Archive for May, 2011

Black Ocean, 2012

by on May.17, 2011

You can now subscribe to the Black Ocean 2012 lineup for a mere 50 bucks:

Includes one copy of the titles we will release in 2012 listed below.
Almost a 30% savings! And as always, free shipping!
Subscriptions ordered before July 1st will receive

Hunger Transit by Feng Sun Chen (Spring 2012)
Fjords by Zachary Schomburg (Spring 2012)
Handsome Vol. 4 (Spring 2012)
Dark Matter by Aase Berg, trans. Johannes Göransson (Fall 2012)
The Moon’s Jaw by Rauan Klassnik (Fall 2012)

(I was just wondering the other day when Ron would publish the follow-up to his brilliant first book Holy Land.)

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On Maximalism, 1: An Eye & an Eye: Or, What does Art Require of Us

by on May.17, 2011

1.What does Art command, how does Art issue its demands?

Art's sleepwalker

a clusterfuck

2. Art’s command is a command to repeat, to mirror, to double, to drag, to copy, to issue copies, corrupt copies, mutating copies, inexact copies, unfaithful copies, blurred and smeared copies, hallucinatory copies, obscene copies, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, to accumulate so many copies that the copies become a poison, to go beyond what can be borne, beyond the maximum. Art downloads its program into the body and reprograms the body’s functions for making copies of itself. Art is a virus, malware, a clusterbomb, a clusterfuck.

3.Any aperture or medium or means of egress will work, & Art will eat its own apertures if necessary. But Art’s preferred orifice is the eye. Indeed, any orifice stands in for the eye: a puking, shitting, sweating, tearing, bleeding eye: an artificial eye: Art’s insignia.

"It is engendered in the eye--"

4.This is why, in Oedipus Rex, it must be the blind prophet Tiresias that Oedipus consults to find out who has murdered his father (a murder Oedipus himself has committed, of course). For the blind seer Tiresias, blindness is sight. It is the sight that burns, a violent sight, like laser vision, a dangerous vision he is at first afraid to unloose. He is a medium this vision because his eyes have been repurposed from their conventional biological function (sight) towards this mediumicity. This vision is a paradox: vision and blindness are coterminous, are twinned; born at the same time; crowding the same orifice; issued in pain; infectious.

5.O to T: “You’ve lost your power/stoneblind, stone-deaf—senses, eyes blind as stone!”
O to T: “Blind, lost in the night, endless night that nursed you! /You can’t hurt me or anyone else who sees the light, you can never touch me!”
O to T: “this scheming quack/this fortune-teller peddling lies, eyes peeled/for his own profit—seer blind in his craft!”
T to O: “I will never shrink from the anger in your eyes, you can’t destroy me”
T to O:“You with your precious eyes/you’re blind to the corruption in your life”
T to O: “Go in and reflect on that, solve that./And if you find I’ve lied/frm this day onward call the prophet blind.

6.The terms “eyes” and “blind”, so prevelant in these exchanges, are not just there for irony or statement of theme. The terms become objects, pile up, accumulate so much blindness and black eyes as to make a blind spot which both replaces and is identified as vision: a vision of evil, of corrupt blood, of blackness. Resultingly, Oedipus is blinded not so much by his own action or his own guilt but simply as a compulsion to accommodate the blindness piling up all over the stage. He twins Art’s medium, Tiresias. He becomes a medium for violent vision. He does not only pluck out his eyes, he sticks gold brooches in them. Thus the site of blindness is bejeweled and adorned with Art, “of Grecian Gold and Gold enamelling”, the black blood of blindness flows out around the brooches, the pestilence that has plagued Thebes finds a locus in his eyes and spreads out from there—a paradoxically fluid, visible blindness.

7.The same relationship may be seen in David Lynch’s Moholland Drive. Here it is Club Silencio where, paradoxically, one goes to listen. The orifice of the ear is a standin for the orifice of the eye; the singer’s eyes are fantastically made up and the camera lodges there. The singer sings ‘llorando’ (crying) and the protagonists begin to cry, their faces contorted, their eyes (and their eyemakeup) seemingly melted. When the singer collapses, ‘llorando’ remains; singing remains; crying remains; Art remains, having ravished and destroyed the body it has moved through, and moved on to new bodies, given the twinned-but-not-identical protagonists new faces (they are be-wigged, bad copies of each other), contorted into tragic grimaces, marked for Art, shedding Art from their orifices.

