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Thursday, February 16, 2017

TtD supplement #72 : seven questions for David Buuck


David Buuck is a writer who lives in Oakland, CA. He is the founder of BARGE, the Bay Area Research Group in Enviro-aesthetics, and co-founder and editor of Tripwire, a journal of poetics (tripwirejournal.com). Recent publications include SITE CITE CITY (Futurepoem, 2015) and An Army of Lovers, co-written with Juliana Spahr (City Lights, 2013). A Swarming, A Wolfing appeared from Roof Books in 2016.

His poem “FIRE ON FIRE” appears in the twelfth issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Tell me about the poem “FIRE ON FIRE.”

A: William Rowe wrote a review of Joshua Clover’s The Red Epic (Commune Editions, 2015) for issue #10 of Tripwire, and in it he hones in on JClo’s line “how to set fire to fire?”, seeing it as a central question about the hazards of how insurrection can become spectacle. Rowe references a line from Hegel — “Fire is materialized time” — that then became the first line of the poem. I’d been thinking a lot about the relation between insurrection and lived time, how certain moments can flare up in a way that feel outside of clock-time. In the poem I try to get at how capitalist clock-time — necessary for the regimentation of the wage-hour — ‘resides’ in commodities, commodities that, like Marx’s exemplary table, can burn. All that is (seemingly) immaterial congeals into solids. And in fire, all that is solid (commodities, carrying within them labor-time) melts into air, free — if only for a brief moment — in the ‘pure present' of combustion. That’s the gambit, anyway. 

Q: How does this poem fit in with the other work you’ve been doing lately? Is this piece an occasional, or is it part of something potentially much larger?

A: It is definitely part of a line of inquiry over the last several years, beginning with the work that will be coming out this fall from Roof Books (A Swarming, a Wolfing) and continuing on into what seems to be a new MS. Whereas A Swarming could be summarized as trying to finds new or at least non-cliché/nostalgic modes of representing militant social movement, upsurges of revolt & their affective dimensions (from Occupy Oakland on through its offshoots and aftermaths) the new work is more concerned with languaging ‘insurrection’ as a form of both irruptive praxis and discursive energies: while this particular poem is more meditative and/or ‘philosophical’ on the subject, it certainly extends my trying to think through the (lived/non-capitalist) time of revolt as well as how poetics can articulate such contingent but collective experiences from the perspective and hazards of ‘emotion recollected in tranquility’. 

Q: Do you see all of your writing as existing on a particular kind of continuum? How are your books usually constructed? How do poems begin?

A: I feel like my interests and concerns, both thematically and formally, are related across books & projects, or at least I imagine readers could trace such continuities, even as/if they develop and change (as I hope they do!). Certainly the performance works, fiction, and hybrid prose-works differ considerably from the more straight-ahead poetry – especially regarding prosody as well as method – but that may more be about testing different compositional methods to engage and interrogate political questions from different sites and modes. I guess that’s where I might like to hang on to the adjective “experimental” to describe kinds of non-conventional writing even though that term seems to have become merely a branding term for niche marketing, at least within the US poetry worlds.

The construction of the books varies. The Shunt and Site Cite City were largely written over the same period (2001-08, 1999-2012) and though the difference between the two might appear to be simply poems/prose, they were in many ways different projects. An Army of Lovers was co-written with Juliana Spahr, and evolved into a ‘book’ over time, driven less by narrative plot (as pseudo-realist fiction) as much as a shared sense of appropriate scale and reach for its interrogations of poets, poetry, and the possibilities for political action. The forthcoming book is work ‘coming out of’ Occupy Oakland and its more militant offshoots, and the questions of radical movements and representation, so that thematically that came together as a book-length MS more organically. As you know, it’s often more about what one leaves out that helps constitute a book’s form and I dunno, identity? – and each of the books involved a ton of stuff left-out.

Q: With three books (including collaboration) and a small stack of chapbooks/pamphlets over nearly two decades, how do you feel your work has developed? Where do you see your work headed?

A: Yikes, two decades! Where has the time gone?

I tend to follow various lines of inquiry, be they thematic or formal questions, but have tended to be a bit ADHD in terms of following such lines all the way to actualized ‘products.’ However, one could probably fairly easily trace some through-lines in my work so far. Certainly the question of politics and how social/cultural issues and one's own politics work themselves out in writing and art has been a primary driver in my work, both in my own writing as well as with BARGE, editing Tripwire, organizing events, and other efforts in the cultural spheres of the poetry world. Increasing skepticism as to the power and/or ‘efficacy’ of overtly political poetries can certainly be seen in The Shunt, as the book moves from more forthright (if embarrassingly so) ‘anti-war’ poems to a self-questioning of such genres and platitudinous pronouncements of certain received ideas and political platitudes. An Army of Lovers certainly pursues this skepticism, if not outright doubt and frustration, in my and Juliana’s fictions about the roles and possibilities for political poetry and art in its (pre-Occupy) historical context. Occupy Oakland and its related irruptions certainly have informed my own thinking about representation (in poetry and performance) and its relation to ‘lived’ (off-the-page) political movements, and such rethinking is (I hope) evident in A Swarming, a Wolfing.

Current projects include a novel about military simulations set in the Californian desert, as well as a cross-genre book confronting the question of (and relation between) ‘insurrection’ and writing. I hope to do more off-page BARGE and performance work, as well. I'm also increasingly committed to the editorial project of Tripwire, which feels like a space for critical thinking and interrogation (if only for myself!), as well as a mode of constellatory mapping of potential alternatives to what can often seem like a stolid, insular, nationalist, and Manichean approach to poetics in the US.

It’s hard to say ‘where my work’s headed’ given that I can’t predict the social and political landscapes that we will be confronting over the next years and decades, and how they might (re)shape my own aesthetics and politics. I hope to remain open to a continued self-critical engagement with such questions, however they manifest in practice.

Q: I’ve long been fascinated by those who engage more overtly in engaging the political in their poetry, something so easily done poorly, but managed brilliantly by a small handful over the years, from Spahr to Stephen Collis, Rita Wong and others. And yet, ‘political poetry’ has often been accused of pushing a message over the art. Why do you think the form is so easily dismissed?

