Fence Digital Launch: Sunday, July 16, 2017, 8:00pm – 10:00pm / Ör, 35 South 3rd Street, Hudson, NY

Fence Books will be launching a new imprint Fence Digital tonight in Hudson, NY.

This Sunday at 8 p.m. at Ör Gallery and Tavern in Hudson, NY: a Fence Digital Poetry Live Reading, featuring Matthew Klane, Michael Leong, and a reading of writing by the late Brian Young.

The reading celebrates the launch of Fence Digital, a new electronic imprint of Fence Books, publishing multimedia electronic poetry, fiction, and hybrid texts that reinvest digitization with materiality, treating the screen as a skin. This continues Fence’s mission to redefine the terms of accessibility by the sharing of material texts across a variety of electronic formats.

I’ll be presenting from my ebook Who Unfolded My Origami Brain?, which is a collection of digitally enhanced prints that I made for a unique book-object commissioned by Container.

Barzakh: Call for Submissions

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Collage by Alice Notley. From Barzakh Issue 1 (Spring 2009)

I’m the faculty adviser for the online magazine Barzakh, which recently announced a new call for submissions for their upcoming issue.

Barzakh Magazine is open for submissions from Nov. 15, 2016 through 11:59 p.m. EST on Feb. 15, 2017.

We define ourselves as an “isthmus,” a space of crossings and connectivity, between histories, articulations, and media—making of these frontiers a site of inquiry and revitalization. We want your fiction, poetry, criticism, personal essay, translation*, drawings, photographs—you name it—that pushes against complacent taxonomies and finds itself forging new paths.

Guidelines: All submissions must be submitted to barzakhmagazine@gmail.com. Each genre must be submitted individually. Submit no more than 5 poems, up to 5,000 words of prose, or 5 images. Each submission must be one attached file. We accept submissions in .doc, .docx, .rtf, .pdf, .jpeg, and .mp3 formats. For video submissions, please send a link to an uploaded file, rather than an attachment. The subject line of your email should read “SUBMISSION: [GENRE]: [AUTHOR LAST NAME]” (For example, “SUBMISSION: POETRY: DICKINSON”)

As an interdisciplinary journal with an internationalist stance, Barzakh is looking for critical and creative works that pry wide the liminal spaces between aesthetic modes and fields, between tongues, and between histories. We seek especially works that actively engage with global and local crises and the acts of resistance/pushback that have galvanized in response to them, including, but not limited to:

* Fallout from the 2016 U.S. presidential election

* Violence and conflicts in Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, and across the world

* The water protection movement at Standing Rock

* Race, police brutality, and protest in the era of Black Lives Matter

* Social media as protest and propaganda

* Pledges of Allegiance

* Border walls

* Speaking out against sexual harassment and assault

* Safe spaces

* Politics of identity

Our past issues have featured the works of Nathaniel Mackey, Bernadette Mayer, Vernon Frazer, Edwin Torres, Jena Osman, and Lydia Davis.

The issue will launch in late March of 2017, in correspondence with the 15th Annual UAlbany EGSO Conference: The Badass, featuring acclaimed poet, essayist, and critic Rigoberto González.

*Translations should be accompanied by source text in original language, and written confirmation that you have English translation rights to the piece.

Contributors’ Rights: By submitting work, contributors permit Barzakh Magazine to publish it on our website, and Barzakh retains first serial rights in our digital issue. Copyright reverts to original author immediately upon publication. Barzakh Magazine retains the right to remove your work from our publication without prior notice.

