Archive for November, 2011

"Free (Market) Verse": Steve Evans on the Poetry Foundation and Conservative Politics/Aesthetics

by on Nov.17, 2011

One commentor to another post made a link to this piece by Steve Evans.


If there was no trace in the magazine’s cartoon gallery of a cohort of midwestern white guys with business backgrounds aspiring to write instantly “accessible” poems about authentic American life for the amusement and improvement of semi-literate “regular” folks, that’s because it would take a presidency as benighted and hokey as that of George W. Bush to bring such a group to prominence. Through men like Dana Gioia, John Barr, and Ted Kooser, Karl Rove’s battle-tested blend of unapologetic economic elitism and reactionary cultural populism is now being marketed in the far-off reaches of the poetry world. A curiously timed gift from a pharmaceutical heir who, before slipping into four decades of crippling depression, had submitted a pseudonymous item or two to Chicago’s Poetry magazine, which politely rejected them, has bankrolled the unlikely effort.


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synesthetic rather than Surreal, humility rather than Mastery

by on Nov.15, 2011

It seems to me that one of Ventrakl(Hawkey)’s projects is to use synesthesia to destabilize the dominant sense of vision. Vision in more than one sense. Synesthesia is combined sensing. Something you see could be something you smell. Something you hear could be something you feel. In a culture that privileges the visual above all else (I’ll believe it when I see it or vice versa, the ubiquity of moving images and glossed up ideals), Ventrakl allows holes to surface in/through the visual. Pictures themselves work as holes or portals that permeate the text. The text itself bores holes through its content, allowing senses to slide over and through one another. Devices such as metaphor or simile are not comparisons or juxtapositions as much as tunneling or a turning inside out. The deafness of vision is given sound and skin. Against the “sensible” type of coherent figures, the poems in the book create an atmosphere of mixed senses, senses that are more like weather systems than unique bodily functions as we tend to separate them. Perhaps this is also a comment on political/historical systems and events.
Furthermore, Hawkey sublimates his own “vision” into the dead eyes of Georg Trakl. While the underlying motivation for the book is his own experience or failure of understanding of the world in its specific historical and political context, he decides to dive against the present by encountering a language he does not speak, in a time he did not live. He makes himself into a hole/portal, filtering dead bodies through himself and through the physical world of the present (see preface). The loud silence of the book and its orphans/orifices are a sound we all hear, that we are surrounded by at all times as citizens of a globalized network, where inundations of minced information and news becomes flattened into incomprehensible homogeneity. Against this powerlessness and darkness we have Ventrakl’s powerfully intimate and extremely specific pinhole of light from a dead star. Rather than seek mastery, the author serves through an act of humility as a medium between language, history, and time.
He allows himself to be rotted by the past.
(continue reading…)
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Bug Surrealism (pt 2): "30 Under 30"

by on Nov.15, 2011

Hi, I’m going to expand a little on the discussion about Surrealism from a while back and tie it in with Joyelle’s brilliant post about “Bug Time.”

In my last post I posited that “surrealism” has to do with the kitsch, the immoral, the anachronistic. And perhaps most importantly, it is defined repeatedly as “fake,” tying into Jared’s and Monica’s recent posts. It is “candy surrealism”; it is artifice made unhealthy; it is saturative; it is the virtuality (it’s not “just language”), the “dark matter” of poetry, it’s corrupt and corruptive.
(continue reading…)

16 Comments more... on the Poetry Foundation Protests/Arrests

by on Nov.15, 2011 has what seems to be a fairly fair depiction of the Poetry Foundation melee, which we have discussed on this blog at some length (here and here and here).

Here’s the beginning of the article:

One evening this fall, two young activists walked through the bright, modern library of the new Poetry Foundation headquarters and marched up to the glass balcony. Some 30 attendees had gathered that evening in Chicago to hear a free poetry reading, and now many turned to view long, hand-painted banners unfurling from the second floor. With solemn fanfare, the two men, members of a small rebel alliance called the Croatoan Poetic Cell, had launched their latest defense of poetry — shortly before someone at the foundation called the police.

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New Directions in Performance

by on Nov.14, 2011

The art world was abuzz this weekend with controversy over performances at a gala event for LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by the iconic durational artist Marina Abramovic with the perhaps even more iconic Debbie Harry. Silent, poorly-paid young artists seated on rotating platforms, only their heads visible, served as centerpieces, while the dinner concluded with the dismemberment of life-sized cake replicas of Abramovic and Harry.

But the real innovations in durational performance were taking place further to the north. Faced with the fearsome provocations and jazz-handed deliberations of Occupy Portland, Mayor Sam Adams and the Portland Police Department cleared the occupied Coleman and Lownsdale parks early Sunday morning. Dozens of riot police held protestors at bay while the city erected chain-link fences around the parks,

What lifts the action from mere bureaucratic thuggery into the realm of aesthetic genius is Adams’s later announcement that a 24-hour police presence will protect the fence from human encroachment; in true Portland fashion, this will take the form of a bicycle patrol continually circling the two fenced blocks. Some might find in this a waggish homage to Christo by way of Kafka; others, a representation of the neo-liberal fantasy in which the state withers to a security apparatus ensuring the continual obliteration of the public commons in favor of private actors. I find myself preferring a Lacanian take, according to which the pedaling cop physically realizes the theorist’s object petit a, a particle of violent desire eternally circulating around the bare negativity that constitutes modern political power.

