Friday, February 26, 2010


--for Steve Collis

Spilled in the language's veins
A militant regard
When will it be
A tool for something other

Than exchange watching us fuck
Them up in the dance with
Forces again
The city shine with it

Little estates make a little
Shit out of me
You are everything
To me dear abstractions fleeting

View of the thing from the thing
In itself trees move with us
Our disappearance
We disappear the world thus

Appears flashes with
Thoughts spreading in these leaves
Bifurcating futures
Like elements huckleberrying

Like language sometimes
Squats in us.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Three Proposals (@ Harriet)


“Not let this story dry” (aka “The Dolors of Glenn Beck” or “Instant Tears”), will take up a proposition from Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics: “The more an affect is known to us, then, the more it is in our power, and the less the Mind is acted on by it.” I would like to re-present Beck as a series of affects in order that the Mind (consciousness, cognition) may become less reactive, more prepared for action and reflection. Participants in the performance will be provided with a few basic instructions: the first, to watch Beck videos on YouTube and to memorize three or more of his gestures; the second, to select footage of Beck’s speech and gestures at their most pathetic/histrionic; the third, to practice these gestures and speeches together and separately (as if to separate language-track and image-track) until they feel like the gestures/speech become more of less involuntary, something they can perform without having to think about them, that their muscle memories have assimilated.

Robin Tremblay-McGaw on ON

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Others Letters: Dana Ward (@ Harriet)


"So much to say, but one thing I’m curious as to yr thinking is the sort of standardized sense of how poetry becomes public. I’ve noticed, both in listening to your reading the other morning, & then in reading some of your notes at Harriet, perhaps in some of the comment fields there, that you talk about the absence of a standard trade edition of your work, or have a sense of its belatedness/potential, depending. Very interested in you talking about how Wild Horses of Fire performed some of that work in advance of/in tandem with the absence of, a more normative mode of tech. bringing it into the world–the perfect bound book. What’s your sense of the latter’s import outside of its obvious practical use–having a physical object to put into the hands of others. Do you think/write at the scale of ‘the poetry book’ as it stands as currently administered thing 80-150 pages? As someone in a place similar to you–a lot of poetry with no real physical center of gravity–wondering what your desires are to this end? I have a nagging sense of dissatisfaction, centered primarily around the fact that the work I make rarely wants to open out over the course of 60 pgs. Shorter interrelated quasi-serial works, more like constellations really, seem for me to be the way correspondence/ togetherness exerts its magnetisms between poems. Then there’s really from there but a ’stack dump’ of shorter books into this form. Vexing! Always this beautiful problem of how to be public, my favorite problem."
--Dana Ward


--after Kathy Westwater and Jennifer Scappettone

I want to make a park with you
Make a campfire in the park
Like Mylar crinkles like light is durable
The light that unmakes us

I want to make a fort where
Melody was and our voices were
Where our voices became a
Collective cry in the lost air
And yet uplifted and yet
Somehow spoken

To me not in heaven yet
Not into its hands
Nor enclosed the voices we do
The fences we tend to also a kind
Of unmaking

Bodies full of pain remake
The world because they are not just
A language never were they full
Of grace the toxins structuring us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Teaching Etel Adnan's The Arab Apocalypse (@ Harriet)


"Opposing the volcanic with the solar, Adnan evokes the power of the immanent as a power outshining the light of the sun. This power will produce a kind of interruption—an apocalypse—of the human that may lead to a night of “peace and knowledge” (a wish the book closes with). The volcanic moon will be brought down to earth—its cratered surface (only recently territorialzied by US astronauts at the time Adnan is composing her book) a mirror of the earth’s own volcanic surfaces—and through this inversion (both a geological one and a mystical one) an apocalyptic solar night will remember those of the Civil War. An impossible remembrance. The remembrance of occlusion, of occult discourse. A remembrance of the body which experiences the pain of the cosmos–the ears becoming little suns, the eyes becoming little suns. What Jalal Toufic calls “undeath”; undeath as a condition of possibility for remembrance, and for bearing witness to human and non-human (cosmic, terrestrial) cruelty. Jalal Toufic in his talk last week at St. Mark’s Poetry Project told me that to deserve the event (the event which is the disaster of the Lebanese Civil War and other all-too-human disasters) requires that one have collaborators. Evoking terrestrial forces–calling them “I,” saying “I” brings them forth–both C├ęsaire and Adnan make the earth their collaborator, their texts/persons solar anuses (little suns shooting out of every orifice)."

