Call and response. The breathing body of poetry from the beginning. The psalms of David, the wave of them, rise and fall of plainchant, verse and response…
Call and response. The breathing body of poetry from the beginning. The psalms of David, the wave of them, rise and fall of plainchant, verse and response. The constantly shifting pause between the half-lines of Old English poetry and the poems of the Edda, the half-lines of the Kalevala swayed out four-handed on the saga bench. So I thought towards the two-line stanza as experiments in duration, in complex syntactic and melodic demands. The melody of the first line necessitates the melody of the next. Shape shaping shape. Formally, the poem engages with one constraint: each line wants to be semantically intact—ideally, any line could stand alone, be my Last Words, my epitaph. Yet it also must link syntactically or narratively with the line that follows. And each stanza must stand in like relation with the stanzas before and after. This requirement extends to line structure something that I’ve worked with for years (usually furtively): hypersyntax, where phrases link with what comes before or after, or plausibly stand alone. Uncertainties tries to use these strategies in “mental strife,” to solicit the dissolving of certainties—in between the inbreath and the outbreath, where nothing is fixed, and freedom begins.
This series of experimental poems—written in continuous prose-like paragraphs but with the rhythmic attentiveness of the finest verse – allows the ever-shifting present to emerge like various threads of a fabric in the making…
This series of experimental poems—written in continuous prose-like paragraphs but with the rhythmic attentiveness of the finest verse – allows the ever-shifting present to emerge like various threads of a fabric in the making. Economic, political, and poetic subjects weave through the text, delivering meanings on one page that are unraveled on the next. Familiar word patterns transmute suddenly with an associative leap or syntactic twist or a play on sound, enacting the sense of the body in motion, the self seeking the other, or catching glimpses of the divine.
“Uncommon Grammar Cloth stretches the imaginings & musings of the unsuspecting reader. Refreshing in its unpredictability, its fascinating “moves,” Cheryl Pallant’s book is a strong debut on the post-post-modern stage.” – Anne Waldman
“Cheryl Pallant’s first book is written in continuous, prose-like “paragraphs” but with the rhythmic attentiveness of the finest verse. “Reality is unfinished business,” wrote poet Charles Olson, and these poems seem to say it is the Poet’s business to make sure – in spite of all temptations to bring meaning to closure – that it stays that way!” – Charles Stein
“Weaving words with rare energy and skill, Cheryl Pallant’s Uncommon Grammar Cloth joins the increasing number of contemporary cross-genre works that return writing to “writing” in ways both old and new, reviving the tradition harking back to Sterne and Stein, refusing to be boxed in as either “poetry” or “prose”: “extreme of stratospheric glee,” “thanks and welcome and arrivederci and Pontiac and rutabaga” – yes, right, and Onward! – Anselm Hollo
The jazz term “riff” is short for “riffle”—“make rough.” In Untam’d Wing: Riffs on Romantic Poetry, scholar/poet Jeffrey Robinson sets out much like a jazz musician to renew a great body of work (say, Miles Davis on George Gershwin)—“to recast,” as he says in the Prefatory Note, “what have become monuments, with all the inertness of passive appreciation that monumentality encourages, into living forms”…
The jazz term “riff” is short for “riffle”—“make rough.” In Untam’d Wing: Riffs on Romantic Poetry, scholar/poet Jeffrey Robinson sets out much like a jazz musician to renew a great body of work (say, Miles Davis on George Gershwin)—“to recast,” as he says in the Prefatory Note, “what have become monuments, with all the inertness of passive appreciation that monumentality encourages, into living forms.” If he “roughs up” some of our long-time favorites, it’s not to revise, and certainly not to improve, but on the contrary to reveal a timeless dimension that is of the very nature of the Romantic: “I would define a ‘romantic’ poem, of whatever vintage, as one that invites its own renewal in every present.” With all the boldness and subtle care of the poets he celebrates, Robinson stakes his “life-long involvement as reader, teacher, and scholar/critic of Romantic poetry” on an equally committed “absorption and belief in the discoveries of modern and contemporary experimental poetry.” Like a true marriage it lays bare both parties.
