Booklet and listening session for the Music and Poetry Workshop #4:

Charles Olson, "The chain of memory is resurrection..." from The Collected Poems: Dramatic address combined with intimacy of thought and detail, improvisational spirit in zigzag of associations, forward momentum and pulse. Propositional rhythm. Proper Nouns.

"The large theme
is the smallest (the thumbtack
in the way of the inkbottle..."


"the blossoms
are already
gone green green
the worst green
like paint floods
the sky
is like a bedroom wall
in a motel"

Bernadette Mayer, five poems from Poetry: Dramatic address combined with intimacy of thought and detail, improvisational sine wave of associations, forward momentum and pulse. Epistolary register. Word-grouping textures and environmental textures and details. Proper Nouns.

"we’ve solved the problem, the problem is solved

     men are women, women are men

          i'm pregnant for a while, you’re

pregnant for a while

     “if someone doesn’t change into an animal,

          we won’t be saved” someone must

change into an animal so that we can be saved."

Opal Whiteley, from The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow: Journalistic register with intimacy of thought and detail. Simplicity of construction (child-vocab) subtly odd word groupings. Word-grouping textures and environmental textures and details. Proper Nouns (invented).

"Between the ranch house and the house we live in, is the singing creek where the willows grow. We have conversations. And there I do dabble my toes beside the willows. I feel the feels of gladness they do feel."

Alice Notley, from The Descent of Alette, from Close to Me & Closer (the Language of Heaven: Dramatic address with intimacy of thought and detail, improv zigzag of associations, forward momentum and pulse. Word-grouping textures interrelating with imaginative/speculative environmental-textures and details. Stanzaic pulse /rhythm.

"But thinking ... is fluid here -- a... connection-- or light. If you thought like that, why the essence could be as much between... between you and what you are. Not a struggle, trying to be something... especially something that doesn’t... really work. Instead you can... float between. Around. We do. We are... that."

Alan Davies, Void Where Inhibited, from Hole magazine: Dramatic address (w/ low volume effects) with intimacy of critical thought and detail, improv sequencing of associations; use of slow tempo in thought sequencing. Autonomy of thought / word stanza sequences/units. Critical voicings/. Stanzaic rhythm/ propositional rhythm.

"If you’re not happy your ideas are shit."

Morton Feldman, In Memoriam: Edgard Varese, from Collected Writings: Dramatic address with journalistic register, intimacy of thought and critical voicings. Forward momentum and pulse. Passionate autobiographical/critical intensity of proposition.

"...do we love Music, and not the systems, the ritual, the symbols -- the worldly, greedy gymnastics we substitute for it?"


The Grey Album, Danger Mouse. Mash up Of The While Album, The Beatles, and The Black Album, Jay-Z. Fusing culturally and stylistically separated materials.

Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Panaiotis, Deep Listening, New Albion, Total poetic conception of creative event. Environmental detail (reverb) and sound texture.

Morton Feldman, Between Categories, from Voices & Instruments, Mode. Transparency of texture, space and low-volume effects. Slow tempo effects. Autonomy of tonal sequencing units.

Julie Patton, minidisc practice recording. Simultaneous spontaneous improvisation of words and music.


"Nothing is more boring
than stone"
"papa eats bread
mama eats danderlions
and the worm
am the end of it


"Asparagus is feathery and tall,
And the hose lies rotting by the garden-wall."


Booklet and listening session for the Music and Poetry Workshop #3:

Harryette Mullen, from Trimmings, Tender Buttons

Tom Raworth, from Eternal Sections, Sun & Moon

Derek Bailey, from Improvisation, Its Nature and Practice in Music, De Capo. Chapter on church organ improvisation.