Vanessa Place’s “It’s Kind of Fucked Up” (2015)

It's kind of fucked up, it's fucked up (Place)
What do we make of Vanessa Place’s curious presence in the special dossier “On Race and Innovation” that Dawn Lundy Martin edited for the November 2015 issue of boundary 2? To put it mildly, Place is not the first person one would expect in such a grouping. Is this an example of “conceptual editing”? Martin, not surprisingly, explicitly frames the dossier in terms of the recent controversies that have inflamed the poetry world since last spring:

Kenneth Goldsmith was excoriated for reading Michael Brown’s autopsy report in a conceptual poetry performance at Brown University, and a petition successfully got Vanessa Place (included in this issue) removed from an AWP subcommittee because of her Twitter appropriation of the black voices from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Still, in all the mayhem, in all the personal attacks on social media, there has not been much actual conversation about what poetry has to say, and can say, about race in the contemporary moment.

A diptych of two hand-drawn phrases, “IT’S KIND OF FUCKED UP” and “IT’S FUCKED UP” (see above), Place’s piece seems to demonstrate in a colloquial register what Freud calls the “narcissism of minor differences.” Continue reading

Barzakh: CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!

The editorial staff at Barzakh is happy to announce that submissions for Issue 8 are now open!

As a multigenre, interdisciplinary journal with an internationalist stance, Barzakh is looking for
critical and creative works that pry wide the liminal spaces between aesthetic modes, fields, and archives, that plumb the nooks and crannies of experience where the estranged and the
uncanny reside, and which trace and transcend the boundaries that define what we as artists
do.

We want your fiction, poetry, art, criticism—you name it—that pushes against complacent
taxonomies and finds itself well off the beaten path. We define ourselves as an “isthmus,” a
space of crossings and connectivity, between histories, articulations, media—making of these
frontiers a site of play and revitalization.

Our past issues have featured the works of Nathaniel Mackey, Bernadette Meyer, Vernon
Frazer, Edwin Torres, Jena Osman, and Lydia Davis.

Please send all submissions as an email attachment to barzakhmagazine@gmail. com. The
deadline for submission is 3/7/16. The issue will launch with a reading from Elisa Albert at the
UAlbany EGSO 14 th Annual Graduate Conference on April 1 st , 2016.

For more information about Barzakh , please visit barzakh.net.

Why bpNichol Still Matters

Last month, the New York Times ran an interesting piece by Alexandra Alter with the heavily alliterative and assonantal title “Web Poets’ Society: New Breed Succeeds in Taking Verse Viral.” Alter describes how Instagram and Tumblr poets with thousands of followers are becoming “best-selling celebrity poet[s].” The article begins with a profile of Tyler Knott Gregson, whose first book “has more than 120,000 copies in print” and whose new book All the Words Are Yours: Haiku on Love had a first run of 100,000 copies (those figures are not typos):

On a recent Friday night, Tyler Knott Gregson, a blond, tattooed poet from Montana, took the stage at a Manhattan bookstore and beamed at the crowd that had come to celebrate his new haiku collection.

“This is rad. I appreciate it,” he said, taking in the roughly 150 people who had crowded into Barnes & Noble. The response from the mostly young, mostly female audience amounted to a collective swoon.

Continue reading

On Names

I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
--from "Facing It," Yusef Komunyakaa

Last month when the Best American Poetry 2015/Michael Derrick Hudson scandal broke (Hudson, who had been included in the anthology, admitted that he employed the pen name Yi-Fen Chou “as a strategy for ‘placing’ poems”), the Asian American Writers’ Workshop launched, in a parodic move, a White Pen Name generator. I just used the generator and got the name “Richard Anderson.”

But I was recently reminded that we don’t always need to deliberately generate a white-sounding name; sometimes it gets generated for us:

Capture

Seeing the above typo from the New Directions website made me mentally chuckle as I considered how having a white pen name could be a great strategy for “placing blurbs.” I also remembered that when I was in grade school, my last name would routinely be confused for “Delong,” which, from what I can gather, is a surname of French derivation.

The Best Am Po 2015 controversy makes me think of another public controversy–the one surrounding the creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The now iconic Memorial Wall was designed by Maya Lin, who won, through anonymous entry, the 1981 design competition as an undergraduate. According to Lin,

The memorial’s starkness, its being below grade, being black, and how much my age, gender, and race played a part in the controversy, we’ll never quite know. I think it is actually a miracle that the piece ever got built. From the very beginning I often wondered, if it had not been an anonymous entry 1026 but rather an entry by Maya Lin, would I have been selected?

