Archive for October, 2011

Kristen Stone's "Queeragripoetics" (now with last three words!!)

by on Oct.31, 2011

[What follows is  prose and photographs by Kristen Stone, an artist who locates her work in the genre of queeragripoetics. Visit her tumblr here; Kristen’s text and images below]


1. The heat rises in wet slaps off the crumpled pavement. The cow was dead by the side of the road.. The camera(phone) allows a digital empathy I could not feel crouching at the asphalt edge by a carcass becoming foul. (continue reading…)

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In which Peter Pan becomes the Alligator

by on Oct.30, 2011

Lucas de Lima started the conversation when he said more poetry should be like The Lion King (circle of life):
At the &now festival, he became a bird.

“Let’s dangle our bodies, or even better, the bodies of our children, over jutting rocks.
Through shamanic baboons (gay Earth mothers) and melodramatic light, let’s court self-dissolution.
~LDL (Lucas “bad cholesterol” de Lima)

J Gorranson at the &now festival said that art should be the creepy uncle–Scar, who facilitates and manipulates the pageant of howling hyenas. Hyena = hysterical laughter, the laughter of evil, the joker laughter, clown laughter, the laughter of cruelty. It is an affirmative laughter, the other side of grief, the bright scar after the trauma, the cruelty of life. I liked the link between Zurita and the inversion of pageantry (the flipping of traditional structures), wherein the wound that weeps suddenly bursts into laughter.

The procession of pageantry and dangling children over jutting rocks excludes the future. (continue reading…)

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Ambient Shame, Power & the Voracious "I": Coeur de Lion vs. Paula Deen

by on Oct.30, 2011

This week in Intermediate Poetry Writing, we’re discussing Ariana Reines’ Coeur de Lion in a unit I am calling “Shame, Power & the Voracious ‘I’.”  I’ll be trying to convince my students that Reines’ “I” is not a pronoun paralyzed by navel-gazing confessionalism, but rather an agile and all-consuming force to ride and reckon with (a force or hunger the poet herself must reckon with).  The first-person lyric, in my opinion of the book, is a Möbius strip of twists and turns set in motion and empowered through an ambient, aching, melting, throbbing, cheese-filled and cheese-eating shame:

I am probably doing something horrible and destructive.

But this ‘I’ is the I of poetry

And it should be able to do more than I can do.

After watching the following clip featuring Paula Deen–that illustrious culinary TV personality–we will think about heart attacks and heartbreak as two sides of the same coin:

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Inhabiting the Body of Protest

by on Oct.29, 2011


If Art can be thought of as an impulse of expression that protests impermanence and invisibility (which would include silence) by fashioning extraneous objects out of impermanent stuff (not in its totality, mind, but as one facet of its existence), then it seems reasonable to speak of the Art of Protest. Likewise, if there is an Art of Protest, then there is a Reception of this Art.

It has been interesting, then, to note the similar receptions given to today’s proliferation(s) of Art and Protest. Some art, often noted and championed on this blog, is dismissed as “too much,” as too “artsy,” too “unrestrained.” By these, what is variously meant is that some art is too in-touch with its materials, too permeable with the world of its making, not transcendent enough, excessive. It is incautious, ill-mannered, leans back and puts its muddy feet up on your kitchen table. It is supposedly or apparently meaningless, a collection of disparate elements, unrefined. It is too ornate, too pretty, too made-up. Etc.

Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights - Hell

Its authors are too much in league with its viewers, with the masses — or else not mindful enough, too dependent on the viewer to fashion meaning — or too obvious and ironic. Bemoan the long-gone heroic auteur whose singular vision and singularly realized/universally fetishized totalistic art-object is now lost within the rush of the masses invading Art for themselves and making totems of permeability to set up all along the shamanistic inroads of the present moment. Bemoan the loss of high modernism!

(continue reading…)

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A Drawing for Mullany

by on Oct.29, 2011

I haven’t been moved to write something in a while. But Edward Mullany’s poem “If I Falter at the Gallows” from the book with the same title moved me to draw this, and I wanted to share.

Here’s the book with the poem in it.

