Monday, February 28, 2011

22. How much swagger do I want? / So fucking much, all of it, all the time"

I was feeling, again, forlorn for myself and for public libraries, how most of what  I could find therein were these lyrics, fractured and award-winning, how I have no patience for that kind of caviar and fracture (to go around breaking shit! assholes! I needed what you just broke!), how what I wanted, both sadly and freely was a poetry that would mend the social, how it would tell not only of alienation but alienation’s ruin, how it would do this with no airs and with full admission, its pretense only a pretense of belief, or its belief only in that of the abidingness of poetry even as poetry imagines itself out of poetry.

Where was I going to find this poetry?

There were people all over the world taking over everything and WE HAD TO WIN.

I told Sandra this is the time to stand up in the middle of Art and start shouting.

So I said aloud on facebook that I would read pdfs, because secretly and not so-secretly I am to the pdf what the rest of you nostalgics are to books, that I would, in a second, decorate this rental house with these files, some scanned, some ocr-scanned, some primitively designed, some in asemic tatters, some full of viru$es from the fuck ver$o site. 

I was feeling, again, forlorn for myself, $90 in the amazon cart I couldn't bring myself to spend, having a thought on each book and putting it back for lack of money, just like Tisa in the poem I will soon write about, and everywhere in your cities there are these poets, dancing and fighting with each other (are they getting ready to stand up in the middle of art shouting? are you?), and then there is Dana Ward writing, and flying to be among them, and now holding his baby, and I read this:

To be the most adorable person in a destroyed world, or, the most hideous thing in a parti-colored city-- this was the question that was most on my mind.

This was the question that was most on my mind. How is it that old define for the young the beauty that belongs to youth?  Or rather, how they say to one man, as a man said to Dana Ward, 

"This is not poetry."

That this is not poetry is most securely the evidence that it is.  or, "Oh, it totally is." 

The pdf I am reading will be a book, called This Can't Be Life, coming out from Edge books. Dana says:

"I have all these friends I've never met. We are bonded by a poetry. Nothing else matters. Everything else. The logics of armament curating all the endearments, sweet nothings, Ann Lee in ‘09, the happy calisthenics of repression dressed up to look like Deluzean dreams & that’s our sociality?"
 also he says

Will.I.Am, Fergie, & all of them were there. & you were there, & you. Their sound was the basin of a Christmassy drain into which all amassed sparkle poured to make the spot. An alto- soprano transformed it into something high & thick, a cream that moved with a butterfly’s ease & the graceful navigation of a so-precocious cat around the card-house of a China shelf that stands on two bad legs. The sound was precarious & perfect, young love. The payment for believing that this register exists as open myriad to die in each one. I’m saying that the siren’s song is meaning.

I'm saying that the siren's song is meaning.

This is what we do when we do not fail, I mean when we "win": we die in each one.  And also, "I will never stop writing about Jay-Z ever. I like to lay on the floor & just think about that dude!" And if I told you I wanted to make a kind of "allergic" criticism, or a criticism of autoimmune-after-effect, would you believe I could do this?  And what also, of a similar poetry?  and "Is it too easy to tell you outright?" and "How much swagger do I want? So fucking much, all of it, all the time."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

21. "stabbing each other/ in the throat"

Rodrigo Toscano’s To Leveling Swerve (2004, Krupskaya) appears to be a Book of Poetry about being the kind of American poet who sits on panels while simultaneously despising sitting on panels:

“Number 7-12-64 please step into the pannelization room.”

It is also a book about using a kind of language and simultaneously despising using a kind of language.  It is about representing and despising one’s own representing. I might understand:

Those of you unfamiliar with the terms “MLA”
“Zukofsky” “art-object” (its current status)
--You don’t belong at this reading!
And the fault is mine
        -- Uneven Development

I would have been so unfamiliar in 2004, but now: Hello American Poetry of panels/ not panels vocabularies/ not vocabularies disjuncts/not disjuncts exclusions/guilt at these exclusions.  What a form of hallway gossip, institutional critique.   I am learning everything about you, poetry, and I am aware that I am always on this blog here saying gaps between things and the words we have for saying things are cruel.  But what cruel gaps these are, this being compelled toward a poetry which “resists” while resisting, in itself, this poetry:


I am hopeless when I read all this.  I mean, sad.  There’s these bodies we must keep alive, these unheroic labors, these languages we are abandoned to (hollowed and insufficient), the syntax made by heritage, the aesthetics formed by patrilineal devotion, the great stultification of art, and then also there are these cities full of the poets, regrettably empaneled.

