Archive for February, 2012
Montevidayans, assemble at the Action Books/Fence Readie Party on Saturday night.
Actioners Olivia Cronk, Don Mee Choi, Ji Yoon Lee, Lara Glenum, and Peter Richards; Fencers me, Ariana Reines, Laura Wetherington, and Paul Legault; It ruin you for good.
March 3rd, 6-8pm, Upstairs at Buddy Guy’s Legends (just behind the conference hotel.
Consider this an ORDER.
[Two common figures on Montevidayo comes together wonderfully today as Blake Butler writes about Aase Berg at Vice Magazine's website: here.]
I tend to think about the work of Aase Berg as gasoline: slick dark liquid fed from underground through machines into machines. Her lines read often like several hundred other lines condensed into thick cuts of petroleum, flammable and ripe. The images she tends toward lend themselves well to this sensation: fat stuffed with death, whales spurting rubber rooms, gorges overrun with multiplying ravenous guinea pigs, fur growing over water. Her language flails in little packets, objects that might seem tiny or translucent in how they sit surrounded with white space on the paper, though over time feeding in viral, connective ways. Get an Aase Berg book and leave it out on your desk and see what starts to happen to the words inside the files on your computer…
“Similar to Collaborators there is no option for beauty or redemption in this novel. There is also a similar notion of Hell in this novel—which seems to be a depth within the self when one casts off traditional ethics and aesthetics (the way a female body has to go when it realizes that the structures in place are hopelessly inequitable and patriarchal; ethics and aesthetics being controlled and defined by patriarchal structures). But, beyond Hell, Lispector’s novel also has an idea of God, which functions to dissolve the self such that it can go forward in the world. This move seems different. [ . . . ]…it seems like the character in The Passion According to G.H. seems to push past the voices in both of the novels we read and into a point of reconfiguration (a point where she can’t use many words since most words are infected with what she can no longer say). Even with the mother in Collaborators with her goddess like presence, it is implicit that she learned most of her feminist (goddess) ways from correspondence. The character in Lispector’s novel has an encounter with a cockroach (which might be a kind of sounding board, but it isn’t one that can talk back) and delves into the ooze that is inside of her and then proceeds out into the world with a sense of being oozy.”
The trombone becomes a trumpet becomes a shofar, the horn of a dead animal, in the interstice of translation.
Here is the poem in english:
THE SHOFAR PLACE
Deep in the glowing
at torch height,
in the timehole:
hear deep in
with your mouth.
“Born in 1955 in Tokyo, Ito first came to prominence as a poet in her early 20s while teaching Japanese at a junior high school. Her poetry collection “The Plants and the Sky (Kusaki no Sora)” won the Gendai-shi Techo Award in 1978. She went on to spearhead the 1980s boom of women’s poetry in Japan, (continue reading…)
[Notre Dame undergraduate Joe Wegener conducted the following interview with Blake Butler in connection with Blake reading at the Notre Dame Undergraduate Literary Festival last week. Part of the interview was published in the Notre Dame Observer, but I thought I would publish the whole thing here.]
Joe Wegener: So, first off, what are you gonna’ be reading at the Lit. Festival? Nothing, There Is No Year?
Blake Butler: No idea. I tend to wait to the last minute to figure out what feels right. Probably the fiction, as reading nonfiction feels weird in the mouth.
JW: I can dig it. Let’s keep talking fiction vs. non-fiction. Nothing: A portrait of Insomnia was published this past year by Harper Perennial. Your first work of non-fiction, yeah? What was the research process like? How did it effect the movement and pacing of your writing? I read somewhere that you wrote the first draft of There Is No Year in about 10 days. This must have been a little different.
BB: I thought I was going to hate researching because I more like to write out of mood and frenzy of sorts, and I thought that would maybe slow me down. Though I found the process of reading intensively about what I was writing about while I was writing about it to be actually very motivating, in that it provided constant stimulation and (continue reading…)
“The mask is what you use; it isn’t a fake, it’s a mask. Your senses love you; they evolved to be your mask–or you made them, didn’t you?” -Alice Notley, Culture of One
Lately, I’ve been compelled to regard books as pulsating organisms with ecologies and becomings of their own. If once the book struck me as an intermediary technology between writers, their subjects, readers, and God, I now often get the feeling that these figures orbit the book. This is to say that I think a book creates and undoes its own material boundaries. Through sensation, a book may animate another’s body, or take on mythic, mystic, otherworldly proportions; it may stand in, like scripture, for all books and words at a given point in time; or it may do none of these things. Whether the book fails or succeeds in its trajectory or finds unexpected lines of flight, it’s always capable of more (more, more) futures than we can anticipate.
As in Amit Rai’s concept of ecologies of sensation, my version/vision of the book situates it in multiple timespaces: the book is “an event that performs anew with each repetition and with each new scene of circulation [...] an unpredictable but patterned trajectory of present conforming to past but open to future mutations.” A happy accident in my Intermediate Poetry class last term confirmed the book’s event-like unpredictability. Months before its publication, I’d assigned Bhanu Kapil’s Schizophrene. When my copy came in the mail, I saw that it reset and repeated itself after the first 20 pages. In fact, my occult copy embodied Bhanu’s description of its “arcing once more through the crisp dark air;” it stuttered with a blunt physical force not unlike “a schizophrenic narrative [that] cannot process the dynamic elements of an image, any image.” Even the page with publication details insisted on reproducing itself, exploding the narrative over and beyond the table of contents that traditionally delimit it.
“On the night I knew my book had failed, I threw it.” I love how, by thwarting its author’s intentions, the corrected copy of Schizophrene also sketches its own body, “a hunk of electromagnetic fur torn from the side of something still living and thrown.” A body that itself becomes indistinguishable from one of the book’s ‘human’ subjects later on: “Can you smell her burning fur?”
Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star enacts a porosity so total, for me, that it seems to inhabit yet diverge from the same ecology of sensations. It is, as in Edmond Jabes’ lifelong conversation with the page, an evolution of the book (continue reading…)
“Estonia: The Fat Stone’s Transparent Catatonia.”
“The Hare Infects Dad with Rabies.”
“Open the Voter.”
These are some of titles from Aase Berg’s Transfer Fat, as translated by Johannes Goransson. Such supple and engaging titles are typical of this work and also typify the way the work itself functions. The titles act like membranes; they catch your attention; your attention becomes a little prod or probe. You push at the membrane of the title and move through it into the shell meat of the poem, carrying gummy traces of the title with you, covering your eyes, nose, mouth, changing your vision and your breathing. You’re now half-digesting, half-gestating the poem, which, by the sci-fi logic by which the book operates, means that you might now be destined to supernova in a slickly bloody birth.
Feel fur in milk
The white fluff wads
scattered flinches through the forest
through the hare wolf (continue reading…)
Montevidayans, has anyone seen this yet? If so, please report!
I must think too much. Silence worth more than a pretty tinkling urine charm
made of petroleum
and more than what I can say about any one of my brilliant mothers
under whom I writhe and cry out my written memories given to me by boys.
In some way, I think it describes how I have felt as a writer since the beginning, in college, when I wrote the poems in Butcher’s Tree. Heritage was and is still something I have a strange, or estranged, relationship with. Should it matter that the figures that kept appearing were figures of classical “western” mythology, and why did it grate on me to see names like Sun Wukong in my poetry? (continue reading…)