Entries tagged with poetry

Event 48: The New 1–10

The Other Fabulous Reading Series
The Long Haul Infoshop
Berkeley, California
2 January 2015; info here
with Brian Ang, Patricia Murphy, and Chelsea Tadeyeske

“The New 1–10

Introduction, Questions of Poetics (MS)
Zone LI (in Armed Cell 7) + The Grand Piano 10, 000–00
Zone LII + The Grand Piano 9, 000–00
Zone LII + The Grand Piano 8, 000–00
Zone LIII + The Grand Piano 7, 000–00
Zone LIV + The Grand Piano 6, 000–00
Zone LV + The Grand Piano 5, 000–00
Zone LVI + The Grand Piano 4, 000–00
Zone LVII + The Grand Piano 3, 000–00
Zone LVIII + The Grand Piano 2, 000–00
Zone LIX  + The Grand Piano 1, 000–00

(Thanks to Brian Ang for his reading of “Barrett Watten, 1999“)


Document 28: In Memory


Artist: Shiy De-Jinn;
photo: Jan Watten

In memory
Raymond Henry Watten
20 August 1922–23 August 2013

Minneapolis, MN–Santa Rosa, CA


On Summit Street
across from a marble
monument, a large spray-
painted sign with his
initials in red block
letters. The background
is black. Next to the initials,
RHW, is a high contrast
image, a snapshot of him.
It is late summer, a
humid afternoon with slight
breeze. A bus goes by.
He comes out to meet it.

—from Opera—Works (1975)

I was a new arrival at the Iowa Writers Workshop, c. 1971–72. Given the kind of confessional, autobiographical, narrative poetry the workshop cared about, workshop leader Marvin Bell thought to prompt: “Write a poem about your father!” This is what I came up with. I did not return with a poem in which I was sharpening a tool behind the woodshed, wondering what to do next. The red-on-black high-contrast image appears to be a screen image for Salvador Allende, killed in the Chilean coup in 1973. My father did not represent Pinochet, but he was in his career a military officer and research doctor during the Vietnam War. He wrote a thoughtful support letter in my campaign to resist the draft, I should add. The location of the image (imagined) translates the psychogeographies of Charles Olson and Robert Smithson onto the quotidian landscape of Iowa City. Of course all such cultural references are to my own family romance. It strikes me that the season and weather described in the poem are those of today precisely, 23 August 2013, while in the poem, the bus and his emergence from the “home” of the title do not coincide. As now they just did.

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Amsterdam reading 1200Reading @ Amsterdam
Perdu/Lloyd Hotel
Oostelijke Handelskade 34
8:00 PM, 30 July 2013

After reading via Skype at the Amsterdam poetry venue Perdu last fall, for a thematic program based on the formal idea of “parataxis,” I wanted to return and present my work in person. I was able to arrange a reading through Samuel Vriezen and Frank Keizer, which due to the renovations undergoing at Perdu, would take place at the Lloyd Hotel, booked as “the world’s first 1-5 star hotel.” The hotel itself has a history and design idea, recounted here.

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Planisphere, by John Ashbery. New York: HarperCollins/Ecco Press, 2009.

There is one poem in Planisphere I would love to have written. I see it as an apogee of Ashbery’s art, toward which all combinations of rhetoric and slippage, on their elliptical path, tend. This is language art at its finest. I’ll leave it at that:


You don’t see so much of these anymore,
not see so much of this. There were others
who saw more. Innocence is cool,
he offered. Now not so much.
Innocence is the finish. Through all our
wide day it stressed. It was foolish to argue,
idle to come undone. The post arrived.
It all failed. All failed somewhere. [104]

Event 16: I Met (Millay)

I Met (Millay)
5–25 August 2010
Millay Colony for the Arts
Austerlitz, New York
(after On Kawara)

Tisa Bryant
Lulu Sylbert
Paolo Javier
Mia Feuer
Ryan Schroeder
Gary Peter
Calliope Nicholas
Carolyn Crumpacker

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:


