Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Phenomenon

There is a new publication, of particular merit, out of Northampton, MA: the first volume of The Physical Poets series, helmed by Lawrence Giffin. This first volume is titled "The Neo-liberal American Poetry" & it is a total & complete success. Given the price of the item, of a mere $5, it could justly be described as perfect. The singular, handsome booklet features the work of Steve Zultanski, Marie Buck, Brad Flis, & Lawrence Giffin. Some discussion of the luscious contents may be found here, which mentions the lovely Suri Cruise piece in Marie Buck's section, which opens the book. The poem in its entirety can be read at the above physpo link. Also mentioned at the Pioneer Valley link are Brad Flis' Digital Underground riffs, which, along with his other work, are equally not to be missed. Steve Zultanski's piece, "Previously on the O.C." is worth noting as well. It is an unbroken nine-page juggernaut featuring bits such as:

"What do you think about Newport?"
"I think I could get in less trouble where I'm from."
"You have no idea."
"Shouldn't her boyfriend be doing this?"
"Sure they're not doing anything we didn't do, heh huh."
"My dad's not here."
"It's just a thing with a client."
"Put him down!"
"Hey Ryan."
"Welcome to the OC, bitch."

Which leaves us with the editor & helmsman Lawrence Giffin. His "A Bourgeois Interior" is a multifarious, pleasurable prose work. The section "The Touch, the Feel, of Cotton" begins thusly:

The valuables cramming the homes of the very rich cry out helplessly for the museum; yet there the meaning of sculpture and paintings, as Valery perceived, is destroyed, only architecture, their mother, showing them their rightful place. But kept by force in the houses of people with whom they have no ties, they are an open affront to the mode of existence which private property has now adopted.

The section ends, about a page later, with a nice bit of song-verse, which I will not spoil. The excerpt is indicative of the quasi-informational inexhaustable Giffinesque style that will be well known & imitated in the coming years. I highly recommend getting on board now with this excellent, highly various new item, which is one of my favorite new books, despite all the high-dollar stuff I tend to buy.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

You go looking

for the new John Wieners, A Book of Prophecies, put out by Bootstrap Productions, but St Marx books does not have it in stock. As Prophecies is a little bit, sortof, definitely, the Book-o-the-Moment, you are letdown, BUT there await other booktreats, including new Robert Walser, so you allow life to continue.

from St Marx:

The Assistant
Robert Walser, New Directions, 2007
Before Night Falls Reinaldo Arenas, Penguin, 1993
Singing from the Well, Reinaldo Arenas, Penguin, 1987
Snow Part Paul Celan, The Sheep Meadow Press, 2007
Being & Event Alain Badiou, Continuum, 2006

Other odd-end acquisitions of recent times:

Heliogabalus Antonin Artaud, Creation Books, 2003
Ulysses Annotated Don Gifford with Robert J Seidman, U of California P, 1988
Unsung Rod Mengham, Folio/Salt, 1996
Personae Ezra Pound, Liveright, 1926 [fifth printing: 1938]

Also, there was a little visit to the Strand, with the following purchases:

You've Always Been Wrong Rene Daumal, Nebraska, 1995
Standards of Bibliographical Descriptions Buhler, McManaway, Wroth, U of Pennsylvania P, 1949
The Review of Contemporary Fiction Dalkey Archive Annual 1, ed John O'Brien, Spring 2007
Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices Brenda Love, Barricade Books, 1988


The Pound edition is particularly handsome. It was purchased in MA along with the Mengham, which proves to be one of the earlier titles from Salt (1996), when it was located only in Australia. Since, Salt has become one of the more interesting presses in the UK, though they are guilty of putting out a few too many books, a rare fault indeed. I'd always wanted one of the Gifford Ulysses Annotated & was lucky to find a copy at Alabaster Books, which is having a nice 30% off sale. The book is fun to read even without looking at the text. Would it not be interesting if all of the books on Joyce survived into the future but by some quirk none of the primary texts made it? What would the world think of Joyce then? Maybe they'd put his face on some of their currency, which is not to say this shouldn't be done currently, & in this country. New titles from a bunch of modern-era chaps are ultra welcome: Celan, Artaud, Walser, & Daumal, who had close ties to the 'pataphysical realm.

