Cosmic Diaspora is Jake Marmer’s third collection of poems. It brings together fantasy, hard-boiled sci-fi, Jewish mysticism, experimental poetics, free jazz, and dark, deadpan humor….
Cosmic Diaspora is Jake Marmer’s third collection of poems. It brings together fantasy, hard-boiled sci-fi, Jewish mysticism, experimental poetics, free jazz, and dark, deadpan humor. Born in the wild steppes of Ukraine, Marmer brings his immigrant experience into a cosmic, diasporic disorientation and attempts to imagine the deep future of myth, spirit, and language. In Cosmic Diaspora, you may also find more than hints of the Talmud, Midrash, and Zohar that allude to alternative realities, some of which exist alongside our own, while others are tangled within it—or are completely unrelated, made of pure Light or pure Text.
ADVANCE PRAISE for Cosmic Diaspora
“Cosmic Diaspora is a (literally) fantastic…. what? Book of poems/literary works? Notational record of an infinite number of possible post-poetic poetry performances? Series of QR-scanned music/spoken word performance videos? A hyper-Jewish post-Jewish science fiction fragment in talmudically-zoharically-inflected verse? Or all of the above. Jake’s language is deceptively off-handed yet precise, intelligent yet casual, prophetic yet comic. The eponymously titled opening suite is wise, weird, startling, and totally worth the price of admission, and the rest of the book, wildly different section to section, equals it. Curtain up! an artist strolls center stage.”
—Norman Fischer, author of On a Train at Night and Untitled Series: Life as It Is
“Jake Marmer’s reflexive and visionary Cosmic Diaspora is a passionately rendered and timely exploration in verse of postmodern ritual and mutations. Marmer also takes a deep celebratory look into black holes, gravity, light years, and the cosmos. He also pays homage to some of his speculative heroes: Delany, Acker, Stein, and le Guin. And all the while Marmer hears the wisdom of the Talmud whispering in the background.”
—Clarence Major, author of My Amputations and Reflex and Bone Structure
“From ‘harm to harmony’ and back (and back again, in rapid, infinite oscillation), Jake Marmer’s new volume, Cosmic Diaspora, outlines, with wit and a keen sense of otherness, the existential anxiety at the heart of sentient human life—an anxiety that takes on a special poignancy in the words of geopolitically and otherwise historically traumatized diasporic poets:
you’re being disassembled
into a diaspora of atoms that know nothing
of each other’s existence
before coming together again
like water poured into a new glass
without objective guarantee
Through a series of fanciful sci-fi vignettes, a sort of ‘calligraphy of life’s post-script,’ Cosmic Diaspora explores the concept of diaspora not merely of ‘a people,’ but the contemporary experience of boundary-dissolution and dissemination of the individual-as-alien, giving the lie to the inside/outside, them/us, self/other binary around which ‘identity’ and its discontents are constructed. This is a rich, trenchant, and thoroughly enjoyable ‘record/ in conversation with its own mutation’—after all, ‘just because you were being extrapolated/doesn’t mean you weren’t having a ball.’ Treat yourself.”
—Maria Damon, author of The Dark End of the Street: Margins in American Vanguard Poetry and Postliterary America: From Bagel Shop Jazz to Micropoetries
A Matrices Edition
Homophonic translations create poems that foreground the sound of the original more than the lexical meaning: sound-alike poems or “sound writing.” This essay presents a dizzying number of examples of sound mimesis as a way to explore the poetics of sound and the politics of translation….
A Matrices Edition
Homophonic translations create poems that foreground the sound of the original more than the lexical meaning: sound-alike poems or “sound writing.” This essay presents a dizzying number of examples of sound mimesis as a way to explore the poetics of sound and the politics of translation. Covering modernists (such as Pound, Bunting, and Khelbnikov) and contemporaries (such as David Melnick and Caroline Bergvall), the Bernstein also addresses homophonics in popular culture including an extended discussion of TV comedian Sid Caear’s “double talking.” The essay raises a thorny question: Are homophonic poems a form of cultural appropriation or a form of transnationalism?
A Matrices Edition
The translation is accompanied by a series of interpretive essays by the translator. Stein maintains that the Parmenides text is an important poem as well as a philosophical treatise and translates it as such….
A Matrices Edition
The translation is accompanied by a series of interpretive essays by the translator. Stein maintains that the Parmenides text is an important poem as well as a philosophical treatise and translates it as such. His “Parmenides Project” comprises some thirty years of journal writings documenting an extended “thought experiment” in which he takes seriously Parmenides’ assertion that Being and only Being truly “is” and that all else —all thoughts, intuitions, imaginings, sensations, perceptions, myths, philosophical opinions, by the very structure of “seeming” must “seem to Be.” The author contends that this view suggests a practice of mind that corresponds to the culminating focus of many contemplative paths both East and West and is of contemporary interest because it assumes the relativism of much in present day philosophy without falling into abject nihilism.