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

ON Contemporary Practice vol. 2 Bay Area Launch

ON Contemporary Practice vol. 2 launches tomorrow at Moe's Books in Berkeley, CA.

Here's my write up about the event and vol. 2 at Harriet.

Those little pricks

Those little pricks
You make in a palimpsest
Of resent and loneliness
Called notes to the self

All rhetoric no eyes
To account for big
Exclusion no where out of
Nothing does one speak

To themselves as though
Among others I will not call
This community shouting
Over you all I hear is me.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Commoning (Tomorrow 1-4PM at LMCC, NYC)

Commoning: How Things Hold Together And How The Way In Which We're Currently Going About Things As A Society Is Not How Things Hold Together

—part 2 of a practical discussion about common interest, the economy, and the social production of artwork

It started and it's alive. The meeting continues every two weeks, same place, starting at 1pm. You can join at any point - bring questions.

Sunday , February 7th 2010 - 1pm to 4pm

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
125 Maiden Lane, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10038

RSVP* and bring a photo ID required for security desk protocol
(*email:daria [at] prosodicbody [dot] org)

***Also, go see The End of Poverty? A documentary, call to movement, global analysis of poverty and what's needed to end it. And check out a growing reading list.****

the following is a letter composed by Robert Kocik:

Greetings to Each of Us—to those who attended last Sunday’s commoning meeting, to those who did not attend, and to those who may attend next Sunday’s meeting,

First, to thank everyone who came to the talk and helped flesh-out the idea of the commons and get the LMCC residency going. The discussion, for me, as it took on a life of its own, corroborated the need to work in common and to create integrative forms that work toward our mutual and greatest good. I’ve received some incredible feedback since—the discussion has essentially remained open and ongoing. I’ll be setting up a group list and a blogsite allowing anyone to tune in or input at any time. For now, in preparation for the next meeting, I want to post a list of actions or practices or procedures or upayas that I'm planning relative to this residency. I didn’t mention my personal intentions during last Sunday’s talk because I didn’t want to over-determine the direction of the commons discussion. Perhaps the nature of the meeting lacked some definition as a result. I also realize that my inability to presume the needs I have within my work, or your needs within yours, can become the needs of another—that our works can become each other’s work—is part of the problem with mutuality; the individualism, egoism, isolationism, and seeming primacy of privateering. In any event, here is my abbreviated list—offered as suggestions for inciting your own needs.

Commonly yours,


Putting together this two-veined exhibition will be my primary focus. I want this show to be museum-grade, incredibly well-researched, artifact-rich, graphically compelling, along with intermittent speakers and symposia. Think of it like as an exhibition with accompanying catalogue—big-public-and-press-seeking, dissemination oriented, dissidence in disguise. The LMCC space is the workroom and pilot space for the growing exhibition. A vast work. If anyone wants to join me, I’d be thrilled. Right now I’m trying to partner with Bill Moyers’ Backbone Campaign and CUP, to pick up energy. Seeing the economy as an enclosure for the few who benefit most through its privatization, and working toward due share of net wealth.

The destitute south is financing the affluent north—Sub-Saharan Africa pays $25,000 per minute to northern creditors. As I mentioned at the talk last Sunday, the eradication of poverty would take care of the entire society—instead of focusing on the middle class (demand economy) or the rich (supply-side, trickle-down economy—the belief that the health of the financial sector is the precondition for popular prosperity), both of which are well-tested failures. I’ve provisionally named this third economy the ‘commensurate economy’ and the ‘consequence-side economy', as well as ‘epiekeian economy’ (after Aristotle). Action that does not treat the ‘bottommost’ is complicit with conditions that create and maintain disparity (or as T. Paine stated, the complacent ‘adopt the crime’). In NYC there are 40,000 people in the shelter-system and 350,000 doubled-up households. I had invited the organization called Picture the Homeless (PTH) to speak at last Sunday’s meeting. No one showed, but it certainly would have been a different day had the homeless faction been at the table. PTH wants the streets as true commons. They work to overturn Giuliani’s fascist Quality of Life Regulations and seeks to make policy changes that serve to enact a more equitable housing program. What are the poets doing about gross maldistribution? Right where Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and Paul Wellstone left off—revive and invigorate the FDR Economic Bill of Rights (“necessitous people are not free people”). As things stand right now, we’re on the Larry Summers plan—successful countries depend upon a satisfied and ever so slightly improving middle class. If Obama has mentioned the poor since being elected, I haven’t happened to have been listening at the time—proceeding from the perspective of poverty is obviously not viable U.S. policy.