John Schaefer, Who is Lamonte Young? from Sound and Light, La Monte Young And Marian Zazeela, Bucknell Review, ed William Duckworth

Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka from Blues People

Leo Smith, from notes 8 pieces) | source | a new | world | music | creative music


Harry Partch, The Letter, from The Music of Harry Partch, CRI

Harry Partch, Barstow, Eight Hitch-hiker’s Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California, from Enclosure 2, Historic Speech-Music Recordings from the Harry Partch Archives, Innova


I arrived at the Four-faced Liar, a darkened bar on 4th St., where a small group of reader-listeners sat in round-table format. I was a half-hour too late to hear Jonathan Mayhew. We had the place to ourselves. Jordan read as teenage skaters gathered outside the open doorway, oblivious of the nearby poetry. They smoked awkwardly and unintentionally added lines to his work:

“let’s go find an ATM machine”
“you have a hole in your pants”
“I don’t have any money for a cab”

These fluid and concise intimations of penury fell not unevocatively into Jordan’s poems, one of which took as its point of departure the character of a put-upon employee of a large financial institution. Name: Ira. The rattling of their skateboards did, however, disrupt things a bit, and between poems our host and bartender, Shafer Hall stood with folded arms at the doorway, and, Lord of The Rings-like, banished the assembly to some unknown quarter of the West Village with a single glance.


“an avalanche of repair gnomes”

“so much of life is practicing gestures”

“a great chain of ability stretching back to chimps”

After I talked cymbals with Jonathan a bit, and caught up by reading from his printout some of the poems I had missed. Caught up with Douglas, who was down from Albany, and we all headed west to meet Katie, walk in the sunlight and gaze upon indoor mountain ranges of salt.
Booklet and listening session for the Music and Poetry #2:

Read aloud two short poems:

Laura Riding, Cure of Ignorance
Ted Berrigan, She

Compared the vocabulary registers of these poems, degree of repetition, and overall mood from a chordal perspective. "vertical playing" in poetry. Tension and relaxation.

Andrey Bely, The Dramatic Symphony

Applying musical structure to writing on the level of the phrase unit as well as the long term use of image and thematic repetition. Satire. Layering.

David Toop, Ocean of Sound

Genre-defying in critical prose. History and sensation. Using the mass of recorded music and literature as a kind of creative space.

Herman Helmholtz, On the Sensations of Tone

Inseparability of science and art. Psychoacoustics and difference tones.


Sun Ra, Nuclear War

Archie Shepp, Malcolm, Malcolm,-Semper Malcolm

Will Alexander "A National Day in Bangladesh"


A knife designed to cut space-time.


Photocopy booklet and listening session for the first Music and Poetry class:

Emily Dickinson, 1315: poly-tonal on a cognitive level, concision.

Thoreau, selected Journal entries on sound: interdependent notes on sound world, environment and poetic thought.

Joscelyn Godwin, Acoustics, from The Mysteries of the Seven Vowels: The partial series, voice as instrument, vowels and words as musical tones. Listening and identifying acoustics as complex musical information processing.

Kamau Brathwaite, selection from Barabajan Poems: personal jazz archeology/autobiography. Discovering music in context, interweaving of expository writing on music, poetry, autobiography.

Played for class:

Arnaut Daniel, Chanson Do.Ill Mot Plan E. Prim from Troubadour songs, Lyrichord Discs,1994. Translated by Kenneth Koch

Satisfaction, Music by Vitold Rek, lyrics by John Tchicai, from Saisfaction, Enja, 1992


Solution Passage rears its head again:

"I hate things on the floor
I don't cotton to being
that far above a world"


Sasha Frere-Jones, Slow Fade, The Afterlife of an Indie Band, The New Yorker

So many stock moves of rock criticism -- defensive hipsterism, genre-attachment bigotry and fashion displays -- move the writing away from insight, much in the same way that stock poetry maneuvers -- strained analogy and awkward sentimentality -– move poetry away from the life information that the writing is ostensibly engaging.

The poets represented in the New Yorker should study the Frere-Jones column, and see what happens when you use analogy as a technology for approaching insight, rather than for repeating pro-forma sentimental gestures.

"The problem was that Slint did not create a simple, easily imitated beat like Bo Diddley, or an elemental song like the Sex Pistols’ "Anarchy in the U.K.," which anyone could learn to play. Slint—or "Spiderland," because the two had become interchangeable—was like that grilled-cheese sandwich bearing the face of the Virgin Mary: an unlikely and irreproducible marvel."

I’ve never read a simile in a poem in the New Yorker with anywhere near this level of commitment to getting the linguistic construction to unpack social information.

He zigzags through setting up the context of the music, subjective impressions of it, descriptions of song structures and the element and personalities involved in the Slint story. Steve Albini is compared to Clement Greenberg.

