Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bedtime Is Best for Men of Mormonism Press

This week is going by very quickly- like a kite that has taken on the abilities of an airplane and has lifted the small child holding the string off the ground and is pummeling the clouds and then the stars and then the rings of saturn...

Yeah, that fast.

Maybe this will bring you back to when you had 5th grade math homework you didn't want to do, "Tennessee":


I'm reading The Rings of Saturn by Sebald. It's so sad. It's also one of the best contemporary books I've ever read. (JPH, have you read it? I think of you when I read it). This is one of my favorite parts (I'll even type it all up for you all), when the narrator is writing about his patron saint:

"During the wedding night, the story goes, he was afflicted with a sense of profound unworthiness. Today, he is supposed to have said to his bride, our bodies are adorned, but tomorrow they wull be food for worms. Before day break he fled, making a pilgrimage to Italy, where he lived in solitude until he felt the power to work miracles arising within him. After saving the Anglo-Saxon princes Winnibald and Wunibald from certain starvation with a loaf baked from ashes and brought to them by a celestial messenger....in the house of a wheelwright too mean to spare the kindling, he lit a fire with icicles. This story of the burning of the frozen substances of life has, of late, meant much to me, and I wonder now whether inner coldness and desolation may not be the pre-condition for making the world believe, by a kind of fraudulent showmanship, that one’s own wretched heart is still aglow (86).”

That last line is true beauty and sadness. It is moments like these where we see the narrator connecting with history and exposing himself through history in ways that make him finally seem real, approachable, and penetrable. We see his trepidation and ambivalence about how we convince (or fool) others of our own humanity.

Humanity is a corny word to use, sorry. But will one of you fine people please name your child either Winnibald or Wunibald? Please?

****
Next Thursday you are going to have to skip the new episode of The Office or Grey's Anatomy and come to the RealPoetik reading:

REALPOETIK NYC
Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 8 pm.
Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, between Houston and Bleecker. $8.

SHARON DOLIN
TAO LIN
NIELS HAV
ELISA GABBERT
SAMPSON STARKWEATHER
& CAROL PETERS!!!

Hosted by Editors Ana Bozicevic-Bowling & Caroline Conway

Sharon Dolin is the author of three books of poems: Realm of the Possible (Four Way Books, 2004), Serious Pink (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), and Heart Work (The Sheep Meadow Press, 1995), as well as five poetry chapbooks. Her latest book, Burn and Dodge, is the winner of the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry and forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Dolin is Poet-in-Residence at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts. She directs The Center for Book Arts Annual Letterpress Poetry Chapbook Competition and is a Curator for their Broadsides Reading Series.

Tao Lin is the author of a novel, EEEEE EEE EEEE, a story-collection, BED, and a poetry-collection, YOU ARE A LITTLE BIT HAPPIER THAN I AM. Melville House will publish his second poetry-collection, COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY, in 2008.

Niels Hav is a Danish poet and short story writer living in Copenhagen with his wife, concert pianist Christina Bjørkøe. His new collection of poetry We Are Here is published by Book Thug, Toronto (books@bookthug.ca), and a selection of his poetry from the early years, God's Blue Morris, was published in Canada in 1992. He is the author of five collections of poetry and three of short fiction.

Elisa Gabbert is an editor of Absent. Her recent poems have appeared or will appear in Pleiades, Cannibal, and LIT. A chapbook, Thanks for Sending the Engine , is available from Kitchen Press, and a book of collaborative poems written with Kathleen Rooney, That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness, is forthcoming from Otoliths Books.

Sampson Starkweather's poems and essays have recently appeared or are forthcoming in LIT, Octopus Magazine, jubilat, New York Quarterly, and many other publications. He lives in the woods alone.

Carol Peters writes poetry and teaches creative writing. Her chapbook, Muddy Prints, Water Shine, will be published in the 2007 New Women's Voices Series by Finishing Line Press out of Georgetown, Kentucky. Carol's work has appeared in Cairn, Pembroke Magazine , miPOradio, Pebble Lake Review, Bamboo Ridge, Ink Pot , Ink Burns, and the anthology Always on Friday. She divides her time between Charleston, SC and Hakalau, HI and blogs at http://carolpeters.blogspot.com .

***
I know for a fact that Sam and Elisa will rock your hearts out into your hands and then we can all play "hot potato" with them. Get down.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Math Bear Helps Poetry Bear With Homework Press

A few things on our business agenda today:

1. Our stoic and talented Kitchen Press editor, Justin Marks, is reading at Pete's Candy Store this Friday:

Pete's Candy Store —
September 28, 2007 7:00PM
709 Lorimer St., Brooklyn, NY, United States

Stephanie Balzer earned an MFA from the University of Arizona. Her poems have appeared in Mid-American Review, Chelsea, and CUE: A Journal of Prose Poetry. A chapbook of her prose poetry is forthcoming from Kore Press. She lives in Tucson and works for a nonprofit

Justin Marks' latest chapbook is [Summer insular] (horse less press, 2007). His poems and reviews appear in recent issues of Absent, La Petite Zine, horse less review, Octopus, Soft Targets, and Word for/ Word; and are forthcoming from Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel – Second Floor, Outside Voices 2008 Anthology of Younger Poets, Cannibal and Tarpaulin Sky. He is the founder and Editor of Kitchen Press Chapbooks, and lives in New York City.