Starting in 1995 and for eight year Miriam Sanders wrote a weekly nature column for The Woodstock Journal, co-founded by the poet and musician Ed Sanders. With uncanny powers of direct observation, woven into a skein of luminous insights, she gives us a resonant field….
Starting in 1995 and for eight year Miriam Sanders wrote a weekly nature column for The Woodstock Journal, co-founded by the poet and musician Ed Sanders. With uncanny powers of direct observation, woven into a skein of luminous insights, she gives us a resonant field within which we may more than glimpse the web of creation. “Treasures” indeed, an enduring portrait of the natural world this book touches Catskills magic—bobcats, mallards and “Eric perched on a branch, enjoying a nut, his lovely tail curved over his back.” The poet, writer, and historian Peter Lamborn Wilson writes, “Back in the Dark Ages when I lived in the Lower East Side I used to go to the Gem Spa on 8th Street every week to pick up Ed and Miriam Sanders’s Woodstock newspaper, then take it to Tompkins Square and sit under a tree and read Miriam’s nature column and dream that I was in the country with her birds and deer. Now at last her charming essays return—and I live in the Hudson Valley. Hurrah!” Woodland Treasures includes over twenty-five, hand-drawn illustrations from the author.
Bernadette Mayer and Lewis Warsh wrote PIECE OF CAKE as a work of collaborative prose poetry, based on a process of each writing on alternate days in the course of August 1976. It recounts the quotidian nuances of young, married-with-child life, the artistic path and citizenship in the town of Lenox, Massachusetts…
Bernadette Mayer and Lewis Warsh wrote PIECE OF CAKE as a work of collaborative prose poetry, based on a process of each writing on alternate days in the course of August 1976. It recounts the quotidian nuances of young, married-with-child life, the artistic path and citizenship in the town of Lenox, Massachusetts. It has the “I did this, I did that” of a New York School poetry text, as characterized by the poetry of Frank O’Hara, and is somewhat reminiscent of Mayer’s work STUDYING HUNGER JOURNALS, written not long before taking up PIECE OF CAKE. As Mayer writes on August 24: “I will go just one step further and take the liberty of saying that writing this book is different, for me, so completely different from any other experience I have ever had with writing. Now, when I sit down to write I tremble with fear before the page, and from the reactions of my body I can tell that the possibility of finally telling everything, and telling it as if it were all a series of plain household events, is at last coming closer.” This work is also distinguished as arguably the first significant male-female collaboration in 20th-century American poetry. Regarding the possible derivation of the work’s title, and also exemplary of the work’s tenor, is the start of Warsh’s entry of August 29: “I also recall getting up and eating a piece of left-over cake (a very sweet store-bought cake with green or possibly pinkish icing) and drinking a glass of milk at the kitchen window. Empty streets, no moon. Michael and Twinkie asleep on the floor of Bernadette’s room, Guy and Karen in mine, Bill on the couch in the living room. Marie in her crib. Everyone ‘dead to the world,’ a phrase I dislike, what a full house.” This book also includes a section of photographs taken within the family from the period of PIECE OF CAKE’s composition.
This collection incorporates Franz Kamin’s two main previous books—Ann Margret Loves You and Other Psychotopological Diversions (1980) and Scribble Death (1986)—plus his posthumous writing originally collected as Tales From The Theory of Angels….
This collection incorporates Franz Kamin’s two main previous books—Ann Margret Loves You and Other Psychotopological Diversions (1980) and Scribble Death (1986)—plus his posthumous writing originally collected as Tales From The Theory of Angels. He links the scribbling of children, artists, and dreamers with the hopes and terrors of obsession and delirium. Through all of this one may almost detect a somber chuckling from the authorial domain.
The Star-Spangled Banner spans the 15-year arc from 9/11 to 11/9, concluding with a poem based on voices overheard the night of Trump’s election by poet Michael Ruby, a journalist who has covered U.S. politics for decades….
The Star-Spangled Banner spans the 15-year arc from 9/11 to 11/9, concluding with a poem based on voices overheard the night of Trump’s election by poet Michael Ruby, a journalist who has covered U.S. politics for decades. Ruby began the book in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when he saw people freely using U.S. national symbols for their own political purposes. He decided to do the same thing for poetic purposes. Every poem in the book, which is dedicated to Jasper Johns and Jimi Hendrix, uses the 81 words of the national anthem and inserts words into the spaces between them. The poems have different vocabularies—sometimes surrealist like Ruby’s related book, American Songbook (2013), sometimes documentary and personal like his trilogy Memories, Dreams and Inner Voices (2012). The Star-Spangled Banner is an artistic encounter with one of America’s leading national symbols, using the frame of Francis Scott Key’s War of 1812 lyrics in unexpected ways, and an unusual verbal and emotional portrait of the time from 9/11 to 11/9.
ADVANCE PRAISE for The Star-Spangled Banner
Michael Ruby’s The Star-Spangled Banner bravely demonstrates how history and politics infuse the quotidian. Throughout this innovative collection, Ruby disrupts the nation’s political discourse by reclaiming the words of our national anthem in ways neither Francis Scott Key nor any contemporary politician ever could have imagined. In this bold experiment in contemporary poetics, Ruby charts our country’s trajectory from 9/11 to the 2016 election: a true American tragedy and failure. By collaging both poetic and political lineages, Ruby redefines the possibilities of documentary poetry to take on the urgent difficulties of our times.
