Sunday, September 30, 2007

Eshleman on Aase Berg

In the latest issue of Typo, the great translator Clayton Eshleman praises Aase Berg as an interesting international poet.

"Also recently Joannes Göransson sent me his translation of a young Swedish poet, Aase Berg (Remainland), some of whose linguistic deftness evokes the late poetry of Paul Celan."

The other international figure he mentions - Gerardo Deniz, in Monica de la Torres's translations -is great. Everyone should read that book (out from Lost Roads Press I believe).

Also, great work by Sandra Simmonds.

Friday, September 28, 2007


The Asian American Writers' Workshop congratulates the winners of the 2007 Asian American Literary Awards:

Linh Dinh for Borderless Bodies (Factory School, 2006)

Amitav Ghosh for Incendiary Circumstances: A Chronicle of the Turmoil of Our Times (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

Samrat Upadhyay for The Royal Ghosts (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

The 10th Annual Asian American Literary Awards Ceremony will be held in New York City on Thursday, November 29, 2007. This year's Ceremony will celebrate an entire decade of excellence in Asian American Literature -- 2007 awards presentation, special guests, past recipients and fun! Location and details TBA.

For author bios and listing of past winners, click

Since 1998, The Annual Asian American Literary Awards have honored Asian American writers for excellence in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Literary awards recipients are determined by a national panel of judges who are selected on the basis of expertise in a literary genre and/or experience in academic environments relevant to Asian American literature.

The Asian American Writers¹ Workshop is a national not-for-profit arts organization devoted to the creating, publishing, developing and disseminating of creative writing by Asian Americans.

Congratulations to the winners! A special thank you to the judging committee.

For more information, contact:

Quang Bao, Executive Director
The Asian American Writers' Workshop
16 West 32nd Street, Suite 10A
New York NY 10001-3814

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Action,Yes - discussion boards

OK, at first the discussion was kind of shrill, but now it seems there is a very informative, interesting discussion developing.

I tried to log in but I can't remember my password.

James mentions obliquely what I told Simon DeDeo a while back - that Spahr's Connection-book in many ways evokes Danish poet Inger Christensen's book Alphabet from 1980 (translated wonderfully and published by New Directions). Just thought I would clarify that bit. I'll try to post it later to the board when I've figured out my password.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Burning Chair Readings

I've read and greatly enjoyed the books by these two:

The Burning Chair Readings
invite you to spend some time w/

Dorothea Lasky & Laura Solomon

Friday, September 28th, 8PM
Jimmy’s No.43 Stage
43 East 7th Street
Between 2nd& 3rd
New York City

Dorothea Lasky was born in St. Louis, MO in 1978. Her first full-length collection, AWE (Wave Books), will be out in the fall of 2007. She is the author of three chapbooks: The Hatmaker's Wife (Braincase Press, 2006), Art (H_NGM_N Press, 2005), and Alphabets and Portraits (Anchorite Press, 2004). Her poems have appeared in jubilat, Crowd, 6x6, Boston Review, Delmar, Phoebe, Filter, Knock, Drill, Lungfull!, and Carve, among others. Currently, she lives in Philadelphia, where studies education at the University of Pennsylvania and co-edits the Katalanche Press chapbook series, along with the poet Michael Carr. She is a graduate of the MFA program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and also has been educated at Harvard University and Washington University.

Laura Solomon was born in 1976 and grew up in the deep South. She studied Political Science and Literature at the University of Georgia in Athens, and later Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Her first book Bivouac was published by Slope Editions in 2002. Other publications include a chapbook, Letters by which Sisters Will Know Brothers (Katalanché Press 2005), and Haiku des Pierres / Haiku of Stones by Jaques Poullaouec, a translation from the French with Sika Fakambi (Apogée Press, 2006). Her second book of poetry Blue and Red Things has just been released by Ugly Duckling Presse. Currently she lives in Philadelphia where she works as a tutor and researcher for an adult literacy intervention program.

James Pate's response

James has written a spirited response to Brent's spirited response. I'm very much in favor of spirited responses, so I'll add mine tomorrow or the next day.


Also: Ray Bianchi has written a spirited response to Josh's essay:

Monday, September 24, 2007

James' essay, response to Simon D.


