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Showing posts from September, 2004

Emotion and intellect

I am wondering whether or not to buy the new Interpol?

Am also wondering about jobs for next year. Contract runs out.

Jobs jobs jobs. Agh.

Gotta watch some Godard. Also gotta figure out how to pronounce French words.

Took German in high school and college. Wish I knew four or five languages fluently. I wish I knew Latin inside and out. I wish I knew Adorno. I wish I knew Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche better than I do.

I wish I wish. And there's only so much time. Emotion and intellect not seperated but our culture thinks so. Anti-intellectualism is strong. Emotional intelligence is not considered.

Sometimes I feel anti-intellectual. Systems building upon systems. Complexity upon complexity and for what?

Other times I am excited to get lost in systems.

In high school, Rancho High School North Las Vegas, I would go to the library every Saturday and "read" for 6 or 7 hours. A stack of books on science, philosophy, math. I did not retain the meanings. I just like…

film, cinema, movies

I am going to teach a film class in the spring. It's exciting putting together the syllabus. Going to use Monaco's How to Read a Film and a selection of articles from Film Quarterly. Still thinking through film selections. It's interesting to think about the words film, cinema, and movie.

Film: art
cinema: stage/world
movie: propaganda/consummed w/out critical thought

all three seem to need reflection/analysis. For some reason I really enjoyed watching Eyes Wide Shut. A lot of people I have spoken with think it is Kubrick's worst film. An embarrasement.

I am really excited to watch some Brekhage when it arrives. I would like to use his films in class. May also use Juliet of the Spirits (Fellini), The Birds or Vertigo, Blade Runner.

I took a film theory class in graduate school, so hopefully some of the discourse will return to me.

It's a rainy day in North Carolina. Another storm coming through. The darkness outside usually means sluggish students in my morning cl…


In constructing my disruptive narrative of influences, I've come full circle. I really came to poetry after leaving the comfortable world of a fundamentlist religion. After the leaving, I studied a lot of world mythology, philosophy of religion, and eastern mysticism. I also got really excited about Joyce and thought I would go to graduate school and specialize in British and Irish Modernism. A professor named Michael Wutz, who knows shitload about Modernism and has passion up the kazulah, became a second father and mentor to me.

I entered graduate school and gravitated toward poets from the L=A=G=U=A=G=E movement. But, other than the basic understanding of the gap between a signifier and signified, I came to these poets with little theoretical background. I felt pulled toward them emotionally before I began to investigate their poetics. I saw the various strategies they employed as somehow spiritually based (which I found out later was not the intention of the more Marxist lean…

parts and wholes

finished Burger's Theory of the Avant-Garde last night. I've been pondering the non-organic versus organic (language as artifact). Burger says,

"The organic work intends the impression of wholeness. To the extent its individual elements have significance only as they relate to the whole . . . in the avant-gardiste work, on the other hand, the individual elements have a much higher degree of autonomy and can therefore also be read and interpreted individually or in groups without its being necessary to grasp the work as a whole."


"The organic work of art seeks to make unrecognizable the fact that it has been made. The opposite holds true for the avant-gardiste work; it proclaims itself an artifacial construct, an artifact. To this extent, montage may be considered the fundamental principle of avant-gardiste art."

I can see these practices of the historical avant-garde being played out in contemporary poetry. LIke any attempt to define, there's alway…

Some Penguins for Basil Bunting

I just ordered the complete Basil Bunting. I've only read/heard a little of Briggflatts. I am excited to sit down with him.

Also ordered Watchfulness by Peter O'Leary and John Taggart's Pastorelles.

It's nice to get this perk with teaching. Books from large publishers (norton, penguin etc.) which I can trade for store credit.

I am hoping to turn in two more Penguins and get enough store credit to get the criterion Stan Brakhage.

Just got The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book in the mail yesterday.

I am almost finished with Peter Burger's Theory of the Avant-Garde. Two points have stuck in my mind:

"the neo-avant-garde institutionalizes the avant-garde as art and thus negates genuinely avant garde intentions."

"It is the status of their products, not the consciousness artists have of their activities, that defines the social effect of works."

