Poets and Critics

2011-2014 CALENDAR


February 4-5 EILEEN MYLES > + Feb. 4 poetry reading


December 14-15 FRED MOTEN > + Dec. 14 poetry reading


December 15-16 ANN LAUTERBACH > + Dec. 15, 8pm poetry reading

May 12-13 ANNE WALDMAN > + May 12 Poetry Reading, 8pm, Maison de la poésie de Paris : Anne Waldman & Patrick Beurard-Valdoye


FINAL SYMPOSIUM Dec. 11-12 COLE SWENSEN > + Dec 11 Poetry Reading, 8pm, Maison de la poésie de Paris : Cole Swensen & Nicolas Pesquès

Sept. 26-27 CLARK COOLIDGE> + Sept. 26, 8 pm Poetry/Music Reading, CLARK COOLIDGE & THURSTON MOORE, Maison de la poésie de Paris

April 11-12 MARJORIE WELISH > + April 11, 7:30 pm Poetry Reading MARJORIE WELISH & JACQUES ROUBAUD, Galerie éof, Paris


December 13 & 14 LISA ROBERTSON> Thursday December 13 7:30pm poetry reading with Lisa Robertson, Anne Parian and Pascal Poyet, galerie éof, Paris.

September 27 & 28 REDELL OLSEN

May 29 & 30 PETER GIZZI



September 29-30 VANESSA PLACE at Université Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée

June 30 July 1 CAROLINE BERGVALL at Université Paris Est Créteil

June 15 DAVID ANTIN at Université Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée

Flash Labels by NBT

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dec. 13 & 14, Lisa Roberston symposium at Université Paris Est Créteil

On Thursday 13 and Friday 14 December, we will be hosting a 2 day symposium on Lisa Robertson’s work at Université Paris Est Créteil, salle 117, Maison des Langues. How to get there? See here.

We will be meeting in the morning of December 13th at 10 am to prepare our sessions with Lisa Robertson. Lisa Robertson will be joining us at 2 pm on the 13th. She will also be with us all day on the 14th.

So far, we’ve tried to focus on the writer’s own (creative and critical) work on the first day of the P&C symposia and on broader issues of poetics and practice-based criticism with the writer on the second day. But there’s no specific preconceived program for the 2 days of the symposium: as the previous sessions of the program have shown, it seems important to let the conversation take its own course.

Selected Bibliography:

The Apothecary (Vancouver, BC: Tsunami, 1991; reissued 2001)

The Barscheit Horse with Catriona Strang and Christine Stewart (Hamilton, Ontario: Berkeley Horse, 1993)

XEclogue II-V (Vancouver: Sprang Texts, 1993)

XEclogue (Vancouver, BC: Tsunami Editions 1993, reissued by New Star Books, 1999)
The Glove: An Essay on Interpretation (Vancouver: UBC Fine Arts Gallery, 1993)
The Badge (Hamilton, Ontario: The Berkeley Horse/Mindware, 1994)
Earth Monies (Mission, BC: DARD, 1995)
The Descent (Buffalo, NY: Meow, 1996)
Debbie: An Epic (Vancouver, BC: New Star, 1997; UK: Reality Street, 1997)
Soft Architecture: A Manifesto (Vancouver: Artspeak Gallery, 1999)
The Weather (Vancouver, BC: New Star, 2001; UK: Reality Street, 2001)
A Hotel (Vancouver: Vancouver Film School, 2003)
Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture (Astoria, OR: Clear Cut Press, 2003)
Face/ (New York: A Rest Press, 2003)
Rousseau’s Boat (Vancouver, BC: Nomados, 2004)
First Spontaneous Horizontal Restaurant. Belladonna 75. (Brooklyn: Belladonna Books, 2005)
The Men: A Lyric Book (Toronto: BookThug, 2006)
Lisa Robertson's Magenta Soul Whip (Coach House Press, 2009) 
R's Boat (University of California Press, 2010)
Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture (Coach House Books, 2011)
Nilling (BookThug, 2012)

Selected Essays
"Coasting" with Jeff Derksen, Nancy Shaw, and Catriona Strang. Telling it Slant: Avant Garde Poetics of the 1990s. Ed. Mark Wallace. (Tuscaloosa: Alabama UP, 2002)
"The Weather: A Report on Sincerity," from DC Poetry Anthology 2001.[1]
"How Pastoral: A Manifesto." A Poetics of Criticism. Ed. Juliana Spahr. (Buffalo: Leave Books, 1994)
"My Eighteeneth Century." Assembling Alternatives. Ed. Romana Huk. (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2003)
"On Palinode." Chicago Review 51:4/52:1 (2006)