You can of course do anything you want, but it's lame not to back it up. So I'm glad you did.

However, this little comment (about Clinton) that sticks out for you is just a small part of the wider argument.

James argues that Spahr proposes a kind of documentary language that will somehow get to the truth, will somehow avoid ideology by being descriptive. I think this is a pretty fair observation.

It is part of the rhetoric behind Spahr's journal Chain, which espouses "documentary poetry."

(And as I pointed out to you a while back, Spahr's book is incredibly influenced by Inger Christensen, whose work is incredibly Wittgensteinian.)

The problem is of course that "facts" are always saturated with ideology. There is no easy out. And that's why a reader - such as myself - may suspect that Spahr would perhaps feel OK about Clintonian style governing-- in that it represents the non-Bush, pre-9/11 'normal' that we would still live in had we known all the 'facts'. That doesn't seem like a bizarre conclusion.

I haven't read Spahr's autobiographical prose, but I have read her criticism, and it is fairly utopian in its claims for experimental writing.

Spahr's rhetoric reminds me a great deal of the folk movement of the 1960s - "when we were good" as one book called that era. We were never good.

I would also add that I think that James' reading of Spahr is actually more perceptive - and even complimentary - than readings by many of her outright adorers. He made me want to go back and reread the book (and one Swedish poet who had never heard of Spahr told me the article made her interested in reading the book).

I have to wonder why you picked up on the Clinton statement - This parenthetical remark is hardly the crux of his argument.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Action, Yes responses

Thanks to everyone who has responded to Action, Yes - most often the essays, most often in private emails.

Brent Cunningham has written a long reply on the AY forums, but I'll try to refrain from turning this into another discussion between me and Brent. Though I may not succeed...

Also, Daniel Tiffany sent along an essay to complement James' piece. Perhaps Ill excerpt that if I have time (today I'm grading papers from 3 classes).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Caroline Bergvall and multilingualism

Here's an excerpt from an interesting interview John Stammers conducted with Caroline Bergvall:

JS: So in what way did this move into another language become the idea of writing?
CB: What it demands of you, when you move from your first language into another language, as a writer, the person who manipulates language, verbal material, is that you become part of the activity or the commitment to writing. It became the fact that I am not English but I am writing in English. This throws up a number of questions. How do I read English culture? How do I situate myself in it? Am I a foreigner to it? All that becomes the project of writing and that's really linked to my being a writer.

JS: Elsewhere you have said that bilingualism and even, (being half French, half Norwegian) trilingualism is an influence of yours which presumably relates to what you what you have just said.
CB: What it has done is create a critical and an artistic interest in the crossing points between languages. The way languages and cultures meet, can or cannot meet. So I have become more and more interested in writing or literary work which is written in more than one language. My own work, more and more, is trying to use those. And that's not necessarily to create mongrel or hybrid languages, but is actually to show up the impact that languages have against, or into, each other. That also indirectly, I think, can explain my interest in installation art, in kinds of cross-art forms, an interest in mis-spellings, in idiosyncrasies of all kinds, kinds of mis-translations.

JS: Are you saying there's a special awareness that comes with that, of difference and of the fact of language and languages?
CB: Yes. It generates an awareness. You can't forget that you are using verbal material you don't have the same so called intuition of language you can have with your first language. The whole issue of the mother tongue becomes immediately very problematic. It isn't my first language so where do I place myself, where do I place the whole activity of dreaming, of speaking in tongues, of connotation? The buried knowledge of the culture of the language, do I have it or not? Will I misunderstand you in fact? I've lived here for ten years in England but how much am I acquiring or not? That for me becomes very dynamic in the everyday use of the language and therefore even more so in its artistic use or its literary use.

[For full interview:]

Action, Yes

I wish people would actually use the forums to discuss the contents. People seem to prefer sending me private emails.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


So I somehow joined the Facebook Club. It turns out everyone I know has a facebook. I must have been the last one... Now what do I do?


Dear Reader,

Typo 10 is ready for you.

