The reason a Roger Corman movie like The Terror is great is because the director lets go of a certain amount of control, due to budgetary constraints in this case. Because of this, other things, things unrelated to the conventional selling points, are allowed into the movie.
Do you guys take requests?

Steve: More reports from the DVD cosmos and sharp, stinging commentary on iffy thinking and writing in the American essay landscape! What do you think of The Return of the King?

Katie: More brief, odd, engrossing NYC public vignettes! What do you think of the disappearance of urban willow trees?

Stephanie: More reading reports from any living room in the Bay Area! In fact anything about living rooms will do: we don't have them in NYC. How do you think fog changes the poetic imagination?

Nada: More intellectual gyrating among the memoir, poetry, and reportage riffs! What are the connections are between the Farrelly brothers and Hannah Arendt?

Gary: More appropriated reviews, live reports and large slabs of discussion on topics about which I know nothing! What do you think of Philip Guston?

Kasey: More refreshing posts on 19th century poets and deer head art! What do you think about minor 18th Century poets writing about rabbits/pets?


Aaron Kunin on K. Silem Mohammad's Deer Head Nation
TV on the Radio
Northsix, Williamsburg, 12/19/03

Imagine what a future version of the band that Parliament, from their first, odd album, Osmium, might have been if they had stuck with that particular bizarrely defiant eclecticism. TV on the Radio, a NY five piece band, fuses eclectic impulses within each song, though, rather than, as on Osmium, genre switching between songs. The impulses are put through a indy-rock/pop/soul/disco juicer, and the anti-oxidants flow.

All the songs at this show were fairly long, and the band had a relaxed, good-humored stage presence and patience for taking their time and building up the vibe of each song gradually. The drum mix was not so hot, the bad-middle-band-mix in a three band show syndrome. The sound person just didn't hear that the drummer had a light touch. The mix -- upfront sludgy guitar and counter-pointing dual vocals, worked nonetheless.

The guitar player did crunchy sweep picking on the chorus of every single song, which sounded great. It added a John Cale drone quality to the pop and soul elements.

I can't help but wonder if there is a parallel here with some recent poetic trends? There seem to be many poets fusing many different elements rather than selecting a single thing to imitate in the present environment with its unprecedented variety of practices and examples available.


There's some very, very expensive flarf for sale in Chelsea.
Giacinto Scelsi
The Piano Works 1, Louise Bessette, piano
mode 92

These Scelsi pieces have an impressive spectrum of tone-landscaping transformations. He is particularly good at drawing out melody sequences at very slow tempos, often separating them with judiciously placed cluster-pylons. He's also great at using folkish, jagged, rapturously self-deconstructing rhythmic events.

Seems accessible and way out there at the same time, a combination of qualities I love.
Here are the results from my request for non-shopping-oriented rap music.
Many thanks to the four poets who contributed:

Brandon Downing:

MF Doom (aka Viktor Vaughn, King Geedorah)
The Roots

Noah Eli Gordon:

Dead Prez
Mr. Lif
Mos Def
Jurassic 5

Michael Magee:

Mos Def
Cibo Matto
The Roots
Sage Francis
Aesop Rock
Mr. Lif

Rod Smith:

Scratch (Documentary)


Music or Honesty, Rod Smith, Roof, 2003

This book creates a scrambled, humorous impression of life by orbiting around the subject matter, but aiming for the center of implication via lyric and absurd line voicings and by creating an impression of a person's existence as an engager of creative processes. Leaving all that in and leaving a lot out. Creating a feeling of living and handling the words in a very deliberate proportion. The feelings emanating from Smith's work -- sympathy, humor, confusion, frustration, sadness etc., are surprisingly strong considering the degree of constructivist means being used. There is also something else here -- a need to bond with the reader and a strong intuitive principle crosshatching with the more systematic processes.

Confessional poetry ostensible attempts to bond with the reader and create a strong emotional current but can't succeed because it actually operates on a model of exploitation, exploitation of the writer's experience used as a means for exploiting a market of readers. Smith's poetry actually does bond with the reader and creates a strong emotional current, plus a good bit more, and does so on a model of liberation and fun. Confessional poets would do well to study this work.

Even the sections where it is clear that the majority of Smith's attention has gone into getting the vocabulary contour of the line right, with the feeling of a brushstroke of words, there is often a strong feeling that embedded in the word-arraignment what is being addressed is variations on conflict -- often internal states and tendencies coming into conflict with an unpleasant external social and political world.

In any given poem there are at least two or three different modalities which interact, often seamlessly or with deliberate use of the seams. One of these is an epigrammatic statement:

"everything can be blamed on you when you are poor."

or, in quoting Jackie Robinson:

"a life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives"


"oblivion is prefigured in any emotional state"

Smith is capable of intense hilariousness without ever breaking down into an overly simplified anti-intellectual infantilism.

"Jesus was a sausage"


"no two colossal heads are alike"


"poems about seeing a bear
outside your cabin
don't really work for me. "

There are sometimes short funny insider jokes.

"In a debatable tureen, in nodal space, 37 squirrels childishly ignorant of science storm the gates of St. Mark's Place"

Whatever else Smith is doing, and there are almost always interestingly interacting simultaneous layers and processes in this poetry, there always seems to be at least on toe skimming the surface of a quasi-Zen stream of thought.

The realization of thusness
flowing forth
paint is not food

There are many moments of unflinching, generous absurdity meant to crack the reader up. This will be juxtaposed quickly with mournful voicings, creating an emotionally complex and unpredictable poetic affect-space.

The frustrations and contradictions of communication and thought are engaged sideways and the result is an amusing, curious warmth of cognitive dissonance.

In one section, Smith uses the Mary Tyler More show as denotatively clear direct political commentary.

Smith can mix totally unique modes -- Delius meets Space Ghost for instance.

There are Ginsburg-like rapture/visionary voicings.

"the inner fire's grate"

Jerry G: Here the voicing flow increases in forward momentum, and the feeling of an argument being developed resonates from the poem. The exploration of conflicts deepens here -- the conflict between inner states, needs, what we wish for, and actual social facts we live within, the conflicts between smaller social groups and what is happening in larger political systems…

The weak notes in this book are minor, and few. A few collaborations that don't gel and can't quite see past the next line (though one with Jean Donnelly works). Also some repetition of lines that don't do much that the original line didn't already do. Mostly, though, this is strong work edited carefully into energetically and thematically coherent sections.

If you listed the modes Smith is capable of flipping through it might look something like this:

Direct epigrammatic thought, joke, diversion, indirect emotional insight, opporance, absurdity, rearrangement, backwardly cohering association, magnetic movement toward seriousness diverted and repolarized with humor, benevolent lyric mind-fuck, silliness, absurdity, friendly inscrutable word glob, one-line takes on literary and artistic history….

In a work where indeterminacy is so clearly a value, one of the things that is remarkable is that such a variety of modalities are so interestingly interrelated and joined, brought into a kind of coherence in other words. This modal quality leads me to think that Smith could be considered a new kind of jazz poet, one whose processes reflect the processes operating in more adventurously improvised Jazz musics.

The stylistic forward momentum of the prose is strong. It would be fascinating to see a whole book in the mode of these short prose sections.

There is a consistent sense of lyrical protest, which will be followed by protest of one's own mental environment.

"it is a great annoyance to have so many wishes"

Followed by a protest of one's own received literary history or amusing light-hearted mockery of one's own immediate group.

Followed by direct, unironic statement.

as the navigator fell overboard
in the memory of
the roll of flame
the soft regimes
played softly &
even the smallest lie
in its revolutions

mute the bit
agasp & tense
beneath our calm
song of death

This factor of protest and rebellion is also operating over several modalities, and, along with the human warmth of this poetry, is probably a key factor in how it works. One protest is against the control of language, of course, the "brooding mercenary definitions" as well as the deeper problem that this problem is a part of -- the systematic institutional control of categories of thought and hence potentialities of life. The internalizations of this process and the ability of the imagination to respond with alternate possibilities and propositions on both a personal and collective level are at the center of where this poetry is pointing.


One of the things keeping me warm during this early winter is a scarf Juliana Spahr knit for me. It's made of some kind of thick wool and totally blocks the wind from the vulnerable neck area which is exposed by my pea coat. The deep cut of the front of the coast necessitates a good scarf, and Juliana's creation really delivers.

The scarf is two-tone, a copper-brown and a silver-gray. The two colors interface in the middle with a series of variegating bands. Both ends also feature subtle rows of inset lines that lead into the edges. The bands and the lines make the whole thing gesture towards its own edges, a particularly coherent and graceful way to design a such a horizontal construction.


Many thanks to Noah Eli Gordon and Brandon Downing for their rap music suggestions.
Sullivan on Koeneke


Incapacitated for two weeks from the flu followed by a sinus infection. With the fever going on for that long, and the sinusitis messing with my inner ear and making me dizzy, I literally couldn't do anything at all -- except for watch TV, which started to become pretty hellish. Normally, if I feel I'm not being productive for six hours at a stretch, I start to go stir crazy. Here are some scattered memories of my TV nightmare.

Saw Frankenstein for the first time. Two things: A scene where the monster shows himself by backing into the picture frame though a doorway -- totally uncanny. Also, there was a recurrent element in the soundtrack where bells would ring in the background in very odd tonal areas. The best one was some kind of German folk wedding song with crazy out-of-keys bell throughout.

