to withdraw from it and quietly paralyse it."

Sunday, May 31, 2009

back in our minds (again)

there was a word here
last resort
'portant as it was
my gosh
build your source on the bauble of rice
in a plaxo-taxic marriage vow
more on, that later

his own lights on means mild feathers
marry me boychik
don't force my synapse
barge again and again
i lil'
i's lil' a lil'
muh muh muh muh mumm
there was a word here
repeat ad naughtium

Saturday, May 30, 2009

An awkward song draft from the Caliche Poems

The Vertebrate Shuffle: or Mule Grinder’s Song

out on the Llano

short faced Arctodos simus

great shelled Geochelone

and teated Adelobasileus cromptoni

are doing it

Dicynodants and Aetosaurs

dancing in our dreams

Xenacanthus mooraiLeptostyrax macrorhiza

didn’t have’em and couldn’t do it

Creccoides osbornii

had ‘em but didn’t

while Capromeryx minimus was dainty

and good at it

the vertebrate shuffle

all the kids are doin’ it

all over the Llano

from the Pliocene to the Triassic

from the Cretaceous to the Pleistocene

come on now and do the shuffle

Borophages diversidensColognathus obscuras

Paleorhinus scurriensisTecovasuchus chaterjeei

Malerisaurus longstoni Leptosuchus crosbiensis

sediment n’ effluvium

all softly fossilized

Paleorhinus bransoniKoskinonodon prefectus

Rileymilleru cosgriffiRutiodon megalodon

Trilophosaurus buettneriLatiscopus disjunctus

all hoofing the shuffle

Turseodus dolorensisHemicalypterus

don’t got ‘em and don’t do it

Canis lepophagus

crepuscular or not

ate what it wanted

while squadrons of Platygonus bicalcaratus

did it in the brush

the vertebrate shuffle

all the kids are doin’ it

all over the Llano

from Muleshoe to Slaton

from Hale Center to Slide

come on now and do the shuffle

Palo Duro Canyon

Adobe Walls

Quita Que

White River

the Little Tule

Llano Dogtown Fork

it’s gonna be a vertebrate party tonight

Pachygenelus milleri

Adelobasileus cromptoni

Colognathus obscurus

Libognathus sheddi

Malerisaurus langstini

they are all vertebrates

and they’re doing it in Texas

Friday, May 29, 2009

Residents vs. inhabitants

"To a great extent, formal education now prepares its graduates to reside, not to dwell. The difference is important. The resident is a temporary and rootless occupant who mostly needs to know where the banks and stores are in order to plug in. The inhabitant and a particular habitat cannot be separated without doing violence to both. The sum total of violence wrought by people who do not know who they are because they do not know where they are is the global environmental crisis. To reside is to live as a transient and as a stranger to one's place, and inevitably to some part of the self. The inhabitant and place mutually shape each other. Residents, shaped by outside forces, become merely 'consumers' supplied by invisible networks that damage their places and those of others. The inhabitant and the local community are parts of a system that meets real needs for food, materials, economic support, and sociability. The resident's world, on the contrary, is a complicated system that defies order, logic, and control. The inhabitant is part of a complex order that strives for harmony between human demands and ecological processes. The resident lives in a constant blizzard of possibilities engineered by other residents. The life of the inhabitant is governed by the boundaries of sufficiency, organic harmony, and by the discipline of paying attention to minute particulars. For the resident, order begins from the top and proceeds downward as law and policy. For the inhabitant, order begins with the self and proceeds outward. Knowledge for the resident is theoretical and abstract, akin to training. For inhabitants, knowledge in the art of living aims toward wholeness. Those who dwell can only be skeptical of those who talk about being global citizens before they have attended to the minute particulars of living well in their place." -- David Orr, Ecological Literacy (1992) [article version]

Afield close by

Tyrone Williams interviewed by Brenda Iijima

Thursday, May 28, 2009

On bioregionalism

"We must create in every region people who will be accustomed, from school onward, to humanist attitudes, co-operative methods, rational controls. These people will know in detail where they live and how they live; they will be united in a common feeling for their landscape, their literature and language, their local ways, and out of their own self-respect they will have a sympathetic understanding with other regions and different local peculiarities. They will be actively interested in the form and culture of their locality, which means their community and their own personalities. Such people will contribute to our land planning, our industry planning, and our community planning the authority of their own understanding, and the pressure of their own desires. Without them, planning is a barren externalism."
-- Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities (1938)
from "Roaring Spring"

I will not be available so late
I’m suspicious, and I am darling you
holding your head, so sweet on you.

