Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Action Reading


8:00 pm
526 Canal Street
New York, NY 10013


Daniel Borzutzky
Sandy Florian
Johannes Göransson
Paul Foster Johnson
Kimberly Lyons
Robert Strong
Amy Wright
Jake Adam York

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Action Books announcement

Dear All:

Happy New Year! We at Action Books have two pieces of news to announce: first of all,

1. Four extremely exciting new Action Books are now available (all on sale at www.actionbooks.org).
Many special deals are on our website--please check it out.

2. Brand new Action Books poets Abe Smith and Brent Hendricks will give a reading from their books on Wednesday, Jan 30th in Brooklyn. For details, scroll to bottom of the screen.

The Skinny on the New Books:

Thaumatrope by Brent Hendricks (illustrations by Lisa Hargon-Smith)

"Dear Reader: This wonderful book you hold in your hands (are those your hands?)
holds your fortune." —Gillian Conoley

"Ante up. Brent Hendricks's Thaumatrope works like an ideogram thrown by a cardsharp, a decapitated allegory set in "the golden age of little bars."" —Daniel Tiffany

Port Trakl by Jaime Luis Huenun (translated from Spanish by Daniel Borzutzky)

"In these recent poems—published in 2001 in Chile— Huenún invents a setting influenced by Melville's vivid scenarios, Coleridge's languid morbidity, and George Trakl's silences and darkening seas. Borzutzky's English version is as haunted, brooding, and terrific as the original." — Forrest Gander

Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers by Kim Hyesoon (translated from Korean by Don Mee Choi)

"...by far the most imaginative poet in Korea today" —Bruce Fulton

"Kim's animals, like her implicit human subjects, exist within a "book of pain," victims of violence from without and within. Bodies fail to protect, and there is no protection from bodies themselves […] These dark allegories are beautifully rendered by Don Mee Choi, herself a fine poet." —Susan Schultz

whim man mammon by Abraham Smith

"If Frank Stanford got up from the dead to slam (and slammed to win), what he would say might well resemble the poems in whim man mammon." —Graham Foust

"Mash Gertrude Stein with agrarian folk and you have the unholy matrimony of Abraham Smith's debut, whim man mammon."
—Cathy Park Hong

Details on the Smith/Hendricks Reading:
8 p.m., Jan 30th
Pacific Standard
82 Fourth Avenue (between St. Marks and Bergen Street)
4 Fab Poets: Susan Brennan; Aracelis Girmay author of Teeth, Curbstone Press; Brent Hendricks; and Abraham Smith, author of Whim Man Mammon, Action Books will read at the cozy, Pacific Standard, Brooklyn Microbrew Pub. Beer, wine, snacks, couches, books! Everything a writer needs!! www.pacificstandardbrooklyn.com

Reading on Wednesday

I will definitely be here on Wednesday night:

8 p.m.
Pacific Standard
82 Fourth Avenue (between St. Marks and Bergen Street)
4 Fab Poets: Susan Brennan; Aracelis Girmay author of Teeth, Curbstone Press; Brent Hendricks; and Abraham Smith, author of Whim Man Mammon, Action Books will read at the cozy, Pacific Standard, Brooklyn Microbrew Pub. Beer, wine, snacks, couches, books! Everything a writer needs!! www.pacificstandardbrooklyn.com

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New Action Books deals

We now have the new books up on the Action Books site.

And there are special deals offered (all 4 new books for 40 dollars).

The new Books:
Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers by Korean poet Kim Hyesoon (translated by Don Mee Choi)
Port Trakl by Chilean poet Jaime Huenun (translated by Daniel Borzutzky)
Thaumatrope by Brent Hendricks
Whim man mammon by Abe Smith

Friday, January 25, 2008

Concrete Poetry

Sergio Bessa's article on the origins of Concrete Poetry.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ron reviews Parland

Ron Silliman reviewed my Parland book today.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Terry Eagleton at Notre Dame

The PhD in Literature Program and the Keough-Naughton Institute for
Irish Studies welcome the John Edward Taylor Professor of Cultural
Theory at the University of Manchester, Terry Eagleton, to Notre Dame
next week. Professor Eagleton will deliver a talk entitled "The
Death of Criticism?" in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium at 4:00 PM
Friday, January 25th.