Featuring new poems from Maureen Alsop, Claire Becker, Simon DeDeo, Tim
Earley, Graham Foust, Matt Hart, Claire Hero, Brent House, Lauren Levin,
Ethan Paquin & Matt Hart, Marvyn Petrucci, Joshua Poteat, Brandon
Shimoda, Sandra Simonds, Craig Morgan Teicher, Tony Tost, & Erin Wilson.
W/ an essay by Clayton Eshleman. Cover photo by Paul McCormick.

Official announcement!


******* There's a new book out from Action Books:

The Edge of Europe
by Pentti Saarikoski
translated by Anselm Hollo

Steve Tomasula says: "Pentti Saarikoski's The Edge of Europe is one of those novels often imagined but rarely realized: a novel that is as moving as it is funny, a book that is as thoughtful as it is kinetic..."

Available at and (at a special price) at

******* We have also posted a new issue of Action, Yes ( featuring:

* poetry by Gabe Gudding, Ariana Reines, Hung Hung, Catherine Meng, Louis Bourgeois, Steve Bradbury and Daniel Spinks

* essays by James Pate, Josh Corey and Jasper Bernes (covering such topics as Lara Glenum, Ariana Reines, Juliana Spahr, the post-modern baroque, Deleuze, military strategy, and placelessness)

* a special selection from the international comics collective Canicola

• art by Annabel Castro Meagher

Please visit the web site and leave comments in the "forum."

The Editors

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Action, Yes

It's even better than the latest issue of Action,No...

We've finally put up our summer issue of Action, Yes. I haven't sent out the general announcement yet, so readers of this blog are special.

Lots of poetry, art and several essays. Fun for the entire family.

Monday, September 17, 2007


For soem reason I can't post on Ron's site. So here's my response to his recent discussion of Graham Foust:

Apollinaire coined the term Surrealist before Surrealism existed as a movement. The Surrealism of Breton &tc did get the term from Apollinaire. Goll also to use the term in a more general way, but the Breton crowd beat him to it so to speak. Apollinaire was *never* part of the Surrealist group (he was dead by then).

The important part in Seth's comment is not surrealist or not surrealist, but rather than the influence comes from the European and Latin American avant-gardes. I think it's important to emphasize the role translation (and specifically of foreign avant-garde writings) played in the change that took place in American poetry in the 50s and 60s. I think it's fair to say that Bly and Merwin got more from European and Latin American writers than they got from the New Americans (and from the act of translating, perhaps most important of all - the act of translating ruins all illusions of "the wellwrought urn" - see my essay in the recent issue of the online journal Nypoesi).

This influence seems to have been important for the New Americans as well - I have a hard time imagining Ashbery, Koch, O'Hara without the euro avant-garde, specifically Motherwell's antology "Dada Poets and Painters" (which caused both Ashbery and Berrigan to start cutting up texts).

As for quietude: it's important to consider it not as a purely aesthetic phenomena (though the aesthetics play an important part), but as a sociological phenomena. Jed Rasula's book "The American Wax Museum" is the best attempt I know of trying to understand this.

A brief note: I just saw that Omnidawn published Bin Ramke's new book. They have also published Lynn Hejinian and Rosemarie Waldrop, as well as perhaps the most quietist poet of all - Donald Revell. Ron has been published by Salt, which also publishes a number of poets you'd be hard-pressed to say have anything to do with any kind of avant-garde.

This seems the best example of Ron's term "third way" as a mere melding of traditions. But this term doesn't take into account influences that come from outside of the cold-war dichotomy of new american vs quietude. While Omnidawn may be "third way", I have a hard time thinking of Ariana Reines or Lara Glenum as "third way," or as having much to do with either camps.

However, I want to end this long no doubt unreadable email by saying that I think quietude is an important concept to keep in mind. It just needs to be expanded.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bjorling + Dadaism

from 477 UNIVERSALISTIC DADA-INDIVIDUALISM by Gunnar Björling (1928)

2. My new objectivity.
Tschili tschili-tschau!
tschili tschili tschau-tschau!
tschili tschili tschili-tschi!
tschili tschiliman dja-dja-dja!
tschili tschili tschau-
tschiliman tschiliman tschiliman tschiliman-
tschi-tscha-tschi! tschili-li-li-li!
tschili tschili tschili
tschiliman tschiliman-

3. (The abovementioned – in other words.)
Sing life
sing sing
sing life, your
sing sing
sing – your life!
life life! li li li-
Sing sing
sing sing–

7. Charlie Chaplin.
laughter out of the mouth,
the great sorrow.
Look madam and the police officer hotdog-stand brat,
crazy eyes you paint
with the feet.
To be packed into a triple-sized pack box and be sent
in the last train cart
to a town for what happens to us.