Matthew Thorburn's first book is Subject to Change (New Issues, 2004). More recent poems appear in The Paris Review, Barrow Street and Pool. He has also contributed book reviews to Boston Review, Rattle and Octopus, and writes about writing at www.matthewthorburn.blogspot.com.
***

2. An alternative plan if you'd like to listen to out-of-towner-poets rock out that same night:
Dorothea Lasky and Laura Solomon
Jimmy’s No.43 Stage
8pm
43 East 7th Street
between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
NYC

I would hope Lasky reads her poem that begins, "Laura Solomon you are my best friend" because it's an awesome poem. It's one of those poems that are ebullient silly in moments and then scissor kicks at you with seriousness and beauty that makes you feel complete and empty all at once. I haven't read any Solomon yet so I may take a Google break tomorrow and see what's up.
***

3. Moving right along: Janaka Stuckey is featured on Not Tell Motel this week:
(www.notellmotel.org)
So don't miss that.

4. When was the last time you read Neruda? There are tons of volumes of his work, some arranged by theme (i.e. love poems)- but if you don’t own it, you should get Neruda: Selected Poems (edited by Nathaniel Tarn). Sometimes I get the sense that he’s a poet people say they like but then do not go back and re-read for years. Subtle visitor, do buy this book. I’ve typed up some of the lines that make me feel that when it rains, we should all run through sopping fields, throw mud at each other and then nap together inside a tree’s hollow drum:

It happens that I am tired of being a man.
It happens that I go into the tailor’s shops and the movies
all shriveled up, impenetrable, like a felt swan
navigating on a water of origin and ash.

***

Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a bunch of flowers, every day, between my hands.

You are like nobody since I love you.
Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.
Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars of the south?
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.

***
But the hour of vengeance falls, and I love you.

***
I need a flash of that persistent brightness,
a feast of kingsmen claiming all I own.

***
From conversations wasted like powdered lumber,
with humility of chairs, with words wrapped up
in slaving for a secondary will,
having that feel of milk, of wasted weeks,
of air locked above cities—

***
deliriously I close my teeth on their poppy light

***

The young man with no memories salutes you, asking after his lost will,
his hands move in your atmosphere like birds,
and around him is a great moisture:
crossing his unfinished thoughts…

***
Young homosexuals and girls in love,
and widows gone to seed, sleepless, delirious,
and novice housewives pregnant some thirty hours,
the hoarse cats cruising across my garden’s shadows
like a necklace of throbbing, sexual oysters
surround my solitary home…

***
I bet that your fingers are already tapping out www.amazon.com to order this collection. Right? Right. Also, if you have to order a book online, do you prefer B&N over Amazon or vice versa or something else entirely?

***
For the second weekend in a row I'll be out of New York so you'll have to tell me about these great readings and whatnot. I'll pick some Nebraska apples for you, though.

Friday, September 21, 2007

My Pillow Is a Pile of Hoodies Press

True story. Normally I don't sleep with a pillow at all but in the last week, maybe because it was colder, or maybe because I needed alittle bit of comfort, I balled 3 of my favorite hoodies (the ones you wish you could wear all the time but know you'd get canned if you wore them to work) into a pillow. I've slept well.

Today on the subway I sat next to a crazy man who smelled like puke. As soon as I sat down I realized something weird was going to happen. He said to me, "One flush. It takes Republicans one flush. But you, Democrat, it takes you three flushes. You're full of it, so full of it."

I always thought democrats were the ones clogging the toilet at parties, now I know.

Then, I'm guessing for the first and last time in my life, he looked me in the eye and called me, "Uncle Tom."

Friday morning in NYC.

I AM GOING CAMPING THIS WEEKEND. Pretty excited about this. I had to borrow a backpack from my roommate as it seems I only own book bags these days.

****

In other astonishing & important news:


Typo 10 is ready for you.
typomag.com

Featuring new poems from Maureen Alsop, Claire Becker, Simon DeDeo, Tim Earley, Graham Foust, Matt Hart, Claire Hero, Brent House, Lauren Levin, Ethan Paquin & Matt Hart, Marvyn Petrucci, Joshua Poteat, Brandon Shimoda, Sandra Simonds, Craig Morgan Teicher, Tony Tost, & Erin Wilson.
W/ an essay by Clayton Eshleman. Cover photo by Paul McCormick.

I have' read it yet but I'm particularly excited to read Shimoda, Hart, Poteat, Foust, and Simonds' work. Jeez, I'm excited to read everyone's poems.

***

This is happening Wednesday:

WEDNESDAY, September 26, 8pm
LISA JARNOT & SPARROW

Lisa Jarnot was born in Buffalo, New York and now lives in Queens. She is the author of three full-length collections of poetry: Some Other Kind of Mission, Ring of Fire, and Black Dog Songs. Her biography of poet Robert Duncan is forthcoming from University of California Press. Her fourth full-length collection of poetry is forthcoming from Flood Editions. She is a teacher and a blogger. Sparrow is in the midst of his fifth campaign for President. He lives in Phoenicia, New York with his wife, Violet Snow, and his daughter Sylvia. Behind their house, an elderly rabbit named Bananacake resides in a rustic hutch. Sparrow writes the gossip column for the Phoenicia Times. (He invents all the gossip.) Sparrow's books are Republican Like Me: a Diary of My Presidential Campaign, Yes, You ARE a Revolutionary! and America: A Prophecy -- the Sparrow Reader (all on Soft Skull Press).

