Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ongoing notes: some magazines

New York NY: I recently got a copy of the twentieth issue of Fence Magazine in the mail, with a cover image of President-elect Barack Obama on the cover by artist Aaron Sinift (“Glitter Obama,” 2008). What would the journal, sent to the printer before the election, have done had Obama not won? As Rebecca Wolff writes in her “Editor’s Note”:
Nothing much to say but: Hie thee to the polls. This issue, with its glittery visage, goes forth in hopefulness and I hope beyond hope that it lingers in celebration.
After hearing Sina Queyras read a number of these prose pieces while she was in Alberta last year, it’s interesting to read four sections of her work-in-progress in this issue, published as “The Four Anxieties”:
A Story About Breezing Through

Impatient he had been with his brother, a kid who could reproduce nothing, a kid who doggedly opined and responded in earnest. Relax, he said, you’ll give yourself acne, which of course he did, and then the oily hair, and the pants always a little too short, just a tad too much air between his north stars and Lees, just a tad too much tooth, a wee bit smelly by the 3 o clock bell. He himself got by recounting the movements of Steve Martin, waltzed through the halls a star, absolutely necessary at all parties, off the hook for acquiring drugs or alcohol he leaned against kitchen counters, hair refusing to be tucked behind his ears, jeans rumpled just so around the crotch and knee, shoes perfectly scuffed, face buffed, a Steve Martin grin, a line from Men in Plaid, an elbow up, a girl or two on his arm … Flow, baby, he winked to himself as they groomed at the long mirror, enjoy the rewards.
Another highlight is from American poet Brian Kim Stefans, after all the talk in Canada lately about sonnets, interesting to see others still pursuing the form in different ways:


Can I deny—
a little bleed in the brain span—
deny my username—
hardly moving out into continents—

the span
where my body hides,
and the history of changes,
and the language I’ve used to get used to it—

we love, in love, so
love is love, thus

pregnant with acid logic,
the mucus and sperm sail over flimsy tempests,

in a poem, no less,
photographing its issuance.

Vancouver BC: I’ve very much enjoyed the interviews that have appeared in The Capilano Review over the past few years, and this new issue (3.6, Fall 2008) starts off with Roger Farr’s “Intervox: Three Questions for Louis Cabri,” an interview that begins as a continuation of a further conversation, as Farr writes:
In November 2007, Louis Cabri visited Vancouver for three days, reading at Capilano University and Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and leading a talk/seminar on “the social” at the Kootenay School of Writing. Although the KSW session ran for four hours, the conversation showed no signs of ebbing, so I invited Louis to discuss some of his material further via email.

In this exchange, Cabri responds generously to three questions addressing some key issues in contemporary poetry and poetics: the relationship between language and ommodification; the efficacy of avant-garde poetry as a mode of social critique; and the use of search engines as part of the process of composition. In answering these uestions, Cabri discusses his own work, Flarf, Language Writing, and a number of ther writers, such as Rob Fitterman, Roy Miki, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rob Manery, Charles Olson, Louis Zukofsky, Clint Burnham, and many others. The text is followed by a selection of some of Cabri’s recent writing, some of which is referred to in the interview.
Cabri has managed to create some interesting conversations over the past twenty years or so, through his work as a writer, organizer, and editor/publisher, from his days in Ottawa in the late 1980s and early 90s with Rob Manery running the Experimental Writers Group and hole magazine/hole books, his days in Philadelphia involved with PhillyTalks, later on moving to Calgary and now Windsor, Ontario, where, as far as contemporary writing is concerned, he is currently involved in one of the most interesting and active English department in Ontario (alongside fellow writers Nicole Markotic, Karl Jirgens and Susan Holbrook), much like York University once was back in the 1980s and into the 90s. In this extremely engaging and dense interview, Cabri talks about commodity, capital and critique, writing:
I’m reminded of a brief response-essay by Michael Davidson to a set of questions posed by editors Phillip Foss and Charles Bernstein of Tyuonyi 6/7: Patterns / Contexts / Time: A Symposium of Contemporary Poetry. Davidson asks: “Is it possible to write within the news while creating perspectives on it?” That’s, in a nutshell, a problem for the role of critique in poetry, and not only of the Flarf kind of imitation. And it’s culture-wide. I’ve wondered why the premise of Stephen Colbert’s TV personality on Comedy Central is so “successful” in the sense that it’s on TV. Is it that, at the level of television media these days, a culture of resistance is not even ontologically imaginable or conceivable—imaginable or conceivable enough, anyway, to be parodied with a stereotype? All Colbert can do, it would seem, is imitate the object itself of his critique. He has to defer critique in order to first establish a credible imitation of the object. He has to hope, in doing so, that imitation in itself will be enough to communicate as critique to his viewers. But when Bill O’Reilly genuinely identifies with Colbert and thinks of the Colbert show as a clone of his own show—in other words takes Colbert imitating a rightwing position at face value as emulating The O’Reilly Factor—I’m stockt n all aw…! at the power of neocon ideology to condition and relentlessly reproduce perception. Same with neocons and fundals with The Simpsons—ratings suggest they love it… If the imitation is done well, superficially it will seem to ideologues and censors to contain nothing objectionable. But so much for critique… That’s what I mean by a text that does not reflexively address the social.
For years now, The Capilano Review has consistently published writing that questions the notions of writing itself, with this issue featuring work by, among others, S.C. Pinney, Sina Queyras, Cabri, Lissa Wolsak, Andrea Actis and Scott Inniss.


All is far
but love and war. Fair
call decides the science fair.
Drug maven scripts a fair
E tale. Fall fair
fair air fair
ground. No fair,
his wheel is round. Wheel fair.
It’s so noisy at the fair,
jusqu’ à ce que tous vos amis soient [fair].
Krásny. Slovak for fair.
“Losing isn’t fair,”
Maryland born and raised philosopher John Rawls syllogizes in Justice as Fair-
. “Ergo, life is not fair.”
Opinion of Fair-
port convention’s Farewell Farewell? Fair.
Queen B or a fair
rendering of an R.A.F. air
strip. Fair
to middling women fair
unnamable bucketts to build a fair
Vladimir, dig a fair
well to Eleutheria. Fair
Xanthippe says, “Old love is fair,
young love, a fair.”Zoo instead of fair. (Scott Inniss)

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