Monday, 30 April 2007
Girl singing. Day.
It occurs to me
I have loved well despite fire
burning the white gown
mother once knelt to hem
And Craig Perez' deliberately faux, self-aware, wilfully contorted translations: translation as cultural appraisal, as aesthetico-historical coming-to-terms.
Thursday, 26 April 2007
Moreover, when there's time, there are things to talk about. I went to see this year's winner of the Prix Goncourt, novelist Jonathan Littel, in a discussion with Julia Kristeva and others (historians, moral philosophers, literature professors) at the Ecole normale on the question of literature, morality, and evil (LE MAL) in relation to literature and in particular Littel's "Les Bienveillantes". (For those who remember, I think it's an extraordinary book).
One of the most intriguing and disturbing remarks for me was Kristeva's proposition that "it is not possible to make literature out of good sentiments"; that literature and evil are intimately and inextricably and eternally connected. (The precedent is of course Bataille, Sade). Thoughts need to be developed on this, but if it is the case, of which I'm not convinced, then it's clear to me that it needs to be extricated from this nexus, in order to avoid old reductive conflations such as poetry=orphic exaltation, fiction=moral wrangling.
As for literature's overt intimacy with evil: Kristeva was perhaps more playing psychoanalyst, and one may forgive her for that.
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
One project is already an explicit collaboration between a poet and a film-maker. But also, poets are becoming cinematographers, and their visual sense is truly and fascinatingly developed. We don't just work with words people; we work with more than that. Apparently. I didn't expect to get such surprising, short-film like sequences first off. Cheers to the Continental pioneers.
Saturday, 14 April 2007
Friday, 13 April 2007
Anyway, Jewel's poems seem to be getting remarkably better. Honestly, it sounds like she bought a copy of The New Sentence, or some lovely Ed Foster. Or took out a subscription to Sentence magazine. Really, check it out:
Stockholm, The Grand Hotel Outside the canals are weeping, rising silently beyond their cement banks. Soundlessly, they spill onto the sidewalk, like a frayed edge. The ground will freeze soon. The night is cold. I can feel it reach my skin through the glass of my window. My pane. My lamp. My towels. Funny how every hotel room becomes my own. My home. If only for one night.
There's a sort of faux nineteenth-century prosodic gaucherie here which is dare one say almost O'Haraesque - as in, born from reading too much Gautier - though in O'Hara it's of course a joke, and in Jewel it obviously isn't. But who cares? It's really not such a bad poem, and a thousand times better than the rubbish of Night Without Armor, (a title in itself only surpassable by something like Righting The World With A Pen). And after all, not everyone can be a track star for Mineola Prep. "A frayed edge" is nice, though the lyrical buckling at the end is only acceptable with an O'Haran wink. In any case I'm sure the rest of the collection is weaker, (which is saying something), but couldn't one venture an aspiration akin to the Nausicaa chapter of Ulysses: ambling, vaguely Ruskinian, Paterian, "muddy travel prose"?
O the shifting sands of contemporary aesthetics!
Interesting too to see that Nada Gordon likes Obama's "apes with figs in grotto" poem. Frankly, it's growing on me.
Here's my blurb: "Jewel's delicate carnet de voyage mementos are charming in their faux-vrai naivety, in their strangely unformed (ergo "utopic"?) proto-conceptions of a uniquely Alaskan poetic, and of what this designation may nowadays mean. Poetry, Jewel insists, alliterates: "Soundlessly, they spill onto the sidewalk." She is, resolutely, chasing down Ed Dorn."
Anyway, Harper Collins, as was predictable, outdoes me:
With the publication of her best-selling collection of poetry, A Night Without Armor, Jewel established herself as a light on the literary horizon. With acutely observed, elegantly written depictions of the musicians, lovers, bikers, strangers, celebrities, and characters that inhabit the singer/songwriter's world, illustrated with Jewel's own drawings and never-before-seen photographs from her family archives, Chasing Down the Dawn is more than a collection of vignettes, observations, and stories. It is a finely wrought mosaic in prose and poetry, set to the rhythms of life.Today's competition: write your own Jewel blurb. Entries must contain 9 clichés or less.
Thursday, 12 April 2007
In any case, this is more to say that there is a new review of mine up now at Cordite concerning two young Australian poets (and perhaps also the implications of a politics of editorial magnanimity.) It seems to be proving a little controversial, with two emails this morning. Always happy to reply.
Preparations for The Continental Review continue. (I think I've answered all relevant correspondence: no?) Am reading the brothers Schlegel for a presentation, and the extraordinary Nick Piombino, which will both one day need to be posted on. (Also, I heartily recommend emailing a certain E. Tabios for a freshly kissed free chapbook: I'm waiting on mine . . .)
Soon a certain camera will need to be plugged in, and a little light made to blink . . .