“Untam’d Wing is a heady conglomeration of poetic intensities and re-visionings, of the Romantic mother lode. Only a poet deeply embedded in and enthralled by this realm could take wild liberties and shape them into a contemporary volume of such curious and inventive range. Jeffrey Robinson is a scholar and has lived inside the Romantic body for decades, and precisely because of this his imagination is highly attuned to further Romantic nuance…. He sheds bright light on meaning and message. He is the scientist/artist finally breaking free of shackles.”
—Anne Waldman, from the foreword
“Useful Knowledge is pleasant and therefore it is very much to be enjoyed,” writes Gertrude Stein in her “Advertisement for this Book”—an apt characterization of the experience of reading it sixty years after its disappearance from print…
Useful Knowledge is pleasant and therefore it is very much to be enjoyed,” writes Gertrude Stein in her “Advertisement for this Book”—an apt characterization of the experience of reading it sixty years after its disappearance from print. Despite her long expatriation, she “always remained” in her words, “firmly born in Allegheny Pennsylvania.” Indeed, physical detachment from her homeland seems only to have deepened her love for the country, a passion very nearly erotic, that blossomed in this private remembrance that is both tender and humorous. War, Woodrow Wilson, Chicago, Sherwood Anderson – such is the range of her intimate concerns. As for the significant questions to which her writings respond: “Wherein Iowa differs from Kansas and Indiana” and “Wherein the South differs from the North,” useful knowledge indeed, when the thought is opened along with the word in these extraordinary prose inventions. Keith Waldrop’s introduction furnishes new insight into the process and development of Stein’s infamous style as always more intricately evolving than is recognized. And Edward Burns provides “useful knowledge about Useful Knowledge,” the kind of information about Stein’s text that we rarely find when we most want it.
“These early parables of Maurice Blanchot provide a rewarding introduction to a modern master…”
“These early parables of Maurice Blanchot provide a rewarding introduction to a modern master; they also illuminate with hallucinatory intensity certain consequences of the hopeless and irresistible human longing to communicate through language. The world is still haunted by the ghosts of unspoken and unspeakable words emanating from the deaths here recounted almost fifty years ago.” -Harry Mathews
Following World War II, writers and poets in Austria sought to distance themselves from the German influence and to rescue their language from the continuing abuses by the Austrian establishment…
Following World War II, writers and poets in Austria sought to distance themselves from the German influence and to rescue their language from the continuing abuses by the Austrian establishment. The established order, which had embraced collaboration with the Nazis, remained provincial and hostile to any experimentation. The Vienna Group (Friederike Mayr6cker, Friedrich Achleitner, Konrad Bayer, Ernst Jandl, H.C. Artmann and Gerhard Rahm), a group of friends, mining other earlier outside movements -Expressionism, Dadaism, and Surrealism -sought to make art which threatened the established order. In this, they succeeded. The stance adopted from the beginning is best summarized by the introduction to the group’s initial manifesto by H.C. Artmann – “There is only one inalienable principle, namely that anyone can be a poet without ever having written or uttered a single word.” It was a poetic logic which allowed for the use of dialect poems in much the same way as sound poems; visual poems; alternatives to sentences; lists and everyday information; continuing experimentation In not only form but in the nature of content. What better way to recover one’s language than to charge it, to make it resonate, to enhance it and finally cause It to evolve. This first English anthology, The Vienna Group, edited and translated by Rosmarie Waldrop and Harriet Watts, contains a generous selection from each of the above poets, showing not only the variety but the intrinsic humor and sense of play which has made this movement’s contributions all the more accessible. Their work anticipated not only the present concerns with the nature of language and syntax, it also provided the roots for the more widely revered work of fellow Austrians, Thomas Bernhard and Peter Handke. It is an essential and highly recommended addition to all collections.