The new issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction is something of an oddity. Dalkey Archive was particularly formitive in my early reading & book buying career so it is strange to see an issue of all reprints, especially one that arrives after what seemed like a delay in the regular production of the magazine. The issue in itself is valuable, but I'm not totally convinced that its arrival doesn't indicate some sort of problem at Dalkey HQ. They recently moved, I believe, so perhaps the state of the new issue has something to do with that. Or of course the issue could indicate none of this, but I am worried. RCF has always been a great resource for in-depth info on neglected & interesting writers, the format of the magazine being one of it's strongest aspects: usually three 50-page articles on various writers followed by several dozen reviews of recent books of note. In this issue, however, excerpts are provided from Dalkey's back catalog, & it functions something like a greatest hits. There is the standard O'Brien rant-intro against the state of publishing quality work in this country, which is good to see as always. But then the reviews themselves seem dated, all featuring books from last year, in addition to one from 2005, & none from 2007. In each instance that an interesting book was reviewed, I found that not only had I already heard about it, but in many cases I'd already bought it & read it. Given that the review section of the RCF has always been a showcase for new things to buy & read, this is something of a letdown. Exactly if the fault lies with me acquiring things too fast or with Dalkey being too slow, I cannot say for sure either way. But I am concerned about RCF with this latest move. With hope they will be back to normal functioning status with the next issue. If not we may be in the process of losing one of our more necessary sources for excellent literary information.

The Daumal acquisition was a nice prelude to the 'pataphysical deluge that was to follow, one that I am still sorting out, & will report on soon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rivals (Coolidge)

New arrivals are many, various, picayune & juggernauts. Some is accounted for & more must first be sorted through. In the meantime, a single book is worth drawing attention to, the new Clark Coolidge book, Counting on Planet Zero, which has just arrived in limited edition from Fewer & Further Press, helmed by Jess Mynes in western MA. The book has been out for a few weeks at least, if not more. I saw a preliminary copy of it when Jess read along with several Fewer & Further authors at David Kirschenbaum's ACA Galleries a while back. The book is all the more pleasant to hold in one's hands as a finished product; like all of Jess' work, it is both immediately attractive & designed well overall. There is an mp3 available on the F&F site, where one can hear Clark read several of the poems. Though I've had the file for months & listened to it continually, reading the work off the page for the first time is one of the more pleasant reading experiences I've recently had. Perhaps because of the mp3, Clark's voice is already imbued in the text. & though the book is only a chapbook, there are by my count 30 poems, to read it in one sitting is wholly fulfilling. Another winner from Fewer & Further, & another winner from Clark Coolidge, neither of which are surprises.


This isn't the present this is a hospital
women will want to know you get well
the rest is all isinglass under christmas bulbs
mind if I sneak back to the animal barn?
the cheating ball? smart arms is
what you have to have to narrow in on
the to-do in Hovenweep its feelers
the tree's very bones outrageous nipples
but the picture in the pocket is of my office
the French became active after that
very well done thank you then the
smart ones cream the restroom squad
but I'll tell you what's in there the bird
conked someone on the head with it so
I describe this as the End As A Species
but just to hit on the idea of seriously
being crazy that's a hook and a half
sixteen sundays from sauerbraten
they say the sailors got over the snow
it grew all around their cabin like a brain
the aliens' bible is called Go Insane

Thursday, July 5, 2007

United Artists: Explorations

Investigation of the complete run of United Artists magazine, Bernadette Mayer & Lewis Warsh's magazine that ran from the late 70s thru the early 80s--18 issues in all--has begun. Today I made a talley of how many times people appeared in the mag, & though they're just notes at this point, there are many interesting facets to the contributors & life of United Artists. For instance, Hannah Weiner only appears one time, in a late issue. Anne Waldman doesn't appear in the magazine herself until the last few issues, where she has 3 appearances in addition to a collaboration with Edwin Denby.

Not surprisingly, Bernadette & Lewis led the way in appearances, Mayer tallying 19 while Warsh totals 18 (there is one collaboration between the two in addition). The next most popular contributor is somewhat surprising--Clark Coolidge. Perhaps it's the MA connection, as that was where the magazine was located, & Clark as well at the time. Nevertheless, he appears 13 times. The first six issues all feature consecutive appearances from Coolidge all from the same work, Weathers, also referred to as "the long prose", which is said to number something like 1000 pages, & remains unpublished.

Next is less surprising: Alice Notley & Ted Berrigan. My count for Notley is at 10 while Berrigan appeared 9 times as an individual; Berrigan also had a collaboration with Tom Clark & another with Allen Ginsberg. Also, there is a neer total paucity of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets: excluding Coolidge, who was as much a precursor to as he was a participant in the movement, & who inhabited neither SF nor NYC, there are only two appearances by Langpos, Ted Greenwald in a later issue preceeded by Barret Watten nearer to the beginning of the mag's run, in a collaboration with Bill Berkson (Berkson appears 7 times individually).

There are also some appearances by notable prose writers of the time, including Russell Banks & Paul Metcalf, who were each given substantial room in the magazine--the former appearing 6 times, the latter, 3. I know Metcalf & Coolidge exchanged letters in the early part of Clark's career (if not continually), & that they lived in the same area, so perhaps that was Metcalf's connection to the magazine. Or, perhaps he was known enough on his own, & didn't need an in. I don't know enough about Russell Banks to comment on his inclusion, but it is reminiscent of Bernadette's work with Vito Acconci in 0 To 9, which they ran before United Artists had its run. 0 To 9 featured more than a fair amount of prose within its pages, with particular attention to various Native songs & myths, work that is not unlike, say, Amos Tutuola.

