Monday, March 31, 2008

From SPD Books website


Author: Collom, Jack and Hejinian, Lyn
Pub Date: 01 Nov 2007
Publisher: Zephyr Press
ISBN: 978-0-9761612-4-0
Price: $15.00
Description: Poetry. The two poets began working together in 1992, and over the years they have developed a repertoire of forms and procedures, all intended to extend the possibilities for invention, play, and the unfolding of unforseeable meaning. Both poets embrace collaborative authorship as a means of challenging aesthetic preconceptions. In the process, they frequently venture across thematic limits, discovering unexpected coherences. The poems often give themselves over to pleasure, but they are governed by the logic of poetic language and they carry considerable metaphysical depth.

Friday, March 28, 2008

libraries and poetry

In "Personal Narrative," a sort of intro. to her volume Souls of the Labadie Tract (2007), Susan Howe writes about spending time in Yale University's Sterling Library:

In the dim light of narrowly spaced overshadowing shelves I felt the spiritual and solitary freedom of an inexorable order only chance creates. Quiet articulates poetry. These Lethean tributaries of lost sentiments and found philosophies had a life-giving effect on the process of my writing. . . . In Sterling's sleeping wilderness I felt the telepathic solicitation of innumerable phantoms. (14)

The materiality of old books and print and paper seems to be essential, as well as the serendipitous encounters that library shelves encourage. Could one use library walks as a generative device, collecting chance encounters that reveal "an inexorable order"? How do the dead pressed between the leaves of those books solicit us? How can we listen?

Friday, March 21, 2008

volvos are erotic

From NYTimes, March 21 (review of a book of erotic verse):

On Reading Poorly Transcribed Erotica

She stood before him wearing only pantries
and he groped for her Volvo under the gauze

--Jill Alexander Essbaum

I have a Volvo! (2001 model, station wagon)


Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Great interview with Dennis Lee in latest edition of Matrix. His comments on process, music, voice and the energy of a poem are brilliant. In speaking of the fractured manufactured language in Joyce's Finnigans Wake, Lee talks about what makes Joyce's writing 'work.'

"The energy that makes them happen is pre-linguistic; it's under the words, shouldering its way upwards. So the connection here is vertical. Familiar words get blown apart, and reconfigured in the process, but always through the the pressure of this subsonic energy of being. "

Lee also talks about the under-energy inherent in the music or cadence of poem as that which "gooses a poem." Love that. And also what he says about voice:

"A piece can be univocal and still be convincing. A lot of lyric poetry has a single voice and it can go like an arrow to your heart. The poems that don't speak to me are the ones that don't have any cleanly etched voice at all. Or else they do, but it's that wretched tone of flat statement. The one that prevails in so much contemporary poetry..."

Wise words from a wonderful poetic innovator. Made me order his last two books UN and Yesno. Will report more when I read them. anon crackers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

From the manic blogger:

I've ordered the following, out on April 1:

Lyric & Spirit: Selected Essays 1996-2008
By Hank Lazer (Omnidawn)

Blurb from Omnidawn website: "Drawing on poetic traditions as seemingly disparate as Language writing and Buddhist poetry, Lazer pursues a way of reading that is rich in the music and spirit of the word, attuning readers to the pleasures and range of possibilities for innovative poetry. In a very accessible writing style, and with flashes of brilliance, Lazer explores and identifies new approaches to the lyric and to the writing of spiritual experience in American poetry of the past one hundred years. In this book of essays, interviews, reflections, and more, Lazer focuses on two topics central to the poetry of our time: the changing nature of beauty in the lyric and the necessity of finding new ways of embodying spirituality."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

poem for a bleak palm sunday

Every now and then one should write a poem as spare as this--


Wind lifts lightly
the leaves, a flower,
a black bird

hops up to the bowl
to drink. The sun
brightens the leaves, back

of them darker branches,
tree's trunk. Night is still
far from us.

---Robert Creeley

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Night Fortunes

Cookie and Enjoy!