Form a concertable force. Bring our skills to bear on need. Against the politics of incarceration? Throw in with. Show up for. Voice it so it is so. Who’s out there we can support and work along with? With whom do we have common cause? The reason poets have no weight in the society is that they’re not throwing their weight around. A grouping in no way restricted to poets. A poet in name only (I like the sound of that.) Provisional poet. Poet in deed.

Gerrard Winstanley, “the best laws that England has [and here he was referring to Magna Carta] are yoaks and manicles, tying one sort of person to be slaves of another.” My reading of the history of the struggle for common good overwhelmingly reveals that injustice is maintained by the ‘law’ implemented by those whose interests it protects. Sages, philosophers, rightwingers, anarchists, antinomians, and dissidents all agree—law is inferior to voluntary call to greater good. What’s with this consensus? Chuang Tzu went so far as to say that the law produces the crime. Time for poets to become both students of law and adept proponents of the greater-than-law that actually holds things together and fulfills us—to be knowledgably present at the point of lawmaking and lawbreaking and law-outshining. Perhaps we would have caught the overturning of the Glass-Steagall Act. Perhaps we could have implemented something more potent than Obama’s flippant ‘shame on you’ issued to run-amok Investment Bankers. Laws come from ‘habit mind’ and can only keep things close to how they’ve always been. Precedent—and the overriding precedent is our self-interested competitiveness. The precedent is progress’s utterly excruciating incrementalism in times of emergency and suffering, and at all times, in any case. Can law bring us to a fair, reciprocally proportioned economy in which all own a portion of the national wealth? Or is economy and law like democracy and government—as H. Zinn never tired of reminding us—democracies only ever change because of the actions of people, not governments. ‘Natural Law’, and ‘just price’; are they mere phlogiston. Aren’t natural laws more manmadeness? How does a government turn into the ‘state’ as distinct from ‘us’?

Just start making a list. Most of the world is being turned into what it’s being turned into through language. Most of the world is being turned into what it’s being turned into through manipulation of words. Most of the world is being turned into what it’s being turned into though conscious misuse of words. ‘Free market’, ‘clean coal’, politics as PR campaign for Brand Name. Even the all-empowering ‘vote’, as Lysander Spooner has pointed out, is that specious mechanism by which we hand over all of our actual rights. Though poets’ province is 'language' we don’t sit at the table where discussion determines power. We seem to rule ourselves out by sticking to the status quo we’ve set for ourselves. What do true words correspond to? English has never been the speech of a free people. The fault-line runs straight through the poets (in place of our irrelevance, placing the entire responsibility in our hands). Re-inhere!

Do people actually have a say in public space? In NYC the creation of public space has been outsourced to private developers since 1961. Public spaces have been designed by private developers in exchange for zoning bonuses. There are 503 such spaces in NYC—a de-centralized Central Park of sorts. There is no agency that monitors these spaces to assure compliance. It’s estimated that up to half of these privately owned public spaces have fallen back into private use, or only minimally (nominally) meet a pubic criterion. Here’s a good place to start! Make a map. Represent ‘the people’. Fit this into the larger context of the determination of public space by a vested few. Keeping in mind—business has always been the primary ‘institution’ in America, and has always approached ‘public’ as inimical to its interests. Hence the business interest in influencing politics at all costs. I suspect that an actual history of public space (as a primarily very privately determined phenomenon) has yet to be written.

