Mongrel

An Angel is Born ~~~~ ¡¡¡ Gringpo.com !!!

by on Feb.04, 2015

mia-rihanna-1

In case you haven’t heard by now, the Mongrels have launched their own guerrilla website and it’s pretty shattering stuff.  This will be the last time I post on their behalf here or anywhere else, so please check the site out for future updates.

-the former Messenger

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Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo Takes To Twitter, Questions Poetry Foundation’s Immediate Questioning of Mongrels

by on Jan.29, 2015


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Today’s tabloid headline:  the MCAG have a Twitter account!  Check it out @AgainstGringpo for more jeers and cheers regarding US poetry’s unexamined racial politics.

-The Messenger

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Conceptualism Beyond the West: Divya Victor on Displacing the “Imperialist Pedigree”

by on Jan.27, 2015


A ver, compañeros, does “Gringpo” exist?  How might its colonialist frameworks operate not just on behalf of but also within Conceptualism?  What happens when a conceptualist writer of color faces these frameworks and works to wrest herself out of them?

To open up the discussion proposed by the Mongrel Coalition, I’m sharing an intriguing quote by Divya Victor that Walter–a commentator on yesterday’s post–excerpted from a convo featuring Victor and fellow writers Swantje Lichtenstein and Riccardo Boglione.

As Walter notes, Victor’s take on the need to “circumvent a Western, primarily imperialist pedigree” doesn’t sound far off from the Coalition’s decolonial aims.  Victor suggests how the narrow critical imaginary of ‘gringpo’ conceptualism ultimately lies in its Euro/US-centered canon formation and coterie:

I want to argue that if there is to be an articulation of conceptualism’s globality, and if we want to use its trans-national significance as a way to catalogue and historicize contemporary literary production, then we must insist on thinking repetition without Stein. In other words, we’ll have to circumvent a Western, primarily imperialist pedigree. The critical effort (Goldsmith, Perloff, etc.) has portrayed conceptualism as a historical continuity between two origin myths— one set in European, sometimes transatlantic, modernism (Duchamp, Stein, Klein, etc.) and one set in North American conceptualism in the 60s and 70s (Huebler, L. Wiener, Acconci, Cage, Schneeman, Kosuth, etc.). These artists and writers supply our ur-texts that then essentially allow us a convenient, but narrow, regionally- and racially-specific way of imagining the projects that present as conceptualist right now. It gives us good mothers and fathers, and then in turn defines our pedigree. This is obviously insufficient.

If critical efforts have managed and controlled our genealogies of conceptualism, the continually documented simulcast of coterie has defined its geographical parameters. Of course contemporary coterie matters, but that too is only a partial explication of influence. It is necessary for us to imagine and articulate conceptualisms not only as a product of regionally specific scenes or communities— for instance the thriving and brilliant community of poets working in New York city, and circulating in the gyre generated by the compelling and ever-dynamic Segue series. We need to also describe emerging forms of conceptualism as results of historical pressure and consequences of globalization. To do so is to include a consideration of who else is making conceptual works and to pluralize the poets who can occupy the cartography of conceptualist tendencies. To do so is to explain these emerging tendencies as a response not only to already institutionalized origin myths, or already privileged urban centers of making (New York, L.A.), but also as responses to lived practices of immigrants, travelers, or those who have systematically eschewed the fabrication of localized community by being itinerants. Conceptualism has made space for new forms of inclusivity, but these spaces have to be articulated into existence. Conceptualism’s “globality,” in other words, has to also make place for placelessness in practices of writing that come out of geographic transitionality.

In addition, Victor explains how misreadings of her work in the US have been used to uphold the white avant garde’s frames:

As someone who did not grow up in the United States, the record of my own trajectories of influence is quite other. I do not see my work as responding only to forms of art I’ve consumed, studied, or engaged with in the last ten years or so. When I began writing poems, the objects or oeuvres they resembled were entirely alien to me. I made Beckett-like poems or Joyce-like narratives knowing nothing of either writer. I was told I was “channeling” dead white men even as I tried to explain that I had never heard of them. Institutions instrumentalize even alien life, such as my own, and I was understood through my resemblance to these men— their beards and frosted noses superimposed on my flesh. As an immigrant and a woman of color, these networks of influence that have defined conceptualism in the United States— whether modernist literary experimentalism or post-punk commodities— continue to remain alien to me, and necessarily so.

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THE MONGREL COALITION AGAINST GRINGPO OFFERS EXTENDED THOUGHTS ON THE TATTERED FLAG OF WHITE CONCEPTUALISM

by on Jan.26, 2015

[Communiqué #2 sent to me by TMCAG.  I post on the coalition’s behalf and assume no part in its authorship.]

