Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Next Big Thing

So I have taken this here blog out of digital mothballs to participate in a self-interview project that Jenn McCreary of Ixnay Press "tagged" me for.  So I plied myself with liquor, gave myself some obligatory compliments and went to it. 

What is the working title of the book?

Since I was tagged by Jenn McCreary, I will refer to the chapbook Allsorts, which will be published by her & Chris McCreary’s very own Ixnay Press later this spring.  I also have another book, 29 Cheeseburgers + 39 Years coming out from Pressed Wafer very soon, but to simplify things I will talk about the former since this is a self-interview and I am easily confused.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was participating in the National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) activity started by Maureen Thorson in which one writes a poem each day during the month of April.  The most effective way, for me, to approach such a project is by way of some kind of overarching project or idea.  I found myself at a bit of a loss in April, 2012.  There was a dish of liquorice allsorts on my desk, which I keep there more because I am attracted to their aesthetic appearance of primary colors and shapes moreso than any habit of actually eating them; although, at times, I do.  I decided that I would write some poems mimicking the formal characteristics of the candies to give myself a catalyst for the project.  This resulted in the creation of several forms whereby lines are repeated in the same intervals as they are in the striped candies, a kind of round-ish center-justified stanza with a break in subject and tone in the “middle,” and more free-form clouds to correspond with the nonpareil-like candies that are just a mass of little spheres.  It is a bizarre conceit, but I had a good time with it and was pleased by the poems.  I did about 13 of these, and then switched to other types of poems, though over the course of the month certain thematic elements remained.  I then grouped all of these poems together under the title Allsorts.  

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s lyric poetry.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

There really aren’t very many human characters in the book.  There are some robots, a dying finch, various anonymous crowds, a girl on a skateboard in Warsaw, Poland, the musician Cynthia Dall, who died in April of last year, some blue devils, and myself as Captain Atom.  I suppose the girl on the skateboard and Cynthia Dall could be played by the same person.  It would have to be someone attractive who could sing.  Maybe Zooey Deschanel, because she's the only actress like that I can think of right now.  I, of course, would be played by Tilda Swinton.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

The only thing harder than living is dying.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Most of it was written during April, 2012, although there are a few poems from other times during that year.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

There are numerous attributions in the poems, there’s Su T’ung Po, David Bowie (the songs “The Subterraneans,” and “Warszawa” from “Low”), my friend the photographer Lissa Rivera’s Absence Portraits,” the band Tindersicks (the song “Can We Start Again?”), the band Portishead (the song “Mysterons”), the poet Sandra Simonds, Ian Curtis and Joy Division (the song “Warsaw”), W. B. Yeats’ “The Stolen Child,” the aforementioned Cynthia Dall and the John Coltrane Quartet’s “Sun Ship.”  Less directly there’s Frédéric Chopin &  the city of Warsaw, Flushing Meadows Park and Utopia Parkway in Queens, DC comics characters and yoga. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If none of the stuff I’ve mentioned moves you, then I’m afraid I haven’t got much else.  The book is about death, mostly, so I think it should be accessible to most mortals.  

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will be published by Ixnay Press. 

My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:

Patrick Doud
Chris McCreary
Lina ramonaVitkauskas
Mark Wallace

Friday, April 8, 2011

Poetry and Death: Part 1

Remembering Paul Violi.  Remembering John Wieners:


              First Impressions

Delightfully garrulous yet a blowhard
Hilariously boorish yet a lout
Exquisitely devious yet untrustworthy
Artfully obsequious yet weepy and goveling
Explosively disagreeable yet a sore loser
Provocatively inarticulate yet mute
Like a demented child yet worrisome
Mordant, venomous yet in an overly critical way
Surprisingly obtuse yet unable to make fine distinctions

             Saving Graces

A ne'er-do-well but unhygenic
Unproductive and overshadowed but a minor talent
Shrill but gouged and trembling
Limited and irresponsible but an inveterate rhymester
Verbose but a splay-footed pigeon feeder
Ostentatious but a bleeder and subject to fits
-Paul Violi from "The Blind See Only This World: Poems for John Wieners," edited by Bill Corbett, Michael Gizzi and Joe Torra. Wieners would die a year or so after it this was published.  Micheal Gizzi died in 2010.