The Wild Bunch -- couldn't get all the way through it. It had the same problem as Kill Bill in the beginning-- long, violent fight scene opening where you don't know any of the characters or scenarios, and I guess you're supposed to just get into the decontextualized fight choreography, but it's just tiring and confusing.

MTV -- I was amazed at how shallow and depressing rap music, as it is presented by MTV, has gotten. 96% of it is about shopping (for expensive cars and " for girls"). Please -- someone who knows email me and let me know about rap music that is about more than shopping. It couldn’t be that rap ceased to be interesting after It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back?

Wildboyz -- Slightly disturbing combination of idiocy and beautiful animals. Two great scenes, though. One where Steve-O, walking on stilts, kisses a giraffe on the mouth. Oddly touching. Another where he and the other guy dress in a zebra costume and are almost eaten by two lions. One of the lions runs off with the stuffed zebra head -- unusual feeling from the mix of silliness and the actual nearness of predation.


I see here that the President of The United States is actually two full steps removed from literally being business partners with Osama Bin Laden.

What a relief.


Robert Creeley and Jennifer Moxley
St. Mark's Church, 11/19

The vastness of the main room at St. Mark's isn't exactly conducive to focusing on poetry. Muffled bassy EQ for both readers. During the second half of Creeley's reading there was a continuously creeping reverb feedback. Maybe the good people over at the Poetry Project could do a sound check for situations like this?

Jennifer Moxley

Jennifer started with a Christmas poem and a memoir about life in San Diego.

"the mind is a ghastly instrument"

During the reading there was one of the all-time most annoying cell phone interruptions I've ever experienced -- impossible to ignore. Jennifer stopped, pointed to the offending party and said "You -- OUT!, for a little comic relief. She followed this up with "No, it's okay, I forgive you."

Dream recounting.

She ends with "The Sense Record." There's something about this poem which allowed me to finally focus in this boomy cavernous space.

"he fends off emptiness with his feet"

"nights I worry about spiders in the vacuum cleaner"

Insight polyphonically mixed with negatively charged romantic autobiographical declaration. She's most like Creeley in this aspect of her work, where there is a will to go over the details of life and formulate some kind of keepable propositions about it.

Something about the voicings -- I kept thinking of Mary Butts…

Robert Creeley

Beautifully crafted thought traces and modest propositions about going through time.

Still struggling to switch on during the reading, what did Pound say, you should be a ball of light when reading poetry? And listening to it, I suppose?

"the truth is in a container"


Paul Bremmer's power suit / Timberlands combo sticking in my head in a bad way...

"we're gonna have a t.v. party tonight..."

Flipped between two crude documentaries on the Kennedy assassination followed by a full hour of Chomsky on Charlie Rose. Rose so flummoxed by Chomsky's focus and clarity he was basically unable to get to the next question.


Michael Gottlieb and Michael Scharf
Nov 15, Bowery Poetry Club

Both writers establish a broadband connection though an engagement with life informations that refuse to be otherwise. They both refuse to ignore these situations and predicaments, historic, mental, personal, that cannot be easily be improvised out of, though they can be wished away or repressed -- situations that are, after all, probably ignored at both personal and collective peril.

Gottlieb and Scharf are using a kind of poetic fusion, where information and energy is released through an act of combining intellectual processes and subject matters that would rather stay separate: poetic renewable energy.


Heard Richard Thompson on the radio this morning doing a cover of Britney Spears' "Oop, I Did it Again" with a great Nirvanaish arrangement for acoustic guitar and voice.

Even more intriguing was a few seconds of a troubadour-sounding arrangement of the same song that he has apparently been doing live.

The chord changes of "Oop, I Did it Again" are very medieval -- a structure that must have been unconsciously transmitted via the original Swedish songwriter, Max Martin. The transformation of this material was dramatic. I wish I could have heard a full version.

Chunks of stuff crumbling in the background.

I can't be the only one who has a growing sense of unease about the gradually acrueing signs of long term disasters in several realms?

The largest ice shelf in the Arctic, the 3000 year old Ward Hunt Ice Shelf on the north coast of Ellesmere Island in Canada has broken off due to global warming, releasing all the water from the lake it contained -- the Disraeli Fiord.

That particular ecosystem has been lost.

Huge free-floating ice islands are now adrift.

"It is accepted that should the global climate start to warm, the effects would be felt first in the polar regions, and they would be amplified," said Martin Jeffries a geophysicist.


The Apartment, Billy Wilder

Jack Lemmon is a young suck-up bullshiter drone getting ahead at the office by letting his managers use his bachelor pad apartment as a place to bring their mistresses. He seems to have no connections to the outside world except for his neighbor and his job. Despite these qualities, he creates a certain amount of affability, mostly with body language and delivery.

Shirley Maclaine is the elevator operator bottom in love with the everything-out-of his-mouth-is-a-lie lothario upper manager who promotes Lemon.

All the relationships are pure form/ and/or power exchanges. No actual affinity is show between anyone. The relationships capitalism likes to create? Bullet-like noirish dialogue but for comic effect.

The real theme is the disconnection between people on the job that happens as they are relating to each other – like when Lemon, with a goofy smile asks Maclaine if she likes his ridiculous hat. She nods and talks about the hat, but the expression on her face tell us she is devastated by what she has just been told by the secretary who also had an affair with the boss she is love with. Later Lemmon will have a whole conversation with Maclaine, unaware that she is unconscious from an overdose of sleeping pills.

The vast, disconcerting Manhattan office hive-space is filmed in much the same flat shiny inhuman way the office spaces were early in the first Matrix movie. This is contrasted with the way Lemon's Upper West Side apartment is shot. It is shown with at least three different spatial levels at any given moment, which emphasizes the multiple possibilities of life and thought that never occur to any of the characters.


Peter Culley & George Stanley
Oct 22, Poetry Project

George Stanley

to write without any justification, carelessly

Startling wish-fulfillment poem, Vera Cruz.

Poet as yeast cell.

as simple as a glass of beer

Impressive dramatic monologue --
real shit from a canvas horse
Focused use of image and metaphor -- also, taking or leaving image and metaphor.

Intense, casual dramatic insights.

Peter Culley

masters, if your arms could reach
-- riffing on Marshall Amplifiers -- stacks…

Very small units of coherency, context and perception all with an equal amount of valence recombine and build kaleidoscopically without ever losing a sharp sense of place and commentary.

Culley, like Steve Dickison, is a master of drawing information and thought out of the CD collection. You can feel the music becoming a thing as it is perceived, then as an area from which connotation occurs.
Where Bach wakes you up for a head count, Metallica tucks you in
Controlled and various juxtaposition, not dream-like. More like particle physics...


Diminutive Revolutions, Daniel Bouchard
subpress, 1999

Poetry as salvaging -- recovering a sense of place -- acknowledging the multiple layers of world and perception you find yourself in the midst of.

Wrackline, the information about life contained in garbage -- poet as gleaner

Almost Buddhist (Basho?) evenness of attention and affect across the layers of the world
Mosses and lichens

in the woods of Wellfleet

Recreate prudently, the president advises
and the motors hum far off the coast

A summer to write about

In the closet of the cottage
a tiny toad hides
under a laundry pile.
We capture
to release it outside.
Scanning the street and the horizon with a attentiveness and a poetic pleasure which makes occasional forays into crankiness on one side, and rapture on the other.

A poetic capacity for listening. Listening to the way the elements of the natural world, which after all, include all of the man-made world, its technology. history and poisons, interact. Listening to the simultaneous emerging patterns of public and private life across time.

A certain affinity with ecosystem, including alarm at the egregious human chemical and political imbalances.
the world is on fire     fire sold separately
A gentle kaleidoscope of perceptions and recognitions used as musical intervals.
life must be at least as well lived as fantasy.


Corina Copp and Nick Piombino
Bowey Poetry Club, October 18

I love the feeling of hearing a strong block of poetry from a young poet whose work I hadn't read or heard before at all.

As my filtration system adapted over the course of Corina Copp's reading, my ear moved from light resistance to the unfamiliar rhythms and details to interest and excitement at the new information being transmitted.

Nick Piombino writes experimental wisdom literature: around here we call that poetry.

Clear, funny haikus.

The story of people as books.

I don't know of any other writer who mines the poetic power of concern for others with as much creativity as Nick does.

"Love keeps us loose, while certainty hardens us for the continual struggle."

John Cage, Music for Carillon

George Steel- Carillon
St Thomas Church 53rd and 6th Ave. 10/26/03
Free outdoor concert.

My favorite moment of this concert was approaching 5th Ave. walking east on 53rd St. in the midtown twilight haze. The sounds seem to come from everywhere. If I hadn't known what was happening, and there wasn't anything besides the sound and the people standing on the street listening to indicate it was a musical performance, I might have thought that something had gone wonderfully wrong with this church.

The piece was in 5 sections, with beautifully scattered, staggered chucks of tonality in dream counterpoint with a hint of Gamelan, though maybe all church bells have a hint of Gamelan because of the slightly detuned nature of the bells. I love the decay of the lower bells. All the street sounds fit in beautifully.

The material sounded a little like some of the earlier piano music, as you might expect, since this is also a chromatic percussion instrument. It's a keyboard instrument, but there are literally boards that are played with the fists. I know this only from reading about it. The performance itself consisted only of a building making a series of sounds.