“Again I was supposed to know them, while they were not at all interested in knowing me. Instead they sought to ‘deconstruct’ the tradition to which they belonged even as they used the same forms, style, language of that tradition, forms which necessarily embody its values.” -Barbara Christian, “The Race for Theory”

“… the parasitical nature of white freedom.” -Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination

 

They tell us with a straight face that there is this thing called art–and that some of its practitioners have been into “ideas.” They say: did you know that this methodology is advanced? They repeat in unison: some poets conceptualize their work! Their work is about “ideas” (never specified, never identified).

The Jacket2 authors, in an attempt to elevate the claims, practices, and politics of white conceptualism, violently flatten. The tradition of this practice is so vast it was easy for us to spot.

Glaringly absent is their discussion. All we gauged from their discussion is that poetry critics and their favorite poets are 50 years behind in reading, selective in their memory, fixated and beholden to whiteness as property, whiteness as elevation, whiteness as transcendence.

In their omissions the politics of Gringpo are presented:

Peddling the notion that white male poets make art about ideas…vs what? Black poets write about the body? From their body (because this is so horrific!!!!)? Female identified writings are produced by their feelings? The consistently old Cartesian dichotomy that “some” writers are engaged with the process of ideas (and therefore abstraction and therefore elevated) while “others” are fixated to the realm of the earthly crass and contingently precise: these are clearly marked racialized and gendered divisions. So to get this right: white male writers and their companion poets make work for the mind, of the mind. Let’s not even mention their obliteration of the soul: everyone else is stuck with the body. Gringpo has gotten so sloppy it can’t even dress up its racism.

In addition: to suggest that conceptualists make work centering on ideas is at this point in art criticism sloppy and ignorant at best. To collapse the variations of conceptual art practices (institutional critique, social practice, relational, non-relational, etc, each one with their limits) and their explicit political projects–this reading is behind by at least 50 years. (continue reading…)

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THE MONGREL COALITION AGAINST GRINGPO RESPONDS TO THE LINKS BETWEEN CONCEPTUAL ART AND CONCEPTUAL POETRY

by on Jan.22, 2015

[Note: Although I have used the term “Gringpo” in the past, I did not author this communiqué.  The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo, an anonymous entity, asked me to post it on their behalf in response to the recent Jacket2 article on the relationship between Conceptual art and poetry. ]

 

“It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.” –James Baldwin

 

WE ARE REMINDED THAT WHITE EMPIRE IS UNITED. THEIR FRONT IS UNITED BY COLONIAL DOMINANCE, CULTURAL ARROGANCE, THEIR DEVOTION TO FINANCIAL CAPITALISM AND GLOBAL DISASTERS.

THEY ARE UNITED IN THEIR ENCRATIC USAGE OF AESTHETICS.

ENCRATIC: LANGUAGE THAT IS PRODUCED AND PROTECTED UNDER POWER (TRINH MINH HA).

OUR RESPONSE TO THEIR UNITED FRONT:

1. The level of bullshit racism that gets to pass as scholarship does not cease to surprise us. Gringpo arrogance is shocking on all fronts!

2. How is gringpo gonna talk about conceptual any fucken thing without ACTUALLY DISCUSSING THE IDEAS THAT ARE BEING CIRCULATED BY THEIR PRODUCERS

EXAMPLE:

KENNIE G AND HIS CREW CIRCULATE THE IDEA THAT WE DON’T NEED TO WRITE OR READ (CUZ WHITE CISHET MALE NARRATIVES HAVE EXHAUSTED ITSELF, SCREW ALL NARRATIVES THAT RESIST AND DREAM OTHERWISE), ALSO SCREW CITATIONS (PATCH FUCKEN WORK!) EVERYTHING BELONGS TO THE WHITE MALE ACADEMIC AND THEIR ANOINTIES INCLUDING IDENTITIES DON’T YOU DARE SUGGEST OTHERWISE

3. Gringpo’s adoration and devotion to mimicking the hierarchies of financial capitalism does not cease to amaze. “The conceptual artist and the conceptual poet intersect as information managers.” Yes! The elevation and celebration of not only immaterial labor but immaterial MANAGEMENT. In this diagram, who remains raw material, appropriated, labor, subcontracted? How are they paid where do they live how are they managed tell us tell us tell us

4. This Strike Gringpo?

(continue reading…)

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On White Uncreativity and the Mongrel Imagination: Interview at Entropy

by on Oct.31, 2014

From Gina Abelkop’s interview with me at Entropy:

Tell me your favorite things about the loose community of artists that you’re a part of, if you’re a part of one in some way, shape or form. What is most exciting about the work you see coming out of this community? Do you make work in response to any of it? What do you wish to see coming out of this community that you feel is lacking or underrepresented?