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All the Garbage of the World, Unite! – New Book from Kim Hyesoon

by on Nov.14, 2011

Action Books is psyched to announce that we’ve got a new book from amazing Korean phenom Kim Hyesoon now for sale. Buy it for 12 bucks at (or 20 bucks for the new one plus the previous one, Mommy Must Be A Fountain of Feathers) or for 16 bucks at SPD Books or

Now available on and SPD Books: All the Garbage of the World, Unite! by Kim Hyesoon (translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi). The celebrated Korean poet Kim Hyesoon writes from a radiant black zone where matter becomes dark matter, human becomes trinket, garbage becomes god, a zero-point for our present moment’s grotesque and spectacular inversions. This volume includes a selection of recent work, the landmark poem “Manhole Humanity,” and the essay “In the Oxymoronic World.” With fiercely incisive translations and a preface by Don Mee Choi.

“As garbage, love and death accumulate in her poems, your world will be changed for real!”—Aase Berg

“The final poem “Manhole Humanity” deserves its place alongside Césarire’s “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land” or Ginsberg’s “Howl” or Inger Christensen’s It. Kim Hyesoon’s new book is armament and salve, shield and medicinal chant. It’s here to protect us.” – Christian Hawkey

On the seat you left, two beer bottles, a cigarette butt, two pieces of scratch paper.
Why are you screening my calls, my messages? Don’t you have anything else to do?
You are the bourgeoisie of communication. Why am I always afraid of the phone?
When you look at me, I always feel as if I should change into something else.
How about changing myself into a bundle of clothes dumped on the sofa
or a pale pink wad of bubble gum dangling from someone’s lips
like the poor tummies of all the animals that flail about when they are turned over?
Do you know?
Eyesnavel god. Forearmsearflap god. (continue reading…)

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James Pate on Everyday Genius

by on Nov.13, 2011

Pig Beach

The noise in the pig. The pig in the noise.
The time for pig time.
The end of the start of pig time.
The time of the pig thorn.
The mouth drooling in the heart of the pig thorns.
The heart drooling in the shape of the pig.
The hour of the pig light. The arson in the pig dark…

For the full poem go here.

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"Fuck Art": More on Nathalie Djurberg

by on Nov.13, 2011

I found this interesting interview in conjunction with writing this earlier post about Djurberg’s Walker Art Center exhibition.

I love her description of coming into animation and collaboration.

And how it starts with a “fixation.”

And the importance of being “in” the film (as opposed to a pre-formed concept.).

And the idea of “the film making itself.”

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by on Nov.12, 2011

[Got this email from Daniel Comiskey:]

Dear Friends of Queequeg,

As many of you may already know, I’ve been collaborating with my buddy Ryan Tranum of the experimental electronic band Lou-Lou (not to be confused with Lulu, that Lou Reed + Metallica nonsense). I provide the text + voice, while Ryan handles the beats / samples / electronic sounds. It’s a fairly new outfit, having formed in late June, and we call it Queequeg.

We’re playing a gig at Vermillion Art Gallery Bar this coming Wednesday, November 16th, (continue reading…)

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Black Ecology

by on Nov.10, 2011

I don’t know if anybody clicked through one of the links that Feng put up in her last post, but I did, and I came upon this interesting discussion about ecology by Levi R. Bryant.


…As depicted in Avatar, especially in the theme of the sacred tree, nature is thus a sort of divine Wisdom. There is, we are told, this Wisdom to Nature that always balances things out, returning them to order. And, of course, it is not difficult to detect the neo-liberal ideology of Capitalism at work in this thought. Within neo-liberalism we are not to interfere with markets because markets will always right themselves, being the homeostatic or negative feedback mechanisms that they are. So too when we speak of self-organizing systems. There is a Wisdom to the crowd that necessarily rights itself if left alone. At this point, the narrative becomes predictable. If systems don’t right themselves, then this is because of the hubris of humans that intervene in the Natural ™ dynamics of systems, pushing them out of kilter. We attribute a divine Wisdom to these systems that is corrupted by human intervention, thereby speaking as if humans are something other or outside these systems, corrupting them from without. Just as the Nazi speaks of the Jews as a corrupting outside or alien invader of society that, were they eradicated, would allow society to achieve the organic community that is natural to it, we speak of Nature as this wisdom beset by a parasite that need only to be eradicated to harmoniously balance itself. (continue reading…)

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by on Nov.10, 2011

(Thanks to Jacob Wren for sharing this on Facebook.)

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Loyalty to Gaia

by on Nov.10, 2011


Does this image really need explication?

For all your post-apocalyptic gyno-pagan pirate needs, visit Vivenne Westwood’s World’s End shop.

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The Necropastoral and Matthew Barney

by on Nov.10, 2011

Amy Wright has written a fine review of Joyelle’s Necropastoral over on Hangman.


Tense is the operative denominator, as each “King Prion” first relieves the pressure with a valve-like whistle. “Hoooooooo” begins each poem in this seven-poem series with identical titles, as if none will withstand the heat of its own impetus without a preliminary release. The device is leading, generative of that space of union between reader and written Barthes uses to characterize text, and as demanding of confrontation as Matthew Barney’s The Cremaster Cycle.[iv] If you have heard McSweeney read the poems aloud, its operatic call is as up-lilting as a farmer bidding stock, summoning the Landrace of Bentheium in from the pastures, the fleecy white subjects of commercial interests. These are not your grandfather’s purchases.
(continue reading…)

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