There’s need for a watchdog agency that detects and exposes private abuses in their earliest stage. Good examples of overstepping that hurts everyone: the collusion over the last 30 years between Federal Regulators and Bank Lobbyists, the privatization of water in California (‘paper water’ now exists, long live the Resnicks!), the public handover of the genome to private pharmers so that we can pay twice for our medicines—and any nationalization of risk for the sake of privatized gain in schemes designed to enrich the fewest.

Direct democracy through referendum. Mobilize all resources to announce and realize this initiative. No time even for a third party to pull us out of the morass. (Third-party bypass.) As long as there is the two-party perpetual-stasis machine (or what Nader calls the two-party one-party party or Money Party), we’re going nowhere. How can 100 intelligent people divide almost perfectly down the middle regardless of issue?

It would do a great deal of good to get together and come up with as many successful, effective models of commoning as we can. Perhaps starting with the body as a commons and the new biology of epigenetics in which thought, action and environment orchestrate gene expression—50-trillion cells working in concert (when all is well) with no cells unemployed or going hungry. I wouldn’t exclude business models. Perhaps an instance of ‘waste’ (in response to Alan’s Davies’ challenge) would be poets reshaping the world from scratch only to re-discover the need to invent the common measure of exchange called ‘money’ all-over-again. Social entrepreneurism, triple-bottom-line businesses, for-profits that seek to be profitable only to enable their social mission, a business such as Grayson Bakery in Yonkers, all function for mutuality and against the hypertrophy of our current financial sector. Can we further our roles as artists and poets, not by turning day jobs into private businesses, but by bringing our very vocations and creativities to bear on the needs of society and the means by which our society establishes value?

How to help when we ourselves need help? To help oneself by helping others? All the above practices presume selflessness (the basis of the commons). Beneficence over dissidence—otherwise we’re just repeating the sick model of artist-egocentrism and defining ourselves as pathogenic by separating ourselves from the social body. As in a biological system, in which 99% of mutations are deleterious—100% of what poets do must manifest as that 1% of anomaly that is salubrious. Simple.
--Robert Kocik

Thursday, February 04, 2010


For a commons
Not a symptom
Of this world

Another world
Cut down
There has never

Been a commons
Except in our breath

Now propertied
The right to leave

Cross these borders
In the air
In the flesh

Not here
Or avant garde

What was missing
From their

Might put
A kind of
Frame around it

A hole in me
My neighbor
Moving me

To not evaluate
To equate what
Not equates

But doesn’t know
Sculpture abstracted
From harm

What won’t be
Missed what
We haven’t been yet

Free people
In the breath
Where the horns blow

Or rap
The right to dig
What was our right

To not be a people
Wholly conditioned
By generality.

Everyone In This Room Is In This Fucking Dance (@ Brooklyn Rail)


Often people discuss a new “sincerity” among an emergent generation of artists. In countless ways, Gutierrez’s choreography represents for me a new kind of sincerity in dance. But the term sincerity is tricky, because it doesn’t admit the many ironic strategies Gutierrez also employs. Perhaps a better term is in order. Affectively intense? Emotionally porous? Gutierrez’s texts present collective affects, if only through the guise of a singular speaker: “I am perfect and / you will love me and / everyone in this room is in this fucking dance.” Where does Gutierrez’s autobiography leave off and where does the experience of his reader pick up? How much is a kind of journalism and how much narrative-poetic invention? A facile sincerity is constantly checked by a modernist sensibility (a la Brecht or Godard), providing the terms of our meditation, framing our attention.

Proceeding Translation: Brandon Brown & David Larsen (@ Harriet)


By bringing the body/person of the translator into play—the ad hominem translator if you will—Brown cites the translator as a vital relay in the process of bearing a literary work across into language’s many afterlives (to use another curious term from the Benjamin). What’s more, translation becomes an act of second reflection (Adorno); the translator attends to translation as a conceptual act both reflecting and permuting the original object/idea of the translated work. The translation does not describe the original work, so much as it reconceives it, injecting it with new ideas and values. I like the way Brown gets at this problem through his terms “proceed” and “precede”—as though his translation were always marking the fact that it is constituted by delay, and/or a sense of uncanniness that the translated object cannot be frozen because the translator’s life is involved with it, in fact may even depend on it.