****

Oh, the Bowerbirds. How good they are. This is not the best video, but you should buy their album and also, actually, fall in love with this little song, "Bur Oak." My favorite part kicks in at around 2:25 mins:



"Down by the bur tree / I had lost your locket in the loam"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Also Publish Under The Name 5th Grade Douchebag Press

When I was a little kid my mom said that if you felt like you needed a hug, if you were "hungry for love" you could say you were "lungry," which was to ask for it. I like the idea that a lung can hunger. I like vocality, sometimes I forget. I am a little weirded out that I was that tiny kid who said, "I'm lungry." And yes, my mother is a child pyschologist. And no, I did not say this to other kids on the playground.

***

I'm anxously awaiting the arrival of my Astronaut Icecream. I emailed the company this morning to give them my zipcode since I forgot to include it with my billing address. "Fingers crossed."

***
As the Ex-Managing editor, I still must encourage you not to forget about:

The 2007 Nightboat Poetry Prize
Judge: Terrance Hayes
Deadline: November 15, 2007

Nightboat Books invites emerging and established poets to submit to the 2007 Nightboat Poetry Prize, judged by Terrance Hayes. The winning poet receives 1,000, a standard royalty contract, and 10 free copies of the published book. Previous winners include Joshua Kryah's Glean (finalist for the 2007 Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers), Juliet Patterson's The Truant Lover (finalist for a 2007 Lambda Literary Award), and Jonathan Weinert's In the Mode of Disappearance, chosen by Brenda Hillman (forthcoming in April 2008).

Guidelines: Visit www.nightboat.org
Questions: Email the editors at info@nightboat.org

You should submit, seriously. You'll rise like french cream.

***
So, right now this is my favorite Bishop poem. I'm a sucker for the duality between her personable mode of address and the utter loneliness and alienation that seeps into the overarching tone of her work. The unrest and sense of estrangement from the external world are palpable, yet not complacent or still, and the solitude she craves does not leave her stagnant. Re-read the lines about the kite string in the second stanza and the first sentence of the third stanza. See how the third stanze begins so firmly and then ends in a question? It's here for a moment where the language that was once personable turns in on itself- the dashes, question marks and exclamations all suddently seem self-directed, as though she has forgotten her reader in a spontaneous burst of enthusiasm for her own, solitary future. She invites us in to her lonely terrain but ultimately excludes us from her energized yet insular solitude. And then at the very end of the poem, after the two empty rooms she wants for herself, there is wave needing the kite:

The End Of March
For John Malcolm Brinnin and Bill Read: Duxbury


It was cold and windy, scarcely the day
to take a walk on that long beach
Everything was withdrawn as far as possible,
indrawn: the tide far out, the ocean shrunken,
seabirds in ones or twos.
The rackety, icy, offshore wind
numbed our faces on one side;
disrupted the formation
of a lone flight of Canada geese;
and blew back the low, inaudible rollers
in upright, steely mist.

The sky was darker than the water
--it was the color of mutton-fat jade.
Along the wet sand, in rubber boots, we followed
a track of big dog-prints (so big
they were more like lion-prints). Then we came on
lengths and lengths, endless, of wet white string,
looping up to the tide-line, down to the water,
over and over. Finally, they did end:
a thick white snarl, man-size, awash,
rising on every wave, a sodden ghost,
falling back, sodden, giving up the ghost...
A kite string?--But no kite.

I wanted to get as far as my proto-dream-house,
my crypto-dream-house, that crooked box
set up on pilings, shingled green,
a sort of artichoke of a house, but greener
(boiled with bicarbonate of soda?),
protected from spring tides by a palisade
of--are they railroad ties?
(Many things about this place are dubious.)
I'd like to retire there and do nothing,
or nothing much, forever, in two bare rooms:
look through binoculars, read boring books,
old, long, long books, and write down useless notes,
talk to myself, and, foggy days,
watch the droplets slipping, heavy with light.
At night, a grog a l'américaine.
I'd blaze it with a kitchen match
and lovely diaphanous blue flame
would waver, doubled in the window.
There must be a stove; there is a chimney,
askew, but braced with wires,
and electricity, possibly
--at least, at the back another wire
limply leashes the whole affair
to something off behind the dunes.
A light to read by--perfect! But--impossible.
And that day the wind was much too cold
even to get that far,
and of course the house was boarded up.

On the way back our faces froze on the other side.
The sun came out for just a minute.
For just a minute, set in their bezels of sand,
the drab, damp, scattered stones
were multi-colored,
and all those high enough threw out long shadows,
individual shadows, then pulled them in again.
They could have been teasing the lion sun,
except that now he was behind them
--a sun who'd walked the beach the last low tide,
making those big, majestic paw-prints,
who perhaps had batted a kite out of the sky to play with.

***
Bam.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Grrrl, You Can't TiVo This Slam Poet Press

Well, hello there. It's been busy, again.
Although Saturday night, between a bar and a friend's business launch party, I acquired a sweet purple jacket as the highlight of a drinking-while-shopping situation. Besides that, it's all cubicle, all the time.

My roommate is burning toast right now. I want to tell you what's on the toast he's burning: vodka pasta sauce, hot sauce, and cheddar cheese. Dinner?
I'm not sure, either.

Well, take a break from whatever you're doing and make your way over to the new word for/ word issue (#12): www.wordforword.info/vol12

Sommer Browning, who read last night, has these two killer lines I've stolen to show you, from her first poem:

"an oath taken tragic and rash"

and

"no black-berries, no. not any
wild freak-will."

Nice.

And then we have Tom Hibbard:

"out of rushing water, out of horse tracks on the
blue trail of idolatry, out of completed funeral
quibbling..."

