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An advance copy of A Guide to Poetics Journal: Writing in the Expanded Field, 1982-98 has just arrived. Orders may be placed now but will be fulfilled later (check here for updates on delivery). The entire project will not be “launched” until Fall 2013, when the companion Poetics Journal Digital Archive–which reprints nearly all of the 124 articles, 1600 published pages of the original journal in searchable, digital form–will be available. UPNE’s site for the anthology is here; a table of contents for the Guide may be found here. Click on either cover for a larger version.

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Luke Harley, “Poetry as Virtual Community: A Review of The Grand Piano: An Experiment in Collective Autobiography,” Jacket2, 7 February 2013. Click here.  

In part due to its demanding format—ten volumes by ten authors, published over a five-year period (2006–10), totaling over 1600 pages—and in part due to the difficult questions of poetics and community it raises, The Grand Piano has only now, more than two years after the last volume saw the light, received the kind of engaged and comprehensive review that will help open its project to readers in all its multiple dimensions. Barry Schwabsky’s 2011 review in The Nation, uploaded to this site, was likewise welcome as an enthusiastic introduction to a broader readership, one that perhaps had not heard of Language writing and would like to know more. Harley’s review, on the other hand,  assumes not only familiarity but positional engagement with the movement, these authors, this writing. Working through the debates of the 70s and 80s, as we did in The Grand Piano, Harley’s discussion extends literary history into the concerns of the present; it becomes, as Foucault would have said, a work of effective history. In so doing, his review joins Eleana Kim’s 2001 online history of Language writing to offer a broad overview of the movement, contributing to the work of documenting the past history and present possibility of language-centered poetics. Going beyond mere narrative history, critical readings like Harley’s reinterpret the effort to document the movement as a reenactment of its polemical force—from the archival matter of readings, talks, magazines, and books to its real-time engagement. Given the depth of discussion Harley and predecessors have initiated, one can only hope they will encourage more. La lutte continue!

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The New Yorker‘s recent gatekeeping effort to separate Rae Armantrout from the rest of her friends in the Language school. While it is never true that negative reviews sell books—they can kill a book as often as they sell it—here the demon of curiosity can only be let out of the bag with tantalizing references to an entire literary history a middle-brow readership has never heard of, and of course will only want to know more about:


Selections from Slechte Geschiedinis (Bad History), trans. Samuel Vriezen, Parmentier 19, no. 1, special issue on “Documentaire poëzie” (Documentary Poetics; March 2010), 48-56.


De eerste Parmentier van dit jaar staat grotendeels in het teken van hedendaagse ‘documentaire poëzie’ uit Amerika. Documentaire poëzie is poëzie die zich nadrukkelijk presenteert als een vorm van documentatie en zich plaatst te midden van allerhande nieuwsfeiten, historische gebeurtenissen en situaties. In het door hen samengestelde en ingeleide dossier laten Arnoud van Adrichem, Frank Keizer en Samuel Vriezen zien wat er gebeurt wanneer documentaire vormen als krantenberichten, wetteksten en beleidsrapporten onderdak krijgen in de poëzie.

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Michael Waltuch’s Whale Cloth Press, the original publisher of Robert Grenier’s Sentences in the Chinese box version (with ivory clasps, manufactured in Hong Kong), has put up a mediated version of the poem.


It is interesting to think about the tensions between the work in its print/index card/box format and its digital one—they are not identical. For one thing, even though the cards are displayed in a random order, different each time, they can never be displayed spatially—tacked up on a bulletin board, or placed on steps, or photographed in the crotch of a tree. The box was a three-dimensional boundary (like the skin surrounding the body of the work) that is quite a bit unlike a frame for a static two-dimensional image or an html page with flash animation. And yet the work is finding a new reception that reads the individual instances of the text in a kind of “free space” of interpretation:


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Ice house, Detroit, 2010.

A link to the Ice House Detroit project, courtesy Joe Paszek. In this project, Detroit artists sprayed an abandoned house with water in January, in a reversal of the usual method of getting rid of excess housing inventory by fire (a.k.a. Devil’s Night, a custom that seems to be on the wane). There is a description of a similar midwestern moment in Wyndham Lewis’s Self-Condemned (1954), where he describes a Toronto hotel encased in ice after a fire.


“Ashbery’s Historicism: Regions of Modernity
          in The Double Dream of Spring

Workshop Session III, 14:30–17:00
Friday, 12 March 2010

John Ashbery in Paris: International Conference
11–13 March 2010
Institut Charles V, Université Paris Diderot

For the complete program, see:

From Drew Daniel’s “pretheoretical” account of Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats:

By replacing the swing and feel of live instruments with the rigidity of sequencers, TG ensured that their stab at funk would feel mechanical, deliberately inhuman, lacking in interplay. By replacing tight riffs and thoughtful, carefully sculpted solos with murky cornet groans and detuned modular synth squiggles, TG ensured that their take on jazz would feel alien, impoverished, the musical equivalent of milk that’s gone slightly but noticeably “off.” The song feels like a setup and induces a kind of creeping self-consciousness on the part of the listener it is ostensibly designed to relax and seduce. [45]

Link 09: Content Concept

Midwestern Water Wars is an on-going wiki project to construct an evolving knowledge base of an apocryphal series of natural/human events in the mid-twentieth-century biosphere:


Its process of construction combines elements of indexicality and narrative, dada informatics and role-playing games. The authors add content and develop the site structure independently and in dialogue with each other. The evolving narrative structure produces, as its outer horizon, a lexicon of terms that become its conceptual framework—and vice versa. This is an example of site construction as an emerging digital genre.

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from Research

A number of Jews had to drink seawater only
to find out how long they could stand it.
In their torment
they threw themselves on the mops and rags
used by the hospital attendants
and sucked the dirty water out of them
to quench the thirst
driving them man.

—Charles Reznikoff, Holocaust, 9–10

How might such a poem be read?