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Plagiarist, Thief, Faker

by on Oct.28, 2011

A discussion on plagiarism in the context of Indian English poetry has been started by the poets Sumana Roy, Anindita Sengupta, Aruni Kashyap, Nabina Das and Nitoo Das here. I wonder how much of my resistance to their framing of the issue has been shaped by my encounters with America-land and the poems and discussions and theories it has brought me. Oh what a callow thought. All of it, of course. Where I’ve been is who I am – but I wonder if as an immigrant I’ll always retain a slight anxiety around my (inauthentic) influences? “On Stealing Beauty”, and this is the comment I left:

I am curious about the anxieties that plagiarism brings up in artists. I think collage—the handloom emporium—is great as a method for writing poems, and no less legitimate than writing “original” poems. The question is: should the method be disclosed to the reader? Under what kind of dialogic conditions should any method be disclosed to the reader? Attribution I think is just one way in which literary influence can be disclosed as an agenda or method—we as writers/artists need to think beyond its limitations.
(continue reading…)

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The Luxury of "Surrealism" (pt 1): Paramodernism, Kitsch and Counterfeit Innovations

by on Oct.27, 2011

(This is a sequel of sorts to this entry about Blake Butler etc from a couple of weeks ago. It’s also a sequel of sorts to my &Now discussion, where I criticized the model of “innovative writing” for its obsession on “futurity” and the way it has of “redeeming” art (it’s a critique, it’s a subversion, it will make us better), making it good and palatable, removing the offensive pageantry of art (as exemplified by “Scar” in The Lion King).)

I’m obviously interested in the word “surrealism” – not just the word, or the historical movement, but the way it’s deployed in and out of poetry discussions: “soft surrealism,” fake surrealism, candy surrealism, wow man that’s so surreal, surrealistic pillow, pillow book surrealism, shitty surrealism, hysterical surrealism, pop surrealism, surrealism on stilts, “excessive surrealism” etc. For a movement that supposedly ended a long time ago (1930? 1968?) it certainly pervades contemporary discussions about contemporary poetry.

I’m interested in how this term fits into a pervasive discussion of modernism – luxury vs necessity. (continue reading…)

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This Morning News is Exciting: Don Mee Choi Wins a Whiting!

by on Oct.26, 2011


Don Mee Choi has won a 2011 Whiting Award for her brilliant, shapeshifting, challenging, relentless poetry. Action Books published her debut volume, The Morning News is Exciting, in 2010, and have published recent and upcoming volumes of her translations of Kim Hyesoon.

We are pleased and proud at this recognition of our friend.


From Weaver in Exile (published in La Petite Zine)

Stars are whores.

I weave pubic hair for dolls and frogs naively lit by your orange lamps. If cloth is meat, what is blood? Try weaving shredded wrists, decapitated hearts. Was my mother a sacred bitch?

The earthen bridge takes me to a shallow creek. Is this the Milky Way? Babies or children on bridges annoy me. Who separates them from mothers? You?
A galaxy of moss. I’m tired of this imitation sky.

Let’s skip to your dream. How many lamps did you see? Do you remember east and west? Explain the island. Why is the bridge flat? Describe the distance between the murmuring pines. Did you love my mother? Will I remarry?

Moving into and out of prose, poetry, translation, and journalistic writing, Choi’s various genres make a dazzling prism of such contemporary experiences as immigration, technology, embodiment, language and loss. Watching the televised morning news from Korea, she longs, “Cameraman, run to my twin twin zone!”  Rereading a travel diary, she reflects, “There are passwords beneath order-words: farewell of farewell, return of return.”


Beyond its own intensity and inventiveness, the work makes a significant contribution to Asian-American literature. Formally, Don Mee Choi is an inheritor of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, whose seminal Dictee (1982) has had a major impact on contemporary innovative American poetry.

Yet Choi innovates on Cha’s decades-old example. Choi’s work releases new-media energy; it moves at fiber optic speed as it to struggles to find terms for our 21st century experience of globalized media, especially as such media affects our sense of history, commodity, violence, politics, terror, and freedom.


Order the Morning News is Exciting here!

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Nutting in the Norton

by on Oct.26, 2011

Got this amazing piece of news from Ted Pelton of Starcherone Books:

Alissa Nutting’s story “Model’s Assistant,” from her Starcherone Prize-winning collection, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, has just been selected for the next Norton Introduction to Literature anthology, to be released in 2013. What?!! You haven’t read Alissa’s amazing collection, Starcherone’s all-time bestselling book? Well then check it out here: .

I totally agree with the Norton. Sign me up.

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Hysterical Pregnancies: Feng Sun Chen and Jenny Boully

by on Oct.26, 2011

In a recent post on this very blog, Feng wrote about poetry as a “hysterical pregnancy”:

I’d rather not have a baby, but I know that perversely, I really actually want to be pregnant. Ideally, this would be a pregnancy without birth. I would keep the baby inside me, protected, subconscious, forever. A pregnancy without terms. I’ve been obsessed and possessed by this idea since adolescence, which is also when I started writing poetry. To me, poetry and pregnancy are the same thing. It is about the potentiality of new life, new voice. Yet both are things I cannot allow. I will not pretend to do anything good with my poetry, which is a voice unborn even in manifestation, which will not gaze back at me in the forest of symbols, which will always be embodied without body, dark, not human. This isn’t meant to have a negative connotation, this hysterical and endless pregnancy. I think it is a metaphor of incipience, desire, possession, and incubation. It’s only termination is death, the ultimate potentiality.

