Top Things of 2011

by on Dec.16, 2011

I participated in another 2011 top list at Big Other:

Liknöjd Fauna, by Aase Berg (Albert Bonnier Förlag)
Melancholia, by Lars von Trier (movie)
Strange Circus, by Shion Sono (movie)
Parade, by Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg (exhibition at Walker Art Center, Mpls)
Jiyoon Lee’s Love Song for My Darling Translator (duet with Lara Palmer’s ghost at &Now Conference, San Diego)
The “No Future” panel at &Now San Diego (with Feng Sun Chen, Lucas de Lima, Joyelle McSweeney, and Monica Mody)
Leon Baham, Pony Boy (Birds of Lace Press)
Rihanna’s “We Fell In Love In A Hopeless Place” (music video)
Alexander McQueen’s exhibition/book “Savage Beauty” (The Met, NY City)
Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes (music CD)
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A Frozen Tearscape: Kim Hyesoon's Tearfarming (trans. Don Mee Choi)

by on Dec.12, 2011

Please read this excellent poem by Kim Hyesoon, trans. by Don Mee Choi, on H.L. Hix’s blog, In Quire.

“Tearfarming” presents a mini,  frozen necropastoral, artificial as soft-serve and hard as diamonds, and you will not be sorry you clickclicked that linklink.

Scratch that. You will be sorry! You will be very very sorry, little girls.

Then support both genius poets by buying All the Garbage of the World, Unite!

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Necropastoral & Ruins Porn; Bug Apocalypse; Bee & Stare

by on Dec.12, 2011

Here's Gramps having his Spirit Photo taken again

OK so I woke up thinking about THIS poem again. Is it ruins porn? What happens in a time of civil war? The house collapses, the humans eat each other’s  brutal hearts, and the honeybees move into the interstices to reboot post-apocalyptic time.  Yeats oversaturates his imagery– he’s talking about his own ‘house’ and body and sense of history collapsing, yet there’s another house– the ‘house of the stare’ (i.e. starling)– which is going to be repossessed by the bees. I actually see this ‘nest’ as a stare’s carcass,  a ribcage and cranium now to be Occupied by bees, who will fly the vessel around, a flying colony, right out of China Mieville.  And of course I read that ‘stare’ as the gaze itself, to be occupied by bees, bees put out my eyes, what is this buzzing, a synesthesia which permits no insight and no outsight, a vision which is a medium for not sight but pain, a conversion of sight to pain, the nerve impulses a swarm (Yeats was no fan of mobs or swarms), WBY being flown over civil-war Ireland like bird-skeleton, a vessel, a war-machine steered by a pack of Killer Bees–

VI. The Stare’s Nest by My Window by Yeats

The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare. (continue reading…)

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The Gorgeous Epic and Engorgement of the Potatoesque

by on Dec.01, 2011

A co-authored-mingling with Lucas “Blue Fairy G.E.M.” De Lima
my cheek is the shattered sky (Raúl Zurita)What is magnetic about the potato is its bulbous, cheek-like humility and humiliation.  The root of humiliation is lowliness, humble, on the ground, humus, of the earth.  Holding a potato in our hands, we want to brush the dirt off its adorable roundness, hold it against our breasts, kiss its endless cheek, wrap it in foil and throw it in a fire, boil it, mutilate it, masticate it, swallow the mashed bolus, feel the energy from its soft life force as our stomach acids further decay it.

I want to eat,
I want to eat,
I want to eat,
I want to eat,
I don’t care whom (Hiromi Ito)

In both its vulnerability and annihilation, the potato resists nothing.

Through a gaze that is, simultaneously, self and other, the potato shatters us:  before our ensconced pupils, uncanny eyes blink open and sprout.  To become-potato is to become what we see, smell, hear, and taste–or to act on the hunger of yellow, ferocious videogame stars. As that which triggers and sustains the poet’s all-consuming cannibalism, the potato gorges on dotted lines.  Just as Mr. and Ms. Pac-Man must eventually devour one another, our pockmarked crop makes opposites feed off each other.  As earthlings, we find ourselves lovingly eating the sky.

