Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ojo Caliente

 I'm recently returned from Palovista Ranch, which is outside Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, which is outside Santa Fe. Hadn't been to New Mexico since a family trip when I was eleven years old. (Somewhere I still have the book on prehistoric human cultures of New Mexico that I bought on that trip.) The occasion of my return was an invitation to participate in a unique seminar hosted there for several years now by Daisy Atterbury and Genji Amino.

The seminar brings together writers, artists and musicians who pursue their work and interact with visiting speakers. I had been preceded this year by Craig Dworkin (who I keep just missing at one place or another) and Lucy Lippard. While I was there, film maker Jeanne Liotta drove in from Boulder. The seminar is a curious mix of scholarship, creative work (not that there's a real difference) and winter camp.

Look close and you'll see Stephen Jonas was in the house.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

New from Lisa Jarnot

Here's the treasure I carried away from the SPD booth at this year's MLA in Vancouver, this beautiful book from Lisa Jarnot with art works by Emilie Clark.  It was Lisa's name that caught my attention first, of course -- been reading her for years -- but the other thing that made me pick this up and hold it was the beautiful book design. This thing reminds me of nothing so much as those children's story books I didn't much read as a child. (I went for the larger hardback books on science or containing Sci Fi fiction in those days.) Solid Objects press has done a great job with this simply as a solid object. It is a delight to hold, to turn the pages; the colors are rendered gorgeously.  And the poetry's playful meters may also remind you of children's verse, if only the children's verse I got in school had been this interesting. (It was only in my adolescence that I stumbled across the more interesting children's verse, still well worth reading in my teens.)

Into the eve of a picnic of trees of the strawberry rabbit tyrone
into a glazed economic disturbance caused by the rain most dramatic and strange
small whole moon in the sky    fishlike in semblance
as damp as an amphibrach the anthony braxton gland of ant launch

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MLA - Vancouver - 2015

I've always wanted to visit Vancouver, not only because of the testaments to its beauty I'd heard over the years from Stan Brakhage and others, but because of its crucial place in the geographies of the New American Poetries of the last century. I'll have to plan a return visit to follow up on those attractions, though, because aside from the few times I was able to get to MLA panels, I was in a hotel suite interviewing candidates for a position at Penn State. The first sight greeting me as I approached the convention center made me question my sight, a seemingly pixilated whale rising from the water. 

The conference proper started off for me with the panel on Modernism, Harlem, and the Paradox of Memory. Then came what was for me, with my limited ability to attend panels, perhaps the highlight of the week, the session on Rethinking Postslavery Consciousness. My own roundtable came the next morning, a co-sponsored session on Amiri Baraka's essays, that reunited me with Billy Joe Harris, Margo Crawford and Jeremy Glick, and introduced me to the exciting work of Simon Abramowitsch. We were chaired by Brian Norman, representing the Division on Nonfiction Prose Studies, and, representing the Division on Black American Literature and Culture, my dear friend from Howard University, Dana Williams.

Another treat, a session on Twentieth Century American Literature and Sound Recording, in the course of which I finally heard a recording of the Town Hall concert joining Ree Dragonette and Eric Dolphy that I had been searching for over the past two decades.

I was sorry not to be able to get to more of the poetry panels, but I did catch a great session on The New York School and elegy, and just before leaving town I joined a small band of Sunday early risers for an excellent session on Steve McCaffery. Appranetly there was a nearly secret off site reading Saturday night, which I only learned of late Friday despite having made copious inquiries. I gather it went well, and only wish more of us out of towners could have known of it and attended. That disappointment was more than offset by the discovery that the good people at the Small Press Distributing booth were giving away books for free. I snagged a gorgeous new book by Lisa Jarnot.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


A new book from a new press -- Just out from selva oscura press, in North Carolina, here is Ken Taylor's Dog with Elizabethan Collar.

This is an oversize, gorgeous book, bringing Taylor's poetry together with art works by a dozen artists.

before i drag an allegory back from the bar
i guess her weight on la cienega & hazard
if that's a number i can bench press.

[I was driving on La Cienega just the other day, nearly allegorically.]

find the book here!