Sunday, February 14, 2021

Ian Dreiblatt's Forget Thee


Despite the fact that it is 2020, and nearly 2021 when I write this, I want to remember Ian Dreiblatt’s Forget Thee as one of the great poetry books of the (post-) Occupy era. It arrives as an untimely meditation upon the long 2010s, a speculative, elegiac lyric of hope without hoping, clear-sighted and hearted intellectual pessimism amidst an attenuated collective optimistic will. In the first and last poems of the book I am transported to many conversations regarding (political) friendship after [Frank] O’Hara. To what extent can our most intimate relationships prefigure unacknowledged worlds and worlds of the unacknowledged despite their mediation by the commodity form (and social media specifically as an apotheosis of the commodity form)? And to what extent is a commons salvageable from the unfathomable wreckage of advanced racial capitalism? Assuming a choral mode, Ian forces us to consider a tenuous ‘we’ again despite the wreckage piling exponentially at our feet and the profound disparities concerning whom the disaster most affects. Employing interlocutors from antiquity throughout many of the poems—among them gods, poets, and ancient sovereigns—the task of the consummate translator-poet has never been more urgent, and ludic. Through his interviews with them he clears a space for critique and speculation, but also for a kind of lyric rarely heard nowadays. That specifically of thought’s fugitivity, its delightful fleeing from sense, and of the words of countless others—another mode of chorus—breathtakingly and breathlessly interwoven.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Left Melancholic listings and end of the year thanks

Thank you to my friends, family, colleagues, former students, and mentors who have subscribed to my Patreon. Your support made a tremendously difficult year a little easier. Below is a complete listing of the site’s over 200 posts if anyone is considering subscribing. 

"We fuck death put it there ostensibly" (from The Hole)

On Matt Mullican's Bulletin Boards

"If that fire would burn" (from The Hole)

Teaching Etel Adnan’s The Arab Apocalypse

Animal Communism

On Renée Green's Other Planes of There

"No one was the wiser" (from The Hole)

A grave in exchange for the commons (on Fred Moten)

"We gave our limbs we gave our throats" (from The Hole)

Remains: Poems 1999-2009 (Unpublished book draft)

Constraint is not silent nor at rest

Hannah Weiner and Intense Autobiography

Literal Blood (from The Remains)

Somatic Poetics

The Fate of Number (from The Remains)

Future Citizen

Sore Ethics (introduction to Supple Science: a Robert Kocik Primer)

For (from The Remains)

The Accident

Delays in Glass: Social Media Poetics

Meatyard, My Neighbor (from The Remains)

Reading Martha Rosler Reading

Now Man (from The Remains)

“None of us have rules, none of us have scripture”: CA Conrad’s Advanced Elvis Course and the Politics of Immanence

Soon-To-Be (from The Remains)

Devotions (from The Remains)

Debt I (from Withdrawn)

The Girl Who Loved Spiders (children's story)

from Before Freedom (from The Remains)

“Because the pronouns have already been wiped out”: On Melissa Buzzeo’s The Devastation

MANTLE (from The Remains)

Century of Clouds questionnaire

Beginning Compendiums of a Bare Oak (from The Remains)

Death Is My Gift / Afterlives PDF

On the Occult

Macho Man, Tell It To My Heart: Collected by Julie Ault

Songs (from Death is my Gift)

In the Ditch

Pee Pee Town (children's story)

Death is My Gift II (from Death is my Gift)

Robert Kocik's Portraiture, a Reminiscence

After Madeline Gins

Telegenically Dead (from Death is my Gift)

Interview with Guy Ben-Ner for BOMB

The Slimy Book (children's story)

Plan (from Death is my Gift)

St. Bruce

We are just two things of air

Class (from Death is my Gift)


The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Bird (Children's Story)

Charnel Ground II (from Death is my Gift)

Interview with Adam Pendleton for BOMB

Charnel Ground I (from Death is my Gift)

"Reunite" (George Floyd Multiple)

The Gift of Death (from Death is my Gift)

"All it took to light the house"

Florence Journal May/June 2014

No Names (from Death Is My Gift)

Charlie (children's story)

The non-reduction of phonic substance

I Hope You Are in That Sun (from Death Is My Gift)