Document 08: Laura Ulewicz

Stephen Vincent, in response to my entry on Sylvia Plath [Entry 06: “Sylvia Plath’s Collage”], sent a poem by little-known California poet Laura Ulewicz. Ulewicz, who was born in Detroit, spent the early 60s in the U.K., where she met Plath, returned to San Francisco in the late 60s, then lived in Locke, Calif., where she died in 2007. Vincent is editing a selection of her work. His note follows the first section of the poem (which is set in Detroit). Of particular interest to me is the narrative/sentence interface, between confessionalism and the New Sentence:

from Nightmares to Be Born

I. Reality

Elizabeth Barrett hunched up in a book
While the foxes in my head ran round a tree
The foxes in my head ran round a tree
Under the ether. The nurses joked together,
“Freud at five.” Everyone (my father
And mother) disapproved. Baba, I cried
Because they’d bury the foxes that were so happy.
I hid the foxes alive inside my crying.

The Brontë sisters—But my own real friends.
Detroit a sex machine. Joey
And I, thirteen, peddling into Duns Scotus.*
Trees. Sanctuary for birds, God.
But then she was racing, racing. The boys put a stick
In my spokes. Falling I hit them. Hit them old
As the naked man in the basement who pumped his head
And lied. Oh, if I should grow up Beatrice.

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Document 07: L’événement

Non-Events I

Morning turns inside out. The engine
        is diseased, as it floats along
        approximate ice. High contrast
geometry of persons straightens out from
        meandering road. Desperate focus
never looks back. Progress makes possible
        a paralyzed attendant, set apart
        an end to himself (moral noise).

 —Frame: 1971–1990 (Sun & Moon, 1997), 13

Avenue Poupelard in the center of this devastated city pulses with life and reeks of death almost two weeks after the earthquake. Before what Haitians call “the event,” it was a chaotically bustling street of lottery kiosks and cybercafes, gated homes and shacks, churches and schools. Now, a coffin maker spends the day hammering wood as fast as he can get it, while the body of a 6-year-old boy decomposes in the ruins of a school. … More

Link 05: Plasma in Italian

“Plasma,” the lead poem in Plasma/Paralleles/”X” (Tuumba, 1979), has been translated into Italian by Gherardo Bortolotti in the online journal G A M M M (joining previous translations into French, Dutch, and site-specific sculpture). The text and link are provided below. The next thing for me to do, clearly, is to attempt a homophonic translation!


Un paradosso è mangiato dallo spazio che gli sta attorno.

Ripeterò ciò che ho detto.

Far diventare una città una stagione è come indossare occhiali da sole dentro un vulcano.

Non dimentica mai i suoi sogni.

L’effetto della mancanza d’effetto.

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Link 04: Poetry Is

In 2007 or thereabouts, I ran into Detroit poet Chris Tysh on W. 26th Street in Chelsea. It must have been Saturday. Simultaneously, we were hailed (as it were) by the poet George Quasha, who invited us in to the White Box Gallery to take part in a video project he was making. In another version of this story, I must have been contacted by Quasha, who invited me to the gallery, and I arrived at the same time as Chris Tysh. In a third version of the story, Carla Harryman was also present, to be hailed or invited by George Quasha. 

In any case, Quasha asked me to compose myself, face a video camera and speak in whatever manner I chose, at whatever length I might, to the topic “Poetry is . . . .” After giving it some thought I did so. Carla Harryman likewise spoke to the question. Chris Tysh composed herself and spoke, while I remained at a respectful distance, not wanting to interfere. Kristin Prevallet may also have been there, composed herself, and likewise spoke.

Later, I wrote George Quasha about whether the project had come to fruition. He answered in inspecific terms. From that time forward I heard nothing more until, clicking on a Google link to an rss feed site called Tumblr, I came across evidence that the work existed and that I was in it, along with almost anyone else who might have an answer to that question. The resulting video is a compilation of some interest that just might speak to what “poetry is . . . .” 

The video has been out for about one week. My segment can be found at 34:45.

poetry is [vol. I] from George Quasha on Vimeo.

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