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Political Poetry: An Epistolary Conversation

By Forrest Gander

Two very different new books, one by Naomi Shihab Nye and one by Kent Johnson, turn epistolary toward remarkably similar and fierce political ends.
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Honeybee (Greenwillow Press) by Naomi Shihab Nye
LETTERS MY PREZ IS NOT SENDING
Dear Rafik, Sorry about that soccer game
you won’t be attending since you now
have no…
Dear Fawziya, You know, I have a mom too
so I can imagine what you…
Dear Shadiya, Think about your father
versus democracy, I’ll bet you’d pick…
No, no, Sami, that’s not true
what you said at the rally,
that our country hates you,
we really support your move
toward freedom,
that’s why you no longer have
a house or a family or a village…
Dear Hassan, If only you could see
the bigger picture…
Dear Mary, I’m surprised you have
what we would call a Christian name
since you yourself…
Dear Ribhia, Sorry about that heart attack,
I know it must have been rough to live
your entire life under occupation,
we’re sending a few more bombs over now
to fortify your oppressors,
but someday we hope for peace in the region,
sorry you won’t be there to see it…
Dear Suheir, Surely a voice is made to be raised,
don’t you see we are speaking
for your own interests…
Dear Sharif, Violence is wrong
unless we are using it,
why doesn’t that make sense…
Dear Nadia, I did not know about
your special drawer, you know I like
to keep a few things too that have meaning to me…
Dear Ramzi, You really need to stop crying now
and go on about your business…
Dear Daddo, I know 5 kids
must feel like a lot to lose in one swoop
but we can’t stop our efforts…
Dear Fatima, Of course I have feelings
for your own people, my college roommate
was from Lebanon…
Dear Mahmoud, I wish I had time
to answer your letter but you must understand
the mail has really been stacking up…
*
*
*
*
johnson300.jpg
Homage to the Last Avant-Garde (Shearsman Editions) by Kent Johnson
BAGHDAD EXCEEDS ITS OBJECT
I want to be in the class of people who did….the thing that met the aesthetic of the moment.
–Douglas Feith, Under-Secretary of Defense, as quoted in The New Yorker.
Come off it, Tha’lab, you faker, you kadhib,
yes, very funny, but for goodness’ sake–
just put back those purple bowels in your tummy,
you’ll be late for work!
Make haste, Safia, you little scamp, you pig-tailed qasida,
put that fat flap of scalp back on your crown–
now’s not the hour for teenage pranks,
it’s time to go to school!
Ah, quit moaning Miss Al-Sayab, you muwashshara,
we know that fetus hanging from your bottom is a rubber trick–
we’re not stupid, you know, so cease being crass,
and get ye to market!
Cut the crap, Nizar, you iltizam,
pick that torso up and put it back on your dancing spine–
we know that old box and mirror trick,
now get thee to prayers!
Hey, Rashid, you al-nahda,
we know you love the special effects of Hollywood movies,
but it’s not safe to make yourself into a geyser of fire–
and anyway, you’re supposed to be accompanying the inspectors!
Say there, little Samih, you shirnur,
six-month-olds aren’t supposed to be able to fly–
so get down from those power lines and gather
your legs and head on the ground here, you naughty child!
Listen, Tawfiq, you tafila,
OK, so you’re a sorry-assed academic with a Ba’ath mustache,
but put your brains back into your head, you can’t fool us by calling in sick–
it’s time for class and your students are ablaze!
Yo bro, my main-man Bashad, you tardiyyat,
you’re as if dead and white as marble, but there’s not a scratch on your body–
quit fucking around, the mosque is rubble,
make the siren light flash and spin on your ambulance!
Greetings Ahmad, you badi-kamriyyat,
put your face back on and also that water pipe hose thing back into your belly–
yeah, boo hoo, so your kid died of dysentery…
Suck it up! The price is worth it!
Now pick up that basket of sweet fruits and gum!
Good morning, Mrs. al-Jurjani, you madin,
author of four essays on postmodern currents in American poetry,
what are you howling and wailing like that for, hitting your skull
against the flagstones like a mechanical hammer?
A horse is a horse, and if a horse is dead, a horse is dead–
More so, you are naked, which is unbecoming of a lady your age and standing.
Like Hamlet, your emotion is unconvincing, for it exceeds its object.
Therefore, we beseech thee: Show some gratitude, and put a plug in it.