The star will consume the star whose every twinkle is a blink of memory (Edmond Jabès)

When we begin becoming-potato, we anticipate the silence of the earth until it cries.  We feel the necropastoral decay that supersaturates the ground.  Suddenly, the mute shadows of untimely, unruly bodies scream, and we hear this angelic shrieking despite our godlessness. The potatoesque erupts as an exercise in extreme empathy, in baring our cheek, in rolling over to flash our private parts at you, chthonic and celestial parasites.

Can you smell her burning fur? (Bhanu Kapil)

A blind, asexual stem tuber, the potato expands as a rhizome.  Its surface is a field of eyes or nodes.  While blind, these eyes are sensate, part of a field of compost teeming with writhing, blood-stained worms.  Each node opens a threshold for further feeding on decay, a portal through which tiny revolts breach out.

This occult, (non)uterine (non)motherhood is the chorus of a thousand tiny sexes (as in Grosz’s feminism of rhizomatics).

Hermaphroditic marshmallows, stay squishy as worm infected potatoes in the dark earth. Stay aware of and in the silent excess of pain in the dying flesh below the earth that is infected with violence. Vibrating monads, jiggle your pink tongues as you perceive. Leak down the intersex! (Aaron Apps)

Unlike poetics aimed at (hybrid) synthesis or (straight) futurity or (mere) resignification, the potatoesque embraces queer and constant mutation, reproduction, and synesthetic consumption.  By occupying the black of censored lines–the shameful, hysterical symptoms of our infected bodies–our famine-ending orb speaks through and against capitalist realism’s ideological and material garbage.

What the potatoesque thwarts, as the heart of Anything and Everything, is legibility.

As the text sucks into itself sky, seagull, and surface as well as depth, landfill, and ground, we kiss and become its unnamable mush.  We give ourselves to all potato cries.

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Star Fuckers – Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, James Pate, Nick Demske and Old Dirty Bastard

by on Nov.30, 2011

[Warning: I don’t know much about the Rolling Stones so if somebody wants to clue me into any background errors etc, please feel free.]

The other day Joyelle and I were in Pittsburgh talking about the necropastoral at a conference called ASAP. Joyelle went to a panel that talked about how “Star Star” by the Rolling Stones was actually addressed to Candy Darling and evidence of Mick Jagger having been drawn into “Andy Warhol’s orbit.” Apparently, upon entering into this “orbit,” Jagger began to model his look and appearance on Andy’s transvestite “superhuman crew” (Bob Dylan had been pulled into the Warhol orbit some five-ten years earlier). In other words, he was a superstar who became a “superstar.”

I think “orbit” and especially Raggedy Andy’s “orbit” of super saturating art/life is an interesting way of thinking about an alternative to influence/lineage and all that: “a zone where interesting things happen.” A necropastoral “strange meeting.”

First, here’s the song and the lyrics:

“Star Star”
Songwriters: Keith Richards;Mick Jagger

Baby, baby, I’ve been so sad since you’ve been gone
Way back to New York City
Where you do belong
Honey, I missed your two tongue kisses
Legs wrapped around me tight
If I ever get back to Fun City, girl
I’m gonna make you scream all night
(continue reading…)

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The Potatoesque: Notes Toward a Queer, Convivial, Cannibalist Poetics

by on Nov.25, 2011

Potato Heart Mutation/"Down with the vegetable elites. In communication with the soil." (Oswald de Andrade)

To practice queer poetics, for me, is to approach writing as a totally convivial and cannibalist act.  Conviviality, as Jasbir Puar puts it, is the opposite of “resistance, oppositionality, subversion, and trangression.”  While the impulse “to queer” might very well be antagonistic and disobedient to society, it ultimately emphasizes the collective and consumptive practice of living and dying-with.  In this sense, the truly provocative thing about queerness is not that it speaks on behalf of a certain non-normative body, but that it enacts, appeals to, and dares to commingle and consume all bodies and things.

