Friday, July 10, 2009

really strange writing exercises

The exercise descriptions are almost poems themselves.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gerry Gilbert 1936-2009

He was a sweet guy. He'd be at every poetry reading at the Kootenay School and elsewhere, taping for his poetry show on Vancouver Co-op Radio. Always absolutely present.

"We'll always be here."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

David Bromige

David Bromige died yesterday June 3. He was at the 1995 conference in Vancouver in honour of Robin Blaser, who also died recently. Bromige's paper can be found in the book The Recovery of the Public World: it's entitled "The Poetics of the Vulnerable." A few sentences:

"Vulnerability is a desired quality in poetry as in life more generally. . . . That which is vulnerable has room for us in it, as it has room for the new. We well may disagree with it . . . but we will be able to do so from within the work. It will be not-teflon."

A number of poems by Bromige, selected by Meredith Quartermain, can be found in Golden Handcuffs Review 10:

On the East Village Poetry Web, there's a link to Bromige's poem "Fall," which is his translation of Rilke's "Autumn" into "Californian" English. First Rilke's poem (English trans. Stephen Mitchell):


Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander along the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

Now Bromige:

(Rilke into Californian)

Man, where'd the time go? Detroit?.
But summer was really, really great.

Stand that side of the sundial, will ya?
I want to dig the shadows.

Robert Duncan's freaking in the meadow.

Those apples can't get a whole lot riper.
Give em a couple more hot days.
My friends who have the winery are already making the wine.

It's getting chilly, nights. If you don't have a pad by now,
Too bad. If you're not seeing someone
You're likely stuck that way, they went back to school.

Crack a book yourself. Write in Starbucks.
Go walkabout downtown. [Time passes]. Hey, lookit
the leaves, wind, etc. doing their thing. Rustle rustle.
Contrast and compare yourself. Cool!

Next The East Village Poetry

Sunday, May 31, 2009

publication by Sylvia Legris

Here's Sylvia in good company; she's in issue #26 as well. Laynie Brown is one of my favorites.

with work from Mahmoud Darwish on Edward Said, Ben Lerner on Barbara Guest, Etel Adnan, SYLVIA LEGRIS, Phillip Foss, Clayton Eshleman, Ray Ragosta, Caroline Knox, Laynie Brown, Jennifer Pilch, Ales Steger, Brian Henry GC Waldrep, Brandon Shimoda, John Olson, Leonard Schwartz, Gassan Zaqtan, Fady Joudah, Rachel Loden, Sharon Dolin, Edward Smallfield, Joshua Kryah, Amy Pence, Linh Dinh, and many others.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Charles Bernstein's list of generative experiments is at

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Two new titles of interest

From Book Thug's monthly e-list:

Emerson, Lori [ed]. OPEN LETTER 13:8 (2009): bpNichol + 21. 2009. Contributions include: a seeing of your writing: An Introduction. LORI EMERSON; Openings: bpNichol's Ephemera by KIT DOBSON; Anxieties, Orthodoxies, and Histories in (the 1990's Critical Reception of) bpNichol's The Martyrology by CLINT BURNHAM; Hopelessly Devoted: The Sacred and the Sloppy in bpNichol Criticism by STEPHEN CAIN; The Unquiet Poem: bpNichol's Re-Sounding Cultural Geographies by LEIF EINARSON; Generations Generated by STEPHEN SCOBIE; Apocalypse Now: The Four Horsemen Burn Through Atlanta by JAMES SANDERS and MARK PREJSNAR; The Practice of Community: bpNichol and Steve McCaffery in Collaboration by STEPHEN VOYCE; bp Anecdotingly by PAUL DUTTON; Blurring the Borders/Bordering the Blurs: bpNichol and derek beaulieu by JONATHAN BALL; Conceptual Writing and bpNichol by DEREK BEAULIEU; Men Write What Men Mean: The "Pataphysics of bpNichol's Zygal by STEVEN ZULTANSKI; vol a vent by NATALIE ZINA WALSCHOTS; b & P in bpNichol Lane: A Look by MARIE BUCK; city bp, everywhere by BRAD FLIS; Modern Fiction and The Decay of History: bpNichol's The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid by CARL PETERS.

FITZPATRICK-O'DINN, Dominique. Table of Forms. Urbana: Spineless Books, 2006. Bridging the sonnet and palindrome through a rich taxonomy of new literary forms, Table of Forms is a collection of experimental, ludic, constraint-driven poetry; a puzzle book; and a writing manual. Dominique Fitzpatrick-O'Dinn and her skilled team of collaborators have created the most comprehensive survey of noncanonical poetic techniques since the Oulipo Compendium. Offering myriad reading paths, this multisequential anthology includes a Table of Contents, Table of Forms, Glossary of Forms, and a matrix on the back cover.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Writing sonnets, cont.

Another installment in (hopefully) a series featuring ways the sonnet can be written:

Here is a sonnet from British poet Geraldine Monk's Ghost and Other Sonnets (Salt Publishing, 2008). Nice sounds:

Chronic webbings. Intrigue.
Androgynous flush haunts
Reptilian spine vault gothic.
Vehement throb conflicts on
Polyphonic gutwire. Phantom strings
Berserk minor arpeggios. Buttress ups
Super star dome. Sanctuary out to lunch.
Alone and pale and sort of floaty
Fingers clutched the altar rails of dread
Draining the face with featureless
Caress a shaft of light carved through her
Strained glass prelude.