Comments (14)

  • On September 30, 2008 at 12:05 pm Kent Johnson wrote:

    Thanks for posting this, Forrest. Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem is also included in a book just released from BloodAxe in UK.
    There *are* strong resemblances here. In fact, the similarities between the poems seem, arguably, a bit too close to be coincidental: Though there is a difference in “tone,” the rhetorical/ideational strategies appear oddly homologous–and a couple stanzas seem to me near-dead-ringers.
    I could be wrong, I suppose. Maybe the eerie echo is just some really freakish occurrence.
    And I do like Nye’s poem. I’m certainly glad she wrote it. (I heard that when she read it last week at the Dodge Poetry Festival in NJ, she nearly brought the crowded tent down.)
    IF she worked off from my poem in some way (mine was first published in 2003, on eve of the Iraq invasion), I’d feel very flattered. Poets today should openly imitate more than they do, I’ve argued elsewhere.
    However, and to draw from something a friend just wrote to me, it might be good, in this time of poetic poaching and pastiche, to think a bit more about when and how a poet should acknowledge his or her borrowing. Or not? Where is the border between imitation (in classic sense of imitatio) and something other?
    Kent

  • On September 30, 2008 at 3:57 pm John Bradley wrote:

    I’ve been reading Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry for many years and admire her work. I’d very much like to hear her comments on the writing of this poem. Is she familiar with Kent Johnson’s poem? Was she consciously echoing it? Was she subconsciously echoing it? If either case, should there be some sort of acknowledgement of Johnson’s poem? Or is there no need for a poet to tip the hat to the poem that sparks her or his poem? Might it make the sparked poem seem less original if there’s an acknowledgement? Lots of fascinating questions are raised here.

  • On September 30, 2008 at 10:50 pm Vivek Narayanan wrote:

    I found it very useful and illuminating to read Kent Johnson’s poem above in conjunction with:
    a) the vocal performance of the poem by Kent (with a slightly different title), which clearly lives out the schizophrenic nature of the American psyche it describes in a way that (I feel) is scary, very brave and unfortunately makes complete sense:
    http://www.geoffreygatza.com/media/basexc.mp3 [links directly to an mp3 on the blazevox site]
    b) his poem Lyric Poetry After Auschwitz, which enunciates that schizophrenia even more clearly:
    http://www.geoffreygatza.com/arkv/bvox04/kent.htm — I also heard a vocal performance of Kent reading this somewhere, but I can’t remember where and
    c) the beautiful poem Baghdad, which plays all this out in a very different, elegiac lyric register, and where, more than ever, the finger (which finger?) is pointed squarely back not just at the administration we all hate but also at American poetry:
    http://www.speechlessthemagazine.org/magazine/closeup_mag303.htm#Baghdad [text]
    http://www.geoffreygatza.com/media/bagdad.mp3 [vocal performance–links directly to mp3]

  • On October 1, 2008 at 9:48 am Jordan wrote:

    It does make one think, doesn’t it.

  • On October 1, 2008 at 9:49 am John Latta wrote:

    In lieu of any nod or hint forthcoming from Naomi Shihab Nye regarding the compositional circumstances of “Letters My Prez Is Not Sending,” and faced with the seemingly unending illegal and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps one possible response’d lie in a kind of snowballing of highly ironic epistolary threats and condolences addressed to the Iraqi and Afghanistani peoples throughout the poetickally-minded populace. A sort of “Alice’s Restaurant” scenario:

    And if three poets do it, three, can you imagine, three poets walking into the Poetry Foundation and reading a new version of “Baghdad Exceeds Its Object” and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking into the White House reciting a terrifying new version of “Baghdad Exceeds Its Object” and walking out. And friends they may think it’s a movement.

    As it should well be.
    Même combat,
    John

  • On October 2, 2008 at 8:48 am Dale Smith wrote:

    Actually, despite the surface similarities, Nye’s poem is more neatly packaged–like the NPR version of Kent’s poem–and copyedited for eight-graders. I can imagine Nye’s poem making white people nod in sympathy with those poor Arabs, while Kent’s poem claws at the eyes of that same audience.
    By coincidence, my review of “Homage to the Last Avant-Garde” should be posted at http://bookslut.com next week.