Sweet pomander. Salt your mouth.

Tell me no jughead ronnie’s gone

I was checking out books from the
inside of my head oval
room light at one end

A book about kiting

To make the banner language flap
on a long string
That will be
there/their, beautiful.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jade Hudson

Poetic Manifesto Draft 2

The Out of World Poet:

Must, 1, be willing to embrace the poem as both dissonant truth and beautiful lie-- the truth/lie being the poem's leniencies outside of its design, where its patterns yearn for destruction of patterns, where its self-destruction signifies its yearning for order, where its call to order is its own and its disobedience is its purpose.

Must 2, contemplate the following:

If I am the poet, I am the poem I write,
in that
my maker earnestly made me not as I can make myself

and I desire to make myself, in the absence
of how I am designed to be, truly

what I am meant to

Must, 3, view himself/herself as a creator incapable of designating poetic function; one can initiate the process, participate in eventual reapplication of the initiation (imitating the previous method of initiation), but cannot possess the process (manifested poem) itself.

In accordance with its nature, a poem cannot be controlled. This is because the poem must leave the realm of the artist's control to be considered written. A poem is recognized as a written (or at least executed) form. Therefore, one should not attempt to merely make poetry serve a personal objective, as poetry will belong to itself in its being executed.

Also, to impose a purpose onto poetry, after it has become such, robs it of its unique authority. The act is much like giving someone freedom, while enforcing quite contradictory sets of authoritative parameters. If it's controlled, it is not a poem (at least not yet), as "a poem" mandates a loss of control.

To create a poem with a function is to remove from the poem the function of the poem.

Must 4, realize that the poem exists as an alternate space, neither comprised (completely) of its initiation or its reception. It is capable of delivering initiated inclinations, but delivers them in accordance to its unique extension off of or upon its initiated path.

While a crate of unavoidably damageable goods can be carried from one continent to another, it is neither purely the packager of the goods nor the receiver of the goods that contributes to the shape of the goods. The vehicle in which the goods traveled from one destination to another is not merely a distance, but something of material. If the poem is an object handed from creator to reader, there is a moment where the poem is completely its own. When in transit, it belongs to neither hand. It is at this moment where it is under its own control (its design somewhat determines how its transfer is accomplished).

Poetry undeniably reflects a great amount of poet's inclination while, at the same time, reflecting attributes completely individual. These individual attributes are encapsulated in the extending half of the poetic form: which results from the poem's separation/ completion. Once a poem is beyond control, it gains an authority in its being a completion. This is much like a clone of a person. At the moment of separation, the clone is no longer a one, but a second, capable of being seen as a sum of attributes (both containing and) beyond those housed in the original.

We can call this poem an "Out-of-Poem" versus a "From-Poem," as the poem is not a product, but a whole new being.

Must 6, realize the poetic entity as neither the pure externalization of the internal or an externalization, but a construct of both (while neither completely). To say that a poem could exist without a poet would be ludicrous. Yet, to say that a poem could be received in strict adherence to the poet's wishes would be equally as inane.

A poem must remain ambiguous enough to call upon certain intended interpretations. A poem without ambiguity, at least in the poet's motive, suggests a comprehensiveness contrary to a poem. As readers of poems, we search for meaning. Though, more, we search for hidden meaning. When a poem is intended to mean nothing, we make nothing mean what we need it to (the poem loses all authority). When it means too much upfront, we don't see it as a poem (thus, it cannot function as such).

What is accomplished on the poetic stage is not merely what was intended for the stage or the acting out of what was intended. Instead, because of a poems ambiguity (a result of its essential purpose) a third area is created (the meaning of the show is not in its script and not in its being acted, but in the viewing of both simultaneously [still, neither in entirety]). The poem changes in relation to how it was let go, like how a bowling ball follows the curve of a hand when thrown down a hill. However, the bowling ball's reactions with rocks, further down the hill, have only a bit to do with the hand and a bit to do with the rocks. The shape of the ball as well as thrower and obstacles are what designate the course of the ball.

The conscious materialization of poetry is not materialization of poetry, but the synthesis of material that materializes itself.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Michelle Boisseau

I too attended Michelle Boisseau's reading, and I too found her work interesting and thought-provoking. Perhaps more interesting/provocative was her between-poem banter-- but onto the poems.

