Poetry News

The Greatest Possible Happiness Is in the New Issue of Dear Navigator

By Harriet Staff


Dear Navigator, the impressively edited online journal of the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago, has published their newest issue, "The Greatest Possible Happiness." Contents include work by Amado Alfadni, David Antin, Mohamed Ezz, Robert Fitterman, Kristen Gallagher, Amelia Gray, Amanda Kerdahi, Jasmina Metwaly, Carlos Soto Roman, and Maged Zaher. In the issue's introduction, editors Kristi McGuire and Elizabeth Metzger Sampson write:

David Antin says this is why he became a literary critic: talking was as close as I could come to thinking. In the architectural land of a thousand different cities swallowed, where Jasmina Metwaly removes the image, the cinematographer’s real truth underpins the man nickname veracity slow-standing in stereoscope. al-Qahira Fustat the conqueror In the largest city west of China we wrote about Antigone’s chromatics—that was our verisimilitude, in the architectural land, and we kept self-publishing our moderns under symmetrical rule.

We like these moderns. And what they've done with them. Vanessa Place introduces the work of Carlos Soto Roman, a Chilean conceptual poet living and working in the United States (Philadelphia, to be specific):

That is to say, he takes the United States as the stuff of both materiality and immateriality, and cuts Chilean windows within. There are appropriated images, such as of Ground Zero or a building going boom; there are appropriated texts, such as the Constitution, vowels detached, or the Periodic Table of the Elemental, in which the elements are all “me”; there are the Kosuthean both-in-one, such as the complete archival description of Dorothea Lange’s iconic migrant farm mother photo. Soto’s work is overtly political, in the tradition of Chilean conceptualism—born initially from the repression/censorship of the Pinochet government. Unlike American political poetry, in which protest itself often passes for poetry, putting the cart before the horse, this form of political poetry is frequently funny, such as the inclusion in a mirror-poem instruction: “Now try to see the text of the poem inverted in the back of your eyes (Figure 2),” or the call-numbers to various great books of American poetry that includes a work of pure nonfiction polemic. It’s Kant, cant. Pieces such as Rights assessment is your responsibility, take the political and drain it of any affect save the situational. In this, Soto proves that conceptual poetry is local poetry, the site-non-site of specific sobjectivity, which is always located in the happy and egalitarian place between us and the thing we’re thinking on. In a recent interview, Chilean poet Raul Zurita described Juan Luis Martínez’s as “a poetry without God.” Soto’s poetry, then, is a poetry without goddishness. Which is an even better polemic.

And then we are so lucky to have twelve pages of Roman's work to follow. (That's his visual poem-aide pictured above.) Another navigator is Kristen Gallagher, whose We Are Here is excerpted for the issue and introduced by her own note. She writes: "I had nothing to say about beauty, so I decided to approach the question by doing something semi-procedural: go to “beautiful” places with various friends and audio recording equipment, then transcribe the recordings and see what emerged..."

More more more happiness here.

Originally Published: September 1st, 2011