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Atrocity Kitsch: Bill Knott and Daniel Borzutzky

by on May.16, 2011

This will be a short post but I wanted to say something about Bill Knott, not so much because he’s left grumpy comments on this blog but because I think he’s a fantastic poet and I wanted to join Kyle Minor’s Bill Knott Week at Htmlgiant, but I couldn’t because I was bogged down in work.

First I’m going to make some generalizations about Bill Knott. I think Bill Knott is a great poet, one of my favorite American poets of the second half of the 20th century. I also think he’s incredibly important: important in the sense of very influential. I see his influences on heaps of poets. Yet, Bill Knott is also a poet who’s almost never mentioned as an “important poet.” When people mention their “influences,” he’s very seldom on the list, even when he’s an apparent influence. I don’t think that’s an unimportant point to make about Knott: it’s part of his authorship.

At the Htmlgiant special, there was a lot of comments made about the fact that Knott self-publishes his books and booklets. In fact, I first came across his work when one of my grad school classmates handed me a booklet. Perhaps this method of distribution could be said to be beside the point, but I think it does suggest something like an approach to writing/publishing that has something to do with his work.
(continue reading…)

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Montevidayo Survey On Publishers & Genre: Specimen 3: Blue Square Press

by on May.16, 2011

[I undertook this survey on Publishers & Genre to explore the idea that genre might not be inherent in the text but rather an assemblage of author, publisher, materials, readers, other texts. Our first featured press was Spork, followed by Fence.]

This week’s featured press is Blue Square Press.

I blurbed this terrific, strange, very readable book.

Blue Square is a new upstart press offering fresh and headsplitting prose from such authors as Sean Kilpatrick, Jack Boettcher, and the editors themselves.  David Peak and Ben Spivey, two out of four Blue Square eds, answered our quiz.

David Peak offered this headnote to their joint response:“In order to approach this interview, I wrote some quick responses and then Ben wrote inside of and on top of those drafts. We repeated this process twice. It was revealing for us to see how our answers morphed, and ultimately reflected our process as co-editors.”

In the following response to our survey, David’s answers will appear in plain text and Ben Spivey’s will appear in red.

1) To what degree is your press a host for new genres? What new genres?
To whatever degree that’s just beyond measuring—or labeling. I’m going to say things that maybe don’t make sense, just fair warning, but I think that as soon as a genre is given a name, or once it’s identified and becomes recursive or self-aware, once those things happen, it dies. In that sense, I think I’m most interested in writing that’s alive. But doesn’t know it’s alive. I like the idea of text functioning as a central nervous system. Encased in genre we become what’s expected, what I’m doing might be outside of those expectations and with that I’m elated. Genre is. What I host is not. If I publish something that feels new or feels familiar to people then they can decide the label. I’m not concerned with genre types, fitting into or out of them. That does not mean I ignore or dislike them, but they simply do not factor into what I what to publish. What attracts me to a text is something outside of that, it’s an almost instant feeling of yes that grows—it’s how I know I’m breathing. I’m not sure how to explain it, but you can see it like Fall, it’s the books I’ve published and the writers I believe in.

2. What is genre? What is a genre?

We use the word, I think, to refer to a certain familiarity, or pre-conceived set of expectations—something the reader brings to the text. What the writer does from there, how they manipulate those expectations, is the fun part. Brian Evenson comes to mind, how he has bent the horror genre with books like Fugue State. He’s considered both literary and genre. I think it’s really hard to surprise someone, not “shock” them, but surprise them. That’s something I’m always looking for—either with use of language or with unconventional use of plot or lack of plot or structure.

I like that these are two separate questions. It makes a big difference. A genre helps organize a bookstore.   (continue reading…)

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You and Us Make It Reverse: Itty Bitty Titty Committee’s Bad Drag, MEN’s Simultaneity, & Spahr and Young’s (Re)enactments

by on May.12, 2011

One more post on temporal drag and I’ll shut up about it maybe. This time I’ll approach it through counterexample.