I respectfully disagree with Ellie's claim that Boisseau is interested in theology ("I don't believe a big mind regards all sparrows" [Monstrus]) or creating a "wholesome remembrance of the past"-- in fact, I'd say just the opposite is true. Boisseau does search for meaning, but that search is sidelined to a purpose for creating a mythos, an explanation of things she can hold onto. She puts herself in the role of God[dess] or at least prophet by exploring her family's geneaology then creating the (hi)stories from there. For instance, as Stepha and Steph pointed out, her extended poems about Gibson, a runaway slave owned by Boisseau's great-great-grandfather, ventriloquize both the grandfather's voices and Gibson's, in addition to using found language from the slave notice Boisseau senior posted. Boisseau crafts these poems carefully, but as Gibson says in his eponymous poem, "though you try to puppet me, what happened/ is not for you to know."

But that's the thing about poetry: "you play with the facts." So Boisseau continues her myth-making, from the creation of the world with "Hawaii's nipples steaming in the ocean" in "Elegy to Titanumus" to an exploration of both physical and psychological borders of "mountain ranges, threadbare frontiers" in "Across the Borderland, a Wind." It is here, outside of Boisseau's invented world-- here, reality-- that her authority falters; her position changes from god to observer. But it is here, for me, that her work is the most interesting; what Stepha calls confessionalism, I call apt description: "childhood is a nicked dark trunk/when you move, you move" ("Time Done Is Dark"), "full of petals-- feathers to the asphalt" ("Birthday") and smart wordplay: "spring snow sparking" ("Time Done is Dark"). Either way, Boisseau doesn't over-complicate or overstate; in "Ruminator", her narrator states plainly, "don't misunderstand/I am a cow...don't continue to misunderstand/there is a cow/there is a field."

Which seems, more than elegance, or spare beauty, or myth, to be the connecting thread between her poems: legibility. Whether making legible her own part in the responsibility of ancestor's sins or her place in this world, she plays with the facts but tells her stories straight.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bill Howe's Dickinson translations

It's been awhile since the S(W)OP partay, but I've been meaning to comment on Bill's Emily Dickinson translations... You all know I've been trying to figure out how to deal with this issue of violence that a poem (and poet) commits in its reconfiguration of materials taken from the world -- I think Chris was also talking about this in his presentation today, the question of what to filter out (the violence involved in choosing and/or rewriting history)... Anyway, after going to the translation lecture, I realized a lot of what I've been doing to "tribute" or "honor" the texts I'm rewriting is based on the same ethical dilemma many translators face. That is, while I'm not translating between languages, I do feel like I'm translating between texts. I suppose the only difference is that I often translate texts that are not (in my opinion) effectively communicating what they mean to communicate (or could communicate with a little tweaking :).

SO -- back to Bill. After the reading he talked about his rewriting of Dickinson's poems as translations "from English to English," at which point I was like "yes!" Then I started to think about how (or whether) Bill "honored" Dickinson's intent -- and I think I said this in class, but Bill's performance of the translations emphasized a lilting rhythm that echoed the iambic meter of Dickinson's poems. In other words, while Bill's translations weren't in iambic pentameter (I don't think), his reading of them emphasized a ghost of that meter. It was lovely. And I appreciated Bill's process more because it added that extra layer -- a conversation between the "new" and "old" texts.

A Performance Review of Rodrigo Toscano's "Collapsible Poetics Theater"

A Performance Review of Rodrigo Toscano's "Collapsible Poetics Theater"

