ARCHIVE - Poetry New York - Text Reviews This is where we will discuss the texts we read for class. en ARCHIVE - Aleksandr Skidan's Red Shifting reviewed by Will <div>Ever since Matvei Yankelevich handed me a copy of this book halfway through April I&#39;ve been going back and forth on whether it would be a good idea for me to review it for Poetry New York, largely because I have personal connections to every individual involved in this book, with the exception of the two translators currently living in New Zealand. In one direction this gives me &#39;flesh out&#39; the autobiographical aspects of Skidan&#39;s later poems collected here, as well as give those insights that a poet&#39;s student can give, whatever they may be worth. This is the temptation, but one which is not entirely in line with the arrangement and direction of the works collected herein, and may serve to misdirect readers away from the propositions, architectures, the how and the why that Skidan puts forth here.</div><div></div><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Text Reviews Tue, 10 Jun 2008 16:24:38 -0700 Willy 165 at ARCHIVE - The Desert <p>The Desert<br />Jen Bervin<br /><br /><br />    Brooklyn poet and visual artist, Jen Bervin, is the author of several artists’ books. Some of her works include The Desert (Granary Books 2008), A Non- Breaking Space  (Ugly Duckling Presse 2005), Nets (Ugly Duckling Presse 2004), Under What Is Not Under (Potes &amp; Poets 2001), as well as many other artist books.  She works with mixed media, using scraps of cloth, discontinued thrift store thread, old photographs, and old course texts. She is interested in the in-between space and describes her process as “making a whole with pieces missing.” These missing pieces, the cracks and fissures left bare are the most remarkable parts of her work; she says these are the places where things happen.<br /><br />Granary Books has recently published Jen Bervin’s new book, The Desert. This is not just any book; this is one of Granary’s many incredible art pieces. Bervin used John Van Dyke’s The Desert (1901) as a source text, much as Tom Philips treated and transformed A Human Document by W.H. Mallock to create his famous A Humument. Rather than illustrating over the original text à la Mallock, Bervin painstakingly sewed with light blue thread over the “erased” words, to leave a texture-rich poem. She and a small team in Seattle sat at sewing machines and carefully sewed through more than one hundred facsimile pages of Van Dyke’s text in each book. The result is beautiful. The original text is still visible beneath the threads, obscuring but not obliterating Van Dyke’s prose. <br /><br />Bervin leaves us with a sparse and poignant text. Reading this poem in its intended form is necessary, as the book is a reading and viewing experience. Still, here is a brief selection [perversion and distortion brought to you by the Almighty Word Processor] to give a small sense of what Bervin is doing.<br /><br />I mean the air<br />but I am not now speaking<br /><br />-yet I believe<br />the<br />whole face<br />is always present,<br />one looks through it as<br />glass<br /><br /><br /><br />    The book was designed by Jen Bervin and bound by Susan Mills. It is attractively wrapped in cloth with trim to match the thread, and held in an archival box. The paper was handmade by Twinrocker Handmade Papers, for this limited edition of 40 books. <br /></p><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Text Reviews Fri, 06 Jun 2008 07:45:37 -0700 claire sammons 164 at ARCHIVE - Two Haloed Mourners <p>Two Haloed Mourners<br />Bernadette Mayer<br /><br /><br /><em>Two Haloed Mourners</em> was compiled by Lewis Warsh from Bernadette Mayer’s unpublished manuscripts. The title poem is the only previously published work, but the phrase persists in nearly every poem. The first section of the book flows quickly in a stream-of-consciousness style. Tension builds and foreshadowing what is to come with hints at “volcanoes” and a warning that something will soon “erupt.”<br /><br />Half way through the book, the form changes dramatically. The traditional form of stanzas and paragraphs sprawling across the page turns into a dramatic triangle; a volcano. Isolated in the center of the volcano is the repeated phrase “two haloed mourners,” demanding the eye’s focus and obscuring the text behind it. <br /><br />Mayer’s poems reference a locality. She mentions Canal Street, the Poetry Project, the Lower East Side, and Ted Berrigan. She builds a specific atmosphere into her poems, limited only in the reader’s ability to pick up on her name-dropping. Her excessive use of proper nouns reduces the reader’s experience of the text to something that relies heavily on context. Either the reader is limited to his own subjective experience or he is alienated and unable to engage in the concepts she tries to relate. The specificity and concreteness forfeits the opportunity for the reader to interactively participate with the text. <br /><br />To contrast, Mayer successfully creates a portrait of her surroundings by mimicking local accents. Potting soil becomes “pottin serl.” The reader can hear the voice speak “…git some seeds but where kin I put them tomater plants…” This depiction of