I do not write for performance, nor do I know much about the slam poetry scene. This reading overwhelmed me.
This excerpt from Fred Moten's poetry book, The Feel Trio, popped up on my Tumblr last week, and I felt something I have never felt before while reading poetry (mainly, shivers and something indefinable up my spine):
we study partial folds in them alpine jukes, bent, bow-tongued stick
and move and mahagonnic rupture in september, in alabama, throat
sung to the kabaret’s general steppe and fade. out here you breathe
they breath, this bridge is just, this bridge is just a pile of bones this
load be breathing, this alpine rasp in this dry bridge just be weaving.
- Fred Moten
There is a review written by LP contributor, Patrick James Dunagan, of The Feel Trio over at The Rumpus (click through to buy it immediately as I wish I could!). xo
Over at Talisman, there's a whole section on Gnostic poetry, with essays written by Peter O'Leary, Joseph Donahue, Mark Scroggins, Patrick Pritchett, Edward Foster, David Need, Norman Finkelstein, and Robert Archambeau.
To incite your interest: Some of the essays are titled "Seven Tenets of the New Gnosticism", "Corpse and Mirror: American Poetry and Gnosticism in the 1980s and 90s", "Desiring Logos: The Holy Atheism of Fanny Howe", "Glyphs from Beyond: Paul Bray's Gnostic Poetry".
Are you excited yet?
Verge Books 2013
come and learn
it should hurt,
extracting host code
to acquire some synthesis
to cracked bone
in steroid pathways
at the lab
Joel Felix's Limbs of the Apple Tree Never Die is a truly radical book. A true radicalism--in poetry, in politics, in theology--is grounded not only in one's ability to simultaneously return to the root (epistroph, ta'wil) & grow anew, but one's ability to synthesize everything one finds down the stalk one travels to source and back. Radicalism is never a newness that simply destroys what came before it; that is nihilism. Nihilism is nothing but a fundamentalist conservatism that seeks only to affirm itself in solipsistic desperation by destroying everything, even itself (see: Flarf). This is the internalization of capitalist dynamics to the utmost degree.
Similarly, literary materialism (see: Language and Post-Language poetries) is a cop-out designed to avoid the radical nature of the intrinsically non-material referentiality of language, masking it behind the irony and empty rhetoric of bourgeois (pseudo-)Marxism, a la Marcuse, Adorno, Foucault, et al. This avoidance, and the absolutist credulity required to maintain it, is evidence of the micro-fascisms inherent to the philosophical materialist paradigm and its broadly sinister implications. This is why Zukofsky, by radical necessity (and like Negri and Hardt after him), turned to Spinoza when the “Marxism” he was surrounded by (the petite-bourgeois nonsense of Lenin, Trotsky, et al., which now rests at the back of Marcuse & co.) showed itself to be reactionary imbecility.
The call is rich, it is plaintive, in the voice of liberation, it is erotic, and it is continuously failed. The failed desire of identification is our lyric content, for we, now as then, are the histrions of Rousseau's dream of recognition and imitation, born into a history of retrenchments of this logic down to mere administration of our failed union. Morning dawns for another day without sticky adhesion, the watering Tantalus restored to its furthest point from the seared mouth.
Limbs of the Apple Tree Never Die flies directly into the face of all of this. On the surface Limbs is part travelogue of a tour of the Civil Rights American South and beyond, and part lyric ecologue-in-process. It is also a book-length poem on the model of Jack Spicer and Susan Howe. The juxtaposition of travelogue and ecologue is the first key one receives that something deeper and more strange is at work here, particularly as both the “travelogue” and “ecologue” sections begin to clearly enunciate a different itinerary and ecology than what is stated. This quiet surprise is deepened by the structure of the text itself: a prose “Field Book” broken up throughout the text, woven into an intensely spartan lyricism unafraid of Baroque and Modernist formulations:
We are two distant dots, therefore
possible. The sun slipped off
its mask. I crawled forward,
a tiny red vein in the yolk of an egg.
I was both heads of a red and blue
snake joined at the anus,
long immune to my own bite,
a flying invertebrate bird. Speech
ran in the tracks
of the mind. The morning
broke powder. I drank.
A skin that cannot be wetted
walled the flower.
Or Romantic and Post-Modernist strategies:
an open habit
Robert Duncan famously declared himself a derivative poet, and by this demonstrated that the ability of poetry to be revolutionary is directly tied into its ability to destabilize the ego and its desire to grasp and claim anything for itself. And this while maintaining its ability to respond (his definition of responsibility) to the needs of the moment. To do this, he was unabashed in using whatever was found to make the poem; revolutionary strategy must always be flexible, adaptable, and grounded in principle rather than (anti-)ideology.