  • On October 3, 2008 at 12:32 pm david chirot wrote:

    I think the movement from the Johnson to the Nye poems charts the course of an entropy which is all too familiar in terms of both writing and energy of ideas and emotions These aspects of textuality in the Johnson poem reverberate with Poe-esque effects and after effects creating an ongoing wave that, as it diminishes in sound and distance turns into a nice small object, a vase or urn shall we say, to be placed above the mantelpiece, there to be regarded as “a thing of beauty (that) is a joy forever.”
    One might call it the entropy of furnishings, or, as Poe wrote of it, the “Philosophy of Furniture” modulated into another form, that of a feng shui rearrangement of objects in a room so that one is perfectly aligned with the “correct” conjunctions of being. This is a new form of American being that radiates for all the hinted at horrors, a sense of attunement with an interiorized space from which the horrors are excluded and projected entirely elsewhere, beyond the Walls, beyond the screens, beyond the views of the windows, and so are easy to make peace with as something to almost be thankful for having something to be “against” morally, and in such a way be pleasantly reminded that one indeed is NOT like that Ugly American, our President, but much more like, indeed, a being of grace and beauty and peaceful compassion.
    For are we not the most righteous peoples of the earth say the “good” Americans?
    One finds very much the same tone in “radical, innovative” poetry as one does in the more mainstream, that is, a tone of a quiet and reasonable rectitude that is “concerned,” but not outraged, violent, or terrified by what is happening in Iraq let alone anywhere else the US is heavily involved in, with torture, bombings, ethnic cleansings and the construction of ever more Walls being kept out of sight of the neatly arranged “composition of furniture.”
    I don’t mean any disrespect to Ms. Nye and her poem, as they are doing what far too few American poets and poems are. What I find interesting in terms of the writing are the issues which have been raised by others here, especially Misters Bradley and Beer, as a series of “diminishing modulations” of the examples, details and tone of the Johnson poem, and the manner in which all the dirt and blood as it were have been cleaned away to make room for the poem as a shining object. In a sense, it is not unlike the process of sublimation in chemistry by which the dross is “cooked away” to arrive at the “pure element,” the Sublime as it were, as one finds it “translated/sublimed into” terms befitting the “Mont Blanc” of Shellyan Romanticism.
    This process initiates a “removal to a distance” of the subject in order for there to be that contemplation of the Sublime which fills one with a sense of awe that is appropriately “poetic,” rather than one that is, as Johnson’s piece does, using poetry to question the nature, subject matter and formal presentation of the “poetic.”
    Johnson’s poems in his book “Lyric Poetry After Auschwitz” set out to inquire into the areas opened by the famous though oft only partially quoted statement of Theodor Adorno’s: “I have no wish to soften the saying to write lyric poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric . . . {But} literature must resist this verdict.”
    “Lyric Poetry After Auschwitz” opens with a poem “After Archilocus,” in which the inventor of the lyric poem, himself a professional solider, has no qualms about this statement; for Archilocus poetry and war, as he himself writes elsewhere, are the two muses/Gods that he happily serves together. Archilocus, however, does something which I think is closer to Johnson’s writing than contemporaries writing “after Auschwitz” as though lyric poetry were indeed barbaric. That is, like Archilocus the inventor also of the satiric epigram and the cutting lines of black, gallows humor in treating of subjects both grim and beautiful, Johnson includes the bizarre laughter evoked in response to horror which Archilocus as a soldier was not afraid of, even turning it on himself at times.
    (A past master of this is Francois Villon, in 15th Century France, another poet who deals openly with the gallows, torture, murder, thievery and death Fittingly, Villon was born in Paris during one of its worst winters, with wolves roaming the streets and eating children, in the same year Jeanne d’Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen.)
    Turning to the history of American poetry, the criticism of Poe’s provides I think an excellent starting place for the criticism of the modulations of echoes conscious or unconscious in the similarities between poems, as well as the degrees of distance from an original text to a later one that resembles it in many ways as a process aimed at making a “product” more “safely, cleanly, commercially” palatable, to one of Poe’s favorite of all hobby horses, plagiarism. Granted Poe’s growing obsession with plagiarism carrying him away at times, Poe being Poe, not to mention a man of great imaginative energy, he is still the greatest investigator into the questions of such manifestations of influences, copying, echoes, concealed or obvious borrowings and the like that US America has been blessed with. As a poet himself, his ear and eye are truly finely tuned to the slightest of vibrations carrying from one poet’s rendering to another of the same or nearly identical lines, to the editing into slightly different form of the basically the same lines, and into the stages by which borrowing may be arrived at in such a way as to protect itself to some degree against the claims of it having been borrowed, even when it is at once “plain to hear see” and “hard to prove.”
