Archive for February, 2012

Fence/Action Fantastic Plastic Exploding Inevitable + Saturday NIGHT

by on Feb.29, 2012

Montevidayans, assemble at the Action Books/Fence Readie Party on Saturday night.

Actioners Olivia Cronk, Don Mee Choi, Ji Yoon Lee, Lara Glenum, and Peter Richards; Fencers me, Ariana Reines, Laura Wetherington, and Paul Legault; It ruin you for good.

March 3rd, 6-8pm, Upstairs at Buddy Guy’s Legends (just behind the conference hotel.

Consider this an ORDER.

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"The Tiny Massive Lardfields of Aase Berg": Blake Butler on Transfer Fat

by on Feb.28, 2012

[Two common figures on Montevidayo comes together wonderfully today as Blake Butler writes about Aase Berg at Vice Magazine’s website: here.]


I tend to think about the work of Aase Berg as gasoline: slick dark liquid fed from underground through machines into machines. Her lines read often like several hundred other lines condensed into thick cuts of petroleum, flammable and ripe. The images she tends toward lend themselves well to this sensation: fat stuffed with death, whales spurting rubber rooms, gorges overrun with multiplying ravenous guinea pigs, fur growing over water. Her language flails in little packets, objects that might seem tiny or translucent in how they sit surrounded with white space on the paper, though over time feeding in viral, connective ways. Get an Aase Berg book and leave it out on your desk and see what starts to happen to the words inside the files on your computer…

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Inspiration of the Woman Void

by on Feb.25, 2012

Here is a link to a great blog piece about Clarice Lispector’s “The Passion According to G.H.” and other stuff by Aaron Apps, my good friend and also author of a forthcoming poetry book from BlazeVox about compost and human mold, all of which flow well with this week’s themes. I’m particularly struck by his description of the dissolving aspect of divinity, it being something that dissolves the self so that it may move:
“Similar to Collaborators there is no option for beauty or redemption in this novel. There is also a similar notion of Hell in this novel—which seems to be a depth within the self when one casts off traditional ethics and aesthetics (the way a female body has to go when it realizes that the structures in place are hopelessly inequitable and patriarchal; ethics and aesthetics being controlled and defined by patriarchal structures). But, beyond Hell, Lispector’s novel also has an idea of God, which functions to dissolve the self such that it can go forward in the world. This move seems different. [ . . . ]…it seems like the character in The Passion According to G.H. seems to push past the voices in both of the novels we read and into a point of reconfiguration (a point where she can’t use many words since most words are infected with what she can no longer say). Even with the mother in Collaborators with her goddess like presence, it is implicit that she learned most of her feminist (goddess) ways from correspondence. The character in Lispector’s novel has an encounter with a cockroach (which might be a kind of sounding board, but it isn’t one that can talk back) and delves into the ooze that is inside of her and then proceeds out into the world with a sense of being oozy.”
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Leertext & disorientation

by on Feb.22, 2012

In a class I’m auditing on translating theory, we recently read a Celan poem called The Shofar Place together. The German title of the poem is Die Posaunenstelle, which more literally means The Trombone Place. Someone in class was reminded of the Book of Revelations, particularly the sectioned entitled The Last Trumpet. Trombones are not trumpets, so I am not sure why the link was made (probably because this person thinks about the Bible a lot), but its translation by John Felstiner actually connects it to the shofar:


A ram’s-horn trumpet used by Jews in religious ceremonies and as an ancient battle signal.

The trombone becomes a trumpet becomes a shofar, the horn of a dead animal, in the interstice of translation.


Here is the poem in english:


Deep in the glowing
at torch height,
in the timehole:

hear deep in
with your mouth.

* (continue reading…)

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"Avant-garde shamaness takes a poetic journey to the Californian suburbs"

by on Feb.21, 2012

David Hoenigman has written an article about Hitomi Ito for Japan Times.


“Born in 1955 in Tokyo, Ito first came to prominence as a poet in her early 20s while teaching Japanese at a junior high school. Her poetry collection “The Plants and the Sky (Kusaki no Sora)” won the Gendai-shi Techo Award in 1978. She went on to spearhead the 1980s boom of women’s poetry in Japan, (continue reading…)

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“Everything is true, nothing is permitted” An Interview with Blake Butler

by on Feb.21, 2012

[Notre Dame undergraduate Joe Wegener conducted the following interview with Blake Butler in connection with Blake reading at the Notre Dame Undergraduate Literary Festival last week. Part of the interview was published in the Notre Dame Observer, but I thought I would publish the whole thing here.]

Joe Wegener: So, first off, what are you gonna’ be reading at the Lit. Festival? Nothing, There Is No Year?

Blake Butler: No idea. I tend to wait to the last minute to figure out what feels right. Probably the fiction, as reading nonfiction feels weird in the mouth.

JW: I can dig it. Let’s keep talking fiction vs. non-fiction. Nothing: A portrait of Insomnia was published this past year by Harper Perennial. Your first work of non-fiction, yeah? What was the research process like? How did it effect the movement and pacing of your writing? I read somewhere that you wrote the first draft of There Is No Year in about 10 days. This must have been a little different.