a specific place succeeds by requiring the reader to actively engage in the text. The words become more than mere instruments to convey ideas. By removing the words from her personal context, Mayer’s text de-familiarizes English even for native speakers. This technique demonstrates a way in which language constantly alienates. I would like to see more of this in Mayer’s writing. </p><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Text Reviews Thu, 05 Jun 2008 19:48:59 -0700 claire sammons 163 at ARCHIVE - Debtor's Prison <p>Debtor’s Prison<br />Lewis Warsh &amp; Julie Harrison<br /><br /><br /><br /><em>Debtor’s Prison</em> is a call and response exploration of text and image. It is a collaboration between novelist and poet Lewis Warsh, and video and visual artist, Julie Harrison. Together, they create a dialogue between Harrison’s eerie video stills and Warsh’s somber text. <br /><br />Harrison’s images are taken from her performance and documentary tapes made in the 1970’s. The sepia toned stills show blurry images of faces and hands, hospital equipment, and religious icon paintings. The most arresting photographs are a series of a naked woman submerged in a bathtub and wrapped in a tangled mess of plastic tubing. The grainy images cover the pages on the right hand side, drawing the eye into a very intimate space with its subject; the wrinkles of the woman’s neck, the laughing mouth, the wet breast, her thigh on the edge of the park bench. <br /><br />On the left pages of the book sits Warsh’s text. In the middle of each page is a line of poetry, below and indented to the right sit two italicized phrases separated by a backslash. Warsh’s text seems to be composed in response to Harrison’s images, though the correlation between the two is not always clear. In the first section of the book, (it is broken into 10 chapters, as designated in descending order by photographs of the numerals 10 through 1) Warsh writes:<br /><br /> “Her thoughts are like a series of windows covered with dust”<br /><em><br />                arable soil / mental picture</em><br /><br />    This line describes just what Harrison’s images seem to be. Blurry and grainy, sometimes indecipherable, the pictures appear to be dust covered windows into someone’s mind. The reader takes on a voyeuristic role, as if seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, allowed to look into a secret or hidden place where one is not usually granted access to gaze. <br /><br />    This book is a hermetic piece to be enjoyed for the act of reading. Granary Books is known for honoring the book as a unique and sacred object, each one carrying its own aura. <em>Debtor’s Prison</em> is a work to be enjoyed for the experience it offers; to let the words dissolve under one’s tongue and the images float beneath one’s lids.<br /></p><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Text Reviews Wed, 04 Jun 2008 16:34:46 -0700 claire sammons 158 at ARCHIVE - as far as by Jen Hofer reviewed by Will Owen <div>Jen Hofer&#39;s &#39;as far as&#39; was published by a+bend press, and costs five dollars. I know these things because they are printed on the translucent wax-paper cover that wraps around the purple card stock covered with the title cascading typewritten. These two opening pages are attached together by a saftey pin in the lower right corner, just above the author&#39;s name (on the wax paper). Behind the purple card stock is another translucent sheet failing to obscure the title page with a safety pin&#39;s silhouette silk screened on. This book caught my eye when I was sifting through books at the Unnameable, and as I sit here writing this in a thai restaurant in Greenpoint I&#39;m realizing that I&#39;m much more drawn to it than the paintings of flowers drawn by a talented elephant from KongKum.</div><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Text Reviews Wed, 04 Jun 2008 10:14:38 -0700 Willy 156 at ARCHIVE - Comfort & Critique by Peter Sotos (Andrew) <em>Comfort &amp; Critique</em> by Peter Sotos<br />Andrew Wilson<br /><br /><em>Comfort &amp; Critique </em>documents Peter Sotos’ pornographic and intellectual fixations.  The intensely personal nature of his work, due in part to his from-the-gut writing technique, feels like an intimate gesture toward the reader.  His writing has always been a beacon to his private obsessions, siphoned through a pointed yet fragmented rant.  In this sense, <em>Comfort &amp; Critique</em> is Sotos all over.  But what sets this book apart from his earlier work is the feeling it leaves that Sotos might be America’s most dangerous cultural critic.  He has never sounded so clear and, at the same time, so disturbing.<p><a href="">read more</a></p> Text Reviews Tue, 03 Jun 2008 14:04:40 -0700 wiland09 153 at ARCHIVE - Enter Morris Imposternak, Pursued by Ironies by Eugene Ostashevsky reviewed by Will Owen <div>I fist met Eugene Ostashevsky in St. Petersburg in the summer of 2006, whie he was in the process of composing this poem. He gave an in-progress reading of the poem at the American Corner library with Ann Lauterbach on a particularly hot June day. My teenage self was impressed enough to record that &quot;I like[d] where it came out of,&quot; by which I hope I meant Eugene&#39;s mouth. It is worth noting that I took great note of Eugene, who was reading a poem-in-progress, and forgot Ann Lauterbach, who was reading from a book that had been released years before. Eugene is also a bit of a ham, loud, a performer of poetry. It&#39;s one of the many things about his poetic practice that bridge contemporary Russian and English poetry traditions. He sees the imperative to perform, but where a russian would have drama, Eugene has humor; sentiment becomes irony, etc.