Also warranting attention are the unknown names &/or the names that appear only once--Susan Keith Noel, Reed Bye, John Koethe, Gary Lenhart, Helena Hughes (who actually has another appearance, a collab with James Schuyler, in the same issue).

2 New Friends

Today, some new friends made it home for the very first time. First, we have Ron Silliman's Sitting Up, Standing, Taking Steps, which was published as Tuumba 17 in 1978. This addition brings my Tuumba total to a staggering 47 out of 50; lacking are Silliman's other title, ABC, along with the very first two issues, Hejinian's A Thought Is The Bride Of What Thinking & Susan Howe's The Western Borders.

Clark Coolidge & Larry Fagin's On The Pumice Of Morons also found its way home. Pumice was put out by The Figures in 1993, in an edition of 300. This copy is signed by both authors to Bernadette Mayer. Some interesting information follows the collaboration:


Larry Fagin & Clark Coolidge have written such stories as Whatever Became of Agnes Mason?, The Governor, Third Down and God To Go, and I Navigated a Donut Across Twelve Miles of Colombian Coffee.
Their other works include Great White Coast Jazz Suicides, Living Marimbas, Tonto Lavoris, and The Atmosphere of the Other Guy.

I'm not sure if any of these works have appeared anywhere--there must be a fairly good chance that some of it is in some mimeo mags from the 70s--but it certainly seems like there is a fair amount of Coolidge/Fagin work out there, perhaps enough to fill an entire book, which is an interesting idea.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Model Homes Debut

This evening I saw my work in print for the very first time. Though I found it necessary to deem my writing "classless" to a friend, I am quite proud of the presentation & company surrounding my poems. Also, I am continually flattered to read the work of the other poets featured in the issue, as I got a bit of a sneak preview a few weeks ago & was able to read a little more of it tonight. For what it's worth, one can 2nd guess oneself all night, but an editor should never be questioned. I know I will field all future attacks against my editorial decisions with furious expletives & aggressive dekes, if not the summoning of henchmen.

Check out the first issue of Model Homes here.

Monday, July 2, 2007

New Arrivals: July

Today, many interesting items arrived in the mail. Included are some recent Coolidge items, my interest in collecting Clark's books renewed by my recent acquisitions. Also a very nifty bibliography of Joyce. When the bibliography alone is in the triple-digits pricewise, you know you are on to something. Also: two different four-item sets, along with random various items.

Suite V Clark Coolidge, Adventures in Poetry, 1973 [signed; one of 200 copies]
A Geology Clark Coolidge, Potes & Poets, 1981 [signed; one of 300 copies]
for kurt cobain Clark Coolidge, The Figures, 1995 [one of 250 copies]
A Reading 1-7 Beverly Dahlen, Momo's Press, 1985 [copy W of 26 signed lettered copies]
A Bibliography of James Joyce John J. Slocum & Herbert Cahoon, Yale UP, 1953
The Good House Rod Smith, Spectacular Books, 2001 [signed]

items from the book thug:

Apostrophe Bill Kennedy & Darren Wershler-Henry, ECW Press
the tapeworm foundry Darren Wershler-Henry, Anansi, 2000
Thimking of You Dan Farrell, Tsunami Editions, 1994
Open Letter ed Lori Emerson & Barbara Cole, 12th Series Number 7: Fall 2005 ["Kenneth Goldsmith and Conceptual Poetics"]
The Etc BBQ
Gustave Morin, Book Thug, 2006
Air Pressure David Fujino, Book Thug, 2006

including four handsewn books from housepress:

[READING] Rob Fitterman, housepress, 2002 [#36/60]
Ten Out of Ten or Why Poetry Criticism Sucks in 2003 Darren Wershler-Henry, housepress, 2003 [1 of 50 copies]
The Apostrophe Engine Darren Wershley-Henry, housepress, 2002 [#11/60]
Poem Formerly Known As "Terrorism" Brian Kim Stefans, housepress, [#42/70]

and finally, issues 1-4 of Fervent Valley, edited by Stephen Rodefer. Issue one is from the Spring of '72, issue two from Summer of '72, issue three the Spring of '73, & issue four, which has one of the best covers I've ever seen, from the Summer of '74. All of the covers are quite different, & the dimensions are only the same for issues 3 & 4, where the magazine shoots up to the full-size of the NY mags of the mimeograph revolution. Issue three has a neon pink cover; issue one, the smallest, has a bright yellow cover, & is perfectbound.