Jade Hudson

After having read Toscano's "Collapsible Poetics Theater" for my book review, since which I have worked on with Rodrigo himself, I was eager to see a performance of it. During the Latino/Latina festival, my wish came true. However, the performances were much different than I had expected. When on the stage, the pieces change drastically. It will be the task of this short essay to examine how the performance of these pieces altered them.
When reading the book, I hadn't really thought about what Rodrigo's holding up the side of the stage would look like. Yet, in the first performance, when he came out and did this, it was interesting to see the franticness of this action. I immediately began thinking of the wall as an unbearable weight: Rodrigo put his back against it, suggesting that it was falling. There were also elements of Atlas coming into the piece. There seemed to be a jumping and picking of golden apples.
When it came time for Rodrigo to be the scarecrow, I realized a difference in this as well. While reading, I had not realized the importance of body positioning. The scarecrow is a figure manipulated by other entities. This is important, as a scarecrow isn't just a pair of clothes and straw: it is suggestive of a person.
Later, when I saw all four figures on stage with arms locked, I realized that bodies and positions of bodies were even more crucial. There were four interlocked entities struggling for their own way while succumbing to the directions of others. None of them were able to move either way. For my review revision, I further considered that the extent of bodily function and a desire to move beyond the limitations of the body suggested what was a greater theme of inflexibility.
In a sense, the movement of these figures on stage became an alternate text. The poetry in the book, as Toscano told me, is not meant to act as mere poetry. He desired for me to call it "poetic activity." With this in mind, it is especially easy, upon reflection, to see the movements of bodies to be crucial to the work.
The third piece, "Ecco Strato Static," was one that I wrote about in my review. How it differed from the other pieces, was in its immobility. I realized after the performance that this was the piece in the book I understood most. This is likely because it is more book based. But then, I thought, what was the purpose of its being acted? My answer to this question is that there was a need for the conversation to be witnessed. In other words, there was an absurdity in no movement. Moreover, even an immobility was highly suggestive.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Michelle Boisseau's Reading April 23

On Thursday evening while the sun was still up and Miami University students were still lounged in lawns enjoying an unusually pleasantly warm day, Michelle Boisseau’s performed many poems from her new book A Sunday in God-Years in Leonard Theater. She began her reading evoking the sweet fresh smells of the spring day with her poem “Birthday” which Michelle explained is “about a day like today”. Although not all the poems were like the pleasant budding spring day we enjoyed many engaged a fresh view of the poet’s world through their nature imagery. Hardly any of her poems escaped without a naturalist image. Even her poem “The Sad Book of Fun” which Boisseau with a humorous tone described as “sorta a view of the Bush Administration” didn’t escape without a “sunset” in the opening line. Boisseau’s commentary between poems made the reading quite enjoyable. She had a wonderful sense of humor that was both dry and witty but managed to honor the hard work of her poems and never was apologetic. Boisseau poems were frequently funny and she read them carefully without manipulating the tone of her written words.

Her long piece “A Reckoning” received many of these introductions that maintained seriousness rather than so much humor to honor their subject matter. In these poems, Boisseau raises questions about identity and her own feelings of guilt by confronting her ancestors’ participation in slavery. The poems are haunted by the voices Boisseau attributed to her ancestors and even by those they afflicted. Boisseau had just finished reading a poem that is in completely Gibson’s, a runaway slave, point of view of his recapture, when she explained her approach to mitigating the speakers of her poem. Through her poem Gibson she recognizes her part in speaking for a person who was already oppressed in his own time. Her poem “Gibson” confronts the problem of speaking for another when one of her poem’s speakers, Gibson, confronts his author by saying “though you try to puppet me/ what happened to me is not/ for you to know.”

Boisseau shared that she was once from Cincinnati and now lived near the border of Kansas and Missouri. One of the last poems Boisseau read was “Across the Borderlands, the Wind”. To introduce the poem, Boisseau discussed her hometown Cincinnati as a borderland, claiming that to her growing up “Columbus always seemed safe, because you’re surrounded by other Ohioans”. Although, her introduction was light hearted the poem is quite serious about it’s subject matter. Occasionally though she let in a little humor like when she writes “By war, treaty, algebra and surveyors in knee britches.” Her line starts off so serious with war then the poet smartly leaves of with the silly surveyors just doing their job in knee britches. For Boisseau the issue of boundaries is a curious one and one worth pondering as I did in the following days of her reading.

