Doris & Degentesh: intros…


Todays intro for Stacy Doris:

In Stacy Doris’ work, (to borrow a phrase Charles Bernstein used in his section of Bernadette Mayer’s “Utopia)” the only Utopia is a now.” There is no tiresome waiting around for, (as Charles writes, in a paraphrase of Blake) the calluses to fall from our eyes. Rather, Stacy forms Utopia by invention, by due order and arrangement of matter. What emerges is sublime: the hard won result of not one thing nor of two, but of the whole texture of her compositions. Sublimity fairly flashes forth, scattering everything before it like a thunderbolt. Pseudo-tragic “flame wreaths” belch to the sky as a sort of palpitating fancy roving into the fabulous or incredible. A nestling nurtured by doves introduces chinks or fissures into stately and co-ordered edifices. This produces the impression of an agitation which interposes obstacles and at the same time adds impetuousity – passion’s sap – its rich creamy buttery scent. This is known as a “gasp-inducer” – how the orange lasts through the heart notes in the mutual feathering of the warp and woof of every moment. Everything is so topsy-turvy, like the loud speech-colored hard candy that is also the syntax of the heart. She is at one time hot and cold, in her senses and out of her mind. That mind is sheer plenitude, hermeneutic organza. Examples may be spared because of their abundance. Stacy… her writing… a kind of auratic goat leaf or gorgeous plant with dripping reddish-purple stalks, all bathed in the pervading incense of a bewildering sublimity. She is the latest feminine pillar, amber-rich and resinous, Queen of combinations, adorned at her apex with a highly technical golden jewel.

Prepare to gasp. Hang on to your skulls. Utopia is now. I bring you the wondrous Stacy Doris.


Here’s Gary’s intro for Katie Degentesh


More attention has been given to Katie Degentesh’s The Anger Scale—from to the Chicago Review and The Believer—than of any other associated with flarf. But, other than Michael Gottlieb’s brilliant take on it in Jacket, I don’t think anyone—at least anyone of public gatekeeper status—has quite placed their finger on its real value or power.

Actually, Franklin Bruno distilled the book’s appeal very nicely in a round-up of flarf books he wrote last year for Bookforum:

What could be less poetic than the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or MMPI, a psychological-assessment test designed in the 1930s? Titled after the test’s items Degentesh’s poems’ surface cool provides cover for unruly intimations of family romance and recurrent strains of visionary animism (“a black bird and then a sparrow flew in / through my bedroom window / to loot my life clean”)—moments made all the more outlandish by their clinical surroundings.

At least one prominent review charged that, while the procedure was brilliant—sculpting poems from the Google results of phrases from the MMPI, that because, as Katie admitted in the afterword to the book, that her searching was not “pure” and that she would “seed” many of her searches with words like “turtleneck” or “pussy” that somehow this tainted the experiment, almost as though they were reviewing the results of a clinical trial for a psychotropic drug called “Flarf” (flusomic acid refolia). Or whatever.
EARTH TO POETRY REVIEWERS: This is poetry—the result of a creative activity—not “evidence”! If the greatest heights poetry can scale are to merely remind us that the world is, that people are, far more fucked up than our surfaces would have us believe, then the Catholic Church is a far greater poet than all of us combined.

This is not to say that Katie’s art is without critique or reality check. But that it draws its power from rejuxtaposition—something akin to Clark Coolidge’s “arrangement.” To the extent that the titles of the poems in The Anger Scale loom over the poems as a kind of potentially overdetermined shadow, what emerges—in true poetry fashion—is both unexpected and, finally, inevitable—but in a way that poetry is inevitable, not argument. Logically, we wouldn’t expect a title “I Sometimes Tease Animals” to end up with the final couplet

then my son gave a pint of gin for a squaw
and lived with her as such until his death

but in the course of this poem, which veers from crushingly “normative” language (“because my husband and I have given one another the freedom to stay alive and growing”) to the horrific (“My son takes showers for the longest time and/ he has the cutest bounce to his little step/ the backs of his legs look like the little lines on a road map/ I’ll snip them off and make pillowcases out of them”), one almost can’t imagine the poem ending any other way. Please help me welcome the fabulous Katie Degentesh.

Nick Piombino reports at length on the reading here!

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