Prayer Beginning with a Phrase from Paul B. Preciado

Journal of a Plague Month

Impassed (from Death Is My Gift)


The Man Who Hated Rainbows (children's story)

Lit (from Death Is My Gift)

Crowns (II)

Sublime Anger (from Death Is My Gift)

The Lighthouse

Evaluation (from Death Is My Gift)


“It never occurred to me that I would be a teacher” (from Left Melancholy part 3, My Students)

Revenants, Remains (from Death Is My Gift)

An Adjunct Phenomenology

The Recognition (from Death Is My Gift)

"Certain classes have chemistry, and ours did" (from Left Melancholy part 3, My Students)

False Flags (from Death Is My Gift)

“On the first day of class all of the seats were occupied” (from Left Melancholy part 3, My Students)

Sonnet 64 (from Death Is My Gift)

Love to the Teacher (from Left Melancholy part 3, My Students)

Place of Action (from Death Is My Gift)

The Art of Withdrawal [on Lee Lozano and Ben Kinmont] 

Bruised Music (from Death Is My Gift)

“When my contract was renewed for another year” (from Left Melancholy part 3, My Students)

In Actu (from Death Is My Gift)

“On the first day of class I felt scared” (from Left Melancholy part 3, My Students)

A Thousand Levels (from Death Is My Gift)

“I didn’t know how to approach you at first” (from Left Melancholy part 3, My Students)

Letter to J. Morgan Puett (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

After Hito Steyerl (from Death Is My Gift)

“You would always sit on the margin of the class” (from Left Melancholy part 3, My Students)

Letter to Gregory Sholette (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

Mouth Writing (from Death Is My Gift)

In Lieu of a “Statement of Teaching Philosophy” (from Left Melancholy part 3, My Students)

Left Melancholy parts 1 & 2 ms. PDF

Letter to Gregg Bordowitz

Does the Document Promise? (from Death Is My Gift)

On Left Melancholy parts 1 and 2

Letter to Glenn Ligon (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

You Make Me Want to Shout (from Death Is My Gift)

“I dare not use the term ‘ally’” (from Left Melancholy part 2)

Design Proposal for Etel Adnan's Reader

Proletarian Nights (from Death Is My Gift)

Annotation/Redaction (from Left Melancholy part 2)

Letter to Fred Moten (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

Thek (from Death Is My Gift)

from Headless (from Left Melancholy part 2)

How I Did Not Write Certain of My Books (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

No Milk Today (from Death Is My Gift)

from Headless (from Left Melancholy part 2)

Letter to Etel Adnan (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

Post-Sovereign (from Death Is My Gift)

from Headless (from Left Melancholy part 2)

Letter to Jordan Scott (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

Afterlives (from Left Melancholy part 2)

Bruce Boone and the Gay Straights

Corpsefuckers (from Left Melancholy part 2)

Letter to Dodie Bellamy (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

For Terry (from Death Is My Gift)

Ressentiment (from Left Melancholy Part 2, Ressentiment)

My Thoughts (from Death Is My Gift)

Introduction to "For Opacity"

Letter to David Buuck (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

Being Gone to be Here (from Left Melancholy part 2)

Letter to Dana Ward (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

Teaching New Narrative

This is not a poem for JA (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Letter to Chase Granoff (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

Christmas, 2014 (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Eastman PDF (Unpublished book draft)

Death Is My Gift I (from Death Is My Gift)

Letter to CA Conrad (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

Slavery’s Exiles (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Note to “Eastman”

Letter to Bruce Andrews (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

Friendship (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

The Holy Presence of Joan of Arc (from Eastman)

Letter to Bhanu Kapil (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

The Camp (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Crazy ------ (from Eastman)

Stuffed Cat (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Letter to Beka Economopoulos (from Withdrawn: A Discourse)

Zurich Concert (from Eastman)

Letter to Adam Pendleton (from Withdrawn: a Discourse)

Ante-Monuments (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Creation (from Eastman)

Use Without Using

“The End of the world of course”: 5 Questions & 4 Prompts for De/worlding (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Femenine (from Eastman)

On Max Razdow's True Corpus

But Lose the Feeling (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Gay Guerrilla (from Eastman)

A Different Way to Destroy (from Death Is My Gift)

From “Other Suns” (On Anne Lesley Selcer's Sun Cycle)