Michelle Boisseau

In her latest book, A Sunday in God-Years, Michelle Boisseau writes of her family’s personal legacy in the Southern tobacco plantation and slave trade of Pre-Civil War Virginia. Though there are short digressions, her work is mainly concerned with genealogy and her ancestors’ direct involvement with the trafficking of human beings. Perhaps most interestingly, she plays with monologue and point of view, writing from both the persona of an escaped slave a distant relative actually owned in 1834 and the point of view of various Boisseaus of yesteryear.
Due to her overt abolitionist stance and the guilt she seems to feel for her family’s transgressions, much of the work comes across as a sort of lyrical tirade with a painfully self-aware Boisseau at the center of the shame. She quite literally seeks to embody the voices of centuries past and in doing so, manages to shoulder the moral responsibilities for the Boisseau bloodline. But why are we, the audience, meant to care about the poet’s familial ties to the antebellum South? Why should we relate to her guilt and grief? Would a confessional reading of Boisseau provide insight as to the value and merit of what is perhaps shortsighted work when it comes to a topic that historically takes itself very seriously?
Confessional poetry is characterized by its intimate, personal, and often, embarrassing, ties to the poet’s life. Typically frank and full of self-loathing, this genre addresses difficult subject matters (such as mental illness, suicide, sexuality, and relationships) and chaotic cognitive patterns. Confessional poetry, could, on an extremely basic level, be described as the poetic airing of dirty laundry.
In the poem, “The Subscriber,” Boisseau writes from the point of view of the aforementioned relative who has just violently assaulted a man whom he has mistaken for his runaway slave:

…I’m on him and he’s hollering, Mercy,
Mercy as my cane snaps across his back,
my foot greets his head. When I go to turn
him over, his arm feels too beefy, too slack
the skin around his neck

This violent recollection is reminiscent of a confessional passage, yet it is a persona that Boisseau has created based on some historical documents she has discovered in her genealogical endeavors. While this scene did not occur (that we know of) and is therefore not personally connected to Boisseau’s immediate life, she positions herself as an extension of her predecessor. We are therefore able to glimpse Boisseau’s remorse and emotions surrounding slavery through the retelling of this scene. She is, after all a sharer of the Boisseau surname and the medium through which this tale is told.
The slave owner-Boisseau most likely would not feel remorse for his case of mistaken identity, yet at the end of the poem, he stands wistfully back to reflect rather ambiguously on his misguided attack. While he does not overtly condemn his own brash behavior, he certainly doesn’t overtly respect or revere it either:

…Something like
Gibson’s coat. Two boys loading lumber in a cart
catch me looking around and style
themselves reading the grain in a board.
Sleeping in the day. This one was a laggard.

While the last passage is open for interpretation, one thing is for certain: Boisseau serves as mediator and manipulator of history.
In tingeing the historical with her personal belief system and writing of infamously “confessional” topics, Boisseau writes from a confessional perspective. While this personal involvement is what might be analyzed as an unjust rewriting and thus redirecting of the past, it may serve as more of a poetic vehicle for the personal airing of grief and the long-suffered implications of patriotism and the ways in which the past informs the present in terms of both national and personal identity. Boisseau may deviate substantially from the tradition of confessional poetry on the surface, but at the root of the poetry is the inherent desire to confess to sins she has committed through association with distant relatives. This, in turn, renders her “confessional by association,” allowing for audience acceptance of the domestic nature of her work.

Boisseau's Reading

After attending Michelle Boisseau’s reading of work from “A Sunday in God-Years” one of the most interesting aspects of her poetry was her combination of theology and history. While theology may be self-explanatory with the title, the history is a little bit more intriguing. Boisseau often references her own personal relatives (usually greatly extended) and from this creates stories that entertain a “wholesome remembrance of the past.” While Boisseau’s poetry is heavily weighted in the past, she also appears to have taken a critical look at the present and the future. One of her poems includes a reference to 9/11 in which she states “the future isn’t what it used to be.” Boisseau’s inclusion of history is interesting in respect to her choice of titles. “A Sunday in God-Years” was meant to be in regards to a “universe transpiring in a nodding nap in God’s mind.” I feel that perhaps Boisseau’s uses this metaphor of “a universe” in order to express her ideas about the past and her wariness about the present and future. By including “Sunday” and “God” she is also able to attach her themes of theology which run through many of her poems.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poetry Manifesto

Joe Hess/ Poetry Manifesto/ 4-10-09

Grey Lamp:
a name of “function”, given a descendent of a lost race,
who lives in a time lost of function.
This time is a beginning

imagined to be void of function;
in our imagined time
“They Lion grow.” -Philip Levine

The Good Stuff!
The space (metaphorically speaking) between a poet’s creation of textual artifice and the audience’s sudden sense of the poet voice(or other) textually processing human emotion, for my purposes here—what happens in that space is the good stuff!
However, how much of the good stuff in a poem is the artifice of creative control, and how much is emotional honesty, without the reins of personal design?

Does the poet’s human fear of permanent silence, finally outweigh the poet’s self-censoring craftsmanship in the name of control?
Is the poet finally forced to face, process, and produce from exposure to loss--
suddenly knowing
suddenly having
loss simultaneously.

