Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Johnson vs Goldsmith

This is what Robert Baird wrote on Digital E.

Since Kent isn’t allowed onto the Buf­falo POET­ICS list, I thought I’d note a con­ver­sa­tion about this book that is taking place there.

Jonathan Ball wrote:

I pre­sume the “blurbs” in sup­port of Johnson’s book are also appro­pri­ated or fab­ri­cated. This is a clever joke, but I don’t see how it is con­cep­tu­ally inter­est­ing. Unlike Goldsmith’s DAY, which recon­tex­tu­al­ized text in an “uncreative” ges­ture (a Duchampian rais­ing of “journalistic” prose into the realm of poetry), and thus pro­duced a rich text, replete with pre­vi­ously dor­mant mean­ing, Johnson’s DAY does little more than repeat the ges­ture, and thus the only sig­nif­i­cance it seems to hold is to ques­tion the valid­ity of assign­ing such a work to any single, par­tic­u­lar author, some­thing already implicit in Goldsmith’s project and only super­fi­cially inter­est­ing in the first place.

And Skip Fox con­curred with the “superficially interesting” char­ac­ter­i­za­tion.

Here’s my response:

It’s inter­est­ing, Jonathan, that you’d defend Goldsmith’s DAY (and dis­miss Johnson’s DAY) in the name of orig­i­nal­ity (”produced a rich text, replete with pre­vi­ously dor­mant meaning”), when this is the regime of value that Gold­smith explic­itly and repeat­edly rejects. (See Gold­smith, inter­net, passim.) I pre­sume that you, like many other people, accept that rejec­tion as a pose, a mere mock­ery of public mod­esty, even though Gold­smith, appar­ently, does not see it that way. (”In fact, every time I have to proof­read [my books] before send­ing them off to the pub­lisher, I fall asleep repeat­edly. You really don’t need to read my books to get the idea of what they’re like; you just need to know the gen­eral concept.”)

Or maybe you take Goldsmith’s word for it that “In con­cep­tual writ­ing the idea or con­cept is the most impor­tant aspect of the work. When an author uses a con­cep­tual form of writ­ing, it means that all of the plan­ning and deci­sions are made before­hand and the exe­cu­tion is a per­func­tory affair.” If that’s the case, then tell me, please, what makes Goldsmith’s idea inter­est­ing? Given that the same idea has been had, and exe­cuted, by thou­sands of others, includ­ing Richard Prince, Sher­rie Levine, and anyone who’s “written” a found poem, why should we see Goldsmith’s project as any more or any less inter­est­ing than Johnson’s?

But here’s a thought: what if the dis­missal of Kent’s DAY as “superficially interesting” was exactly the point of his project? I don’t say that it is; Kent can speak to that (or could, if he weren’t banned from this list, though I’m sure he’ll find a way to par­tic­i­pate some­how). But what if? What if one took the annoyed response to Johnson’s DAY as exactly the reac­tion he wanted, since it proved the fact–which you may take to be obvi­ous, but which no one seems will­ing to pub­licly acknowl­edge [NB: I should have said "con­front" here]–that there is a bright line between the kind of people whose uncre­ative writ­ing allows them to reap every reward the cul­ture indus­try has to offer—publication, glossy mag­a­zine inter­views, fel­low­ships and tenured aca­d­e­mic posi­tions–and those whose *iden­ti­cal* uncre­ative writ­ing gets them shunned as wannabes? And what if that bright line has noth­ing to do with the work, or the ideas behind the work, and every­thing to do with the fact that one has gone to the right schools, lived in the right cities, and licked the right boots? I think you’d have to admit that it’s a super­fi­cially inter­est­ing thought, at the very least.