May life throw you to an exciting event.
You will inherit a special ceremony.
Your blessing is no more than strong and bitter words.
For the whole lifetime anger begins with folly and ends with regret.
You will inherit some money to have good.
A quiet evening with a small piece of land.
Be prepared to accept a wondrous member of your family!
Happy news is on pleasures ahead.
As the purse is emptied on our minds,
you will be invited to the foundation of your life.
Make two grins grow a single kind word.
Your mind clear, and your soul lies in silence.
Someone is speaking of good planning.
Your heart is a place to indicate a weak cause.
Look for new outlets, a pleasant curve.
A thrilling time is rewarded, sooner or--
Fame, riches and romance must put up with the rain.
A pleasant surprise will become obvious to physicians.
Rectangle is in store for you!
Your everlasting patience is both a blessing and a later.
Don't ask, don't say. Everything will not be lonesome.
A friend asks only for your firmness.
Your greatest fortune is the large happy life.
You will step on soil and none so wonderful.
Good luck is the result where there was only a grouch thing, do not lose this.
Your heart is pure and its way to you devout.
He who laughs at himself will keep one warm for years.
Be mischievous and your ability to juggle will soon turn up.
Smiling will often make you wisdom.
Your flair for the creative takes your life.
You will witness the heart is filled.
You will live a long day.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Interesting online mag Exquisite Corpse, which has book reviews and poetry (some in translation), etc. See Lee Ann Brown's Katrina Suite (via Search). Beatriz Zeller contributes (daughter of surrealist Ludwig Zeller). I remember her from my Surrealism class at U of Toronto, way back in 1978-79; she once pronounced, "Surrealism is life!" Anyway, lots of surrealist stuff on the website, and ideas for reading. See

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I ordered this book today: Reginald Shepherd, ed. *Lyric Postmodernisms* (Counterpath
Press, Feb. 2008). Blurb below from

Lyric Postmodernisms gathers many well established poets whose work transcends the boundaries between traditional lyric and avant-garde experimentation. Some have been publishing since the 1960s, some have emerged more recently, but all have been influential on newer generations of American poets. Many of these poets are usually not thought of together, being considered as members of different poetic camps, but they nonetheless participate in a common project of expanding the boundaries of what can be said and done in poetry. This anthology sheds new light on their work, creating a new constellation of contemporary American poetry. Contributors: Bruce Beasley, Martine Bellen, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Gillian Conoley, Kathleen Fraser, Forrest Gander, C. S. Giscombe, Peter Gizzi, Brenda Hillman, Claudia Keelan, Timothy Liu, Nathaniel Mackey, Suzanne Paola, Bin Ramke, Donald Revell, Martha Ronk, Aaron Shurin, Carol Snow, Susan Stewart, Cole Swensen, Rosmarie Waldrop, Marjorie Welish, and Elizabeth Willis.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Why "dry humour" (in blog description)? Wet humour might be fun.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Where I am


Finally here we are the Crackt ones - great to see. Here's another place where I am: I'm just packing up some books for my re-location, and first to go in my box are Paul Celan, bpNichol, Elizabeth Willis, Jon Whyte and Poems for the Millennium (Rothenberg, Joris, eds.).
We don't have to limit ourselves to poetry here, do we? Much of the stuff I read when writing papers finds its way into my poetry. For example, I'm writing a chapter for a volume on shame and death, and I'm exploring the mask as a kind of interface between shame and death. So for the paper I'm re-reading Freud's "The Uncanny" this morning, and he concludes that "the sense of the uncanny attaches . . . to the idea of being robbed of one's eyes." That's why Neil Gaiman's *Coraline* is so uncanny: the double mother has buttons sewn in for eyes, and she threatens the heroine with the same operation.

Has this fear of losing one's eyes --or fear of false eyes--ever surfaced in poems you've written? Or read?
March 1, 2008 1:11 PM

Crackt Poeticks
Holly Luhning, Jenn Still, Mari-Lou Rowley and Steven Ross Smith, at the ice bar at La Bodegas, post CBC poetry face off.

During an evening of wine, cheese, Miss Vicki's potato chips, and Spanish olives stuffed with mini jalapeƱos, the Crackers, an intrepid group of Saskatchewan poets met to celebrate Steven Ross Smith’s new position as Director of Literary Arts at the Banff Centre. Also celebrated was Jennifer Still's regional win in the CBC Poetry Face Off, beating fellow crackers Steven and Mari-Lou Rowley. Fashion, hair styles, poetic process, and thanks to Hilary Clark, Laynie Brown’s book The Scented Fox were also topics of conversation. Mari-Lou read from her new ms. Suicide Psalms, to be published by Anvil Press in fall 2008. The evening culminated in this blog, which is dedicated to poetic funambulists everywhere. Enjoy