The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet. Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap. - Novalis

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Silliman on Anthologies

Read Ron Silliman's short post on poetry & anthologies, from which comes this:

"It is interesting to ask what community is represented by the poet who proposes him- or herself as the representative of some transcendent value (the way Jack Gilbert cast himself as the doomed spokesperson of beauty & inner nobility), but mostly it is very sad. The isolato in American literature is little more than a tribune for the most imperial and corporate of impulses, even when – as in Melville, as in Olson, as in Gilbert – he is conflicted & brilliant. If you are responsible to no one, you are in the exact same position that capital and profit play in the world economy." Whole piece here...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Duncan Biography due in May 2012

Robert Duncan : The Ambassador from Venus: A Biography

Lisa Jarnot

University of California Press
Hardcover, 481 pages
ISBN: 9780520234161
May 2012
$39.95, £27.95
At long last...

Also don't miss the audio of Jarnot commenting on Duncan & Duncan's lectures at the Harvard Vocarium.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Violence in the Modern World

The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker

From the Publisher: We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the bestselling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse....

Reviewed by Peter Singer.

This is an important book.

"the high blasphemy of literary genius"

also this

Saturday, October 1, 2011


LVNG 12 (I might suggest "Poetry is a Domestic Art" by John Martone as some measure of the wonders here)

which leads us to



Flood Editions


more LVNG


other wonders

(thanks, indirectly, to Steven Toussaint (and his terrific homage to Tarkovsky))

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blessed 350: Bill McKibben and Paul Hawken

On September 8, at Climate One, two of the most influential environmentalists of the past 30 years shared the same stage for just the second time in their long careers in public life. Bill McKibben, co-founder of and author of Eaarth, and Paul Hawken, entrepreneur and author of Blessed Unrest, came to Climate One to talk about the ailing economy, the economy we must build to succeed it, and the forces that stand in the way.

A very good forum - podcast available on the page. If you don't know of these guys, you should.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Depth Theology

Depth Theology, poems by Peter O'Leary. University of Georgia Press, 2006.

Here are some reviews worth reading that grapple with issues raised by O'Leary's poetry:

Leafing the Now by Chris Glomski

A Critique by Joel Weishaus

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia
James C. Scott

September 4, 2011 - The Battle Over Zomia : Scholars are enchanted by the notion of this anarchic region in Asia. But how real is it? REVIEW in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hayden Carruth (1921-2008)
Obit in The Independent
Collected Shorter Poems

I bought this volume quite a few years ago. When I didn't know very much about "poetry." I know slightly more now, but not much. I have written a good bit about the "imaginal" - which I know to be true - but I live on a farm and we cut our own firewood and grow a good deal of our own food and Wendell Berry remains a hero. I am sitting tonight, again, with this book and wanting to share it because it is so beautiful and so very real. I don't know that anything the "critics" can say about these poems can have much meaning. And yes, I do think it matters whether you have ever split your own wood. Not that it makes you a better person. But it does signify.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Peter O'Leary

Peter O'Leary - on religious poetry, Robert Duncan and much more. Great interview.

An Interview with Peter O'Leary

(Here is his essay on Duncan that he mentions in the interview.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Duncan Delirium

 Thanks as usual to Ron Silliman (here), I have this great back issue of "W" from the Kootenay School of Writing.

W10: A Duncan Delirium
Spring 2005
Contributors: Leslie Scalapino, Pauline Butling, Peter O’Leary, Lisa Jarnot, Leonard Schwartz, Stephen Collis, Miriam Nichols, Kim Duff, Jordan Scott
Material submitted in connection with the KSW’s Robert Duncan Festival “Before the War”, held in April 2005. Includes critical writings by Butling, Schwartz, Collis and Nichols, Duncan-related poetry by Scalapino, O’Leary, Jarnot, Duff, and Scott, plus a mystery bonus feature. Edited by Stephen Collis.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Posted by Picasa


In the high seat, before dawn dark,
Polished hubs gleam
And the shiny diesel stack
Warms and flutters
Up the Tyler Road grade
To the logging in Poorman creek.
Thirty miles of dust.

There is no other life.

Gary Snyder - Turtle Island 1974

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Paradise: late 12c., "Garden of Eden," from O.Fr. paradis, from L.L. paradisus, from Gk. paradeisos "park, paradise, Garden of Eden," from an Iranian source, cf. Avestan pairidaeza "enclosure, park" (Mod.Pers. and Arabic firdaus "garden, paradise"), compound of pairi- "around" + diz "to make, form (a wall)." The first element is cognate with Gk. peri- "around, about" (see peri-), the second is from PIE base *dheigh- "to form, build" (see dough). The Gk. word, originally used for an orchard or hunting park in Persia, was used in Septuagint to mean "Garden of Eden," and in New Testament translations of Luke xxiii.43 to mean "heaven" (a sense attested in Eng. from c.1200). Meaning "place like or compared to Paradise" is from c.1300.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Norman Fischer

Zoketsu Norman Fischer
ZenPoetry Homepage - Poetry, Essays, Interviews
Norman Fisher: A Test Case for Being, by Brian Unger in Jacket 2

New Poems, March 2011.