Poets are loathed in the United States, like a priest is loathed by his parishioners.  We are "good for the soul" but practically useless.  The most successful of us are somnambulistically idolized like an 18th-century bleeding cure.  Monmuments are erected that they may be vandalized. The least successful of us are lepers, derided by colleagues, family, friends and strangers.  Most abhorrently, we seem to loathe each other, many of us do, at least.  At last, the prize for our lives of suffering, disappointment, heartbreak and scorn is that poems are a kind of Achillean shield against death, for a little while at least.  The fact that we live on in our work is considered trite by many, but why so when it is precisely the only thing we have, the only thing we can be assured of?

Paul Violi knew my name before I knew his face.  "Hello, Mark," he would say to me in the elevator and speak to me as though he knew me well.  Eventually I would realize, "Oh, that's Paul Violi."  My relationship with the man did not extend much beyond this, but that was enough.  That is the part which is gone; still the greater, perhaps larger, part remains.  It's the only part of John Wieners I ever met.  That, too, is enough.  Some will abhor that sentiment.  Go ahead and abhor it, it's the only thing that keeps me alive.

The Blind See Only this World: Poems for John Wieners. Ed. William Corbett, Michael Gizzi and
     Joseph Torra.  Boston/New York: Pressed Wafer / Granary Books, 2000.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


The E train from Queens to Manhattan is entirely filled with the usual Queens array, meaning each and every creed, color, gender and age known to human civilization.  The old man enters through the verboten side-door, laboriously pulling his cart.  The cart is a plank with casters on it to which is affixed a cardboard box containing bulk boxes of Capri Sun and Cheetos.  Behind this is an intricately constructed clam-shell box topped by a wooden cassette holder containing tapes with hand-written labels saying things like "The Great Michael J.," "Jazz" and others that are in some kind of incomprehensible, presumably made-up, language.  The handle used to pull the contraption is covered with an elaborate lattice of empty white plastic bags.  A smiley-face sticker on the cardboard box implores, "Smile!  Have a Nice Day!"  Next to this, a handwritten one reads: "THE HATERS ARE TRYING TO KILL ME AND I LOOK FORWARD TO THAT DAY." 

The man has wispy balding grey hair and coke-bottle glasses.  He is tall and lanky and his clothes are worn but intact.

"If anyone here is homeless or hungry, please help yourself to food and drink," he exclaims.  Nobody helps themselves.

The man says something else, but it is obscured by the rattle of the train.  His speech begins to become more agitated.  He opens the clam-shell and withdraws a sports drink bottle containing money.  He paces back and forth down the car holding it out to people.  Someone gives him a dollar.

"These people," he yells, "they won't even give you a piece of paper, they just ring their bells and absorb your money, ring your bells and absorb your money!"

He performs some kind of contortion akin to a kung-fu move in the middle of the train.  Some thuggish-looking teenagers at the far end of the car laugh at him.  He departs toward the sliding door between cars on the far end of the train.

Presumably getting wind of the laughing teenagers, he stops just before the door and exclaims, "You know what?!? I don't want your dirty money!"

Ceremoniously, he walks back to the center of the car and gingerly places the dollar bill Washington-side up in the middle of the car.  He stalks away to the right-hand car, the sliding door banging shut behind him.  An elderly Chinese man shakes his head, grinning from ear to ear.  One of the thuggish teens says, incredulously, to his friends, "Why did he ask for the fucking dollar if he wasn't gonna take it?  Shit."

Everyone in the packed subway car sits silently staring at the dollar bill, which undulates slightly in the draft coming in from the car doors.  A small child on the lap of a large black woman lifts her hand, points at the bill and coos.

"We don't need it," she says to the little girl.

The train stops at the next stop and a well-coiffed older white man in an expensive-looking grey-piped suit gets on.  He sees the dollar bill on the floor of the car and turns to his right and left as if to ask does it belong to anyone here.  He shrugs his shoulders and picks up the dollar bill.  He stands there a moment, and looks out at the sea of parti-colored faces staring at him silently, unemotionally.  He laughs once, and puts the dollar bill back down on the floor where he found it.  He gets off at the next stop.  Nobody else gets on.  The bill remains in place for the duration of the E's underground passage from Queens to Manhattan.  The train remains silent.

Upon surfacing again, the group of thugs gets up in unison and moves toward the door, but one of them doubles back and swivels over to the bill, the pants tightly belted around his thighs giving him the appearance of a red-hoodied drawing compass.  His underpants billow like a mainsail.