Starcherone reading in NYC

The Future of Fiction: Starcherone Books Authors
Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008
KGB Bar, 85 E. 4th St., NYC
7:00pm - 9:00pm

Founded by fiction writer Ted Pelton when he couldn't
find a publisher for his first collection of
experimental short fiction despite winning an NEA
fellowship, Starcherone Books is one of only a handful
of American presses specializing in innovative
fiction. This reading brings together six of
Starcherone's youngest authors, five of whom have
published their debut works with the press: Sara
Greenslit, Joshua Cohen, Joshua Harmon, Aimee
Parkison, Nina Shope, and Zachary Mason. Ted Pelton
will host.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Stephen Burt on Nylund

[from the Poetry Foundation website:]

One of my favorite pieces of mail last week was a giant package from Action Books, a new small press out of Notre Dame with a focus on translations, involving some of the same people I read three to six years ago in Fence. The package came from poet, translator and blogger Johannes Goransson, but the inclusion that caught my ear so far has been Joyelle McSweeney's bizarre and entertaining novella or plotted prose poem or parody-detective novel Nylund the Sarcographer.

"Sarco-" means flesh (a "sarcophagus" is literally a flesh-eater, since it contains and hides dead flesh) and McSweeney's eponymous guy is a bumbling detective who is always writing and thinking through his own flesh. He's an antenna for his own past, attracting memories of his own childhood-- a childhood consumed, almost like Humbert Humbert's, by a lost love his own age, named Daisy; he's also a guy who works in a furniture store whose over-the-top fey manager wants to sell durable goods by staging fake rooms in which household murders took place; finally, he's an unlikely detective who has to collar another guy, called the Grandson, in order to solve a murder... if he dares. He exists somewhere between Maldoror and Guy Noir, and he's part entertaining cartoon, and part excuse for McSweeney's flights of campy-cum-lyrical post-Ashberyan prose:

"The ride down is always faster than the ride up, though Nylund, lurching hellwards on rickety wooden escalators, catching glimpses of shoes and suits and luggage and his own reflection stretched taffy thin in the smoked disconcerting mirrors... The cold moved up through his shoes and in through his jaw. Looney medical advice assembled itself before his mind's eye. One lump or two? For toothache, tie a dinner napkin under the gullet. For a fistfight, don a beefsteak mask. The former to ward off enemies. The latter, shiny, dull, to invite another slug."

The Daisy parts are actually sexy, the murder-mystery parts and the furniture-store bits are genuinely funny, the language dissolves into stream-of-consanguinity post-surrealism and then resolves into a plot again. I finished it today; it's recommended.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"Inside my body is an anti-body"

There is a really interesting series of prose texts by Brian Lucas on the Verse Blog.

Often I am in a foul mood about poetry but on some days I feel incredibly optimistic, like today.

Inside my anti-body I have a narrowly curved beak!

This sounds fantastique:

Poets of the Unreeled: CinePoetry & Performance Extravaganza
Multimedia poets and artists Linh Dinh, Wang Ping, Paolo Javier (with Ernest Concepcion & Vinay Chowdhry), Jeremy James Thompson, Kate Ann Heidelbach, dennis M. somera, Mike Estabrook, and Dillon Westbrook give live reinterpretations of classic films, screen their new videos, pay musical homage to great jazz drummers, and redraw on-stage some present scenes. Curated by Walter K. Lew.

Friday, February 1st, 7pm
galapagos art space
70 North 6th Street
between Kent and Wythe
Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718 782-5188)
L train to Bedford Ave. (1st stop in Brooklyn)

Saturday, February 2nd, midnight
The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery @ Bleecker, right across from CBGB's
Lower East Side of Manhattan (212 614-0505)
F train to Second Ave, 6 train to Bleecker

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pig's Brains and Diseases

After the Minnesota slaughterhouse illness was reported, the CDC looked into slaughtering practices in 25 large pork processing plants in 13 states, and found only two other plants -- one in Indiana, the other in Nebraska -- that used compressed air to remove pigs' brains.

Minnesota health officials said the pork plants in all three states have voluntarily stopped the practice.

The Indiana workers' symptoms included changes in sensation and weakness in their limbs, Russell said. Those symptoms are similar to a mysterious cluster of neurological symptoms reported last month among 12 workers at a pork slaughterhouse in Austin, Minn.

Two workers at an Indiana plant that used the compressed air technique to remove pigs' brains became ill with symptoms similar to those experienced by the workers in Minnesota, according to Dr. Jim Howell, an epidemiologist with the Indiana Department of Health.

