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Showing posts from 2007

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 mad

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,

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 wi

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 Throug

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 th

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

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 a


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

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 t


Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least 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 "

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


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: 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: )

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

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


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