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Notes for National Corpse Month, Part Four

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During the plague, my tour-book described, this cemetery (the only one within the city walls) was so full of bodies that when they dug, they couldn’t find enough soil to bury new corpses. The ground swelled with every interment. —Greta Wrolstad, Triptych (Edinburgh) Every corpse is a sphinx of immortality. —Hans Christian Andersen, The Galoshes […]

Siren Song, or, The Open Veins of Latin America

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When I opened my eyes Ursa Major was rearing up, or standing on her head upon the brightening horizon, just beyond my windowpane, just a few steps beyond my right eye. & late in the wee hours the stars, all of them, spilled over me with a sound like a cascade of pearls upon on […]

T H E  D I S T A N C E S  and /  or   C I T I E S (5)

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            I pose you your question: shall you uncover honey / where maggots are?             I hunt among stones – Charles Olson, “The Kingfishers” This is a family of harbour cats lounging about atop the sea wall at the bottom of the stairs leading up to Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla cathedral. It’s built upon a promontory […]

Notes Toward a New Language: The Body

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Whether we are dealing with speaking loudly or softly or of whispering or shutting one’s mouth, we are always dealing with language and even the silence that comes from not speaking is still the silence of language.–Fernand Deligny. When I was eleven and decided not to eat I was engaging in an act of rebellion: […]

Post-Poetry, Part 1: CryptoPo

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In this and the rest of my Harriets I want to talk about the conditions for what I’ll loosely call Post-Poetry: Crypto, AnonyPo, Outlander-, and Lulz. More than anything, these are strategies for simply being a poet outside the MFA (now PhD) market and hierarchy; ways of engaging outside the poetry communities based mostly in […]

riffs on Paris graff : 4

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Something wicked sure did this way come. On the corner of la rue Belliard and la rue Leibniz, in the 18me arrondissement, the door at the top of the street wasn’t locked, so when the coast was clear I climbed 35 iron steps. The ladder was encased in a tubular rib cage, meant to break […]

&Now Day One (my only day)

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[I’m writing about Day 1 of the &Now conference (my only day) on Delta Flight 1151 SF to Minneapolis on the way to AWP, so let’s not get our writers conference wires crossed here.] I wake up first, around 8:30AM, my head feels not awesome, I shower and don’t shave, drink a ton of water, […]

Notes for National Corpse Month, Part Three

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Three springs ago, I taught a class on documentary poetics. It met in the library of a literary/arts organization near downtown Tucson, Arizona. At the first meeting I showed Stan Brakhage’s The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (1971): a thirty-two minute film documenting autopsies being performed in a morgue in Pittsburgh. I gave […]

Writing w/Strangers: A Poetry for the People in Philadelphia

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You a poet / man? Uh-huh, uh-huh Me too. —Etheridge Knight Sixteen years ago, I was a disenchanted grad student living in West Philly in a second-floor row house apartment. Mark (now my husband) and I lived on a block with plenty characters and some real folks. People like Brother Vance—with his baby locs and […]

Poetry is Not the Final Girl: Ed Steck


All hail Ed Steck, truest geek fan of all time. And I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. I raised myself in fandom too, so I know that loving something outside of your world rabidly, be it film, poetry, TV, whatever, also means that you no longer give a fuck if it’s fictional—it twines […]

T H E  D I S T A N C E S   and  /  or   C I T I E S (4)

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In my own reading and writing cosmology Alice Notley looms large. I playfully think of her and Joanne Kyger as two big witches of poetryworld, alternating the realms of light & dark between each other, with Bernadette Mayer assuredly right there in the mix as well. The vast range of Notley’s oeuvre is of such […]

Co-eternal Beam: Norma Cole’s Art

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I can’t count the number of poetry readings I have been to by Norma Cole and I’ve attended the odd lecture and occasional play, but there haven’t been that many chances, over the years, to go to a show of her art work. There was a major one in 2004/2005 when she was lead artist […]

Notes Toward a New Language: On Herta Müller

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It is not you who will speak; let the disaster speak in you. –Maurice Blanchot In an interview in The Paris Review (Fall 2014) Herta Müller stated: Back then in the factory I wrote because I had to, as a matter of self-assurance, because all doors were closed. I didn’t know where to turn, didn’t know […]

Six Ridic Parts of Douglas Messerli’s Review of Baraka’s New Selected

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The part where he contrasts Baraka’s “self-doubt and humility” (good poems) with his “anger” (bad poems). The part where Messerli cares more about the fact that Baraka published a bunch of white poets than he does about Baraka’s own writing. The part where he says Pound is more important to poetry than Baraka is. The […]

Spitting Venom: An Interview with Elana Chavez & Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta, Part 1

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I interviewed Elana Chavez and Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta on March 28th in Oakland, California about their new Cantíl Reading Series, which features only poets of color. We met at “Books for Days” bookstore on Telegraph Ave., where the series is held to talk about race, intersectionality, and what poetry can and cannot due. Below is a […]

Poetry is Not the Final Girl: Michael Thomas Vassallo

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I’ve known Michael Thomas Vassallo now for almost a decade. Which also means that in the first horror film he ever made, someone pretended to break my neck while I was tied to a dentist’s chair with a bunch of RCA cables; that I’ve made the fake blood for almost every cinematic endeavor he’s ever […]

riffs on Paris graff : 3

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In the 2010 documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, archaeologist and curator of the Grotte Chauvet, Madame Dominique Baffier, points out that the entrance to the cave is brimming with red palm prints. Roughly 32,000 years old, the paintings in the Ardèche cave in southern France are the oldest known to humankind. A “perfect time capsule,” […]

Being Happy With <em>The Ordinary</em>, part 2

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The economy is a big subject and “v. (economy)” is a masterful section of The Ordinary (Compline 2013). This mastery is created with the interesting technique of including self-doubt and a depth of thinking about the subject that verges on cancelling out its own conclusions, even as you arrive at them, more with the writer […]

Writing towards Nobody and Every Body: National Poetry Month

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“It’s just typing.” (Kakie Urch) First, I’m honored to contribute anything this Month. Of National Poetry Month. At Harriet. And, admittedly I’ve been freaking out. Everything I’ve been reading looks so good. I was blown away and liberated by Brandon Shimoda’s first Contribution “Notes for National Corpse Month, Part I.” —————- sometimes I wonder if […]

Come Say Hello at AWP & See the First 3D-Printed Broadside!

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We say it every year, but be sure to stop by the Poetry Foundation table at AWP (booth 1303)! We’ll have the ever-popular buttons, magazines, giveaways, and subscription deals, but also something extra special this year: a 3D-printed broadside. Jillian Weise’s “Future Biometrics,” from our March 2015 issue, is printed in Braille on one side and English on the […]