A: Well, at least in the US, it’s easy to dismiss or roll one’s eyes at a lot of self-described ‘political poetry’ for a couple of reasons: it can be self-congratulatory, moralistic, and platitudinous; and/or it can seem to relegate formal and aesthetic concerns to the background in order to emphasize more overt/‘legible’ social content. (Though of course content and form are always mutually imbricated; I’m just suggesting a false separation for argument’s sake here.)

That said, I’d argue that the same could be said of much poetry that is not overtly political: it’s tired, cliché, and formally not very interesting. It’s not clear to me, for example, why overtly political content or intent in and of itself makes for worse art. Rather, bad art is ‘bad’ because it's bad art, no?

Or, a thought experiment: what would one rather have — an OK poem with radical politics, a good poem about the poet’s personal feelings, or a Great Poem that upholds Western cultural values. How do we enter this question without interrogating what we mean by OK, good, and great? Can we possibly divorce content from aesthetic judgment? How are these not political questions? (I’m not saying I know the answers to these questions — I prefer good poetry to OK poetry, but what I mean by good is very likely different from what others mean, and not just as a matter of personal ‘taste’...)

The other charges — pushing a message, preaching to the converted, sacrificing aesthetics, the limited efficacy of poetry (‘if you wanna change the world, why don’t you just go march’) etc etc, are perhaps more complicated, especially if we again think of ‘non-political’ art. I mean, love poems ‘push a message’ and are imbricated with questions of efficacy (i.e. they aim to convert, even if only the object of desire). Most lyrical poems preach to the converted in terms of shared aesthetic values (look, I’m writing that way that we all have agreed is good!). Few contemporary ‘political’ poets in the US actually claim their work has some broad efficacy in what we conventionally think of as ‘actual’ politics, but some critics level this charge regardless, choosing to ignore the multiple ways in which the political can work within art and cultural practice, not to mention poetry’s relation to radical social movements, ecological disaster, history, etc., or simply to press potent affective charges in readers (anger, inspiration, etc). I also don’t think it’s coincidental that the poet-activists most active in challenging institutional forms of exclusion and hierarchy within Poetry-World-Inc are also poets we'd generally think of as ‘political’ in their writing.

And of course, most importantly, we have to remember that all poetry has a politics — its values, histories, forms, and relationship to institutions and power are all deeply political, whether or not poets choose to directly engage those issues. So really when folks talk about “political poetry” they mean poems or poets that are more overt or explicit about politics (either in the work itself or in extra-poetic claims about poetry or authorial intent/posturing), almost as if the complaint is something like, “please go away and be an IRL activist or whatever so I don’t have to think about these difficult questions and can just concentrate on art,” as if what we call art or good art or art-not-sullied-by-politics isn’t at its core a political question, given the history of Western poetry and its values (craft, a focus on the individual, relegation of anything by or about marginalized peoples into the sub-category of “[identity category]-poetry,” etc etc).

I don’t, however, want to make any claims about overtly political poetry as some kind of privileged form or ‘better’ poetry. There is, as with any kind of poetry, a ton of dreck and clichéd political poetry out there (and believe me, my own work is certainly open to that charge!). But we don’t dismiss the great lyrical poets based on the millions of shit lyrical poems produced over the years, do we. I just find that the questions investigated by certain modes of political art — which are always formal and aesthetic questions as well as questions of content or an author’s beliefs or opinions — are more compelling and challenging to me these days, especially given our historical moment. I'm just not sure how much the world needs more USAmerican MFA’d poems about bourgeois ‘personal experience’ or perfectly crafted lyrical poems or risk-free award-winning poems, etc etc. I want poetry that challenges the way I see the world (which includes art, of course), whether or not it’s “good” as defined by the gatekeepers of convention. Down with ‘good’ poems!

Q: Should poetry that overtly engages the political be tied to action? As Peter Gizzi wrote of Jack Spicer: “He is not against political action; on the contrary, he suggests that instead of writing a bad political poem one should write a letter to one’s congressman.”

A: I try to resist ‘shoulds’ when it comes to making art, and we’d need to unpack what we mean by ‘action’ and even ‘tied to’ to begin to get at this one. Generally, though, my answer is no — or at least, I’m not sure how exactly one would begin to make some direct connection between art and action, or how one would then judge such poems. If my love poem doesn’t get me any action, does it fail? If my lovely lyrical poem doesn’t get me awards, does it fail? Why would we only value ‘action’ in relation to ‘political’ poems?

At the same time, if “tied to” means something like “in relation to” we could certainly begin to trace various traditions and histories where poetry emerges from and alongside political action/movements/events/etc., whether through historical, witness, documentary, movement poetries, etc. And obviously “action” in general — aka “life itself” — seems to be a pretty broad ground from which poetry might ‘overtly engage the political,’ since our responses are always going to be mediated through ideology and aesthetics.

On the whole, though, as much as I do believe poems can be and make action in and of themselves, I’m generally cautious about making any claims for poetry's efficacy or “shoulds.” I would ask Gizzi’s Spicer, however, what about a good political poem? Why isn’t that a possibility? I certainly think (good) poems can do more than letters to one’s congressman.

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

A: Well it’s a pretty long list, and it depends on what I’m struggling with at any given moment. There are often different kinds of works that provide different kinds of charges for me — writers that inspire me as models of what an engaged writer can be and do in the world even if I don’t write anything like them (for instance, a few off the top of my head this week: Baldwin, Cesaire, Brecht, Woolf, Emma Goldman, Rosa Luxembourg, Dario Fo, Raul Zurita, CAConrad, Eileen Myles, Amilcar Cabral, Said, Fanon, a million others), or writers whose work reignites certain aspects of my creativity, even if I just pick up a book and read a couple pages (Gombrowicz, Acker, Leslie Scalapino, Cesaire again, a million others), or writers who I read at some important time in my early years and so re-reading them tickles some hopefully not-nostalgic moment of Wow-you-can-do-this? (Nietzsche, Genet, Stein, Beckett, Dambudzo Marechera, Jean Toomer, the New Narrative writers, a million others). And my friends and contemporaries! And artists and scholars and musicians and and and!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

TtD supplement #71 : nine questions for Nathaniel G. Moore

Nathaniel G. Moore is the author of Savage winner of the 2014 ReLit Award as well as other books including Bowlbrawl and Let’s Pretend We Never Met. His most recent book is Jettison, published by Anvil Press in May 2016. He is at work on new Catullus-based projects and lives on the Sunshine Coast.

Three poems from “Lot of Catullus” appear in the twelfth issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Tell me about the three poems from “Lot of Catullus.”