Boo, Nick Demski's journal of obscenity, is now up. I have some excerpts from the novel I've been working on. It's not the most obscene thing I've ever written.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reading tomorrow


BONK! 12
(doors open at 5:30)

Here is the line up:

Ish Klein-- poet/ video artist/ puppeteer (

Johannes Goransson--writer/ translator (

Joyelle McSweeney--writer (

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eshleman on Deep Image

[Clayton sent me the following response to the Deep Image discussion:]

"You might want to reprint the Kelly and Rothenberg statements on Deep Image from the early 1960s. Both are quite interesting. The primary poetic texts, concerning deep image as i understand it, would be the Kelly poems, The Alchemist, and The Exchanges (both reprinted in The Alchemist to Mercury), and the Rothenberg poems, "Poland/1931" and the "testimony" poems in the New Directions volume, "Poland/1931." Creeley attacked the deep image idea (letters appeared in Kulchur, I think) and both RK and JR backed off. At the point deep image was being discussed and envisioned in poems, Bly and Wright had nothing whatsoever to do with it. And since deep image's theoretical matrix is a combine of Jungian psychology and alchemy, a transformational poetics based on a vision of the coherence of the unconscious and the dark treasures that can be found there, to even call Bly and Wright deep imagists is far-fetched. It is a shame that RK and JR did not continue to work the deep image veins or lodes, as such could have given a movement-like direction to some of the most interesting poets of our generation, and have created a theoretical location for us between Beat/Black Mountain and Language Poetry." Clayton

Joyelle McSweeney Interview

Hipsters Love Indiana

I want to clarify something. Seems like a lot of people have many associations with hipsters, most of them negative. That's why it's used as a derogatory term in poetry discussions. Just as the term "fashion" is used by folks who envision themselves as "traditionalists", ie not prone to "fashion", to defend against new poetries and ideas. Tradionalists are people of true taste (not kitschy fashion).

These two terms are of course very much intertwined - fashion and hipster. Afterall hipsters are people who are very fashionable, who bring a sense of the aesthetic into every part of their lives - their clothes, record colletion etc.

That's why I think Bobby was very astute in the original post when he made the connection between hipster and aestheticism. All these "hipster" and "fashion"-insults is a fear of aestheticism. A fear Mark Halliday, as I mentioned, made more than apparent when he freaked out about Josh Clover's "lettrist jacket."

But it can also be clearly seen in American Hybrid's austere obsession with "attention" - don't let your attention slide or aestheticism will ensue - and the prevalence of Christianity (and most importantly iconophobic Protestantism, for example in Revell, who in a book called "Attention"-something calls Ginsberg a "caged animal in the zoo of capitalism" or something like that - this harkens back to mass culture, fashion, vulgarity, the image, things I've babbled about recently) in that anthology. And you can see it in the criminal misrepresentation of Alice Notley's wild work with brief lyrics (spiritual). (But Notley with her decidedly uncool wildness is a very different form of aestheticism from "hipster", more about this later today.)

Here's a Ranciere quote Bobby posted in the comment field below:

"Flaubert already deals with what Adorno will spell out as the problem of kitsch. Kitsch does not mean bad art, outmoded art. It is true that the kind of art which is available to the poor people is in general the one that the aesthetes have already rejected. But the problem lies deeper. Kitsch in fact means art incorporated into anybody’s life, art become part of the scenery and the furnishings of everyday life. In that respect, Madame Bovary is the first antikitsch manifesto."

I think here we can see how things work out: The hipster does not have real taste, she/he has kitschy taste, he's an aestheticist, he has allowed aesthetics to invade his every inch of life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Small Press Best-Seller List

SPD Poetry Bestsellers
July/August 2009
1.CASE SENSITIVE by Kate Greenstreet (Ahsahta Press)
2.FACE by Sherman Alexie (Hanging Loose Press)
3.RADI OS by Ronald Johnson (Flood Editions)
4.SCARY, NO SCARY by Zachary Schomburg (Black Ocean)
5.BREAKING POEMS by Suheir Hammad (Cypher Books)
6.THE BATTLEFIELD WHERE THE MOON SAYS I LOVE YOU by Frank Stanford (Lost Roads Publishers)
7.ROB THE PLAGIARIST by Robert Fitterman (Roof Books)
8.THE MAN SUIT by Zachary Schomburg (Black Ocean)
9.WITH DEER by Aase Berg (translated by Johannes Göransson) (Black Ocean)
10.HUMANIMAL: A PROJECT FOR FUTURE CHILDREN by Bhanu Kapil (Kelsey Street Press)

Congratulations to Blake

Sweden & Death

[If Archambeau's review of Nyberg/Gustafsson made you feel that Sweden was just a replica of the US, you may want to check out this event at the Stockholm public library:]