Haunting and strangely provocative new installations by artist Gary Hill, celebrated worldwide in major museums and galleries, are introduced through a highly readable essay by two of the artist’s long-time poet/artist collaborators. In a sort of “lineup,” seventeen day-workers, full-size, stare at you from the wall, eerily present by the magic of video-projection (Viewer). A solitary Native American stares you in the eyes, while he stares at himself from an adjacent wall—then the projections switch position: the watcher becomes the watched and the watched becomes the watcher (Standing Apart). This third in an ongoing series of the Quasha & Stein dialogue on Gary Hill is beautifully illustrated in full color to give a living sense of the actual installations.
An unusual novel form is created by the use of an actual crisis inside and around the author’s life as subplot to the fiction. The time span in the fiction is meshed to a contiguous time span of autobiographical time by a voice situated in the curious ethics of “gut time.” A powerful conceptual framework grounded in dark, personal despair, the startling first novel forgoes a new language. Lust bends syntax to follow the emotions that range from the simple to the impenetrable. In this process, pronouns, prepositions, and adverbs are altered – as illustrated by the absence of the suffixial adverb and the preposition “of” in the narrative prose. Despite its innovations Violence and Defiance, through its electrifying story, can be read like a conventional novel.
What the President Will Say and Do!! is a book about Power and Being, and the languages integral to both. The ostensible subject of Gins’ formidable wit is “The Presidency” and “The Man” who gives it voice…
WHAT THE PRESIDENT WILL SAY AND DO!! is a book about Power and Being, and the languages integral to both. The ostensible subject of Gins’ formidable wit is “The Presidency” and “The Man” who gives it voice. But her virtuosic deconstruction of the devices of political rhetoric suggests a deeper purpose: one related to identity, language, and the value of meaning. Through such pieces as “THE History of THE” and “How to Breathe” Gins sculpts a multidimensional discourse and proposes a model strategy for free, effective speech. Utopia, the author implies, depends on a practical, uncoerced poetics. “Thank god for thinking…. I love the rationally incisive instructions, I always feel like I’m getting somewhere…. It’s excellent. Great cases homiletically packaged for the pro and con alike. Syntax and so-called expectations (Great!)….”–Robert Creeley.
WHEN THE TIME COMES ostensibly chronicles the troubled relations between the narrator – a very ill man – and the two women whose lives he invades…
WHEN THE TIME COMES ostensibly chronicles the troubled relations between the narrator – a very ill man – and the two women whose lives he invades. As in all of Blanchot’s intensely subjective fiction, the true subject of the work is the narrator’s consciousness and the process by which his tale emerges through its telling. Powerfully affected by the slightest of events, the narrator responds with a violence that, most disturbingly, appears inevitable.
This book is a presentation of Dzogchen as taught in the Bon tradition…
This book is a presentation of Dzogchen as taught in the Bon tradition. Dzogchen has began to be familiar to Westerners parincipally through the teachings of Nyingmapa school. In WONDERS OF THE NATURAL MIND, the author presents the Dzogchne teachings based on the Zhang Shung NyanGyud, the fundamental Bon text. The test gives an epitome of the main points of Dzogchen, its relation to the various systems of Bon teachings, and the authoer’s personal relfections on the practive of Dzogchen in the West.
Praise for Wordsworth Day by Day
“Boldly flaunting the crossing of genres, Jeffrey Robinson’s Wordsworth Day by Day is literary criticism’s fully present response to that medieval classic and devotional text, the Book of Hours. With stunning scholarship and passion Robinson creates a post-modern breviary on Wordsworth’s poetics that is rigorously meditative and inquiring in its illuminating stroll. A visionary diary, a day by day collaboration with Wordsworthian vitality and the slow grace of that poetic freedom.”—Maureen Owen, author of American Rush.
