Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2nd Ave Poetry vol. 3: the "occult" issue

2nd Ave Poetry's "occult" issue is live. Thanks to Emmy Catedral and Paolo Javier for their excellent work editing and designing the issue. Contributors include:


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vancouver Poem

The mountains around the city
Sounds they make blue
On the retina in the ear
Resound a commons what will have been
The time of year not weather
Not the names of these
Places no longer there
The people we took never given back
To a useless and unused air

There are plenitudes in what we do not
Possess, in which sound dispossesses
Our future property took like the real
Announcing exactly where we are
In relation to who or what externalities
Banalities like belief

So hack spirit, come hack this
Spirit enclosure up, talk to the man
Like he won't come back from empire
Like power can't do anything about this

So hack spirit, hack me up
Take my name or don't take it
Multiplicity see if I care
Division matters because we are born
That strived-for-never-in-fact-
In our swagger in fact matters.

A Grave in Exchange for the Commons

Here goes a paragraph from the piece I presented for the Project on the Commons in Vancouver this past weekend. Thanks again to Stephen Collis for making the event happen, and to Taylor, Rob, Steve, Donato, Cecily, Aaron, and others for their incredible participation. We are hoping to have some new materials about the project up at the Nonsite Collective's website soon:

One of the great ironies of the European notion of commons in regards to a Black (America) Radical Aesthetic tradition, as the poet and theoretician Fred Moten points out, is the extent to which it cannot account for the African-American slave, whose subjectivity and subjection was of course defined by its status as a commodity and by a certain logic of value endemic to the North Atlantic Slave trade in conjunction with primitive accumulation. Moten draws out this irony of a collective desideratum for a commons where he cites the well-known passage from Capital in which Marx identifies the commodity as that which is silent, passive, and worldless. Against Marx’s formulation, which cannot account for slave subjectivity, Moten insists that the Black Radical Aesthetic tradition is defined by the fact that through the Blues and other Black aesthetic forms the commodity cum slave does indeed talk (back), if only through the ambivalence of its subjective origins and erstwhile commodity status, the body radically objectified through slavery and the body becoming subject in equally radical fashion through particular modes of performance born through and after the condition of slavery. What can the conditions of African-American slavery and the Black Radical Aesthetic tradition issuing from that tradition teach us about a commons and an activity of commoning? How does a commons emerge through the freedom drive of a slave subjectivity, subjectivity divided by its radical status as an object of private property (commodity) and of the fact of its human-animal species being?
from "A Grave in Exchange for the Commons: Commoning and the Resistance of the Object"

Monday, September 20, 2010

The body is an archive
The breath a convolute
A collection sung for no one
But to remember it has danced

Compendiums when you point
With your eyes to what it did
And can not do, this also being useful
The body fails but it survives

The body as an archivist
Kissing all relation, tells us what
We did, the failure of this doing
Called career, called smallest hope.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Project on the Commons at KSW

Next weekend I will be giving a series of workshops and readings with Taylor Brady, Stephen Collis, and Rob Halpern in Vancouver as part of a suite of events sponsored by Simon Fraser University and hosted by the Kootenay School of Writing having to do with notions of "commons."

Rob Halpern
Taylor Brady
Stephen Collis
Thom Donovan
Sunday, September 26, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

W2 Storyeum
151 West Cordova Street

Project on the Commons: A workshop with Stephen Collis, Thom Donovan, and Rob Halpern

The commons has become an important interdisciplinary site of research for political scientists and urban planners, geographers and ecologists, poets and artists, anti-poverty and anti-colonial activists. This work shop hopes to further our understanding of the commons—its limits and possibilities, its enclosure and re-appropriation—via short talks, wide-ranging discussion, and possibly some participatory “commoning.”

Friday, September 17, 2010

In Memoriam Dave Nolan (in Poetry Project Newsletter)

In the new PPNL I remember my friend and colleague Dave Nolan, who served Downtown poetry and music scenes through his archivism and sound engineering for over twenty years. Thanks to Cori Copp for her excellent work as editor. The new issue looks fantastic!

For a PDF of the Newsletter, click here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

For Peleshian

The flocks of us
Without distance
Or depth when we spread
Our wings
Together I couldn't
Tell if we were coming
Or going
All I knew was
We were on the move

Like sunlight
Like shade
Like a shadow
Clouds make
On the eyes
The many eyes
Both muted
And sung

The animal in me
Would like us to be
Closer than we are

Covered by a physics
Of power
In this long century
The little astronaut animal
Not saying anything
Cries our limits.