8. My songdoodle.
Capsized in the chair.
Finger the cigarette.
Exhale smoke.
Arms legs vents saxophones
what do I
with cheek!
–Final march applaud
and I writhe jump
with everyone, things are rocking beneath the tables.
What is smile,
when a nerve can smile in the eye?

14. Jazzcleverness world press telephone café ensemble –
we need foreign faces around us the temptation of the unknown:
We found the salt in our coffee cup
and turned homeward in the distant travels.

35. For Henry Parland
“Gape roll” that’s the philosophy, Dada’s square well-groomed
lip fundamentals–
walk on the streets
be a facial nerve
talk with uncontrollable

[Björling famously declared Parland "the voice of Europe" and "the most modern poet in Europe" - Of course he was in love with him, so perhaps he wasn't objective. "Gape roll" is a reference to a Parland poem from Idealrealisation.]

The Image

People who fear the visceral or who fear "the image" need particularly to read Shaviro:

(Some quotes from The Cinematic Body)

“Images are condemned because they are bodies without souls, or forms without bodies. They are flat and insubstantial, devoid of interiority and substance, unable to express anything beyond themselves.”

“They are suspect, unreliable, and “ideological,” because they presume to subsist in this state of alienation, and even perpetuate it by giving rise to delusive “reality effects,” rituals of disavowal, and compensatory fantasies of plenitude and possession.”

“But is it really lack that makes images so dangerous and disturbing? What these theorists fear is not the emptiness of the image, but its weird fullness; not its impotence as much as its power. Images have an excessive capacity to seduce and mislead, to affect the spectator unwarrantedly.”

“The image is not a symptom of lack, but an uncanny, excessive residue of being that subsists when all should be lacking.”

“Images are banally self-evident and self-contained, but their superficiality and obviousness is also a strange blankness, a resistance to the closure of definition, or to any imposition of meaning.”


B. In the theaters

The spectator who is no longer immobile in his chair, who is wrenched out, assaulted, who participates in the action, who recognizes himself ion the screen among the convulsions of the crowd, who shouts and cries out, protests and struggles.

Steven Shaviro

has a blog:

(I was alerted by Jasper Bernes)

Lots of interesting commentary.

I think Shaviro's critical work - most notably The Cinematic Body - is required reading.

In this book he does some phenomenal Deleuzian readings of Videodrome (on which my forthcoming book Pilot "feasts"), The Fly etc.

I haven't read his most recent book on the Internet.

Danny's Reading in Chicago

The Danny's Reading Series
>Wednesday, September 19th
>Poetry or Fiction by:
>Joyelle McSweeney
>Johannes Göransson
>Greg Purcell
>Having enjoyed three years in rip-roaring Dixie, Joyelle McSweeney is
>pleased find herself deep in the heart of Michiana, where she teaches in
>Notre Dame's MFA. She is the author of two new and forthcoming genre
>_Nylund, the Sarcographer_, a baroque noir from Tarpaulin Sky Press, and
>_Flet_, a sci-fi dyst-o-pic from Fence. She is also the author of two books
>of poetry, _The Red Bird_ and _The Commandrine_, both from Fence. With
>Johannes Goransson, she edits Action Books and Action, Yes, a press and web
>quarterly for international writing and hybrid forms, and they have a baby
>named Sinead. She looks forward to seeing everyone at the Danny's!
>Greg Purcell's manuscript, The Fundamentals, was shortlisted for the
>Walt Whitman Award this year. He lives in New York and his work has
>appeared most recently in The Denver Quarterly, Open City and Stop
>Smiling, where he edits the new poetry column. He is a founding
>curator for The Danny's Reading Series, and is psyched to be back.
>Johannes Göransson was born and grew up in Sweden but has lived in the
>US for many years. He is the coeditor of Action Books and the online
>quarterly Action, Yes. Last fall Action Books published Remainland:
>Selected Poems of Aase Berg, which he translated from Swedish. His
>poems are published in Octopus, Typo, and Hotel Amerika. His
>translations of Aase Berg's work can be found in Conduit, Bitter
>Oleander, Skidrow Penthouse, Double Room, Octopus, and La Petite Zine.