Lisa Robertson on Pennsound; click on image to be redirected to the Pennsound website:

Friday, October 12, 2012

David Herd on Dell Olsen's Punk Faun: The Patron and the Snare

 The patron and the snare:
Punk Faun and the constraints of utterance

(c) http://redellolsen.co.uk
If I read the cover copy of Punk Faun correctly, the masque we have in front of us is a set of instructions. Or at least, if it is not precisely a set of instructions, it is a form of utterance in which the instruction is prominent. The work was commissioned, we are told, by Isabella d’Este ‘for the walls of her studiolo’. What we are also told, however, is that ‘in this written description (for the first time available here within the text of a popular edition) she details her request for a masque of grotesque pastoral and mythic proportions’. ‘She’, if I follow the syntax right – and the twists and turn of voice through syntax seem to be a central consideration here – is Isabella d’Este and ‘this written description’ is the text in hand. This is a striking premise. ‘D’Este’, as the cover copy clarifies, is to be taken as the work’s patron. What the account also makes clear, however, is that as patron she plays an unusually active role in the construction of her commission. Consider, by contrast, Lewis Hyde’s remark on patronage in the context of his discussion of the gift:
Where an artist takes a second job, a single person moves in both economies, but with patronage there is a division of labour – it is the patron who has entered the market and converted its wealth to gifts.[1]
Hyde doesn’t dwell on patronage in his consideration of gifts and his remark is therefore something of a casual aside. What he proposes is a division of labour whereby in a system of patronage it is the patron who occupies the market economy, freeing the artist to articulate according to the logic of gifts. What this division amounts to, as Hyde presents it, is something like a creative firewall, the patron enabling creative agency to occur.
            This is not a view poets have always shared. In ‘An Epistle to a Patron’, F.T. Prince, like Olsen, presents a dramatic monologue in which the demands of the patron have to be negotiated and met. The question on Prince’s mind, or on the mind of the artisan he voices, is how to adjust to the fact of the patron’s power. The answer is complicated:
                                                                       Save me, noble sir, from the agony
            Of starved and privy explorations such as those I stumble
            From a hot bed to make, to follow lines to which the night-sky
            Holds only faint contingencies. These flights with no end but failure,
            And failure not to end them, these palliate or prevent.
            I wish for liberty, let me then be tied[2]
It is difficult to read the tone of Prince’s artisan’s remarks, and it is certainly by no means clear that the last phrase here – ‘I wish for liberty, let me then be tied’ – is in any simple sense an expression of ironic resentment. Prince’s subject, as he invokes a patron, is the relation of art to power, the degree to which art reflects the agencies that are the condition of its coming into being. Prince, in other words, like Olsen, is interested in the way art takes instruction. A crucial difference is that in Olsen’s text, as the cover sets it up, the patron figure, the agency of instruction, is more visibly implicated in the act of expression. Who is talking, we are invited to wonder, the putative artist, or the person who pays the bill?
            The appearance of the patron is only one of a number of extraordinarily deft anachronisms in Punk Faun – the self cancelling title being a case in point. Consider also the word ‘snare’, which appears in the title of two sequences in ‘Punk Faun’. In the first place we are given, as title, ‘snares for silence in required voice’. The phrase puts one in mind of Cage, not just because of the mention of silence, but because the ‘required voice’ – somehow pre-instructed – is something like a prepared piano. The opening poem of the sequence enacts such constraints:

            Snares for silence
            Snares for noise

            exclude welcome
            welcome excludes

            against its own
            own extreme falls

In this short poem we are given two rhetorical figures, the parallelism of the opening couplet and the repeated chiasmus of the second and third couplets. In the context of poetry these are tangling manoeuvres, forms of expression that compel language back onto itself. In other words, we are snared, and so the ‘snare’ of the title, and of the ‘required voice’, is doing active work in the poem.
            The second time the word ‘snare’ occurs, it also does substantial work. The sequence in question is titled ‘ballet snares industrielle’ and it opens by insisting on the term’s rhyming possibilities:
                                                           in lair  snare
                                                           wares  beware
Again, in something like an exercise in chiasmus, the end of the poem reverses the terms:
                                                           wares  beware
                                                           snare   in lair
Between times, between these iterations of the ‘snare’ rhyme, ‘Punk Faun’ is at its most conspicuously antique. It is never simply antique, but in this sequence we are in a ‘glade’, then ‘return to hunt’ and we are told that ‘distance is/ measured by/ horns sounding/ give tally’. Somewhere amid the snares, then, we are thrown back to an earlier moment of expression, a moment, without too much forcing (I think) that we might associate with Thomas Wyatt. Here’s the first verse of Wyatt’s ‘Tangled I was in Love’s Snare’:
            Tangled I was in love’s snare,
            Oppressed with pain, torment with care,
            Of grief right sure, of joy full bare,
            Clean in despair by cruelty
            But ha! ha! ha! full well is me,
            For I am now at liberty.[3]