Michael Ruby has written a spangled and wild critique of American exceptionalism and made it into his own gleaming anthem for our moment, in this way reminding us that we can renovate our broken mythos into a song for oneself but with the knowledge that out of the one, many, many left behind, suffering abjections beyond anthem and national identity. Formally astute and rhythmically alive these sequences hold their nerve and deliver a gut punch.
Brooklyn of ample poetry was mine. (Props to Walt Whitman.) Looking west, wandering the waterfront below the Bridge, I’m often whacked by the legacy of my borough’s place in American poetry. Michael Ruby also looks west from Brooklyn as he riffs on America’s national anthem. Striating the text, like the design of the stripes on the banner itself, he inserts his own observations and literary/historical musings on America between the hymn’s words. Structurally, one is impelled to ask, are these sanctified words constraints like prison bars, or hand holds provided to climb ever higher on? One is confronted with an eternal American question: Why must freedom be the opposite of perfection?
–Loren Munk (aka James Kalm)
[following design] Michael Ruby e x p l o r e s P o e t r y.
Tokyoatoto is made of and from a hand-written book composed by the poet Sam Truitt in the course of a 2019 Tokyo sojourn. The writing includes, among other elements, descriptions, impressions, insights into Japanese life and culture and the concrete exigencies of negotiating a foreign land….
Tokyoatoto is made of and from a hand-written book composed by the poet Sam Truitt in the course of a 2019 Tokyo sojourn. The writing includes, among other elements, descriptions, impressions, insights into Japanese life and culture and the concrete exigencies of negotiating a foreign land. This last aspect is somewhat complicated by the fact Truitt lived in Tokyo for four years from the age of three and that Japanese was very close to his first language. Moreover the culture of Japan was also close to his first, so that this influence acts as a palimpsest backfield to the writing as the author both seeks and betimes touches traces of its influence. Tokyoatoto‘s structure is unique in that Truitt seeks to foreground that movement toward originality by reproducing in facsimile the pages of the hand-written book, with their transcriptions appearing on opposite pages. An engaging, thoughtful and sometimes profound glimpse into contemporary life in Tokyo from a perspective of complicated naivety, Tokyoatoto is a fast, entertaining poetic flight full of pratfalls, missed connections, slips and surrenders in which, as the author writes on a Tokyo subway passage, “one senses a web each of us hold together & against & around us like a net knit of civility not docility as there are some faraway landscapes in our mind & in our heart & our bodies are dreaming all of them uniting to listen to the underground hum its magic.”
ADVANCE PRAISE for Tokyoatoto
“Sam Truitt has added a wonderful new innovative example of one of my favorite genres—travel poetry. By way of two ‘T squares’ (Times and Tiananmen), on the way to Japan, he generously expands the notational into double accordion-fold expanses, condensing sound, thought, perception and time. The reader is invited into the poet’s process alternating between quicksilver caught thought to poems lifted to the next level of line-break shape and form. The notebook page determines each ‘song’s’ length, much as Kerouac does with his MEXICO CITY BLUES, each part fitting in a pocket notebook. Here Truitt scores his poems across vertical lines, creating a palimpsest that references both the verticality of written Japanese language cross-hatched with English, as well as flown-through clouds of sound gathering in storm. In this travelogue of the present moment back in time to a formative locale, what’s here now? In this delightful map of the mind moving we are given both deft improvisation and sculptural thought-song of all senses played ‘toward the most beautiful / place on earth 52 years / coming home.’”
—Lee Ann Brown, author of Philtre: Writing in the Dark 1989-2020
“Inscription and transcription, the two fundamental modes of literary composition, echo each other in this work. The texts alternate—notebook handwritten, poem typeset—calling their relationship into a dialogue. We stop seeing one as the inevitable outcome of the other. The process of writing interweaves the autographic hand and the allographic type, the individual expression and the linguistic system. Are the works ‘the same’ in each version—or does the process engage us with the impossibility of their being identical to each other. The intimacy of writing as note-taking feels palpably present. We intrude on those personal pages, even in facsimile. By contrast, the public-facing presentation of the typeset texts feels bold, exposed, declaratively blunt in its directness. Throughout, the texts themselves constantly reference lines and notations, divisions and demarcations, marking personal time and actual space across coordinates of language. Tracking, tracing, defining, delineating—all the many terms of writing activate this work and its notational transits.”
—Johanna Drucker, author of Diagrammatic Writing
“Pop testimony, an epiphany going from language to a linguistic beyond of sullen images (too good to be entropy, though), conforming the edge of a (self) reflective anthroposphere. This staccato rumination shows culture to be something less (and more) than the usual accumulation-in-progress of technical & folkloric victories. Tokyoatoto is fine funk.”
—Omar Pérez, author of Cubanology