Tidskriften 00TAL och Stadsbiblioteket presenterar:


en dödscool poesiworkshop för barn och unga
27 oktober kl.13-15

Gillar du att skriva dikter? Då ska du komma när 00TALs Poesifabrik gästar Stadsbibliotekets temavecka Döden. Den ruggigt bra poeten Maria Yvell startar dagen i Sagorummet. Sedan blir det poesiworkshop där barn och ungdomar får hjälp att skriva och läsa sina egna dödscoola dikter. Vi avslutar på taket framför bibblan med en ceremoni då vi knyter fast våra dikter i heliumballonger som samtidigt släpps upp i himlen.

Kom och se när vi skickar dikterna till himlen i hundratals ballonger!
kl.15.00 på taket framför bibblan

Med kärlek & skräck
/ 00TAL

[Explanation: This is an event for children and youths called "Poetry Factory and Death". It's kind of a poetry workshop for youngsters, but apparently the theme is death and it ends with the youngsters sending up their "death-cool poems" in helium balloons. It must be a halloween thing, but still, it's pretty awesome and hilarious sounding. It ends with the sign off "With love and horror, 00Tal"].

[I think one way to consider the relationship between US culture and other culture is through the postcolonial lens of "mimicry" (I forget the theorist). Here we see the Halloween thing but it's been turned into something quite different, more gothic.]

[PS Swedes out there should go to this event and report back to this blog.]

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hipster (2)

What's the connection between "hipsters" and kitsch?

Hipsters Are Against Nature!

I was just over at Kent's new site and I read this post about Jed's book.

I just taught two classes in a row on The Sound and the Fury so I'm a little tired out too tired out to write anything really of consequence other than to note the use of "hipster" in contemporary discussions of poetry. Just off the top of my head I remember Steve Burt on this blog dividing poetry into the real human poets and the hipsters. I've seen this term used a lot of other places but I'm too shot to remember. Well, in this post if by Robert Baird it comes up again, and here I think Baird really puts his finger on the issue: the "hipster" that people ridicule (defensively usually) is a new, more derogatory term for "aestheticism."

You may recall Burt talking about the clothing etc of the hipster (I think I'm not mixing these up, correct me if I"m wrong). You may more importantly recall Mark Halliday's review of Josh Clover which I discussed briefly some months ago on this blog. What really freaked Halliday out was not the Language Poets' politics etc, but Clover's "Lettrist jacket". This piece of esoteric fashion freaked Halliday out because it was a rejection of "the human." Which in Halliday's essay meant grieving for one's dead father (The Law?) or going fishing or some other such "real" activity.

To me this is especially interesting as it pertains to translations/foreigners/immigrants etc. Unproblematic notions of "Human" has since Day 1 been used to create outsiders, the non-human. Another form of this is the denigration of the "cosmopolitan", a common caricature that has also been associated with Jews and Homosexuals.

(Another version of this charge has been used by Ron Silliman: only rich, privileged kids read things in translation. Even though most people in the world have bilingual experiences foisted on them by US imperialism etc; only Americans have the "privilege" of monolingualism.)

But to me it's most interesting in the way it's been used to define the translation, a kind of inhuman aesthetiticism. Something that comes around in the Dada embrace of the "aesthetics of homelessness," as one recent critic coined the term. For example, the use of untranslated African chants - or more importantly the embrace of foreign languages as a kind of MO of the entire aesthetic.

I suddenly realize that instead of calling my book *Pilot ("Johann The Carousel Horse")* I should have called it *Hipster.*

I'm really tired but tomorrow or Wednesday I'm going to try to write something about Sandra Simond's book *Warsaw Bikini* and Kate Durbin's *Ravenous Audience* and how they pertain to the Hipster's Dilemma/Delight.

Kent's New Thing

Kent wants me to mention his new blog Digital Emunction.

And I'm doing so, even though he didn't read my entry on the Deep Image very carefully...

In fact there's a more interesting discussion about Jed Rasula's new book on Digital Emunction. I'm going over there right now to read it.