I think queer writing bypasses the typical shortcomings of language when it adopts the cannibalistic drive of the Ouroboros:  it becomes what it eats, which are the referents (or ingredients) of its words.   Far from merely denoting and delimiting experience, this writing unleashes sensation.  As a hunger and force, sensation is indiscriminatory and undifferentiating.  It is a deviating flow that transfers itself from body to object and back again, refusing to rest.  Unlike identificatory labels such as “LGBTQI” and “Boyesque”/”Gurlesque,” queer writing gets so hungry that it unravels identity by devouring and collapsing categorical opposites like woman, man, animal, insect, vegetable, commodity, and corpse.  You, too, risk turning into a faceless potato through the all-consuming queer text.

Because queerness, in my mind, is not limited to non-normative sexuality or humanity or any fixed subjectivity, it must take ecological and bodily instability as ground.  By inhabiting states of violence, mutation, and abhumanity as the very landscape of their writing, Bhanu Kapil, Kim Hyesoon, and Raúl Zurita engage this model much more than self-identified gay writers such as Mark Doty and John Ashbery.

In contemporary American poetics, you might say that the Necropastoral and Somatic Poetics are bedmates of our potatoesque.   An older forerunner, of course, is the Cannibalist movement of Brazilian modernism, in which Oswald de Andrade called for the voracity and promiscuity, as well as the porosity, of embodied writing:

What results is not a sublimation of the sexual instinct.  It is the thermometrical scale of the cannibal instinct.  Carnal at first, this instinct becomes elective and creates friendship.  When it is affective, it creates love.

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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…)

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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.
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Necropastoral Parades: Nathalie Djurberg

by on Nov.09, 2011

Here’s a trailer for the Parade by Nathalie Djurberg (with music by Hans Berg) at the Walker Art Center.

Regular Lucas, Sarah Fox and I had a Montevidayo meeting at this exhibition last Friday and it’s totally amazing. Anybody who lives in or near the Twin Cities should definitely get over to the Walker and see it ASAP. It’s certainly one of the best, most moving shows I’ve seen in a long, long time.

My immediate reference point for this overwhelming experience was when I went to see Kara Walker’s Walker show back in the 90s (can’t remember what year). This was one of Walker’s first big solo shows and I hadn’t even heard of her. I just walked in by happenstance and my first reaction was, “Ugh, how boring, 19th century silhouettes” but it was of course a trap: Before I knew it I had entered into the space of Walker’s sadistic fantasia and there was no way out.
(continue reading…)

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The mystery of the human bean and bug-time

by on Nov.03, 2011

I figured out where the phrase “human bean” came from–Lorraine Neidecker! Thanks, LN. I hope to someday read your collected works.

In my research into the life of beans (or things with bean-ness) I have been trying to find connection between myself and plant-life. I have gotten as far as the worm. In previous entries on my blog, I have written about the practice of humility as a poetics. A teacher I once had brought compost to class and told us about her time spent with her face in the fresh black humus. We smelled the compost and let the earth particles into our lungs. I didn’t see any worms, but I thought about the wormhood that must have produced the mould.

Sidenote: In practices of some types of shamanism, exorcisms involve “poisoning” the possessed with herbs. This often killed intestinal worms, so in the scientific way of looking at it, the body was healed when the worms were destroyed. It’s interesting to consider how to empathize or understand certain shamanistic practices, because it is so difficult to think of toxic convulsions as anything other than sickness. I’m reminded of the scene in True Bloodwhen Terra gets exorcised but later tries to attack the witch because the exorcism was a hoax–she was fed poison and hallucinated her demon. When I was a kid in Singapore in primary school, we were given small pink tablets to eat and these would eliminate worms, if we had any. Two of my friends have had worms. One had benign worms, the other had worms that caused emaciation. One described seeing worms in the toilet as an intense experience of shame. Worms are a symbol of shame. If you call someone a worm, you are calling them a coward, unfit, disgusting, etc.

During conversation with some poet friends, the worm came up as my “spirit animal”. The worm has 7 hearts and is hermaphroditic.

green porno

(continue reading…)

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Bug Time: Chitinous Necropastoral Hypertime against the Future

by on Nov.01, 2011

[I see so many webby and glitchy potentials running between Kristen Stone’s Queeragripoetics and my ideas about Bug Time that I’m posting my paper on Bug Time here. Thanks, Kristen, for your awesome thinking and art!]