The 2007 film Itty Bitty Titty Committee does some bad drag. That is, its temporal drag is flimsy and unclear about its relationship to feminist history. Directed by Jamie Babbitt (But I’m a Cheerleader!), IBTC chronicles the politicization of a young woman named Anna (Melanie Diaz) in present-day Los Angeles. Over the course of the film Anna moves from working as a receptionist at a plastic surgeon’s office to joining a group of radical queer feminists named the C(i)A (Clits in Action) who plot and enact feminist actions such as spraypainting slogans on offending businesses’ storefronts:

The C(i)A

The film is often charming and exhilarating, especially due to its raucous soundtrack and general exuberance for feminist theater; but it’s ultimately clouded by what I see as an embarrassing nostalgia for riot grrrl, ACT UP, the 90s generally — a nostalgia that doesn’t realize it’s nostalgia. There is no acknowledgment in the film that the 90s already happened, that that period of feminist/queer activism is over. (I’m not saying that feminist and queer activism’s dead, but that it looks much different now.) The datedness of the film is weird and confusing. When, in the film’s climax, the C(i)A manages to slip a papier-mache penis mold onto the top of the Washington Monument and blow it up, then infiltrate a news studio and invade American televisions with the footage, it comes across as a dead punchline to a tired joke.

(continue reading…)

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Asian American Writers' Workshop: We're hiring

by on May.12, 2011

Hi there. Johannes is always telling me that I should post more about my organization, The Asian American Writers’ Workshop. I’ll do another post that’s more detailed, but I thought that Montevidayo readers might appreciate a job opening we have: we’re hiring a Managing Director for our website–it’s a dream job, really, and the “things we like” list below also gives a sense of our quirky, eclectic, warm, progressive curated “brand.” The application also links to two hyper-local new media initiatives we have: Open City: Blogging Urban Change and Wordstrike: Writers Against SB1070. Anyways, anyone who’s interested in applying should click on the job title and fill out the application form there.


The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is looking to hire a highly ambitious entrepreneur who wants to build editorial and new media experience with the literary nonprofit that partied with Das Racist and Tao Lin, curated the Asian American ComiCon, and enlisted Salman Rushdie, Naomi Klein and 300 other writers to boycott Arizona and its crackdown on immigrants.

OUR VISION. We are inventing the online Asian American literary culture of tomorrow. We’re launching an online magazine that’s as accessible as Slate, as cool as Bidoun, more thrilling than the average literary journal or progressive magazine. We’ll feature some of the finest writers in America in a unique, provocative format designed to lure in people who don’t think political or ethnic literature is meant for them. We’ve already assembled a dream team of advisors, put together an editorial guide, and mocked up a new design. We have a vision we want you to implement, but you’ll need to bring some vision of your own too.

We’re interested in the thrilling undiscovered Asian American intellectual culture beyond Tiger Moms and Amy Tan. Think: avant-garde poets; Amar Chitra Katha; transnational adoption; multiracial identity; institutional roadblocks at publishing houses; nativist hysteria; global metropolises; gentrification in Chinatown; Korean dramas; Walt Whitman’s secretary; post-9/11 detention; Hasan Elahi sending self-portraits to the FBI; the anniversary of the LA riots; Ai Wei Wei; the Philip K. Dick story where the Japanese conquer America. We’re not interested in: too exclusive an emphasis on pop culture; diatribes about cliche topics; a focus on Asian heritage rather than contemporary Asian American culture.

The main focus will be on managing the Workshop Magazine, which will include soliciting, writing, or editing at least two pieces a week (these may include reported features, blog posts, poems, fiction, user submissions, book and film reviews, writing contests). You’ll also work with our staff to build content out from 1) the Workshop’s general programs and fundraising campaigns; 2) Open City: Blogging Urban Change: our anti-gentrification blogging initiative that sends writer-bloggers to gentrifying NYC neighborhoods to tell the story of speechless immigrants and connect readers with community groups and zoning debates; 3) Wordstrike: our online cultural campaign that seeks to humanize Arizona immigrants via user-submitted videos and op-eds against a xenophobic national discourse.

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Dean Young on MFAs, Recklessness etc

by on May.12, 2011

I’ve been meaning to write something about Dean Young’s book of poetics, The Art of Recklessness, which I borrowed from a student and have rudely forgotten to give back to him.

I like a lot of what Young’s got to say in this book; a lot of it is inspirations exhortations. I know a lot of people who have studied with young, and I can see why so many of them found Young such an inspiring teacher.