My initial interest in Fischer, poet and zen priest, was sparked when Ron Silliman told me that he was an important influence on Leslie Scalapino.

From Unger's essay:

"Norman Fischer’s work is best described by Hank Lazer as part of a new spiritual realism that has developed in the past fifty years, first noted by Gertrude Stein in the 1935 essay “Poetry and Grammar,” which was a riposte to Emerson’s “The Poet.” Stein wanted to get writers to move away from Emerson’s focus on the poet’s transcendental relation to nature and divinity onto language itself, “in which a form of divinity resides, not wholly beyond words, but within them.” This is developed by Lazer and Fischer. Lazer describes his creative poiesis as investigative, spiritual, and heuristic:

" … a phenomenology of spiritual experience — a writing that engages momentary experience and that embodies particular intervals of consciousness.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cope on Stein

Cope, Karin. Passionate Collaborations: Learning to Live with Gertrude Stein. Victoria, BC: ELS Editions, 2005. [Cope's blog]

Must read. Also a really beautiful book - shows the influence of Bringhurst's Elements of Typographic Style.

Reviewed by Heather Cass White (pdf)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gertrude Stein: The Language That Rises - 1923-1934
Ulla E. Dydo, Northwestern University Press, 2003.

Stein's “rejection of the rigid conventions of language led her gradually to dissociate herself from all inflexible forms, including hierarchical thinking, authoritarian organization, prescriptive grammar, and chronological narrative — aspects of the patriarchy. In a sense, all her work is a demonstration of possibilities of grammar for democracy.” (Dydo, 17)

Ron Silliman's review
Logan Esadale's review in Jacket

Photo of Stein & Toklas here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Brief Note on Foley's "Visions"

I'm nearly done with Volume 1. No doubt I will finish this & read the second, even longer tome. It's a bit of an odd book, and that's not a criticism. The subject matter hardly lends itself to a narrative history. Foley wants to review ALL the poetry (& some art) that was centered in California from 1940 to 2005. Even the uninitiated will be able to imagine the range and variety of this task. For someone like me, learning this history in any detail for the first time, there is I am quite sure, nothing remotely comparable. I really can't put it down. The text is fragmented and choppy as befits the subject. I enjoy that - and the uneven treatments of the various events and people. Two things do slightly annoy which are perhaps worth mentioning. The typesetting is inelegant and I do wish someone had cleaned it up a bit. Second, and I must say it doesn't annoy me as much as it ought to, Foley lifts sections, sometimes quite long ones, right out of Wikipedia. Somehow that seems appropriate given the non-academic thrust of this whole project and of the lives of most of the people it chronicles. But the point I want to make is that I am terribly grateful to Foley for undertaking this enormous task. As a survey and overview it is, for me at least, just what was needed. It occurs to me as I write that it has something of the feel of that first Whole Earth catalog that opened up new worlds for me many years ago. I am learning a great deal. It is an encyclopedia that I will read and refer to for a long time I think.

David Antin

Next on my Reading List (after I get through Foley's two volumes):

David Antin. Radical Coherency: Selected Essays on Art and Literature, 1966 to 2005 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011)

A review by Douglas Messerli Here in Jacket2

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Art in the Streets, again

As I mentioned a while ago, I went to the MOCA Art in the Streets show back in May - it really turned my head around. Controversial for lots of reasons, but so very much worth seeing. Here's an interesting review...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Twombly, again

Leeman, Richard, Cy Twombly, and Isabelle d' Hauteville. Cy Twombly: a monograph. Paris: Flammarion, 2005.

My sense at the moment is that this book is a very good place to start with Twombly. (Best website here).

And this, from John Berger:

"I know of no other visual Western artist who has created an oeuvre that visualizes with living colors the silent space that exists between and around words. Cy Twombly is the painterly master of verbal silence."  READ THE ESSAY

And, if you happen to be in London: Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters (thru Sept 25) - where you can see Tacita Dean's 2011 film on Twombly, "Edwin Parker." AND see the set of videos from the exhibition with narration at the Dulwich Gallery multimedia channel!

