Sunday, March 22, 2015

Danny Hayward's People (review)

How to exit the prison house of certain historical circuits between Marxist- Hegelianism and poetry (from Shelley to Symbolism to Objectivism and Lang Po to post-Occupy)? Or, twisting the words of Stuart Hall, what would a Marxist poetry “without guarantee” look like?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Renée Green's Other Planes of There (review)

"There is a curious time sense in this book, which has been organized so that we may regard the ways that research, criticism, documentation, and various aesthetic processes feedback with one another, cultivating modes of meta-discourse."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


They’re fucking with the corpses again
Fucking up the corpses
Fucking with the bodies
Plagiarizing the body count

They’re cutting up the text again
Like his body was a metaphor
Like the text weren’t literal
Like his body wasn’t literal

They’re meddling with things
They understand too well
The unremarkable genitalia
The sad objects of control

Taking up the space that should have been reserved
For corpses, their rumored fosse, their
Poorly marked graves and their graves
In the water in the air

The disaster was only a text to you
It was never actual flesh
It was not like the flesh they cut into
Like a promise and a threat

To some day fuck back
Into unprecedented orifices
With unforeseen organs
Until death wasn’t yet

Like a future we could feel
Having only this present
They’re fucking with the corpses
They’re making the corpses into art

Pretending readymade is not another
Name for discovery, pretending they’re not
Subjects and he wasn’t turned into an object
Taking his last breath

They’re pretending there’s no correlation
Between the contextual and the real
How they will tweet about them fucking him
How a network will treat his second death.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

For Lee Lozano

Where’d you go, Lee?
There are performances and then there are performances
Like art was always speculation
Like this was a speculation
On how to be a self
A woman, how to be a woman
To stop circulating
In anything but your present
Would resist art’s alibi
Like the self was the last thing
You could quit
Last form of capital
Boycotting your self

In the 70s everyone became a punk
Because identity was the last thing one could destroy (faced with the world’s destruction)
To unmake the image of everything, everyone
To do this through image-making
Then destruction itself became a means of identity
How to locate art’s destructive character?

Because you wouldn’t want to be part of any club that would…
Because you hardly have anything in common...
The name keeps changing, its appearance in a flux riven
The series of names that you were
Every name in her story
Those airless spaces where you continued being born
Motherless except for one letter
All that was left
An exchange of lack withdrawn by a lack of exchange

Like Andrew found all of Hannah’s books and effects thrown to the curb after she died
Death is only the beginning of the artist’s ‘career’
The artist is not present
Or if they are, the discourse is trashed

Question: what is the difference between abjection and dejection and rejection?
Answer: a prefix.
Answer: a different way to destroy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Destroy, She Said (3/7 @ The Boiler)

Decay, Dissolution, and the Anticipatory
Readings, performances, and exhibition Ethan Spigland, Saul Anton, Ira Livingston, Thom Donovan, Melissa Buzzeo, Carl Zimring, May Joseph, Julie Patton, Laura Elrick, and others

March 7th, 5:30-7:30 
The Boiler (Williamsburg, BK)                        

An exhibition, along with an evening of short readings, performances, demonstrations on the theme of aesthetic, ecological, deliberate, and incidental destruction, decay, and dissolution. Open to the public.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Valentine After Madeline Gins

Where is the wind wandering
Is it weeping where
Swallows be I also swoon
For sweet seconds
For secondness itself
Wondering what have you took
What surfeit of waves of sound
What whitening song crest
What slowed breathing
Was sound to a mole
Weak switchboards of who we were
How we sweated extension
And were sometimes the sweeter for
The between of things
That quip and persuade
Shimmying my windows
Wilding a soul’s haloed elopements
Seeing to it that I get swept up
Sluiced by swell weave
By unseen shibboleths swift map weather
Until every world be ceased
Until we be watery wastes
Wrecked on salvages by no one’s will
Only the swish of a logo
Silencing my kisses.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The Poetics of Disability (syllabus)

The Poetics of Disability

“We have not yet determined what a body can do.”—Baruch Spinoza

“My body is the problem.”—Amber DiPietra

Course Description The 17th Century Dutch Philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, wrote that “we have not yet determined what a body can do,” thus foreshadowing many of the problems of modern scientific and medical discourse. I would like to take his comment in an affirmative sense, in the spirit of the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari whom often quoted this very phrase—that specific bodies contain capacities unbeknownst to us which may advance our knowledge about the world, but that they may also challenge definitions of “the human” which have worked against a more inclusive and just society. In the first weeks of this course we will consider how modernist aesthetics are forged through thinking about disability. Particularly important will be Viktor Shklovsky’s notion of “enstrangement,” which he recognizes in his essay “Art as Device” as a defining effect of poetic language, and Martin Heidegger’s idea of “conspicuousness,” which facilitates knowledge of a thing’s essence. To what extent may these texts allow us to explore disability as an aesthetic problematic echoing modernist preoccupations with a discourse of the senses, formal innovation, difficulty, estrangement, and constraint? Do the tropes of alienation and sensual derangement so fundamental to modernist aesthetic practices anticipate a generative principal embodied by certain disabilities? To what extent, perhaps most importantly, do the bodies of specific modernist practitioners necessitate innovation as a result of their embodiment? Following this we will encounter a series of texts that may help us to problematize “ableism”—any thinking or practice that essentializes human capability, often in the service of the oppression of a particular group—and explore how discourse about disability undergirds our most fundamental social, political, ethical, and aesthetic practices. From these theoretical premises, we will move to a robust discourse from the past 60 years regarding poetics and disability, and encompassing a range of practices, communities, and cultures. Beauty is a Verb, a recently published anthology edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northern, will help us to historicize how discourse of and about disability has evolved, from early practitioners such as Larry Eigner and Josephine Miles, to contemporary poets identified as disabled, including Bartlett, Jordan Scott, David Wolach, Denise Leto, Amber DiPietra, and others. To what extent does disability radicalize poetry as a field, especially claims for innovation traditionally made by an “avant-garde” and its critical proponents? To what extent, as well, may a poetics of disability help us to interrogate the ableist unconscious of modernity?

