Sunday, October 28, 2007

Robbin' Mel

I finally caught a ride on this season's Segue train with the Mel Nichols/Rob Fitterman reading yesterday afternoon. Mel was a very nice surprise, since I was only slightly aware of her work, which is rich & excellent & funny (naughty). She had a chapbook put out by Edge a couple years ago, Day Poems, the cover of which resembles the crossroads of the cosmos rendered as poo-streaked pubes. But to be totally serious, Mel rocked. [Then Rob rocked, reading from the forthcoming Sprawl.] Day Poems was not available for purchase, but a new, even better thing was, The Beginning of Beauty, Part I: hottest new ringtones, mnichol6. This thing is so great I had to buy 3 copies. First of all, it is limited to 150 copies. Then, there are many various photo covers to choose from. There were a few of the same, but at least 8 or 10 different ones, perhaps more. The fun is far from over: each copy has a piece of trash, such as a gum wrapper, squished into a transparant envelope which is bound into the back matter, & a handwritten title-label of the photograph also laid/bound in. One is "It's a Small World After All"--the cover photo is of a small balled up blue piece of paper, maybe tape, maybe dense with paint...maybe the cover photo corresponds to the unique trash selection in the back?. The only problem, though it is not entirely negative, is that the transparant material which encases the book is quite susceptible to finger prints & hand damage.

Rob read from Sprawl, which is the first time I'd heard exclusively from this forthcoming text, though some bits had been included in his momentous MOMA reading from earlier in the year. He had previously described Sprawl as maybe being part of the Metropolis series & maybe not, but word is that it is, in my opinion rightfully so, as it corresponds to & extends that series nicely. There were no new Fitterman book items for sale, though I think I dreamed of a strange chapbook last night, which I can't recall the name of. There were, though, ultra glitzy photos on slideshow behind Rob as he read, accompanied with full soundtrack, replete with occasional & repeated artificial applause.

Afterwards there was a gathering at James Sherry's nearby pad, & good fun was had by all. I had a nice little convo with James about my forthcoming publishing efforts, hung out with new friend Kareem Estefan, & chatted several times with Dirk Rowntree about design prospects. I shook hands with Gary Sullivan, & met Rodrigo Toscano & Laura Elrick. Mel Nichols signed each copy of her magnificent book, I met Rod Smith & told him about attacking Bridge Street, & Julie Patton told me I shouldn't really go with Kenny Goldsmith's name for my press, but should go with something more personal. A digital, Mac Low-esque search using the old name as the seed returned Packed Rat--which could be the answer after all. But aren't I supposed to just know? Isn't it supposed to be love at first sight? I bought a bag of Brach's Mellowcreme Pumpkins, along with a toothbrush, toothpaste & mouthwash earlier. My hotel room smells like popcorn, but there isn't any.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Doin Thangs

Atlas Press has just announced new publications:

WAR FOR CHRISTMAS! Our version of Guy Debord's "Game of War" is now published. £17 until the end of November. Apologies for the postal charges on this book, which is a substantial item.

Likewise, Konrad Bayer's the sixth sense is also now available, the signed edition will be ready in November.

Imminently available (and we are accepting orders for these):

Michel Leiris Mirror of Tauromachy.

Alfred Jarry Three Early Novels (Absolute Love, Days and Nights, Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysician).
This is volume II of the Collected Works.

And from the LIP to mark the centenary of Alfred Jarry's death on 1 November:
Alfred Jarry Necrologies, texts by Apollinaire, Rachilde, Saltas and his doctor: first-hand accounts of his last days.