Also, there's a discussion of the Chicago scene of poetry that is mildly interesting, though it appears to have devolved in the comment section. It seems to me what Kent should be after is not so much a "school" of Chicago (that school already exists and it has a dubious history, especially its econ department) but a kind of description of a social dynamic. These are some of the dynamics Ray Bianchi tried to capture with his anthology City Visible a couple of years ago.

I have no roots in Chicago, but I really love the Chicago poetry world. I've given several readings there and a year and a half ago we staged the spectacle "The Widow Party" at Links Hall, which was an amazing experience; and I've been to several interesting readings and performances by others; and I've always found the crowd extremely positive and engaged. In New York I always felt like an interloper of sorts. This receptivity might just mean that I know more people in Chicago, or it might mean that Chicago has a very non-school-oriented scene. Basically I'm pro-Chicago, but dubious about School.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Image

"The image is not a symptom of lack, but an uncanny, excessive residue of being that subsists when all should be lacking." (Steven Shaviro, The Cinematic Body)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Robert Archambeau's Swedish Poetry and my Childhood

Here is Robert Archambeau's review of Fredrik Nyberg and Lars Gustafsson in the Boston Review.

Here is John Gallaher's response to that review.

I think this is a pretty good review. I think for example that he picks up on the similarities of these two books that in Sweden would be considered radically different.

There are a few things I would say about it. The primary being a pretty obvious one: Bob wrote on his blog that his review told "Everything you ever wanted to know about Swedish poetry" or something like that. And that's not true, even if it is written as a joke. Pick any two books (one by an older poet like Merwin or Louise Gluck and one by a younger poet like Christian Hawkey) and try to make those representative of American poetry. Gustafsson has very little to do with Swedish poetry right now. He's an old Merwin-like character.

Secondly, I would say that there are a lot of connections between Swedish and American literature. However, I think 1) we should resist the temptation to turn everything into just another version of our own literature and 2) these are not mere parallels, it's a similarity that has a history.

What I mean is that if Gustafsson reminds Bob of American poetry, it might be because he indeed lived and taught in America for a long time (and was never all that typical of a Swedish poet). More interestingly perhaps, Nyberg is a part of the journal/press OEI, an organization that was to a large extent created by Jesper Olsson, who studied at SUNY Buffalo with Bernstein, and who received a lot of support from Bernstein when Jesper returned to Sweden and set up the press. As Archambeau notes, there is an influence of American poetry on Nyberg's work.

One little correction: Gustafsson is not exactly Tranströmer's generation. Tranströmer made his debut as a very brilliant, very young poet in the 50s as part of a very Romantic-Surrealistic-influenced generation of poets. Gustafsson didn't really come around until the 60s, as a part of a generation that was not, as Bob claims, mostly Sartre-reading and Bergman-watching. This generation in Swedish literature (and art) was highly politicized in a very linguistic-turn way. There was a lot of discussion about the politics of language etc in the journals from this era. It's basically all they talk about. Gustafsson was the editor of BLM, perhaps the biggest literary journal in Sweden, and in the late 60s he had special issues dedicated to Althusser and Foucault.

The dominant aesthetic that came out of that era was "Nyenkelheten" ("New Simplicity"), which started out as an approximation of the New Novel in France but which soon led to a discussion of the politics of representation and language. Gustafsson's poetry is not that representative of this generation and he was always it seems a slightly odd character with one foot in the academy and one foot in this radical upheaval.

And the radicalness of early Simplicity soon became just a boring morass of self-reighteous/Marxist quietism. (See Par Backstrom's article about the reception of Bruno K Oijer in Action, Yes.). For the best example of the radical early Simplicity you can read the journal Rondo (1961-65)if you have access to a Swedish library and Rika Lesser's translation of Goran Sonnevi's early work if you do not (a lot of anti-US pieces, his most famous poem is an anti-Vietnam War poem that doubles back on Sweden).

This is also the cultural moment that spawned Swedish progg rock and various theatrical spectacles toured the country to raise class consciousness. For exampel National Teatern:

The editor of Rondo started a rock band called Bla Taget. Here's their critique of the capitalist nature of the welfare state:

In the 60s and 70s Tranströmer was frequently criticized, not for not being "human" enough, but for being too humanist and not political enough, and for being escapist (see entry below for more about this sort of thing). A critique that includes both linguistic-turn criticism of the political nature of language and the kind of more direct criticicsm that was leveled against Ashbery during the Vietnam War protests in the US.