A while back I pondered the idea of the avant garde relying on a knowledge of traditional/canonical literature (you h…

Desert City Reading Series, The Blue Door, Backwards City Book Sale

The a Desert City Readng Series kicked off again this past Saturday. James Brasfield and Joe Donahue read. Joe read some hot new poems. Lots and lots of voices. My spine always reacts to Joe's poems. Mystery, awe etc. Everything moves (mind as body etc.) Real energy transference. His new chapbook, In This Paradise, from Carolina Wren Press was available at the reading. I am really looking forward to reading it.

James Brasfield also read. He introduced his poems wel. Really set the mood. Very friendly. Made me want to take a look at Joseph Broksky.

Starting this season, after each DC reading, Lucipo members Todd and Laura are hosting The Blue Door after reading reception. As part of the reception a poet reads for 15 min and another art is also presented. I think there will be outside screenings of Super 8 films etc. This past Saturday I read from a long poem in progress ("Campanology") and local visual artist Ethan Smith displayed his paintings. A little Munsch. A littl…

Jorie Graham answered my question

Strange connections. The conversation over at Tony's blog really picked up with the issue of responsibility. Over at Smartish Place ( I asked Jorie Graham a question about influence and responsibility (after reading Tost's piece in Typo about the mongrols).

Here's the question and the answer:

marcus slease, N. Ireland: How do you feel about younger poets who mix "avant Guarde" and "Mainstream" techniques? (The mongrols as some call them). Do you feel this is irresponsible? Should younger poets show more awareness of context, history etc.?

Jorie Graham: In the long view, these techniques are the various voices of one body, of a people, in a language, in a moment of history. They have come out of political or theoretical thinking, yes, but they have been transmuted through persons, temperaments, talents, experiences. In the end it is the voice you hear--the style is the personhood--even if it …

give me some cream!

If you haven't checked it out already, click on over to Tony Tost's blog. A very interesting, provocative conversation happening. Process and product, canons, cult of the author, art that aspires for the eternal . . .

So far, 26 comments. Movin on up to Silliman scale responses.

I am still thinking through a lot of issues raised in the comments. I am really dwelling on the concept of quality and canonization.

Is quality a condition of context? Are some contexts more "eternal" than others? (for example Hamlet)

1) Purpose
2) production
3) Reception

In which of those three is quality most likely to be located?

It seems to me the assertion that certain literary texts change the English language forever needs further inquiry.

Hip hop changed/changes the English language, right? But hip hop is a fad whereas Hamlet is eternal?

I am also not sure I understand why an artifact that lasts for all time requires quality? It seems very few artifacts that last beyond their initial…

Krispy Creme Poets

The memory of last Saturday feels foggy, eerie. Did it really happen?

Lots of glazed donuts (one dollar each). The Krispy Creme poetry tent was a wierd revival type setting.

Galway Kinnell read next tent to Maya Angelou (the official poet of Krispy Creme)? I was most excited to see his new G4 titanium powerbook. He wasn't sure how to use it. He had some assistance from a beautiful woman with long blond hair and a muscle man who runs some writing programme in Prague (they were both poets from the audience). The muscleman scrolled and the beautiful woman held the titanium G4 Powerbook.

Check out the pics taken by my friend Ezra (the very Ezra of Backwards City):


Richard jackson also read. He's created/creating a bridge between Slovenian and American poetry.

crystal balls Urim and Thummim

all sorts of stuff is leaking into my long poem. Such as Mormon doctrine and early mysticism (the mysticism was quickly abandoned for corporation/institutional reasons). But Joseph Smith's spectacles amaze me.

I am still working on this part of the long poem. It's just "factual info." The lines will be off with blogger, but here it is:

Mormonism has one of the highest conversion rates of any religion in the world
at age of 14 Joseph Smith was confused and wanted truth about the best chruch he prayed in the woods (insert eerie music) he prayed and he prayed gripped the grass
saw God and Jesus or an angel then god or god then an angel (accounts are muddied) (this is a confusing fact) told him he would restore the best one and was soon thereafter lead to gold plates (no one could see it cause they might steal it!)
soon thereafter peering through magic glasses into his hat Joseph Smith was given some aids (Urim and Thummim which looked like clear rocks) a common occur…

writing the long poem

A little while back a few Lucipo folks (Tony and Ken perhaps?) mentioned how quite a few younger poets are attempting long poems.