I didn’t know, or knew, a little, and only just barely, and merely what I've been told:

"That lower-class seekers ply their thrusties and gyrationals against their multiple-unit owning cousins: “poethics” "

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

20. "I search every book for the dedication / I must make as myself"

I have been angry, lately, about these things: the cities that hate children, the children in Kansas city (the city near my city) who set fire to their school 151 times this year because the city hates them and they hate the city, the category of “mother,” the category of “child.” Hazel, my own child, told me this the other day: the reason you do not see homeless people in Overland Park (our city)  is that the homeless people are all mothers and children.  She is a child but nothing and everything like a child.  I am a mother but.  The reason you do not see them is that they are all mothers and children. We are mothers and children and secret in that we are (as mothers and children are categories) a kind of reproductive always-and-ever-ness, perpetually of the body and in this not of the public or the mind.  The younger the child, the more tedious and abject its presence.   How children have no place in this public. How the cities hate children.  How the mind is like the city.  How poetry is like the mind is like the city hates children*.

These (we) humans exist, too close to biology, and also, we are not to bring out ourselves, so close to biology, as mother, though as mother we cannot escape ourselves (a category!):  mother, an embarrassing natural fact.   Some people only need say out loud “Mom poet” to make other people laugh. And child, like what?  Not a person, really, only Suri Cruise.

You would only need to say this to me in the comments field:  Mom.  You would only need to say to Hazel, despite every evidence of her wit and cunning and the way she obliterates every quantifiable measure of human brilliance:  Girl.  

Our  category is an insult.  This is not a conservative assault, it’s also a “post-modern” “post-human” “post-private” “post-biological” one.

How normative --  to exist.

Laynie Browne’s Daily Sonnets (Counterpath Press, 2007) is so full of pain like this.  Take these lines from one of her New York Sonnets: “When I lived here the mothers were somewhat invisible / Just as I have become elsewhere” or from the poem, Chance Meeting Couplets,  which begins: “I’ve been having babies/ And you?” and ends “Our secret worlds are crucial / to all our public meetings”.

The poems are full also of what I think must be the stuff of the poet’s motherhood, which is also the stuff of a boy’s childhood: dinosaurs, bunny suits, boys, lambs, superman, bears, small plastic objects.  The poems come, I think, from great effort: like a sponge the hands can’t stop squeezing to get the smallest bit of life to drip out in the mess that is mother and unpaid labor: “I expect to enter/ a place of no hunger / a realm of pure imagination / This makes me angry / Dear, poetic deficit.”

This is also the book of “private” life in the age of public terror, and the poems must go on for obvious political reasons, must be “your personal amulet”
in this age of malcontent benefactors

Against an ironclad schooner

Feudal kingdom

Dismemberment by jubilant crowds

Strangely indifferent faces

As taboo as it is for private life all up in the mind or city or public it is as inevitable that public life will ceaselessly invade the private, or at least the “private" mind.  The sonnets here exist for and also exist against or: “Against terror implicit in color alerts,” “Fear breeding paycheck absence,” “Against dread of news,”  “Against monotony of daily endeavor,” “Against monotony in verse.”

*I am going to make this clear: not all poetry is a city that hates children.  But what revolutions are contained in the poetry that does not hate children, like these are a new mind or new city themselves. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

19. “where the firing squad has nothing to aim at”