He declined to discuss the workers' conditions or say where they are employed, citing patient privacy laws.

In the Minnesota case, health officials initially suspected the workers were exposed to something in the brain tissue that triggered the illness. Officials are continuing to investigate, but so far they haven't identified any viruses or bacteria that could be causing the disease. They've also ruled out chemical toxins.


I mean what

could be better than a Korean woman poet who writes poems about rats that eat their own children and a Mapuche-Chilean poet who writes an homage to everybody's favorite opium-addicted German Expressionist poet.

I should also say that Kim Hyesoon absolutely wrecks up the notions of "hard" vs "soft" Surrealism - with these deeply political fables about cute and very soft animals.

New Translations from Action Books

**Two New Poetry Translations from Action Books

Hyesoon, Kim
$14.00 / PA / 80pp.
Action Books 2008

ISBN: 978-0-9799755-1-6
Poetry. Asian Studies. Translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi.
The first full-length English language edition of one of the foremost
woman poets in Modern Korean poetry. Kim Hyesoon was the first woman
recipient of the prestigious Kim Suyong Contemporary Poetry Award,
and is the author of eight collections of poetry. In Kim Hyesoon's
saturated political fables, horror is packed inside cuteness,
cuteness inside horror. Interior and exterior, political and
intimate, human and animal, agent and victim become interchangeable,
interbreeding elements. No subjecthood is fixed in this microscape of
shifts, swellings, tender subjugations and acts of cruel selflessness


Huenun, Jaime Luis
$14.00 / PA / 80pp.
Action Books 2008

ISBN: 978-0-9799755-0-9
Poetry. Translated from the Spanish by Daniel Borzutzky. "First
introduced to a U.S. audience by Cecilia Vicuna in 4 Mapuche Poets,
Jaime Luis Huenun has become best-known through Daniel Borzutzky's
vivid, memorable translations. In these recent poems--published in
2001 in Chile--Huenun invents a setting influenced by Melville's
vivid scenarios, Coleridge's languid morbidity, and George Trakl's
silences and darkening seas. Borzutzky's English version is as
haunted, brooding, and terrific as the original"--Forrest Gander.
"PORT TRAKL is a world whose characters do not know which world they
belong to, and which world they want to belong to; and as they
attempt to depart one state of exile and enter into another, we get
the sense that they will always be caught between worlds: between the
real and the imaginary, between speech and silence, between poetry and
the impossibility of hope"--Daniel Borzutzky.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Let me see if I got this right:

If you masturbate you get gastric pain.

You can put some cocain in the "gastric spot" in your nose as some kind of diagnostic tool.

Then you cauterize the spot in order to cure the masturbation...

(And that pretty much explains the 20th century.)

SPD bestseller list (December)

Especially for Max and Sandra:

#1 Sleeping and Waking Michael O'brien (Flood Editions)

#2 This is What Happeneded in Our Other Life Achy Obejas (A Midsummer Night's Press)

#3 Necessary Stranger Graham Foust (Flood Editions)

#4 You Are a Little Bit Happier Than I Am Tao Lin (Action Books)

#5 Eulogies Amiri Baraka (Agincourt)

#6 The Line Jennifer Moxley (The Post-Apollo Press)

#7 Case Sensitive Kate Greenstreet (Ahsahta Press)

#8 The View From Zero Bridge Lynn Aarti Chandhok (Anhinga Press)

#9 Newcomer Can't Swim Renee Gladman (Kelsey Street)

#10 Lip Wolf Laura Solorzano (Action Books)

(I like Graham Foust's book quite a bit. It's deserving of the #3 slot!)

Friday, January 11, 2008


When I image-googled for a picture of myself to send to Eric Lorber for promotional purposes for Joyelle's and mine upcoming Mpls reading, I came up with many interesting hits. Just one for a photograph of me but interesting to see what people write in the next room over. For one I found on the Plough Shares blog (I think) a discussion of my review of Zach Schomburg's "Mansuit" book in which John Gallaher said I had a "here come the barbarians" attitude. I found this particularly interesting because it's probably a personal fault of mine that I love barbarians. Apparently I had also said something about Flarf-poetry. I can't imagine what I may have said - though I am teaching "the howl of the abu ghraib generation" in my poetry class this semester so I have to come up with something soon. I also got many hits from the Ron Silliman blog - which means I must have been on there opinionating too much.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Turkish Poetry

There's a wonderful selection of Turkish poetry and essays about Turkish poetry in issue #34 of Jacket. Lots of great stuff here. I will return and make further comments.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Buy a Quarantine

You can buy my book on SPD.


