Archive for October, 2011
[What follows is prose and photographs by Kristen Stone, an artist who locates her work in the genre of queeragripoetics. Visit her tumblr here; Kristen's text and images below]
1. The heat rises in wet slaps off the crumpled pavement. The cow was dead by the side of the road.. The camera(phone) allows a digital empathy I could not feel crouching at the asphalt edge by a carcass becoming foul. (continue reading…)
“Let’s dangle our bodies, or even better, the bodies of our children, over jutting rocks.
Through shamanic baboons (gay Earth mothers) and melodramatic light, let’s court self-dissolution.
~LDL (Lucas “bad cholesterol” de Lima)
J Gorranson at the &now festival said that art should be the creepy uncle–Scar, who facilitates and manipulates the pageant of howling hyenas. Hyena = hysterical laughter, the laughter of evil, the joker laughter, clown laughter, the laughter of cruelty. It is an affirmative laughter, the other side of grief, the bright scar after the trauma, the cruelty of life. I liked the link between Zurita and the inversion of pageantry (the flipping of traditional structures), wherein the wound that weeps suddenly bursts into laughter.
The procession of pageantry and dangling children over jutting rocks excludes the future. (continue reading…)
This week in Intermediate Poetry Writing, we’re discussing Ariana Reines’ Coeur de Lion in a unit I am calling “Shame, Power & the Voracious ‘I’.” I’ll be trying to convince my students that Reines’ “I” is not a pronoun paralyzed by navel-gazing confessionalism, but rather an agile and all-consuming force to ride and reckon with (a force or hunger the poet herself must reckon with). The first-person lyric, in my opinion of the book, is a Möbius strip of twists and turns set in motion and empowered through an ambient, aching, melting, throbbing, cheese-filled and cheese-eating shame:
I am probably doing something horrible and destructive.
But this ‘I’ is the I of poetry
And it should be able to do more than I can do.
After watching the following clip featuring Paula Deen–that illustrious culinary TV personality–we will think about heart attacks and heartbreak as two sides of the same coin:
If Art can be thought of as an impulse of expression that protests impermanence and invisibility (which would include silence) by fashioning extraneous objects out of impermanent stuff (not in its totality, mind, but as one facet of its existence), then it seems reasonable to speak of the Art of Protest. Likewise, if there is an Art of Protest, then there is a Reception of this Art.
It has been interesting, then, to note the similar receptions given to today’s proliferation(s) of Art and Protest. Some art, often noted and championed on this blog, is dismissed as “too much,” as too “artsy,” too “unrestrained.” By these, what is variously meant is that some art is too in-touch with its materials, too permeable with the world of its making, not transcendent enough, excessive. It is incautious, ill-mannered, leans back and puts its muddy feet up on your kitchen table. It is supposedly or apparently meaningless, a collection of disparate elements, unrefined. It is too ornate, too pretty, too made-up. Etc.
Its authors are too much in league with its viewers, with the masses — or else not mindful enough, too dependent on the viewer to fashion meaning — or too obvious and ironic. Bemoan the long-gone heroic auteur whose singular vision and singularly realized/universally fetishized totalistic art-object is now lost within the rush of the masses invading Art for themselves and making totems of permeability to set up all along the shamanistic inroads of the present moment. Bemoan the loss of high modernism!
I haven’t been moved to write something in a while. But Edward Mullany’s poem “If I Falter at the Gallows” from the book with the same title moved me to draw this, and I wanted to share.
A discussion on plagiarism in the context of Indian English poetry has been started by the poets Sumana Roy, Anindita Sengupta, Aruni Kashyap, Nabina Das and Nitoo Das here. I wonder how much of my resistance to their framing of the issue has been shaped by my encounters with America-land and the poems and discussions and theories it has brought me. Oh what a callow thought. All of it, of course. Where I’ve been is who I am – but I wonder if as an immigrant I’ll always retain a slight anxiety around my (inauthentic) influences? “On Stealing Beauty”, and this is the comment I left:
I am curious about the anxieties that plagiarism brings up in artists. I think collage—the handloom emporium—is great as a method for writing poems, and no less legitimate than writing “original” poems. The question is: should the method be disclosed to the reader? Under what kind of dialogic conditions should any method be disclosed to the reader? Attribution I think is just one way in which literary influence can be disclosed as an agenda or method—we as writers/artists need to think beyond its limitations.
(This is a sequel of sorts to this entry about Blake Butler etc from a couple of weeks ago. It’s also a sequel of sorts to my &Now discussion, where I criticized the model of “innovative writing” for its obsession on “futurity” and the way it has of “redeeming” art (it’s a critique, it’s a subversion, it will make us better), making it good and palatable, removing the offensive pageantry of art (as exemplified by “Scar” in The Lion King).)