The Rabbit in the Moon (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Fugue No. 7 (from Eastman)

After Marcus Rediker (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

The Refusal (In the Tradition) (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Dolmen Music (from Eastman)

After Julie Ault (from Death Is My Gift)

My Students (from Left Melancholy Part 2)

Stay On It (from Eastman)

"I didn’t know how to approach you at first" (from Left Melancholy Part 3)

What Wings Raised: Fragments For Paradisical Beauty

The Refusal (from Left Melancholy Part 1)

Evil ****** (from Eastman)

Striving for Protection (for Jack Whitten)

“We are Abandoned” (from Left Melancholy Part 1)

If You’re So Smart Why Aren’t You Rich? (from Eastman)

Statement for Eastman

Into Bride // Army of Roses (a meditation on suicide after Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon)

Death Is My Gift (from Left Melancholy Part 1)

Eight Songs for a Mad King (from Eastman)

5 Questions for Contemporary Practice introductions (2010-2012)

Wood in Time (from Eastman)

Statement for Meatyard, My Neighbor

Splitting (on Gordon Matta-Clark and ethical obligation)

Trumpet (from Eastman)

On Eléna Rivera's Scaffolding

Thruway (from Eastman)

On Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s STANZA

Akademie ‘loss (from Left Melancholy Part I)

Mumbaphilia (from Eastman)

Some Notes on Note-Taking (after Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en Banlieue)

Macle (from Eastman)

Go Crazy

Father, Don’t You See I’m Burning? (from Left Melancholy Part I)

440 (from Eastman)

On Renee Gladman’s Prose Architectures

Shadow Commons (from Left Melancholy Part I)

Comp 1 (from Eastman)

On the Occult

Prelude for Julius Eastman (from Eastman)

For a Poetics of Healing (from Left Melancholy Part I)

Her Research About Horses (from Left Melancholy Part I)

At whose expense are you held? (notes on Midsommar)

Post-Face to Withdrawn: a Discourse

Place of Action (from Left Melancholy Part I)

“I miss people I haven’t even met yet” (from Left Melancholy Part I)

Ruins in Reverse (from Left Melancholy Part I)

Crying (from Left Melancholy Part I)

Prologue to Left Melancholy Part I

Arthur Russell Revised: Hold On To Your Dreams

On [Jodi Melamed’s] Represent and Destroy

Leslie’s Tears (for Leslie Feinberg)

Maybe it’s just that I loved him (Kevin Killian tribute)

Touch Him When (for Kevin Killian)


Letter to Kevin Killian regarding "Goodnight"

Stranger Things

Goodnight (for Kevin Killian)

Why Poets Theater Now?

Second Reflection, Second Innocence (on art after the debt crisis)

I Tried To Be a Socialist (on Asad Haider's Mistaken Identity)

I Hate Poetry

Why I Teach Afro-Pessimism

Saturday, August 01, 2020

I Hate Poetry at Adjunct Press (chapbook)

I Hate Poetry goes past the (recently and inexplicably controversial) ars poetica to question the reason for even being a poet. It is a refreshingly materialist answer to the tedious mysticism of the poet-as-seer trope. Yet, once that trope is removed, what does remain? Given the obliviousness of poetry in the general world and the more-specialized distain of poetry within the poetry world; what does choosing to become a poet mean? Why is preference developed apophatically? What are the ethical and social implications between recognition and oblivion?

This book is hand-bound with a pamphlet stitch and ornamental staple. The text pages are laser printed on 24 lb recycled paper. The cover is 80 lb flat white cover stock and laser printed with a complete coverage that gives a glossy feel and we think could give the book a level or wear or patina over time. This book is made in Milwaukee in an edition of 50.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Friday, April 10, 2020

Zurich Concert at Distantia video reading series

Here’s my contribution to Orchid Tierney’s wonderful Distantia video reading series, one of a book-length series of poems for and after Julius Eastman

The Movement Image Vol. 1

I’ve got a little piece on Midsommar in this new journal, The Movement Image. Grateful to the editors and contributors, Paul Ebenkamp, Grant Kerber, Katy Burnett, and Jamie Townsend.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Provisional Avant-Gardes with Sophie Seita at Printed Matter

