A few faves from my 2010 reading list

by on Dec.31, 2010

1. The Cow, this manifesto about The Cow, Yes, & “When I Looked At Your Cock My Imagination Died”—I jumped on this train a little late, but I never want to jump off.

2. Ghost Fargo, by Paula Cisewski

3. The Book of Frank and the Som(atic) Poetry Exercises from the magical world of C.A. Conrad

4. Eileen Myles: The Inferno; The Importance of Being Iceland; Sorry, Tree; + all of her Harriet posts especially the one involving Eliot Weinberger and the ensuing commentary! (I’m a fan of Weinberger, but you really have to admire her chutzpah.)

5. Dodie Bellamy’s Barf Manifesto as well as Belladodie

6. From Trinity to Trinity by Kyoko Hayashi, translated by Eiko Otake, as well as Unforgettable Fire: Pictures Drawn by Atomic Bomb Survivors, a scan of which you can download here.

7. Torture of Women by Nancy Spero

8. Feminaissance & Poets on Teaching

9. Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers by George Oppen

10. Reason & Other Women by Alice Notley

11. Occultations by David Wolach

12. Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, Artist Body, When Marina Abramovic Dies, by James Westcott, Art/Love/Friendship, by Thomas McEvilley, & Marina Abramovic/Hans Ulrich Obrist (in which I learned about the Italian artist Gino De Dominicis who sold an invisible work to a famous collector and later shipped the work to the collector’s address and placed the invisible work in the collector’s house. De Dominicis also made a show in a museum that was open only to dogs, through a tiny dog-sized door.) (I sat with Marina, Day 65)

13. Invisible Daughter (unpublished manuscript) by John Colburn

14. Squeezed Light, by Lissa Wolsak (and these two reviews about her work)

15. Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers, by Kim Hyesoon

16. Killing Kanoko, by Hiromi Ito

17. Song of His Disappeared Love, by Raúl Zurita

18. Manatee/Humanity, by Anne Waldman

19. And perhaps my very favorite book of the year, Incantations: Songs, Spells, and Images by Mayan Women (edited by Ambar Past)

20. Like Johannes, I also favored Poemland, Poems of the Black Object, and Nick Demske (which I just read the other night and I love it so much I’m going to teach it next semester. GO NICK DEMSKE!)

And many others… Looking forward, in 2011, to MC Hyland’s Neveragainland, Bernadette Mayer’s Studying Hunger Journal, Anne Waldman’s Iovis Trilogy: Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment, Alice Notley’s Culture of One, Dolores Dorante, Melissa Buzzeo, Lily Hoang, O Fallen Angel, Nor Hall’s Traces, Kent Johnson’s A Question Mark Above the Sun, new Chris Martin, and a hundred more in piles or otherwise in waiting everywhere.

Happy New Year!

11 comments for this entry:
  1. Sarah Fox

    I also really loved 10 Mississippi by Steve Healey and Find the Girl by Lightsey Darst and I read The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love you for the first time this year with great pleasure.

  2. david

    No love for The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson in 2011??????
    That’s the one to watch for, imo!

  3. David Wolach

    First, Sarah, thanks for the shout out! Honored to be among such imaginative and daring company. Plus, my Occultations notwithstanding, I really love your list – it’s a great set of references for the aesthetico-politics (visionary poetics) of the body, e.g. the Abramovic book, from which I’ll be teaching this semester… thanks much! And best wishes. Solidarity, david wolach

  4. Sarah Fox

    Thank you, David, for Occultations, and all the rich visionary work you do, embody, and invite. I would love to sit in on your class when you teach Abramovic! Wishing you health & bliss for 2011. XO

    Here’s a great interview with David Wolach: http://phillysound.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html

  5. Nick Demske

    this is a fat-nasty list and my mind is blown to be included on it as soon-to-be required reading. Damn, Montevidayo is unstoppable. Thanks, Sarah. Definitely good news to start off my new year.

    sidenote- the link for “When I Looked At Your Cock” doesn’t seem to go anywhere, which I’m bummed about because I’m ariana crazy and I don’t think I’ve read that. Could you hook a brother up?

  6. Kent Johnson


    Thanks for mentioning my book on Koch and O’Hara in your list. Here’s a recent interview where I discuss the book and some of the controversy that sprung up around it:


    Happy New Year,


  7. Sarah Fox

    Nick—I fixed the link for Ariana, enjoy! And congratulations on such an outstanding first book, Nick Demske is going to be a blast to teach. As a fellow (former) cheesehead (Milwaukee), I admit to feeling a special thrill. Do you know Antler?

    Kent—thanks for the update. I was glad to have discovered the controversy etc not long ago and have been following with fascination & delight. I added a link to the recent interview. Onward!

  8. Eliot Weinberger

    Among these excellent books, I wonder what was so admirable about Eileen Myles’ blogs against me. Her attacks were not based on anything I’d ever written– which would have been legitimate– but rather on a vague memory of meeting me many years ago and some rumors she’d heard about me. Her characterization of me was so far-fetched– I sneer at people who work?– that I thought she might have confused me with someone else.

    I’ve always liked Myles, the times I’ve seen her perform, and we exchanged some friendly letters in the 70s. I had never said or written a word against her. My crime was that a young poet (I’ve never heard of) wrote a negative review of a book (I’ve never seen) that Myles likes. In a passing half-sentence, he paraphrased something I said twenty years ago. After demolishing the poor kid, she moved on to me.

