Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with CA Conrad (at The Academy of American Poets)

Somatic is derived from the Greek, and it's our flesh. It's also the body's cavity, the place where our organs rest, live, and work. The organs where EVERYTHING we eat, drink, and breathe EVERY DAY gets processed, built into the cells of the body, or of course discarded. THE MOLECULES! THE MOLECULES! I like to take the traditional definition of Somatic further because I believe VERY STRONGLY that every memory we have is cellular. The latest research on the human brain locates the actual, physical life of memory. Memory is a THING. It's in the brain, and it's alive, as alive as a toe or lip. We also know from centuries of pressure-point manipulation, acupuncture, and massage that muscles and other human tissue hold memories. Our bodies actually remember. They remember trauma, love, joy. Memory is everything, for without it we couldn't be having this conversation. Living in the present, as my Buddhist friends keep urging, is futile. It's a search that needs the memory of language, the memory of conduct, love, fear; it's a search, which relies, as any search would rely, on memory, and all memory is past unless you are psychic and see the future, but that's just another kind of memory. I have nothing against Buddhism by the way, in fact I have more affection for Buddhism than any other structured religion. My religion is Poetry, not a religion of kindness and love but one of absolute permission. If poetry doesn't strip me naked in front of me enemies then nothing will.

The Mud Proposal // Withdrawn 1st draft

Aryanil Mukherjee and Pat Clifford's The MUD Proposal just dropped, featuring work by Neelanjana Banerjee, Madhuja Mukherjee, David Chirot, Tyrone Williams, Clifford, and myself. Proud to be part of this cross- cultural and disciplinary endeavor, of which Clifford and Mukherjee write: "Any metamorphosis initiates at an epithelial level. It begins by rupturing the skin. The boundary. The veneer of separation that stands against epitaxies that in the pretense of feeling and mapping cultures actually prevents transfusion. The purpose of The Mud Proposal is to excite and showcase projects - literary and cross-media - that serve to hasten the transfiguration of one discipline, motive, tradition, medium, procedure and cultural practice into others through free-associations and meditated exchanges."


“Withdrawn” is a draft of a forthcoming book of poems and other texts. Like my first book, The Hole (2012), it responds to conditions of friendship, community, and the relationship between private and public life during a series of ongoing disasters, both global and local, actual and virtual, ecological and geopolitical. In the process of writing The Hole I realized that what separates a “book” from a collection of texts has something to do with the book’s potential to model and activate certain forms of gathering. So I suspect that Withdrawn, to become a book, will require years still of extension and further thought about what its own gathering could mean. Thanks to the editors of BOMB, The Offending Adam, Peacock Online Review, The Poetry Project Newsletter, and WITH + STAND where some of these texts have appeared. Thanks also to Aryanil Mukherjee for inviting me to put this draft together in a PDF form for his MUD project.

Enframing the Brink Part 4 (with Brandon Brown, at BOMBLOG)

Today I walked around my office and thought, this is what contemporary capitalism looks like, I mean, from the crudest, most painterly subject position. Subjects absorbed in rectangles. The perfect fit of our bodies and the rectangles, Bifo’s warning (full of pathos) concerning a world marked by connection replacing one that doesn’t fit, that conjuncts, that meets but doesn’t quite fit. I think “enframing the brink” is a key tactic—a parataxis of forms desperate to make themselves known to us, only available to sense perception on the brink and only representable by finding ways of framing the brink.

Debt (II)

--for David Buuck and James Schuyler
after reading David Graeber's Debt

Debtors take back the park
Against this “communism of the rich”
Take back the square for hoods
We are every one inside

The park we remark upon spring
Mourning not a matter of speech
For when we are all public
No speaking will be saved

We spring there is a debt
There is another
What we have mourned the loss of
The loss of those chains

All there is to lose
Transported by bodies in space
Virtual credits we will pay
Back in peace times

No time for bullion leveraging
Rights to this actual dance
Transported by proximity
The sun does not come out

But it feels like spring anyway
I can only imagine
What art will do
On the other side of occupation

Right now the art of going to jail
The art of being bailed-out
The art of legal fees
“Our rap sheets, ourselves” (D. Buuck)

“What are you doing in there?”
“What are you doing out there?”
(Emerson and Thoreau)
Dialectics of jail time and being sprung

The poetics of white cuffs
Slowly the truth comes out and it hurts
Who hears the sleeping leaves at night?
What art would be without its value

In the marketplace
Who we will owe when this is over
What you will miss is longing to end
The utopian longing in remote controlled boats

On the pond in Central Park
Brought suddenly to a focus
By being in public unquieted
What Olmstead dreamt is spreading

Spread the debt around
Here is a credit
You can use anywhere
A debt owed to the season

Paid in future generations
Who the people are in the future
Do they still breathe air like us
Luxuriate in walking dogs pond-side

As in a Schuyler hymn?
What the opposite of momento mori is
Remember to live
Virtuosity of budding and going to jail

Who will be left to jail us
If we are all in jail
Though it is no wish of mine
Winter lingers in the mind

Other seasons more pastoral
Then this one can be
Don’t forget to put ordinary things in your poems
Things that should most of all remind us

What we owe
Written in blood like the things we make
Like a ledger of bad faith
Think of the things you take

For granted then take
Some of them away
Enabling yourself through this process
Try to write a poem

That will actualize those powers
You didn’t know you had
Like a credit
Like a secret debt.