Sunday, October 31, 2010

Apocalypse Anthology

Flying Guillotine press has released a PDF of their Apocalypse Anthology, which I encourage you to check out here! . Contributors to the anthology include the following: Josh Kleinberg, Thom Donovan, Brennen Wysong, Ben Fama, Leslie Anne Mcilroy, Rob Ostrom, Toni Browning, Brett Price, Gregory Bem, Nathan Logan, Wynelle Bridge, Jefferson Carter, Elisa Gabbert & Kathleen Rooney, Matthew Everett, Stephanie Anderson, Francis Raven, Melissa Koosmann, Douglass Piccinnini, Dolan Morgan, Paul Siegell, Mark Terrill, Kate Schapira, Kristi Maxwell, Christine Leclerc, Sommer Browning, Adam Roberts, Lauren Harrison, Tony Mancus, Sarah Heller, Brandon Shimoda, John Ebersole, Vincent Zompa, Thomas Oristaglio, Alex Cuff, Ally Harris, Jeff Hawkinson, Steven Karl, Jen Currin, J. Townsend, Elinor Payntor, Dave Carillo, Steven Breyak, Cate Peebles, Nate Pritts, Frank Sherlock, Estela Lamat & Michael Leong, Esther Smith, Emily Brandt, Mathias Svalina, Dan Chelotti, Michael Rerick, Theresa Sotto, Leigh Stein, Joe Fletcher, Martin Rock.

Robert Dewhurst on Country Girl

Check out Robert Dewhurst's wonderful essay about Hannah Weiner's Country Girl, which he presented with Patrick Durgin and Kaplan Harris this past week during a Weiner roundtable at SUNY-Buffalo.

Friday, October 29, 2010

David Wolach on WHOF @ 5, state of the blog, and alternatives to Facebook

Here is a David Wolach's very thoughtful response to my previous post. Thanks for the camaraderie and conversation, David!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WHOF Five Years In

"To come down by a movement in which gravity plays no part. [...] Gravity makes things come down, wings make them rise: what wings raised to the second power can make things come down without weight?" -- Simone Weil

Since October 28th of this month (tomorrow) is the fifth year anniversary of Wild Horses Of Fire, I thought I would mark the occasion by reflecting briefly on what the blog might have offered me as a form(at), and the possibilities and potential which it may still be able to make active.

When I began posting at Wild Horses Of Fire, it was mostly to keep in touch with a community that I had left behind and that I sorely felt the absence of. Namely, the students, friends, mentors, and colleagues with whom I lived and worked in Buffalo, NY for five years. To blog was to commune almost exclusively with people who I was separated from geographically across the distance of an eight hour car ride/two hour flight.

Before long, WHOF took on unexpected aspects and qualities. Namely, it became a kind of 'open notebook' or 'studio' where I could compose materials and organize them as I was working with them. A lot of posts from the first years include quotations which I would eventually use as epigraphs and for inclusion within the tissue of poems and critical writings. These posts also include poems that I was working on or towards (through a process).

WHOF took on a different character as I started to make connections with more people in New York City and elsewhere. It became a space where I felt I was defining a set of relationships, where I could address the work of my peers and contemporaries and comment on what was happening 'around' us. A lot of the materials from these years also consisted of ads for reading series, events, and shows, as well as links to content having to do with cultural politics, education, and visual art in particular.

The emergence of Facebook changed the way I was using WHOF as an open notebook and communication/distribution tool. I'm still not sure if this change is totally a negative thing, and don't want to rule out what may be radical about the potential of Facebook as a tool for 'networking', communication, and composition (why, I wonder sometimes, aren't more writers and artists using social networking platforms as a form for their practices?).

I don't lament that the blog has been eclipsed by Facebook, yet prefer what a blog can offer curatorially and as an "attention span" (to nod to Steve Evans's ongoing blog). Mainly, I regard the blog as a space for feedback, and as a potential space for dialogues and exchanges that can become readily visible and publicly accessible. With so many property and privacy issues on Facebook, it is difficult to conceive the currently hegemonic social networking platform in such porous and expansive ways.