I remember at the very first press conference a reporter asking me if I did not find it ironic that the memorial was for the Vietnam War and that I was of Asian descent. I was righteous in my response that my race was completely irrelevant. It took me almost nine months to ask the VVMF, in charge of building the memorial, if my race was at all an issue. It had never occurred to me that it would be, and I think they had taken all the measures they could to shield me from such comments about a ‘gook’ designing the memorial.

Had Michael Derrick Hudson been an architect, would he have submitted to such a competition (that was non-anonymous) with the name “Yi-Fen Chou”?

Of course not.

Trees Are Alphabets

Below is information about a fantastic-sounding exhibition that will open on the 26th at The Bronx Museum of the Arts. E.J. McAdams’s striking title (which comes from Roland Barthes) reminds me of Nabokov’s character (from his amazing short story “Signs and Symbols” ) that is stricken with “referential mania,” a condition in which “the patient imagines that everything happening around him is a veiled reference to his personality and existence”: “Phenomenal nature shadows him wherever he goes. Clouds in the staring sky transmit to one another, by means of slow signs, incredibly detailed information regarding him. His inmost thoughts are discussed at nightfall, in manual alphabet, by darkly gesticulating trees. Pebbles or stains or sun flecks form patterns representing in some awful way messages which he must intercept. Everything is a cipher and of everything he is the theme.” This, of course, would be a terrifying, unbearable condition, but it is one that, nevertheless, sheds light on our own very restricted vocabularies and systems of meaning. Certainly it would be productive for us to intuit systems of reference not solely about our own human nature. Trees are Alphabets begins to imagine what such systems might look like.

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Trees Are Alphabets
September 26, 2015 to February 7, 2016

Perhaps inspired by his earlier work as a NYC urban park ranger, E. J. McAdams is interested in how we attend to the forces in our environment. Therefore, the attempt to read natural or built elements that surround us has become a major focus in his work. For his installation at The Bronx Museum of the Arts’ Terrace, McAdams was inspired by French philosopher Roland Barthes’ observation that “According to the Greeks, trees are alphabets.”

Trees Are Alphabets considers how the sun, rain, wind, and soil constantly transform the shapes of trees since evolving in primeval forests. McAdams sees in these transformations a vision of an epiphenomenon – like a text – that is forever changing. For the duration of the exhibition, McAdams will write with tree branches, in the hope to make space for a resonant poetic emanation to emerge out of this human-tree collaboration.

About the artist

E.J. McAdams is a poet, artist, and collaborator who lives in Harlem.  He explores language and mark-making in the urban environment using procedures and improvisation with found and natural materials.  One of his text-collages was included in the mail art exhibit “Focus Latin America: Art Is Our Last Hope” at Phoenix Art Museum.  An ongoing series, TRANSECTs, was featured in The Volta and About Place Journal, and published as a chapbook by Sona Books. He was a founding board member of the interdisciplinary Laboratory of Art Nature and Dance (iLAND) from 2004-14 and curated the Social-Environmental-Aesthetics (SEA) reading series at Exit Art that featured poets, visual artists and activists in conversation from 2009-11.

Bernar Venet and the History of Conceptual Poetry

weatherIn writing about Language to Cover a Page: The Early Writings of Vito Acconci (2006), edited by Craig Dworkin, Marjorie Perloff remarks on how much Acconci’s writing practice foreshadowed the so-called “uncreative writing” of Kenneth Goldsmith and other contemporary conceptualists:

How uncanny [. . .] that thirty-five years before Goldsmith produced his book The Weather (Los Angeles: Make Now Press, 2005), a transcription of a year’s worth (December 21, 2002-December 20, 2003) of hourly weather bulletins on WINS (1010), New York’s all-news radio station, Acconci should have produced a numbered text called “Act 3, Scene 4,” that begins like this:

1. The sun rises today, Thursday, December 26, 1968.
2. At 7:18 A.M., sets at 4:34 P.M., and will rise
3. tomorrow at 7:18 A.M. The moon sets today at 11:49
4. rises at 12:10 P.M. tomorrow and will set tomorrow
5. at 12:38 A.M. Warmer weather and clear to cloudy skies
6. will cover most of the eastern portion of the nation
7. today while snow is expected to fall on the western
8. lake region, the Northern Plains States, and from
9. the upper Mississippi Valley to the plateau region.

And it goes on in this vein for another ten pages…

Perloff goes on to say that Language to Cover a Page “provides the missing link between the first forays into a non-representational, non-expressivist poetics and its current incarnations.”

Yet Acconci wasn’t the only conceptual writer in the 1960s who appropriated weather reports. Bernar Venet, who is most well-known and celebrated as a sculptor, has done similar works.  Continue reading

On Nathaniel Mackey’s Blue Fasa (New Directions, 2015)

My review-essay on Nathaniel Mackey entitled “Root Work” appeared in the Boston Review yesterday. This is from the very beginning:

Nathaniel Mackey’s Blue Fasa is the latest installment of an ever-expanding “life work” in the tradition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Ezra Pound’s Cantos, and William Carlos Williams’s Paterson. Mackey, a recent recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Bollingen Prizes, has been adding new sections to the long poems Song of the Andoumboulou and “Mu” for decades. These two strands first emerged in Eroding Witness (1985) and were explicitly intertwined in the National Book Award–winning Splay Anthem (2006). What Mackey now calls  “a long song that’s one and more than one is a tale of the tribe with a planetary scope, an expansive lyrico-epic worthy of the cultural demands of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Mackey’s long song speaks to a range of conditions of uprootedness across time and space, conveying the affect of such diasporic experiences through a powerful musicality…

Continue reading

Jane Wong’s Impossible Map

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This is from the good people at Fact-Simile:

Jane Wong’s Impossible Map is now available.

The careful, quiet-yet-expansive voice of the poet called for a form that could echo both the minute movements and larger overtures of the work. The pop-up effect of the Turkish map folds within performs the expansion and contraction of language that Jane so deftly employs.

The poems are printed on EnviroKraft recycled paper. Artist and paper-maker Nicole Donnelly locally harvested the mulberry branches for and crafted the bark-like Amate covers for this breathing, organic text. It’s bound with nylon thread in a limited edition of 100.

Visit our website to learn more and to order your copy (and receive a special limited time pre-sale rate).

Celebrate the release of Impossible Map with Jane from wherever you are in the world at Fact-Simile’s virtual release party June 9th.

Using our free conference call line, dial in to this virtual live poetry reading from your phone:

Enter Dial-in Number: (641) 715-3580
Enter the Meeting ID: 479-309-276

Jane will start reading her poems at:
6:30 pm PDT / 7:30 pm MDT / 8:30 pm CDT / 9:30 pm EDT

For more information, please visit the event page.

Lines of Sight: Visual Art in Asian American Poetry

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Christine Wong Yap. Untitled (one half gallon), 2006, paper, 8 x 8 x 1 inches / 20 x 20 x 2.5 cm.

 

I’m very happy about the recent publication of “Lines of Sight: Visual Art in Asian American Poetry,” a folio I guest edited for The Margins. The folio presents writing and art (some of it previously unpublished) by Christine Wong Yap, Debora Kuan, Eileen Tabios, Jennifer Hayashida, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Shin Yu Pai, Walter K. Lew, O Chung, and John Yau alongside visual works by such artists as Yves Klein, Diane Arbus, Kiki Smith, and Toshiko Takaezu.
Continue reading

Shark Porn

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Damien Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” (1991)

 

Stephen Burt has a recent review, “Poems about Poems,” from the Nov/Dec issue of the Boston Review that begins,

If you write a book of poetry about sharks, you might get attention from readers who care about sharks. If you write a book of poetry that is explicitly and consistently about poetry—its institutions and conventions, how we decide what counts as poetry, what we expect it to do—you might get extra attention from readers who care about poetry, which is to say from anyone likely to pick up new poetry at all.