Author: Goransson, Johannes
Pub Date: 01 Dec 2007
Publisher: Apostrophe Books
ISBN: 978-0-9793627-1-2
Price: $14.00

Poetry. Welcome to Johannes Goransson's "private genocide," ground zero for figurative language. Put on your best pig smile and meet the gratuitous martyrs, Kublai Khan, Colin Powell, the jackle-hearted masses, Herman Melville, Egyptian dogs, and the Coca-Cola Cowboys. They're all in the burning barn at the Big Dance where the Ballad of the Pig Circus plays like a torso full of "October of birds." Beauty becomes "a riddle doused in gasoline" in this Postmodern epic that mixes surrealist impulses with L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E-esqe prosody. Notions of genre are demolished and language itself seems relegated to a wildly impossible epistemological space that is something akin to "whispering in hammers" or "speaking in silhouettes." If this sounds confusing, don't worry, the poet has sewn it all together with a "travesty of stitches," and he has "left his body inside the allegory." The poet satirizes, prods, pastiches, and "grotesquerizes" until every assumption we have, cultural or personal, crumbles in re-invented idiom.

Nathalie Djurberg

Here's a great interview with the Swedish-German animation artist.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Mark Wallace on Rimbaud

[found this interesting paragraph - a good correction to Donald Revell's recent attempt to make Rimbaud into a Blakean Anglo-American poet - in Mark Wallace's book "Haze":]

"I want to be clear that I don't admire Rimbaud. He's not worthy of it. But what could be more boring than admiring a poet, than admiring poetry? To say one loves A Season in Hell misses the point that the book and its author dont' want to be loved. But at the same time that the book and author can't be admired, it seems to me that the book's excess suggests much about what contemporary American poetry needs, trapped as it is in discourse about the constructive, the useful, the communal, the fair - all the things I believe in."

Henry Parland

I just noticed that The Literary Review has put on line some of my Parland translations on line. These are some of his last poems, not included in Idealrealisationen, and thus not included in the translation of that text I published with Ugly Duckling. They were published posthumously (as most of his work).

Tourism #2

Another quick thought: the way "tourism" figures in my own work clearly brings the term into contact with another word - "translation." In some sense translated texts can be seen as a kind of tourism (replicating Stevens' knick-knack and postcards from abroad), but ultimately I think it's something potentially more interesting (something closer to wading into the water off of Florida's coast or actually exchanging ideas with Ramon).


[I wrote this in response to Francois's entry on his blog on "Tourism" in poetry]

Tretheway's case is slightly different, I think, than tourism, having to do with race and the south etc. I haven't read her work, so I can't comment on it.

But I did just go to the big retrospective of Kara Walker's work (She's one of my favorite artists), which suggests a fascinating way of dealing with this dilemma of racist cultural inheritance.

As for tourism, I think it can be interesting, but as you know I see it as a problem in contemporary American poetry, and I blame Wallace Stevens [by which I mean, not the man, but the "authorship"] for that. In Stevens, the "other", the foreigner etc is either threatening chaos (like the sea!) that has to be ordered/tamed, ridiculous figures of inarticulateness - moslems or Swedes (who reappear in many poets up until today!) babbling nonsensically - or exotic tourist trinkets. I think these tropes remain prevalent in contemporary American poetry.

But there's also - in the case of Carolyn Forche and the heaps of poets she has influenced - another option: Europe as an elegy to history (and such people tend to be drawn to Walter Benjamin). That seems equally touristic.

[I should add that I don't think there's a clear-cut line between tourism/voyeurism/decentering etc. And that sometimes tourism is quite interesting. Including Stevens, Forche etc. I think for example of Transtromer's possibly touristic depiction of political injustice (for which he has been criticized).]

[Also, I find Plath's later poetry to be an interesting reply to Steven's fear of otherness - she assumes the kitschy trinkets, the fearsome chaos and the babbling of this otherness. Interestingly she - not Stevens - is the one criticized for tasteless insensitivity.]

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Lamination Colony (#2)

Great poems by Stephen Chamberlain in the new Lamination Colony, one of my favorite web zines.