A: These are rewrites of Catullus’ poems with a plan to do all 113. The title is based on an eBay term like “lot of Star Wars figures” or “lot of my pet monster stickers” which I guess they repurposed from auctions. The term lot that is.

Q: You’ve explored and re-explored Catullus’ work in a variety of projects over the years. What is it about his work that appeals to you?

A: The length of time I find myself drawn to him. The more I study him, the more I unravel. I haven’t even fully read all his poems. I spend a few months on a handful of his poems and study them intensely. Then I imagine a novelization of the poems. The back to poetry. It’s always fresh. The stuff I’m working on now is almost an interactive genre sampling all about his life and poetry. It took a while away from him to realize he would be with me for a long time. I still buy his books and collect essays and clippings about him like he was a living person. I think about his life. Let’s Pretend We Never Met was a dusting of a larger body of work I have been developing. He was a collage artist like me, taking bits from other poets, styles and influences. I enjoy the class system in his poetry, the use of slang, insulting people by comparing them to goats which was poor people food. He was a psycho but also a sap. He was nostalgic and a hypocrite. A real human being.

Q: Is all of this study, as you say, potentially building up to a larger, all-encompassing project on Catullus, or is it more that you’re working a series of individual stand-alone projects that accumulate into a kind of life-long exploration on his life and work?

A: Probably the later, as I can’t see a publisher publishing a multi-genre effort. Essentially this Catullan focus jumps back and forth and back again between non fiction, fiction and poetry. I like the concept of a life-long exploration on his life and work as it relates to me and other scholars and just him. From the perspective of cultural theory and poetic and fictional narrative. Yet a part of me wonders what a multi-genre single volume (at first) would look like as a final project.

Q: So for now, you are content to explore his work in smaller, more specific projects?

A: Yes, to a degree. Thinking in practical terms, specific genre projects such as a novel or book of essays, or a series of poems is manageable in this day and age. In my last book Jettison, published last year, Catullus had a role in a short story. It was a way to gauge my own interest in that version of him. What he’ll look and sound like in another project will differ considerably down the road. It all stems back to Let’s Pretend We Never Met, a book that still haunts me. New readers discover it and ask me a lot of questions about it. To them it's a very special book and it makes me want to work on Catullus more and more. It makes me feel as though there is more to learn about what he was doing, his friends, enemies, the Roman society at the time. To me, this experience of writing along side the established image and legacy of Catullus is completely new and fresh. When it ceases to be this way, I'll probably give up the ghost.

Q: I’m curious as to your other influences. What writers or works, apart from Catullus, have influenced the ways in which you shape a poetry collection?

A: I feel that I haven’t ever truly shaped a poetry collection on my own. Beth Follett and Emily Schultz shaped Let’s Pretend, and Jason Camlot did most of the arranging in Pastels... As for writers who have influenced me in this regard, I would have to mention those I read heavily, such as, Daniel Scott Tysdal, Gary Barwin, Anne Carson, David McGimpsey, Robin Richardson, Margaret Christakos, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Damian Rogers. But I'm not sure I know how to shape a poetry collection. I’m not sure I’ve ever done it.

Q: If you don’t feel as though you’ve “every truly shaped a poetry collection” on your own, how do you know a manuscript is complete enough to be submitted? Is the process of building a manuscript one of collage that gets re-shaped by another, or one of volume?

A: Well, over the last three or four years for example, I’ve completed three poetry collections. None of them seem coherent enough on their own. I abandon them. I rework them. It’s very unsupervised. The poems get drafted and traded like sports players to other manuscripts. It becomes chaotic, a manic process. Then I turn to fiction for a year or so and never look back. When I have an idea it goes through a filtering system in which it winds up in a poem. But over time, that poem might wind up as a fragment of dialogue, or fake lyric in a fake song in a piece of fiction. I become restless. I also don’t necessarily want to be publishing poetry books. I’ve had some success now in fiction and want to develop that. I could be training myself with these Catullus poems to slip them into a large novel. I do research and realize that the Catullus poetry translation by white males is actually an over saturated anti-market. And I’m not talking about my former next door neighbour Ewan Whyte, but a few US poets around my age who fancy themselves Catullus fan boys very similar to Kilo Ren’s relationship with Darth Vader. I want to do something special I guess and I’m not feeling that any of the poetry manuscripts I’ve completed in the last while are of any substance.

Q: What pushes you to continue?

A: The stimulation I get from revisiting past texts. Whether it is an old poem or short story, I like to see if I can revive it. I don’t think I have the ingredients to be a poet though. I believe you need to have a set of aesthetic expectations and synopsis styled business cards for cocktail parties. I’m cut from a different cloth it seems. We shall see what happens I guess.

Q: I’m not sure I agree with you as far as the “set of aesthetic expectations and synopsis styled business cards [.]” But still: how do you feel your work has progressed over the past decade or so, through two published books and a handful of works-in-progress? Where do you see your work headed?

A: You mean specifically poetry? I have 2 published books of that genre. I haven’t published any poetry since 2009. I feel as though it hasn’t progressed and I am continually feeling alienated by developing poets and new generations of poets. My last poetry book wasn’t even reviewed, and as the saying goes, appropriated from another industry, you’re only as good as your last poetry book / book review. That being said, I could crip a Catullus line of poetry and say that I’m the worst of all poets.

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

A: Jean Genet, Martin Amis, Heather O’Neill, Lisa Moore, Rebecca Godfrey, Kathy Acker, Kurt Vonnegut, John Farrow, Stephen King, Graham Greene, Anne Carson, Camille Paglia, Sheila Heti and Mark Leyner.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

TtD supplement #70 : seven questions for Colin Smith

Colin Smith’s latest slab-o-pomes (and other “treats”) is Multiple Bippies, out from CUE Books in Vancouver, 2014. He lives in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 Territory, where he tries to walk softly.

His poems “Piece with Screws Loose” and “Poem to a Right-Hand Margin” appear in the twelfth issue of Touch the Donkey. His poem “This poem makes me feel:” will appear in the fifteenth issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Tell me about the poems “Piece with Screws Loose,” “Poem to a Right-Hand Margin” and “This poem makes me feel:.”

