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From "Lines out of Space"

how was your day?

now darker I wrote this later
[leave space up top for cataphoric reiteration] such is the gamble
throw what if the saying of it can’t fill this obscure whiteness? inexhaustible streaming whose source whomsoever stakes a claim mist shrouds the brow call it a hill if you will but brow still stands black birds peck roads this was, at the finish, what we all agreed on having seen if it was made up I didn’t make it up but I made you up
one animal’s sharp cry “ ” somehow delimits this shapeless grey occasioning of the passable irrevocable day so they say anyway best thing is to deny having anything to do with it that way your arse is covered either way if anyone asks thrown down the paged reconstruction hollow soled boots on the wooden platform everything is meaningful in that it happened now much lighter I wrote this earlier real writers probably feel the tool-heft asks “do you know the name of these flowers?” furrowed is a word, double letter score the pattern that is made b…

Teaching Experimental Postmodern Poetics

While is is fairly easy to the my students to understand that postmodern poetry is a form of critique of normative poetic strategies of the 20th century, often I find that, in an odd way, they don't necessarily see such strategies as normative. They are not normal for them in that way that for most normal people poetry is totally abnormal. I am them left with the need to teach them what normal is so they can see why Ashbery is not normal. Anyway, here is one way I do it. I usually illustrate first with a poem by Heaney, "Digging" "Death of a Naturalist" something horribly late-Romantic. Then get them to read some O'Hara and Ashbery. It always works. Normative poetry is called variously traditional, realist, late-Romantic, free-verse or voice poetics

Elements of The traditional poem:
Titular Law: the title announces the meaning
Formal regularity and coherence
Thematic coherence
Significant Lineation (rhyme or strong enjambment)
Coherence (narrative, logic, sy…

Bernstein, "The Klupzy Girl"

This crib is based on my lecture and seminar notes for teaching this poen to students who have little or no experience of experimental poetry

Like in Koch’s “A Time Zone” poem seems to take place on a bus as poet travels to Boston,probably from New York (3 hour journey)

Opening 20 or so lines are a series of statements to do with modes of expression: poetry, parables, deciphering, protest, alibis, telepathy, epistles, phrasemongering, evocation, explanations, glossing

Self-referentiality: regularly calls attention to the experience of reading the poem or poetry itself: poetry is like a swoon, his parables, not gymnastic: pyrotechnic, perfume scented, enacting, thoughtlessly, glossings of reality seemed like stretching it to cover ground

Techniques: lineation at odds with sentences, gaps between sentences result not in narrative or cohesion but confusion, cohesion instead comes from association, repetition, randomness and self-referentiality; good deal of caesura use or interruptions withi…

Charles Bernstein, Introduction

Bernstein’s three collections of poetics statements and contributions to the important collection The L=A=N=G… Book have set the agenda for a contemporary, postmodern, experimental aesthetic

His comments on absorptive poetics have set the standard for a postmodern poetics developed from the modernist conception of estrangement to be found in Russian Formalism and of course then picked up on by Brecht amongst others.

Bernstein on absorption:
“By absorption I mean engrossing, engulfing
completely, engaging, arresting attention, reverie...:
belief, conviction, silence.
Impermeability suggests artifice, boredom,
exaggeration, attention scattering, distraction,
digression, interruptive, transgressive,
undecorous, anticonventional, unintegrated, fractured,
fragmented...: skepticism
doubt, noise, resistance “ (Charles Bernstein, A Poetics Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992) 29.

Bernstein is committed to poetry in all its possible manifestations and several impossible

Through the Buffalo Ele…

Charles Bernstein and Language Poetics

Have been teaching Bernstein for some years now and last year included him on my MA in Contemporary Literature and Culture at Brunel University, West London. Thought I would post these notes as a general introduction to Charles' work. This begins in a very rudimentary style desgined for all kinds of students who have not encountered Bernstein of Language poetries before.