I’m obviously interested in the word “surrealism” – not just the word, or the historical movement, but the way it’s deployed in and out of poetry discussions: “soft surrealism,” fake surrealism, candy surrealism, wow man that’s so surreal, surrealistic pillow, pillow book surrealism, shitty surrealism, hysterical surrealism, pop surrealism, surrealism on stilts, “excessive surrealism” etc. For a movement that supposedly ended a long time ago (1930? 1968?) it certainly pervades contemporary discussions about contemporary poetry.
I’m interested in how this term fits into a pervasive discussion of modernism – luxury vs necessity. (continue reading…)
Don Mee Choi has won a 2011 Whiting Award for her brilliant, shapeshifting, challenging, relentless poetry. Action Books published her debut volume, The Morning News is Exciting, in 2010, and have published recent and upcoming volumes of her translations of Kim Hyesoon.
We are pleased and proud at this recognition of our friend.
From Weaver in Exile (published in La Petite Zine)
Stars are whores.
I weave pubic hair for dolls and frogs naively lit by your orange lamps. If cloth is meat, what is blood? Try weaving shredded wrists, decapitated hearts. Was my mother a sacred bitch?
The earthen bridge takes me to a shallow creek. Is this the Milky Way? Babies or children on bridges annoy me. Who separates them from mothers? You?
A galaxy of moss. I’m tired of this imitation sky.
Let’s skip to your dream. How many lamps did you see? Do you remember east and west? Explain the island. Why is the bridge flat? Describe the distance between the murmuring pines. Did you love my mother? Will I remarry?
Moving into and out of prose, poetry, translation, and journalistic writing, Choi’s various genres make a dazzling prism of such contemporary experiences as immigration, technology, embodiment, language and loss. Watching the televised morning news from Korea, she longs, “Cameraman, run to my twin twin zone!” Rereading a travel diary, she reflects, “There are passwords beneath order-words: farewell of farewell, return of return.”
Beyond its own intensity and inventiveness, the work makes a significant contribution to Asian-American literature. Formally, Don Mee Choi is an inheritor of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, whose seminal Dictee (1982) has had a major impact on contemporary innovative American poetry.
Yet Choi innovates on Cha’s decades-old example. Choi’s work releases new-media energy; it moves at fiber optic speed as it to struggles to find terms for our 21st century experience of globalized media, especially as such media affects our sense of history, commodity, violence, politics, terror, and freedom.
Order the Morning News is Exciting here!
Got this amazing piece of news from Ted Pelton of Starcherone Books:
Alissa Nutting’s story “Model’s Assistant,” from her Starcherone Prize-winning collection, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, has just been selected for the next Norton Introduction to Literature anthology, to be released in 2013. What?!! You haven’t read Alissa’s amazing collection, Starcherone’s all-time bestselling book? Well then check it out here: http://www.starcherone.com/nutting.html .
I totally agree with the Norton. Sign me up.
In a recent post on this very blog, Feng wrote about poetry as a “hysterical pregnancy”:
I’d rather not have a baby, but I know that perversely, I really actually want to be pregnant. Ideally, this would be a pregnancy without birth. I would keep the baby inside me, protected, subconscious, forever. A pregnancy without terms. I’ve been obsessed and possessed by this idea since adolescence, which is also when I started writing poetry. To me, poetry and pregnancy are the same thing. It is about the potentiality of new life, new voice. Yet both are things I cannot allow. I will not pretend to do anything good with my poetry, which is a voice unborn even in manifestation, which will not gaze back at me in the forest of symbols, which will always be embodied without body, dark, not human. This isn’t meant to have a negative connotation, this hysterical and endless pregnancy. I think it is a metaphor of incipience, desire, possession, and incubation. It’s only termination is death, the ultimate potentiality.
This hysterical pregnancy is not just a counterfeit pregnancy, but it’s a pregnancy of counterfeiture. Or as I wrote about her poetry book Ugly Fish:
The non-result is “the pregnancy of decadence, which is full of fetuses.”
The non-result is proliferation: “Pigs are everywhere.”
What better example of “hysterical pregnancy” than not merely because the unknown was stalking toward them, Jenny Boully’s re-versioning of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. In Barrie’s book, Wendy Darling (later transformed into Candy Darling) is an 11-year-old girl who loves to play mother for her younger brothers, but then comes the day that she’s supposed to grow up and leave her role as fake mother of her brothers and move into her own room, become a young woman, enter society etc. That’s when Peter Pan comes and rescues her, taking her to Neverland to be his mother (and the mother of all his “lost boys”). That is to say, Neverland is a place she escapes to in order to remain a fake mother, (continue reading…)