BB: I thought I was going to hate researching because I more like to write out of mood and frenzy of sorts, and I thought that would maybe slow me down. Though I found the process of reading intensively about what I was writing about while I was writing about it to be actually very motivating, in that it provided constant stimulation and (continue reading…)

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Ecologies of Sensation: The Book(s) of Bhanu Kapil and Clarice Lispector

by on Feb.21, 2012

The rainbow sloth, like literature, suffuses and shatters your body.

“The mask is what you use; it isn’t a fake, it’s a mask.  Your senses love you; they evolved to be your mask–or you made them, didn’t you?” –Alice Notley, Culture of One

Lately, I’ve been compelled to regard books as pulsating organisms with ecologies and becomings of their own.  If once the book struck me as an intermediary technology between writers, their subjects, readers, and God, I now often get the feeling that these figures orbit the book.  This is to say that I think a book creates and undoes its own material boundaries.  Through sensation, a book may animate another’s body, or take on mythic, mystic, otherworldly proportions; it may stand in, like scripture, for all books and words at a given point in time; or it may do none of these things.  Whether the book fails or succeeds in its trajectory or finds unexpected lines of flight, it’s always capable of more (more, more) futures than we can anticipate.

As in Amit Rai’s concept of ecologies of sensation, my version/vision of the book situates it in multiple timespaces:  the book is “an event that performs anew with each repetition and with each new scene of circulation […] an unpredictable but patterned trajectory of present conforming to past but open to future mutations.”  A happy accident in my Intermediate Poetry class last term confirmed the book’s event-like unpredictability.  Months before its publication, I’d assigned Bhanu Kapil’s Schizophrene.  When my copy came in the mail, I saw that it reset and repeated itself after the first 20 pages.  In fact, my occult copy embodied Bhanu’s description of its “arcing once more through the crisp dark air;” it stuttered with a blunt physical force not unlike “a schizophrenic narrative [that] cannot process the dynamic elements of an image, any image.”  Even the page with publication details insisted on reproducing itself, exploding the narrative over and beyond the table of contents that traditionally delimit it.

“On the night I knew my book had failed, I threw it.”  I love how, by thwarting its author’s intentions, the corrected copy of Schizophrene also sketches its own body, “a hunk of electromagnetic fur torn from the side of something still living and thrown.”  A body that itself becomes indistinguishable from one of the book’s ‘human’ subjects later on:  “Can you smell her burning fur?”

Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star enacts a porosity so total, for me, that it seems to inhabit yet diverge from the same ecology of sensations.  It is, as in Edmond Jabes’ lifelong conversation with the page, an evolution of the book (continue reading…)

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Forest of Flinches: Transfer Fat by Aase Berg: Now Available from Ugly Duckling

by on Feb.20, 2012


“Estonia: The Fat Stone’s Transparent Catatonia.”

“The Hare Infects Dad with Rabies.”

“Mom Choice.”

“Open the Voter.”

These are some of titles from Aase Berg’s Transfer Fat, as translated by Johannes Goransson. Such supple and engaging titles are typical of this work and also typify the way the work itself functions. The titles act like membranes; they catch your attention; your attention becomes a little prod or probe. You push at the membrane of the title and move through it into the shell meat of the poem, carrying gummy traces of the title with you, covering your eyes, nose, mouth, changing your vision and your breathing. You’re now half-digesting, half-gestating the poem, which, by the sci-fi logic by which the book operates, means that you might now be destined to supernova in a slickly bloody birth.

Milk Hare

Feel fur in milk

The white fluff wads

scattered flinches through the forest

through the hare wolf (continue reading…)

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Harmonie Korine's Trash Humpers

by on Feb.20, 2012

Montevidayans, has anyone seen this yet? If so, please report!


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Thoughts leading to Grendel and the Little Mermaid

by on Feb.19, 2012

I preface this post with the admission of my shyness and neurotic embarrassment over my own work. I promised to write something personal as a follow up to the thing about Butcher’s Tree, so I shall do my best. Recently, thinking about BT, I wrote this:

I must think too much. Silence worth more than a pretty tinkling urine charm
made of petroleum
and more than what I can say about any one of my brilliant mothers
under whom I writhe and cry out my written memories given to me by boys.

In some way, I think it describes how I have felt as a writer since the beginning, in college, when I wrote the poems in Butcher’s Tree. Heritage was and is still something I have a strange, or estranged, relationship with. Should it matter that the figures that kept appearing were figures of classical “western” mythology, and why did it grate on me to see names like Sun Wukong in my poetry? (continue reading…)

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Two Montevidayans Interview D.A. Powell

by on Feb.18, 2012

When D.A. Powell was in town way back in the fall of 2010, Sarah Fox and I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing him for Dislocate, the lit magazine at the University of Minnesota.  I finally got myself a copy of the issue where our interview appears, and as you can see the cover nicely foreshadows the silk-puke scene we all love in Rihanna’s “We Found Love” video.  I thought I’d post a few of choice bits from our conversation with Powell just in time for the publication of his new book.