The tones bounced wildly on the glass surfaces of the surrounding buildings, making it hard to tell it was coming from the church at all. It sounded like it was coming directly out of the sky.

When it was over, the crowd quickly disbursed, exactly as I have heard flash mobs described. The ephemerality of the whole thing was powerful.


Carla recommended going a little north of Bar Harbor, to the Winter Harbor section of Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine. It turned out to be good advice. About an hour drive due East of Bangor the coast opens up. The broadly curving harbors and islands of that area are mind-boggling, a relief from the over-saturation of rectangles in New York City.

We drove to Schoodic point, down the two-lane one-way loop road at about 4 MPH, watching the harbor open and close behind the curtains of pine trees. At the point, which is apparently known for producing dramatic and even dangerous waves breaking on the rocks, we walked down the chunky granite beach. The sense of glacial sculpting is intense.

This area has an igneous formation of black basaltic dikes, dark bands where the magma came up through gaps in the granite like ink in a fountain pen. This is clearly some kind of writing practice. Some of them are six or seven feet wide and run straight down to the water. The places where the water touches these stripes results in empty shafts dropping ten or fifteen feet, because the basalt erodes much faster than the granite. This erasure I suppose.

We walked south around an old fence and took a minute to sit in the shaded part of a cliff and listen to the ocean and breaking waves. The different variations of churning and roaring and bubbling water was endless and beautiful.

We went part way into the low pine forest, which quickly becomes too dense to navigate, and crouched down in the moss to listen to the forest sounds: scurrying, chipmunk rasps, and polymelodic group variations from some red breasted nuthatches as well as a few unknown players.

Afer relocating a bit, we hiked up a hill which opened to an overlook view of the Atlantic, the harbor, the ranges of pine trees, and all of Mount Desert Island.


I fell asleep on the couch the other day after work listening to the radio while it was still light out. Woke up in the dark with some kind of baroque solo acoustic guitar music playing. Versions of some kind of opera? The last bits of muted blue were just leaving the sky.

In the dream I was leaning against a rack in a store that went on forever. The same music played, but it was more medieval sounding, darker. I wanted to just stay in the store and listen without buying anything.

Upon waking alone in a darkened room at twilight, I always feel like a tiny speck of life that is bound to be extinguished.

Beautiful shadows thrown against the wall from the streetlight.

In the dream I thought it was odd that that I like this music so much.

What is the thing that throws me into this slightly amused panic in this situation? That the present moment is some dark thing I'm trying to emerge from, alone and disoriented? That the future is a charming but impossibly distant blue glow?


I had to make an abrupt gear-shift when returning to the city from the beauty and relaxation of Maine when a guy half-heartedly tried to mug me for my keyboard on 4th and D.

Marcella and Rich were kind enough to transport the slightly unwieldy instrument in their car after we did a reading/performance together in Orono. I picked the keyboard and keyboard stand up from them on 4th St. around 9:30pm on Sunday night. Just as they drove away, a SRO-type junkie/and/or/crazy guy who had been hovering around started coming toward me with some kind of metal object and a very unpleasant look on his face.

I gently put the keyboard on the cement behind me, picked up the keyboard stand, held it above my head in a way that made it clear he could be putting himself in harm's way, and asked, "Are you okay?" He seem confused by this, stopped, and threw what turned out to be a square metal plate at me, which completely missed. He grudgingly and slowly went away as I calmly menaced him with the keyboard stand.

I realized later that this use of a musical instrument is in the tradition of the Japanese Shakuhachi flute, which doubles as a weapon if you're in a pinch.


Steve McCaffery read with Lynne Dreyer at the Bowery Poetry Club yesterday. I came in late and, unfortunately, missed Dreyer. McCaffery gave a fully engaged, wild reading.

There was one spectacular tour de force long poem near the end which had some kind of formal constraint involving Shakespearean vocabulary. It used ambiguously shifting speaker-identities ranging across a wild, funny, sci-fi search-and-replaced comedy of truth seeking. It couldn’t be located along any irony vs. sincerity polarizing system. Completely energizing.


Demonlover, Olivier Assayas

An engrossing, beautiful nightmare about global capitalism. The film skips over coherent plot and character development and presents a fantasy of smeared shells -- the surfaces of cars, buildings, office spaces and people representing transnational capitalism. The details of the plot concern, loosely, an office rivalry during a financing negotiation and struggle between pornographic websites. The film creates a hermetically sealed, accountability-free world of treacherous (female) high finance middle managers struggling for domination, all of whom, it turns out, are replaceable by the nearly invisible powers that be. The pointed disregard for getting the details across from what appears to be a worked-out script intensifies the nightmare-like quality, as it does in David Lynch’s Dune. There is a brief, bafflingly ham-handed ending shot. The visuals and atmosphere are continuously engrossing and occasionally repulsive. The action scenes are so blurred and jumbled they are almost completely abstract. Sonic Youth soundtrack.


Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, Engine 27, NYC, Sept 13th

Henry Threadgill alto saxophone, flute; triggered hubkaphone recordings: Liberty Ellman guitar; Tarik Benbrahim oud; Dana Leong cello; Jose Davilla tuba; Elliot Kavee drums

This night, Zooid was a small ensemble doing carefully arranged improvisations centered around triggered digital recordings of Threadgill playing his homemade instrument, the hubcaphone, a gamelan-like percussion instrument made of hubcaps.

The triggering system he used for the digital recording was a midi keyboard controller that initially put up a fight. At first Threadgill announced "We’re having a modern problem" I later heard him say "I don’t know what that thing wants from me, but I don’t think I have it…"

This delay cause an odd feeling in the audience, and Mike and Katie I all agreed that the more time went by, the more we felt like the party goers in Bunuel’s Exterminating Angel.

Things eventually did get started though, with a long recording of the hubcaphone, panned in the Engine 27’s multiple speaker system to orbit around the space of the room like the girl caught in the television set in Poltergeist.

The band would than play over and with these recordings in what seemed like melodic / rhythmic cells, each of which would be oriented around a particular soloing voice and within a particular hubcaphone recording section. All of the soloing was highly controlled and deeply enmeshed in both the written arrangements and the shifting material from the hubcaphone recordings. The soloings felt less like showcasings of individuals than activations of particular agencies of change and variation within a group system.


Bob Harrison, Chorrera, Bronze Skull Press, 2003, 35p
2542 N Bremen #2, Milwaukee, WI 53212

This is a poetry that fully embraces lyricism while also openly entangling itself with some of lyricism's more problematic aspects without using irony as a insulating layer.

"i'm not frozen
i'm in the years
that untold weapons
heal, i carry

my 9 digit spectrum
to the end.

i've taken off
the road carcasses
that stench up
your workaday dreams,
you will never smell
the warning
that i fired. you release
without knowing

all the countries
that have your name
as emblem, in the sea
that never moves, podrido"

Thoughtful and fluid, with a constantly operative blurred openness operating in the ligatures.

A certain imagery and vibe not unlike Vallejo or Jose Lezama Lima -- a kind of ranging over fantastical landscapes and inner drama. This is fused with an intense filmic effect with tightly cut close-ups on domestic detail. Almost Stan Brakage-like in places.

"a tiny landscape
of softening
palms, room
offering, car port
has most
reeds, on a visit
for past -- rapid
my lift, wrong
the street
packed eggs, made
crosses, same
shoes lean
promise, owned
raid, black awe"

The words are also carefully arranged as raw art material.

be the lot of
whistles, and courts
blaze on
some plate -- through
a germ lacking
has, in hats of
Not --
or ON an instant’s

Chorrera creates a darkening effect within an imaginative space -- a space that feels on one hand like a refuge, and on the other like a highly wrought zone of confusion intercut with brief slivers of realization.

“an active report rolling through blood”

A honed and repeated elemental vocabulary: harvest, river, blood, flags, heart…

There is a theme of recuperation and repair, and a slurred, dark expressiveness with an undercurrent of protest.

Harrison uses what sometimes feels like a highly encoded and rearranged private language that maintains a strong energetic connection to perceptions, observations and preoccupations which are no longer fully discernable.

A certain hopefulness in the embrace of creative forces.

"undermine the dust"

Some of these moments of associative rearrangement counter-intuitively arrive at Zen-like destinations:

"Leave the toys
in deep flooded satellites
with no voice."

There’s a building going up across the street from my apartment, and the construction sounds start just before my alarm would normally go off. So I wake to hammering and metal clangs rather than an electronic beep. The feeling of entering consciousness with the construction soundtrack feels dramatically different then entering with the alarm.

I’ve always been fascinated by the sound of distant hammering. Some sense of a creation happening just out of reach, or someone knocking at a door.


I woke up yesterday morning to the Charlie Parker birthday broadcast on WKCR. I might be a little desensitized to Charlie Parker in the morning, since I’ve listened to the Bird Flight show every day before leaving for work for the last seven years. Having it on all day tends to bring new things out, though, and I caught a few sides of Dizzy’s west coast band where Lucky Thomson was filling for Parker. What caught my attention in this group, though, was Milt Jackson. The tone of the vibraphone just shoots through the room. The speakers can’t hold it back. I immediatly stopped what I was doing and listened. It was like some metallic fluid spilling over the speakers, carrying waves of information about life.