Calamari Press

New book from Calamari Press. This looks very interesting.

Calamari Press is pleased to announce the publication of Vaast Bin by Michael Peters.

Like the vast stellar bin or the blackbody that Michael Peters alludes to in this cosmic fertility myth, the primal “poems” and images that comprise Vaast Bin; n Ephemerisi absorb all impinging radiation (the raw data that Peters' inks into it) and re-radiate an energy that is uniquely characteristic of the glowing body (the book object, and Peters himself). Bristling and oozing with storm petrels, glowvents, mutend probes, hoary tropes and other wild-type organisms, the spectral pattern of words and images is not only unique and characteristic of Michael Peters, but it’s mathematically precise. It’s his genetic kernel reduced to coded language and diagrammatic rhizomes, urgently re-propagated—without restraint—for our detectors (senses) to absorb, ponder and assimilate into our own beings. Vaast Bin is a visceral lexicon that is both mechanical and organic, that grates and augers down to the raw, bubbling cistern of creation.

Original art from the book is also available for purchase. To check out excerpts, art and a book trailer go here:

News from the weirdest press in Sweden

Ballard och Ian Curtis! – Salka Sandén i Lund ikväll!
Knipmagade Knumpan,

det tog en vecka att hämta sig från den sanslösa releasefesten för Gunnar Blå. Edenborg sjöng – iförd jeansskjorts, blåa stayups och blå sammetsblus – två sköna låtar: Blå sammet och Mamma blå (mp3:or på väg). En och annan blev psykotisk och sprang omkring och viftade med armarna. Det var ett spektakel. Särskilt smurfhitsen hetsade upp massorna.

Två nya böcker:

Den första är del 2 i vår nya serie med musikböcker, Deborah Curtis bok om Ian Curtis och Joy Division: Beröring långt ifrån. Filmatiseringen av biografin – Anton Corbijns Control – hade premiär i Cannes och har överhöljts med beröm och priser. Till Sverige kommer den i januari. Boken innehåller också alla Ian Curtis texter. En och annan tycker denna (och Lemmys självbiografi) ligger utanför Vertigos område, men jag säger som alltid: jag ger ut dom böcker jag själv vill läsa, dessutom håller jag Joy Division som en av musikhistoriens främsta skönhetsmaskiner.

Den andra nya boken är nummer 15 i "Överträdelsens klassiker" och jag vill påstå att det är en av de allra starkaste texter jag någonsin har haft glädjen att få ge ut. J G Ballards Skändlighetsutställningen (The Atrocity Exhibition) med förord av William Burroughs har märkligt nog aldrig översatts tidigare. Den här texten har förändrat mina sinnesorgan och min syn på erotik. Med K G Johanssons översättning och efterord och Annika von Hausswolffs omslag är den en på alla sätt ypperlig bok.

Stormtrupperna betalar ett skamligt lågt pris för dessa böcker (130:- tillsammans).

Och nu en påminnelse: ikväll 15 september göra Salka Sandén ett framträdande i Lund och berättar om och läser ur sin fantastiska Deltagänget. Speklaklet äger rum under den s k Kulturnatten på India Däck, Stora Algatan 3. Salka står på scenen från kl 20.00 - gå dit och lyssna och få en signering!
Allt för denna gång. Glöm inte att drömma en massa våta drömmar nu! Det är en del av hösten.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Fahlstrom:[Letter to Edouard Jaeger, May 12, 1954]: “… Another reason for working with this inconvenient format …. I wanted to have a more-or-less uninterrupted horizontal movement. To dominate the spectator, to compel him to follow this main movement – so that he has the least choice possible, in order that I can be more sure of my effect on him. It will be as if he were seeing a film, or as though he were listening to music: he can do nothing to stop the flow. It is not like a painting, where the spectator always chooses the paths that his faze will follow in the composition.”