Fragmented fugues of spheres break
Wind on mobile ring tones. Discarnate.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Writing sonnets

A link to a talk by Ted Berrigan on writing sonnets (from the Poetry Project Papers, 1989):

Here is one of his sonnets from The Sonnets:

Dear Margie, hello. It is 5:15 a.m.
dear Berrigan. He died
Back to books. I read
It's 8:30 p.m. in New York and I've been running around all day
old come-all-ye's streel into the streets. Yes, it is now,
How Much Longer Shall I Be Able To Inhabit The Divine
and the day is bright gray turning green
feminine marvelous and tough
watching the sun come up over the Navy Yard
to write scotch-tape body in a notebook
had 17 and 1/2 milligrams
Dear Margie, hello. It is 5:15 a.m.
fucked til 7 now she's late to work and I'm
18 so why are my hands shaking I should know better

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rae Armantrout's poetics

We wake up to an empty room
addressing itself in scare quotes.

Rae Armantrout, from "Reversible")

The following are some interesting comments Charles Bernstein made in introducing Rae Armantrout at a recent reading; they touch on not only Armantrout's poetics but disjunctive or associative poetics in general. The comments are posted on his blog:

"Armantrout’s work is not surrealism, not realism, but para- or peri-realism: it is constructed of precisely articulated observations that seem to logically follow one another but that, like everyday life, don’t or better to say, don’t quite. Her rhythms are of dislocation and relocation. Armantrout’s signature is serial displacement: incommensurability torques from one iteration to another, like Marcel Marceau miming a mime miming. Such an approach can be used for many ends. Armantrout’s engagement is often social and cultural dysfunction, giving her work its dark undertones and muted overtones. In this way, she depicts the socio-cultural logic of late Capitalism; dark matter, indeed. So yeah, sure, please be sure to note: her work enacts, through its multifoliate insights, an ideological critique, as when you lose your balance but don’t fall; you realize something must be wrong but don’t know what. Preston Sturges said it best: if you can’t sleep at night, it’s not the coffee it’s the bunk.

So, yes, Armantrout is one of the grand masters of our beloved radical disjunction of the 1970s and 80s. If one were to chart the vectors of each of her lines, you would get a field of skewed angles. Her motto might be: One perception must lead tangentially to the next. But tangential is not arbitrary or disconnected. Tangential is the mark of contingency but also motivated relation. To follow associative and peripheral connections – non-rationalizable, nonexpository, non-narrative – offers a constantly reiterated possibility of new perceptions.

Next to us is not the world we know so well, which we use to do our bidding, but the world that could be, the world we might make. I jump the line because I am so tired of waiting in it. . . ."

Let's jump the line and into that space of tangential perception, between one line and the next.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Interesting (but probably very slow) technique. See method in Author's Note below. Results at:

Author’s Note. Each of the poems in Anagrams of America is an anagram of its source text. All of the letters of the source text have been used, once and only once, in the composition of the corresponding poem. No letters have been added and no letters have been left out. Many of the sources are familiar works by familiar authors, and I have indicated below each poem the text used. Unless otherwise indicated, titles, epigraphs, section numbers, and section headings are not to be considered part of the anagram. — Mike Smith

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MESHWORKS (Miami University Archive of Writing in Performance)

Bill Griffiths

This site has a great list of mp3's of poets reading: Bill Griffiths, Fanny Howe, Rae Armantrout, SoundEye (Irish sound poetry conference), Contemporary Experimental Women's Poetry Festival, and more.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Managable Imaginations

Hello all, check out the interview re: Suicide Psalms on Tracy Hamon's blog.

Hilary, thanks for the google exercise. still haven't had time to try.

Keep warm. ML

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lyrical constraint-based poetry

Inger Christensen, a Danish poet, has just died. From Inger Christensen's Alphabet(1981):

...and Icarus, impotent Icarus exists;

Icarus swaddled in melting waxwings
exists; Icarus pale as a corpse in
civvies exists, Icarus all the way down where
the pigeons exist; dreamers, dolls
exist; the dreamers' hair with cancerous tufts
torn out, the dolls' skin pinned together
with nails, rotting wood of the mysteries; and smiles
exist, Icarus' children white as lambs
in the gray light, will indeed exist, indeed
we will exist, and oxygen on oxygen's crucifix;
as hoar-frost we will exist, as wind we will exist,
as the rainbow's iris, in the shining shoots of
mesembryanthenum, in the tundra's straw; small

we will exist, as small as bits of pollen in peat,
as bits of virus in bones, as swamp pink maybe
maybe as a bit of white clover, vetch, a bit of chamomile
exiled to the lost again paradise; but darkness
is white say the children, the darkness of paradise is white,
but not white as a a coffin is white,
that is if coffins exist, and not
white as milk is white,
that is if milk exists; white is white,
the children say, darkness is white, but not
white as the white existing
before fruit trees existed, their flowering so white,
darkness is whiter, eyes melt

Translated by Pierre Joris. From Poems for the Millenium II, ed. Pierre Joris and Jerome Rothenberg (and from the excerpt posted on Joris' blog "Nomadics" today). Alphabet is also available from New Directions (and a different translator).

Joris on Christensen's method in Alfabet: "Alfabet (1981) is a book-length poem using two reticulating systems: the alphabet (that adamic, prelapsarian state of language, as Roland Barthes suggests, because it is pre-word & pre-syntax, & thus before misuse, lying, rhetoric, polysemy are possible) & the Fibonacci series (where each number is the sum of the two previous ones, i.e.: 1,2,3,5,8,13,34,47,81,128...) Thus the first section of the poem is one line long and starts with an "A", the second 2 lines long, and starts with a "B", etcetera)" (see Joris blog).