    Another interesting aspect of the relationship of the Nye and Johnson poems is, I think, that it is a poet outside in many ways the would be realm which Johnson’s poem “inhabits” that is making use (if she indeed is) of his poem. That is, the ostensible audience for Johnson’s work is more likely to be taken to be that of the (I will use their own terms) “post avant” and “avant” than the perhaps more “mainstream” readers who are those intended by Ms Nye’s work. On the one hand, this may mean that Ms. Nye may count on her readers being unfamiliar with the Johnson poem due to its being circulated in a different realm of the poetry world, or, on the other, that she may recognize it for its qualities in a way which perhaps is denied by those in the realm in which Johnson’s work circulates. In the latter sense, it is a form, however conflicted, of compliment, perhaps. By this I mean that one doesn’t often find a “mainstream” poet borrowing from or being aware of a non-mainstream poet’s work. On the other hand, if indeed borrowing is at work, then should it not be acknowledged? And, if not a direct borrowing, say, “influenced by,” then, again one may well say that the poem is “After Kent Johnson,” the “After” mode being one not often not enough really addressed outside of, fittingly, the work of Kent Johnson, who has written many more than the “After Archilocus” mentioned above.
    For myself, I think another aspect that is interesting is that if there is indeed a recognition by Ms Nye of Jonson’s work—when I say that this may be a form of compliment in a peculiar way, it is because at this moment such “avant” writers as Charles Bernstein and appear in Harpers and the New Yorker, while denying the importance of the works Johnson and others who are participant in the same poetic circles. The compliment implied, if there is one, to me at any rate, is that Johnson’s work finds its way to an audience outside the “friendly confines” of the “avant world” without having to “play it safe” or perhaps even pander, in the way that others do to arrive at the recognition of the very mainstream journals they have made a career out of attacking as “official verse culture” and the like.
    Personally, I think of Johnson’s work as participating more in a “world writing” context than simply an American “avant” etc one. A great many of the issues and concerns with which his work is involved one finds being addressed and taken with a much greater seriousness in the literatures of Europe and Latin America than in the United States. There are aspects of the works conceptually which one finds a kinship with in many of the Latin language writers influenced by Borges, Parra, Perec, and Pessoa and Russians such as Prigov–—and to which Johnson has added in a very amazing and subversive way, the “After Lorca” of Jack Spicer.
    Indeed, I think that Johnson has opened up the question of writing “After” in ways which have not previously been done in, as far as I know, American literature. Also, by his works from the Greek, his translations of Jamie Saenz and others, Johnson has continually emphasized this “world dimension” of writing in terms of its crossing of languages and times, so that the Lyric which is attacked today, is re-examined in the writings “After Archilocus,” its inventor as it were. For, again, it is in the very heart of lyric poetry that one encounters a person simultaneously solider and poet. It is from the “origins” as it were of Western lyric poetry that the encounters in Johnson’s Iraq poems spring, which is to say, that long before Marinetti’s Italian Futurism, it was understood that the “slap” and the “punch” and the violence and speeds of the military were encountered by poetry and that to say this is “barbaric,” as Adorno states, is to be resisted.
    There is often the distinction made, almost become a cliché, that American Language and some post Language “avant” works are a “critique of the lyric self or ‘I’”. The problem with such a critique mis that it is still involved with the self, the “I,” for the critique revolves around it, as the Sun once was said to revolve around the Earth. Such a form of critique necessarily points away from the one who is making the critique, for it is taken for granted that one oneself is NOT the “lyric I,” as are those benighted fools who still so suppose themselves to be, and cling by reason of this to “outmoded” forms of writing. One of the pitfalls of this critique is that it pretends to find a way “out of the self” in language, language shorn of reference and existing solely as a “material word.”
    Now, if the “self” has vanished, and become instead an object, is that object to protest if it is copied word for word and signed by another person’s name? By this I mean I am wondering what might happen if Ms Nye had perhaps simply used a poem by a Language poet for her piece rather than (perhaps) one by Kent Johnson?
    At another level, in regards to lyric poetry and its relationship with violence, that there is a lyric self implies the self-criticism and self-reflection which is exhibited in Archilocus’ works. This same form of self-critique is found in spiritual disciplines as well as in revolutionary cadres, most often associated with Marxists, yet existing among others also.
    In terms of this historical use of the lyric self as a method of self-criticism in terms of actions and behaviors, Johnson’s making use of Adorno’s critique and its “resistance” is a different way of reopening a critique of the lyrical self in poetry in relation with the as it were military self which has been abandoned for the most part in poetry since the “bad objects” of the fascist aspects of Italian futurism.
    If one returns again to Archilocus, poet-soldier, and some of the questions Johnson is opening, then one finds again that the origins of the avant-garde are in the military—that is, that the military term was linked with the artistic and poetic avant-gardes and only by later movements being “turned off” by –if they even knew of them—the Italian Futurists’ outright militarism and advocating of “war, the world’s hygiene,” leaving behind and separating from the military aspects, did this origin become nearly forgotten. This is perhaps why there has been very little “resistance” to the military by the contemporary American avant-garde in any direct way. It is as though it has nothing to do with the realm of poetry as it is taken to be in a purely formal sense. Yet, is not Archilocus himself the literal “embodiment” of the military at the heart of the lyric? So, of course, “avant” poetry needs to be anti-lyric and anti-self, in the pretence that this separates poetry from war and one may go on writing formal works which have no concern with the political-military situation as a disaster which is occurring, all the same, in language.