Wyatt’s rhyme words are of interest here: ‘snare’, ‘care’, ‘bare’, ‘cruelty’, ‘well is me’, ‘liberty’. We are not, it seems, far from ‘ballet snares industrielle’, and not just because of the vehemence with which the ‘snare’ rhyme is insisted upon, but because of the irony with which its apparent opposite, liberty, is presented. Or as Olsen’s poem elsewhere has it:
                If unfettered her
voice requires

            bodies rendered
            needy incomplete

            I am not proposing that Olsen alludes to Wyatt here. What I do want to observe, through the association, is that like Prince in his ‘Epistle’, Olsen’s subject in Punk Faun is the relation of art to power. Wyatt is interesting because that relation was, relatively speaking, transparent. In the courtly condition in which he operated, he owed a debt of allegiance to his patron, Thomas Cromwell. When Cromwell died he was free, and therefore vulnerable.  That framework of allegiance, with all its constraints and expectations, is mediated in poetry by a set of restrictive verse forms.
The value of glimpsing such a figure amid his operating conditions is that it – the glimpse – allows us to contextualize the contemporary moment of writing. What Olsen presents, across the sequences of Punk Faun, is a poetry no less framed by its relation to power. That power is less obviously focused, more difficult to bring into view, than in other settings; it exists in the chains of command that issue in the instruction to consume. In part, then, by contrast with other moments (one might also mention the several acts of homage that make up the sequence ‘as performed in our own person’), what Punk Faun sets out to do is inscribe the conditions (for which read constraints) of its own utterance. What Olsen gives us is a poetry in which power is constantly crossing the line, and through whose discourses we can only be offered the briefest sightings of other modes of life. The word snare, as a delicate loop, relates back ultimately to the Middle Dutch word ‘harp string’. What ‘Punk Faun’ presents is a language in which line by line, and to brilliantly stimulating effect, the two meanings are shown to converge.

David Herd

[1] Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (London: Vintage, 1999), p275
[2] F.T Prince, Collected Poems 1935-1992 (Manchester: Carcanet, 2012), pp14-15
[3] Thomas Wyatt, The Complete Poems (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd), p262

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sarah Riggs on plurality in Redell Olsen's SPRIGS & spots

The question of plurality in Redell Olsen’s SPRIGS & spots is pivotal
because of the text’s emphasis on reproduction, repetition, multiplicity of machines
with respect to the manufacture of lace.  I have decided to isolate the aesthetic
sibilance  and slip-sliding of plural nouns detached from hands as they recur in varieties
of printed fonts (though her historic fonts are not reproduced here--only some of the emphases). I want  to underscore how Olsen is doing important work with respect to plurality and hierarchy—that the machines that liberate also generate an anonymity of labor—and the relative anonymity of a “speaker” in this text resonates with the sense of an assemblage of parts which obfuscate and render dense any notions of individual writers.  It is in this
spirit that I do one patterned assemblage of words from SPRIGS & spots:

SPRIGS   spots  Weavers  SPRIGS  spots
Bodies  Sleeues  Skirts  Knots  Roses  Gloues
Lace-Chambers  landscapes  seascapes activities
spots  sprigs  motifs  ruffles  years  spots  sprigs
props  spots  sprigs  sprigs  spots  paintings
periwinkles  Subjects  arches  executions  colours
oils  pastels  hands  shoulders  grounds  f r a m e s m i t h s
operations  years  spots  thirds  heads  Red-Coats  hands
years  spots  motifs  sides  loopes spots  sprigs  machines
hangynges  arms  operatives  legs  backes  doublets
dubles  spots  sprigs  workers  complexions  splashes
spots  troops  revolutions  stones  shoulders  shrouds
words  sides  sides  convertors  lines  parts  insides
0’s  strips  cards  Sprigs  improvements  bars  threads  note-
books  Sprigs  leaves  fibres  patterns  flowers  leaves
spots  honeycombs  stoppages  worts  spots  sprigs
Sprigs  edgings  machines  holes  instructions  disks
quantities  forms  threads  bobbins  bands  intricacies
advertisements  lacers  breadths  cards  advertisements
appliances  standards  times  insides  edges  breadths’
symbols  results  operations  numbers  operations
advertisements  communications  rollers  appears 
Workers  Makers  carriages  patterns  makers  parts 
postures  garments  parts  sprigs  spots  spots``

