Sunday, September 23, 2012

eleven eleven #13

There was no hope
that a reading
customer could
leave this thick and
cold silence. She
shivered and rose
again looking
to go for coal.

She put water
once in the hot
water bottle
which could not sing
any more while
the new she-cat
slept in its fur
behind the stove.

raised their eyes to
look across the
old window prints
of falling snow –
the street had turned
completely white.

Alone, she crossed
her happy arms
upon her chest,
and put her nose
outside to re-
cord the world of
whole spectacle. (Victor Coleman, “ivH 58 [coda]”)

The most startling thing about the thirteenth volume of the bi-annual eleven eleven: A Journal of Literature and Art (San Francisco CA: 2012) might be in the inclusion of new poems by Toronto poet Victor Coleman, a writer who rarely (it seems) appears in trade journals (although, as I learn through Coleman’s bio, a chapbook of this work appears or has appeared this year with Toronto’s BookThug). I suspect the inclusion of work by Michael Boughn, a writer who co-edits and co-conspires with Coleman (including co-editing the recent University of California Press edition of Robert Duncan’s The H.D. Book), might have something to do with that. Possibly. But either poet’s work is worth more than the price of admission, and I wonder what the late John Newlove might have thought about Boughn’s poem in this issue, the odd, hilarious and marvelous “Doukhobor Butts”? The piece begins:

The truth is often saggy, naked, dimpled
in ways unsuspecting youths from the desert
intersect with a kind of stunned but vague
recognition that north is more direction

than most needles can tell. Is it
the condition that wreaks or the havoc
that conditions? The flames bear confusion
into the thick of alien’s sudden

illumination. […]

For the two hundred and fifty-plus pages of the journal, I’m a bit surprised at the sheer amount of writers I’ve not previously heard of, a wide range of magnificent work by such as John Pluecker, Floyd Salas, Lee-Ann Roripaugh, Judy Roitman, Eugene Rico and Clay Matthews, all new discoveries, thanks to this issue. This is the benefit, I suppose, of a journal that doesn’t consider the writers they publish for another issue or three. And the bee images by Rebecca Szeto, “from the ongoing series Traces: Daily Meditations on Just Beeing,” are quite stunning. Otherwise, it’s good to see new work by familiar names such as Sarah Rosenthal, françois luong, and Rebecca Loudon (a recent discovery).

from Lizard

Mostly eats the living.
On account of her
eyes. They see what
moves. She stalks
the world nude, I
want to say reveals
the world’s nudity.
Want to say, we’re
all that emperor.
That lonely thing
with mirrors (Sarah Rosenthal)

Another particular highlight was the interview Peta Rake conducted with Newfoundland-based photographer/performance artist Kay Burns, and her work The Other, a series of staged photographs of the artist as female historical figures who lived their lives as men. Might this be a touring work, perhaps? As Rake introduces the interview:

Dress is an exploration of not only self, but of the other. Enacting these alternate identities has become a process of discovery for performance based artist Kay Burns. The women Burns researched and portrayed in her project, The Other, made a “pragmatic decision to dress as men in order to move forward in a career path that would have been unacceptable for women at that time.” And the women have such varieties of career; Margaret Ann Bulkley as the military doctor and surgeon Dr. James Barry; Mary Charlene Parkhurst as the stagecoach driver for Wells Fargo Charley Parkhurst; Charlotte O’Leary as the zoo keeper and bear trainer Charlie O’Leary. What becomes integral to Burns’ project is that the women she seeks to re-inhabit do not implement male dress as one-off masquerade, but that they had lived their entire adult lives as men, with their female genders only revealed posthumously.


Hugh Behm-Steinberg said...

Copies of issue 13 can be ordered through Small Press Distribution at

françois luong said...

Thanks for the write-up, rob.