Voice Dhoti: Gong (after Dana Ward)

Voice Dhoti: Gong

As a rippling confection of impulse I skew
all the books,
want to version their rotten rigidity
chomping back boredom to make a cool waltz I could
swing to, I could be that kind of “poet”
an ideologue made of bent mud and wearing these bracelets
all over my hair. I slide the thick
ebony bands from my neck
thus name the enemy how stupid I haven’t
a face wrong enough for that fight.

I had a sense I was a dumpy quotidian
waiter, an old strand of spaghetti
whose nawabs describe what’s ornate about me
by not opening onto new mushrooms –

the gangrene’s mild – any ornament clings to it winsomely still –
it’s not by my feathers
which are someone else’s
pollution, or messy like fools
facing front in an awkward position
conceived summarily, badly so, still, contemptuously
ordered like art ought to thrill me.

Someone may be on her
angelfish casting about in the
doubts for a word, someone may be
jumping to conclusions to alter the sex
of the world, some collective may be
in the streets storming like a monsoon
& we’ll all be oblivious
but last night I dreamed of the undulence
and all these excessively decadent, sugary
color schemes emboldened with rose
gold & bracelets the hypnotist’s misery
butters the real
a salivary bomb rattled its teeth
on the ferret & I came to speak
to the boys that are mothers so speak to me
platitudes, crescents, burnable,
bendable, deludable
face in my hair

Segue Intro 7: Brandon Downing

Brandon Downing’s books of strange and ingenious poetry include LAZIO, The Shirt Weapon, and Dark Brandon. A new DVD collection, Dark Brandon // The Filmi, has just been released, and he’s currently completing a monograph of his literary collages under the title Lake Antiquity.

If a signal feature of some strains of the avant-garde is a studied distance from its subjects, a “direct presentation of the thing,” there is another strain whose practitioners regard their subjects with a complex kind of affection. Susan Sontag wrote in “Notes on Camp” that

Camp taste is a kind of love, love for human nature. It relishes, rather than judges, the little triumphs and awkward intensities of “character.” . . . Camp taste identifies with what it is enjoying. People who share this sensibility are not laughing at the thing they label as “a camp,” they’re enjoying it. Camp is a tender feeling.

Brandon Downing is a kind of neo-Campist, and he does, I believe, love his subjects. If he presents to us a patchwork of inconceivably mawkish awfulnesses, if is really not in the spirit of contempt. He presents human pathos and ridiculousness as things of beauty, or at least as objects of sincere fascination.

The films are ludic parody, certainly, but folded into the satire are layers of murky, almost, dare I say it – Jungian –profundity (sometimes literally as deep ocean imagery). Sex, death, greed, savagery, technology, betrayal, hysteria – these are the modes through which each film passes, in the form of digitally processed early humans, huge wheels turning as karmic techno-retribution while below them couples dance in foolish mortal lust, and fake sharks roll back fake eyeballs in fake oceans. I have seen these films many times, in many drafts, yet I am always eager to see them again, which leads me to conclude that they are truly drugs. It is with an awed and tender feeling that I welcome one of my favorite filmmakers, Brandon Downing.

Segue Intro 6: Ben Friedlander

Benjamin Friedlander is the author of about a trillion beautiful little chapbooks (including Silk Flowers by Nada Gordon) as well as the properly perfect-bound A Knot Is Not a Tangle, Simulcast: Four Experiments in Criticism, and the long-awaited, recently released from Subpress Collective, The Missing Occasion of Saying Yes: Poems 1984-1994. He edited the prose of Larry Eigner, and with Donald Allen he edited The Collected Prose of Charles Olson. He teaches at the University of Maine in Orono.

All evil is perverted good, and all falsehood is reversed truth. Therefore, the tri-une mystery, that pervades the universe, is embodied in shapes of evil, as well as of good. Hatred, Falsehood, and Force take an infinite variety of forms, as do Love, Truth, and Energy. If the proportion between falsified truth and perverted affection be harmonious, the product has power to charm. It has been truly said, “There is a sort of beauty in a wicked action, provided it be well done.” Much of Byron’s intellectual power has this origin. Milton’s Devil wears it like a robe of fascination. The same law shows itself in ultimates, in the material world; hence the beauty of the tiger, the leopard, and other destructive animals.

Many, if not most Jews, are absolute masters at the use of language and linguistics, and are especially crafty in the use of their more nefarious cousins, that being twist speak, turn speak, doublespeak, the creation of new words and phrases, the changing of existing ones, etc.

This butchering of the language is just another example of Jewish atrocities that occur all throughout the world.

Gertrude Stein took her Passover lunch to eat outside in the park. She sat down on a bench and began eating. A little while later a blind man came and sat down next to her. Feeling neighbourly, Gertrude passed a sheet of matzo to the blind man. The blind man handled the matzo for a few minutes, looked puzzled, and finally exclaimed, “Who wrote this shit?”