1. Context: Introduction to Language poetics

So-called Language poetry emerged in 70s West and East Coast USA around journal This and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E

I was ostensibly reacting to the predominant free verse, confessional mode of English language poetry to be found across the US and UK poetry scenes

As a group it looked to build on the formally innovative and socially concerned poetry of American modernism

Picking up on the postmodern innovations of New York School poetry, the groups however had a political edge

Founder poet Bon Perelman defines the Language programme as the following:
“breaking the automatism of the poet…

PJ Harvey, White Chalk

Grow grow grow

wet toes aligned at the edge of a void
as clams
like limpets
at the rocktide's lapline
jump and make something
project out into what was not the void
until you happened and
like a waveretreat
cleaved that into empty

sfunny
the hallway didn't seem so empty until we inherited this hideous armoire
an impassable thouroughfare become itself a placeless place my kids are stranded in the lounge
we cringe and scrape the stairway's foot
stamped once in anger now planted then blooming
Legends:
MAKING IS NOT ALL IT'S MADE OUT TO BE
ANYONE CAN EXPLODE
THINGS HAPPEN, TRY STOPPING THEM bravery comes in the lingering copse of the faithful
not to break nor fashion but
hold on there on that upturned hull
skyborne rescue is not for the likes of us
rather we stubborn we clutch to a boat's expanding shell
while the swell below becomes continuum

no, it isn't in the throw
nor in the wreck as such
but how the swell begins to build
to gather rise and fill beneath our rafting doggedness
to rise, t…

From "lines out of space"

fast (food) thoughts

burgerking has suffered a complete makeover fu-
cking horrible it is but then it must be hard to come second in
late monopoly capitalism as they call it now to us lot or
sometimes yes I call it globalisation but no do not know what that actually
means ends was so simple, supply the demand but in BK at KX what
exactly is the demand for fake lichtensteins on the walls? oh where is the new real? to
add insult to injury or perhaps spicen [sic.] up this hyper-real
salsa, that by the way is when the attractions of reality very
real though they are are outstripped by those re-presented by art or the
media with chilli added , the latest burger is the Mexican big spicy which not only is-
n’t Mexican (burgers aren’t) but you have to specify that you want it regular (a beat)
big regular! or big large that is an option too and it is all about that isn’t it options I

mean? and outside you can buy crack&sex fairly easily which is also
tempting but one must resist because I am tired of th…

Legends

To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer. To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer. To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.

Badiou on Deleuze

These are my notes on Badiou's book Deleuze: The Clamour of Being. They are more detailed than I thought and supplement the very popular notes I already have here on Deleuze.


Badiou, Alain. Deleuze: The Clamour of Being. Trans. Louise Burchill. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000

there are two paradigms that govern the manner in which the multiple is thought…the “vital” (or “animal”) paradigm of open multiplicities…/ and the mathematical paradigm of sets, which can also be qualified as “stellar” in Mallarmé’s sense of the word (Badiou, Deleuze 3-4).

· his analysis of Deleuze in the opening pages is designed to re-situate his thought in relation to the traditional metaphysic of the one, expressly so as to undermine the belief that Deleuze’s work is “devoted to the inexhaustible variety of the concrete"” (Badiou, Deleuze 14).
· thus the role of multiplicity here is to liberate being from such variety in an ascetic purification which Deleuze calls being chosen by the in…

Beckett and Badiou, by Andrew Gibson

Am writing a review of this great book and as usual well over the word limit so thought I would post the full text here before I have to cut half of it out and inevitably totally change it.

I am posting it because in the months to come Badiou's conception of poetic thinking will make more and more appearances here and Gibson's book is a great introduction to that.

Book Review: Andrew Gibson, Beckett & Badiou: The Pathos of Intermittency (Oxford, 2007).

This is a rare book in modern times, an academic study of unflinching seriousness, resolutely RAE unfriendly at nearly 300 pages, and one of the few examples of literary criticism that one needs to own and return to and over time. In fact it is not one book at all but at the very least two. In the introduction Gibson himself admits that “my book might be thought of as Janus-faced,” adding “it has a revolving structure, turning alternately in one direction and another.” (B&B 5). Thus, as the title suggests at one moment the …

Legends

Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer mustexperience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least oneapostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every greatwriter must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience atleast one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.