So go, finish these poems and start new ones. Note the stellar review of Elisa Gabbert's chapbook, "Thanks for Sending the Engine" by Mark Wallace.

*****
Tomorrow there is this:

Best American Poetry 2007
Tishman Auditorium, 7:00 p.m., free
Heather McHugh and David Lehman, Moderators

Heather McHugh, guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2007, and David Lehman, the series editor of Best American Poetry and poetry coordinator of the New School Graduate Writing Program, read their own work and introduce some of the poets, such as Robert Pinsky and Alan Shapiro, represented in the 2007 volume.

In addition, seven New York-based poets will read their poems from "The Best American Poetry 2007." The poets are Kazim Ali, MacGregor Card, Sharon Dolin, Elaine Equi, Thomas Fink, Meghan O'Rourke, and Matthea Harvey.

I'd really like to see Matthea Harvey read since I've never heard her read before.

*****
The memorial for Liam Rector will be held on Saturday, September 22, 2007.

Proceedings will begin promptly at 3:00 p.m.; please arrive at 2:30.

St. Marks Church In-the-Bowery
131 East 10th St.
New York, NY 10003

*****

In other news, although slightly belated:

Helmsley Dog Gets $12 Million, but Real Estate Billionaire Leaves Nothing to 2 Grandchildren

NEW YORK (AP) -- Leona Helmsley's dog will continue to live an opulent life, and then be buried alongside her in a mausoleum. But two of Helmsley's grandchildren got nothing from the late luxury hotelier and real estate billionaire's estate.
ADVERTISEMENT

Helmsley left her beloved white Maltese, named Trouble, a $12 million trust fund, according to her will, which was made public Tuesday in surrogate court.

She also left millions for her brother, Alvin Rosenthal, who was named to care for Trouble in her absence, as well as two of four grandchildren from her late son Jay Panzirer -- so long as they visit their father's grave site once each calendar year.

Otherwise, she wrote, neither will get a penny of the $5 million she left for each.

Helmsley left nothing to two of Jay Panzirer's other children -- Craig and Meegan Panzirer -- for "reasons that are known to them," she wrote.

****

I want to know those reasons, too.

******

I just discovered that I can bulk order Astronaut Icecream. This means I just bulk ordered Astronaut Icecream:

I forgot to give the zipcode with my order. Do you think my ice-cream will still reach me? If you'd like to re-live your first trip to the Science Museum in the early 80s, let me know and I'll save a pack of AI for you.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm Uncomfortable That Your Comfortable Press

Poetics of Pop Culture:

If Britney Spears actually wrote and remembered the lyrics to her own songs, maybe she wouldn't be so sad and disoriented, wandering around an MTV stage. Or maybe if she could just answer the question she asks herself.

Chorus to Britney's "Lucky":

They say she's so lucky
She's a star
But she cry cry cries
In her lonely heart
Thinkin'
If there's nothing missin' in my life
Then why do these tears come at night?

Sometimes youtube videos are worth a thousand words:


What we have on our hands is a downfall. Duh. However, before turning back to your copies of Elizabeth Bishops The Collected Poems, you should all listen to Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's "Nashville Parthenon":



The saddest line in the song:

I still buy two pairs of everything
so when you come home you and I'll be twins


And then, sit back and enjoyed Wooden Wand's "I Am The One I Am":


There is something throaty and guttural about Wooden Wand that supersedes any droning effects and wins me over every time.

Elizabeth Bishop's translation of Manuel Bandeira's "My Last Poem":

I would like my last poem thus

That it be gentle saying the simplest and least intended things
That it be ardent like a tearless sob
That it have the beauty of almost scentless flowers
The purity of the flame in which the most limpid diamonds are consumed
The passion of suicides who kill themselves without explanation.

Friday, September 14, 2007

ROYGBV Press

In honor of the last day of the Jewish new year (Sept 12-14),a review of The Angel of History (as well as Felman's text Testimony). ***You might want to scroll to the bottom and read the excerpt from the book first, which has the majority of one of the poems I talk about...


In Felman’s Testimony and Forche’s The Angel of History, both authors explore the power of testimony to reevaluate and reconstruct the relationship between the catastrophes of the last century and those who did not directly witness the traumas that constitute our history. Felman argues that testimony, as a literary practice, creates an address for the witness through which a historical experience can exist. She analyzes the poetry of Paul Celan and recordings from the Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies to herald performative testimony as both the annihilation and rehabilitation of language, a process that allows readers to “encounter” the trauma as opposed to reading it as a “statement of” a historical event. Testimonial teaching becomes a pedagogical technique that enables students to “access” the crisis of another’s testimony and through this interfacing, literary culture has the potential to successfully capture and expressive the atrocities of the twentieth century. In The Angel of History, however, Forche questions the capacity for language to act as a redemptive force in enacting historical trauma. Forche describes her poetry as “a gathering of utterances that have lifted away from the earth and wrapped it in the weather of risen words (81).” The poetic devices she utilizes in the poem “The Angel of History” to depict the people involved in traumatizing events, such as the Holocaust and the nuclear bomb, reveal the ambiguous power that language has to articulate the violence that is embedded in and forms our history.