    And not only IN language, but TO language—for is it not said since time immemorial that language is the first casualty of war?
    The arc of entropy from Johnson’s poems to Nye’s is that diminishment of questioning, and of poetry as action, as resistance, as a struggle, which turns the “engagement” of the writer and language into an “object of contemplation” for the reader. In the entropic sense perhaps, Language and other “avant” modes which announce themselves as “allowing the reader to create their own meanings” disperse the “object of contemplation” into what one may perhaps designate as purportedly “deregulated” zones
    of readings, in which one wonders to what degree of diffusion the reader is allowed to venture before being called back by the suddenly wary “author” sensing the return of the instinct to “protect one’s property.”
    A paradox of the “name of the author” is that as one ascends the hierarchy of the “value” and “weight” of the name of the author, it becomes easier for those above to “borrow” from those below. Perhaps this has what has happened with Johnson’s poem—that a bigger name has felt the right to borrow from one considered “lesser” I the “weight” of public acceptance and renown, and so the “borrowing” is not to be pretested. A lot of the history of art and writing is made up of such incidents, to be sure! In fact, these incidents constitute in themselves a whole area of literary examination which has been investigated off and on by authors through the centuries, and form in a way a kind of para-literature of the para-site—that is, literature which feeds off of other literature, sometimes as a conceptual exercise, sometimes as a means to exploiting a good idea or text, sometimes simply due to the lack of imagination which often characterizes the overwhelming call for production on the part of the industry known as “literature” and “poetry.”
    In a time of war, if one writer is borrowing another’s writing as a model pretty much directly for an expression of outrage and protest, does that mean that the second writer is in a sense borrowing also the feelings of outrage and protest of the first? Borrowing the courage of the first to speak out and sufficiently changing it into an object of “aesthetic value” so as to blunt the outrage and turn it into a work “for the ages,” rather than of “too narrowly particular a concern”? In these instances, one is delving deeper into what may be called “the emptiness of affect” which needs to be filled from a source that is rawer, and then converted into a form which “sublimes” the dross and preserves the “joy fever” which is taken to be the “well-wrought” poem.
    At ever level of the arc of entropy as it makes is way towards that solid state of an object for contemplation—there is an increasing distance created between the writer and the reader from the actions which triggered the first poem in its more direct confrontations with outrage. For in every sense, this has become a culture which wants to condemn such acts, but at a distance, as an object, rather than as an action, an engagement, for to do so is to be forced to examine the role that each person is playing in the complicity and collusion with the military actions being taken in their name, whether they are for them or not.
    What this evinces is the result of a populace being continually being put in fear for its own security, a populace afraid to use direct language because it may be seen as taking the “wrong side,” or approving acts which are designated as “unspeakable.” And al the while they are in fact condoning the most unspeakable acts by their silence, or by the aestheticization of acts which once were “beyond the pale” and are now are routine.
    At the bottom of all this I think is the issue of torture, for once torture is officially sanctioned by a government, and is used in the clandestine manner as well as in the publicized, it begins to infect with a cancer the uses of language with which a society is able to even speak about itself. The acceptance or silence regarding torture reveals the distinctions made among degrees of critique of the self as a form of evasion of the fundamental question of the dehumanization and complete disregard for the individual rights of other human beings which is the act or torture. For torture once sanctioned and accepted, acknowledged and carried out openly as well as in secret, is not a separate entity from the system as a whole of a society, but becomes an integral part of its sense of security.
    And with torture, language has entered a while different dimension, for as a Russian artist writes: “Language is fascism, not because it censors, but because it forces one to speak.” And that forcing to speak, whether it is the truth or sheer gibberish, is what torture is all about.
    I think that beyond the questions of “influence” involved between the poems by Nye and Johnson, there lies this vast questioning that is being posed by torture to our conceptions of language and of being not “selves” but humans confronting the question of what is “human” in the treatment of other humans, in terms of language and in terms of actions.
    Given that Kent Johnson is one of the very American writers to address some of these questions, I think it is significant that his work has undergone the arcing of entropy into the Nye poem, as a an example not solely of two writers, but of the consciousness and uses of language of a culture faced with its uses of torture. And also time to turn to Mr. Poe to reopen the studies involved in the questions of the traveling nature of words from one writer to another—in all their different and ever multiplying guises–

