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Slaughterhouse Workshop, Part 1

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Text and photographs by Thomas Sayers Ellis Poems and Commentary by Jennifer Fitzgerald I am not fond of flying. In fact I hate it. As a child, I dreamt crashes but I do believe in the example of flight as a way of discussing the possibilities and intentions of nuance.  Once, in a graduate workshop, [...]

DESIRE TO BE/IN PROXIMITY/TO OKAYNESS: On Sarah Dowling’s <em>DOWN</em>

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In which I talk about reading DOWN &  Sarah Dowling  talks about making DOWN Divya: Reading DOWN “Cause when I open my mouth My whole heart comes out” – Christina Aguilera, “Sing For Me My heart is in my pocket mouth; it is poems by Pierre Reverdy Sarah Dowling. I’m always a little late for things. I [...]

Fernandez and Carrington

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Gallery Wendi Norris in San Francisco opened a show this week for the local artist Ana Teresa Fernandez, and in a smaller side room here are a variety of works in several media by the late Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington (1917-2011). Fernandez’ work (in sculpture, video, paint and good old fashioned “installation”) is pretty sensational, [...]

Six Facts about Pens

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1. The first dildo was a pen. 2. Pens are still used as dildos today. 3. Ah 4. Ah 5. Ohhh 6. Ahh

Do What You Do, Love What You Love

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Last year, while speaking to a writing class at Medgar Evers College, I let slip a terribly-kept secret: there’s no money in this poetry thing. So we have to find other ways of making a living. A student in the front row expressed his dismay at my admission. Not at the idea that, if he [...]

A Diagnosis of the Maladies of Poets of the Modern Age

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* in which I answer the pressing question: what is wrong with us? *   Choked on sunlight streaming through window   Loss of mental erections   Ate McDonald’s hamburger as a child and can’t stop feeling guilty about it   Thought so hard about his own father that he died   Memory problem — [...]

Self-evidence with Difficulty

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For many years I’ve been interested in difficulty; I suppose in the present context it could be called the poetics of difficulty. I remember at age 14 carrying around the hardback Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (acquired for a dollar from a book club), opening it from time to time and understanding almost nothing, yet [...]

A Journey with Hermes

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In November last year I left San Francisco for ten days to go to Providence and teach a poets theater workshop at Brown.  A kind friend, hearing I would be in New England, if that’s how you say it, arranged for me to give a reading at an artist-run space nearby where he lives, Flying [...]

Monday, April 7 1:20 AM

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I have built this room for us to dream it is quite small, and there is this toilet here in the corner. I am wondering what it means to be a woman poet I have questions. At times one’s gender is by choice, and for others it is relegated to the terroir of the matter-of-fact [...]

The New York-Montreal Express

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“I can’t keep going back to Montreal”—Lenny Bruce The Montreal poetry scene was absolutely hopping in 2002. That sounds a little ridiculous now, a little Brucian, and I wish there was a New York-Montreal Express to bring me back tonight. It’s 3:16 a.m. in California, 2002 was a lifetime ago, and Kaie Kellough was a [...]

Avant-Garde Cooptation

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What follows is a brief account of avant-garde cooptation at work in conceptual writing and the related practice of “curating” digital archives of experimental art and literature. First what was the avant-garde? Not easily pinned down, it is usually taken for granted as a 20th century genealogy of passionate formal innovation and traditional destruction in [...]

‘PAUSE’ IS THE TENDEREST BUTTON: On Shiv Kotecha’s <em>EXTRIGUE</em>

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In which I talk about reading EXTRIGUE & Shiv Kotecha  talks about making EXTRIGUE Divya: Reading EXTRIGUE Everywhere—at the Jewish Community gym locker rooms and on the NFTA train from Allen Street to Delavan station—signs sing: IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. I read Shiv Kotecha’s EXTRIGUE in these places where I’m supposed to see things and say things. [...]

100 YRS OF SELFIE POETICS: On Monica McClure and Edith Södergran

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1. Who is the girl that gives it away, that petocha “with a little purse like a puta for cigarettes and change”? How is a lyric poem like a girl who stages for the public a private moment? Who spreads around her little book? Who brings the public into her privacy? Who thereby could be [...]

a closed parenthesis, and what it opens in us

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I’m in the Cincinnati, away from the SF bay area for a week, and I just learned about Colleen Lookingbill’s death from many friends’ emails, from Facebook posts, and from Kevin Killian’s deeply moving Harriet post. Kevin’s description of her generosity and valor is an open embrace of her life and work—an embrace that holds [...]

When TISH Happens

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A kind friend who knows how much I enjoy memoirs written by poets sent me this book from Canada.  It’s less a memoir than the autobiography of a magazine, you might say, the product of a certain development in postwar poetics that continues to interest me.  Today in old age Frank Davey is one of [...]

The Political Decision of Publication

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“I have a confession to make: I’m a little frightened. For I don’t know where my freedom will lead me. It is neither arbitrary nor libertine. But I am unbound.” -Clarice Lispector, Agua Viva I unintentionally opened Clarice Lispector’s Aqua Viva to the above quote. At a café, a cool wind shifts the russet paper [...]

On My Metatextual Uncertainty

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I was asked recently if I cultivated a public image, and in response, I noted that I’m just trying not to embarrass myself. I was being a bit glib, perhaps, but I think it’s also a fairly accurate summation of my approach to interactions with the large, anonymous bodies to which the term “public” might [...]

cento for love

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written for a performance with Dohee Lee and Simon Pettet on March 28, 2014 Poetry is not for the passive. It is, as Mayakovsky knew, at its very heart tendentious. Even the love poem agitates the beloved to fall in love with the poet. Like the first time I ever heard “Crazy in Love” is [...]

FROM DISNEY’S PORN VAULT, A STORY THAT WILL BRING THE FAMILY TOGETHER, THIS APOCALYPSE. On Amanda Montei’s <em>The Failure Age</em>

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In which I talk about reading THE FAILURE AGE &  Amanda Montei talks about making THE FAILURE AGE   Divya: Reading The Failure Age There comes a time in every woman’s life when you must finally re-visit the fairy tale that your Mother forgot to tell you at night because she was busy telling you about [...]

Mac Low, Cage, Root Poetics

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The basic question behind what I think of as root poetics sounds simple: what is language doing—for the poet, for humans at large, for the world—in fact, for itself? What is it doing there on the page/in our eyes or in the air/in our ears? The way we might answer tends to put us on [...]