Entries tagged with poetry

Document 66: The Bungalows

[In memory of John Ashbery]

ashbery collage 01

THE BUNGALOWS

Impatient as we were for all of them to join us,
The land had not yet risen into view: gulls had swept the gray steel towers away
So that it profited less to go searching, away over the humming earth
Than to stay in immediate relation to these other things—boxes, store parts, whatever you wanted to call them—
Whose installedness was the price of further revolutions, so you knew this combat was the last.
And still the relationship waxed, billowed like scenery on the breeze.

They are the same aren’t they,
The presumed landscape and the dream of home
Because the people are all homesick today or desperately sleeping,
Trying to remember how those rectangular shapes
Became so extraneous and so near
To create a foreground of quiet knowledge
In which youth had grown old, chanting and singing wise hymns that
Will sign for old age
And so lift up the past to be persuaded, and be put down again.

… More

Document 52: Plan B

Plan B is Poem of the Week!

plan b broadside 1

plan b broadside 2

Mark Olival-Bartley has published the first 22 (of 101) tercets of “Plan B,” my poem refusing normalization after the 2016 election, in his Poem of the Week series in Munich. I will read it, and Franziska Ruprecht will perform the poem in German translation, along with other work, on Thursday, July 6, 7:30 PM, at the JYM in Munich. Click here for more information.

Document 48: I Saw (Chicago)

Chicago, 18–20 November 2016

Friday, November 18

Jennifer Rupert
Chris Glomski

Saturday, November 19

40 Years, part 2: Gender. Race. Identity @ Rhona Hoffman
Courttney Cooper @ Western Exhibitions
Four Large Drawings @ Western Exhibitions
Ania Jaworska @ VOL
Sara Greenberger Rafferty @ Document
McArthur Binion @ Kavi Gupta
Lisa Nankivil @ McCormick Gallery
Diana Guerrero-Maciá @ Carrie Secrist
Anne Lindberg @ Carrie Secrist
Justin John Greene @ Andrew Rafacz
Theaster Gates @ Richard Gray
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago … More

DREAM

Broken headline column:
“YOU ARE GO
IN TO END”
Allen Ginsberg dives through the space hatch.
I watch him from the rim, hear his voice
trail a statement “MAN ISSSSSSSSSS . . . . . . . . ”
as he disappears into dot-hood.
The Poets—Anne Waldman, me, “all The Poets”—float
in interstellar space—a substance I
can touch, a fine sheen. & then I’m up against the sun,
its soft orange neon glow. “THE SUN,” I say, “IS BIG!”
Pause, a chair sails silent past me & into solar radiance.
“CHAIR INTO SUN!” I remark (a parody of big
poetical remark).
Then I am back on Earth,
speed-skating on the “Power-Cones.”

—from This 8 (1977); see also Portrait and Dream, p. 154

I had come to New York with a purpose—to visit Ted Greenwald, whose health had been failing (see here), and to make contact with people and see art (see here). I was not expecting to see Bill, whom I knew had been living partly in New York but whom I had not seen for some time (not since we read at MOCAD in Detroit, an event so poorly framed and executed—not by Bill, of course, who sounded great—that I only remember it with displeasure). One of my contacts mentioned that Bill would be reading with Kyle Schlesinger at a gallery in Chelsea, and sent an email with time and place, to begin at 5:30. … More

I was in New York for a purpose—for one thing, I had not been for a while and it was time to catch up. At a conference in Boston, I received a phone call from Kit Robinson, in the middle of a session on surrealism no less, that Ted Greenwald’s health was failing. I made plans to visit as soon as the semester was over; a day was arranged, a plane flight, a hotel booking, and other appointments fell into place. I’ve outlined what I did over the four-day weekend here. The time was specified for 2 P.M. Ted was chipper over the phone: “I have an earlier appointment, but I can see you then.” He books his time like a New Yorker, I noted; I don’t, in some unstated way assuming every event is its own uniqueness, even if that has long since become unworkable as a way to manage time. (So it came to pass that I work the day shift on the assembly line of Modernity Inc., headquarters in Detroit. But what’s the difference? Differing cultural styles of time management all depend on the same passage of time.) I was nervous about the event; he had not overprepared it. … More

920x920

Bill Berkson Memorial
San Francisco Art Institute
24 July 2016

Moses Berkson
Nathaniel Dorsky
Duncan McNaughton
Mac McGinnes
Clark Coolidge
Norma Cole
Doug Hall
Joanne Kyger
… More

The following is a collectively authored and lightly edited chronology of significant events and publications in poetry and poetics from 2010 to 2015. Submit 3–5 entries, including year and month, to barrett.watten@gmail.com for inclusion. The project is intended to sample an expansive account of poetic activity during this period, as an aid to memory, reflection, and action.

 2010

April   Alice Notley, Reason and Other Women (Chax Press)
Rae Armantrout wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

June   Rethinking Poetics conference, Columbia University; organized by Bob Perelman and Michael Golsten

July   95 Cent Skool: Summer Seminar in Social Poetics, Oakland; organized by Joshua Clover and Juliana Spahr

October   Final volume of The Grand Piano: An Experiment in Collective Autobiography (Mode A/This Press)
Gail Scott, The Obituary (Nightboat); a novel close to poetry and the impact of First Nations genocide on urban psycho-geography

November   Ed Roberson, To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan UP)

December   Kit Robinson, Determination (Cuneiform Press)

2011

August   Durruti Free Skool, sequel to the 95 Cent Skool, Berkeley
ARMED CELL 1, ed. Brian Ang, distributed at Durruti Free Skool

September   Start of Occupy movement, which would include significant participation and related publishing by poets

November   Performances of The Grand Piano at University of California Berkeley and California College of Arts, San Francisco (dates t/k)