I remember meeting Jackson after an amazing concert of his at Merkon Hall. He was friendly and encouraging, and seemed healthy. I wouldn’t have guessed he wasn’t well. A few months later I heard back-to-back Jackson on KCR on a day that wasn’t his birthday and I knew right away he had died. Later that evening I was going uptown on an F train and a tall black guy with dreadlocks gets on the train decked out completely in a white suit, wearing a white hat, white shoes, and pushing a white bicycle with a Loisida Puerto Rican-style custom stereo in a white box mounted on the back. Playing from the stereo, and filling the subway car, was the music of Milt Jackson.

So this is on my mind as I go out tonight to meet Katie and Ryan at the Sunshine to see American Splendor. Jordan had seen it last week with Gary and Nada, and said it was the “best piece of art ever made by anyone anywhere at anytime, ever.” I was keeping my expectations low nonetheless, just in case. On the way a homeless guy got on the B train and made a pitch. He said he had been robbed and that the men who robbed him also took his electronic keyboard. I remembered seeing this guy set up and play a Casio on a train weeks earlier, and I was wracked with guilt, thinking I should call off the movie plans and give the guy my extra crappy Yamaha keyboard. I give him a few quarters instead, wincing at myself. I changed trains and saw him and heard the pitch again, then got off at 2nd Ave. Exiting at the south 2nd Ave. side is like exiting the subway into a forest -- all trees and cicadas at the top of the stairs.

Walking toward the theater, I heard what sounded like a vibraphone coming through the open air. As I get to the park I realized it was. There was a guy there, looking a lot like me, dressed sort of like me, and playing a Musser vibraphone on the sidewalk, a nice version of Norwegian Wood.


"If the enlightened pacifists attempt to abolish war by means of rationalistic argument, they simply make fools of themselves, but if the armed masses begin to use the arguments of reason against war, that means the end of war."
-Benjamin via Trotsky

I'd like to see this idea updated with an American libertarian slant. If the idea of the right to bear arms is based on the idea that the population should be able to remove an oppressive government by force, and if the government now has nuclear weapons, then shouldn't every citizen now own tactical nuclear weapons? Perhaps give them out instead of a tax rebate? Wouldn't this ensure a patriotic attitude in the population (concern for what the country is doing) if people knew they could just nuke Washington if the politicians attempt to wage profiteering wars of foreign occupation for the enrichment of Haliburton?


Blackout postmortem

Loisida was on of the last neighborhoods to get back online. The power came back on at 9:00 last night. Friday morning there was no hot water and I was starting to wonder about the water pressure. We took a siesta until mid afternoon and then walked across 4th street to Marcella and Rich’s building were we paged them the old-fashioned way - by yelling "hey Marcella" up to their window. A few minutes later she was down on the street and we exchanged blackout notes. We walked east and noticed almost everyone was eating or carrying some kind of ice-cream. "They’re giving out free ice cream on 4th and B," one woman informed us, so we walked to the bodega where the last bit of the nearly-melted ice cream stock was being picked over by enthused and overheated residents. I passed on the Powerpuff Girls popsicles, and eventually hit the jackpot with a half-full box of ice cream sandwiches. We ate some, Marcella kept one to bring back to Rich, and I distributed the rest to some surprised-looking people on Ave. B.

On the was back we ran into Nao, the guitar player in Nao’s Superfortress, a band I used to play drums with. Nao said that there was some kind of mini-burningman scene in Tomkins Sq. Park Thurs night, with bonfires, drumming, and people dancing naked and burning their clothes.

We hung out at Marcella and Rich’s (and their cat’s) apt for a while, then all went over to Zum Schneider were they were selling plates of bratwurst, bread and sauerkraut on the sidewalk for 4 bucks. Went over to Tompkins Sq., found a bench and ate the sausage. At 9th and A it was possible to see through to beyond Broadway were a single glowing green traffic light told us the power was back up on the west side of town.

We stopped at La Linea on the way back and wrote a collaborative poem on four business cards. Each person would write a line, then we would rotate them around. The high-quality rhyming doggerel that resulted can read here.

We went home and rested in the candlelight around 9:00. When the power came up loud cheers echoed through the neighborhood. It reminded me of the cheers in the theater when I first saw Star Wars, and the Rebels blew up the Death Star.


The East Village is still blacked out. I’m writing this on Katie’s laptop on battery power via dialup.

At around 4:00 yesterday the lights went down in the apt to a eerie feeble brown, then disappeared entirely. I thought it was the just the apt and went downstairs where people were starting to gather on the streets, listening to the car radios and sharing information. One such group was at 3rd and Ave. A, fifty people listening to a blasting car radio news report tell us that the entire eastern seaboard was blown out. The vibe on the street was a mixture of NYC crisis, friendliness, excitement and wariness. Fears that this was another terrorist attack disappeared fairly quickly.

By five most of the larger grocery stores were closing. I went to the smaller place on 6th and B, which was full of people roaming the isles with candles and lighters, helping each other find stuff. I got bread peanut butter chips candles matches etc, and noticed the items going fastest were beer and ice.

Walking back to 4th and D I noticed large groups of sweaty bedraggled people who obviously walked a long way from work since the entire subway system was out. Local bodegas were giving out free Italian ices to kids on Ave C, and people were already starting to set up lawn furniture on the sidewalks and dig into the beer.

The timing wasn’t right for Katie to be stuck on the subway, but I was worried that she could have been trapped in an elevator. She arrived home 20 minutes later, glad to see I wasn’t trapped underground somewhere.

We broke out a transistor radio which is still our only source of news besides word of mouth.

Everyone in Katie’s Building collected out in the back and basically had a big party where many of us met for the first time. Normally we would just pass in the hallway. It was hot but quite festive. You could see stars.

The sounds of cicadas and crickets mixed with the sirens. Much different city sound mix with no power! Later it became one of the loudest nights I remember in the building- a huge block party on D and 5th with 50 Cent and Sugar Hill gang blasting from car stereos.

The darkened city was beautiful, lit by passing car headlights and candles.

Katie woke me at 6 this morning to see the no electricity-dawn.

Today: reading and listening to the transistor radio. We made a great brunch by lighting the gas stove with matches. Eggs, grilled bread and French press coffee (we put the eggs and milk in the freezer early.)


Michael Scharf, Verite, ubu editions, 2002, PDF download.

Fascinating and pained explorations of the junctures of cathexis and cultural capital. Verite opens with an essay which is perhaps the most original _day my father died_ confessional poem ever written.

Much of the work here is possessed by a lyrical scrutiny and a broad dyspepsia with history coming up in guilty, humorous and ironic burbs. The language moves in searching and uncomfortable fits from and over the interlocking strands of personal and political life, using only the fray as material.

Sharf returns again and again to a mode where the poet’s role is to directly and indirectly draw information about life from things that are in front of him, rather than try to fulfill expectations about an experience, or present raw blocks of the textures of language.

It is not unlike the poetries of Olson, Ben Friedlander and John Clarke in its way of scanning weirdly over one’s own personal and collective history at the same time with one ear on the formalism and one eye on an environmentalizing of subjective states, subjectivizing of environmental states.

There is a beautifully crafted propositional dynamic at work here as well, and a sweet, odd songlike reaction to undercurrents of personal and communal disappointment. These two elements, inert by themselves, chemically bond to form a kind of information-rich poetic epoxy.


All Around What Empties Out, Linh Dinh, Subpress/Tinfish, 2003

Dinh sets up and sustains a warmly amusing polite rudeness with controlled riff-switching and paratactic absurdities.

Catullus without the vendettas.

Every page is designed with a repetitive light decorative noise that frames the poems. I found this annoying at first but it wound up contributing to the overall humor by the end.

Cinematic dream presentations, tweaked, sweet chumminess with a chaser of mockery. Ren and Stimpy?

The poetic labor is distributed equally among a self-consciously (and ironically and absurdly) crafted persona, the vibes and connotations of the language, and the interestingly mixed feelings about the traditions being incorporated/mocked -- confessional poetry, books of dream-image interpretation, surreal prose-poetry, etc.

Serious issues of identity sneaking in amongst the careful ironic/absurd whimsy?


Steve's recent spate of notes on movies made me want to make one of my own:

on cable last weekend:
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, John Ford 1962.

Like Njal's saga, where layer/poet is the same person (do we still feel the tensions of that ancient (non)division of labor as poets today -- the person who knows things, but in a context where that knowledge doesn't necessarily apply?).

Naive lawyer Jimmy Stewart goes west and gets his ass kicked and his lunch money stolen for being a bookworm, and then threatens the thug-based political economy of a small town with the twin forces of literacy and federalized power. Told in flashback, the story famously addresses the nature of collective memory ("When the legend becomes fact, print the legend")

Despise some light flag-waving scenes in a classroom and the ostensible message of John Wayne as the self-sacrificing, powerful good-guy realist who sacrifices romantic love to give the community representative democracy, the lasting vibe of the film is a good bit darker.

Just before Jimmy Stewart is about to embark on his seemingly suicidal gun fight with Liberty Valance, the window pane of the town newspaper projects the reversed image of the letter "E" onto his chest, where it lingers disconcertingly like a transformed Scarlet Letter. It is the language that remains unaware that the power of someone else's violence is the true reason for its efficaciousness, since Wayne is actually the one who fires the fatal bullet from the shadowy sidelines.

That message is contrasted with the collectivist power sharing evoked earlier during a town meeting, where the bad guys are defenseless against the pooled power of the population, or as Liberty Valance says, you people are brave when you're together, but think about what going to happen when you're alone!