Looking back, this has been quite an active year for Atlas, whose productivity should be applauded. Support is in order, whether for the interactive Debord title (which is similar to several College de 'Pataphysique items I recently acquired) or the more fundamental & essential volume of Jarry's early novels.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Cortazar: Autonauts of the Cosmoroute

There is a new Cortazar title to be released this month from the excellent Archipelago Books, providers of recent titles from Duras, Musil, Michaux, among myriad others. Archipelago also released Cortazar's slim Diary of Andres Fava in 2005, which is a companion-book to Final Exam, somewhat similar to the way 62: A Model Kit functions in relation to Hopscotch. This new book, Autonauts of the Cosmoroute, is described as "a love story, an irreverent travelogue of elaborate tales and snapshots detailing Julio Cort├ízar and Carol Dunlop’s thirty-three-day voyage on the Paris-Marseilles freeway in 1982." The most exciting detail here is that the book clocks in at 350 pages, which is quite a gift to Cortazar readers operating only in English. It seems like Autonauts may resemble the hodgepodge style of Around the World in 80 Days, though it will probably be more unified, given the format of that volume. Anne McLean handles the translation here, continuing her earlier work on Diary of Andres Fava; McLean's other major work of translation was partial duty on Ignacio Padilla's novel Shadow Without a Name. Another appealing detail of the description is that this book was written under two years before Cortazar's death, & insight into this later portion of his life & career is welcome, given the rumors, sensationalism & nastiness that has tended to surround the accounts & commentary of that era.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Triune, Troika, Ternion

President's Choice #1 has landed. Featuring new work from Marie Buck, Craig Dworkin, Rob Fitterman, Rodrigo Toscano, Bhanu Kapil, Laura Elrick, & Paper Rad. Edited by Steven Zultanski. One of the great features of the magazine is that ample space is given to all contributors, sometimes up to 10 pages of work, in the case of Ms Buck. Marie's poems here range from somewhat controlled pieces (from a work called Whole Foods) such as "Cheese," "Authenticity," & "The Seaweed That Thickens" to some really exciting, all-over-the-page works like "Starlet Bang" & "19 I Just Pissed Out Disaster". This last one is especially great, ending with a stanza-sea of celeb names ("Jen's Katie Tom Corey Abdul Holmes Jennifer Paula Aniston...") followed by another of stray numbers & pieces of punctuation ("32 - 32 -- 36 ! 38 ? 40 ! -- ! ://. :-/;....").

Toscano's first work, "Great Awakening", is probably my favorite of his, since it so reminds me of the most convoluted portions of Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman, replete with cop-on-civilian tongue-&-brain twisters.

A: Average poetry readings reveal much.

B: I Improve...when the content is based on some other kind of--contract.

A: Respect for The Lord! Respect for Cable Coppersmooth, Cinnamon Face,
and all verifiable accomplishments, in tow.

B: The local is pushed out. Amen?

A: Amen! This re-flavoring of certain...distinctions. Other bitterness's applied lightly to the rippled surface. Property mud bars for the whole family!

B: Audit the flow--incoming. Admit the lord. You're were about to This Very
Moaning In Private Seems Necessary. What's the immediate effect?

A: Piety, double-digit snide, "bilk bilk".

B: What's the immediat goal?

A: Light up the mall.

B: And the lonely shark around the cage?

A: Amen. The people are--poking back--at it.

Craig Dworkin turns things even more conceptual, entering perhaps into Goldsmith territory. His first piece, "Noun Compound Roman Numeral period" begins "In the sentence 'Write the book that pleases you best,' what is the subject of 'pleases?' Perhaps you may ask the question in the usual way, 'What pleases?' Answer, 'the book.' But this is not right. marks of quotation Noun marks of quotation present tense third person singular appositive verb definite article Noun genitive pronoun marks of quotation noun period marks of quotation" & happily continues thus. Laura Elrick's "Diagram (III)" is perhaps the best single work in the issue, clocking in at 6 pages. It begins:

At a dinner party or forum I rip hair out of my leg with a special machine.
At a dinner party (or forum) I rip hair out of my leg with a special machine.
At a dinner party or forum I - RIP - IT - OUT with a special machine.
At reception: opening their suits a dress collapsing shoes turn up at odds, strange.
And walking says it would be drinks and eats its head of their legs with a
Special machine.

It is a work that is simultaneously elusive & highly visible, a formula that makes for enthralling reading.