Though I question some of the rhetoric. For example, he uses “experimental poets” a lot as a strawman, defining it in very narrow ways without actually naming particulars; that’s a practice I think should be avoided. I want to see examples of this poetry, not just be told to stay away from it. I would like to know who exactly he’s talking about.

Likewise there is the common (see my Billy Collins post) distrust of poststructuralist theory, which I think is too reductive. Though here he is a bit more specific: the theory makes everything seem “construct”-ish to Young, and Young is very invested in authenticity.
(continue reading…)

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"Swedes don't exist…": Naturalization, Kitsch and The Past

by on May.10, 2011

While I was waiting to be “naturalized” as a U.S. citizen on Friday I was reading Homi Bhabha’s Location of Culture, so that’s definitely influencing this post. But mostly it seems now would be an opportune time to get back to my common claim that “the immigrant is kitsch,” now that I’m “naturalized” (but obviously by definition not “natural”).


As I was sitting there in the huge court house (With a motto from To Kill a Mockingbird, or maybe One Flew Over the Cucko’s Nest, on the bronze plaques, with a high school group of flag bearers with fake muskets), I was thinking about this very issue of the immigrant as kitsch: How the immigrant is so frequently made into an exotic trinket, or a counterfeit (“Made in Taiwan”) etc. As with atrocity kitsch, it’s a way of dealing with a troubling presence, something like an uncanny figure (un-home-like).
(continue reading…)

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Closed-Loop Obstructions

by on May.09, 2011


Body trauma is my look. I’m so good at this one of the nurses asks if I work in the medical field. I’ve got tubes in every orifice. I haven’t eaten in like a week. I keep getting texts but I’m like NO WITNESSES. The only way to do this right is to assault time on all fronts so I’ve been basically giving an hj to this morphine pump ever since I woke up. I’m hunched over my IV stand facing a floor-to-ceiling window. Watching the sun set over the city until everything is quiet and dark. I don’t turn around. I know the sundowners are rising from their slumber, confused as shit. I know a few are just now beginning their aimless, terrified wanderings. I can already hear their collective wail reverberating against all things sane and young in this world. These are my people.

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Montevidayo Survey on Publishers & Genre, Specimen 2: Fence

by on May.08, 2011

[I undertook this survey on Publishers & Genre to explore the idea that genre might not be inherent in the text but rather an assemblage of author, publisher, materials, readers, other texts.   This week’s featured press is Fence. Our first featured press was Spork; their answers are here and here.]

Meanwhile, in the Fence offices...

This week’s featured press is Fence.

1) To what degree is your press a host for new genres? What new genres?

Rebecca Wolff: The main desire of Fence’s first fiction editor, Jonathan Lethem, was to explode the then-persistent distinction made between various kinds of “genre” writings (detective, mystery, speculative, SF, “experimental,” fabulist, magical realist, etc.) and “the literary.” So in a literal fashion he sought to publish writings that were difficult for the publishing community to parse—and thereby was part of the general zeitgeist of the moment (late 90s-early oughts) in fiction toward self-consciously non-transparent environments in which for plot and character to operate.

In general Fence has been supportive of what we now call Other writing (we literally offer this category as a choice for our digital submitters—we encourage them to self-define as being Other than “poetry, fiction, nonfiction.” This certainly does not lead absolutely to the creation of new genres, but rather to a more relativistic way of looking at the existing genre-categorizations. (continue reading…)

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Yes, but how does it 'Taste'?

by on May.05, 2011

From an early panning of Picture of Dorian Gray in the Daily Chronicle (1890):

“it is a tale spawned from the leprous literature of the French Decadents – a poisonous book, the atmosphere of which is heavy with the mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction”

That’s a standard I strive to meet every day in my Dark Satanic Mills of poetry.

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Question of the Day: What is Taste? (Or, does it matter where the fashion victim bought her plastic?)

by on May.05, 2011

Question of the day: What is taste? Please answer in the comments field!

I’ve been writing a lot about “taste” it seems; how I’m against it and all that. In the comment to my last post about the Poetry Foundation, Steve Burt writes that he believes in “personal taste.” That concept is very popular in poetry discussions, the idea that we all have our “personal tastes.” And I am sure I have said similar things on this blog.

However, I feel dissatisfied with this concept – both “taste” and “personal”. It seems to me too invested in an idea of personal agency and original essence and interiority – as if we all have this individual taste with which we then approach the shopping mall of poetry (where everything is free).
(continue reading…)

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