L: One thing that strikes me about your work is its relationship to the dead. In Tea, the poem “[dead boys make the sweetest lovers]”, suggests that the dead continue to exist for you. I was wondering if you could talk about that line in light of what you said at lunch yesterday—about having a speaker who’s a lot like you and then you get to have that speaker do all the heavy lifting.

DAP: I think all writers are haunted. And we all have our ghosts that follow us
around. They don’t have to be people­-who­-are­-ghosts. They could be ghosts-­who­-
are­-people whom we remember from the past, and we don’t even know what
happened to them necessarily. It doesn’t have to be death, per se. I find that most of
what I’m writing is a kind of conversation that was cut off. So, poems often start out
from that moment after you’ve walk away from an argument you had with someone
and you think, “Well, I should have said…” The poem is the opportunity to re­enter
that conversation and see what happens. The point of the writing is not necessarily
to decide the conversation or figure anything out, but just to explore what else might
have been said that was left unsaid.


S: That reminds of something you wrote in your poetics statement for American Poetry in 21st Century.

DAP: Gosh, you guys have done your research. I don’t even remember half of these things.

S: Well, it’s quite beautiful. You talked about the body and language: “the poet suckles on the nipple of the world.”

DAP: Oh. That’s hot. [laughs] (continue reading…)

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"death squawks from an automobile spring": Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule

by on Feb.15, 2012

Jaimy Gordon is reading form The Lord of Misrule tonight at the U of Notre Dame (Eck Center, 730 pm). I just read her book and I thought I would just make a little note about it.

It’s a book about a rundown racetrack and I love the first chapter because of the way it create this ambience of broken-down anatomy where everything seems like a worn-out body – the humans, the contraptions at the stable, the cars and of course the horses themselves. The metaphorically dense prose itself seems rotting and anatomical.

For example, she compares one rundown horse to a car: “He was the throwaway kind, a heavy springer who looked like a quarter horse, with a chest like a car radiator.” But of course not a car, but the “radiator,” suggesting a gutted car, a car whose radiator has been removed from its insides. And thus: the horse’s chest is both mechanical and butchered by the metaphor.

This kind of metaphor (meataphor) is later reversed when she writes this about a car driving into the stable area:

… suddenly they were wrassling the two of them [horses] like broncs. It had come one of them death squawks from an automobile spring, which which you heard when some ignorant individual attempted to bust into the backside of Indian Mound Downs by the back gate. The four horses still on the hot-walking machine taken off, galloping foolishly in the pink cloud around the pole like they did on any excuse. It was a dirt-caked and crumpled white Pontiac Grand Prix, ten years old, longer and lower than it ought to be, resembling a flattened show box, with its front bumper hanging down on one side…

I love the conflation of broken-down horses and broken-down machines in this part. In reverse of the first example, here the car emits a “death squawks” like a dying horse, but it comes right after the “wrassling” (the very misspelling of the word suggests a grotesque language) of the horses, creating the sense that the car emits the sound of the horses. Also it comes from the car’s spring, again gutting the car open. And it comes in the “back” of the racetrack, creating a kind of overarching anatomy for the race track.

In this broke-down atmosphere, the simplest sentences become grotesque. For example: “Anyhow Grizzly got heart. He could run without feet, she said.” Here the simple metaphor “got heart” becomes grotesque; the heart comes out of the horse, giving physical immediacy and gruesomeness to the cliche. And the hypothetical “could run without feet” becomes strangely literal.

I am reminded of Matthew Barney’s horse corpses. I don’t have time right now but if I do I’ll find a clip of that.

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Kate Durbin on Reality TV

by on Feb.14, 2012

Kate Durbin, sometime Montevidayaoan, has an essay up about Reality TV on Burnaway.


Reality TV: the most disgraced, disgraceful art medium in the world.

Reality TV: heralded by no one, watched by everyone. This makes it a total shame. Uh, I mean sham.

Reality TV: takes as its subject “real life,” then subjects real life to BLATANT manipulation.

Reality TV: simultaneously makes of and reveals life as construction. This is offensive to those who view themselves as elite victims at the blind hands of a private fate.

Reality TV: a brave new world where there are no victims, only co-conspirators. Where everyone is witness, and destiny is public, participatory, sympathetic, savage.

She also has a chapbook out on Insert Press called E! Entertainment. My favorite section is a really disturbing appropriation of a video of Anna Nicole Smith and her son. Here’s an excerpt:

“Riley, Age 7: We’re gonna use these first, bunny. You can open your eyes. Close em. Now close em. I wish you could go on the waterslides. But you’re pregnant. If you’re pregnancy, your heart’s bad, if you have a broken bone, or a back condition. I read teh signs! Yep. You can’t. Your other – your baby down here. Why aren’t you pooting, then, or does it hurt? She does. The clown needs some medicine…”

(continue reading…)

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