"THE FUCK ?!?!?" He yells, snatching up the dollar bill, and quickly skitters out the door like some kind of strange crab or insect.  The doors slam shut, just missing the bulb of his boxers.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Caesura: Sherlock Holmes, Part 1

I am a little too tired to write anything worthwhile or substantial about poetry today, so I'll discuss, briefly, what it is that I've been doing when I'm likewise too tired to read any thing "substantial," which is going through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's complete novels and stories of Sherlock Holmes.  I have made may way entirely through the first 1055-page volume and have begun the second, which starts with "The Hound of the Baskervilles."  I can understand why this particular novella is the most ubiquitous, canonically, because I think it is the best one.

By all counts I shouldn't be interested in going back through these works at all, the last time having read them being some time in High School.  I was inspired, however, to pick them up again after watching all of Jeremy Brett's portrayal of Holmes in the BBC's Granada Television adaptation.  Brett's portrayal of the character is so engaging and singular that it sent me back to a text I, by all other counts, should be completely ambivalent about, although I have had an inexplicable interest in the character all my life.  I will write more later about actors' portrayals of the detective.

Insofar as Holmes is an acolyte of the scientific method and a staunch authoritarian, he should run counter to everything in the world I hold sacred.  Indeed, this work having been published in the late-19th century, it can be seen as a popular reaction against Romanticism in many ways.  After all, it paved the way for all other such apparently-supernatural-problem-turns-out-to-be-mundane narratives to follow (c.f. all of "Scooby Doo," etc.), a trope I find to be considerably irritating, since I am essentially a Romantic at heart.

Doyle embraces fully the Industrial Revolution and the new religion of the scientific dynamo, as well as a few even less savory then-contemporary intellectual, such as physiognomy.  He seems to occasionally lampoon the British caste system, occasionally will handle a female character semi-progressively and Holmes on occasion will act of his own accord in abeyance of British law, but apart from this he is essentially stodgy and Apollonian.

Likewise, I have no interest in hermeneutics and can rarely follow a mystery plot through its circumstantial/logical gyrations to make the ending meaningful.  For this reason I am generally ambivalent about the genre of the detective novel.

This leads me to surmise that what I most appreciate is Doyle's prose--not something he is generally known for, but in a purple age his style is terse, but stylized and of quotidian diction for the time, which registers today as slightly elevated.   What he seems to have mastered is covering a lot of narrative ground in a small span of time without being banal.  These are all characteristics that likewise interest me in mid-20thcentury genre novels--noir fiction and early science fiction novels.  The technique, as it progressed, though, would become boring and mundane so that it is difficult to read such books published later than the 80's or so.  The culprit, I think, behind this is an impoverishment of diction, but this is only a theory.

There is something interesting about stylized, pragmatic prose that has something in common with poetry.  Consider the following paragraph, leitmotifs notwithstanding:

I drew aside my curtains before I went to be and looked out from my window.  It opened upon the grassy space which lay in front of the hall door.  Beyond, two copses of trees moaned and swung in the rising wind.  A half moon broke through the rifts of racing clouds.  In its cold light I saw beyond the trees a broken fringe of rocks, and the long, low curve of the melancholy moor.  I closed the curtain, feeling that my last impression was in keeping with the rest. 
Nothing revolutionary, but Doyle at least has a decent ear.  While predictable, there is something comforting and entertaining about it, perhaps something akin to watching a sport where there are a limited number of things that can happen, but the pleasure lies in the innumerable permutations of the expected.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Poetry and Architecture: Part 3, Bronwen Tate's Scaffolding My Proust Vocabulary

The first time I read Bronwen Tate's Scaffolding My Proust Vocabulary was on the N train heading toward the 57th Street stop from Queens.  Across from me on the train was an extremely tall man with a terrapin neck and huge bulging hyperthyroid eyes in a tattered corduroy coat and carrying some kind of mid-size instrument in a battered case.  His physical countenance was suggestive of Icabod Crane from the old Disney "Legend of Sleepy Hollow."  In his hands was a likewise disheveled copy of the score of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherezade," which he was scrutinizing closely, keeping time with one hand and humming/mumbling the score to himself.  I was grateful for his presence, and felt a kinship to him because I was likewise lost in a work that felt equally alienating from the muffled strains of "Poker Face" emanating from someone's too-loud MP3 player and Jameson's ads plastered all over the train. Loving both etymology and Proust as I do, I probably cut a likewise oblivious and manic figure.