In the first chapter, “Education and Crisis, or the Vicissitudes of Teaching,” Felman examines Celan’s poetry in order to identify how its compositional elements create a successful testimony. Celan bears witness to the trauma of the Holocaust because the breakdown of the language, in such poems as “Todesfuge,” parallels the historical breakdown. Felman asserts that language is incommensurate with trauma, and it is only through a witness’s testimony that loss is experienced while simultaneously gaining awareness that language is all that remains. Thus, to seek the reality of a trauma is to “seek in language what the language had precisely to pass through (29).” The experience is rendered vulnerable and available. In his later poems like “No More Sand Art,” Celan develops is poetic testimony to reinstate the “thou,” a “project of address.” This address reaches the reader over the “historical abyss (37)” caused by the initial fragmentation of language.

Any doubts regarding whether Celan successfully connects with an addressee in his testimony are marginalized by Felman’s enthusiasm for the “real” filmed testimonies of Holocaust survivors, which she perceives as texts, and thus discursive speech acts. Felman asserts that these testimonies allow survivors to “tell the story and be heard, to in fact address the significance of their biography- to address… the suffering, the truth (41).” One male Holocaust survivor her class listened to had never before spoken about his time spent living in a concentration camp. His testimony “bears witness to the fact that he experiences his own decision to speak up as profoundly freeing…an exhilarating, unexpected liberation from his nightmares (46).” As Felman understands it, performative testimony is rehabilitative for the witness while allowing her students to enact with another dimension of history, “bits and pieces of a memory that has been overwhelmed by occurrences that have not settled into understanding…(5).” For Felman, testimonial teachers enable students to access the different testimonies that speak to historical traumas and help them cope with the transformation that occurs when these crises pass through them.

Yet, even the testimony Feldman includes as her “life-testimony” to testimonial teaching does not eliminate the possibility of misinterpreting this performative process. One female holocaust survivor testifies to her incarceration:
…When my brother died in my arms, I said to myself, “I’m going to live.”
I made up my mind to defy Hitler…I really wanted to live, I said to myself,
“I want to live one day after Hitler, one day after the end of the war”…
And [my husband and I] are here to tell you the story (44).

This woman survived and is able to tell her story. Feldman, however, perceives the testimony to be that “she survived in order to give her testimony (44),” which skews the underlying drive this woman had to live for the sake of outliving the war and defying Hitler. By manipulating the witness’s testimony and rendering it historically inaccurate, Felman threatens the very access to testimony she intends to enact for her class.

Forche animates the angel of history that Benjamin describes in “Thesis of the Philosophy of History” to pull from the pile of “wreckage” select voices of witnesses whose testimonies were never recorded while acting as a witness to traumas that now have potential accessibility. Similar to how Felman positions the professor of testimonial teaching as giving students access to a crisis, Forche aligns the poet with the angel as a vehicle through which these lives, memories, and events can be accessed. Yet, the way in which Forche unveils the “single catastrophe” shows that the literary culture we rely on to give access to our past is implicated in the historical inaccuracies that distance us from the very same history. The four sections that compose The Angel of History force us to examine in what ways language can both illuminate and elude the crisis of truth without offering a recuperative solution. While Felman emphasizes how testimony enables witnesses to regain the language and knowledge lost through their trauma, Forche illuminates how language can mute those very testimonies and critiques the capacity for literary culture to convey historical accuracy.

“The Angel of History,” Part I, is a series of eighteen page length poems that predominantly focus on France during and after the Second World War. In the third poem, poetic devices such as word repetition, line breaks, and tense changes bring attention to how language can both convolute and clarify the historical reality of post-war France. The first stanza describes a town called Izieu by introducing pieces of information as though the poet/angel is a nursery school teacher, pointing at the different components of a picture in a book, “This is Izieu during the war, Izieu and the neighboring village of Bregnier-Cordon/ This is a farmhouse in Izieu.” The repetition of “This is” and “Izieu” locates the town during a time frame, locates it geographically near a neighboring village, and locates a specific house within the town to build an aesthetically pastoral, inviting image. The speaker uses the present tense of the verb “to be” in order to draw the reader into the situation so the poem initially seems like it encourages the reader to witness the events as they unfold.

Izieu is “itself a quiet town,” indicating a sense of peace and silence as a standard of normalcy there, like a hamlet removed from the cruelty and chaos of the outside world. The serenity and stillness in the first three lines, however, contrast with the rest of the poem, which unravels the story of how forty-four Jewish children were hidden and forcibly removed. The line break between the next lines, “children were/ hidden successfully for a year in view of the mountain,” shows how suddenly the children’s situation can transform. In line four, the children are nothing out of the ordinary; they simply “were” part of the “quiet” village, near the Rhone. By the fifth line, however, the reader learns that the children “were/ hidden successfully.” The quiet environment of Izieu becomes one of silent, stealthy, precautions and the hushed fear of impending violence the following April brings.

The use of the past tense “were” shows a distance from and end to the situation, that while Izieu “is” intact throughout the war, the children “were” hiding for only a brief period. The rapid change from present to past tense also cuts the reader out of the actual event as if the door to the farmhouse slams in our face. The children “are” not hidden, they “were” hidden and thus, the act of hiding has occurred without the reader. The poet/angel describes the startling lack of an accurate memorial for these children through the description of a plaque that “does not/ mention/ that they were Jewish children hidden April to April in Izieu near Bregnier-Cordon.” Again, the present tense of the plaque’s action (“does not/ menion”) and the past tense of the children’s lives (who “were Jewish”) draw attention to the current status of the plaque and the annihilation of the children. The plaque exemplifies how language, with selective phrasing, has the capacity to mute the witnesses even after death. The three lines relay what is “not” recorded and leave the reader to wonder what relevant information a plaque could hold that still accurately conveys the reason for the trauma these forty-four children endured.