“Jeffrey Robinson’s extraordinary book goes way past criticism ‘as we know it,’ to offer a reading-through (sometimes, in Cage’s phrase, a writing-through) of Wordsworth & other arch Romantics. In the manner of a spiritual diary he sets out to talk – on a day to day basis & in the presence of [Wordsworth’s] poems – of what he sees in them & often, beautifully, to transform or, as he says, deform them. More than that, as in his other recent work combining Romanticism & the experimental modernism to which it leads, Robinson brings Wordsworth into the present, makes of him not only his William Wordsworth but ours as well.”—Jerome Rothenberg, author of Khurbn and A Paradise of Poets
This book is one of the few clear and still possible manifestos of our time…
This book is one of the few clear and still possible manifestos of our time, composed by Ed Sanders (born August 17, 1939), American poet, singer, social activist, environmentalist, author and publisher.
“Holst has long been treasured in the underground New York literary scene. His impish delivery is filled with a childlike delight in tale-spinning, and yet his work is recognized for its inscrutable mysteries. Containing every story Holst has ever written, nearly a third of them never before published, this collection should establish Holst’s reputation among a wider public. If there is a single aesthetic preoccupation in these tales, it is with storytelling itself. In the title piece, a Siamese cat speaks ‘Zebraic,’ bewitching zebras so that he is able to kill them, until he meets the zebra storyteller who has already imagined a Siamese cat speaking Zebraic. This allows him to kill the cat, and ‘that is the function of the storyteller,’ Holst concludes. Such postmodern concerns, however, do not become boorish. Above all, Holst seeks to entertain, not lecture; imagination and language receive no especial privilege here, but humor always does. In ‘The Language of Cats,’ at the end of one rather long and unsuccessful attempt to describe a confused state of mind, the narrator resorts to: ‘imagine how the world would appear to a person after finishing such a ridiculously lengthy, pointless sentence.’ Such authorial winks give a hint of what it is like to be in the presence of this master of the told tale.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“The fertile imagination of fable-fabricator Holst (The Language of Cats, etc.) appears in all its glory in his latest collection of 64 far-fetched stories and fragments, 18 of which are making their publishing debut. Juggling mind-bending juxtapositions in his eclectic view of the world, Holst often rearranges familiar scenes or institutions into terra incognita, but leaves enough of the old in place to serve as an unsettling reminder of how easily the known becomes strange. Cats and their inscrutable ways are a favorite subject, as Sherlock Holmes and Watson take on human guise at will and use their furry logic (‘Adventure of the Giant Rat of Sumatra) to solve a brutal killing of a fellow feline, while ‘The Cat Who Owned an Apartment’ discovers that patience, and a quick pounce, can bring unexpected but richly deserved rewards. New York City and other jungles of the world are used to good effect, with a mound of garbage proving the death of a family that inadvertently threw its life savings out in the trash (‘Finders Keepers’); but Africa is no more hospitable to a legendary jazz drummer, who leaves fame behind to search for a tribe of drummers only to find his death when he recalls his past at an inopportune moment (‘Tom-Tom’). The most sustained (though incomplete) saga here, ‘The Institute for the Foul Ball,’ features a bold new look at baseball, with a visionary young superstar proposing – at a time when club owners are keen to bolster sagging profits – a paradigm shift that would allow a batter only one strike. Whimsical but with a full complement of death and decay: a selection of primordial melodies and fantastic ‘tudes played with a master’s touch.” – Kirkus Reviews
Kyogen Carlson’s Zen in the American Grain show us how the full integration of Zen practice with everyday American life is not only possible but inevitable.
Kyogen Carlson’s Zen in the American Grain show us how the full integration of Zen practice with everyday American life is not only possible but inevitable.
“I think most Americans think of Zen as being some highly weird and esoteric pagan cult practiced by pretentious people with attitude problems. Actually, when you get right down to it there is probably nothing more practical, and even mundane, then Zen approached as an everyday way-to-live-your-life practice. This excellent book provides a series of short essays on the topic of Zen and real life problems of living in American society. Nothing particularly weird or startling about it – just some thought provoking guidance on incorporating buddhist practice in everyday life. Charlotte Beck’s books (Everyday Zen and Nothing Special) are similar – both are excellent and concentrate on Zen as a guide to living a fulfilling and useful everyday life. Highly recommended.” – “Buckeye,” Harvard, MA