Sarah Riggs

Friday, October 5, 2012

Just out: Salt Companion to Charles Bernstein, ed. William Allegrezza

Publication Date: 25-Sep-12 | ISBN: 9781844714858 | Trim Size: 228 x 152 mm | Extent: 388pp | Format: Paperback / softback

“What we have here is the ideal Primer for the Gradual Understanding of Charles Bernstein: the coverage is wide, & all you need is “to be ready, not prepared.” You will not be asked to lounge on the couch as nobody remembers its colors, but the essays come in all colors, except sad. Enjoy, & then get back to the poems.” —Pierre Joris

“A major poet for our time — & then some – Charles Bernstein has emerged as a principal voice –maybe the best we have – for an international avant-garde now in its second century of visions & revisions. It is in celebration of this that the Salt Companion to his work appears here, to show him in a trajectory from an American-centered language poetry in the 1970s to an active & significant relation to a constantly renewing & expanding global poetry in which his singularity has played a vital role. What becomes clear in these pages is how his generosity of mind & spirit continues to enrich us all.
” —Jerome Rothenberg

William Allegrezza 1

Charles Bernstein Or An Insistence To Communicate
Caroline Bergvall 6

Either You’re With Us And Against Us: Charles Bernstein’s
Girly Man, 9–11, And The Brechtian Figure Of The Reader
Tim Peterson 11

The Cave Children Of New York Are Never Free
Miekal And 30

The Metaphysical Mouth And The Asylum Of The Everyday: Charles
Bernstein And Contemporary Continental Philosophy Of Language
Michael Eng 35

“Gazoop” Replaces “Is/Are” “In A Restless
World Like This Gazoop Gazoop”
Madeline Gins 55

Girly Men Ballads: (Il)Legible Identities In
Charles Bernstein And Gertrude Stein
Kimberly Lamm 57

That Poem For Charles Bernstein
Lars Palm 85

“Spectres Of Benjamin”: (Re)Presentation And (Re)
Semblance In Charles Bernstein’s Shadowtime
Steven Salmoni 86

What As Poetic
Steve Mccaffery 111

Taking On The Official Voice: Charles Bernstein’s Poetic
Sophistry And Post-Process Writing Pedagogy
Megan Swihart Jewell 114

From The Alphabet
Ron Silliman 134

Beyond The Valley Of The Sophist: Charles
Bernstein, Irony, And Solidarity
Paul Stephens 140

Poem For Charles
Ray Craig 169

To Think Figuratively, Tropically: Charles Bernstein’s Post-9/11
Grammar And Pragmatist Lessons In The Age Of Baudrillard
Jason Lagapa 172

Charles Bernstein’s Anti-Suburban Poetry
Peter Monacell 192

Some Nouns
Donald Wellman 207

From A Philosophy Of Poetry To Poetry As Philosophy:
The Dialectical Poetics Of Charles Bernstein
Carlos Gallego 208

Content’s Profusion: Noise, Interruption And Reverse
Peristalsis In The Poetics Of Charles Bernstein
Michael Angelo Tata 234

Charles Bernstein In Buffalo 1999–2004
Kristen Gallagher 261

Charles Bernstein’s Catalogue Poetry
Thomas Fink 269

Readdressing Constructivism And Conceptual
Art:Aspects Of Work Factured By Charles Bernstein
Allen Fisher 286

Circles From Which
Maggie O’sullivan 301

Visual Strategies: A Line, A Verse, Something On Paper
James Shivers 302

After Residual Rubbernecking (A Speculative Non-Serial Anti-Romance)
Erica Hunt 340

A Life, Spliced: On The Early Tapeworks Of Charles Bernstein
Michael S. Hennessey 344

Notes On Contributors 370
Credits 376
Acknowledgements 377

order  from Amazon

cover photo by Emma Bee Bernstein

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Redell Olsen's film poems

Still from Neptune's Daughter, 1949

The 2 day symposium on Redell Olsen's work ended on a screening of two of her film poems: The Lost Swimming Pool (London, 2010), and bucolic picnic or toile de jouy camouflage (2009). To see the films, click on the titles, which will redirect you to Dell Olsen's website.

"The Lost Swimming Pool (London, June 2010) was a site-specific Installation and performance (for Esther Williams and the Lost Olympics; and for Jane Holloway and Elizabeth Jesser Reid). In part an homage to Esther Williams who would have represented the US as a swimmer in the 1940 Summer Games had they not been cancelled, and an examination of women’s physical education at the moments of the founding of Bedford and Royal Holloway Colleges.

Project conceived and directed by Redell Olsen in collaboration with Libby Worth, Gillian Wylde, Ruth Livesey, and Drew Milne."