In the last stanza, Forche explores how word choice and line breaks can change one’s understanding of and relationship to a historical event by layering the information line by line. At the end of April:
The children were taken to Poland.
The children were taken to Auschwitz in Poland
singing Vous n’aurez pas L’Alsace et la Lorraine
In a farmhouse still standing in Izieu, le silence de Dieu est Dieu.

Each line contributes to the clarity of a historical moment. The first line only indicates that the children were relocated to Poland. The second line, just by adding “to Auschwitz,” renders the children as victims of the Holocaust. It relates the fact that they “were Jewish” to why they were hidden and eventually taken away to a concentration camp. This approach also illuminates how easy it would be to erase a line and leave out a vital piece of information that affects our historical perspective.

As the children are lead away, they sing in their native language, “You will not have Alsace and Lorraine” (an area in France that is known for its particularly heavy German cultural influence). Their song and the address, “you,” in the song (presumably to the Nazis) is the only line that breaks the silence of the poem. While Felman argues that through poetry, out of the breakdown of language and the creation of a “you,” emerges a “project of address (38)” that is estranging but liberating, Forche implies that these children will lose their voices and liberty at Auschwitz. The final line, “In a farmhouse still standing in Izieu, le silence de Dieu est Dieu,” uses in French the phrase “the silence of God is God” that previously occurred in the poem three times in English. The remaining silence brings to the reader’s attention the absence of the children and the silence that they cannot fill with their native tongue. Thus, there is no addressor or addressee “in a farmhouse still standing.”

The way in which Felman and Forche implicate literary culture in the horror of history seems directly related to how they view the destruction of the last century. While Felman sees the past as being composed of a series of atrocities, Forche, like Benjamin’s angel, perceives continuous devastation. Thus, Felman emphasizes the rehabilitative potential in the literary practice of performative testimony. The witness has the possibility to recover language after it passes through the testimony’s crisis, but to pass through, implies an end to the traumatic event. Through testimonial teaching, she desired her class to witness “the liberating, vital function” of individual Holocaust testimonies and their capacity to “transform themselves in function of the newness of that information (53).” Forche, on the other hand, invites us to question the transitional stage to which Felman refers and asks us to reevaluate it as a continuum of unrecovered language, language caught in the guttural stage of a crisis, of the “risen words.”

For Forche, it seems, the pile of debris can be pillaged for knowledge and even if the weather that wraps the earth is a storm we mistakably call “progress,” words are rising above it. The child has taken the risen words and made “a language ending in the word night.” This line relates to the sentiment of an unnamed voice earlier in the collection who asserts, “It is never night when you die” (Forche, 16). There is a vital, potent quality to the relationship between the language that constitutes memory and the access we can allow children to embrace remembrance. Without giving specific instructions, Forche concludes, “We must try then to send a message ending with the word night” (Forche, 58). While Forche may question what we accept as progress, she successfully directs us to a redemptive force by asking us to retrieve a past that turns “risen words” into a language our children can speak.

Excerpt from The Angel of History:

There are times when the child seems delicate, as if he had not yet crossed into the world. When French was the secret music of the street, the cafe, the train, my own receded and became intimacy and sleep. In the world it was the language of propaganda, the agreed-upon lie, and it bound me to itself, demanding of my life an explanation. When my son was born I became mortal.

Our days at Cape Enrage, a bleached shack of rented rooms and white air. April. At the low tide acres of light, boats abandoned by water. While sleeping, the child vanishes from his life.

Years later, on the boat from Beirut, or before the boat, an hour before, helicopters lifting a white veil of sea. A woman broken into many women.

These boats, forgotten, have no keels. So it is safe for them, and the emptiness beneath them safe.April was here briefly. The breakwater visible, the lighthouse, but no horizon. The music resembled April, the gulls, April, but you weren't walking toward this house. If the child knew words, if it weren't necessary for him to question me with his hands--To have known returning would be like this, that the sea light of April had been your vigilance.

In the night-vaulted corridors of the Hotel-Dieu, a sleepless woman pushes her stretcher along the corridors of the past. Bonjour, madame. Je m'appelle Ellie.

There were trains, and beneath them, laddered fields.

Autumns the fields were deliberately burned by a fire so harmless children ran through it making up a sort of game. Women beat the flames with brooms and blankets, so the fires were said to be under control.

As for the children, they were forbidden to ask about the years before they were born. Yet they burned the fields, yet everything was said to be under control with the single phrase death traffic.

This is Izieu during the war, Izieu and the neighboring village of Bregnier-Cordon. This is a farmhouse in Izieu, Itself a quiet place of stone houses over the Rhone, where between Aprils, forty-four children were hidden successfully for a year in view of the mountains. Until the fields were black and snow fell all night over the little plaque which does not mention that they were Jewish children hidden April to April in Izieu near Bregnier-Cordon.

Comment me vint l'‚criture? Comme un duvet d'oiseau sur ma vitre, en hiver. In every window a blank photograph of their internment.

Within the house, the silence of God. Forty-four bedrolls, forty-four metal cups. And the silence of God is God.

In Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande, in Les Milles, Les Tourelles, Moussac and Aubagne, the silence of God is God.

The children were taken to Poland.

The children were taken to Auschwitz in Poland singing Vous n'aurez pas L'Alsace et la Lorraine. In a farmhouse still standing in Izieu, le silence de Dieu est Dieu.