McCoy Tyner Trio, Damrosch park Band Shell,8/2/03
Lincoln Center Out of Doors Series.
Charnett Moffett – bass, Al Foster – drums

Packed, overflowing Damrosch Park. Good to see so many people out to hear this particular strain of American culture.

Acoustic music sounds good in a small room. The space of the room is an additional member of the band. No music sounds good in a festival setting. It’s unreasonable to expect it. The only loud thing that sounds good in a huge open space is thunder. When any music is played loudly through PA speakers outside the highs sound tinny, the mids sound flat and the lows sound muffled and boomy. You go to these concerts for the spectacle and large scale mutual appreciation, and to see how an artist handles approaching such a large audience.

The other traditional hazards of festival jazz were also firmly in place -- some tired, grumpy turf-war crowd vibes peppered in among the slightly forced excited happiness. Worst of all, though, was the fact that the musicians were playing to what they thought the crowd wanted -- relaxed accessibility.

The disappointment of comparing what you hear now with what you hear on the Coltrane records, or on Tyner’s own work from the sixties and early seventies, is fairly keen. It makes you want to go home and put on Extensions. Tyner still had a few good moments, though. Seeing him in a club is obviously a much better experience.

The high point was an oud-like Moffett bass solo built around a monochordal Arabic scale vamp. Some beautifully placed extended techniques used to develop and broaden the melodic and rhythmic content of the solo rather than to just show off the extended techniques. I remember hearing Sonny Rollins here a few years ago and the high point of the concert was also an Arabic scale based solo by Rollins. Is there something about this space that brings this out?


I see Stephanie has been tuning into the Brecht channel too.


Jimmie Noone, Apex Blues, MCA/GRP/Decca, 1994. Recorded 1928, Chicago

On the title track, amazing throb-pulse of Lawson Buford's tuba. Earl Hines Piano break into feather-light, confident, encouraging Noone clarinet solo. Insanely stomping slow outro-chorus.


Reading Brecht’s Journals 1934-1955. Blog-like, short, razor-sharp entries. From Denmark:

5 mar 39
interesting, this new “realistic” american literature (CAIN, COY, HEMINGWAY). these people protest against the prevailing descriptions of certain milieu, bank heavily on the novelty of “unbiased” description. it all remains within the domain of the formal. at its inception stands the experience of film (and at the end stands hollywood). film, esp. silent film, needed an unexpectedly large amount of action (consumed a large amount of expression) . . . with these hard boiled men it is a matter of producing hot stuff, they need to arouse emotions because they are part of the great emotions racket. So they use emotions as a driving force, as the path of least resistance. They give a new 10 horse power engine, complete with appropriate brakes to the man in the street, to each of roosevelt’s new deal types, garage mechanics, farm hands, reporters, the souped-up petty bourgeois, a romantic character, comes into existence. he is a poor devil who is highly strung beyond belief, has been given a seconds spirit by rationalization, stands gasping, is threatened by unemployment, and invests his last vestige of strength in competitiveness. He bestrides the stage as hero and muscle-man, and the boards cave-in. 24


Professor Griffes

Listening to Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Collected Work for Piano, recorded 1979, (New World, 1997):

Griffes was an American composer, a somewhat more traditional contemporary of Charles Ives. Serene, beautiful. Really helping me with the returning-to-work stress.


Anthony Braxton, recorded 1969, (actuel, 2002) w/ Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins, Steve McCall:

Three separate arrangements by Smith, Jenkins and Braxton. Quiet, carefully arranged music with a lot of space and revolving, unaccompanied soloing. Interesting even after multiple back-to-back listens. Henry (Katie’s parrot) really likes this CD, which is always a sign of high-quality music.


read The Future of an Illusion, Sigmund Freud, Strachey translation, on the Fung Wah bus on the way back to New York:

"It goes without saying that a civilization which leaves so large a number of its participants unsatisfied and drives them to revolt neither has nor deserves the prospect of a lasting existence." 12


Apparently, part of the magic of the Fung Wah bus when it is operating in beneficent mode is that I am able to read on it without getting nauseated. On the way to Boston I finished the Wire, read The Economist as well as the highly absorbing article in the New Yorker about Gertrude Stein. I’m guessing that the details of the disclosures therein about her right-wing tendencies are common knowledge to my many Stein-enthusiast friends. Esp. interested in Stein and Toklas paying to bust Nazi collaborator Bernard Fay out of jail. It made me think of the inverse moment when The Weather Underground broke Timothy Leary out of jail. Curious now if there is critical work on Stein that relates her reactionary/conservative tendencies to her poetics in some way? Has someone does this with Pound?

On the island I banned all electronic communication and kept reading to a minimum. I did bring two books, though. Writings of the Zen master Dogen (Northpoint) and Eduardo Galeano’s Memory of Fire part two -- Faces and Masks (Quartet Books), two books that balanced each other out nicely. The Galeano book, in the course of its varied, clear and fluent historical multiplicities, contains some material appropriate to the current foreign policy of the US:

"In full imperial euphoria, the United states celebrates the conquest of the Hawaiian islands, Samoa and the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and some little islands eloquently named the Ladrones (Thieves). Now the pacific and Caribbean are North American lakes, and the United Fruit Company is coming to birth; but novelist Mark Twain, the old spoilsport, proposes changing the national flag: the white stripes should be black, he says, and the stars should be skulls and crossbones."


Out of town until Sunday, 20th.


Henry Grimes Quintet, Iridium, 7/8/03
Roy Campbell, Jr.(tp), Rob Brown(as), Andrew Bemkey(p), Michael Thompson(d)

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Henry Grimes’ return to music after having been missing in action for thirty years. Grimes had been a important jazz musician in the fifties and sixties, having played with Sonny Rollins, Lennie Tristano, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz, Steve Lacy, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Roswell Rudd, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, McCoy Tyner, and many more. He was recently discovered living in a SRO hotel in LA, having bailed completely on music since the late sixties. Word got out that he had been found and people started mobilizing to help him. William Parker donated a bass to him named Olive Oil. I assume this was the bass he was playing last night.

I’ve been listening to him for years on CD, including some of my favorite recordings -- such as Cecil Taylor’s Unit Structures and Grimes’ own ESP recording The Call, with the amazing clarinet player Perry Robinson.

KCR did a Grimes radio tribute a few months ago, playing four days of the bassist’s music. I turned on the radio before I knew about the tribute, heard some tuneful, vibrant, and rather wild clarinet playing that I couldn’t place and, of course, strong bass playing. It turned out to be Grimes playing with Tony Scott.

Iriduim is a slightly odd place to hear this kind of improvised music, since it’s expensive and a little touristy, though I suppose it’s good that they’re supporting it were they can. I only wish the sound mix had been handled better. For some reason, Grimes’ bass doesn’t have a pick-up, so he was amplified with a mic. He was also buried in the mix for much of the set. You could only hear him properly when the band was at it’s quietest. It would have been easy to dispense with the horn mics and bring the band volume to his level. It’s frustrating that getting the bass sound right wasn’t a priority for the club when a living legend has returned for the first gig under his leadership in over thirty years!

Still, it was possible to tell what was happening, and it was beautiful. His playing had a strongly implied swing, but one that seemed to go in multiple directions at once. It was extremely supple, with constant variations of tone and rhythm. He was also able to imply multiple melodies without droning or limiting the melodic trajectory of his playing. It sounded inquisitive, curious. He was simultaneously supporting, adding new information and invigorating the overall sound field, and not one of these multiple dynamics was dropped for very long. It’s as though he was utilizing a system of musical multitasking, the sound of simultaneous human modes -- social, mental, emotional, physical….

His presence on the stage was modest and fragile, in fact he seemed to be a bit stressed, but this didn’t show at all in the playing.

The band was strong, as you would expect from this mostly veteran combination, though maybe slightly distracted or just not quite warm yet. The drummer Michael Thompson was the only player I hadn’t heard before, and his playing was impressively responsive, strong and gentle, like Grimes' own.


Interesting article about Michael Gira by Alan Licht in Wire 233. I didn’t realized Gira had any connection to Glenn Branca. Maybe I should just assume that connection exists with anyone downtown with any proximity to a guitar from 1977-1987.

I guess you could make the argument that the Swans were part of a American tradition of emphasizing sound, timbre, physicality of presence over form etc. that includes Cage, Feldman, Oliveros.

Ironically, Gira, Throbbing Gristle and Laurie Anderson could be seen as being in the same historical groove, crossing performace art with rock.

I recall liking the Swans as a teenager because of the extremity and slowness. I only heard the records, though. Now I wonder what the live shows were like.


Guilty pleasure: The Bad Plus, These Are The Vistas, Columbia, 2003.


Deleted a post responding to Nada's deleted post.


Karen Horney doesn’t use narcissism as a category in itself. It's a nook in the vast terrain of self-alienation which she explores with startlingly crystalline insight.

She sees narcissism as a element which immobilizes and hampers self-awareness.

In her book Self-Analysis, she uses the word narcissism interestingly in a discussion of Freud’s attitude towards the nature of the desire for self-improvement. Freud dismisses this desire as a "narcissistic" tendency towards self-inflation and excelling others:

"What Freud refused to recognized is the fact that this 'narcissistic' element is a contributing factor only. If the need for self-aggrandizement has been analyzed and abandoned, the wish to develop still remains, yes it emerges more clearly and powerfully than before. The "narcissistic" elements, while they have kindled the wish to grow, have at the same time hampered its realization. To use the words of a patient: "The 'narcissistic' impulse is towards the development of a phony self." The fostering of this phony self is always at the expense of the real self, the latter being treated with disdain, at best like a poor relation."

