Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ongoing notes: late April, 2012

Did you see that we now have information on the performers for our upcoming SOCIAL, the fun/draiser for our September wedding? June 21 at The Mercury Lounge. Check here for details, as well as tickets.

And check the above/ground press blog, for recent and forthcoming chapbooks by Lisa Robertson, Jay MillAr and George Elliott Clarke, as well as Rob Manery and Mark Cochrane.

Australia/Canada: forward slash is, as the colophon page says, “a Black Rider collage of Australian and Canadian innovation” edited by Matthew Hall and Jeremy Balius and produced by Black Rider Press ( For the small chapbook anthology, they’ve selected seven writers from opposite corners of the world: Duncan Hose, Michae Farrell, a.rawlings, Louis Armand, Kemeny Babineau, Astrid Lorange and Jay MillAr into a small and fascinating sampler of writers.
private celebrations
of speaking (not at all like fasting)
with diagrams
full-bodied and fruit

thud missiles
rattling into the ear
making each
the first available name (“LOBE,” Astrid Lorange)
Since former Toronto resident a.rawlings released her first trade collection, Wide slumber for lepidopterists (Toronto ON: Coach House Books, 2006), she has released various ephemeral pieces out into the world, and I’ve been intrigued to see what a second collection might look at. Some of her work in this small collection includes the sequence “The Great Canadian Injuries,” from “Object,” “Subject” and “Wolves’ Enemies,” each of which provide a variety of critiques on writing, language and perspective that is quite refreshing, and nearly twist writing to the point of making much of what is currently happening appear already out-of-date. Just how long might we have to wait for a second collection?

Dissent. Own or feel. Buy land. Wager. Languish. Ail. Ache. Buy feeling. Wait. Adjust. Affect land. Wedge essential feeling. Use edges. Vary wear. Hear. Languish histories, howls, holes. Slay adages. Mosh. Row. Mouth. Land. Engage. Seethe.

Descend on a field by language. Language is a lake by a field. Language is a field. Language is in the field. Language is everywhere here. Language is trees, owls, wolves. Language is mushrooms, moths. Language is trees.

Language is a forest filled with forms. Language forms the forest. Language informs the interior. Language fills holes with letters. Descend from a cliff into a forest near a field by a shore on a river that empties into a language.

Language is a habitat. Language is a habit. Descend on language. Language may finish in nonsense. Language will not ruin the environment. Language is still home.

How does “home” translate in a linguistic environment? How would I choose my language? Do I choose my home? Where is my agency in choosing a home? Is home selected for me?

Where is my home? Here is my home: a field.
Buffalo NY: I was fortunate enough to receive the fifth issue of Yellow Field (spring 2012), “a journal of anglophone poetries, open to works visual, graphic, musical, and experimental. its mission, to bring together work from various geographies in the desire to forge community around the poetic exchange, from the emergent to the established to the undersung.” This issue includes a wide array of work, with new writing by Peter Larkin, Rhys Trimble, Shane Rhodes, Michael Leong, Aisha Sasha John, Megan Kaminski and an interview with Michael Basinski, among other works. There are always such fascinating publications coming out of Buffalo, which make me slightly envious every time I hear of another. Why haven’t I heard of this journal before?
in that month of moths I swelled
staph bacteria filled the lid of my eye
so badly did I want to share my mouth

goodness and mercy will follow me

none of you have for me unzipped
the light of your eyes

my mountainous want of foam
it’s flattening and for where will
I go in Toronto to receive little soul
oh Lord. (“from The Book of You,” Aisha Sasha John)
Ottawa poet Shane Rhodes has a compelling batch of poems in this issue, from an ongoing political work (has anyone else noticed his work becoming more politically aware over the past couple of years?) that highlights some problematic features of Canadian history that continue not to be dealt with, turning the language of treaties into the language of poetry. A “Notes to the Poems” included with his submission reads:
Using the prescriptive constraints of “found poetry” and collage poetry, where the poetic text is constructed of previously existing material, all words in these poems are from the Government of Canada transcripts of the Canadian Post-Confederation Treaties (also called the Numbered Treaties) and their associated documentation. Conducted by the Government of Canada over a 50 year period, the Numbered Treaties remain one of the largest systematic, colonial land appropriation projects in the world. Daunting for the history and future they carry and their impenetrable legal diction, these texts are the foundational logic of Canadian colonization and Canadian settler, First Nations and Metis race relations.
Apart from the geographic and stylistic range of the work, and the high quality of the submissions included, I very much appreciate the straightforward production and subtle design, allowing the work to be unadorned, and predominantly featured. Unlike some out there in the world, this is a journal all about the work. And what work it is.

You can apparently find information on the journal on Facebook, or by writing c/o 1217 Delaware Avenue, Apt #802, Buffalo NY 14209.

Louisville KY: Over the past number of months, I’ve been pouring through everything I can learn from American fiction writer Lydia Davis’ seven hundred pages plus The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (Picador, 2009), a book that has quickly become essential. More recently, Sarabande Books has released a short story of Davis’ as a lovely chapbook, her The Cows (2011) as the ninth title in their “Quarternote Chapbook Series.” What intrigues about this short story is in the sheer simplicity of Davis’ language, documenting movement without mistaking bovine actions with human interpretation. In Davis’ hands, the cows in her daily view become nearly zen creatures, an odd quality that seems to come out of her unadorned descriptions, and find, by itself, such an incredible wisdom through an equally incredible patience.
They come out from behind the barn as though something is going to happen, and then nothing happens.

Or we pull back the curtain in the morning and they are already there, in the early sunlight.

They are a deep, inky black. It is a black that swallows light.

Their bodies are entirely black, but they have white on their faces. On the faces of two of them, there are large patches of white, like a mask. On the face of a third, there is only a small patch on the forehead, the size of a silver dollar.

They are motionless until they move again, one foot and then another—fore, hind, fire, hind—and stop in another place, motionless again.

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