--The lore your fathers farmed
goes with you
as you go with who you are,
the genius of the soil
in howling competition
on the spiral arm of styrene pills
to Anchorage, Halifax, Shanghai
immunosuppressant skull helicopters
circling your cubicle
with the grace of complex coastal currents
never not a language to establish, enforce and
in heat-buckled parking lots
as the matter
This flexibility, this ability and need to bring together seemingly disparate forms and possibilities (even those of Flarf and Language poetries), this juxtaposition of variance, underwritten by the overt image of the violence of the breakdown of racial segregation as the apple trees grow and diversify, pulls one deeper and deeper into a holy darkness. It is this darkness that breaks boundaries and provides meaning. Not only a rationalist meaning; Joel Felix could have easily written a lovely narrative essay on his travels in the South, discussing the present aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement there, all the while using apples and their trees as a metaphor. We would have all “learned” something, and gone away feeling like we “understood” aspects of the history and present circumstances discussed. There is no doubt that this could have been powerful and carried import. But it's not the point. The point can't be articulated by discursive reason or the cleverness of prose alone, and travels far beyond surface understandings of racial segregation and its end.
in fold / proceed
what do the words
in rebar, EVAC
geography is Nature
what doesn't fit
on a blue tarp
must be forgotten
lava flowed over this table
for three million years
on a lake-followed
Like Basil Bunting, who never shied of his apophatic utterances about God to ground his truly socialist poetics, Limbs of the Apple Tree Never Die tests the boundaries to tear them down; refuses to acquiesce to monolithic pressures in politics and poetics; is unafraid to embrace necessary experiments and (un)grounded rhetoric; is joyful to rest in Negative Capability, in mystery, where boundaries are dissolving, language is charged with meaning on all levels (material, non-material, etc.), and these meanings shatter one's egotistical drive to both know and reject knowledge. It is a truly avant-garde poem, a new radicalism in the tradition and trajectory of revolutionary poetries.
Join my song
'neath this spiny tree
for time has difficulty
on this cloud-imitated mountain:
on the backs of birds
the sound of cinnamon
all you get
till you're picked
on pharmakos farm
no cooling herb
from bloodless flowers
at the bottom of summer's
I read this reblogged over at Brevity, and I want to re-re-blog it here too in case you are reading this and thinking of submitting to us or you are reading this and seething because you were rejected. Liz Kay breaks down the various ways a writer may receive rejection and how to interpret it. With few exceptions, I'd say she is spot on to how I write rejections. Definitely worth a read if you ever submit your work anywhere.
I'm an Aries and Jeff's a Taurus so sorry if this ain't applicable. Hoa Nguyen's been published by Wave Poetry which is where I read her work first. Check out her little piece on Aries, Taurus, and Gemini.
The New Gnosticism. I love it. It feels like co-hesion. Presses like this one, Otoliths, Skysill, from a Compos't, Verge are quietly carving out corners, dissolving boundaries, and letting light
Read this post over at Samizdat Blog.
To see more of his gorgeous erasures click over to Bibliotheca Invisibilis. Additionally, there's a fantastic artistic statement of which, this is a piece,"What is I & What is not-I. Not 'the inhuman black of empty space' (note on Ronald Johnson’s Radios) but Shunyata—a negation of drishti (view, judgement), not to be mistaken as the denial of reality, but rather to be understood as a 'freeing of reality of the artificial and accidental restrictions' (T R V Murthy)".
Aditya also co-edits an online journal of contemporary haiku.
Up at The Volta, is a gorgeous piece on the musician Mary Margaret O'Hara by Shannon Tharp. Tharp is another Seattle-based poet we love. Please read!
Issue 8 is up! Let us know what you think. It's quite a doozy as far as size is concerned. There are some new poets and some of our old faves, as well as more from our ongoing interview with Peter O'Leary. Our next one should be out this summer if we've got the time so send us your poems and short pieces/essays. Thanks for your patience and understanding as far as our timeline goes. If you aren't feeling patient or understanding about it, that's okay, please let us know!
Our friend Joel Felix has a new book of poetry out from Verge Books, edited by Peter, published by John Tipton. Joel is a seattle-based poet we met via a poetry conference a few years ago.
in least wind
for ages a rain
O drum frog
era is ova
drew the tea clear
air then air
two scale trees and wet hair
lick your face
- from Limbs of the Apple Tree Never Die
“At the end of this excellent book, in the ‘Afterword,’ Joel Felix elegantly describes his intentions and processes. Thus I can merely note my arrival at that point after the great pleasure of reading this collection of poems, observations, travel notes, meditations, seeds, grafts, serpents and birds, history, culture and love. That pleasure led me sometimes away from the book and on to read things I previously hadn’t and to learn of what I was ignorant. The Trés Riches Heures of Johnny Applegraft came to mind, as did Eve at the lunch counter as sun of an orrery of pomes while outside the window Alexander Pope whip-cracked a succession of snakes. One can not ask more from a book. I enjoyed what it did for me, and that is not yet ﬁnished.”
— Tom Raworth (from Verge Books' website)
You can download it here or read it online.
Jeff and Jamie love poetry. We love Apocalypticism, dioramas, and mysticism. Send us your work.