It’s the opposite of the blind oracle.  It’s the allegory of the cave but in the inverse. Also, it’s not just an epic.  Or it is an epic for ghosts and paranoiacs.  There is very little future here.  How does one write an epic for an end, when everyone born is of a new species, made from the needle (the defect)?  The new species might not even have song. This is “the year of our president” and there are other problems:  literature as it is is useless for the vision of the new species; it is made up of either stories that “love whatever people do” or poetry (the poets “tinker”).  Also the forms are made by men, and this literature that can change this is not the literature of men.  The seer is weak: “Part bird.  Part rat. Part Voice.  Part Elephant.”  Finally, there is the question posed on the first page: “If you detest everything about your society, you say, why are you writing?”
“It is time to change writing completely.”  
We are never girls in our visions.  But this does not mean we are men.  Once I almost died and in those minutes met a man just like Satan, but in a spaghetti western and more bureaucratic, and after I that I saw a doctor, with his Grecian formula and cowboy boots. I swear Alice Notley's In the Pines is a dialogue with that same satanic bureaucrat, the one who is always sitting on the foot of the hospital bed.
“What can I trust? he said.
Your death?
My death, he said. For that was right.
Mine will not be right, I say.  For I won’t have vindicated women. I won’t have seen the fall of male power. I won’t have helped to heal the earth. Why should I die and men still hold power? Why should I have lived to be treated like a woman?”
This is a politics.  The other reviews I’ve read of this are trouble. It's like they are eviscerated by the poem as a  necessary function of the poem. This is a part of the literature the escapes “the critical apparatus.”  This is not a faux-metaphysics; it is “I always knew the house was on fire. It was one of the first things I knew.”  There is nothing on which one can be Aristotlean here and also, to write criticism of these later works of Alice Notley is exactly like launching a missile at a ghost.  One imagines exactly an egg, “appearances,” and also the egg being cracked.  I've got nothing like science here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

18. "I am currently only / lying to three-and-a-half / persons"


I am at the public library picking out the books I will read next . My own books are not among these books of my friends and strangers in my own library and in my town or in the entire state of kansas but for maybe in the rented rooms of my poor intimates or my own rented rooms, so all the while, then, I am feeling woeful and inadequate and self-incriminatory squatting on my heels, squinting at the spines and wondering, even, if it is good for me who is uncivic and inadequate to write about the books of the poets all more civic or adequate than me. Soon enough a handsome enough man appears and hands me a sheet of paper and tells me I am beautiful and that I have a pretty smile, and I tell him I have a boyfriend and then I am left with a piece of paper asking me to go to “a movie today (or tomorrow)” and a ‘have a good day” and a stack of books of contemporary American poetry and my woefulness and self-incrimination and beauty.

It has taken me, I think, some time.  One of my jobs is online on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, and while it is never personal we are to pretend it is.  “Hello,” I type, “I’m Anne B. and :)” and to make myself feel better while I am pretending to be helpful and personal I am stealing $1 from my work or how many minutes off the boss-clock reading a public library


collection of poetry by Anselm Berrigan.  I read this book (Free Cell, City Lights, 2009)  in between cut/paste/emoticon/personalization and imagine that each poem (I think these are poems) titled “Have a good one” was written each day as he sat there for several seasons / or “maybe I can write all / poems I should have/ written tonight this year.” I imagine these to be the poems of “as he sat there” and “every day” as I sat here.  sit here.   sitting here still, every day. 

“What I know is / the birds sing back.”


“Time / you ruinous agent of / possibility , will you ever / truly get your point across?”

If I read the blurbs I get messed up, because without the blurbs  I think “these are the poems of an unblinded life enthusiasm” and “these are the ordinary optimistic machinations of the eye and ear and soul.”

As if the soul actually still existed, and anyway,  soul is an imprecise word for what manifests here.  In this language, for example:

“I have imagined saying no so often and rarely ever fantasize a yes. /  One may own a strategy what contains spitting yes repeatedly as / a tactic leading to the fulfillment of a grand vision/ that will be the / unmistakable embodiment and subsequent catatonic astral eruption / of a no”  --

and  the poem goes on, “by artificial pond” and “by ecstasy of refusal” and “by right’s side dull discomfort growing daily” and “by above all’s fierce intellect,” and so also in this book, what I think is true:

how very much it wants to be made of poems of “no”.  How very much it is made of the poems of “yes” or “the/ world its own/ example, & I’m co-bringing life / into it.” *

In this book, the sheep mock the poet and the birds speak back.  

How is this not all prelude, never review?  Humans squat on our heels woeful and self-incriminating but I swear to god somehow beautiful-- “the icing of all personal bureaucracies” -- and all the while the poet here is neither below or above each human and wishes, I think, to get the right amount of drunk.