As Ben says, “poetry should be at least as poorly written as matzoh.”

Please welcome my dear friend, one of the best minds and poets of my generation…

Segue Intro 5: Rob Fitterman

(written with Gary Sullivan)

For those who are ready for the clearest, brightest poet on the market today, Segue presents Rob Fitterman. Full 1080p resolution is just the beginning: Rob’s incredible Auto Motion Plus 120Hz technology reduces motion blur for crisp, precise action.

His color-saturated 40″ picture boasts a 25,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, displaying rich blacks and capturing subtle nuances. A fast 8ms response time ensures smooth, lifelike motion. Enjoy connectivity with all your other poetry, with 3 HDMI ports and a full complement of inputs.

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:

One Word – AWESOME !!! I have literally waited years for a poet with all the right specs (120Hz, 1080p, high contrast, etc.), but finally he’s here, and the long wait has been well worth it. Rob Fitterman is simply awesome.

I was very tempted with the Ron Silliman, but this one beats the Silliman hands down on looks, contrast, clarity and especially price! The many features Rob has and the specifications he supports are probably hard to find in terms of signal input (such as hi-definition programming or poems that are available now), but I wanted to be relatively future-ready.

Both the covers of his books and the edges around them are highly reflective, so if this would bother you, or you have light coming from behind you as you are reading, Rob may be too shiny for his own good.

And this is exactly where personal preference comes in. You may see his book in a store where it is cranked way up for certain settings, and you may not like the contrast, brightness, or color. There are – of course – ample settings to play with and it is quite possible to “dial in” what you like best, to reflect a “normal poem.”

Pros: 3 HDMI inputs, super clear imagery, INCREDIBLE clarity and color; a great poet with lots of hi-tech specifications.

Cons (all relatively minor): Highly reflective (although this makes the writing quality awesome!).

In short – look no further. This is the poet you want.

Segue Intro 4: Madeline Gins

Once upon a time, in the anime episode Gigi and the Fountain of Youth, also titled Magical Princess Minky Momo: La Ronde in my Dream, there was a king and a queen and they had a little girl named Princess Gigi. Gigi’s royal parents told her that in order to govern their world wisely she would have to learn as much as she could about people, and the best place to do that was on Earth. Once on Earth, Gigi discovers an island with a secret garden where everyone is a child. In the garden she meets Peter who controls the fountain of youth which keeps everyone young. Together Gigi and Peter learn the importance of following their dreams as they fight to keep the power of the fountain of youth from getting in the hands of an evil organization.

Real-life modern day Gigi is, of course, the uncategorizable luminous visionary poet architect physicist organism-that-persons Madeline Gins, the author of eleven books, many in collaboration with her partner Arakawa (analog to Peter in the anime story), and together they are looking for ways to, in Madeline’s words, “Save our Skins” by putting the power of the fountain of youth in our hands.

Titles include
Architectural Body
What the President Will Say and Do!!
The Mechanism of Meaning
For Example (A Critique of Never)
Word Rain
and most recently
Making Dying Illegal, Architecture Against Death

Madeline begins her bio: “B-b-b-b-b-orn and intends never to die.” Making Dying illegal – it sounds like an absurd proposition, doesn’t it? But then again, so did, at some point in human history, a non-flat earth, electricity, a personal computer, cloning. Gins and Arakawa are live serious about their project, and their built works include Bioscleave House–East Hampton; Site of Reversible Destiny–Yoro; Reversible Destiny Lofts–Mitaka, touted as dwellings that “boost immunity and increase longevity.”

Entering into their texts is in itself a revolutionary architectural experience. Reading them, one must make a pact with bioscleave. Bioscleave is Gins and Arakawa’s re-naming of the biosphere ‘to stress its dynamic nature.” “it is necessary,” they state,”to construct architectural works[poems] that reflect bioscleave’s intrinsic tentativeness.” Body, identity, mind respond elastically to the adventurousness of their works, which unabashedly do away with restrictive givens. Both writings and buildings are made to “invite optimistic and constructive action.” So, as to their Utopian projects, I say, suspend disbelief. Enter their “tactically posed surround.” We have nothing to lose but our mortality. To not to die? Why not? Why not indeed?