November 9, 2019
4-6 PM
@ Printed Matter
Join us for a conversation between Sophie Seita and Thom Donovan, exploring Seita’s recent publication Provisional Avant-Gardes: Little Magazine Communities from Dada to Digital, published by Stanford University Press. Join the event on facebook here.
What would it mean to be avant-garde today? Arguing against the notion that the avant-garde is dead or confined to historically “failed” movements, this book offers a more dynamic and inclusive theory of avant-gardes that accounts for how they work in our present. Innovative in approach, Provisional Avant-Gardes focuses on the medium of the little magazine—from early Dada experiments to feminist, queer, and digital publishing networks—to understand avant-gardes as provisional and heterogeneous communities. Paying particular attention to neglected women writers, artists, and editors alongside more canonical figures, it shows how the study of little magazines can change our views of literary and art history while shedding new light on individual careers. By focusing on the avant-garde’s publishing history and group dynamics, Sophie Seita also demonstrates a new methodology for writing about avant-garde practice across time, one that is applicable to other artistic and non-artistic communities and that speaks to contemporary practitioners as much as scholars. In the process, she addresses fundamental questions about community, collaboration, and the intersections of aesthetic form and politics.
Sophie Seita’s practice spans text- and archive-based work, translation, performance, lecture-performance, video, and queer-feminist collaboration. Most recently, she’s the author of My Little Enlightenment: A Lecture Performance (Other Forms, 2019); the editor of The Blind Man (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2017), named one of the Best Art Books of 2017 by The New York Times; and the translator of Subsisters (Belladonna*, 2017) by Uljana Wolf, whose selected essays she’s in the process of translating. She’s also published on and continues to think about queer love poems, feminist hospitality, digital publishing, translation, multilingualism, experimental writing, forms of reading, and practice-as-research. She regularly performs and presents her work nationally and internationally and earlier this year had a solo exhibition at [ SPACE ] in London. Following three years of teaching at the University of Cambridge, she’s currently an Assistant Professor at Boston University, working on a book of lyric essays, tentatively called Lessons of Decal; and on a new performative installation The Gracious Ones, a philosophical ballet in pieces.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

from Other Suns (on Anne Lesley Selcer's Sun Cycle)

Throughout Selcer’s art writing and poetry the sun appears to us in so many aspects, both real and metaphorical. For instance, in her essay “Day and Night” she writes “We have a culture that no longer forms, and is no longer formed by an individual body growing up through concentric circles of mother’s arms, family, home, neighborhood, village or town, one which no longer resonates with, as Henri Lebrvre says, ‘days, nights, seasons, the waves and tides of the sea, monthly cycles.’” What has replaced the diurnal rhythms of the sun for Selcer and for us all are the rhythms of artificial daylight as it is extended through night, and the many suns of a billion screens embodied by our computer monitors, televisions, and phones. On the underbelly of an artificial and permanent daylight, is Georges Bataille’s “solar anus,” the sun that no longer produces but endlessly excretes, to which Selcer makes reference in her poem for the mass murderer Elliot Rodger, who killed and injured numerous people on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus in 2014, motivated by the hatred of, in her words, “women and racialized people.” The sun setting on empire, the sun no longer revolving around certain cultural ideals and forms and representations, also gives rise to sedimented expressions of violence enabled by resent and fear.

For more, subscribe to Patreon 

Monday, September 23, 2019

EASTMAN at Elecment

A few of my poems from EASTMAN, a new poetry ms., are up at Fence's beautiful Elecment. Profuse gratitude to Emily Wallis Hughes and her team for careful editing and inspiring design! Oh, and the feature includes extensive video footage of Julius Eastman performing "Stay On It" with SEM Ensemble circa 1973.