How has the blog come to be used as a poetic or aesthetic texture, I wonder after the tradition of the 'long poem' and composition by book (Spicer). To what extent is the blog like and not like a book book? To what extent should or could the blog function analogically--beyond the digital format, translated into print? So often we think about the conversion of print to online, but very rarely in the opposite direction. To what extent do group or collective blogs remain inadequately explored, with the exquisite exception of Laura Moriarty's A Tonalist, which gathers no less than ten Bay Area Writers, and which is now published (in some form) as a book? To what extent is the blog devoted to essays, reviews, interviews, and other critical content pertaining to poetics also inadequately explored. Many models of this critical behavior remain linked at the Electronic Poetry Center and Harriet, though many are also fairly inactive today, if active at all. What would it take to network differently than the ways we have consented to network through Facebook? Facebook is a tremendously amnesiac format, thus inadequate as an archive. How to explore the blog (again) alongside websites and other virtual sites for content as both an archive and distribution device? How can the blog (or alternative social networking technology) provide a space for enhanced participation, discourse, and socio-political engagement? How can it present heterogenous archives for public intellectualism, aesthetic discourse, community and friendship?

I dedicate this post to Michael Cross who, eschewing Facebook altogether, has put much energy recently into his The Disinhibitor, a blog for emergent poetics in the 21st century. It is also dedicated to my many contemporaries still exploring gathering alternatives on the Internet and elsewhere...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reading Sacred

The violence of this voice
Smoothed into place
Shared like reason becomes
Afraid and believes

From this cloud this hand
Of the police reaching down
Teaches us things suddenly
Like the animals once

Taught us to be headless
The mind utterly mindless
Made of flesh and blood
And covering the streets

Sites certain dissensus
It only knows seeing red
The mind bludgeoned
By a force without grace

Around the null set
Possibilities of planks
Intone our total abandon
Power ripples from

Pure means like white
Eschatology without end
Pierces the simple
Shapes of our art

Differences they make
Like machines on the skin
Harrows become operative
And run our mouths

A course of law could stand
No earth nor other
Orders of being
Crowned by its waste.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Con/Crescent #2

I am very pleased to annouce that the second issue of Jamie Townsend's and Nicholas DeBoer's Con/Crescent is now available in a PDF. This "music" issue features essays by Matthias Regan, Patrick Lucy, and others. It also features a gallery I coedited on contemporary poetry and Rap prosody, with contributions from Lauren Levin, Alli Warren, Dana Ward, Paolo Javier, Chris Martin, Dorothea Lasky, Garrett Caples, and some notes of my own. Thanks to the editors for inviting me to participate, and to the contributors. My editorial statement for the feature is as follows:

After my suggestion under a post at the Poetry’s Foundation Harriet weblog this past spring that Jay-Z might be read in tandem with Louis Zukofsky in terms of their mutual indeterminations of an English lyrical tradition (the “pentameter” post-Pound), the editors at Con/Crescent magazine solicited me to write a short piece about Jay-Z. My response was that the editors and I might propose creating a gallery devoted to contemporary poetry and Rap prosody, to which the editors responded enthusiastically.

The following collates responses to a call for various friends and colleagues whose work we felt to be somehow determined by Rap prosody to respond to the influence of Hip-Hop on their work. I hope it is just the beginning of contemporary poets engaging more critically with the confluences between Hip-Hop culture, Rap music, and innovative poetries.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

5 Questions with Temporary Services (@ Art21)

Here goes my first 5 Questions (for Contemporary Practice) column at Art21 blog. Thank you Temporary Services for your amazing responses to my questions, and for the amazing work you do through your art:

I always felt that kind of generation gap…we’re not so many years removed from some of these people, but you know when those artists like Karen Finley…when their grants were rescinded? I always remember feeling like, “They were expecting money from the government to do that work?!” You know? It seemed that they were of a generation in which you used to be able to really expect that, and because of that, sure, they were really pissed off when they had their money taken away. But I always remember feeling like, “How weird that they asked for funding.” And I think that response comes out being involved with underground music and publishing. I wouldn’t expect the government to give money so the Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers could come from Italy to play in the U.S. [laughs] Of course the government wouldn’t care. Of course they wouldn’t support it, but Karen Finley expected it?
--Marc Fischer of Temporary Services

