Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ongoing notes: mid-September, 2012

We had the bachelor party on September 8, and I even managed to survive it.

Unrelatedly, I launch my Bywords chapbook, Miss Canada (International) (the result of a. rawlings picking a poem of mine as the winner of last year’s John Newlove Poetry Award) at the Ottawa international writers festival on October 26 as part of the John Newlove Awards reading. Another selection from the same manuscript appeared earlier this year with Corrupt Press as Miss Canada. Now, I just need to find a trade publisher to take the entire thing. I also launch a new trade poetry collection, Songs for little sleep, with Obvious Epiphanies Press in January, as part of Max Middle’s AB Series (venue and other reader(s) tba). In two days, we even get to see who might be part of the CBC Poetry Prize shortlist.

San Francisco CA: From Providence, Rhode Island publisher Horse Less Press comes San Francisco poet Norma Cole’s latest chapbook, Coleman Hawkins Ornette Coleman (2012). The press self-designates as “Imagined in Galesburg, Il in 2002 and established in 2004 in Providence Rhode Island, Horse Less Press is a bare bones, thin-skinned literary press. We publish an online journal, handmade chapbooks and pamphlets, and full-length perfect-bound books. We believe in the necessary absence of every articulated thing.” For Toronto-born American poet Norma Cole [see my review of her selected poems here], this is a chapbook of jazz movement and collision that overtly declares her interest in the musical form and the point at where opposing motions meet. Is her jazz about movement or collision or both? The poems seem to suggest a kind of disruption, citing disjunctive phrases. “Your somatics are your own.”

Like a Fish in a Dumpster

              Any further controversy would figure, figure hummingbirds in
Manhattan then Charlie Parker
beyond function when eyeless eyes are smiling watching you in my
sleep Should we show the exchange of papers? Was it
Too soon to see the facets, their moving images surprise the other two
upon which were beings, projected time
                            included – walked over
clap if you want my the new moon which causes things to grow long
and thin, while the full moon causes growth that is short and
Mercy does not come from the sky

Philadelphia PA: I’ve long been envious of Brian Teare’s Albion Books, and the most recent one to pass this way is the hand-sewn chapbook, EXCLOSURES ] 1-8 [ (2012) by Emily Abendroth. The multiple voices, threads and complexities here are fascinating to read through, and make me interested on where else such a project might be heading. Is this part of something larger? The expansiveness of the project really feels as though this is simply the opening to a large, and intriguing canvas, writing essay-as-poem through multiple voices, quotes, point-form and multiple perspectives. What else has Abendroth written and/or published? This is an excerpt from the opening of “EXCLOSURE I,” that reads:

The people were sometimes given a legal option of deciding their own [sex] [race] [gender] [class] [political affiliation] [hour of maximum ovulation] although a subsequent [medical] [behavioral] [credit] [asset management] [genealogical] or [book shelf & file] examination was invariably required in order to confirm the legitimacy of this selection.

Furthermore, it was insisted – despite “choice” – that each [person] [object] [country] [talisman] [currency] [border collie] had one “true” [value] [diet] [pronoun] [language] [symbolic valence] [uncle] that could only be reliably affirmed by the appropriately accredited [physicians] [internet-based poll] [DNA experts] [psychoanalysis] [handwriting tests] [neo-natal massage].

The “best” “truest” and “most legitimate” [ fill in here ] as determined by morphology, financial solvency, first glance, sociology, or experience.

La Jolla CA: Another in the seemingly-unending fifth dusie kollektiv comes Large Waves To Large Obstacles (2012) by K. Lorraine Graham, produced as a prose-poem response to Chinese characters, phrases and sentences found in “The Song of a Guitar,” originally composed by Bai Juyi, “On the Festival of the Moon to Sub Official Zhang” by Han Yu, and (the italicized lines in each poem) Witter Bynner’s The Jade Mountain. As she writes in her “Note on Procedure” at the end of the collection: “These poems are all loose procedural responses. To make these, I translated the characters more or less literally, but then I also translated the meanings of their roots, and the roots of their roots, and so on. Sometimes I also included translations of characters related to the characters in the poem through meaning or sound. Then, I made all these words into sentences. The vocabulary comes mostly from process. […] These poems are among the first I wrote at the end of college after being introduced to innovative poetry and poetics, especially Language Poetry and the work of John Cage and Jackson MacLow as well as Yunte Huang’s critical work.” I’m a big fan of what can come out of projects such as these, even if for no other reason than pushing a writer out of the language of their own comfort zone, forcing an altered vocabulary; such a project can have a ripple effect throughout much of what comes after, and, through some forty pages of text, Graham produces some intriguing short passages. Unfortunately, I’m not able to replicate any of the Chinese characters.

In the summer of the next year I was seeing a friend leave Penpu and heard in the midnight from a neighboring boat a guitar played in the manner of the capital.

Sun and moon, the window and moon, the thousands of grains know in this bright clear is an autumn year on fire. In dowry slave like movement, I escorted my guest out more water than mouthful of sand. From ear and door at night on the side not asleep on her side we heard from a boat a bow shooting a single arrow. This bullet could play, rebound plucking jade and jade pieces. My ear learning virtue. This winnowing basket, this girl speaking sound, meat roasting on flames as a right hand in the capital folds the moon abundantly vertical.

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