PJ Harvey, White Chalk

2. Dear Darkness

Dear darkness
we are timorous at your edge
ledged in metaphysically small
walled by our illimitable
perimeters of theme and its counter
bound to a dream of light
frightened by their shadow play

Dear darkness
we are hardly here
fear of the unknown has had us thinned
pinned to an apocalypse of sense
henceforth unable to approach
to stroke you, riotous material
feral and fecund, tattered and unwhole

Dear darkness
why is it they tell us that you fall
stalled by metaphor and the promise of relief
stolen from potential
torrents of sodden word worried leaves
returns from beyond the woods
hooded eyes and opened cheeks

Dear darkness
I am laid out on a thought of boat
floating on your bottomlessness
caressed by lapping's lapping
happy to slide beneath or 'tween your tress
trees that bear your fabric on their crown
bend low then let their old defences down dear darkness, it is true

PJ Harvey, White Chalk

For some reason, before even listening to more than a couple of tracks, I knew I could write poems to each of the titles of PJ Harvey's lastest album. So here goes something.

1. The Devil


The devil'
shobbled
sold bad boots
by farrier jones

evil is still got meaning
he spouts as
he limps to town
shitting-stoke-wankshafted-up-twat-on-bastarding-trent
or anywhere really'
show he talks

The devil'
sscuppered
bought bad debts
by broker james

even evil got the blues
he wails as
he punishes a piana
or anyone really'
show he works

The devil'
ssozzled
fed bad booze
by barman jessie

even evil got to die
he chokes as
his vomit'sinhaled
not anything really'
show he joins 'n dis

joins

one shoe shed
a sepia key plucked fingerfree
wettened words that stink of gutsn yeah brim stone if you like, oh
'nd our happiness

Lines in Space

How I imagine Michael, liking my poem not quite enough to...

It was perhaps my finest moment. PN Review, in particular Michael Scmidtt, almost published one of my poems. They liked the work but not quite enough to publish it. Like O'Hara I am too hip for the squares to square for the hipsters. Anyway, it was more than Stand could be bothered to say so in honour of meaningless honours here is my most successful work of art. It is untitled or better tri-titled:

"ein augenblick in der lichtung"

silence a fire’s percussive click cuts
the ciccada’s strum
Zum Zirm
one in the dog valley it
is night here last night to be exact all
is unwrapping in real time then
before the storm in cloud above mountain
on an off like a faulty fluorescent light
in a summer abandoned porta-cabinã
(It’s not as if I am trying to kill romanticism)
or not it does not have to be that way for you I
am not so convinced it was really that way for me
impermeable logic, all can and should be otherwise

"wo ist mein ku…

Ashes to Ash (end)

Redemption, Limits and Swallows

Whilst Ash investigates the redemptive power of the elegiac poetic process, Ashbery’s poem is based on the aporias discovered at the outer edges of this process, or what might be called the limits of poetic thinking. Derrida describes the aporia thus: “Paradox, scandal, and aporia are themselves nothing other than sacrifice, the revelation of conceptual thinking at its limit, as its death and finitude” (Derrida, The Gift of Death 68). What is the limit of poetic thinking? “Fragment” suggests that the edge of the conceptualisation of poetic language is that of the consciousness which, according to Ashbery, controls everything else: “My power over you is absolute. / You exist only in me and on account of me” (Ashbery 79).

And yet this consciousness, as the trope of the fragment suggests, can never be encountered in full, and its paratactic accumulations and distributions of the fragments of this self emanate from a vacated subject centre. The combination s…

Ashmania

Ode (kinda) to John Ash

when will the world look and see John Ash
writing alone on those Anatolian shores his
pen poised as his judgements are
hesitant to drop
to mark a make yes
like a kestrel conscience
hung above
matter's vole

our curiosity too needs to pounce
just as poiesis must first eat, stuff
way before it can ever move to make, oh
when will John Ash see and look
the world and in shining on its
already faded rugs & drapery
he saved the very thing he saw and
caused to fade?

Seems Ash's newest collection has caused a minor surge in interest in this most reclusive of writers. See the comments on Sonnets at 4am for example:
http://sonnetsat4am.blogspot.com/2007/02/poem-by-john-ash.html

This includes a poem from a much earlier collection The Burnt Pages.