TRNSFR Vol I, Issue I

some of the work from TRNSFR Vol I, Issue I is now available in a PDF.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When bodies become the case
Will they still be a poem
Or form of art or prose because
Grief is a form of action

When bodies become the case
Of all we cannot be
No art can prove or disapprove
Movement made a maze

Of skin when bodies became
The case an image they still needed
That would extend space that might
Buy some time, save some face

For the dying whose bodies became
The case and were a law
Living inside the heart like
The law was always made

Blood becomes a site
No glove will heal or hold
Steeped in what was left to fill
Until hell evokes a reason

They put their hands on us
No glove will hold or touch
The law their bodies were
When there was no justice

So all the lenses of your
Camera almost crack
But don't outliving the fact
Of their blood's gaze, its resolve

That all our laws lacked
The question of this subject
What the body can do
Determines a line of police.

Friday, September 10, 2010

5 Questions With Miriam Katzeff of Primary Information (@ Art 21)


I think there were two reasons to start Primary Information. James [Hoff] and I are both very interested in artists’ books and some of the publications we were most interested in were rare and expensive—too expensive for us. We wanted to share these projects with people that might not be able to afford them. The second reason is that we wanted to promote artists we were interested in outside of exhibitions which are limited to a time period and place. I’d discovered European artists whose work I’d never seen in person through books and wanted to do the same for American artists or younger artists..

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Aspect Blindness: Arnold Kemp and Sreshta Rit Premnath (@ Art21)


As with Kemp’s artist’s book, Spirit and Image, Premnath’s Zero Knot presents a series of frames for historical and political realities which a reader/viewer must hold in their attention, where some frames negate or simply block out others. Much like Wittgenstein’s own rigorous linguistic-philosophical investigations, I encounter through Kemp and Premnath a discourse pragmatics in which what can’t be seen (or resolved) is as important as what is known through an enumeration of the facts. In the work of Kemp and Premnath, facts become only as good as their display and our position towards their display, and this prevents a kind of solipsism that art might otherwise induce. Skepticism overshadows solipsism, becoming a force for critical thinking and renewed reflection upon aporetic cultural encounter.

R.I.P. Mark Linenthal

Michael Cross has a nice write-up in remembrance of Mark Linenthal, a San Francicso State University professor, former director of the university's Poetry Center, and mentor to many a Bay Area poet, who recently passed away. Cross's write-up includes an extensive introduction which Rob Halpern read for Mark's reading at the Last Laugh Cafe on January 12, 2008, a portion of which I include below.

I was fortunate enough to visit with Mark on two occasions when I visited San Francisco in the summers of 2007 and 2008. What stood-out to me about Mark were his irreverent yet good natured sense of humor, as well as his enthusiasm about poetry, and especially the poetries of George and Mary Oppen, who were his close friends.

Rob Halpern on Mark Linenthal's poetry:
At a time when the idea of experience has come under siege, Mark’s poems score, with uncompromised lucidity, the movement of their own attention making contact with a world where experience is still possible. In this sense, the poems are instructive: they prepare, in language, the presencing of an “experience” that remains outside language. For Mark, small acts of attention become consequential for locating one’s place in a world where “place” goes on eroding. Rather than giving into the force of that erosion and the rule of words, the poems bear witness to the fragility of location where a concern with “what can be said” becomes the most serious of all concerns. “What can be said”—as both direct question and relative statement—conditions the poems’ formal possibility while delimiting their content. It’s in their faithfulness to “what can be said” that Mark’s poems enact the values of clarity and precision, against injudicious obscurity and vague impressionism. But to measure one’s sense of measure—honestly and accurately—by “what can be said” requires a certain lightness of touch, and like Lester Young, after whom he wrote a great poem called “Listening to Lester,” we can hear Mark in his poems, “learning to play so lightly / he could believe it.”

Monday, September 06, 2010

The mind steeped in ash
Where does one go to forget it
To move earth and be moved

By earth, the mind steeped in
What we could not know, these fringes
Of this we where I sleep

Where one declares themselves burnt
Moulds or analytics of movement
Like men who like to dig holes

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A Wildness

-for Michael and Robert

Nearly in the sea like "water is in water,"
Land within land, dreams with dreams

But then there are things we see with our desire
The deaths we are also with, apart inside us

Swell sometimes, speak to me a barometric
Of address and the consequences of not speaking

Of withdrawing from what we say, to another
Wilderness the dark will not pray for us

The dark will be a ground we recover in the night
Illegitimate, turning to those other bodies

Those others who are the only spirit, the only health
We will have known, going to them like conditions

To imbibe the harm that also involves us
Like forms for an approaching wreck.