Who, you might ask, would want to write poetry about sharks?  But there is, of course, Lautréamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror, which contains quite possibly the most sublime instance of shark pornography ever written.  This is from Georges Hugnet’s translation, published in 1965 by New Directions:

Continue reading

Jim Goar’s The Dustbowl (Shearsman, 2014)

223_4430The Dustbowl
Jim Goar
Shearsman 2014, 86 pp., $16, ISBN: 978-1-84861-321-8

Jim Goar’s third full-length collection The Dustbowl is compelling evidence that the legacy of the New American Poetry is alive and well. The centerpiece of Goar’s rich and strange new book is the title poem, a 55-page serial work, which is reminiscent of the long poems of Jack Spicer and Ed Dorn—in particular, Billy the Kid and Gunslinger, which both tap into the mythos of the American West. Additionally, Goar makes nods to Spicer’s 1962 book The Holy Grail as well as to Spicer’s oft-cited idea that the poet is a radio which receives Martian signals in the same way that a Romantic Aeolian harp receives the wind: “Only Grail music. All day. / Every day. Transmissions from the deepest / space. A station found but not my own.” There are also allusions to T. S. Eliot as well (another poet who, of course, drew on the Grail legend); Goar’s narrator, a mysterious sojourner charged with a “singular quest-ion,” says, “Kept / The Wasteland in my pocket. Turned it over / and over. Dust as far as the eye could see.” But rather than Eliot’s wasted Europe, the wasteland here is the Dustbowl of the southern Plains populated — anachronistically — by down and out Arthurian knights: “They keep coming. Knights / from the heart-land. Never had / a chance. Each and every one. The / promise of something more.” Indeed, the cover photo suggests that this poem is a meditation on the ruins of American migrancy, on dreams perpetually in deferral. Continue reading

Poetry, E-Books, and John Ashbery

Gilgamesh's tablet 11 never looked so good.

Gilgamesh’s tablet 11 never looked so good.

There’s an article in today’s New York Times called “Line by Line, E-Books Turn Poet-Friendly.”  In it, Alexandra Alter reports that even though “[m]ost e-readers mangle the line breaks and stanzas that are so crucial to the appearance and rhythm of poetry” publishers of poetry are starting to do a better job preserving the integrity of the line as they remediate print books into digital form.

Last week, for example, Open Road Media published 17 digital collections of John Ashbery’s poetry, “the first time the bulk of his poetry will be available in e-book form.”  In contrast, Ecco attempted to put out four Ashbery e-books three years ago and “[t]here were no line breaks, and the stanzas had been jammed together into a block of text that looked like prose.”

Check out Open Road’s promo video for Ashbery below:

Duende

masthead-with-tagline

Duende, a new online (and beautifully designed) literary journal run by the good folks in Goddard College’s BFA Program, is accepting submissions for its inaugural issue.  The editors say,

If your poetry is rough-cut diamonds, slightly off-kilter; if your fiction will make us feel more human and less alone; if you enjoy exploration of new forms at the edges of the literary universe; if you can bring us elegant translations of literature from far corners of the globe; if your nonfiction is wild and honest; if your visual art is raw and earnest…show us. We want to see it.

According to one of my favorite poets, Nathaniel Mackey, “One of the things that marks the arrival of duende in flamenco singing is a sound of trouble in the voice, The voice becomes troubled. Its eloquence becomes eloquence of another order, a broken, problematic, self-problematizing eloquence.”  Send your broken, problematic, self-problematizing eloquences for Duende‘s arrival (which is slated for October 2014) by May 15th.  UPDATE: THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO JUNE 1ST.