(When not quoting she doesn't use the term "real self", but tends towards pointing out the difference between possible and impossible self, and static vs. dynamic self etc.)

So narcissism is seen as a paralyzing feedback loop in the circuit of the character structure. It’s a drag because it prevents new information from entering the system.

It’s not hard to think of examples of writers who essentially use poetry to create a fantasy image of themselves which they are trying to get the reader to validate, even if this is done indirectly. I see this across traditions and styles. Work of this kind is tiring to read. You feel used. To what extent is poetry used as a place where one is allowed to more safely harbor and nurture one's neuroses?


In his dissenting opinion Scalia says that the overturning of the Texas sodomy law will result in:

"a massive disruption in the current social order."

sounds good to me…


Reading report
Jean Donnelly. Ron Silliman, Rae Armantrout.
The Drawing Center, 6/24/03

Acousticly, the Drawing Center is not the greatest space for poetry. It’s as though it was designed specifically to muffle the sound of the human voice. Because of this situation, the room presents a kind of test for readers. Since every reader I’ve heard there struggled against the acoustics of the space, you can see how different readers handle struggling with acoustics, not just with volume.

Jean Donnelly:

Quiet reading style. Made me hear some of the more micro- breath and pitch changes.

The throat, mouth, lips, and tongue are after all a biological envelope filter changing the timbre and articulation of sound. In English all the linguistic information is carried by this filter system, rather than the vocal chords, which control pitch. I can’t help but wonder if the music of a culture that uses a non-tonal language is more likely to have a greater emphasis on timbral variation?

Much about domestic life and children mixing with brief spans of politically suggestive material.

Full of literary references and carefully developed thematics.

Some sharp observations -- "the clicks of an electric meter on the back of a house."

The poetry panned slowly over landscapes -- rural, suburban, mental, social.

Ron Silliman

Silliman at first tried to bypass the mike entirely, which did improve the sound for the first couple of rows, but make it inaudible to everyone else. Katie helpfully stepped in and remedied the situation.

Silliman‘s projection was good and he managed to overcome some of the sonic deadening and get the poetry out into the space of the room.

A chain of observed details with their hierarchy of significance removed.

He has an instantly recognizable take on certain kinds of details -- often trivial things (rather than quadrivial) which are commonly experienced but go unremarked upon, "the pigeon walks up to me and when I move my foot it flies away" / "the unripe banana" / "top of the business card used as a toothpick." In this sense it is a poetry of social commonality, the implicit social commonality of visual perception. It is Eignerian in that the poet observes what is in front of him. At one point he comes out and says "write what’s in front of you."

Mixed with this is what sound like straight-forward autobiographical vignettes and commentary as one would get in a mainstream poem, but without the sentimental inflation, as well as political material -- a story taken from the news, about Serbian torture, for instance. Again, the playing field of significance is totally level, so that a report of forced cannibalism happens in the same register as items about Mike Piatta or mosquitoes. To me it replicates the disturbingly unequal moral simultaneity of the world as well as implying some questions about how we get information about it, through the media, and through our own senses.

I also thought of a late Olson poem -- about watching a fly -- the significance of insignificance.

Observations that could be straight out of his blog are also thrown in: "the expansion of genre has been much faster than the expansion of readers" or "the cast system of literary reputation."

A lot of dream material, all prefaced with "in the dream" or ended with "then I woke up." So despite all this mixing of modes, the categories of experience are not blurred in this work, actually the opposite -- they are carefully delineated.

One of the ways Silliman produces variation in his work is the use of an unusually wide spectrum of ironic distance, which moves from the extremes of irony to total sincerity.

At one point he used the image of an approaching train, which I’ve noticed before in his work. This seems analogous to something central in his process -- things held in an equalized mutual potentiality of imminent arrival.

Rae Armantrout

If Silliman is the potentiality of imminent arrival, Armantrout is the continuously transforming moment of arrival.

Armantrout was able to get the poetry into the sonic space, not with projection, but, seemingly, with personality.

This is poetry that could fit into several "separate" strains of American poetic tradition.

She somehow manages to take energies which clearly have their origin in mentally negative modes and transform the energy to something quite positive and energizing, as well as funny and sharp.

Beautifully developed cognitive movements turning around an axis of humor.

"I was a forwarding address"

"A pun pretends to be a bridge"

Magically transmogrified complaints and fiercely intelligent playfulness.

Not letting anything mess with her, not tradition, not innovation.

Highly compact observational critiques: "a fetish object appears as previous centuries."

Philosophical and even mathematical preoccupations beautifully unwinding in the poetry.

Making poetic use of indigestion. A meditation on the Borg. Making poetic use of anything…


Actually it is a pretty funny typo to point out. But now that I see that Nada's being affable how am I going to take out all my pent up feelings of resentment from the years of having my spelling mocked in grammar school? At least I can still say Dug Rothschild is worse!

I've always wondered what makes a person develop into a "corrector," the kind of person who, when faced with a trivial typo or mispronunciation, will pointedly interrupt someone as though they had committed some profound crime against humanity and correct them with a snotty, condescending tone, regardless of context. I guess it's some inferiority complex. It allows one to feel superior, even for a brief second.

Being an atrocious speller, verging on dyslexic, I've had to live with these people all my life. They tend be people with a strong need to have others follow sets of rules or socially mandated guidelines for behavior, or, as is more often the case, people who have these controlling needs but have repressed them, so they balloon out in odd places.


Thousands Count Out Loud, George Albon, Lyric&, San Francisco, 2000

A progression of sonnets in single sentence lines which accrue as separate units but build into a single poetic environment with multiple layers. Almost every line adds something. Very little is wasted.

A greater degree of proposition, critique and humor than in Empire Life.

"They eat as if to hide the food."

Rich phenomenological harmony and counterpoint.

Engaging with overlapping and mirroring systems:

"Social games will function as enzymes"
Crossing Amsterdam at 108th street the other day, I saw a nun carrying the collected poems of Robert Lowell.


George Albon, Empire Life, 1998, Littoral Books, LA.

The first two-thirds of the book consist of a single serial poem composed of eighty-eight eight line poems.

Mental autobiography.

The poems build up in units of scenic, Gaussian-blurred subjectivity.

There is often an implied relationship narrative where only tiny bits of information about the story are shared, though the sensation of urgency in the missing bigger picture is allowed through with much of it's energy. It's as though the poem is stepping back from a setting where a human drama is unfolding, and this backward movement allows in a subtle and odd layer of psychological implication.

Would you find
the country

thru the steel
grasses of

such collision,
the gift of

his knotted
blare & call--

Similar to Creeley in its nuanced pivoting between psychological and perceptual valences, except unlike Creeley it moves strongly away from the dynamics of sentiment.

Very small units of information put together like puzzle pieces which fit perfectly even though they seem to be from totally different puzzles.

A beautiful, tense, odd wholesomeness like Lorine Niedecker.

At one point, he makes a little drama out of the process of a thought's inception, and the relation of the area of that inception to anxiety, complete with harpies:

He reassured
himself with

the smallest,
the almost

unborn thought.
It held a

center that
harpies clawed.

The feeling or pressure of the physical world is strong even within the confines of a fairly abstract and cerebral poetics.

It is going
between (the bus).

Part of me
will actually

miss this

A gust of
wind like gale.

Strong objectivist tendencies-- clarity and precision. Also possessed of Eignerian moments of stationary observation:


& white
shines out

from the blue
sky with

a sound in
it, window.

In fact this work is deeply Objectivist- not only is the poem itself seen as an object, but every element within the poem is treated as an object. The perception, the thought, the word, the observation, the feeling, the self, the person, etc., all have the feeling of assembled objects.

The poems are like carefully improvised beddings make from the gradual accruals of everyday, domestic life.

Some of these sequences seem to be simultaneously asking a question of and depicting a memory and/or a setting:

A couch but
some in chairs-

it goes round-

heard, then in
circle, the couple

singing Working
Class Hero

The other part of book is Cosmophagy, which consists of a sequenced string of short, smooth, one-sentence prose units.

Narrative in a blender, or existing in a suspension of poetic science fiction like Soft Boys mode William Burroughs or J.G. Ballard.

Scenes melting into each other as though seen from a passing car, all happening in a landscape like a post-Blade Runner Gunslinger.

Many images of machines wearing away the earth, as though all human activity were a kind of erosion. The title means world-eating.

Blurred dream material but also metaphoric thought and questioning:

"In vassal-mind an ethos traveling like a geese-V in pinkish dusk to the appropriate host a creature-calling lucidation of lives they stumble into what? From the resulting what?"


Matthew Barney, The Cremaster Cycle, Guggenheim Museum

An expensive Hollywood auction where props and costumes from Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars: Episode One are sold for the price of some countries’ GDP.

Sporty things that are spilling out.

The subject of this art is the individual acquisition of cultural capital, fame and money, symbolized by Barney climbing the wall of the Guggenheim to displace Richard Serra form the lofty heights.

Tomb Raider.

Expensive racing side-car motorcycles with testicles.

Barney’s art is similar to that of the Wachowski brothers in The Matrix Reloaded: a confusing and tedious self-enclosed fantasy world whose primary purpose is to display wealth and status to earn more of same.