Charles Olson on Cy Twombly

Charles Olson on Cy Twombly:

"Cy Twombly," (1952) in Olson, Charles, Donald Merriam Allen, Benjamin Friedlander, and Robert Creeley. Collected Prose. Berkeley (Calif.): University of California press, 1997, 175-8. Read it here.

"For Cy Twombly Faced with His First Chicago & N.Y. Shows," in Olson, Charles, and George F. Butterick. The Collected Poems of Charles Olson: Excluding the Maximus Poems. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987, 244. Read it here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Visions and Affiliations

Visions and Affiliations: A California Literary Timeline
Poets & Poetry 1940-2005
Jack Foley
at amazon here

I've just received the first volume. 2nd on the way. Just amazing.

This is magnificent - I actually think I'm going to read the whole thing...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Narrative of the Image: A Correspondence

Thanks to Ron Silliman for this link. A topic that interests me greatly. This is a correspondence between Charles Wright and Charles Simic on the differences between image and metaphor. It begins with a paragraph Wright gave to his graduate poetry workshop and then sent to Simic for comment:

"If it is true (and I think it is) that an image is, as Pound put it, an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time, and if the "logic of metaphor" is, as Crane put it, constructed on a series of associational meanings and thought-extension, then the narrative of image and the narrative of metaphor are different, if not generically then surely perceptively, and poems employing them will act and react differently. The narrative (or logic) of metaphor will be more of a time-release agent, giving the reader a slower, longer contemplation; more time to think about the associations. The poem is perhaps more susceptible to a flow-through story line inside the poem. The narrative (logic) of image, on the other hand is more explosive, gives the reader less time to ruminate' opens itself to impressionistic perceptions. The How, such as it is, is intermittent, interrupted, and tends to exist outside the poem, as though a series of things glimpsed quickly, but indelibly, from a fast train. A difference not in kind (as both are defined as "figures of speech") but in degree. But a difference nevertheless, although this is not written down in any book."   Read their ensuing correspondence.

Cy Twombly (April 25, 1928 – July 5, 2011), Quattro Stagioni: Autunno, (1993-5) via Tate Modern

Friday, July 1, 2011

Goethean Science

This is a thread I have long thought of following. I may yet. I picked it up once for a while after reading Corbin on Goethe's Theory of Colors. You will find David Abram taking note of Goethe in his work. Two key texts are these:

Goethe's Way of Science, Edited by David Seamon and Arthur Zajonc. See Seamon's webpage for more connections of considerable interest - including Christopher Alexander - and you can read the introduction to the book there too. Arthur Zajonc also seems to have done very remarkable work - look at his amazon page.

The Wholeness of Nature by Henri Bortoft.

Picture of the Urpflanze from here.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan

"Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan" is on display at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery through July 31 and will travel to the Meadows Museum from September 11, 2011-January 8, 2012 and the San Diego Museum of Art February 18-May 27, 2012.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Silencing Speech

"... given our current environment — of oppression, revolution, intervention, war, pseudo-war and ever-present human power relations — it is worthwhile bearing in mind the dangers of the manipulation of language. What may begin as a temporary method to circumvent reasoned discussion and debate for the sake of a prized political goal may very well end up permanently undermining the trust required for its existence." - Jason Stanley in the NY Times - The Ways of Silencing

Though the kinds of silencing involved are different, this reminds me of Uwe Porksen's book Plastic Words: The Tyranny of a Modular Language that Ivan Illich has talked and written much about.

Sea Birds

Eastern Egg Rock, Maine

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Under the Hammer: Iconoclasm in the Anglo-American Tradition
James Simpson

This is a truly remarkable book. I chanced upon it in the Colby College art library and couldn't put it down. Here is a decription of the book by the author on ROROTOKO. Read this review from Paul Rogers

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oldest American Art

A roughly 13,000-year-old mammoth bone inscribed with an image of a mammoth is the real deal.

Photograph courtesy Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institute
Christine Dell'Amore
National Geographic News
Published June 22, 2011

The Americas' earliest known artist was an Ice Age hunter in what is now Florida a new study confirms.

Alcheringa Archive

Alcheringa Archive: A Journal of Ethnopoetics, 1970-1980

from Jacket2:

"Reissues is excited to launch an online archive of Alcheringa, the trailblazing ethnopoetics journal edited by Dennis Tedlock and Jerome Rothenberg through Boston University from 1970 to 1980. Commisioned for Internet distribution by Dennis Tedlock and Jon Cotner in 2010, with site design and information architecture by Danny Snelson, the Alcheringa archive presents a robust network of resources including searchable PDFs, high-resolution images, rapid magazine browsing, and full information on each issue and disc insert of this essential journal operating at the crossroads of translation, ethnography, performance, and contemporary poetics. Download searchable PDFs and high-fidelity MP3s in the Reissues sidebar or navigate the archival interface at"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vivian Maier - Street Photography

Watch the video:

Then take a look at the new Website
which is so full of breath-taking images that it 
is almost literally unbelievable.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


From Al Jazeera:
It's Much Worse Than You Think - June 16, 2001.

