A Response to Mary Miller


Earlier this month, Adam had posted a note saying that Big Other was reviewed by Mary Miller in the July/August issue of the American Book Review as part of its special cluster on lit blogs. I found Miller’s account to be both problematic and unnecessarily snarky, and I had waited a bit to see if anyone was going to chime in…no one has responded thus far, so I’ve decided to take the bait.

My first (and most specific) objection to Miller’s review was her unfair and misinformed reactions to j/j hastain’s energetic posts and book reviews. Miller states:

[Some] posts made me feel like I was in a theory class and seemed out of place. For example, j/j hastain’s ‘A Proprioceptive Description (Naropa’s Violence and Community Symposium),’ begins ‘proprioception does not come from a singular or specific organ within the body, but from a sort of strange collective (the nervous system), this account will be necessarily fragmented—parts pouring from parts.’ I wasn’t sure what to make of this.

Some of j/j hastain’s other posts also turned me off. Here’s one more example of j/j’s writing: ‘I am feeling very excited to be engaging with you re this little interview in support of and co-investigation (with you) re your new book Narrative and Nest (Pre-Natal Architectures & Narrative Rituals).’ What’s j/j doing here? And why?

The term “proprioception” doesn’t strike me as particularly theoretical. It’s a simple physiological term that j/j actually defines right away. Proprioception, as j/j notes, does not come from a singular or specific organ within the body; proprioceptors, which are located within muscle or nerve tissue, respond to stimuli arising within the body…proprioception then is the body’s own sense of itself by the movement of its own tissue.

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Face Out Reading, October 10 @ 6:30 pm in New York

Celebrating New Work from 2012 CLMP Face Out Grantees
Wednesday, October 10 at 6:30 pm ~ FREE
NYU Main Bookstore ~ 726 Broadway

Short readings by:

Cynthia Cruz,
The Glimmering Room, Four Way Books

Farrah Field,
Wolf and Pilot, Four Way Books

Michael C. Leong,
Cutting Time with A Knife, Black Square Editions

Dan Machlin reading for Frances Richard
Anarch, Futurepoem Books

Dan Magers,
Partyknife, Birds, LLC

Kristin Prevallet,
Everywhere Here and in Brooklyn, Belladonna Books

About CLMP’s Face Out Program:
Designed to maximize the visibility of emerging writers, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses’ Face Out Program supports exceptional writers in partnership with their publishers to put a spotlight on important new experimental titles.

Melancholia: (An Essay) by Kristina Marie Darling

Ravenna Press, 2012
ISBN: 970-0-9851520-1-7
$10.00
45 pages

Kristina Marie Darling is becoming one of the foremost practitioners of the little book, of the poetic text as miniature object, as a kind of fragmented memento charged with mystery. Her newest publication, Melancholia: An Essay, a 5 x 6, perfect-bound book from Ravenna Press’ “Pocket Series,” is another elegant piece of evidence to support this claim: it is, as J.A. Tyler says, “a new jewel in the continuing assemblage of sparse and bright words from Kristina Marie Darling.”

After reading Melancholia, I went searching through the big mass of books piled precariously on my desk and through the many volumes sprawled across my engorged bookcases to look for one of Kristina’s previous jewels: the similarly-sized, 52-paged Compendium that Cow Heavy Books published in 2011 (Kristina and I spoke about Compendium at length in an interview at Big Other last summer). To my chagrin, I couldn’t find the book, and, looking amid the cramped interstices of my personal library, I realized that perhaps the proper place for Kristina’s exquisitely small books was not on any conventional bookshelf but rather in an escritoire’s inner compartment among wax seals and pen nibs of various sizes or in a curio cabinet or Wunderkammer among shark’s teeth, rare feathers, and old apothecary jars. Continue reading

Approximating Diapason (Spuyten Duyvil, 2012) by j/j hastain & t thilleman


In Approximating Diapason, hastain and Thilleman engage in an epic correspondence, creatively paralleling, intersecting, and intertwining their very distinct poetic vocabularies and intelligences. What results is a collaborative treatise on the metaphysics of creativity, the physics of the compositional page, the philosophy and ethics of form, the ontology of ghosts and gods, and the future of the mythographic imagination. But this is just scratching the surface. Much is exchanged and archived in this wide-ranging and interdisciplinary compendium—dreams and their interpretations, drawings and their ekphrastic elaborations, photo-collages as exegetical annotations, allegorical visions and their exfoliating significations, snippets of verse and poetic prose, expressive typography, neologistic harmonizations, memorable autobiographical illustrations, aphoristic declarations (such as “because words are arbitrary capacities, they are really equivocal chambers of the before and after of meaning”), revelatory images (such as “infinite, flopping-but-severed mermaid tails washing up on the shores”), and evidence from both Western and Eastern thought, from sources both scientific and occult—and what holds such sheer disparateness together is the conviction, from both writers, that writing is born from a deep engagement with multiplicity and cosmic diversity. At times, this highly syncretic book reads as if it were out of some science fiction novel narrated in dialogue, as if we were reading characters from another planet conversing about such subjects as aesthetics, psychosocial politics, or new gendered embodiments—but then we realize (with shock, wonder, and gratitude) that they are, indeed, of this world. Alternately, it reads as if it were a monumental transcript prepared for a time capsule, an edifying text for when the aliens come—but then we realize that we are, in fact, the aliens, and that this book has been saying to us all along: welcome to our world.

Publication Date: May 02 2012
ISBN/EAN13: 1881471012 / 9781881471011
Page Count: 346
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 8.5″ x 8.5″
Language: English
Color: Full Color with Bleed
Related Categories: Literary Collections / Letters

A “Found” for Bern Porter

My review of Bern Porter’s Found Poems (Nightboat Books, 2011), a welcome reprint of an underappreciated 1972 masterpiece of appropriation , is now up at Hyperallergic.  I had been studying the book in Seattle (when I was there for the MLA convention) as well as on my flight home to New York.

In the spirit of Porter’s “founds”–which provocatively combine visual poetry, found poetry, and collage–I decided to use whatever materials I had at hand (the MLA convention program and the Alaska Airlines information card about emergency landings) to create a humble homage to the Marcel Duchamp of the poetry world.  Indeed, Dick Higgins has said, “Porter’s Found Poems have the same seminal position as Duchamp’s objets trouvées.”