Swedish culture during this time was very political and very leftist. And Culture gained a much more powerful political role than I think it did in the US. In part because the art was far more propagandistic while still being popular. When I was a kid we listened to Nationalteatern's children's record "The Island of the Robber King" and went to anti-nuclear puppet theaters and such. My family would go to parties where famous leftist artists and singers would sing their leftist songs. For example, these guys (the song is called "The People's Struggle is The People's Hope" it's from a pro-ANC concert in the 80s):

This New Simplicity also seems to have turned really Quietist in the 70s (while still being populist/Marxist/engaged). I'm not sure what happened there, but the poetry becomes not as good anymore.

The anarchist who lived in a shedd in our backyard for example was very pleased when Vi (a kind of leftwing, mainstream, cheesy lifestyle magazine) published a poem he wrote about me called "The Little Anarchist" (because my parents believed children should be allowed to do whatever they wanted I would always dress in weird clothes and wear boots in the middle of summer etc).

Archambeau's connection of Gustafsson and Nyberg is very relevant because what OEI has largely done is to go back and read the early more radical New Simplicity (and Concretism) through a Bernstein-influenced critical framework. For example Jesper's thesis (which then became a book) on Fahlstrom and Concretism makes extensive use of Bernstein to read poets that were writing decades before Bernstein's articles. The results are pretty good but a bit Americanizing (ie he sometimes turns them too much into contemporary American poets and looses their particularity). Johan Jonson's poetry (buy Collobert Orbital at SPD) is perhaps the best example of someone who's gone back to this radical root of the New Simplicity creatively(and Collobert Orbital was published by OEI).

So anyway it's a good review, but perhaps this adds a bit more nuance to the claims Bob makes.

Deep Image/Jed

Jed Rasula has an interesting new book out, The Shadowmouth: Modernism and Poetic Inspiration. And that's what it's about... I've just begun to read a little in it, so I won't offer any kind of extensive critique or summary... But I found his chapter on "Deep Image" poetry worthy of note... First because - like Jonathan Mayhew in his Lorca book - Jed offers a good critique of this important poetic moment (Bly, Wright, Strand etc)... The thing that always annoyed me about say Merwin's The Lice was the way "darkness" always just represent mystery... We can't really get into the mystery... It's where the poem ends... Jed does a good job of explaining the reason for this... The Deep Image's belief in the unconscious as a kind of pre-language... The unconscious as a pre-social self... And thus the escapist element of the poetry... And why, as Jed puts it, "darkness" reoccurs in this poetry as a kind of "drawing a blank" - the mind goes out, language goes out...

HOWEVER: I'm becoming more and more intrigued by the reasons why after many of us had to deal with this BS growing up, after this poetics is pretty widely disregarded, why is it that we see these critiques of Bly NOW?... Well it is it seems precisely because they are used by a new ascendant poetics as a strawman... I noticed that already when I got my MFA at Iowa... Everybody disparaged the strawman of the "James Wright poem"... Ron Silliman discards them as "soft surrealists"... On the other hand Tony Hoaglund dismisses "the surrealist excesses of the 1960s"... Well... In American Hybrid (if anything a monument to the current reign) Cole Swensen dismisses this image-based poetry as simplistic in favor of a more fractured, syntactically indeterminate, langpo-influenced (and in some ways just plain langpo) poetry that is more sophisticated... And which Cole connects to the New Critical notion of a heroic high art... Cole also repeats New Criticim's politics... That through this complex experience of poetry protect us agains the onslaught of mass culture...