And on CNN:

Of Nematology

This is Caenorhabditis elegans. And here is a fabulous diagram of (part of) this creature's nervous system. Don't miss the article:

In Tiny Worm, Unlocking Secrets of the Brain

They've come a long way since I last taught undergraduates about these things.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Symposium of the Whole

Rothenberg, Jerome, and Diane Rothenberg. Symposium of the Whole: A Range of Discourse Toward an Ethnopoetics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

This is long out of print and I had thought completely unavailable, but I am delighted to see that there are now copies used on

This is a terrific book - maybe a great book. At least it seemed that way to me many years ago. The table of contents is itself a guide to the literature and a veritable history. It can be seen here on Google books 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Olson at Goddard


Foreword by Basil King. Edited with an Introduction by Kyle Schlesinger.
Paperback. 112 pages. Cuneiform Press, 2011. $16.95 USDOrder from Cuneiform via Dale Smith HERE.

"In the spring of 1962, poet Charles Olson descended upon an experimental college in rural Vermont to read from The Maximus Poems and The Distances, and to lecture on Herman Melville. His captivating performance sparked lively debates with the audience on the nature of myth, history, etymology, narrative, knowledge, and sexuality. CHARLES OLSON AT GODDARD COLLEGE is an enthralling and indispensable annotated transcript that celebrates the intersection of Olson's poetics and a hopeful moment in American education."

This volume is on its way to me. More when it arrives. Audio files of the lectures can be found at PennSound HERE. I found these among the most interesting of his recorded lectures - highly recommended.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Slow Food, Slow Poetry

From Big Bridge 14:

Slow Poetry: An Introduction
by Dale Smith

Pondering the meaning of the "movement" he started thinking about last summer, Dale Smith wrote of what a poem does, that

"It's like opening a sliding-glass door, stepping outside, for a moment, and rubbing one's eyes in the sunlight of what's real."

He comments: "Suddenly, in that final sentence, I felt as though I'd moved into a place proper to the goals of Slow Poetry. It's a place familiar to readers of Charles Olson, who said, "Whatever you have to say, leave the roots on, let them dangle, And the dirt, Just to make clear where they come from." Regardless of what we face individually or communally or collectively, my sense was—and still is—that by our affection and affinity for disclosure of what is so often barely perceptible—life raw and undefined—we might advance a little toward better understanding what's happening to us. And through this knowledge we may be able to help each other, with greater resilience, adapt and respond to the changes we may face." READ THE ENTIRE ESSAY (please!) 

Smith's remarkable poetic and political Introduction and the poems and essays that follow seem to me to open onto a world I've been sporadically visiting for many years. Every time I've left, I've wanted to go back. I want to live there permanently now. Everything I really care about is there. This collection has enough really fine and important pieces in it to keep one busy for a long time. Don't miss Karl Young's great essay Notation and the Art of Reading (and his introduction to it). I am particularly fond of Robert Bertholf's piece "The Vocabulary of Taste: Carlo Petrini and the Poetics of Slow Poetry" (it is the 2nd essay here)

Collage by Brooks Johnson

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Agribusiness and Slavery

Mark Bittman's column in the NYTimes today is a must-read for anyone still unaware of the social and political impacts of the industrial food system. Don't miss The True Cost of Tomatoes. And as a general rule: read his column regularly - he's excellent. It is wonderful to have such a high-profile voice for food sanity in the mainstream media. He mentions Estabrook's new book, which I have not read, yet, but will.

Tomatoland : How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
by Barry Estabrook

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Whole Earth

Reading Tom Friedman yesterday, The Earth is Full, I was reminded yet again of my long, slow and persistent astonishment that facts which I have taken for granted for my entire adult life are now slowly coming to the attention of enough people to (maybe) make a difference. My awareness of these things is due perhaps almost entirely to the FIRST WHOLE EARTH CATALOG that appeared in 1968 when I was 16 years old. It was in this and subsequent issues that I first read Gary Snyder, Ivan Illich and Wendell Berry, among many others. The Whole Earth people, including Stewart Brand, are still around and doing good work. Visit them here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Eliot Weinberger on Omar Cáceres

This is surely one of the strangest, and strangely beautiful things I've read in a while. Not to be missed.
Eliot Weinberger on Omar Cáceres  - from Jacket3 April 1998.