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The commons in your breath
Parity of some perishable
Thought of governance
I have picked without allotment

My improvements something
I wouldn't wish on no one
Some floating thing like
Notes split

Or time becomes a general
Intellect within us
The commons in your breath
When I was cast back.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Intro for Eléna Rivera reading at EOAGH

Thank you to Tim Peterson and Unnameable Books for hosting readings by Sarah Campbell and Eléna Rivera today, in celebration of Little Red Leaves editions e-book series. The following I presented by way of introduction for Rivera:

Sitting around a dinner table recently with participants in the Kootenay School of Writing, Rob Halpern, Talor Brady, Stephen Collis and others during a weekend in Vancouver, the conversation turned around sincerity, and the question of what a sincere affect might look like. It was Jeff Derkson who I believe raised this question, recalling situations on his travels in which people had to decide whether or not to trust him, to admit him, a foreigner, into their homes and communities. The question of sincerity in writing obviously resonates with the practices of the Objectivists, and with Louis Zukofsky, Charles Reznikoff, and George Oppen in particular. One of the contemporary practitioners in whom I discover my own senses of sincerity is Eléna Rivera, whose poetry consistency teaches me about the craft and the poet’s relationship to a world of others.

Partly what I believe has made Rivera’s work so sincere is her practice of translation, for which she was recently awarded the prestigious Robert Fagles prize for her translation of Bernard Noel’s The Rest of the Voyage. Even though I am not myself a translator, from what I understand of the task of the translator it is to attend to the idiom of a particular language and make it correspond with another. To translate is a test of sincerity in Zukofsky’s sense, because it is a matter of allowing languages to exist in such a way that the nouns and other parts of speech do not “do violence to their individual intact natures.” Likewise, to translate is to see words as objects in their social and cultural contexts, and to try to convey this context, to bear it across, to another cultural location.

I get the sense of Rivera’s work as a poet-translator when I read her poetry, which always has a certain air of care about it.
The feel of Rivera’s work, is that is has been fashioned by a poet-phenomenologist too, wherein words and worlds relate each other, and disclosure is an endless goal amidst a goalless enterprise. In this work, sensuous and nonsensuous experience, perceptual and reading experiences coalesce. We come to expect quotes around all the words, though there are only quotes around the few and only a few are cited. Conscience insists where we encounter an “I” in bare expressionism. Violence ruptures, as in Oppen’s poem “Power, the Enchanted World,” “at a thousand holes.” Which is to say, violence is ubiquitous, dispersed and effervescent, and our participation in it a constant preoccupation of Rivera’s.

I can trace this preoccupation as far back as Rivera’s first book, Wale, the title of which refers both to the side of a ship, to part of a weave, and to scar tissue; a perfect analogy for Rivera’s writing process, which makes visible genealogies of violence through a synthesis of different languages and modes of experience. One can trace this preoccupation most recently in Rivera’s electronic chapbook with Little Red Leaves editions, Remembrance of Things Plastic, perhaps her most autobiographical, if not ‘personal’, to date. In the brief poems of Remembrance of Things Plastic one discovers a series of short poems addressing cultural violence, and specifically the violence of becoming woman, which is to say, becoming acculturated to a female engenderment.

These poems, unlike Rivera’s other poems which oftentimes are moody, impressionistic, even mystical, would seem to have little to hide. All that hides their content is the historical and personal specificity of their situations of address, which would seem to evoke moments from Rivera’s childhood and adolescence. Rivera’s encounters with cultural violence also take place through her recent sonnet series, in which the fate of others determines a convoluted, twisting syntax, such as in the following poem previously published in The Nation:

When a man is asked to sing of his anger
the risk is that without remorse virtue dies
War then is in the face, in this homelessness,
the despair which couldn’t wait couldn’t ask for

We don’t talk to each other anymore we
email global reach managed minutes morning
to noon in the hospitals we are all old
forbidden to talk of lost sons, asked to smile

Enough, they’ll hear the news, men in photographs
die and nothing will seem simple, their faces
especially where sorrow stretched everything

Maps point to? and defeat looms where? out there where?
Here the naked body is where terror lies
Guilt builds monuments, the way we spend our time

In its care, in its embrace of vulnerability, processural adventure, and sincere modes of address, I have listened to Rivera’s work and continue to learn from it. Please welcome her now to EOAGH’s series celebrating Little Red Leaves editions e-books.