A: Well, “Screws” is a rollicking dystopia that works itself out in a more fragmented and sonically driven way than my more typical means of portraiture by aphorism. It’s a tribute to human failure and hubris, really. With a cast of beelyuns (even the Sea King helicopter has a line to say)! There are a lot of puns and coded references. Mostly true quotes (the f-bombing one is Stephen Harper getting caught in candour’s trap). 

“Margin” is a chunk of aggrieved anarchist cant. In three stanzas, two of which are — depending on which word you might prefer — tall, thin, or skinny (and which blip a lot). There’s plenty of ripping on right-wing economic and social theories. Its middle stanza is more coherently narrative, and seems to be channelled by a bad-taste malcontent wishing for another 9/11-style Attack on America. 

The title “This poem makes me feel:” ambiently echoes Robert Fitterman’s This Window Makes Me Feel, which is a text I’ve yet to read (sadly and ridiculously). The poem is a faux or botched ars poetica. It has a gnomic construction — the other two poems could be accused of this, too — and is somewhat playful and sincere, though it also satirizes some elements (or tendencies) in poetry that get on my final nerve.    

 Q: Are these poems part of any larger grouping you might be working on currently? I’m curious about the way you write, from constructing individual poems to the ways in which you construct manuscripts. Do you write individual poems that group together after a certain point, or are you working on any kind of unstructured ‘collection’ from the very beginning? 

A: These three could kinda sorta be related in something beyond temporal batching. Well, “Screws” and “Margin” could — as fairly explicit political poems that cavort in the same tree and are busily and happily sawing off branches that are near each other. “This poem” might in theory work in the same manuscript (depending on what else was kicking around in there helping offset the political stuff), or maybe it best belongs in a different book. Ech — what editorial dough-braiding we can get into over this!

Mostly I tease out one frikkin’ poem after another. The ugly and obsessive matters of what make up my poems cause me a fair bit of pain and confusion, so cooking them up is hard and delicate work. To worry about where any poem “belongs in a manuscript” as I’m writing it is too crazy-making and irrelevant a burden for me to ever rationally want to add. 

Get the damn thing scripted and worry about location later, that’s my motto! 

Needles to say [sic], a book-length poem might duck these fussy considerations. While incurring a new one — how to keep the mass churning to effect without entropy or boring amounts of repetition killing it. 

I wonder whether in contemporary editorial fashion we’re too partial to overshaping manuscripts, producing books that are too conceptually tidy, that lack danger, unpredictability, risk. That bear too narrow a field of focus.  

This keeps me up some nights. 

Or maybe that could be disregarded as empty and fretful gassing from an old fart (I’m nearly fifty-nine as I write this [January 2016]). I do recall the days when more poetry books were assemblages of a poet’s best scribbles done since their last book, sensibly put together but not allergic to variety. 

(Or is it that all too many poets are eager to be uniform in their work? That’s a horrid thought that can’t be ignored!) 

We could use Charles Bernstein’s The Sophist as a glowing litmus test for an outer limits of editorial shaping. Is it a perfectly balanced mess of profligate, abundant variety? Is it too indisciplined? Might it be taking the piss? After many readings, I still can’t be wholly sure what it’s up to. (Which might be “merely” the Bernstein effect!) Given the title and its dependent content, I’m tilted toward considering this book’s shape as completely intentional. Others may not.    

Pontification over. Shoot me now. 

Q: Is your refusal to be “uniform in your work” a deliberate approach, or is it simply a result from being open to a variety of styles, forms and movements?

A: Six cans of Kokanee, half a dozen Mooseheads. Part contrivance, part intuition. While I mostly work in free verse, I don’t ever want to be exclusive about it.  

Considerations of aesthetic fit are the endless trump here, and should be. Finding the best strategy and vocabulary for each poem. The world is lumbered with more than enough limitations without me adding to them! I always thought that one of poetry’s better angels (or angles) was that it could help make our considerations of the world larger (I still believe this). So, no language need be excluded, no tactic need be forbidden.  

Although, having just issued a version of “everything is permitted” with that last sentence, I’ll now qualify it by saying that it’s morally noxious to maim the afflicted — one should just flat-out not do it. 

The linguistic cargo of a sonnet can be very different from a LangPo word-salad approach. If you want to, and you have the technical moxie to get away with it, why not do both? Why not head for other possibilities as well?

Q: When you are working the “linguistic cargo of a sonnet” and “a LangPo word-salad,” is this a deliberate attempt to offset one against the other? Do you feel limitations through either consideration individually, or are you simply lifting from both to achieve something other? 

A: It’s a deliberate attempt to do something, though I’m not sure “offset” would be the key verb. However, sure, yeah, of course offsetting is a useful part of it. To “corrupt” might be more apt. Different lexicons in close proximity to one other bleed colours and tones onto each other’s bodies, or, if you like this image better, they’re on a winter balcony passing a joint back and forth. They’re sharing, playing, exchanging lexical goo, hatching some arcane plot that neither could have come up with alone. “Corruption” in a sense of enlarging possibilities, of collaborating to make larger communities, more wide-ranging and spectacular texts. 

I feel limitations aplenty, you bet. All words have specific meaning (we’re blessed to have some that carry multiple ones, better yet if they bear contradiction — good morning forever, “cleave”!) and all syntax organizes toward some sort of “making sense.” As people are condemned to action, words are condemned to meaning. This specificity yoked to what we could laughingly consider the reality principle can make us feel that our time trucking in words is to overly trite or blatant ends. Words, bleh. Could we have some more blah? Jesus, could we just step away from this matter for a spell and throw Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz on the boombox? Follow that up with some Kris Davis and Satoko Fujii? Mmm. 

But it’s fatuous to curse one’s tools. We need to accept the demonizations of concrete meaning, but place them in flexible architectures that make questioning a large part of the deal, yes? That seems best. 

“Otherness” is a salutary though painful quality to have in a text. It can lead us to an unexpected view through the prism, an appreciation of difference. 

Actually, otherness is social realism. Humans are weird, they don’t belong on this planet (they’re sure not doin’ it no ecological favours), existence is absurd. Pithily all I might need say is the phrase “The Ascension of President Trump” (potential poem title, going once going twice … spew for free!) to prove this point.

Q: How are your collections, whether books or chapbooks, constructed? Have you a particular shape in mind at the offset, or are collections shaped through their own means? Do your books build themselves?

A: Constructed opportunistically, by me with the help of others. Virtually never through their own means. So my books don’t tend to build themselves, except that one poem may call for another to be written, natch, and a congruent mass can come of that if played at long enough. 