In the night-vaulted corridors of the Hotel-Dieu it is winter. If a city, ruin, if an animal, hunger. If a grave, anonymous. If a century, this.

Are the present hundred years a long time? But first see whether a hundred years can be present.

We lived in Ste. Monique ward over the main corridor, Ellie and myself, in the Hotel-Dieu on the Place du Parvis Notre Dame. Below us jonquils opened. Ellie was afflicted with scales again, tiny Ellie, at the edge of her bed, peeling her skin from her arm as if it were an opera glove, and weeping cachee, cachee, cachee all during the war.

Barn to barn in the haylight, field to cellar. Winter took one of her sons and her own attempt to silence him, the other.

Le Dieu? Le Dieu est un feu. A psychopath. Le Dieu est feu.

It isn't normal for a mother to outlive her children. It isn't normal that my sons should be dead.

Paris! Oh, how I loathe this city because of its past.

Then you wish to leave Paris?

Mais oui. I wish to leave life, my dear. My parents? Deported. My aunts and uncles? Deported. My friends? All of them deportees.I don't know what became of a single one. How they came to the end. My papers said I was Polish. When the money ran out, we ran. When the Nazis came, we ran. Cachee, cachee, cachee!

The tubercular man offers his cigarette and the snow falls, patiently, across the spring flowers.

My life, triste. Do you understand? This place. No good! France. No good! Germany. No good! Ni l'Union sovi‚tique. Fascists! It is no good.

Then why not leave Paris?

I am Jewish. Do you understand? Alone in a small room on the third floor, always alone . To remain sane, I sing librettos to myself, and German lullabies, can you imagine?

Mein Flugel ist zum Schwung bereit ich kehrte gern zuruck, denn bleib ich auch lebendige Zeit ich hatte wenig Gluck

My husband was a soldier against the Nazis. Resistance. Agir. He wasn't killed in the war. He even returned to me. It was after the war he died. He died of cholera. And the world is worse now than it was then.


Worse?

Mais oui!

We must wear our slippers and not smoke. We must not go further than the sign NO ADMITTANCE.

No- a little residue of nothing. And admittance, what does it mean? That they are not going to blame themselves for anything. But the deportees, no, there is nothing between the word and those who are not, who do not reviennent . And if language is an arbitrary system, one must not go further than the sign No Admittance in the H“tel-Dieu on the Place du Parvis Notre Dame.

.....continued in book.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Your Spouses Bills Are Yours & Yours Are Yours Press

Sorry I've been AWOL this week. I've been a bit sleep deprived and too busy for any one's good. If my job at work was done "tag team" style things might go smoothly. I would tag in a Rhode Scholar and take a nap or spend a weekend admiring the similarity between 40z and a pineapple like a real poet:

****
Anyways, I was on the subway and I didn't have anything to read so I peeked at NY Post belonging to the girl next to me and saw the most heartbreaking large-mammaled headline,
"Gray Whale in a Sea of Sadness."
The print was too small for me to read the article. Dear whale, I hope you swim out of your sad-sea and into the comfort cove, away from oil spills & Ahab.
****

Anyways, a friend pointed out this ridiculous blog entry to me the other day, dated from this Sunday, regarding poetry in nyc:

http://kingwenclas.blogspot.com/2007/09/about-new-york.html

which goes something like this:

"RECENTLY I went to New York City for the day on personal business. What I saw different from eight months prior: further fast-paced gentrification. The city has become too expensive for all but the affluent. Even many barmaids are on trust funds. Stop in any saloon or cafe across the city and you'll encounter only gentry. Of the once-gritty Bowery around CBGB's there's not a trace. The character of the area has been destroyed.

Literary scene? There is no literary scene. There's not one bar in the entire island of seven million people of Manhattan where patrons talk about books and literature. (There are several spots where the business of publishing is the topic of conversation.) There are no humbly compelling dives where a Jack London (or Steve Kostecke) carrying a duffel bag, cocky grin on his face, would be liable to walk through the door and tell you he's a writer. (All "writers" in this city are poseurs and wannabes.)...."

(You can read the rest of the blog thru the link on the top.)
****

What can I say? "Talk to the hand"? I don't even think this is worth arguing about. At the end of this week and weekend I'll be enjoying:

1) Thursday Night:
P.E.E.L. Series: Quick and Painless Readings

Thursday, September 13th at 7:30 pm
Stain Bar
766 Grand Street, between Humboldt Street and Graham Avenue, Brooklyn
L to Grand Street
Free

P.E.E.L. is a bi-monthly reading series based in Brooklyn. Readings
run under an hour, and feature 4 writers- one each presenting a few
poems, an essay, an excerpt of something longer they are working on,
and a letter. The idea is to present new writing in short jolts
instead of longer, drawn-out ordeals.

P.E.E.L. #5

Keith Newton edits the online magazine Harp & Altar. His poems and
translations have appeared in Typo, Nebraska Review, and
Circumference, and are forthcoming in Harvard Review and Cannibal. A
chapbook of his work will be published in the spring by Cannibal
Books. He lives in Brooklyn.

Sue Lange's writing has appeared in Adbusters, Darker Matter,
Challenging Destiny, and Aoife's Kiss. Her first novel, Tritcheon
Hash, was published by Metropolis Ink in 2003. Her novella, We,
Robots, was published by Aqueduct Press in March 2007.

Paula Bomer's short story collection, The Mother of His Children, will
be published next spring by Impetus Press. Her fiction has appeared in
The Mississippi Review, Open City, Fiction, Nerve and elsewhere.