Bly and Co deserved every bit of criticism... And I'm certainly not eager to return to that kind of poetry... Joyelle's and my manifesto of "Soft Surrealism" was occasionally misinterpreted as this but it was really a critique of Silliman's and this whole trope opposed to softnesse, exess, lack, disability etc... I'm in some ways more interested in the rhetoric used to dismiss it... In this book Jed follows many of the same trope as Cole...Seeing image as low-brow... He compares deep image poetry to the "wow" of an acid trip... and calls Bly's poetry "homespun polaroid surrealism" ... And "deep image pop gun"... Like that guy who called Lara "hot topics" the rhetoric is one of resisting mass culture, the vulgarity of mass culture, cheapness, kitchiness and tackiness... And for Jed (as for Cole) this has to do with resisting the vulgarity of the image... Images are simplistic and vulgar... The way you resist them is through syntactical fracturings (for both COle and Jed)... That's why he thinks Rothenburg and Kelly are better poets than Bly and Co... (they are, but is this why?)... Further, the problem of images is their allure... Jed at one point suggests that a poem by Antin might be seen as slipping up at one point and "indulge in deep image" even after Antin has been "liberated" by McLow's syntactic critique...

... Another problem with the Deep Image is that their embrace of a mysterious "darkness" is an attempt to return to the "womb"... The pre-social self.... Thus politically regressive... Not only does this become problematic becaus Bly in fact did a lot of political protesting and his "teeth mother" book is about the Vietnam war... It's also problematic because of gender... Now there's a chapter on gender in Jed's book so I don't want to talk about it before I've read it... But it should be noted that there are awfully few women in both Bly's and Jed's pantheons... (though this is certainly not true of American Hybrid it should be noted)... And more importantly, pop culture... that seductive, indulgent, excessive force that so scares all these establishment people (from Bly to Silliman to Hoaglund and Jed) is generally portrayed as female... Gothic art and literature has for example traditionally been portrayed in terms of prostitution to mass culture...

... I always saw Deep Image not as some surrealist force meant to unleash our unconscious but rather a way to control the image... Anybody who was in a creative writing class in the 80s-90s (perhaps still) knows that the poet has to "earn" the image... It can only come at the end when the poem has been fundamentally established as real and authentic... If you let the image in earlier you haven't earned it yet baby... You've broken the economics of poetry composition... A very protestant economy... Too much imagery and you're becoming excessive.... ruining the economy... destroying the wealth... You become crass... And that's why I like the term "gurlesque" that so many people seem to dislike... It's crass and excessive...

... Later today I'm going to write a thing about Swedish poetry for John Gallahar (I have to first fill out my immigration forms so I don't get thrown out of here)... And perhaps I'll expound on Aase Berg's second book "Mork Materia" - Dark Matter - then... But for now I will say that it - not Creeley's "imageless image" - provides me with the anti-dote to the "Deep Image"... Not refrain tactfully from the image but go through it... Use syntactic distortions *and* fleeing, movie-montage-like imagery... Not to provide an elevated place for poetry... But to send it straight into the lowest, crassest place... Dark matter here refers to outer space yes but not the mysterious space of the deep imagists... No here it is SHIT... Fecal matter... That's the dark matter in one very primary sense... Berg takes Harry Martinsson's Aniara, an allegory of hovering aimless and melancholically in space, in the mechanical womb of a space ship... and crashes it into the weird world Martinsson only obliquely refers to... Not a pre-social womb but a womb that is very much part of the social... a womb that is not pre-language and natural... but a social critique... a world where women feed their children unnatural black milk... Again we're back to surrealism and how it has come to mean all that is excessive and obscolete (which as Benjamin pointed out decades ago is a central mode of surrealism) and tasteless...

But Jed's book does seem really excellent so I'll try to post more about it... I certainly recognize a lot of it from having been Jed's student and thesis advisee for a few years...

Monday, September 14, 2009

from Ana Božičević

Friends, poets, teachers, family, stars, comrades:

my debut book, Stars of the Night Commute, will be 'officially' out on November 1, and is now available for pre-order from Tarpaulin Sky Press. Yes, the stars have appeared in the sky. If you go to, you can pre-order your copy now — and I hope you will.

I'm not much for author statements. I can tell you this, though: nothing went into this book that didn't wriggle under my fingers, that didn't feel inevitable. If it bored, out it went. If it shimmied and shimmered, or at least kicked me in the shins, it stayed. I hope you will read it and I hope that what you mine from between its covers won't be fool's gold but the kind of ore you can bequeath to your night self. The front cover image is by Remedios Varo, and just its beauty is worth the book's price. Still, some words by smarter people: Annie Finch, Noelle Kocot, Eileen Myles & Franz Wright, about what's behind that cover, are below.