A poem is
unannounced, yet observed
outside its time and place,
clarifying the blurring of an
overrated melody

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sasha Steensen's The Method

Method is a life. A valuable child corrupted, animal at times, an apathetic old man. In this way, Method is “his own his/ And no one else’s,” but he isn’t always. Rather, he begins as The Method, an ancient manuscript written by Archimedes and having something to do with infinitesimals, a lever, and the center of gravity. In other words, Method is an object until Sasha Steensen comes along, gives him a heart in her latest.

In MORROW-HEARTED METHOD DREAMS, The Method is introduced as a beached whale, “stuck and nudged/ into each side / by curious vacationers.” Recently awakened, he recalls fragments of a life seemingly dreamt.

Ganging to remember

how he ate stars

how his liver escaped out his anus

and the sun rose through his genitals

Here, The Method remembers himself as the mathematician’s manuscript, an object with human parts. And so continues the first half of Steensen’s book in its attempt to relate the history of a living text. The Method is made into a “he,” a character-object with memories and emotions but without agency. Left to the will of others, the Method is written on, abducted, stolen from, corrupted, and eventually made indifferent.

While The Method’s history is not necessarily presented in chronological order, Steensen’s characterization of Method as both child and man suggests that the the object-as-character moves through time. UNDER THE LEA OF THE SPANKER describes the relationship between the Method and his early master, how “Archimedes took the Method to his knee/ until his bottom half resembled a raging fire.” Similarly, he is stolen from a museum by a “nightly visitant” who “lifts his teddy bear from his grip, gently.” However, as the Method is exposed to the violence of genocide, war, and present-day “methods/ of torture,” he is morphed from a child into a dangerous animal-man, “slinking down some alley/ back to some second century, licking his chops.” In this way, Steensen equates the creation of an object to the creation of an identity.

In THE FUTURE OF AN ILLUSION, this equation is complicated when The Method becomes Method, a character created by Sasha Steensen. Surprisingly, Steensen acknowledges the complication, shifts from verse to prose and suggests, “Perhaps I could use my own words just this once and make Method mouth what I desire.” In the same poem we learn that “Method had to eat his relatives during a long winter lost in the mountains...used his own pages to kindle the fire.” Here, Method seemingly scraps his identity in order to survive. However, the following section beginning “There is no reason to return home” suggests “memory becomes a cord connecting us to this house, feeding us, and we recognize that we will probably die here.” Perhaps this is why, in METHOD INTERVIEWS A MONK, the Method asks, “What tools are used for the Liturgy of the Catechumens?” and the monk responds, “The asterisk and the disc, the spoon, the spear, and the oblation.” Despite the history separating Method from his original creator, Archimedes and his symbols resurface every now and then.

Steensen's assertion of this eternal, umbilical connection to “home” is a seeming comfort until it becomes clear Archimedes would turn in his grave if he saw Method today. In his old age, Method is lazy and apathetic. “From his beach blanket, he sees great distances of lives, a mass of withering lintels & wattles & lemmings. Luckily, the tide rises and pulls it all under. He rolls over, sunning his other side.” Method, “scratching himself slowly in solemn spots,” is “rotten and stinking up the world’s libraries” while his master has become the powerless one. In this way, Steensen equates the relationship between creator and object to that of parent and child, and, despite her assertion that “Everyone insists that I will write about pregnancy, but I won’t,” implicates herself as a parent hesitant to cut the cord.

That Method is the child becomes clear in STRANGER AT THE GATES which describes a relationship between master and servant that ends in bitterness.

I say what you want me to say.

I say how brave.

I say how clever.

I say how we went together


How you loved me.

How we became a we

and I died and you lived on

restored and pretty.

Here, “I” begins as the servant, object, or identity to be instructed by “you” and ends as the disempowered creator who is no longer able to influence her creation. Accordingly, in WEST EATS MEAT, Method becomes “Master Method,” a monster unrecognizable to “We” who end up eating his carcass. And so we are left to wonder how we might protect our creations if we do not recognize them as our own. The separation must happen, though, as is suggested by Method’s beheading in ME THEE ODES.

He is himself about the ground,

rolling and wild

with his




And while bits of Method’s past or past lives might filter through from time to time, his connection to those fragments is never completely restored. In THIS PLAIN PLACE Method empathizes with a bandicoot searching its empty pouch.