Brent Cunningham's Attention Span

Thanks, Brent for these lovely words about ON Contemporary Practice. We are hoping to get started on the 3rd issue soon!

"Some will say the structure of this magazine, where poets talk about the work of poets, will only add to the feeling that experimental poetry is a small coterie with a secret knock to get in. Others, including me, find ON to be just what was lacking, and will find it far less about in-group backslapping than one might presume (very much like the Attention Span project, which has a lot in common with ON). Coterie is a sword of the two-edged variety, and ON is a much needed venue for poets to not only talk about works by their contemporaries but to fashion a renewed sense of basic, shared critical values."--Brent Cunningham at Attention Span

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creative Time Summit report at Art 21

Here is a report I did about the first day of the two-day Creative Time Summit this past weekend.

"The third presenter, Bruce High Quality Foundation (BHQF), reappropriated a text by painter Ad Reinhardt about the function of art, using it to present an institutional critique of art world problems and dynamics in regards to the history of the “art school.” This is the fifth time that I’ve encountered BHQF, and each time I’ve seen them, I have had a similar sense that their work is an elaborate hoax intended to express ambivalences and ironies around art’s marketplace and institutions. In this regard, I felt BHQF was miscast with the other panelists who, through their work, have attempted to have a direct impact on how education functions within communities and as a forum for radical socio-political content. In his talk, Jakobsen alluded to a retrograde movement away from the “educational turn” among artists in the 1990s and 2000s. BHQF’s lack of transparency during their presentation (had Creative Time’s curator Nato Thompson not mentioned the organization’s funding of the group, it probably would not have become known to the audience), and their unqualified use of the term “free” (a kind of open signifier during the group’s presentation), made me question the group’s intentions. That BHQF have recently presented work at P.S.1’s Greater New York Show (a pedestal “exchange program”), the Whitney Biennial (an ambulance with video projected inside it about American media representations since the 80s), and have shown work in a prominent Chelsea gallery (an installation of progressive education artifacts such as a paperback of John Dewey’s Art and Education and chalk boards reminiscent of Joseph Beuys’s lecture performances) makes me wonder how they wish to make use of the radical format of the free school."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Little Red Leaves e-chap launch: Sarah Campbell and Eléna Rivera at EOAGH

EOAGH Reading Series presents:

Little Red Leaves e-editions book launch
featuring Sarah Campbell & Eléna Rivera

Sunday, October 17 at 2 PM
at Unnameable Books
600 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Please join us for the launch of two new books in the LRL e-editions series: Everything We Could Ask For, by Sarah Campbell, and Remembrance of Things Plastic, by Eléna Rivera.

Event hosted by Thom Donovan and Nathan Austin.

LRL e-editions is edited by Julia Drescher, C.J. Martin, and Ash Smith. More info here:

In this second collection, Campbell's richly minimal poems come once again, as poet Zack Finch has written, "sieved out of turbulence," pressed to the point that each syllable counts out from the unaccounted. In sparse and reflective lines, Campbell's poems move with an understated plangency--turning the volume up at the edges of ordinary speech.

In Remembrance of Things Plastic, Eléna Rivera charts a path between cultural displacement and the hyper-pull of consumer images. Migrating from the strictures of girlhood ("Marooned in a room the size of a dollhouse") through the acculturation implicit in Garbo's eyebrows, Rivera laments the social split between self-hood and the feminine body--the insurgent exchange of the personal for plastic that accompanies American adolescence. Through these small remembrances, Rivera recalls the isolation of one between objects: "I was given a shiny plastic yellow ring-shaped radio," she writes, "with a twist; you could twist it open and hold it up to your ear like a phone."