If you are interested in receiving a review copy of Stars of the Night Commute, let me know, and I'll arrange one to be sent to you. I would very much like to hear constructive criticism, so please tackle it with feathers and icepicks: I invite dialogue, hot and cold. Below you will also find the dates of some upcoming readings/book parties on the East & West Coast. More will be added. Come and give me a hug or kick me in the shin. And if you run a reading series and might want me to read for you in the coming year, write to me.

A public hurray to Christian Peet & Elena Georgiou of Tarpaulin Sky Press for betting on this horse!

And love to you from


Stars of the Night Commute haunts in three dimensions, knit by a below-words rumble in the sure rhythm of dreams. Many of the poems carry a shamanistic, elemental quality, as if real matter were articulating out of word-fragments. Božičević writes, "At the end of poetry the poem can no longer be remote." If this is "the end of poetry," perhaps poetry is, after all, reaching forward back to its beginning.

—Annie Finch

Ana Božičević's poetry has everything—a mastery of language, a distinct and singular voice and a worldview so visionary and all-encompassing, so as to both terrify and astound. The words bristle with life, and they command the deepest reverence for the Ineffable, for pure Being. This poetry is clever without being shallow, and this is truly rare. Silence is my most honest response to her work, but a silence rooted in respect and awe for that which is truly great art.

—Noelle Kocot

Ana Božičević’s work is sort of animist – it’s either about silence or the racket of the world. How does she do it? Clicks the switch to say it’s silent & it’s happening then on a distant tiny stage. She’s muttering, and then it’s a story and a very good one. I mean in poetry at some point you don’t know what the writer means. In Ana’s work I watch “it” vanish (all the time) & I trust it.

—Eileen Myles

Ana Božičević's work is filled with a wild freedom, and reading it often reminds me of reading Wallace Stevens, in that you know absolutely anything can happen next but whatever it is, it will be perfect. In her poems she expresses an attitude of solemn responsibility to history, both the world's and her own, yet there is often a marvelous lightness, even playfulness about them. She is able to stretch language to its most ineffable and musical limits while maintaining a masterful grasp of the colloquial. These are not just technical matters. An émigré from reality (in the form of one of modern time's most monstrously and moronically cruel wars) and a Cassandra, she is able to perceive with the eyes of language—then render with lyrical immediacy—the experience of our collective sleepwalking soul, who may well soon awaken to discover that its terror was not a dream.

—Franz Wright

Readings & events

November 5, 2009: San Francisco, CA
SFSU Poetry Center
Ana Božičević and Amy King

November 6, 2009: San Francisco, CA
The Green Arcade
Ana Božičević and Amy King

November 9, 2009: New York, NY
Triptych Readings
Ana Božičević, Vijay Seshadri, and Charles Wright

November 30, 2009: New York, NY
The Poetry Project
Ana Božičević and Allison Cobb

About Ana Božičević

Ana Božičević was born in Zagreb, Croatia in 1977. She emigrated to NYC in 1997. Stars of the Night Commute is her first book of poems. Her fifth chapbook, Depth Hoar, will be published by Cinematheque Press in 2010. With Amy King, Ana co-curates The Stain of Poetry reading series in Brooklyn, and is co-editing an anthology, The Urban Poetic, forthcoming from Factory School. She works at the Center for the Humanities of The Graduate Center, CUNY. For more, visit

Thursday, September 10, 2009


BONK! 12
(doors open at 5:30)

BONK! homies,

I bring you excellent news: the September line up is out of this world. So awesome that I had to send you an early e-mail. But that's partially because I know a bunch of people are going to come up from Milwaukee and Chicago for this event, since our acts are very big all over the nation, and I want Racine folk to come early, since we have a limited number of seats, as you all know : )

Here is the line up:

Ish Klein-- poet/ video artist/ puppeteer (

Johannes Goransson--writer/ translator (

Joyelle McSweeney--writer (

I will see all of you--all of you--at BONK! on the 26th, I'm sure. It is going to be to be off the proverbial chain and Racine will never be the same (for better or worse.