From the title alone, one might surmise that this chapbook is a likely subject for discussion when thinking about poetry and architecture.  Despite its lyric and disassociating qualities, the title of the book is actually entirely literal--the poems in the book are entirely comprised of sections, presumably from À La Recherce Du Temps Perdu, that have undergone a process of erasure, leaving only isolated words in French on the left hand side of the page, accompanied by a justified prose-paragraph on the right hand side of the page.  The format is not reproducible in the Blogger application, so I have included a scan below.  The entire chapbook can be found in .pdf form, for free, on the Dusie website, as this chapbook comes from the 2009 Dusie Kollectiv project.  The rest of the chapbooks from the project may be found there as well.

Like Elizabeth Bryant's (Nevertheless Enjoyment, which I discussed yesterday, Scaffolding My Proust Vocabulary concerns the lexical process and the process of translation; instead of foregrounding the difficulties of same, Tate's book opens up the process to possibility. 

What makes the process of translation so difficult is that words do not simply contain discrete meanings, but rather are built from layers and layers of association, idiom, culture and drift from other languages and culture.  Words have histories, which are difficult to convey in the confines of a lexicon, even when the etymological history of a word is indicated.  Words are built; what Scaffolding My Proust Vocabulary does is provide just that, the scaffolding upon which a reading (the author's) of Proust's work in French is built.  Not so much a process of translation, but a process of trying to distill the air and water around a word, which contains meaning, but also so much else.  Consider the poem "You Recognize Your Roses" below:

 Scaffolding around a building being built will obscure the building itself, the network built upon and around it appearing infinitely more complex than the actual structure below.  Accompanying the French is not so much as translation as a trans-lexical rendering of the collected associations of the word.  Literal translations occur, such as the "bowl" of sébile, the "pickax" of pioche, but there are also sonic and associative renderings-the "cross" from croisée, but also accroissisait.  Within the prose-stanza these parts relate to each other and form a independent unit capable of supporting its own weight, but also the weight of the skeletal building underneath, the under-erasure Proust.

The reader gets the sense that the French words being scaffolded are those that proved troublesome for the author during the process of reading or translating from the French; they are also language-less poems in their own right, having sonic and associative relationships both to one with some reading ability in French and also one without.   This is illustrative of the lexical process as one looks to the collected internal lexicon in order to shed light of the definition of the opaque term; one scurries from definition to word to definition and back, a builder above the precipice of unintelligibility. The two sections interact with one another, allowing, an obscured word to become transparent (or is it?) or the funhouse-mirror trick of borrowed words to become apparent.  And this book is indeed a funhouse, a grand guignol

A third strata of the text exists as well, insofar as it is vaguely ekphrastic, with the occasional moments highlighting the author's own relationship to Proust are foregrounded ("You wore violets," "Either you are unfaithful or you are dipping a biscuit into a cup of tea again"); the "you" of the poems seems to be Proust himself, or a lexically-scrambled version of him, as in the anagrammatic paean: "Sprout, I'll sip your nectar."

What occurs in this text is a singular variety of reading that transcends the usual humdrum of said process.  While some familiarity of French, Proust and À La Recherce Du Temps Perdu will enhance the appreciation of the book, they are by no means necessary.  The reader is encouraged, though, to sound out the French in order to have a clearer window on what transpires in the English paragraphs, which are complex and fulfilling as discrete entities. 

When I got off the train that day, I followed Icabod as he scurried up Broadway.  At Lincoln Center he bore a sharp left and disappeared abruptly into one of the side doors of the Metropolitan Opera.

Tate, Bronwen.  Scaffolding My Proust Vocabulary. Chicago: Ragamuffin Press, 2009.  Available here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Poetry and Architecture: Part 2, Elizabeth Bryant's (Nevertheless Enjoyment

A library is a building doomed to fail.  Every order is an arbitrary order, and therefore fallible.  A library is eternally in a process of catching up to itself; a process that by nature is never complete.  To complete it would mean the end of the library and its governing principles-- accumulation, identification and classification.  To that end, the shell of the library must contain, forever, an internal seething, a congeries of dead ends and omissions.