Attention to the music of Julius Eastman has had a major resurgence (one might more accurately say resurrection) since I started writing these poems roughly three years ago. Contributing to this resurgence have been countless performances of his works internationally in spaces for visual art, music, and contemporary dance, as well as an increasing amount of scholarship devoted to the composer. When I turned to Eastman, it was largely on account of my longtime interest in his milieus, principally that of the University of Buffalo and Upstate New York in the late 60s and early 70s, and of Manhattan’s Downtown and Disco scenes in the late 70s and 80s. Many poems from the larger manuscript of “Eastman” are engaged with these milieus and the intricate and intense social histories which they embody. Likewise, as with many of the poems I have written after artists and art works over the years, “Eastman” has offered me an opportunity to explore aesthetic practices other than my own and develop new (to myself) techniques for writing. For instance, a simple procedure that guides many of the poems here is to only write while listening to Eastman’s recorded music, a procedure I developed in the spirit of the “structured improvisations” of the composer’s collaborator, Arthur Russell. Yet another procedure which has guided the project is that of transcribing words and sounds. In the case of the former, I have a tendency to mishear (sung) language, which leads to some interesting transliterative effects, but which may also take-up what Fred Moten calls the “non-reduction of phonic substance,” a concept that has been generative both for my writing and teaching practices for over a decade. As the project deepens, and I listen more deeply—not just to Eastman’s works in themselves, but for their socio-political contexts and occasions—the richer and more nuanced I feel my relationship with the music becomes. Given Eastman’s penchant for allegory, and for a sort of virtuosic tricksterism, such a richness would seem inexhaustible despite the tragic dearth of his archive (many of his works were never recorded or recorded badly, and many of his scores were lost in a housing eviction in the late 80s, not long before his death at 49). This project is also indebted to the collective efforts of many scholars and thinkers who have made Eastman’s archive possible, not least of all Renée Levine Packer and Mary Jane Leach whose groundbreaking anthology, Gay Guerrilla, provides an invaluable resource for understanding Eastman’s biography and work. The music library at SUNY-Buffalo was kind enough to grant me access to otherwise unavailable archival recordings of Eastman performances, which accounts for the poems “Macle” and “440.” Thank you in particular to John Bewley, Associate Librarian and Archivist at the library.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Friday, June 21, 2019

RIP Warren Niesluchowski

I was fortunate enough to meet Warren Niesluchowski a few years back during this interview at CUE with Simon Leung and Sreshta Rit Premnath. He was a gentle soul, and an incredibly relevant artist for our times given his signature practice of itinerancy

Monday, June 10, 2019

Left Melancholic @ Patreon

Left Melancholic @ Patreon is an archive for writings and other materials dating back to 1999, including published and unpublished poems, essays, statements, notes, and criticism. It will also present an open notebook/studio for incubating current projects. By supporting this page you can contribute to my livelihood as a writer and independent researcher. To subscribe click on the button in the right-hand column.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

OVERWRITTEN questionnaire

When in your life have you wanted to write, but couldn’t? When have you had to stop writing? How did this affect your sense of being a writer? How may it have changed your writing?

In what ways is writing separate from your other practices, and in what ways is it integrated? Do you intend writing to be separate from other things you do? If so, why? Would you like to integrate them better? If so, how might you accomplish this?

Describe a project you have abandoned, whether a writing project or something else, that you would like to return to. Why would you like to return to it? What problems do you foresee in returning to it and attempting to revisit, revise, or complete it?

In what ways is duration an active quality in your work? How does the passing of time (or the fact of time having passed) contribute to what you produce as a writer/artist?

Given the fact that under misogynist racial capitalism we all live with intermittent crises to varying degrees and in different ways (whether racial discrimination, gendered violence, the exploitation of our labor, sickness, poverty, displacement, a lack of resources, etc.), how have such crises shaped your processes as a writer/artist? With the manifestation of a work, do these crises remain present in the work? If so, how?

In the absence of such crises, how might you hope to write or make work differently?

In what ways has “failure” facilitated the making of your work? Describe a work you have made that has been a “success” insofar as it has manifested from, or managed to address, its beginnings in failure?

In what ways does “not writing” (non-productivity) constitute a rhythm/rhythms for your work (productivity)?

Have you ever stopped writing/making for an ethical and/or political reason? If so, describe. What, if anything, were the consequences of stopping? In what ways may this “stopping” have produced something of value, albeit inadvertently?

Are there certain subjects or is there certain content that you feel your work can only address negatively, through their exclusion; which is to say, by not writing about them, or by only addressing them through restraint? If so, describe.

Are there ways you feel like you cannot write? Are there genres that you feel you cannot write in, because you are barred from writing in them, or because you feel that they do not serve you or others like you? If so, describe.

What genres most serve you and others like you? What genres do you feel you need to invent, because they may be able to serve yourself and others like you? What, if any, genres should be abandoned, avoided, or abolished?