I’ll give you a guided tour, rob! Shall try to keep this frisky and any shitshow of ego out of it. 

My first book, Multiple Poses (Tsunami, 1997), was a reasonably coherent chunk of nine poems all written under the mad flag of my Kootenay School of Writing decade (which started in 1987). After having disavowed the lousy lyricism I’d learned earlier in Ontario and got mired in. Although two of the poems — “Godzilla Fugue” and “Autumnal” — were expanded and renovated from short poems written in the Eighties (maybe even in the Seventies!). The original MP manuscript had ten poems — one of them, “Spot Quiz,” was too anomalous, so we decided to remove it, what the hell, there was a sixty-four-page book without it. The “we” in this respect were editors Deanna Ferguson and Michael Barnholden. Mike and Dee gave me edits — most of which were cutting redundancies and decapitating preachy bits — and Michael did the typesetting slogs, with me at his elbow so that I had input, which was a kind and great courtesy. 

Have just remembered that Tsunami asked me for a manuscript before I fully had one. The virtue of being a slowpoke writer and being part of a scene, no doubt. 

“Spot Quiz” got its ass kicked forward into 8x8x7 (Krupskaya, 2008). Where it joined four other poems from the Vancouver years (“Just,” ‘That nostalgia,’ “Splice,” and “ambitious character hydroplaning”) and hooked up with seven poems written in Winnipeg between 1998 and 2005. 

Okay, now Here Might Be the Exciting Dragons part — a tale never told publicly. How, one might rationally wonder, does a Canadian poet based in Winnipeg have a book out through an American press based in San Francisco? What gave me the nerve (or gall) to send them a manuscript? 

Well, I, um, hadn’t. But I had been miserable enough in The Peg to leave it and give Vancouver a second shot in 2005. Rejoined my cherished Koot Skool, which had more people involved in running it than during some overstressed spells earlier, which was fantastic. Renewed matters with old pals and made new friends: Donato Mancini, Jonathon Wilcke, Nikki Reimer, Reg Johanson, among others. But I’d underestimated the havoc that the damp climate would enact on my maimed back. (I’d underestimated the grimness of world-class neoliberal economics and the gross ramming toward the Olympics, as well.) In less than a year I’d lost seven years of measurable prairie healing and was pretty much screaming in pain again. I cut my losses quickly and returned to (mostly) dry and sunny Winnipeg after fifteen months in BC (a return morphed into what, a sabbatical?). Relieved but enormously saddened. 

I’d left a big handwritten sheaf of post-MP poems with Donato, ’cause he liked my work a lot. Encouraged him to share them so that I wouldn’t become a total ghost in my most homelike landscape. What he wound up doing was format them on his computer and commence agenting the damn wad around without me being in the know (made much easier by the fact that I didn’t yet have e-mail). Donato sent them to Jocelyn Saidenberg and Kevin Killian at Krupskaya. I come home on a scandalous smelter of a prairie day near the end of July 2007 to a phone message. Kevin Killian’s queeny voice laying it out, “Hi, Colin, hope you’re doing well, I’m calling on behalf of Krupskaya, we love your book, we want to publish it.” I sit down stunned on hot hardwood, thinking Book?, Book?, an idiot mantra.  

Isn’t that too funny? Weird, insane, moving.         

So I had the good sense to say Hell Yeah to this prospect. Next: scrambling to find out which poems were actually in the book! Proofreading what Donato had sent them. Making changes to some of the poems. Then waited with held breath for Jocelyn and Kevin to chime in with complaints about the worst of the bad-taste images, the abundant swearing, and toxic political sentiments. Nada. I exhaled and thought Wow, cool, alrightythen. 

They did a beautiful job on a high-speed schedule. 

The chapbook Carbonated Bippies! (Nomados, 2012) came about because Meredith Quartermain approached me at the Vancouver launch of 8x8x7 and said “You know, if you ever wanted to publish with us, we’d be happy to have you.” (Nomados is Meredith and Peter Quartermain.) I was honoured and thanked her. Had no serious intent to follow through, had little new work laying around. But I’d begun tinkering with the idea of partly recanting my disavowal of the yucky lyric, to see if I could get away with it all these years later, or maybe to satirize it (or maybe both). Wrote a small number of formalist poems, imagined doing a few more, shot Meredith an e-mail.   

Carbonated Bippies! contains a long cento; a sonnet; a poem that uses Jackson Mac Low’s Daily Life procedure (with two more constraints added by me); three close parodies of canonical chestnuts by Shelley, Webb, and Stevens; and a couple other poems that use devices I cooked up. 

I got some rewrites from them and we stumbled into finding a terrifically tacky cover image for it. We had a blast from start to finish! 

Finally, Multiple Bippies (CUE, 2014). Uncollected prose yapping about poetry (and community), plus the reprinting of Multiple Poses and Carbonated Bippies!, which had both gone out of print. This book represents more agitation on my behalf by Donato Mancini. When Roger Farr passed the editorship of CUE Books to Reg Johanson, Donato proposed to Reg (at some reading they were at, I believe) that it was some kind of dreadful shame that Multiple Poses had been unavailable for so long. Why not reprint it with some additional stuff? Reg liked the idea, it flew with the press’s board of directors, we were On. Donato took on the main editorial role, possibly partly because Reg would be out of town over Our Summer of Frenzied Production. Todd Nickel was the typesetting and design guru for the book, and he did heroic and exquisite labour on it. 

I made a few tiny changes to the older poetry and corrected typos. It was decided that the new stuff would be a short anti-manifesto sort of manifesto or ars poetica called “Why Poetry” (published 2009 in The Collective Consciousness) and a zonkingly long, chatty yet informative interview between me and Donato about my years in the KSW. This interview was originally published by Open Letter in 2010, and for the book we updated it — modified a few futuristic projections that now belonged to a past (or didn’t happen), added books to the “reading list,” and mentioned some things we’d forgotten the first go-round. 

Donato wrote a witty foreword that makes me and the poems seem smarter than I really am or they are, and with that flourish we were done. 

In sum, rob, how my books came about. Mostly through unconventional means, to put it mildly!  I’ve been blessed and lucky to have such mad or devout friends and cohorts who’ve gone to such extraordinary lengths to get my malign poems into print. I cherish them.