Not nearly enough stuff to fill the space.

Intensely inventive, but using the inventiveness in an all-out embrace of corporate art power, hence of trans-national corporate power?

Late 90’s internet bubble capital feeling.

Is it just an elaborate teaser for the movies? Hence the overwhelming feeling of incompleteness?

Hermetically sealed preoccupations siphoned into a franchisable fantasy world.

Creatively blocking social reality as a part of trading up the social ladder.


The beginning of Nick's poem makes me wonder if irony doesn't involve, among other things, a form of linguistic data compression, fitting more meaning (information) in the same amount of linguistic space. Like Stuffit.

Computers make it very clear- that
everything in life can be reduced to
a simple yes or no. Humans have
never stood for this. After centuries
of solemn obedience to the rules of language, we
created the yes that is no and the
no that is yes.
The linguistic birth of irony.
Craig Watson, True News, Instance Press, Santa Cruz, CA, 2002.

Loosely propositional abstractions centering on the inadequacies of human response to existence. "Infinity of the under-imagined"

Watson laments the menu of categories our minds like to present us with, and uses the shapes of these categories as a negative template for an assemblage arraigned heavily around issues of artistic process, representation and thought.

He takes on issues of poetic self-consciousness, the undesirability of a unified subject, the ambiguity of representation etc., and crisscrosses back and forth across their implications with persistence and patience.

He explores feedback loops of ignorance, not through a celebration of word/reference disconnection, but through a quiet indictment of systematically self-perpetuating veneers which operate at the service of seriously out-of-balance competitive mental and social ecosystems. The subject of the poet's inherent involvement and investment in these systems is never far way in this work, esp. on the cognitive and creative levels.

Wry crypto-Taoism?

Complaints against the mechanisms of inheritance, biological, mental, social.

Somewhat vague? What is the difference between ambiguity and vagueness this kind of poetry? How exactly does one identify vagueness when it becomes a drawback?

Thought morphs into thought via analogy and vocabulary juggling.

Consistently responding to issues of social and bio-political productive force.

Lightly encrypted.

The things in Home Guard are presented as props in a kind of off-Broadway theater of mediation. The poem is a modular stage where this drama takes place.

Figure B starts as a mediation on an image -- a plane landing -- and then branches out by analogy to mental processes. The intentionally self-halting rhythmic accretions of Ron Silliman's new sentence are fused with complex analogical mechanisms like those of Jack Clarke.

Mellifluous critique: "theft always comes easier to a man of faith and taste"


If you tell poet A you don't like X or Y's poetry, esp. if it's a writer who turns out to be a personal (and almost always public) sacred cow, you can see them seethe with rage. They hate you.

When the name of a poet that they dislike comes up, poet B says aggressively- they suck! That's as much information as you can get from them about how they feel about it.

Poet C might indicate they dislike something and you might actually manage to get into an exchange about why, but all you hear is a list of unmet preloaded expectations rather than a take what the poetry is doing and why it is bad.

Is it just the problem of communicating difference in a competitive space that makes poets defensive in a way that seems to drive them away from their own critiques? Or are the critiques privately worked out and unspeakable in public?

This negative framing works in a similar way on listserves but the protective glass of the computer screen obviates this problem of instant freeze. Instead the "critique" is expressed by some kind of outpouring of abuse from younger male poet D and the distrust that follows chokes off the conversion on the list, often for good.

Poet E and F, both of whom are friends of mine and both of whom are intelligent and sensitive people recently had an argument about a recent critical book on a listserve. Neither was able to communicate or describe their position or what they really thought the thing was or what the problem was exactly. They were two muffled walls politely grinding past each other. Is it the unprocessed quality of our competitive relations to each other that freezes this stuff out? Or is it just the result of a general context of being spectacularly unwanted by our society?


Elizabeth Robinson, Pure Descent, Sun and Moon, NPS 2001

Intimate domestic spaces opening internal dimensions of meaning.

Highly controlled yet relaxed synaesthesia.

Corporealizing issues of language / cognition.

Spiritually charged adventures in everyday living.

Food / body / language.

The fissures and shuffling multiple connotations grow inconspicuously, though with a certain amount of stability, like plant growth. Pastoral then in the sense of an affinity with plant life but operating on the level of thought. Plants can break up concrete, right?

Rain takes on human proportions.

Cooling soup enacts questions of the verifiability of experience.

There seem to be interpretations of dreams intermixing with interpretations of daily life. Interpretive processes fuse to altered and pulled apart narrative gestures and speculative processes in interlocking shapes.

The part of the mind that wants to learn, that is hungry for meaning, is active in the foreground of the work.

Lots of sleep and wake up stuff -- oblique diminutive self-renewals.

Playing off of the ambiguous psychological dynamics of attachment to words / names -- our need for them and our outright suspicions of them.

Simultaneous questioning and celebration of everyday spaces and objects.

Subtly suggestive details pivot in the ambiguity, forming patterns around a dynamic of wish fulfillment? A primal relationship with language and fantasy. Like Coolidge in this respect, but with less narcoleptic intent.

The use of enigmas and contradiction in the tradition of wisdom literature -- Dogen, Alan Davies, Rumi…

A folding of perception and thought into a song-like story laying open and hiding the layers of thinking and playfulness.


A blog is a journal. It's a place for manifesting things that would vaporize in the interstices of daily life otherwise. Journals are inherently indulgent. If journal writers weren't indulgent they would shrug, say who cares about these daily thoughts and not do it at all. We love to read journals, though, because we care about what happens in the privacy of someone else's mind.

I'm guessing Steve would agree that writing from within established institutions probably poses more danger to one's thought processes than the current indulgences of blogging.
Pauline Oliveros Deep Listening Band, Winter Garden,World Financial Center, NYC

Oliveros on accordion.
Stuart Demspter on trombone, conch shell, didgeridoos.
David Gamper on piano overtone flute, computer sound processing.

The World Financial Center is an expensive shopping mall next to the WTC site, across the West Side Highway. The Winter Garden is a large glassed-in space overlooking the Hudson. 70% of it was destroyed in the attack and rebuilt. An odd space to hear music.

Fairly elaborate sound system. Multiple monitors and speakers set through the room.

All the players played through laptops using Gamper’s processing software EIS -- Expanded Instrument System, which seemed to be a sampling and delay transformation program, feeding altered versions of what was being played back into the PA. It never sounded delay-y, where the exact phase can be immediately heard. It was more like chunks of the music slowly braking off and going into orbit around the audience.

The music was very gentle. It was built up patiently and slowly. There was a constantly changing drone over and under which things would happen. The role of drone sustainer was passed around between the players and computer as the concert went on. It sounded largely improvisational, though with definite parameters for instrumentation and sections.

Great to see a band of older players rocking the house. Dempster at one point used a plastic aspirin bottle as a percussion instrument, turning the lid. It was a found instrument but I couldn’t help wondering if it was also a playful commentary on aging?

Beautifully controlled simple long tone intervals on the trombone. Very powerful. The way in which these phrases worked in the overall field of sound made me think of Leo Smith’s rhythm unit playing, where independent phrase groups happen with equal proportions of silence between them.

Occasionally I would fear that the whole thing was going to veer into a new age thing but it never quite did.

Dissonances, rumblings and contortions. Challenging music set in a bed a very accessible sound. One could imagine a tangerine dream fan digging this, though perhaps being a little freaked out by it too.

The computer feedback -- if you can call it that, it was more like a forth player -- tended to be winningly jumbled, circling around in the mix. It was obvious after twenty minutes or so that the music was inviting us to walk around the space to hear it from different angles, which people started to do as the concert went on.

Oliveros played a huge 120 bass just intonation accordion. Accordion seems like an additional organ added to the body, second set of lungs or a component of a space suit. She switched between short, elastic tone clusters, simple interval sequences and drones. She also played through a volume pedal, and would sometimes play a sequence with the volume completely down that would enter only into the computer processes mix. At first Katie and I were sitting in front, where it was easer to see the decisions the musicians were making. Later we were in the back, where it was all but impossible to tell what was a source sound and what was computer feedback, and, I suppose, also irrelevant.

It was hard not to think of the concert as being a response to the Sept 11 attacks. At one point the silly rotating blue stars being projected on the screen behind the players morphed into shapes that looked like explosions, fire and dust.

Amazing that the music succeeded in occupying and transforming this extreme corporate / consumerist space.

The overall band sound was aleotorically welcoming. Distant conversation, a baby crying, etc. all sounded good with it.

After it was over, the music extended to the traffic swish on the West Side Highway and the rumble and screech of the 1/9 line.


Walking to the F train this morning on 4th St. Beautiful weather -- seventy degrees and sunny. On my left side trees with dozens of loudly chirping polyrhythmic birds. On my right a tow truck with the 50 Cent song blaring out the window. These sounds mixed perfectly with a long fade in and fade out based on my walking pace.


Nada Gordon, V. Imp., Faux Press

V. Imp is a rich, prickly harmonic interlacing of thought, perception, nonsense and proposition.

The book begins with a post-9/11 absurdist fantasy / allegory.

A lot of refreshing reversals and Mad Lib-esque rewrites.

“truth is hideous, beauty a lie”

Established art wisdom meets up with punk response.

Torqued cries of anger but also for love and help. Like -- check out my fantasy world… fuck you… I’ll do whatever the fuck I want here … I need you!