I still thank my lucky stars that Johannes Goransson and Joyelle McSweeney invited me to join Montevidayo, a poetry blog and haven for anyone who believes in insurrections instead of communities. It’s quieter now than it used to be, but the blog’s imprint on my mind continues to help me work through the inseparability of form and politics, and to think about both categories as entirely immanent to the writer’s process. What I cherish in Monte and its constellations, in particular, is a shared commitment to the otherworldly potential of art. In my version of this model, the writer gives herself over to the poem, foregoing foresight and mastery in order to allow for a fully experienced deviation. The poem, in other words, becomes a sacred space that spiritualizes alien perspectives at the same time as the writer bodies them forth. The result is an animation of ‘her’ words, a ghostly dynamic of exchange. Maybe what I’m describing is actually the backchannel of the dispossessed… a passage of energy mutating throughout multiple realities… spilt souls coursing in and out of open veins. Deprived of the right to claim property, illegible to all but the most occulted traditions and lineages, this kind of writer may have no choice but to enact a “production of difference” rather than fall back on the luxury of “imitation” (Luiz Costa Lima). Of course, an imagination with so much reach would barely make a blip under Empire. It blooms not in the Empirical but in the rim and realm of the invisible, blacked-out, and metaphysical. It is the mongrel other to 21st-century white lack, appropriation, and self-projection.

Karen Valentim's mural in the neighborhood of Jesus de nazaré, in Vitoria, Brazil

Karen Valentim’s mural in the neighborhood of Jesus de Nazaré, in Vitoria, Brazil

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Three Hot Books for your Cruel Summer: Monica Rinck, Carina Finn, Aime Cesaire

by on Jun.28, 2013

Hola poetry fanboies!

How I spent my summer vacation...

How I spent my summer vacation…

 

 

Sitting on my “desk” (laminated folding table) today are three books sure to perk up your whole life/fashion/poetry outlook for this weekend and your life, comparable to when Roseanna Arquette becomes infected by poetry in the form of personal ads in Desperately Seeking Susan, and goes on to become a Madonna impersonator. Get into the groove!

1. Monica Rinck, to refrain from embracing, trans. Nicholas Grindell

Two nights ago our bookcase fell over and this volume flew into my hands! This poetry pops with manic muscular focus, an attempt to topo-map the world in its dismaying linguistic everything-at-once. Nicholas Grindell translates Rinck’s German in such a way that German keeps landing its pervy wallops through the mongrel screen of English:

romantic subzero

that was the height of ice. kudos caspar david.

cathedral carved inside of it, thawing its way

down her wet throat. breathrobbing.

a vertical bottleneck. within it

halls and chambers, beneath it water, black

with cold. very cold, very black. turkey hens

are on the roam, invisible but for their core,

like a coffee bean in motion. but don’t

be deceived, the turky hen’s still there,

it just can’t be seen. the whole thing’s fatal.

 

I like the jack-knifing of syntax around the slalom of those line breaks, the way the phrases butt against each other and spill out of the line, the way the poem swings around and looks at itself, by turns serious and ludicrous. Slang and philosophical statement try to fit inside the same tube dress of the lyric. This shoving of opposites into the same micromini is of course the sublime. Sublime fatality. The momentum of the carcrash and the strange dispensation of the suspension of time at the moment of Impact.

 

2. Carina Finn, Lemonworld

 

One thing I know about Carina Finn, my dear friend and former student: the girl can go on. She has a Stein-like philosophical trajectory of mind and at minimum two millenia of hi-lo-pop culture to back her argufying up. When she philosophizes I see molecular diagrams of sugar rings linking into new and tasty non-nourishing foodstuffs of the future, a map of the future that can hardly called human. So I was surprised to receive Lemonworld and discover not her essayistic mode (which I adore) but these individual lyrics like a sachet of PopRocks– so tiny and tight they could pass through all the boundaries made to protect us:

 

CREATURE FROM THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS

cherries, ribbons, and rainbows go all to bits b/c

the devil makes us sin where the wild girls live.

 

 

velvet-turbaned socialite stuffed with triangle

cobra kryptonite, you’re flagged for deletion on the

cemetary drive &

 

                everyone’s hoping for hell except me.

 

To quote Sir Patti Smith: “People say beware. But I don’t care!” I love the jittery compulsion of these poems, the desire to spark, smite and be over.  Could they be more compressed? They could be forced into alexandrines and ridden like a drunken boat. But if that boat was steered by Carina it would include a yukele and be floating in some pond in Central Park being toasted by a thicket of bankers.   This book is basically that.