  • On October 3, 2008 at 4:08 pm bill knott wrote:

    . . . both poems are well written, and worthy of attention——
    most of the comments above seem to want to accuse Nye
    of plagiarizing Johnson,
    but are afraid to use the term,
    since they want to valorize “appropriation” for obvious
    reasons . . .
    but it is possible for two or more poets to conceive the same idea
    sort of simultaneously, isn’t it?
    (can someone adduce some examples from the past?)——
    but if she did cop the trope from him,
    doesn’t the phrase
    “chickens coming home to roost”
    apply?

  • On October 3, 2008 at 6:14 pm Austin Smith wrote:

    Before this blog gets buried too deep in the e-sediment, I’d like to pay homage to Homage, a beautiful and necessary book of poems written by a beautiful and necessary man, Kent Johnson, who raised me on poetry in the wolfish wilds of Freeport, Illinois, and to whom I am forever grateful.

  • On October 5, 2008 at 12:40 pm john wrote:

    Dale Smith’s comment that “Kent’s poem claws at the eyes of” the audience reminds not that I don’t like having my eyes clawed at — because I didn’t need reminding — but that the etymological root of “sarcasm” is “to strip off the flesh,” which is what Kent’s poem is about, literally and figuratively and rhetorically.
    Thanks, Forrest, for posting these poems.

  • On October 6, 2008 at 11:17 am Lanny Quarles wrote:

    I guess I’m going to be the fart in the bath-tub..
    While the writing is of a high quality in these, the subject matter is rather boring.
    Can Kent Johnson name a 100 year period in the last 40,000 when some variety
    of Ape on Ape killing has not been in vogue somewhere.
    Frankly, who cares. The news is out. Yes, human Monkeys are still incredible violent
    and stupid. Great. That’s really anyone needs to know. You can get flowery
    and speak of ‘difference’ etc.. but basically its just stupidity ie intelligence, and that’s
    the problem.. there IS NO PROOF OF ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO..
    If intelligence keeps you alive, it’s “smart”.. if stupidity keeps you alive it’s “smart”..
    You can get flowery and speak of a rocky…

  • On October 7, 2008 at 12:28 am M Swaid wrote:

    Ahlan ahlan Mssr. Kent, wa salaam alaikum.
    This work you’ve posted is zabeileh. The truly sad thing about most poets is their ability to sniff out a trend outweighs their actual ability to understand and write about it. This neurotic craving for notice is the static between clumsy line breaks and hackneyed, self righteous pedagogy. And hence, most poetry is born. Oh well….Flan u’falaney is said to have said that. Maybe Ms. Nye will explain that to you one day. Or…maybe not! I know I certainly won’t.
    Peace on you in any case.

  • On October 10, 2008 at 3:19 pm Geoffrey Gatza wrote:

    More from Kent Johnson at BlazeVOX [books]
    If you like Kent Johnson, there is two wonderful books for your reading pleasure.
    Poetic Architecture:
    A series of twelve progressively more difficult quizzes, with two unexpected pieces of correspondence, dedicated to the © onceptual Poetries and its Others Symposium [University of Arizona Poetry Center, May, 2008], whose artfully designed program guide, complete with © onceptual Poet photos and bios detailing book publications and academic affiliations, rivals that of any exhibit brochure of any Fine Arts Museum of the world, for which we should be thankful, of course, as such instructive over-the-top irony is rare, even for our current avant-garde scene, where an exorbitant surplus of unintentionally staged moments of Dramatic Irony so often makes one gape in dazed wonder, as if the vista were Dubai, or something of the sort.
    See Also: Epigramititis: 118 Living American Poets
    http://www.blazevox.org/bk-kj2.htm

  • On August 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm Jean-Pierre de Villers wrote:

    so many words!! Please stop it. My only comment: All poetry is political. Best to you Jp de Villers


Posted in Uncategorized on Monday, September 29th, 2008 by Forrest Gander.