He understood the animal’s sorrow

to find plainly and without denial

emptiness where a relation ought to be

Just as Method cannot simply have his hair follicles transplanted in order to restore his “old self,” and just as a rag baby is no substitute for “her bare foot from the inside,” The Method is irreplaceable.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Poem According To World

I’ve been asked what each poem and world are made of and might start here

and might end they are made of the same thing which is text

Poetry should avoid using that should avoid accusation as a poem is the guiltiest thing there is. Poems are cannibals, but they’re sorry.

You might be worried I think poems aren’t made of language.

No worries. Poems are made of language.

Do you think you’d know a cranberry seeing it for the first time without language? I’d say no. Then I’d gather all the red things and crush them into paint to show you and feel sorry. Because the cranberry would be gone.

At least you’d recognize the color. Do you think a cranberry intends to be a cranberry?

Let’s say Mother made the cranberry. Now what? Let’s say I’m writing this.

If we assume everything is simultaneously mother and mothered, how might a poem made of language indicate that without upsetting its conscience? How might a woman

You might be worried I think women are poems.

While women were once made of poems, most have realized poems are cannibals and are asking for their parts back.

But like I said, poems have consciences now.

A poem with a conscience realizes it shares material with the world and does not take without giving back. A poem with a conscience acknowledges the mother while rearranging the mothered’s skins on its back. A poem might spare the heart, a lymph node for instance.

I, Jade Hudson, have been labeled Daedalus

I don't know why, but yeah...

The previous post is mine.

The Out of World Poet:

Must, 1, be willing to embrace the poem as both dissonant truth and beautiful lie-- the truth/lie being the poem's leniencies outside of its design, where it's patterns yearn for destruction of patterns, where it's oblivious self-destruction signifies its yearning for order. Where its call to order is its own, where its disobedience is its purpose.

Must 2, contemplate the following:

If I am the poet, I am being the poem I write,
in that
my maker earnestly made me not as I can make myself

and I desire to make myself, in the absence
of how I am designed to be, truly
what I am meant to


reject what the writer is to the poem
and care not.

Must, 3, view himself/herself/itself as a creator incapable of designating interpretation; A beginning of a process, a participant in eventual reapplication of the process, but not the process itself. The provider, a one provided for, but never the providence. To construct art "to be for the sake of institution" is no more creating "institution" than simply creating being. To create art with a function is to remove from the art the function of art.

While art can serve a function, its function neither exhibits the purified intention of the creator or the intention of the perceiver. While a crate of unavoidably damageable goods can be carried from one continent to another, it is neither purely the packager of the goods nor the receiver of the goods that contributes to the shape of the goods. The vehicle in which the goods traveled from one destination to another is not merely a distance, but something of material.

Must 4. See poetry as an opportunity in which the material intended (in relation to material understood) predestines the creation of counter ground. No matter what a poet seeks to employ in his/her poetry, success or failure (as it is wrongfully sought out) can only be witnessed from a moment separate than both creation and re-perception. The poem, when existent on the page, has become a separated clone of the writer's intention (an Out-of-World) (a construct of both its replicated half and a new half gained though its separate existence).

Must 5, realize the relationship of what was internal and what has become the externalization of what was internal, as neither the pure externalization of the internal or an externalization, but also an alternate "internal" based upon its exhibitionist quality. What is accomplished on a stage is not merely what was intended for the stage or the arena (the stage) where what was intended happened. Instead, a poem has the capability of being a third area (one which is created through the unavailability of a solid transfer). The concept of "the poem" becomes more or less, less in the more, more in the less, more in the more, or less in the less "the poem" when it becomes "the poem." The conscious materialization of poetry is not materialization of poetry, but the synthesis of material that materializes itself.

Thus, the Out of World poet, who seeks to better understand the inner world of poetry as an outsider, must 4, allow the poem to materialize itself. How the poem materializes itself in the minds of multiple others (though direct relation or through relationship) must be upheld as the creation of a successful, organic, self-sustaining creation. An act as simple as denying the poet's self is not the correct course of action, as this negates the poem's ability to relate to its creator.

Yet, understanding the poem as a mere relationship between artistic consciousness and page is restrictive to the unique relationship the poem comes to obtain through being perceived. The Out of World poet should not merely produce to understand self, as the poem is an opportunity to create an alternate self much more easily understood, and thus, of much more consequence.