The Poetry Project Newsletter, No. 203 (April / May 2005), edited by Marcella Durand ($5, St. Mark’s Church, 131 East 10th Street, New York, New York 10003)
Nicole Brossard on lies: “I recently asked myself why it is that we do not react more to the enormities of the lies surrounding us . . . Is it because without noticing we have become used to living among them as advertising, disinformation, dissimulation, half truths, fake news, and fake facts, or simply because it has become more and more difficult to distinguish between real and artificial, original and imitation, copy and fake?”
Ron Padgett interview’d by Edmund Berrigan. On biographical writing and memoirs, being a bootlegger’s kid, Leadbelly, writing political poetry, translating Cendrars, &c. “After a year and a half the FBI sent me 1,300 pages on my father, 99 percent of it blacked out with a magic marker. It looked like a Fluxus book, almost every word marked out! For example, one sentence began ‘Wayne Padgett’s mother is named—’ and the rest was deleted. In other words, they were withholding from me my own grandmother’s name! . . . A civil liberties lawyer told me I had grounds for an appeal, because the FBI had exercised ‘excessive zeal in the lack of disclosure.’ To my surprise, the FBI granted my appeal, and after another year the 1,300 pages came through again, this time with only 80 percent marked out. But the new 19 percent was illuminating, and this time they accidentally left in some things they were supposed to have deleted.”
Reviews: Macgregor Card on John Ashbery’s Where Shall I Wander (“Recitatives of Woolworth-era American argot ripple throughout”), Michael Gottlieb on Ted Greenwald’s Atelos-publish’d The Up and Up (“He is a tie, a reminder, a remnant and, a survivor of that long-gone wild, dangerous, unbound, frequently cruel and determinedly free world that boiled up—right here. . .”), Ange Mlinko on Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler (“There’s more ‘snappy dialogue’ recounted or invented here than in most novels, and a heightened intensity to it all . . .”), and others.
Select’d new books noted through ad copy or “books received” lists: John Olson’s Oxbow Kazoo (First Intensity), Harry Mathews’s My Life in the CIA: A Chronicle of 1973 (Dalkey Archive), Jeni Olin’s Blue Collar Holiday, (Hanging Loose), and David Antin’s i never knew what time it was (U. of California Press).
So, heartless correspondents having intimated, nay, assured, Gerald L. Bruns is not doppelgänger to Gerald Burns, now deceased (1998), and me point’d (as usual) off th’intended “course” and off into unseen hinterlands in search of said Burns—it is now (period of numbskull burning questions) appropriate to ask: “What’s the name Jerome “Black Rider” McGann used (c’est à dire, publish’d “under”) in ’eighties forays into the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Circle X ranch? A creamsicle on a stick to the winner!
(Shouldn’t I “know” it? Is it because I banish’d the once-held knowledge of it out of the vague nausea I “develop’d” at the “sight” of McGann at Virginia—that “savage sideshow” parading around under a perpetual tan and a three hundred dollar hat!?) —Now, now, Mr. Latta, now, now.
The Materiality of Poetry notes:
Bruns’s placing of “sound poetry” into the “genre” of the limit-experience, seemingly a catchall genre for th’unprocessable experience, the one that overloads our cognitive circuit, in talking of:
. . . the contemporary practice of poetry as a performance art in its most theatrical and certainly most difficult form, namely sound poetry and varieties of acoustical art in which poetry ceases to be a genre distinction and becomes something like a limit-experience, an event that shuts down, or even breaks down, the cognitive mechanism or defense by which we process or filter our experiences.Not unlike what “phenomenologist Jean-Luc Marion” (In Excess (2001), The Crossing of the Visible (2004)) calls a “saturated phenomenon,” referring to “experiences in excess of the concepts that make our intuitions of phenomena intelligible as intentional objects or significations.” The brouhaha of the new is—largely—not knowing where to put the thing. (Off momentarily into a reverie of O’Hara describing Larry Rivers as a “demented telephone”—again, not knowing where to put the thing . . .)
Bruns’s parallel use of Levinas’s definition of ethics with William Carlos Williams’s notion of the poem as found, as a “practice of outside” (Blaser), “set down as heard,” “made of anything.” Levinas makes “one” an I largely because nothing’ll exempt “one” from responsibility (responsiveness and answerability) to others: “The word I means here I am [me voici], answering for everything and for everyone.” Bruns:
Imagine a poetry that, anarchically, just happens to a piece of language. This would mean that what poetry is cannot be settled in advance by principles, rules, traditions, or any sort of formal description . . .Just as Levinasian ethics ceases to be a set of rules and prescripts. (Stein fits here well: “I am me because my little dog knows me” become “I am me because others count on me.”)
Rush’d, tortuous, inchoate, that. Inimical burgeoning of the sunny morn. Think I’ll read the Creeley tributes that are arriving. One single occasion of seeing him: at Albany a dozen years ago, a panel discussion, topic lost to the fogs and recumbencies of th’intervening. Sharing the stage with, among others, forgotten, Hayden Carruth. And it was Carruth who random’d through an assemblage of language-pieces, and then announced in a loud voice: “I’m an old man. I’m going to go find the can,” and lumber’d off. I recall none of the words Creeley spoke, rather indistinctly, I think. A tonsured look, groom’d is what I recall, and how it seem’d “unlike Creeley.”