Fahlstrom was a big Artaud fanatic - translated a bunch of stuff early on.

Mot tiden

Here's an art exhibit in Stockholm for which I translated a text. If you're there, you may want to check it out.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

More recommendations

Camera Works by Michael North

The Culture of Time and space 1880-1918 by Stephen Kern

Skin Shows by Judith Halberstam (on the Gothic back then and right now, sadly does not include a discussion of Aase Berg...)

New issues of Soft Targets, OEI and Tinfish.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Eva-Stina Byggmästar

is one of my favorite contemporary Scandinavian poets (though few of my Scandinavian poesy-friends don't seem to hold her in such a high esteem). She's Finland Swedish, from Österbotten, like Edith Södergran. Here's a link to some translations and a brief essay:

Though the translations are not the greatest, or at least the selection is not the best. Usually she's livelier, does a lot of work with typography. One of her books is called "The Hare-Hearted Human" another "Erect a Swan". Those are a couple of fine titles. She's become something of a Christian mystic. But in a very un-mystical way.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Book recommendations

I've been invited to a lot of these book recommendation sites. Too much trouble. I'll give some recent favorites here (following Jessica Smith's example):

Loss by Aase Berg (2007) (also I'm mentioned in the notes which immediately puts it #1 on the list)
Ivan Blatny (Ugly Duckling P, 2007)
Johan Jönsson's "Collobert Orbital"
The most recent Jäderlund as well as "Blomman och Människobenet," her second most recent
Trumpeten in Stjärten by Öyvind Fahlström (never published, Artaud-influenced poems from early 1950s)
Minneslista by Fahlstrom (a game published in early 1960s)
"Fahlström - Another Space for Painting" (Catalog for retrospective at Macba in Barcelona)
The catalog from the Fahlström retrospective at Guggenheim Museum in NYC.
The Cow by Ariana Reines
Nylund the Sarcophager by J.McSweeney
The Cinematic Body by Steven Shaviro
Shaviro's book on Bataille and excess
Jonathan Crary's "Suspension of Perception"
Nicanor Parra - Emergency Poems
Roberto Bolano - Distant Star
Faulkner - The Sound and the Fury
Deleuze - Cinema
Kenny Goldsmith's reading with me in Oslo was pretty great
Pretty much all of Caroline Bergwall's recordings on Ubu and Nypoesi

My class...

This is who I am teaching (for the poetry unit): Alice Notley, Sylvia Plath, Ariana Reines, Aase Berg, Haryette Mullen, Ann Boyer, Paul Celan, Vasko Popa, Frank O'Hara, Ted Berrigan, various sound/performance poetry (from Ball to Baraka to Bergwall), Joe Wenderoth, concretism (from Brazil to Sweden), the latest issue of Tinfish, some web journals, and some things I can't think of right now. Recently my classes have been on the historical avant-garde so I chose this time not to include any of that.

Monday, September 03, 2007

anthologies (again)

The other day Joyelle got a promotional copy of "Contemporary American Poetry" - first edited by A. Poulin (translator of Rilke I believe) and later revised by Michael Waters.

If you're going to have a title like "Contemporary American Poetry" you have to make some attempt to be representative of contemporary american poetry. I am amazed at all these anthologies are produced that claim to be representative of contemporary American poetry and then don't include language poetry. At this point in time, if you're going to try to make a somewhat representative anthology of american poetry you're either incompetent or lying if you don't include Bernstein, Hejinian, Silliman etc. It doesn't mean you have to like them, but you have to acknowledge them. Or use a narrower title.

This anthology includes none of these poets. So I have to assume that Waters is totally incompetent.

There seems to be something of a pedagogy war going on, with quietists producing heaps of anthologies that merely exclude langpo, and on the other hand, Sparh's book "Poetry and Pedagogy" which essentially tells teachers how to teach langpo and its descendants. Not without its problems but at least is acknowledges that pedagogy exists, that it matters.

funny article\09\04\115886&type=article

There's an article about my dubious dad.

I like how it refers to me and my brother as "two children from a previous marriage."