In a videogame I once played called "Dreamfall: The Longest Journey," the protagonist must obtain a volume from the library of a disembodied hive-mind called the Dark People.  The Dark's People's sole purpose in existence is to collect a copy of every document ever written in their world; their library is likewise a serpentine, sprawling complex underneath the ocean, going on forever and, presumably, eventually swallowing the entire world.  To that end, the Dark People had ceased to occupy physical bodies, becoming mere shadows.  The process of taxonomy is dark and endless.

Another case in point, another library.  The classical music section of the Broadway Queens Borough Public Library exists in eternal disorder; any seeming attempt to organize it seems to result in a still further confounding of its order.  Periodically, materials from other sections make their way into it and are inexplicably absorbed into the extant (lack of) order.  I have come across two films migrated from the adjoining foreign language media section in this manner while not so much looking for something else, but rather aimlessly drifting through the collection, which is all that is possible: Visconti's "La Terra Trema" and Cacoyannis' "The Girl in Black."  I enjoyed both films immensely, much more so than anything from the lackluster music selection.  The most functional library is a frivolous one; the end result of order is always disappointment.

In the same manner, a dictionary is also suffers from the same ailment.  All taxonomy is relative and arbitrary and therefore the only functional lexicon is a plastic one.  Elizabeth Bryant has provided just such a nebulous dictionary in her recent (Nevertheless Enjoyment from Quale Press.  

As mentioned in the first post of this series, the parenthesis is an architectural mark of punctuation denoting an enclosure.  It implies a room or vestibule, partitioning off the main sentence into smaller units, or, mathematically, defining the parameters of an operation in a numeric equation.  In the case of this book, the opening parenthesis acts to continually loop the lexical entries of the text back to the central term being defined, Lacan's notion of jouissance, translated necessarily incompletely as "nevertheless enjoyment."

The lexical process (and to wit the process of translation) is one of directed motion though internal space, just as a library is a process of directed motion of bodies and objects in physical space.  The mind ping-pongs continually from the term being defined to the the definition and back again in an endless loop seeking to fix the fluid meaning of a word in the brain's static lexicon.  Nailing a swarm of bees to a lump of clay.  (Nevertheless Enjoyment engages this process by completing the parenthetical clause on each page and providing an attendant definition for each newly-forged translation of jouissance:

of the word)

Slumps in the middle where history is.  That weight long ago. An initial
utterance, whereas it may be forgiveable, remains irretrievable.  You were
placed, then, by the fall of its shadow.  A blanket already thick with the 
years ahead. Or beside you, a penumbral mist. This is a life, I can tell you.
However coated it may before you emerge within it.

The book is concerned with the notion of taxonomy and the futility of same.  Birds and plants are continually classified ("Some species of birds you only see when they are dead"), invoking Adam, the supposed first husbander's Edenic task of naming--hubander--present also in its attendant sexual aspect ("I mean while you spilled warm across my back, I took note: that is unlike--or you are not--him."), perhaps an intentional reversal of Adam's naming-search for his desired counterpart.  Likewise adumbrated and classified are grocery lists, human hairs, articles of clothing, a "list of what you wanted by didn't end up getting in French)," all in the service of demarcating the parameters if the work's titular phrase.

If meaning is a psychic task, then (Nevertheless Enjoyment confounds it also by being an intensely physical (architectural) book, the futility of its task being most profoundly illustrated by drawing attention to the limited physical space of the page: with each definition the lexical units slide further and further down the actual physical page.  The net effect of this is of a flip-book animation of descent into nothingness when the pages are turned in sequential order, or an ascent to the indefinite point of origin when the process is reversed.  

As befits its Biblical procedure, (Nevertheless Enjoyment ends with an apple, but a "Chinese apple," presumably a pomegranate, resembling an actual apple in name only, but paradoxically accurate anyway insofar as the Bibilical fruit is theorized to be in actuality a pomegranate.  Accordingly, this entry is printed at the very nether region of the page, Eve is Persephone is Adam is no-one, a Dark Person.  Lexicons fall apart, "Not as appearance but evidence." The end result of hermeneutics in the actual world is confusion.  You will never know who killed the heiress, searching the library you will only become lost, or find that the tome has been stolen by one without honor or ethics.  In this sense (Nevertheless Enjoyment positions itself as the only successful, only possible lexicon.

(Nevertheless Enjoyment by Elizabeth Bryant is available from SPD here.