Friday, 6 April 2007
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
I’ve always wanted to establish a forum on the net devoted entirely to Poets on Video: Video Readings by poets, Video Interviews with poets, and a small group of Video Reviewers doing brief recorded reviews of new fiction, poetry and poetics. In short: something like poetry coming to YouTube.
And finally, in approximately a month’s time, this will finally become a reality. With a very small team here in Paris including a video editor and a webmaster, The Continental Review will aim to provide the first entirely video-only forum on the net for contemporary fiction, poetry and poetics. Videos of public and private readings. Video-Reviews. Video Interviews. Performance Poetry. Visual Poetry. Real-time poetics for the 21st century. The vids will all be around 10 minutes in length, and will be posted continually on The Continental Review site, as well as being accessible via YouTube. The idea is to start developing an archive of readings accessible to everyone everywhere. I think it could, in the end, help to bring poetry to some quite different audiences.
How about a little glimpse?
The Continental Review will in no way be usurping the ground of those already wonderful, necessary and manifold Old Media (I kid) journals, such as Galatea, Rain Taxi, The Constant Critic and Verse. Rather, The Continental Review will aim to provide something very different, and seemingly absent at the present time: namely, a New Media venue devoted exclusively to contemporary poetry and poetics.
As for the new, thrilling genre of Video Reviews:
“Thoughtful, cogent, 10 minute presentations, in recorded real-time: Opinions Issued From Heads, Not Pens. No dumbing down. The content isn’t changing : just the medium.»
Or so goes the publicity . . .
I hope the idea will be well-received. Maybe it’s crazy, and I’m prepared for it not to work. We’ll just have to wait and see. What’s sure is that your comments, criticisms, suggestions for improvement, and most importantly, your participation, will be crucial.
We’ve already secured some fine poets for the very first Video Readings. In the meantime, I need Video Reviewers! Think you can talk cogently for 10 minutes about a recent poetry book while staring into a red light? Why not stop bugging your friends, and talk intelligently into a camera? Give your significant other a break: enter the frightening and uncharted mirror-world of 21st century « E–Criticism ».
Send your CV to this address . No photo necessary (that’s a joke).
And, from the beginning of May, we’ll see you on the videos .
Paris, April 2007
(In the meantime, SPREAD THE WORD ! Embed the trailer ! Let poetry blogland know ! And take the time to respond to the survey :
Is « The Continental Review : A Forum of Video Poetics »
a) a good idea
b) a bad idea
c) an « unusual » idea
d) the death of a career
Please tick only one box . . .)
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
Dear Mr Adams,
I think you’re right: what we’re saying is not difficult or revolutionary, but it does, I think, go further than a no-brain “reception influences production” schtick.
“Putting the emphasis on the questions arising from encounters with the texts rather than any interpretation that is a result of the encounter would be helpful, I think.”
Forgive me for not really seeing the difference between these “questions” and your “interpretations”. May I take it that you believe in the existence of a big-T Text which exists before, “clean of” so to speak, its interpretations? The mystical non-hermeneutic text? Hey, don’t get me wrong, I kind of like this idea, and I’ve been yelled at before for it: but here was I thinking you all derridean, and then you go and suggest THIS!
I kid I kid.
Anticipation or Inoculation a “vague speculation, not really a reasoned interpretation”: sure, a bit, but criticism’s sometimes about trying to articulate these impressions, without drawing up a flow-chart. I don’t think we’re going to be able to divide up art between Inoculating and Non-Inoculating artists or époques, obviously.
Fascinating you bring in the time element:
“So when you are talking about inoculation, what is the time frame here? Clearly the more contemporaneous receptions are of interest to the author and his/her intentions. Whereas the text would, if you can talk about it at all in this way, only (possibly, if ever) benefit within a much larger timeframe???”
I don’t think this is really all that applicable though, because the reception I had in mind is less a real reception (e.g. author’s friend tells author that new book sucks) and much more the whole horizon of imagined receptions that exist, in possibility, within the author’s head. It is more this which is being “planned against” or “geared towards”, and this is atemporal, as it exists within the writing Ego abstracted.
Here’s the gist: it just seems to me that, for all the talk since the Symbolists, before T.S. even mentioned it, about art’s commitment to difficulty, the most difficult texts still seem to strangely exhibit signs of wanting to be accepted by receptors. (Okay, Finnegan’s Wake has a lot less than Ulysses, but wierdly, I think, they are there). And they seem to contain these two aspects in a sort of interesting tension or coherence. Openness and closedness? Perhaps. Inoculation, if we still want to use the word, would be a sort of theoretical midpoint, an attempt to come to terms with both Difficulty and Reception: the demands and dangers of each. That’s all.
Funny you don’t get it though, because I would have thought that Robbe-Grillet was precisely a very anticipatory writer. Man, the guy underlines things. He’s worse than Calvino. His oh so “difficult” novels which he above all “does not want to be popular” contain heaps of pre-fab “aime-moi!” elements: props, signs, clues, mon vieux.
Anyway that was a really interesting comment.