Q: While I’m not surprised at the support that your work receives, I’m fascinated by your openness to the book and chapbook-making process. Given the ways in which you compose poems, whether individually or in groups, I’m wondering what kind of portrait your work, once published, provides? Looking back on your published books and chapbooks, how do you see your work, and where might you see it headed?

A: A portrait of sustained social truculence, maybe? A useful truculence, I would hope! As in, inspirational to others looking to contribute to weird forms of resistance.  

Ack, what a painting to consider! 

Most of them would count as satire. I hate human aggression, see no need for most of it. Especially that which is normalized as noble or necessary or patriotic. Sold to us by a spinning variety of lying bad dads. I try to whomp up nervy poems that can function well as rebuttals to History as Writ by the Usual Odious Victors. Poems that hop around like guerrilla fighters, unpredictably and with plenty of opportunistic tactics on board. 

Vicious call-outs that are also self-indicting. I’m not self-righteously above the fray. A lot of sadness rises to match the anger in my work. 

There’s also the irresolvable irony of behaving aggressively in language as a means to condemn aggressive human behaviour. A kind of toxic irony comes out of that! 

I imagine that as long as there’s some manner of foul injustice happening somewhere on Planet Earth, I’ll carry on writing this way. World peace would negate any necessity to write as I do. Fine by me! I would stop, or make different styles of poem. Maybe something more laudatory, yes? That could be sweet. 

Looking around the world, I think Erm, Not Gonna Happen.  Hi-ho.

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

A: I always need to read a fair bit of political nonfiction to keep in touch with what “the world” thinks it is, ho ho ho. I consider every quadrant of that zoo. 

Otherwise, experimental poetry and scads of it. The more the better. Keeps the synapses limber. 

I like poems that expand my consciousness. Poems by people completely unlike me. Poems that get me laughing. Poems that challenge my understanding. 

Poems that aid the permanent insurrection. 


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Touch the Donkey : twelfth issue,

The twelfth issue is now available, with new poems by Gil McElroy, Colin Smith, Nathaniel G. Moore, David Buuck, Kate Greenstreet, Kate Hargreaves, Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Erín Moure and Sarah Swan.



Seven dollars (includes shipping). Take a bow, sugar beet.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

TtD supplement #69 : seven questions for Oana Avasilichioaei

Oana Avasilichioaei’s poetic work traverses border spaces, textual architectures, multilingualism, sound and photographic translations. Her five poetry collections include Limbinal (2015), a hybrid, multi-genre work on notions of borders, and We, Beasts (2012, winner of the A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry) and her recent soundworks include THRESHOLDS (2015) and MOUTHNOTES (2016). Also a translator, she has published several translations from French of Quebecois writers and from Romanian of Nichita Stanescu and Paul Celan. She has given many readings/performances in Canada, USA, Mexico and Europe, and can be found at www.oanalab.com.

A short excerpt from her “Tracking D’s Animal (a survival)” appears in the eleventh issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Tell me about the work-in-progress “Tracking D’s Animal (a survival).”

A: “Tracking D’s Animal (a survival),” which is now actually titled “Track, Animal, Fellow (A Survival),” is a long poem inspired by Jacques Derrida’s influential essay L’animal que donc je suis (which is typically translated in English as The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow). I, as a kind of “language animal,” track his use of the word “animal” to write a long poem that playfully yet responsively explores various borders between a physical animal and a metaphorical animal, between poetry and philosophy, between two languages (French and English), etc. In the landscape of the page, a subject literally follows D’s animal word in order to become the animal (according to the double meaning of the French word suis as both being and following) and free the word-beast from the philosopher’s argument, let it loose in a new forest of language, an aural wood of meaning’s animality. In the proximity and distance to the animal in the subject’s metaphysical core, in the porous place between two languages, “Track, Animal, Fellow (A Survival)” explores an animality of language and a language of animality.

This long poem is also part of a book-length project called EIGHT-TRACK, which will be composed of eight tracks (or series), each of which will investigate one of the various meanings of the word “track,” such as musical and cinematic tracks, speech tracking, animal tracking, human tracking and systems of surveillance. Some of the “tracks” in EIGHT-TRACK will also exist as an audiovisual installation and multimedia live performance.

Q: What prompted the shift in the title?

A: Some of my titles can be in flux for a long time. The initial title was a place holder, but I have also decided that I do not want to allude to Derrida’s name in the title itself. While my poem is inspired by his essay, I would like to be free to go beyond and outside of the philosophical ideas of his essay.

Q: I’m curious how you arrived at the poem as the form you use to respond to an essay. What do you feel poetry allows that other forms, such as critical prose or fiction, don’t, or don’t as easily?

A: I have long been fascinated by what happens when one takes aspects of one form into another form, by what kind of productive tensions and pressures that can create, what kind of possibilities that can open up, what trajectories in thought or happy accidents that can encourage. I like to explore, for instance, what happens when one uses the rhetorical turns of prose in poetry or the brevity and disjunctures of poetry in the essay form.

More particularly, there were several aspects that led me to respond to an essay with the “Track, Animal...” poem. One of the things I have always appreciated in Derrida’s writing is his deep investment in language, in this case the French language, in the unpacking and unfolding of the very nature of words and their meaning. I would say that there is a poetry to his philosophical meditations, a musicality that I find compelling. So I became fascinated with translating this poetical musicality not only into another language, namely English, but also into another form.

I’m also really interested in the gaps, leaps, disjunctive comparisons, oppositions, focused cluster of words that are some of poetry’s tools, as well as the tenor and amplitude of the space between the words, how not only the words speak but how this constructed and malleable space and the words speak together. I feel the voice thus created engenders thinking, but in a way that is somewhat different than an essay, for example. The space implicates one’s body and breath more—one reads in a more embodied way and one has to decide and learn how to read the poem—the sparseness of words makes one more attentive to the meaning of their sounds or of their visual arrangement, not just their denotative sense, and the focus and gaps/leaps in thought between lines or words requires one to fill in those gaps or make those leaps. While it is possible to read prose in a more passive manner, I do think that reading poetry requires active involvement, at least if one wants to enter into and immerse oneself in it.

Q: Over the past few years, you’ve been performing with looped audio, playing with overlapping sound in really compelling ways. How has sound and your use of multiple/overlapping voice impacted your work on the page?