2012

 

 

January   Death of Stacy Doris (January 31)

February   Franziska Ruprecht’s Dichtwerkvariété events combine performed writing with American variety show style in Munich, Germany

April   Lyn Hejinian, The Book of a Thousand Eyes (Omnidawn)

May   Death of Leslie Scalapino (May 28)

September   Death of Arkadii Dragomoshchenko (September 12)

November   Amiri Baraka at the African-American Museum, Detroit (November 16)

2013

May   East Bay Poetry Summit

September   Carla Harryman, W/M (Split Level)

November   Ronald Johnson, Ark (Flood Editions)

2014

January   Death of Amiri Baraka (January 19)

March    Nathaniel Mackey, Outer Pradesh (Anomalous Press)

May   The Water Street Journal; an act of sublime and politically radical piracy published on May Day without a barcode and distributed free in Ypsilanti, MI

December   10th anniversary of Dos Madres Press, Heterotopia Book Store, Cincinnati (date t/k)

2015

January   Franziska Ruprecht, Meer-Maid (Wolfbach Verlag)

February   Tony Sanders (d. February 11) wins the Bernard F. Conners Prize

March   Kenneth Goldsmith performs Michael Brown’s autopsy report at Brown University (date t/k)

June   Cancellation of Berkeley Poetry Conference after complaints over inclusion of Vanessa Place; the conference is restructured and renamed Crosstalk, Color, Composition: A Berkeley Poetry Conference

August   Death of Stephen Rodefer (August 22)
Hungarian PEN awards Charles Bernstein the Janus Pannonius Grand Prize for Poetry

September   A poetry reading with three black men and one working-class man of unspecified ethnicity in an Ypsilanti house to celebrate one among them who has suffered from police harassment (September 11)

Document 34: Les Revues

The following is Martin Richet’s translation of “Magazines,” the first prose poem in Opera—Works (1975); it appears in the first issue of his handsomely produced translation journal Jongler (ordering information below). It does not address the question of whiteness, which has been preoccupying us, but does address feeling states around the possibility of being a poet.

Les Revues

Tu es dans un bâtiment puis à l’extérieur. À seize kilomètres de là, tu le visualises à peine — tu vois le sol depuis le ciel au ralenti. En même temps tu sens l’hélicoptère qui s’enfonce dans la rue. L’avion fend un nuage.

Le simultané comme attribut du non ressenti. Le littéral comme attribut du ressenti. Un simple intérêt littéral pour la diversité du monde et les implications des choses.

Un abonnement à une revue que l’on considère vaguement divertissante et complètement dispensable. Un carnet de correspondance — une bénédiction — un baiser mérité. L’horticulture variégée vue à la lumière ambiante. Les petites boîtes de plantes, les pots en céramique, les tiges vertes coupées, des tâches simples.

La gestion compliquée des tâches simples. Tu t’abonnes à une revue, la revue arrive, tu y jettes un oeil et tu t’inquiètes.

Les revues, c’est possible ?

*     *     *
… More

Reaching further back into my personal archive of whiteness, I find this poem—written in Iowa City about 1971 or ’72 and published in 1975, on the theme. It is the second poem in my first book, Opera—Works. The title quotes a line from Charles Olson’s “The Kingfishers.”

The Whiteness Which Covers All

Magnum opus
white
marginal waves
nested in whiteness

The triangle dilated
fragments—
the voracious snake
hidden
in the sheets of—

White sea
flat under a white sky

The narrow eye, such that
it encompassed the
compelling frigidity.

I was
witnessed throughout.

From Barrett Watten, Opera—Works (Bolinas, Calif.: Big Sky Books, 1975), 6; reprinted in Frame (1971–1990) (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon, 1997), 280. Copyright (c) Barrett Watten 1975, 1997, 2015.

The current discussion on the “whiteness of the avant-garde,” following Cathy Park Hong’s article in the journal Lana Turner, has brought up the question of whether avant-garde poets fail to deal with a supposed “color blindness” in their radical forms and experimental practices. The following is a section from Bad History, written in 1992 and published by Lyn Hejinian and Travis Ortiz’s Atelos Press in 1998, that addresses the cultural construction of whiteness—my own, in fact. It was written the summer following the Los Angeles riots after the beating of Rodney King, and is informed stylistically by the art writing I had been doing in Artweek during that period—many instances of which took up matters of cultural politics across the spectrum of race, class, and gender. It would only be a short while before I took up my teaching position at Wayne State University in Detroit, but that is another story. Those calling out the “avant-garde” as not confronting its racial cultural logics need to look a bit further.

To Elsie

On being the white male heterosexual I’m supposed to see myself “as”—but who’s looking? For William Carlos Williams, as a pure product Elsie was the exception that proved the rule of his own impure lack of identity—the non-solution of “no one driving the car” being the prescient mastery of a situation the poet’s white male heterosexual heirs would have to negotiate sixty years hence. And so indeed have we come to see ourselves predicted as the outcome of our incommensurate acts—Williams in ironizing himself as “not” the pure product he would libidinally like to be; we in retreating from the historical sentimentality of his look. Now we can only admit to having no such desire left as Williams would have liked to preserve—unless we are willing to be seen, in self-contradiction, “as” violent dissociations of Williams’s self-objectification. But does the resulting desire—”not mine”—convey any more politics than the one I could claim by negating my own lack of identity in the white male heterosexual’s violently self-destructive but cannily self-preservative acts? Think of Chris Burden shooting at a jetliner in 1973—it is of course granted that he missed. Such desire can have no object—either it casts itself out as its own unknowing or it is observed, from a distance, as something needing to be controlled. Are you someone who needs to be controlled? … More