    Myles was paid to write blogs for a large audience on an institutional (not personal) website, under the aegis of the wealthiest poetry org in America– one, by the way, in which I’ve never had any connection, either in the magazine or on the web. She used this opportunity to tell her readers at length that some guy (probably unknown or of no interest to them) is, in person, a total jerk. Is that bold (chutzpah) or is that pathetic?

  9. Sarah Fox

    Hi Eliot, thanks for this thoughtful comment, and for inducing me to clarify why I included the Harriet comment stream (which BTW I only discovered after the fact—I’m not a regular reader and hadn’t been following it live) on my list. I think it’s safe to say that most readers of the Harriet blog, not to mention most readers of poetry, are deeply familiar with and interested in your work as an essayist, translator, editor, activist, intellectual, and clear-eyed advocate for poetry. I assume—perhaps naively—that, especially among poets, your literary reputation is indisputable. It might also be safe to say that these readers are likewise familiar with Myles’ “chutzpah,” as I (awkwardly—I don’t think I’ve ever used that word in a piece of writing!) characterized it: her particular flare and, in her own words, penchant for “barf.” I’m impressed by her audacity in breaking down boundaries, eliminating filters, as part of her creative process, and am intrigued her feminist tactics. I believed her intentions were complex, if mysterious, and granted in this case somewhat at your expense; but I interpreted her antagonism as symbolic rather than personal, and felt capable of navigating the inherent perplexities. I did not walk away with a revised opinion of you, that is to say I certainly don’t consider you a total jerk! In fact, the night you and Bei Dao came to my house for dinner before performing at the Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis, 6 or 7 years ago by now I suppose, is a treasured memory. That said, my affection for Myles and her magnetism remained equally undiminished after reading the material in question, and meeting her for the first time just a few months ago was a highlight of my year.

    Your comment has really challenged me to discern why I found the post so compelling, considering how much respect I have for both you and Eileen Myles. In other words, I feel confident that my pleasure wasn’t sadistically derived, or concerned with seeing either of you become defamed or otherwise misjudged. Rather I think it was the occasion of the dialog itself, that it even existed, between these two distinguished writers whom I’d never mentally envisioned in a room together, who both in one way or another have informed and improved my own thinking and writing, and here they are encountering each other in a venue that frankly seems inhospitable to them both (as you note, the wealthiest poetry org in America, an institution perhaps not particularly aligned with the more renegade spirit I associate with both you and Myles), arriving from such radically different contexts and expressing a spontaneous & unexpected vulnerability in their basic failure to communicate. As if the atmosphere of the place simply could neither contain nor divulge them. The outrageousness of the whole thing compelled me, even while my esteem for each author kept its course. I don’t know what the deal is with getting paid, but since poets rarely do I’m glad she got paid to write/barf as she wished.

    I felt a little distraught last night when I saw your comment—I hadn’t meant to provoke and wondered if I’d been unwittingly careless. Later, I had a dream in which I was late meeting my husband and daughter for a play that weirdly was taking place in a hotel, I was really struggling to make progress through all the slush and snow drifts. As it happens, I suffer from chronic lateness (NY’s resolution…), and, as usual, I was harried, and anxious I’d miss the whole production. When finally I had the hotel in my sights, I ran into Eileen Myles (literally slipped on the snow and fell on top of her), who was also late, and she gave me a necklace which had two round wooden charms, one with “EW” and one with “EM.” She told me, “it comes with the ticket, so take this one in case they run out.” The play, I discovered, was written (I think) by Myles, as a re-enactment of the Harriet exchange, and when at last I landed in my seat in the darkened, almost baroque theater located towards the top floor of this very tall hotel, I spotted you in the audience, and noted that you and everyone present were mesmerized by the drama. Maybe that’s how I experienced it in real life—like performance, rather than a conveyance of factual information; a compelling and bizarre alchemical fluke. No doubt that’s not the way you experienced it, but if it matters rest assured that my perception of your character and my respect for your work did not suffer any blows. I suspect this holds true for others, and that I’m not alone in my sustained enthusiasm for both you and EM.

    Happy New Year to you and all best wishes.


  10. Johannes Göransson

    Hey Sarah,

    Great list. Great in part because it contains a lot of books I haven’t read (Wolsak, Wolach and others) as well as ones I have read (Bellamy, Spero, Action Books books, Notley)./Johannes

  11. Eliot Weinberger

    You have a very charitable reading of all this. It certainly didn’t strike me at the time as a “dialogue.” If her “antagonism” was “symbolic rather than personal,” I don’t understand what it was symbolic of. I am not particularly representative of any aesthetics or politics that is deeply inimical to her own. I found the whole thing inexplicable, and especially creepy when strangers (and the strange) in the “comments” began speculating about my life. She was indeed paid a monthly stipend to write these Poetry Foundation blogs, and it seemed to me an abuse of that platform– not exhilaratingly transgressive, but a peevish version of “Gossip Girl.” There are more interesting ways to stick it to the man, and more interesting men to stick it to.

    Anyway, I remember very well your house and the dinner years ago– though I didn’t realize this was you. Thanks again. And I love your dream. May we all dream of peaceable kingdoms.