A: Initially, it was the work that I had been doing on the page that inspired me to begin working with sound. I needed to find ways to translate the layered, architectural, multi-voiced page into a layered, multi-voiced oral/aural space. At first, I created audio-only performances, but later I expanded this to audiovisual performances (a mix of voice, sampled sounds, effects and visual projections, mostly collaborating with another artist, Jessie Altura, to make the visual projections).

So while I think that initially it was the page that was influencing the sound space, I do believe that now the sound/visual work is beginning to have some impact on the page. One of the more obvious influences is that this work has made me sometimes consider the page as a score, as though I might think of the words as similar to musical notes. Another might be that while I have long had an interest in the voice, I have felt even more pulled towards thinking about voices, voicing, dialogue, monologue, address, etc. when writing, and thus exploring various forms of voicing. And I sense too that I am paying even more attention to the musicality of a word or a phrase or a movement.

Though while the page and the stage, word and sound may affect one another, I also believe that ultimately they are very different arenas, and that their distinctions are worth exploring in themselves. I find that I think very differently when I work with sound than when I work with words. Soundwork involves intense listening, abstract structures, time structures, a great deal of repetition, sometimes a process of trial and error. In composing, I may try various things, listen (with my whole body) to how they are working, then remove, add, alter certain elements, listen to what effect that has, then alter aspects some more, and so on. This process can go on for months until I settle on a sequence that works and that may be only 10 min long.

Also when you work with sound, you have to retain that sound in your body memory, for once you make a sound, the next moment that sound is gone but it needs to maintain a relationship with the next sound. When writing, the words are right there on the page in front of you... the process is more material, while with sound it is more fleeting and abstract. Also, since I don’t use conventional musical notation, I’ve also needed to develop ways of “scoring” these sound performances, so that I can repeat them, which has been a fascinating aspect in itself.

But I also remain committed to the book as a form and wish to keep working with it, exploring its potential. The page is such an intimate and imaginative space; it is not a space I wish to lose as a writer and as a reader.

Q: Over the past decade-plus, you’ve published five trade collections as well as numerous translations. How do you feel your work has developed? Where do you see your work headed?

A: The translation work has certainly had an impact on my writing (and vice-versa in fact). Working in in-between spaces (between two languages) has made me increasingly interested in polylingual writing, in considering how thought works in different languages, in using aspects or structures of one language in another language, so these are definitely aspects I wish to keep exploring both in writing and in sound. I am also currently very interested in the transitional space between sense and sound, words and music, so playing with oral spaces that gradually shift sense words until they become music, and sound until it becomes sense.

Though for me, every new project (whether that is a poetry book, a soundwork, a visual translation, etc.) comes with an exciting and productive feeling of unknowing; it is a new attempt to reinvent what may be possible to do, to try forms or ways of composing that I haven’t tried before, to let the project show me what it needs to be.

Q: I like the idea of composition and translation as variations on writing-as-reinvention. What writers or works have prompted the biggest shifts in your own work?

A: Different writers have affected my work or thinking at different times. I tend to read works in English and in French, sometimes in Romanian, and across different genres. Some of the more recent ones may include (in no particular order) artists-poets like Carla Harryman, Caroline Bergvall, angela rawlings, Mina Pam Dick et al., Claude Royet-Journoud, Edmond Jabès, philosophers such as Hannah Arendt, Jacques Derrida, Georgio Agamben and Henri Meschonnic, and composers such as John Cage, Iannis Xenakis and Christof Migone. Also some of the writers I have worked with, like Erín Moure, or translated, like Nichita Stanescu or Paul Celan, have certainly also had an impact on my work. 

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

All of the ones mentioned above fit this category. My reading often tends to be polymorphous across many genres. I like to allow the work of the moment show me what I need to read, which may be a long work of fiction, or a poetic dialogue, or some philosophy. But I also draw much energy from other art forms, particularly the visual and sound arts (I not only see many art shows, but I also translate a great deal in the visual arts), theatre and music (in many forms, including electronic, jazz, chamber music, opera, etc.). The energy in the work stems from many areas and forms that I wish to keep discovering, that keep me alert and ever curious. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

TtD supplement #68 : seven questions for kevin mcpherson eckhoff



kevin (martins) mcpherson eckhoff is an unwieldily spirit. His most recent book is called their biography (BookThug 2015), which is “wide-ranging” and “fun” according to The Globe & Mail. You can watch him pretend to be a pathetic security guard in the film, Tomato Red. He is plays a pretty good daddoo and hubbub. He recently co-wrote this statement with Phinder Dulai and Robert Budde.

His poem, “an excerpt from… THE PAIN ITSELF,” appears in the eleventh issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Tell me about “an excerpt from… THE PAIN ITSELF.”

A: Lately, I’ve been trying to train my retina to ignore the foreground. In 2008, Caleb Zimmerman—I haven’t talked with him in probably five years—he was a good friend from the MA program in Calgary—you can read one of his short stories here—told me about lorem ipsum. I hadn’t heard about placeholder text before because I’m an amateur designer, but he had just got this job in the Communications and PR department at Trinity Western, and showed me samples of lorem ipsum because he thought I’d like it, and I did. It took me six months or so of researching and playing and gabbing with Nick Thurston before deciding that I should recreate the book of its supposed origin, Cicero’s On the Ends of Pain and Pleasure, which, in the 16th century, was published in Latin, meaning that, in theory, this placeholder text could be translated into English, which is what I did, in part, followed by a round of Word 2007’s spell checking for any untranslatables. In 2013, I emailed Tan Lin with a request to blurb what is now my most recent book because I really dig some of his notions about ambience and beauty, but never heard back from him maybe because my style was offensive or it went straight to junk or whatevs, I still like his work, and nevertheless the basic reduction of Cicero’s quarrel, as I understand it, seems like a miraculous analogy for the process of reading: the only reason anyone would willingly experience pain is to attain some ultimate pleasure. Or, as Tan Lin roasts it in Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004 The Joy of Cooking: “The problem is that most poems and films give off too much pleasure. They are not redundant or boring or ambient or generic or flat or iterative or fringe-like or soft enough” (164) and “Happiness is mildly generic or it is not at all” (143). I’m not sure whether my title, then, is cheeky or honest or broth, but I miss hanging out with Caleb and feel that the words within The Pain Itself are meant to be looked at—like panting or silage—as much as they’re meant to be unread (shadowed).

Q: Can you speak more to your opening sentence? I’m absolutely fascinated by the idea of working “to train my retina to ignore the foreground.” What do you consider foreground and how do you feel it has been impeding your work?