Bryant, Elizabeth. (Nevertheless Enjoyment. Charleston, SC: Quale Press, 2010.
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. Aspyr Media, 2006.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Poetry and Architecture: Part 1

 In Walter Gropius's manifesto for the Bauhaus, he stated that "the ultimate aim of all creative activity is a building! The decoration of buildings was once the noblest function of fine arts, and fine arts were indispensable to great architecture;" what he has in mind was a synthesis of the plastic arts, independent of the temporal arts of music, poetry and literature.  Indeed, whereas by way of ekphrasis, there have historically been conduits between painting and sculpture and poetry and likewise music, architecture is not conventionally discussed in relation to poetry or music and vice-versa.  Steve Martin's oft-repeated soundbite, "talking about music is like dancing about architecture," has become a cliché for indicating when one thing is entirely unrelated to another thing.  

Perhaps we have Gotthold Lessing to thank for the definition of poetry alongside music as an art rooted (or, more appropriately, unrooted) in time and painting and sculpture and other visual arts as being static in physical space.  This distinction is abundantly clear in the notion that poetry is an exclusively "aural" form whose only pleasures are those of the ear, and that the page itself is merely a mute agent of the spoken word.  Perhaps this predilection goes back all the way to the oral tradition; nevertheless, it is generally assumed that poetry itself has no corporeal aspect.  Regardless of its origins, this dichotomy is dependent upon any unnecessary distinction between psychic and physical space.  

Gropius also said that "the primordial elements of space are number and movement."  That is, we have no conception of space apart from its relationship to space-occupying objects and our own travels through it.  If it takes me a long time to get from point A and point B, then the space is large.  The blind orient themselves in the physical world by way of time.  Insofar as poetry is a creature of rhythm, it therefore can be placed in relation to space, this space being internal rather than external, but space nevertheless.  The digitized Iliad is still a LARGE work, even though it occupies no space whatsoever.

What of exterior and interior?  A building has an inside and an outside, but a poem has no sides--its physical form, if considered at all, is exclusively two-dimensional.  This distinction again relates completely to a division between tactile and virtual space.  Consider a page of a collected Shakespeare--glance at it without focusing your eyes.  The effect is instantaneous, the poem is there but you do not inhabit it.  You are outside of it.  Once the process of reading begins, the poem is entered and the time spent therein is physical time. 

Interior architecture most profoundly concerns the passage of a human body through space; a building is designed (when it is designed) based upon its use, and the manner in which the body is intended to traverse from one part of the building to another.  Once entered, the poem is no different.  Consider the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins from "That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection":

Of yestertempest’s creases; in pool and rut peel parches
Squandering ooze to squeezed ' dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches
Squadroned masks and manmarks ' treadmire toil there
Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, ' nature’s bonfire burns on.

Hopkins trusts the reader's "inner ear" so little that he demarcates the caesura with his own de facto punctuation mark, and atypically uses accent marks in written English.  The reader's passage through the poem is carefully mediated.  The effect is akin to the cordons at a bank to move bodies through in neat rows, although Hopkins shepherding of our passage is far more pleasant.  Still later, Charles Olson and others would use physical space on the page to mark musical time in the reader's perception, though in a way that is intuitive and different from musical notation or Hopkins' language-music hybrid above. From The Songs of Maximus Song 1:

                     colored pictures
of all things to eat: dirty
               And words, words, words   
all over everything
                                              No eyes or ears left   
to do their own doings (all

invaded, appropriated, outraged, all senses

The effect of the unbound parenthesis is an architectural one: marking open space.  The eye encounters the poem in its own time, but still within the four walls of the poem; in this instance with door that opens to another wall.  There is nothing so quotidian as the house itself--vibrating with quotidian speech even after its occupying bodies have gone.

It is this very corporeality that would have baffled Lessing, and those after who cannot seem to reckon the physical poem, despite our time's characteristic drab materiality.  Even in the midst of this are contemporary poets who consciously or intuitively approach composition spatially and achitecturally.  I will devote some time in the coming days to look at some of this work.


Bergdoll, Barry and Leah Dickerman. Bauhaus: Workshops for Modernity. New York: MoMA.
Hopkins, Gerard Manley.  Poems and Prose. New York: Penguin Classics, 1985.
Olson, Charles.  The Maximus Poems. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983.
Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim. Laocoön: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry. Tr. Edward    
     Allen McCormick. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1962.