Invocation: “I am more powerful than a president. I am a charmed and desperate poet speaking to everyone.” Alice Notley, Culture of one, 18.

1. In his prescient book, prophetic like an ancient Greek oracle who, drugged on her tripod, could only look backwards, Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan, Brett L. Walker introduces the notion that insects live on different time scales than humans—“high speed evolutionary time”, defined by mutation. selection, evolution. Given that the Japanese ‘rice hopper’ for example, enjoys a lifespan of fifty days and between two and six generations in a single human year, at least 150 generations of ‘hoppers’ can live in the span of a normal Japanese life. “Plus there are millions more insects than us, which means that mutations—say, a serendipitous (for the insect) genetic resistence to chemical insecticide or other anthropogenic force—are far more likely to occur.”

2. What model of literary time is provided by this mutating field time, this bug time, this spasming, chemically induced, methed up mutating, death time, this model of proliferant, buggered, buggy, moist, mutating, selecting, chitinous, gooey, bloated, dying time, a time defined by a spasming change of forms, by generational die-offs, by mutation, by poisoning, a dynamic challenge to continuity, and by sheer proliferation of alternatives, rather than linear succession? (continue reading…)

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My Attention Span list of best books of 2011

by on Oct.22, 2011

[Here’s the list I sent in to Steve Evans’ “Attention Span” list of the best books of the year. Obviously my aesthetic is quite different from most people who participate in this survey, but hopefully somebody will find something interesting in my list. And hopefully I’ll find something interesting from somebody else’s list (which I tend to do).]

Jenny Boully | not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them | Tarpaulin Sky | 2011

A poetic novel that inhabits J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, or perhaps a novel that is haunted by the older book, or that haunts it. Much like Sara Stridsberg’s novel (see below) inhabits and is haunted by Nabokov’s text. And like Stridsberg, it’s deeply lyrical and beautiful, as well as disturbing.

Blake Butler| There is No Year | Harper Perennial | 2011

Another hallucinatory poem-as-novel, much like the Lonely Christopher (see below), as well as David Lynch’s “Inland Empire” in its striking images and scenes; and like Lynch’s movie, it’s explores the gothic trope of the “haunted house” in an age of media saturation.

Daniel Borzutzky | The Book of Interfering Bodies | Nightboat | 2011

This book begins with an epigraph from the 9/11 Commission Report: “It is therefore crucial to find a way of routinizing, even bureaucratiizing, the exercise of the imagination.” One response to this might be to write poems as far away from bureaucracies as possible (an escape into nature or some such), but Borzutzky decides to go through the giant bureaucracy of the “war on terror,” pushing the clinical, euphemistic discourses of a patriot-act government into beautiful, disturbing hallucinations.

Aimé Césaire, trans. A. James Arnold and Clayton Eshleman | Solar Throat Slashed | Wesleyan | 2011

This is a new translation of the 1948 unexpurgated edition of this book by the legendary Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, maybe the greatest poet of the 20th century. This was Cesaire’s second book, following the legendary Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, and it extend the disturbing, grotesque, beautiful visions of that book. I’m eternally grateful to Eshleman for not only writing his own fine poems but also for his translations of some of the greatest poets of the 20th century: Césaire, Artaud, Vallejo.

Feng Sun Chen | Ugly Fish | Radioactive Moat | 2011
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Leon Baham, Brains, Dead Babies (&Now Report #2)

by on Oct.20, 2011

&Now – wasn’t it awesome? I am aiming to stretch out my inspiro – and the swag I picked up (new Birkensnake! new Anna Joy Springer! Joyelle’s Necropastoral chapbook! etc) – at least until the semester’s over and I can climb into radical writing as much as I want.

Among my enthusements:

1) meeting TC Tolbert – what a pleasure! TC is, with Tim Trace Peterson, co-editing an anthology of trans and genderqueer poetry. It’s an incredible, exciting project; trans/gq folks: consider submitting!

2) meeting Leon Baham, whose chapbook Ponyboy, Sigh: A Word Problem (Birds of Lace Press) is one of the most interesting pieces of writing I’ve read recently. Didn’t catch his performance but chatted with him and c. vance at the mixer – awesome folks! Great to meet you.

(continue reading…)

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