As though the poetry addresses what to do creatively with the excess negative energy life generates. The things pressing on us and from us that are not given a dimension to exist. Thwarted things. The poems deal with these head-on. They are used as energies and as raw material.

Fearlessly hilarious.

A kind of multilayered craft posing as sloppy or spilling over? Actually not at all sloppy, though the associative powers and indirect provocation of this work are loose, i.e. open.

“rise up and abandon the spurious contrivance”

Humor going to the mat with cognitions and speculations.

A lyric quality not moving away from personality or towards it in a culturally verified modality, but IN REVERSE.

Seamless globs of different poetic histories operating together.

Slabs of lysergic showtune gone lit-crit.

Personal experience through 12 Photoshop filters and layers.

Intimate domestic space.

"could you zip me up?"

The sincerity in the humor, twistedness and closeness. Also in the confrontation?

A dozen different kinds of poetry, not unified, but hybridized into a poetic gelatin.

Always near an agitated reaction to some expectation of being delimitated from an outside authority / power.

“Mouth Noises” This poem generates an autobiographical speculative paratactic riff sequence and then lets it go with a pie in the face, the humor like an aggressive invitation.

The work directly and unblinkingly incorporates direct statement, autobiography, myriad assertion with vocab replacement processes and tweaks that are surprising and hilarious.

A fusion of frustrated and zany energies which operate as a kind of virtual liberation of same.

Processing the conflicts of psychological energy that have their root in social conflicts. Like Kathy Acker or William Burroughs. Messed up fantasy / conflict as social critique/ autobiography -- also exhibitionism? The poem is sometimes positioned as a fantasy that is meant to be the object of the reader's voyeurism?

Red-lined or tweaked figures of speech: “The mind is Asian.”

Unabashedly confusion-embracing.

Energy-releasing levity embracing the theatrical gesture.

Recurring grammatical structure-riffs: Why is the ___ so ___. The ___ are ___. They ___ into our ___.

Funny and startling combinations in the spirit of Kenward Elmslie or Monty Python working with Cher.

“I will see it” “a rabbit leaking sound”

She rhymes “my office technology” with “my petite bourgeois ideology.”

Never far from its sources in the energies, dynamics and contradictions of personality, and yet it doesn’t fall into the immobilizing gesture of only attempting to present a persona in a certain light.

Avant-garde with strong stylist tendencies, though not at all avant-garde formalist -- which is traditional, or avant-garde mannerist, which is conventional.

One can sometimes take this work to be saying: “Fuck you for trying to delimit me with your self-serving categories.” A worthy punk sentiment which she opens and spirals out from within deepening connotations and assertions.

Using satirical functions while keeping itself from being subject to the satirized material. Other goals besides satire are always operative.

Indistinguishable from flarf except that flarf is more likely to be totally at the service of humor, whereas humor here is one of several simultaneous layers of poetic functioning.

She activates negative social psychological energies that convention represses and uses the resulting gear as a tunneling machine.

In “Gorgeous” concision is used with evocative results. It’s like she’s playing pick up sticks with razor sharp slivers of language.

“would buck the system by increments of craving”

“love’s ripe with happenstance”

She address her own location (Brooklyn / NYC setting -- subway / common space, inescapable mental tropisms etc.) without attempting to sweet talk the reader into being pleased with it.

Very important sonnets -- funny, sing songy, relaxed. Pinned to the zany side of the needle.

“a shark wrapped in lace”

the sonnets are welcoming, but no less complex in their orientation. They allow in clich├ęs, lyrics, lists, a continuous string of defiant, alert, propositional hunks of language.

Comical hallucinations.

Sensation as idea.


A section of the Tao Te Ching keeps coming back to me as:

Don't be benevolent!
Nature is not benevolent.
Be nourishing!

Actually this a twisted fusion of two different sections...

Interesting to ponder the long term consequences of one's own self-protective psychological machinery in respect to the competing strains of poetic history.

If you were a free jazz player it would be obvious that some people have been intentionally trying to erase your artistic history and replace it with a static formalism. Are my generation of poets pre-erased?

Marianne is back.


Paranoia is a big problem for poets. It clouds their judgments. It makes them personally miserable. It sabotages their relationships. It’s understandable, since it’s the kind of negative resource stress reaction that occurs in any group of competing mammals who exist in an ecosystem that is strapped for resources – including the resource of appreciation.

Jordan, one of the more intelligent people I know (rather than "intelligent" which means adept at complicated intellectual structures but possibly clueless about actual relations between humans) provides a good illustration of this situation. In my last post, I called attention to a kind of intelligence in the works of Joe Brainard. The point was to value the work by indicating that it used a function of intelligence that isn’t always acknowledged by intellectuals -- social intelligence, understanding the ways in which people are interested in and curious about each other.

Jordan, defensively scanning anything that could possibly be interpreted as an attack on his artistic lineage, projects onto my statement an out of the can criticism of "New York" poetry as anti-intellectual. Actually the opposite of my point.


Joe Brainard's I Remember shows that you don't have to write something "intelligent" to produce good writing. The process is fairly simple: content (of memory) + social context with sequencing by visual association. The intelligence of it works cumulativly in the building of sequences and in understanding the reader's inherent curiosity about the mass of hidden details that constitutes other people's lives and pasts.


Two policemen on Ave A needlessly hassling a guy w/ long hair because he crossed in front of the police car.

The abuse of power in the beautiful sunlight.
Dave Burrell solo piano @ Tonic

Long opening piece: Double Heartbeat

Tense, jagged structure building.

Rolling fists.

Morphing historical present sucking in the past and future.

Within a thirty second section he can go seamlessly from Wagnerian to Impressionistic to Monk without any interruption of continuity.

Consistent cluster textures shot throughout a wide range of structure building moves.

Despite the tense, hunched, jagged energies the music always retains a certain about of swing. The Monk feeling is never entirely absent.

A certain amount of theater: turning around and playing the piano backwards. Well dressed.

Dense palm-sized clusters with left hand at the low end morphing into a waltz.

The way Burell plays, anything can be coherently included -- he could have gone in to a version of Feelings and it would have worked.

Stride with clusters.

Jagged, comical, nightmarish rhythms.

April in Paris: Immediately splintered apart.

Everything-happens-at-once take on tradition like Frederic Rzewski variations. Splintered, inside-out and backwards.

Using his tension for a variety of purposes rather than simply foisting the tension upon the audience.

The walking bas never fully leaves.

Matisse/Picasso Show @ Moma Queens

Morton Feldman says that people can live without art, what they can't seem to live without is myths about art.

This art has been totally absorbed into capitalist / consumerist consciousness.

Tedious, expensive walls of cliches.

Various flavors of misogyny.

Shampoo and iced tea labels.

Like walking through a series of safety deposit boxes.

Picasso: hatred of and fear of women.

Matisse: interior decoration

Huge wads of banal, unhealthy needs.

Picasso's Stein portrait: that's how you paint someone when they can help make you rich and famous!

The 7 red bird ride through Queens is better than anything in this show: riding a subway through the sky.


Watched the first few minutes of American Idol last night, the audience all holding up American flags, red white and blue USA signs, hooting and raising fists. These working class gladiatorial combatants sang with the brittle, heartfelt abandon of talent deliriously conforming to power: triumphant, angry, vulnerable. The whole thing felt like a schizophrenic screen memory for the bombing and machine-gunning of Iraqis. Anyone can be a famous millionaire. How do our artistic ambitions compare?


Pain is like some imposition one has to deal with, though it comes from your own system -- your self-protective system. You get your mind off of it and it's not an issue. But it returns -- like a musical theme. It forces you to take structure seriously. It's annoying -- like a loud egomaniac at a party. Consciousness avoids it at every turn, yet it is an element of the very substance of consciousness. Pain doesn't allow room for delusion the way everything else in life does -- this is it's one redeeming quality. In the face of pain one longs for all things in existence to be temporary.


Ventured out into public last Sunday to hear Alex von Schlippenbach (piano), Evan Parker (tenor and so sax) and Paul Lytton (drums) play at Tonic. Beautiful, long set with simultaneous cohesion, multiplicity and counterpoint. Packed house.

Parker played mostly tenor and leaned heavily on welcoming, splintered, Coltrany sounding twists and turns. There were several moments where, if I closed my eyes, I would have sworn I was listening to Glen Spearman. He also did his patented circle breathing multiphonic soprano playing, which I had never heard live. It made you wonder -- how multiple should something be? How multiple is/are the player/s?

The collective pulse and tonality was highly integrated for the entire hour and a half set. The sound person at Tonic had it up very loud on the board. That and the fact that I was standing at the back of the crowded club made me feel like I was at Bad Brains show. I couldn’t help wondering what it would have sounded like unamplified.

I wonder to what extent cultural transplantation might be at work listening to this: Afro American musical form, pickup up enthusiastically by Brits, and then play back to Americans. Like the Rolling Stones, but without the popularity dimension.

Schlippenbach was very conscientious in his structure building. Measured. He structured a section and then moved on to the next, continually developing and working indirectly form the sax and drums.

The cumulative effect of this music is a bit like some Iranian shenai music -- trance-inducing patterns, though there is almost no repetition as such in this trio. There is an overall effect of a multiplied drone. It involves not a fracturing of musical language, but a way of pairing down the rhythmic, intervalic and tamboural elements to a highly energized, subatomic level.

The overall dynamic of communication and collaborative layering took the subterranean aspects of connectedness and made them explicit.