“You / can be culture/ but not / accused of it.”   It is like I have found the head that always nods the affirmative despite itself or for every "promise of hard won exuberance."

epilogue:  see this is my problem, to fantasize “yes” and always say “no” but hope for a similar astral eruption, my life of refusals somehow some day manifesting in the fourth of July

Friday, February 11, 2011

17. “got some cake some ice some FICO Scoring and Other Credit Issues if they weren’t so / snake bit”


In a disturbing turn of events -- and much to the disappointment of myself, my family, and the four-to-seven humans who think of themselves as my enemies --  I began to write poetry again, and from this was reminded of the strange euphoric feeling of when a song rises out of the throat, like how it does for birds.  After, there is a feeling that EVERYONE SHOULD PAY ATTENTION  and THAT SONG JUST ROSE OUT OF MY THROAT.

This song rising up out of the viscera is so natural that one needn’t have left Eden for it.  It is some adorable remnant of that time when humans had merely to open their mouths and the gods placed in these mouths lush little fruits.  Oh how we sang back our praises of the fruits of those loving gods. Poetry was nothing and everything then.

For this reason I can feel a little bit of a benevolent connection with the critic Micah Mattix who writes, in a conservative think-tank piece, On Form and Flarf,  that “what is needed is a return to the natural constraint of complex form.”

How the poem in the natural constraint of complex form is also like a human tail.

How the every constraint is complex form is natural and every occurring form also like nature like how nature is also a vestigial tail.

I will resist, through this entire review, a defense of our former labors in the google mines. But these labors were in every way “the new natural.”  That is, to cart, with either limousine / donkey / broken-back / copyandpaste the language from here to there, full of the hope and despair of every form of natural labor is also a natural form, and to only after learn that the “here to there” was the same place, and from google we came and to google we came back, as if it google was merely an extension of logos or dust, which it, like nature, also is.   


Let’s then, pretending the world is the world and always natural, apply the four causes to Rod Smith’s 2010 Song Cave chapbook, “What’s the Deal”:

1. how it is made up out of google, which is made up out of language, which is made up out of people, businesses, machines and corpses, bodies animate and barely so

2. how it is in the form not veering too far from google results but resembling, also, a poem in how it rises up in the morning out of the throat of a poet

3. how it was once affect and information and is now a chapbook and will someday, by a bear or future human, be discovered in a clay pot in a cave

4. how it has as its end  the celebration, I think, of vestigial subjectivity and the continuation of an overall project, undertaken by Smith and friends, to explode aesthetics (in the way a confetti cannon also explodes)


I hate the term COGNITIVE SURPLUS.  This is because I love the masses, and resent, in particular, those humans who consider the intellectual and creative activity of the mass human to be in excess (“unnatural”).  


I cannot, despite my loathing for the term “cognitive surplus,” ignore that humans think (and type) these things that Rod Smith has also typed to make this poem:

“What’s the deal with Sanka?"
“Where’s the regular guy?”

“I am interested in eVItamins.”

“I mean/ I saw a posting for a Sales Management Trainee / position with Combined Insurance it sd”

“I read your article about oil in Montana.”
“What’s da deal, etc.?”

“Bluewater Wind and Delmarva/ East Niagara County biosolids acccounts”

Rod Smith the poet is like Dante here, deep in our regular purgatorio.  He makes a vernacular and corporate-speak cantos out of this.

This is why I’ve coined the term “vestigial subjectivity.”  It is a little like cognitive surplus, but takes into account the naturalness of the words that rise up out of our throats and onto the internet.

Those who have everything, from what I can tell, have as little use for the record of  mass wonder, mass suffering, mass silliness as the human body does for a spleen.  And woe to those with one hand in a pocket of profit made from the free expression of the many and with the other hand wiping their wrinkled-up, human-hating nose. 

And yet, for those who have merely poetry, there is a "natural" art inherent in this kind of persistent wonder that seems always to be rising up out of the mass of us (we love). And that poetry is a natural expression of this, vestigial (even though), and that poetry should also (or always)  be made up of the whole of human material, rather than the shinier parts of it: 

“What’s the deal> ?”
“Power could be in the works, astute readers / Power could be in the works.”