Poet Bios:

Sarah Campbell studied in the Poetics Program in Buffalo, NY for many years and now lives in Brooklyn.

Eléna Rivera is the author of Remembrance of Things Plastic (LRL e-editions, 2010) Mistakes, Accidents and the Want of Liberty (Barque Press, 2006), Suggestions at Every Turn (Seeing Eye Books, 2005), and the translator of Secret of Breath (Burning Deck Press, 2009) poems by Isabelle Baladine Howald. She was awarded a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Translation and a 2009 Fundacíon Valparaíso Poetry Residency in Mojácar, Spain. She lives in New York City.

* * *


Steve Dickison and Susan Gevirtz
Sunday, October 31 at 2 PM, Unnameable Books

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Let art lay fallow here
And artfulness since resistance

Fuels "the system" scratch that
Since resistance is part

Of an organum of control
A matrix of complicities

Stop the world simply let
It be useless, let be the silence

Of a different effort
Sing that it is elsewhere unframed

That conscience and com-
punction are a kind of form

Caring withdraws eclipsing
Art's acknowledged value,

The efficacies of its being for us,
Not an unspeaking thing.

The New Us

--after F.E.A.S.T.

Summons that we feeling
Certain things made
Gathering as a kind of making
An active question that storms our thinking
Called world, how we do
How we no longer called this us
When a name was true
We lost our names
When loss was useful

Except capital
Except a certain
Knowhow the birds know
Their sense turning to sense
Their uneven development
Movements disaggregate
Subtracted from action
The air we make and the air
Which makes us
The we stamp and we are stamped
So complicity becomes the subject
So history isn't just a motor of mistakes

The new us starts from a dish
Not socialism, continues to grow
Sans system, an attention
To this consumption system, a local
Kissing of totality what will be value
And what's the use, in poking
Our heads out, food sovereignties
Produce this singularity

The new us, the new good life
Well being as muse and health
As wealth all we are saying's
The all new thing, new expression
Being shares this sense, of turning
Around a land, or land fills
Me up with emergence, political
Like a dish, we cannot help,
Gathering around, or con/tem/plating.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

TRNSFR @ Pete's Candy, 10/23/2010

posted from Pete's calendar

TRNSFR Magazine Presents... An Evening of Literary Freaking Wonderment! 6-7:30 with Shya Scanlon, Molly Gaudry, Thom Donovan, and Catherine Lacey

TRNSFR is responsible for the mysterious lights in the daytime skies over Mexico City in May of 2004, for which it has apologized on several occasions. It is also a nifty, difficult-to-shelve bimonthly magazine of poetry, fiction, art, essays, and oddments whose cover always gets put on wrong. Each issue features a “flip movie,” pull-out mini art prints, hidden texts, and other unique and inconvenient lineaments. Join us for the launch of our third issue, The All Fiction Issue.

Shya Scanlon is the author of the poetry collection In This Alone Impulse, published by Noemi Press. His novel, Forecast, will be available from Flatmancrooked in December. Shya received his MFA from Brown University, where he was awarded the John Hawkes Prize in Fiction.

Molly Gaudry is the author of the verse novel We Take Me Apart (Mud Luscious, 2009) and the editor of Tell: An Anthology of Expository Narrative (Flatmancrooked, 2010). Her website is

Catherine Lacey's work has appeared in Blackbook, Forklift, Ohio, Lamination Colony and others. She has finished a nonfiction book about Mississippi and has just opened a Bed and Breakfast in Brooklyn called 3B.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Of use and what remains useless
At least we have this dance
In the throat in the proverbial meadow

Of this throat what throat in the meadow
Causes us harm the circles all around
From which we was bursting a kind of seed

A way of ceding earth and the ways we were
The contaminated care one celebrates
With veils of tears this sacred pollution

With which each subject is sick
Has somehow agreed to be sick
With exchange and shit-like commodities

Smothering our species being of firstness
Margins of error and margins of waste
Estovers of force sovereignty shoots-forth.