I've been dipping and out of Olson's The Maximus Poems and the sheer maximalist quality (energy transference) makes me dizzy. I am working on a long poem called Campanology ( which is The art of ringing bells, or a treatise on the art). I am trying to move in and out of bells (bells as a form of structure/time, bells as a form of clarity, bells in religious ceremony) and meld it with bits of spiritual autobiography.

I having a real problem bringing it all together. It feels like it's just spiraling out of control. Every time I go into it and try to add a bit more clarity, a bit more intention, my hand is too heavy and it clunks (sinks). But as it is now it's a little too far at sea.

It doesn't seem to have two legs to stand on. A falcon without a falconess.

I suppose the tug may work itself out or I may have to abandon the project for …

poetry and difficulty

We started discussing poetry section in my intro to literature class. I am using individual collections for all the genres, but for poetry I am using an anthology (Allen's New American Poetry) and we will read Lisa jarnot's Ring of Fire in a few weeks.

Class participation was really quite good today. The students responded well to Duncan's "An Owl is Only a Bird of Poetry" and "My Mother would be a Falconress." I just read an essay by Peter O'Leary called "American Poetry and Gnosticism" (it's in the book _The World in Time and Space_ edited by Joseph Donahue and Edward Foster). It was great timing. We ended up talking about poetry and gnosticism a little. We talked a lot about the mystical tradition(s) and poetry. They seemed to get the idea of gaps via comparing poetry and newspaper writing and the non-rational versus the irrational. Most of the students got the hang of close reading and finding patterns in the text (recurring image…

good trades

Just traded in a collected Milosz and a collected Wright (I like them both but don't love 'em) for:

1) The geography of the imagination (essays by Guy Davenport)
2) Theater of the Avant-Garde (1890-1950. Has essays and plays arranged by movements. Expressionism, surrealism etc.)

Right now, I am finally reading _The Descent of Alette_. So far it's really interesting. I've never read any Alice Notley before.

the overman

sometimes a little alcohol (or little a lot) helps moisten my mind. Had a good time at a part last night at one of the editors of the new journal Backwards City (see links to the right).

In particular, Gerry Canavanand I talked about death, existentialism, consciousness, time. It was a good talk. Helped clear out some mental space to move around in.

great books . . .

I've decided to 5 contemporary books of poetry in my intro to poetry class in the spring. I think I am going to create a blog for the class to allow for informal discussion and supplemental readings.

I'm still trying to decide on the 5 books. Four of the five possible books:

1) Jeff Clark, The Little Door Slides Back
2) Tony Tost, Invisible Bride
3) Lisa Jarnot, Ring of Fire
4) Peter Gizzi, Some Values of Landscape and Weather

I feel confident of choice # 2 and choice # 3. I do want some diversity of books. I think Tost and Jarnot's books are distinct enough. But I am not sure about the others yet.

Any suggestions of three books of contemporary poetry I might use? By contemporary I simply mean in print and published in the last five years or so.

If any of yous have suggestions, I would love a nice list.

ariel transmissions

Finally got the ariel. My head is all squirm.

It feels good to rework some of the abstractions (i.e. my head banging against a padded cell) in the second MS.

I realized after the reading yesterday my antiabsorption killed off my absorption.

Now they are on speaking terms.

The transmissions return.

open eye reading

Good times last night at the open eye reading ( a series run by Mr. Tony Tost). A real mix. Chris Vitiello read from Nouns Swarm a Verb and Evie Shockley read a powerful poem ("A Thousand Words") about torture. The repitition of torture and the mix of humor were powerful. Both were perfect timing for the Republican natonal convention. "We can/cannot win the war on terror."

Some good whim as well. I did a fun little colaboration with Tim Botta and ken Rumble. We each read random lines constructed before the reading. Ken's nouns were R-Z, mine were J-R, and Tim got A-J. We each read a line back and forth. A few times something happened. A few times the whim may have been too much whim. Patrick Herron read some nice offensive poems of Lester the puppet. Tony Tost read some an amazing long poem from his new manuscript. Maximalist spirtualist rigorous.

I am still digesting the word swarms (I will never digest the word swarms).

it's interesting to read new poem…