Archive for January, 2013

"We took action!": ASCO and Zurita

by on Jan.03, 2013

Back in 2011 some time, I read this article in the NY Times about the Chicano art collective ASCO, who were active in LA mostly during the 1970s, making murals and fake movies as well as staging baroque happenings. I was immediately smitten by this nexus of activity and art. I was especially intrigued by the “no movies,” fake movie stills which reminded me of some of my favorite art: Jack Smith’s fake movie still (from before he started making movies) and Joseph Beuys’s photographs that supposedly document his art happening but really create a sense of an entire life as art.

Well, I was as always busy as hell and forgot about it, but then I remembered it yesterday and asked about it on Facebook, and somebody gave me a link to this awesome blog post on the blog East Long Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Line.

Among other things, it features this totally inspiring movie about the group:

This is such an inspiring movie.

Another inspiring movie is this witnessing of Montevidayo’s favorite poet Raul Zurita, sky-writing his poem “La Vida Nuevo” in the heavens above NYC.

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by on Jan.02, 2013

Mother Death Poetics originated here, and I think, Montevidayans, you’ll agree this mater-manifesta furthers our consciousness and our desire. Elisabeth Workman lives in Minneapolis, and I hope she won’t mind me reporting that she actually delivered her baby, by chance, in the bathtub in the bathroom of her own home. Her husband helped. I love her. She says, “It should be noted that this is very much a document in progress, and that any comments may be incorporated into the poetics &/or poetry as it grows.”

The image was made by my goddaughter Grace, who is 12, and is responsible for the cover art of my first book.

Happy New Year!


The Cuntos: A Poetics
Elisabeth Workman

The source text for this project was written out of a fugitive anxiety in July 2012. The source texts feeding into that text were written out of desperation in the 19th century, out of significant disdain, out of borders, disillusionment, and uncertainty. A passive voice gets acted upon. A passive voice becomes receptive. The nascent language of a two-year-old girl surfaces. The neurotic language of a mother at the edge of pigeon-hole surfaces. A poet in the word-hole listens. The in-between language of revenants collides with a perverse pleasure of near-sounds and puns and estranged, entangled meaning. It is a blatant abuse of paper.

In July 2012 I had recently re-read Bernadette Mayer’s Memory, her own July project published in 1976 (the year I was born; bicentenialism) that sought to document via photography, sound recordings, and most dominantly, words as much of each day as possible. At the same time Fanny Trollope’s Domestic Manners of the Americans kept resurfacing to the top spot on my bedside pile of books—maybe compelled by my own melancholic nostalgia to not be an American, maybe an extended fascination with wanderlust and frontiers and the lawlessness they foment. Online, I kept returning to readings from Anne Tardos’ Nine, whose concept of the line as independent semantic phenomena—and many aphoristic—I found beautiful and true in a Jenny Holzer on jouissance-poetry-drugs way.
(continue reading…)

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"surrealism is a mouthful of light": Talisman review of John Olson

by on Jan.01, 2013

Since we’ve been talking a bit about Surrealism on this blog and especially it’s troubled relationship to lineage in American poetry, I thought I would link to this review by Andrew Joron of John Olson’s Larynx Galaxy.


Olson’s writing appears to be attached to a secret dynamo at the heart of the wor(l)d, spinning and sputtering without stop. Despite the lack of militant movements in today’s poetry scene, I would name Olson as an important exponent of a classic one: surrealism. However, Olson’s surrealism is hardly doctrinaire—indeed, he has reinvented surrealism (as any true surrealist must) according to the dictates of his own imagination. In his previous collection, Backscatter, Olson has written that “Surrealism is not word play surrealism is a mouthful of light a towering urge to mangle the language to beat it into tungsten a raging river fastened to the hood of a jeep old clocks yawning in oysters oracular ore at the core of an oar a Martian umbrella dressed in music.” In these lines, the naturalism inherent to surrealism becomes evident: the path to liberation is a “raging river” flowing through the world of objects, including word-objects.

On a related note, there’s an excerpt from my forthcoming book Haute Surveillance up at the Iranian web site, in which I talk about Surrealism.

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Mother Death Poetics: Eduardo Gil’s “Urine Readings”

by on Jan.01, 2013

A few weeks before the Sandy Hook headlines, I saw an exhibit at the São Paulo Biennial that already suffused the figure of the Child in death and ill inheritance, as well as the powers of susceptibility with which all children radiate.


If the orphans of Eduardo Gil’s “Urine Readings” appear as mere adumbrations of children, they do so by invoking the negative space of a meaningful future.  Here the cliché wonder of the child is completely imbued with foreboding.  While interpreting a mattress, one psychic said something like, “You can tell—and it’s difficult for me to say this, because these are children—some of the ones who slept here were so scared that they didn’t even let themselves pee.”  (continue reading…)

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