 

3. Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to The Native Land NEW TRANSLATION OF THE 1939  ‘PRE-ORIGINAL’!!! by A. James Arnold and Clayton Eshleman

 

Words can get up and do things, with the persistence and perfidity of roundworms.  Poetry makes things happen, where it matters– in the gut. For me, reading Clayton and Annette Smith’s 2001 translation of Cesaire’s Notebook was a revelation. I think of this as THE masterpiece of Surrrealism, the utmost, utmost example of what this artform can be in its political mode AND its artistic mode. As Arnold’s introduction to this new edition suggests, the traume-poem took many forms during Césaire’s lifetime, edited, expanded, and cut back down to reflect his developing political outlook. The earliest magazine version, translated for this new edition, could be seen as the barest, or the most concentrated version. Those of us who are fanboies for the 2001 translation might miss the crazy frame stanzas, including the opening lines “Beat it, I said to him, you cop, you lousy pig, beat it, I detest the flunkies of order and the cockchafers of hope!”. Some of the 70’s-isms of the earlier translation (“I say right on!” is replaced by “I say hurray!”—a little AA Milne for me) have been sanitized, and the bewitching repiton ‘Au bout du petit matin bourgeonnant’ is now translated not as ‘At the end of daybreak’ but  ‘At the end of first light’ which is less violent, paradoxical, and revolutionary feeling, if a little more lyrical.  Still, the new edition is a dream and a fan-boi must.  The translation is en face; Arnold’s introduction is pellmell and info-packed, like a dazzling confab at the watercooler outside a stuffy seminar room, where the real education goes down; and the whole shape of the thing is a little clearer in this earlier form.  The embarassing Breton introduction, historically important as it may be, is also not included here. You may lose the ‘right-on’ force of the 2001 edition, but you still get all the hits, plenty of knock-out obscure botanical terminology, and the showstopping scene in which a slave-ship self-viscerates, discharging its now liberated undead cargo into an unreal excremental dream-freedom:

 

Je dis hurrah ! La vielle négritude progressivement se cadavérise

l’horizon se défait, recule et s’élargit

et voici parmi des déchiquètements de nuages la fulgurance d’un signe

le négrier craque de toute part… Son ventre se convulse et résonne…

L’affreux ténia de sa cargaison ronge les boyaux fétides de l’étrange

nourrisson des mers !

 

I say hurray! The old negritude progressively cadavers itself

the horizon breaks, recoils and expands

and through the shredding of clouds the flashing of a sign

the slave ship cracks from one end to the other… Its belly convulses and resounds…

The ghastly tapeworm of its cargo gnaws the fetid guts of the strange suckling of the sea!

 

This image changed my life, my thinking about poetry and its political potential. You must change your life. Buy this book.

 

 

 

 

 

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Reading in Chicago

by on Nov.17, 2010

Subject: This SATURDAY @ Myopic Books/Carlos Soto-Román & Johannes Göransson
THE MYOPIC POETRY SERIES — a weekly series of readings and occasional poets’ talks

Myopic Books in Chicago — All readings begin at 7:00 / 1564 N. Milwaukee Avenue, 2nd Floor

http://www.facebook.com/l/4c020k_EsOdHYOxzK2UdJbdhHpw;www.myopicbookstore.com/poetry.html

773.862.4882

Contact curator Larry Sawyer for booking information and requests.

E-mail: milkmag@rcn.com

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This SATURDAY at Myopic Books:

7 pm

Saturday, November 20 – Carlos Soto-Román & Johannes Göransson

Carlos SOTO-ROMÁN was born in Valparaíso, Chile. He has published the books La Marcha de los Quiltros (The Mongrel’s march,1999), Haiku Minero (Miner Haiku, 2007) and Cambio y Fuera (Over and Out, 2009). He has resided in Philadelphia since March 2009 and is a member of The New Philadelphia Poets (a group committed to expanding the spaces for poetry in Philadelphia) and also the editor of the new cooperative anthology of U.S. poetry, Elective Affinities.

Johannes GÖRANSSON was born in Sweden, but has lived around the US for several years. He is the author of: Dear Ra (Starcherone, 2008), Pilot (Fairy Tale Review Press, 2008) and A New Quarantine Will Take My Place (Apostrophe Books, 2007)—and the chapbook Majakovskij en tragedy (Dos Press, 2008). He is also the translator of: Collobert Orbital by Johan Jönsson, Gingerbread Monuments by Victor Johansson & Klara Kallstrom, Remainland: Selected Poems by Aase Berg and Ideals Clearance by Henry Parland. He is the co-editor of ACTION BOOKS and the online journal ACTION, YES.

UPCOMING

Thursday, December 2 – Johan Jönson, Sarah Riggs, and Cole Swensen

Saturday, December 11 – Thax Douglas & Friends

2011

Saturday, February 12 – Duriel Harris & Nick Demske

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