Segue Intro 3: K. Lorraine Graham

K. Lorraine Graham was conceived in Iran and has lived in countries as disparate and exotic as Papua New Guinea, Chile, China, and Singapore. She is the author of three chapbooks, Terminal Humming (Slack Buddha), See it Everywhere (Big Game Books), and Large Waves to Large Obstacles (forthcoming from Take Home Project), and the recently released chapdisk Moving Walkways (Narrowhouse Recordings). Lorraine has just completed the extended manuscript of Terminal Humming, whose title alone should win the award for Best Polysemy of 2007. In the first sense, it creates an exquisite logical impossibility: humming, which is by definition vibrant and continuous, cannot be in any way terminal. “Terminal” could also be thought of hyperbolically — as in “I love you to death” – as if humming were an extreme addiction-like-disease. It may not be so off the mark to characterize poetic activity as such. In this sense humming is an exaggerated statement of liveliness that is also privately incantatory and consoling to one’s intimates. One more sense: terminal might be a computer terminal that hums both literally and with the buzz of the poet’s mind. A mind could be a terminal – one node on a network of minds whose neural connections hum in all directions. But I meander, and so I should, for so does this text Lorraine has created, and so, in fact, does the activity of humming, n’est-ce pas? One thinks of the Situationist notion of the dèrive which Carla Harryman cites in the Grand Piano 4, and which the other writers of that volume take up. Debord defines the dèrive, which Carla translates as “drift”, as “a technique of transient passage through varied ambiances. The dèrive entails playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects.” It’s a druggier, more active elaboration of Baudelaire’s flaneuring, and like the flaneur, the poet who falls into? employs? the derive becomes a kind of eavesdropper of both external and internal sonic presences, and a creator/explorer of an almost tactile maze. Reading Terminal Humming makes me feel free; it transmits a sense of Lorraine’s commitment to explorative wandering., and I think it is (thanks, Ted!) marvelous, feminine, and tough.

Now, a moment of revelation: Lorraine actually will not be reading from Terminal Humming today, but from two other works that I didn’t have a chance to look at until this morning. No matter – they also move along songlines of peripatetic delight. I’m very happy to welcome, all the way from Carlsbad, California….

Segue Intro 2: Barrett Watten

Have you ever had a Barrett Watten moment? The first one I remember, although I didn’t know to name it as such, was looking out the back window of a car at night on a northern California freeway when I was about nine years old. I saw a huge power station isolated among dry rolling hills, illuminated by hundreds of tiny orange lights, its form complex, interconnected, functional, necessary, deliberately constructed, and utterably, ineluctably modern. It was also dreadful, awesome, and beautiful.

Later, when I encountered Barry and his work – and, full disclosure – studied with him as an impressionable undergrad — I better understood my response to that power station. He helped me to see that a “form” is never merely a shape, but a set of both internal relations among its components and also a significant statement of external relations; that is, it exists – like the power station– meaningfully and historically in a field of forms.

Indeed, it’s impossible to imagine the contemporary literary field without the meaningful and historical influence of Barrett Watten. Editor of This magazine and This Press, and co-editor, with Lyn Hejinian, of Poetics Journal, he has worked continuously to raise the bar for standards of critical and poetic inquiry. His books include Progress, Bad History, Total Syntax, The Constructivist Moment: From Material Text to Cultural Poetics, and most recently, he has participated in the delightful, self-searching experiment in collective autobiography, The Grand Piano. In The Grand Piano, we see a side of Barry that is perhaps not so evident in his other works: we see Barry the seditionist, the revolutionary, if you will, punk whose hyperactive young brain was already perceiving the world in terms of its material relations, which he was –and, differently, still is — gung-ho to transform.

And truly, Barrett Watten’s brain is an extraordinary instrument – indefatigable, exact in focus and sweeping in scope, capable of switching in a moment between the views of The Large Binocular Telescope and a fractal microscope. Like a four-dimensional scanner in Sensurround it registers and engages with everything in its environment, processing and analyzing information in stunning outputs of fully formed units of thought in crystalline paragraphs and stanzas that accrete into monumental books. The sharp, cogent power of Barry’s brain shines like a stubborn beacon onto a landscape ever more apocalyptic, and no matter what the object of its attention – the Gulf Wars, Russian formalists, Ana Mendieta, Anthony Braxton, William Carlos Williams, the entire 20th Century, James Bond, or Barry’s own bildung, — the writing invigorates and astonishes.

Segue intro 1: Maggie O’Sullivan

Born in Linconshire, England of Irish parents, Maggie O’Sullivan is the author of over fifteen books of poetry, including red shifts, Palace of Reptiles, “all origins are lonely”, and newly out from Reality Street, Body of Work, which collects all of her early solo collections of poetry and visual texts. In 1993 she collaborated with Bruce Andrews on a work entitled eXcLa, and she is the editor of the 1996 Anthology, Out Of Everywhere: Linguisticallly Innnovative Poetry by Women in North America and the UK. Visual artist and interdisciplinarian as well as poet, Maggie O’Sullivan makes words matter, and the matter is radiantly dynamic. She dips and swerves them, cuts and grows them, pulls them, swoops them, divides and slathers them until they croon and careen like gulls or hang like lichen or pose and blend like living paint. She verbs the words, assembling and disassembling — structing, volving, viding, izing — gliding, building, curving, and eliding. She is an avant-primeval pioneer emanating interspecies empathy, a transformative troubador of unabashed corporeal melopoeia.