Love you all,

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

And this

Fever Ray Kicks Off North American Tour in New York
September 28-29
Swedish electronic music act Fever Ray kicks off a North American tour with two shows at Webster Hall in New York on September 28-29.

Fever Ray is the solo project of Karin Dreijer Andersson, one half of the acclaimed Swedish electronic music duo The Knife whose most recent full-length album Silent Shout was selected Top Music Album of 2006 by the editors of Pitchfork Media.

Fever Ray's eponymous debut album was released in March 2009. The project features many of the dark textured soundscapes, haunting vocal styles, and electronic foundations of The Knife, but is starker, moodier, more somber and more personal.

I wish I could go to this

Roy Andersson: Swedish Filmmaker in Focus at MoMA
September 10-18
Award-winning Swedish director Roy Andersson will be personally on hand to introduce his life's work at a retrospective film exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Roy Andersson is one of Sweden's most acclaimed filmmakers. His films, visually striking and often leaning toward the absurd, take aim at everything from petty bourgeois self-satisfaction and the corruption of the social democratic welfare state to World War II, consumerism, and notions of national solidarity.

His third feature, Songs from the Second Floor, won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. His humorous television commercials for such clients as Citroën, Volvo and Lotto were once described by Ingmar Bergman as "the best commercials in the world". The MoMA retrospective includes Andersson's four feature films, as well as his student projects from the 1960s, commercials and short films.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My Glamorous Life

Monday, September 07, 2009

McSweeney on Hejinian

Did I post this link before?

This is Joyelle's take on Lyn Hejinian's "Saga/Circus" from the Boston Review.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


It's good that Sweden's coach (likely the worst national coach in the world) finally realized that when you have the world's best player (Sorry, Portugal, it's not even close) as a striker on your team, you play some offense. Even if that means forsaking decades of boring Swedish soccer "team play." Zlatan led Sweden to 2-1 win in Hungary, and now maybe they have a chance to make it to the world cup. It's not the prettiest goal, but hey:

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Poetry etc

Been very busy and exhausted but I wanted to say a few things I've been meaning to write.

A while back I talked about the "mediocre" selection criteria of the AWP. What I meant by that is that there is still this noxious notion of "the average person" that should for some reason be catered to (even though AWP in part creates this figure). This in turn does cut out a lot of interesting work, many titles of which have been mentioned on the Net. And that does include a lot of women panels.

I was on some panels that seemed very interesting to me and that were rejected and I'm on one panel - on US writers of non-US ethnic backgrounds or immigrant poets or something like that - that was accepted (and which is also interesting to me).

It is however curious to me that there are like three or four panels with immigrant poets but I can't find any panels on literatures of foreign countries. Which is what I think I'll end up talking about anyway because that I think explains quite a bit about where I'm coming from (and why I so frequently feel like I'm jamming my head into a brick wall).

In the most recent Fence there are good poems by Janaka Stucky, Sean Kilpatrick and others. And there is a great Bataillean essay by Joyelle and an interesting critique of "Fabulism" by Kate Bernheimer.

Somebody wondered what the Expressen interview with Aase Berg linked in a previous post said so I meant to quickly translate that but I don't think I have time, so I just hastily translated three paragraphs from it:

“I have one reader and he’s a UFO. That’s enough for me.” That’s what Aase Berg told me in the beginning of her career. She didn’t talk about he critics – they had reacted strongly, immediately and with varying views of her first book. Berg was identified as a kind of literary breaking point. Her poetry was respectless, ritual, rhythmic and linguistically violent.
After the third book, Forsla Fett, her statement had no mandate any longer. The book was widely admired and the wider readership discovered Aase Berg’s writings…

Anybody who knows anything about contemporary Swedish poetry knows that Aase Berg is one of the most important authors around. Her books are analyzed at universities, discussed at writing programs; people read her literary criticism on the cultural pages of the daily papers and cultural journals, and hear them on the radio’s cultural programming. But even though she is so widely read and respected, she has trouble seeing herself as any kind of role model for other poets.

“But I notice that what I write receives a certain response and I can see how various writers have been inspired by my books. It’s not that I recognize the way I write in other people’s poetry, they don’t copy me. It’s rather an attitude,” says Berg.