A: Maybe I was just trying to sound wily. Maybe it’s an idea in-very-progress. I think the relationship between foreground and background for me is political, insincere, deceptive, religious, embodimental. Foreground might mean “what wants to be seen” or “what wants to be seen as singular”, while background might mean “whatever is surrendered in the service of foregrounding”. Fig. 1. The stem only exists for the petals to be noticed. However, most writing—if it means to mean—reduces everything to foreground: in the flower example, a penlight shines on both stem and petals. Perhaps one way to think about it in language would be to focus on the more posterior parts of speech, like pronouns and prepositions. I feel this is, in part, how Stein’s writing generates an amplified background, by crafting densities of less tangible vocabulary. Another way might be found in Lyn Hejinian’s My Life or David Markson’s later novels, like Reader’s Block, which never really settle on a subject long enough for it to dominate the page, so that a sequence of diminutive foregrounds accumulate into some kind of total background.

I dunno. The purpose of placeholder text is to eliminate any semantic foreground in order to illuminate something that’s not always easy to perceive—design elements like margins, leading, gutter, etc.—and once the design is finished, the placeholder gets replaced. So, I guess the book’s original incitement involved shoving a background forward. And because standard lorem ipsum has a limited lexicon, something like 69 words, over the course of its 140 pages, The Pain Itself quickly begins to read like a cartoon backdrop that keeps repeating as it horizontally scrolls along.

I wonder if a text without foreground allows for apophenia: inventing/hallucinating a signal (subject) in the noise (scenery). Not sure why I value apophenia; perhaps I feel like it insists upon a reader’s agency or demands that comprehension becomes a collaboration. And I know this sort of reading usually feels uncomfortable, useless, and/or exhausting, but so does running on a treadmill or eating carrots everyday. Likewise, aiming my pupils beyond centre stage for more than a moment feels unnatural, which is why I trust it as meaningful action. It reminds me that looking is an active choice that can lend a kind of power to disregarded objects/ideas/people. It sort of reminds me, too, of John Cage’s 4’33. While the literary transposition of that score might seem best represented by a blank page, I suspect any writing void of anteriority would invite a like-spirited attentiveness to that which is easily taken for granted or surrendered in the service of foregrounding.

Q: Your work has become both increasingly conceptual and pastiche, working from found and requested materials. How did you get to this point? You mention Hejinian and Cage, both of whom make sense given what I know of your work, but who else are your models? What writers or works are you conscious (or unconscious) of when you are putting new work together?

A: How did I get to this point? Am I at a point? I guess everyone that you might guess: Gertrude Stein, Bern Porter, jwcurry, Lisa Robertson, bpNichol, Jonathan Ball, Sina Queyras, Moez Surani, Christian Bök, Sharon Mesmer, Jordan Scott, Helen Hajnoczky, Heimrad Bäcker, Rachel Zolf, and the of course bff, Jake Kennedy. But also other folks you that might not guess, like John Lent, Trystan Carter, Lindsay Thornton, Wesley Wills, my grandma, Tim & Eric, Cameron Shook, Trisha Low, and the Muppets. There have been other poets who pointed me to this get, as well, but who have become, at the moment, models of how not to engage with identity politics or to abuse my privilege/identity/power. As I approach new concepts/materials, I try to stay conscious of writers like Tan Lin and Erin Moure, who, for me, encourage progressiveness/experimentation both inside and outside the poems: the ethics of aesthetics, books as seepful products of social conditions, the authority of names, blurbs as reciprocal endorsements, the morality of the quotidian, etc. I dunno.

Q: Since you mention Jake Kennedy, what prompted your collaborative works? How do you approach your collaborative works differently than your own work, if at all? What do you see as the differences?

A: The smile faces that make ourselves in the real, we share and have shared, in the essence of joy, a soul for the same kinda of anguish that isn’t poetry, but which we call poetry! We just! It’s like, okay, see him? Now, see me? That’s it! Or haps or perhaps our collaborations are emboldened towards silliness as a ”pataphysical truth? As a twosome, we become somewhat institutionish, and as such, aim our folly lasers at the follicles of institutions of solemnity of course.

Q: It seems very much that you are a poet of projects, as opposed to one of individual poems. How many poetry manuscripts might you be working on at any given time?

A: Yeah. Pretty much. Including chapbook manuscripts?—between, say, two and five.

Q: I can’t think of any contemporary poets who work with so much energy and joy throughout their work as you do, and there’s something quite wonderful in seeing the kinds of permissions you allow yourself. I remember hearing at one point how there were so many influenced by the work of the late bpNichol, but almost no one allowed themselves the kind of real joy that came through in his writing (so many have actually been called too serious). How is it you are able to appear so openly joyful?

A: You shut your sic key-bored mouth, rob mclennan! This has got to be one of the most generous and exigent questions I’ve ever been asked about my stuff. I’m pretty sure any joyousness in my being or work arises by default rather than by design, and as such is inexplicable, ineffable, and influffable. Laurel suspects it might have to do with my faith in divineness and the freedom to be in this world, but not of this world, like, so little of this materiality really matters in the ends… or in the means. I’ve tried being serious and careerist, a foregrounder, but it just doesn’t vroom me. For the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to figure out how much of this permission and joy originates in my privilege as a white, hetero, cis-male. It’s been diamond to determine whether or not a lot of my work has been useless manifestations of such privilege, which is why I’m happy to occupy some background literarily, as a writer, and there’s a freedom in that, too, eh? Lately, I tell myself that I am a caricature of a white, hetero, cis-male poet, and that position sometimes feels valuable, almost like an implicit/fuzzy critique, and it allows for a kind of idiot-joy to fill my ions and vrooms me little longer/farther. 

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

A: This is a dumb question because I am so dumb at the moment and read so very little. Actually, poetry readings are typically major reenergizers for me because they feel like the anguish and objectionableness to most of my senses, but for now, let’s refer back to the folks I listed earlier, plus some others, like flarfers (i.e. K. Silem Mohammed, Elisabeth Workman, and ryan fitzpatrick); Malachai and Ethan Nicolle’s Axe Cop; Ai Weiwei’s work; Bad Lip Reading videos; Bern Porter’s collages; Soldier, Komar, and Melamid’s The Most Unwanted Song; much Trollthread stuff and GaussPDF things; Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared; and of course bff’s poetry/paintings/emails/skulptures/convos!