Required Texts

Beauty is a Verb 
Hannah Weiner’s Open House 
Jennifer Bartlett’s Autobiography/Anti-autobiography 
Amber DiPietra’s and Denise Leto’s Waveform 
Jordan Scott’s Blert 

Highly Recommended:
Michael Davidson’s Concerto for the Left Hand 
Alison Kafer’s Feminist Queer Crip 
Petra Kuppers’ The Scar of Visibility 
Tobin Siebers’ Disability Theory 
Signing the Body Poetic 
The Disability Studies Reader (4th Edition) 


Week 1

Readings: Selections from Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time and Victor Shklovsky’s Theory of Prose (PDF)

Week 2

Readings: Selections from Tobin Siebers’ Disability Theory and Michael Davidson’s Concerto for the Left Hand (PDF)

Week 3

Readings: Selections from Robert Kocik’s Supple Science: “Overcoming Fitness” and “Enwreathing Developmental Difficulty and the Feldenkrais Method” (PDF)

Week 4

Readings: Selections from Madeline Gins’ Helen Keller or Arakawa (PDF)

Week 5

Readings: Beauty is a Verb pages 15-85

Week 6

Readings: Beauty is a Verb pages 89-164

Week 7

Readings: Jennifer Bartlett’s Autobiography/Anti-autobiography and Larry Eigner selections (PDF and online TBA)

Week 8

Readings: Aaron Williamson’s Hearing Things (PDF) and Signing the Body Poetic selections (PDF)

Week 9

Readings: Hannah Weiner’s Open House

Week 10

Readings: Beauty is a Verb pages 257-365

Week 11

Readings: Selections from Eleni Stecopoulos’ Armies of Compassion and David Wolach’s Hospitalogy (PDFs)

Week 12

Readings: Jordan Scott’s Blert & Amber DiPietra’s and Denise Leto’s Waveform

Week 13

Readings: Introduction to Alison Kafer’s Feminist Queer Crip

Week 14

--Presentations of final work.


Further Readings

Duriel Harris’ Amnesiac
Lisa Robertson’s “On Form”
Catherine Pendergrast’s “Unexceptional Schizophernic”
Pattie McCarthy’s nulls
Peter Reading’s C
Amelia Baggs’ In My Language
Kit Schluter’s “Bamboo Spine Notebook”
Yosefa Raz’s “Reading Pain in the Book of Job” (collected in The Book of Job: Aesthetics, Ethics, Hermeneutics; ed. Batnitzky and Pardes)
Denton Welch’s A Voice Through a Cloud
James Schuyler’s “The Payne Whitney Poems”
Virginia Woolf’s “On Being Ill”
John Donne’s “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions
Stephanie Gray’s Heart Stoner Bingo
Adrienne Rich’s Tonight No Poetry Will Serve
Hillary Gravendyk’s Harm

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Club

Like in the club
I must imagine
All the people
Waving their arms
In the air
But without arms
Without even an idea
Of what the body is

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Introduction for Robert Kocik, 1/21/2015, at the Poetry Project

When I despair of calling myself a poet, and of the state of contemporary poetry at large and within the communities with whom I feel the clearest sense of affinity, I often look to Robert Kocik’s work as a kind of balm, if not an antidote, for what ails me. To quote some of his own language—his work makes our cases “acute,” rather than “chronic,” intensifying the conditions of a dis-eased collective body, treating the patient with the help of a prosodic pharmacy. Where much poetry stops short at rhetorical pyrotechnics and immanent critique, his own seeks to transform the very character of our bodies and spirits through prosodic expression.

The artist Andrea Fraser once famously declared that something is art if she declares it such. In a similar spirit, Ben Kinmont and other contemporary artists have wondered what happens when the artist “becomes something else,” which is to say, assumes a different occupation or mode of living. Like Fraser and Kinmont, Robert seeks poetic practice in an expanded field that may make visible if not somewhat ridiculous the various thresholds of poetic discourse traditionally defined in terms of lyrical persona, page poetry, and inherited models of performance. More radically, he identifies the thresholds where poetry passes into science, architecture, medicine, and choreography, redefining the role of the poet through practical activity.

Given the ambitious if not impossible scope of Robert’s lifework, it is not surprising that he gives poetry readings so infrequently and has published so sparingly. This makes witnessing him perform his work solo all the more astonishing. Where the intentions of the prosody, which would attempt to influence our genetic expression and overturn the foundations of our legal and political conduct, become instantly felt through his use of phonemics, incantation, and amulets. Much like watching Daria Fain dance her own choreography, with Robert’s rare reading appearances it is as if hearing his prosody, a communalized property of myself and his many other collaborators, return to its point of origin—uncannily appropriate.

It is common knowledge that the human brain, except in cases of psychic phenomena and extreme experience, harnesses only a small portion of its total potential. Similarly, as Robert points out, the range of poetic expression is severely circumscribed by the vast majority of poetic practices that would not seek a more expansive exploration of prosody, the prosodic encompassing a totality of potential within and without embodiment, on and off the page, in silence and in articulation. I hope you will hear the sound of that potential tonight with me.