Next comes Bhanu Kapil, someone I'm entirely unfamiliar with. Bhanu's work (from "Humanimal") features numbered paragraphs, some of which have a slightly larger font size. For some reason I find the work almost indescribable, though there are elements of magic, mystery, narrative & a folkloric sense throughout. I cannot get past how pleasing the syntax of this phrase, near the beginning of the work, is to me: "When it started to rain, the banyan tree outside the girl's room, where she lay in a profound coma, shook."

Next comes Paper Rad. Though I had known of their visual work prior, I wasn't aware that they also worked in text. The work is full of jokes & eschews capitals. All but one of the works features a clash in the title, such as "DJ Cyber Knife vs Cool Cafe" or "Jim Morrison vs Poetry," which commences

god is like love, love is like god
what is this? AARP card?
don't say a word
that's what she said
who said that?

The last feature in the magazine belongs to Robert Fitterman. Here we get two works from the upcoming Sprawl: "Big Box (Category Killer)" & "BISQUICKMARK, an afterward." Fitterman is firing on all cylinders here, the first work featuring a straightforward form of prose-stanza-blocks that Rob is able to make surprising despite their simplicty of form. The work is similar to some of his Metropolis series, focusing on combinations of corporate language, tv language, family language, advertising language. His 2nd & the final piece in the magazine quilts the present & history of Bisquick (originally intended for making biscuits very quickly) with the history/legend of Otto von Bismarck, that Prussia/Germany dude, to delightful effect.

The issue itself is immaculately put together. There is, correctly, no contributor's notes. There are few adornments, next to no info on the title pages, thus the look & contents are allowed to speak for themselves. There is, in the end, only one flaw, which is that the cover paper is of such quality that it retains your grubby fingerprints, should you, like me, take your reading in a more interactive manner: meals, subways, journeys.

Thus the threesome is consummated: Model Homes, The Physical Poets, President's Choice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Speech with Humans

There is a new Coolidge title out from Arc Publications, situated in the UK. From the description here, it seems like the project is similar to the Coolidge/Philip Guston book Baffling Means. There is also something reminiscent (I'm judging by the cover) of Ted Berrigan's work with George Schneeman. 80 pages. Exchange rate blows, but probably worth it.

Coolidge, Depositions

I recently acquired this interesting Coolidge piece, Smithsonian Depositions & Subject to a Film, a dual book published in 1980 by Vehicle Editions (Annabel Levitt). It is a beautiful, smallish book, noteworthy for several reasons. The most overt being that the second piece, Subject to a Film, is ostensibly a poem about the movie Jaws. While such a concept is pretty interesting in & of itself, it makes for an especially interesting move from Coolidge, given his marked move toward using films as sources in his work from the 90s, mostly collected in the On the Nameways volumes. It is also quite unlike any other of his works I've read, featuring significantly less surface pomp than the major works of the time [between Own Face & Mine: The One That Enters The Stories]. So, where exactly did this Jaws-poem surface from?

I haven't familiarized myself as much with the first section of the book, Smithsonian Depositions, but the interesting thing there is that while the text is more similar to the above-mentioned major works of the era, Coolidge feels compelled to list his sources. The list includes some potentially expected names such as William Carlos Williams, Jack Kerouac, Bernadette Mayer, Alain Robbe-Grillet, JG Ballard, Arthur Conan Doyle. But there are others which perhaps warrant further investigation, including Yvon Chouinard, Don Judd, Raymond Ditmars, Frederick A Lucas, Frederick Law Olmstead. Do all of these writers (& the books listed) even exist?

The copy in & of itself is special as well: it is signed twice by Coolidge, once on the title page, once on the FFEP. Also, there is a notecard laid in with a quote from Beckett, seemingly in Coolidge's hand: "The task of the artist now is to find a form to accommodate the mess." Coolidge in fact uses this quote, though the order of the phrases is reversed, in several of his works. It surfaces in his section (From Notebooks 1976-1982) of the Code of Signals anthology edited by Michael Palmer, & also in his talk "Arrangement" from the Talking Poetics from Naropa Institute (1978) volume.