</div><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Text Reviews Tue, 03 Jun 2008 03:30:53 -0700 Willy 152 at ARCHIVE - Indeed, Insist (a mystery) by Bethany Wright reviewed by Will <div>&#39;At exactly 9:09 you stare at your watch until 10:10 and then it is past&#39; could be a review of myself in the act of reviewing (a piece I should be writing down)<br /></div><div><br /></div><div>The line comes from &#39;Mystery of the Hidden Face,&#39; the first poem or section of Bethany Wright&#39;s &#39;Indeed, Insist (a mystery)&#39; published by Ugly Duckling  Presse.</div><div><br /></div><div>The physically long book first presents itself to the reader as a theatre: a red curtain spread before a black background with four disembodied arms wielding murder implements from &#39;Clue&#39; as though using them the way the game suggests.</div><div></div><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Text Reviews Tue, 03 Jun 2008 01:42:30 -0700 Willy 151 at ARCHIVE - Plum Smash <p>Plum Smash and Other Flashbulbs<br />By Ryan Gallagher</p><p><br /><br />The Positively Past Post-Modern Poet Series #2 features Ryan Gallagher, one of Bootstrap Press’ founders. Plum Smash and Other Flashbulbs is equipped with poems in the form of personal letters, Shakespeare’s sonnet erasures, &amp; sketches. Gallagher sets the stage for himself as poet, usually sitting at the kitchen table getting high or drinking a gin &amp; tonic.<br /><br />Gallagher’s poetry is primarily witty &amp; playful as he pokes fun at himself &amp; the Serious Poem: “Quick! Pick up a poodle and punt it/ Before someone writes a meaningful poem.” He creates a namedropping salad of pop icons &amp; celebrities [Drew Barrymore, Bill Gates, Jimi Hendrix, Beck, Elvis, Paul Newman] as well as writers &amp; intellectuals [Bernadette Mayer, Jack Spicer, Pascal, Robert Browning].<br /><br />Sometimes a poem will get stuck on a particular sound quality. Obsessed with recreating that sound, it will spin around &amp; around, searching it out in as many forms as possible. For example, “pistachio” leads to “pastiche” which leads to “Petruchio.” <br /><br />His themes recycle through the letters &amp; poems, nearly melding the book into one piece. Clouds were a reoccurring image, described with the ability to “burst” or “scorch” or “drop” “like yellow butter clouds” or a “black eyed susan cloud” “And the clouds, it was gravy” “cotton candied yam colors of clouds.” Clouds, always changing, speckled throughout the book.<br /><br />As well as weaving the same themes and images throughout his poems, Gallagher acts as a DJ- rewinding &amp; remixing his words, unfolding them out into new combinations, a playback. “New York neon wildflower moon/ blue moon neon wild/ blue     on     on wild/ neon wild on and on / on and on wild neon blue on on.” The most obvious &amp; successful example of this technique is “Poem on Bach’s Goldberg Variation #7” The poem is two stanzas long, the second a mirror image of the first. The reader is walked through the story of two lovers in one direction, &amp; then brought immediately back through it, yet it is impossible to say which direction is frontward &amp; which is backward. It is his skillful remix that makes the poem so strong. <br /><br />Despite Gallagher’s light tone, pop culture references, &amp; silly jokes, he ends the book on a serious note in “from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 71.” It is beautiful in its simplicity &amp; memorable for its black sheep quality. Perhaps it is a joke on us to end this way, or maybe we just didn’t punt that poodle in time. <br /></p><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Text Reviews Sat, 31 May 2008 16:25:04 -0700 claire sammons 143 at ARCHIVE - East Slope by Su Shi translated by Jeffrey Yang reviewed by Will Owen <p>I have seen Jeff Yang twice, once in an office at New Directions, and a second time at a reading of translations at Housing Works. I can vouch for his existence. I have never seen Su Shi, but have read about him in a book on the editorial history of Tao Qian/Tao Yuanming. &quot;Hey may or may not have been Buddhist, but he wrote a poetry that was taken up by a Buddhist writing community once it existed&quot; Sam Lohmann says about Tao Qian, the later Buddhist writing community refering in part to Su Shi. Sam and I were talking about Eliot Weinberger&#39;s anthology of classical Chinese poetry. Eliot Weinberger was Jeffrey Yang&#39;s teacher. East Slope is a place in China that Su Shi cultivated into a food source and a poem cycle. It was translated by Jeffrey Yang into English and published by Ugly Duckling Presse, when I am sitting and writing about East Slope.</p><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Text Reviews Fri, 30 May 2008 19:40:32 -0700 Willy 142 at