To round out the interweaved layers here, he adds this:

For six minutes, the track inched along until—in one of the evening’s few traditional rock moments—it exploded with two enormous, distorted chords, each separated by tiny pauses, as McMahan screamed, "I miss you!" The words seemed, in the context of the show, to be a proxy for all the stuff that boys don’t talk about: that excruciating weekend with your new stepfather; that scary walk in the woods; that rift with your best friend, whom you haven’t seen in years.


Kit Robinson, Poetry Project, 4/6/05

"in poetry, you are given all the letters and have to arrange them yourself"

Quick, fluid crosshatching of seamless, interdependent layers built up into a kind of resonant image -- speech rhythm, overheard phrases, re-contextualized parts of language, recorded thought and sensation evoked with a minimum of words.

"the inhabitation of a weird head" -- poetry as escape into someone else’s head…or into one's own.

On the page, Robinson’s line energy might suggest a subdued delivery, but he has a lot of forward momentum live, without sacrificing any of the nuances of inflection.

Checking one’s own wakefulness on a micro-scale.

"Hundreds of thousands of email messages gone forever." -- the sense of the ephemeral…

"writing goes it’s own way -- you have to supply the synthesis" Like Morton Feldman’s "don’t push the tones around, let them be."

The work has a feeling of providing much information about life – about the social environment and the environment of the mind -- while supplying very few details. Listening to it, you can feel the data decompressing. The flexible and evocative qualities of language are used as a bridge across contexts, gaining resonance and impact from the spaces of daily human ephemeral life that would normally go unmentioned. In this sense this is a dynamic Zen poetry.

"play scales, watch for whales."


Saw the colorized version of the Bollywood classic Mughal-e-Azam at the Imaginasian theater after last minute heads up from Sandhya. Arrived a half hour early to excited party vibe in lobby, wine and cheese, video interviews etc. Filed in early, used to NYC competition for seat real estate. The early crowd was pushed to the back of the theater, rather than middle, the reason for which became clear soon enough: the volume of the film was the loudest I'd ever heard, rock club loud. Pulled out my spare earplugs.

The Prince's love of a handmaid dancer threatens King/father's (Rumsfeld?) military dictatorship succession plans. Love threatens class structure. Does this translate to: amorous love = working class power? Familial love = authoritarian power?

Mainly developed into the prince's power struggle with his remote, absentee father who values social power over love. Also -- reaction against arraigned marriage? The affect of the love affair is intense, but it is left without any substance or development, not so the father/son dynamic.

Crazy combination of vibes: like a Disney / Busby Berkeley / Ken Russell collaboration with a soundtrack provided by Ravi Shankar/Butthole Surfers. Insane and beautiful and poetic and odd.

Strangely two-dimensional three dimensional spaces of the sets, like a video game or a pop-up book. Extremely psychedelic colors.

Increasing intensity of affect from actors using, cartoon-like melodramatic set-ups. The father king's neck swells up like a frog when overcome by rage, which is often.

The Prince is introduced as a warrior/poet, complete with frilly feather pen, but the poet thread is dropped from the character. The figure of the sculptor who introduces the dancer handmaid into the picture knowing the Prince's love for her will be a creative subversion of the authoritarian social structure he hates. We know the Prince is not truly subversive, or else he would flee with the dancer and give up power. The sculptor (director?) is the one reacting against an imbalance in the social order.

Interesting, persistent sound textures throughout the soundtrack. Constant ringing of ankle bells reminds the audience of the corporeality of the actors apart from the drama. Chains dragged across surfaces -- the inflexibility and inhumanity of oligarchy.

Beautiful sound moment outside during the Prince's execution scene. Outside but with an indoor-sounding small-room reverb. Exceedingly strange and compelling -- as though the outdoor public drama were taking place inside your head.

Crazy dance song sequences with poetry as lyrics -- corny, absurd, but also magisterial and with an odd intensity. Carl Dryer-grade close ups.

A few moments where still photos are used for shots -- the most amazing being the moment the dancer maid gives herself up to save the Prince -- time seemed to stop at that moment in the film, and even though the movie continues, there is a lingering feeling that time never re-started for this character, because the self-sacrifice for love was her defining moment of consciousness.

The movie ends on a reactionary note, though Gary says this has to do with attitudes about the family and the fact of censorship at the time....

Script shot through with poetic metaphor, and an intense feeling of fused dramatic arts increasingly felt as the dance /poetry song sequences build within the dramatic framing.