He also has his own Wikipedia page which no longer amazes me as everyone seems to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ash_(writer)

John Ash, "To The City"

Found this online from Ash's newest collection which I haven't yet seen. It is, as all of Ash's work is, deceptively simple, seeming first off to simply present a scene in lineated prose, then the prosody makes its gentle presence felt, and finally matters of metaphysical import take possession of your consciousness.

As Peter Campion says in his lovely littel review of the poem:

"The poem blends absence and presence, dream image and naturalistic reality. Like those shoes at the doorway, Ash dwells (in this poem and in all his work) in a borderland. By living there he maintains a state of desire, an intensified engagement with feelings as fragile and surprising as the ghost of poplars he sees in the city towers. "

To the City

The village has come to the city.
In the narrow street, in the crowd
pressing down it, in the faces of tall buildings
we plainly see the shimmer of poplars
in the emptiness of the plateau, the huddle
of houses from which the voices of families,
and tri…

Ashes to Ash (3)

Ashbery and Ash: The Harp and the Cave

Ash’s poetry works on how he can cite the past in poetic language and thus redeem it, without reducing the rubble of its current state of ruination to a kind of gothic theme-park testifying to the permanent presence of absence in our lives. In “Scenes from Schumann” he again comes up against the artefact and the ruin: “The urns showed well against the blue of the river, / and beyond them, the ruins of the old insane asylum, / covered in leaves...” (Ash 156). Here the urn, traditional tropic centre of the transformation of absence into presence thanks to Keats, is not so much juxtaposed ruins as placed on top of or against them, which is a means of imposing an artistic unity onto actual ruination. This is the aporia of the non-redemptive monument. However he then goes on to undermine this: “the words / took off like birds from our lips, to circle an absence // that couldn’t be named without turning the feast to ashes. / Not that the talk died. No, …

Ashes to Ash 2

John Ash, Melancholic Historian

The semantic paradox at the heart of elegy makes it a prime site for the investigation of a semantics of absence, namely the construction of a monument to absence whose monumental presence, in consoling the mourner, actually ends the process of elegy and destroys the very presence of absence the monument was meant to preserve. Ash seems sensitive to this basic paradox in a work like “The Monuments” where a fictional community commit themselves to an endless process of building monuments even though, “The Monuments meant nothing of course” (Ash 134). The reasoning behind this is melancholy, “Each year the monuments grew larger / The citizens demanded this. As their lives got worse they wanted / longer staircases to descend, towering fountains...” (Ash 133). In the poem the role of art is to “take the place / of events too unbearable to discuss” (Ash 134), a classic formulation of the consoling power of the elegiac monumental utterance: to produce a reifie…

Confession

Forgive me bloggers for I have sinned. It has been a month since my last Blogfession.

Personal circumstances of a glorious kind, holidays, work and a blizzard of emails has kept me from THE BLOG.

Seemingly there is more to life than pasting and writing things that no one cares about in real life (i.e. poetry) and yet which they will log on to read about on my blog.

Anyway no apologies as what would blogging be without living interposed between? Mere blogs about blogs I surmise.

But am back on the case now.

So where were we, oh yes, about John Ash...

Ashes to Ash: Elegiac Language in the Poetry of John Ash and John Ashbery

A rare image of the elusive poet John Ash

Not much if anything has been written about the work of UK poet John Ash. This is a shame. Along with Lee Harwood, he represents the successful export and development of New York School poetics intoa European environment. Which is not to say that he is also his own man. In fact the much mentioned similarities between Ash and Ashbery, the basis in some sense for this paper, are overstated. That said, here I am stating them.

This was originally presented at the Symbiosis conference in UCL towards the end of last century. Sorry, couldn't resist the grandeur of that phrase. Like so many of my earlier works it was accepted for publication by Symbiosis only to be cut when the editors got chicken over using theory to analyse poetry.

Ashbery's Fragment

The beginning of dizain 3 of John Ashbery’s “Fragment” expresses the paradox of poetic edges: “This page is the end of nothing / To the top of that other” (Ashbery 78). The poem was written in a s…