This hysterical pregnancy is not just a counterfeit pregnancy, but it’s a pregnancy of counterfeiture. Or as I wrote about her poetry book Ugly Fish:

The non-result is “the pregnancy of decadence, which is full of fetuses.”
The non-result is proliferation: “Pigs are everywhere.”


What better example of “hysterical pregnancy” than not merely because the unknown was stalking toward them, Jenny Boully’s re-versioning of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. In Barrie’s book, Wendy Darling (later transformed into Candy Darling) is an 11-year-old girl who loves to play mother for her younger brothers, but then comes the day that she’s supposed to grow up and leave her role as fake mother of her brothers and move into her own room, become a young woman, enter society etc. That’s when Peter Pan comes and rescues her, taking her to Neverland to be his mother (and the mother of all his “lost boys”). That is to say, Neverland is a place she escapes to in order to remain a fake mother, (continue reading…)

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Fake Art/Fake Protest

by on Oct.25, 2011


There is fake art on the Chinese market. Art that is not authentic, art that has no author, whose author is not the name on the price tag but a group of art students who were merely practicing their craft more than thirty years earlier, many obscure angles on the same nude. In another case, a fake jade burial suit passed for ancient and was auctioned off as ancient in order to procure investment, to build up capital for the attraction of more capital for the purpose of funding a “development.”

What is “development,” anyway, and what does it have to do with Art?


There are fake protests in the streets and public squares of America. We need FAQs to explain them to people. They have no clear message. They are poets without a clue (or are they?) Their faces are not the right shade of green. Their complaints assemble themselves into no coherent strategy. They are only meeting, only occupying a space, only eating and rolling cigarettes.


They do not understand the structural problems in the system that have to be altered for any true change to happen. They need more theory than they’ve got, more planning behind their actions, more … oh wait, they’re gaining numbers. The media is watching. Call out the unions, bring in speakers, find figure heads, win elections, quick (Mainstream “Left”).


They’re just hippies smoking dope and ruining our (previously unused) public spaces. They’re a joke, a butt-face target for Wall Street hecklers hanging out of fourth-storey balconies drinking champaigne. No wait, they’re gaining numbers. Now they are commies, they’re in league with George Soros and his secret plan to destroy America he’s been talking about for twenty years. They are the long foretold beginning of the end, another sign of Armageddon. The world WILL end in 2012. The fall of America is imminent.
(continue reading…)

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Yoko Tawada!

by on Oct.24, 2011

Amazing Japanese-German writer Yoko Tawada will give a lecture called “Adventures in Foreign Languages” at U of Notre Dame (McKenna Hall) on Wed, Oct 26, at 5-4:40. So if you’re in the area, be sure to stop by. If you’re a graduate student, you might also want to join her workshop on Thursday.

WED, OCT 25, 5:-6:30 PM, McKenna Auditorium:
5:00 – 6:30 Public Lecture: “Adventures of Foreign Languages / Abenteuer der Fremdsprachen / 外国語の冒険”

“I was born into Japanese the way one is thrown into a sack. That is why this language became for me my exterior skin. The German language, on the other hand. I swallowed whole and it has been sitting in my stomach ever since. ” (Yoko Tawada)

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No Future = Any Future = Alligator Blood x Macaque Dreams

by on Oct.22, 2011

[Here’s my talk, which followed Feng’s, from our “No Future” panel at the &Now Festival…]


For Faustin Linyekula, the Congolese choreographer whose mix of dance, punk, and Ndombolo pop I saw a few weeks ago at the Walker Art Center, “no future truly means any future.”  Linyekula explains that, if the title of his piece is “MORE, MORE, MORE… future,” it’s because

One “more” was not enough, it had to be more, more and more! […] To deny the future would be to go in the same direction as politicians. No, this is definitely about future! Of course, the title also reminds one of the punk-rock slogan “no future”. My idea was to inject a punk attitude in Congolese music and musicians, to contaminate the system and to shake the house.

While dancers thrash about in recycled Afro-fusion costumes, one singer dressed in gold lamé declares, “We are dancing but it’s nothing but a procession towards the burial chambers – open your eyes!”

In Roberto Bolaño’s short story “Mauricio ‘The Eye’ Silva,” the glittery eye of art similarly scrambles the equation and multiplies futurity.  As in Linyekula’s performance, the ethos of British punk is remixed across borders. (continue reading…)

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