Storm Garner was born in Washington, DC and raised in Paris, France.
She is sometimes based in Kraków, Poland, sometimes in New York City,
and, at this moment, mostly in Washington DC. Though she has long
left poems on subways and in parks for strangers to read, she is
finally beginning to organize and to publish her many creations in
more quantifiable ways. Her poems have been published or are
forthcoming in Miranda and Pearl literary magazines.


2) Friday Night:

The Burning Chair Readings
invite you to choke out the last few breaths of summer w/

David Goldstein & Genya Turovskaya

Friday, September 14th, 7:30 PM
The Fall Café
307 Smith Street
btwn. Union & President
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
F/G to Carroll Street
FREE

David B. Goldstein is the author of a chapbook, Been Raw Diction (Dusie), and his poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including The Paris Review, Jubilat, Typo, Epoch, Alice Blue Review, and Pinstripe Fedora. He recently joined the faculty of York University in Toronto, where he teaches Renaissance literature, creative writing, and food studies.

Genya Turovskaya is the author of the chapbook The Tides, recently published by Octopus Books. Her poetry and translations from Russian have appeared in Conjunctions, Chicago Review, jubilat, Landfall, A Public Space and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, and is an editor at Ugly Duckling Presse.

3) Sunday:
Well, there is the whole Brooklyn Book Festival (www.brooklynbookfestival.org/) going on for most of the day.

If you haven't checked out the most excellent Harp & Altar web journal you should, and then you should come with me to the reading:
Poet Shane Book will be reading as part of the Brooklyn's Own event at 5:00, in the Community Room at Borough Hall, along with readers from Tin House, A Public Space, and Archipelago Books.

4) Monday:
Sommer Browning kicks it at her own reading. If you want to see the sweetest smile and coolest head nod, you better come say hi to Sommer this Monday.

When: Monday September 17th -- 6pm

What: The New York Quarterly Reading Series

Where: Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia Street, NYC
212-989-9319

http://www.corneliastreetcafe.com/

How much: $7, includes a drink.

With: Sommer Browning, Brian Kloppenberg and Fred Yannantuono (Warning: this guy writes palindromes.)

****

All this would make the gray whale spurt salty Berrigan sonnets through its blow hole.


****
I cut off all my hair. It was getting long enough to wear in 5th grade pigtails. This is how Jewish Atheists celebrate Rosh Hashanah:


So it is a new year and I say to myself:

Oh timid sugar oh fire that caramelized your name oh sooted lamb

Thursday, September 6, 2007

O Sole Mio Press

Pavarotti died early this morning (cancer). I need to call my grandmother to see how she is doing, I think this news might make her pour a glass of Scotch at 2pm.

Pavarotti and James Brown:


Pavarotti singing Ave Maria:


Pavarotti sings Una Furtiva Lagrima:


Rest in Peace, P.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Grinding Frogs into Cement Is A Lot Like Love Press

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year's horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

--Wright

If you cut out the entire poem but left the title and the last line, I'd be in love.

***

Thursday night:

Deborah Landau, Zach Miller, and Matthew Zapruder read
7pm at Teachers & Writers Collaborative
(520 8th Ave, suite 2020)
Free and followed by wine and cheese

Another option for Thursday night:

8:00 PM
Hillary Raphael and Donari Braxton at Spoonbill & Sugartown Books
218 Bedford Avenue (Bedford Ave. at N. 5th, adjacent to the “Verb Café”)
Brooklyn, NY

***

I have a poem up at Realpoetik so check it out: http://realpoetik.blogspot.com/

***
I've slept curled up on my (right) side, ball-like, for the last 25 years. Why this summer has my sleeping position suddenly changed? I wake up on my belly and I don't like it. Was it the heat? Maybe autumn will right the world again.
Last year I managed to stay in the city and miss this:

As autumn is truly one of the more stunning changes to witness, I'm determined not to miss it this year. Less city more leaves. I also missed apple-picking season. Which means you've missed out on some damn fine apple pie. I've got a few field trips up my sleeves.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Stone Washed Press

The new issue of Sawbuck is up, which means the struggle has been won by the righteous:

Emily Anderson///Barry Ballard///Kristy Bowen
Steven Breyak///Nava Fader///Noah Falck
Donora Hillard///Duane Locke
Donald Mager///Dawn Pendergast

Read about their poetic victory in Sawbuck 1.8 here

****

This Friday, something you don't want to miss:

LIT 13 LAUNCH PARTY

Friday, September 7th, 6-10 PM

Wollman Hall @ The New School

66 West 12th Street, NYC, 10011


Featuring readings by...

CAROLINE CONWAY

ADAM GOLASKI

CACONRAD

TERESE SVOBODA

And a special talk/reading with ROBERT POLITO on LIT 13 feature DETOUR: A Symposium on Edgar Ulmer's 1945 PRC Film Noir.

****

Back in NYC, craziness in the US Open today. Haas beat Blake 4:6, 6:4, 3:6, 6:0, 7:6. Do you understand what happened? Blake lost in the tie breaker and sent Haas to the quarter finals. Blake is the darling right now, so even though Haas won, I felt bad for him since the crowd was audibly chanting for Blake's victory.

Since multi-tasking on my couch is my favorite past time: while watching Blake's downfall I also realized how much I love virtual Scrabble (yes, Facebook, you've finally won me over), and how negligent I've been to ignore "missed connections" on craiglist. This is the subjecting heading of my favorite missed connections today in nyc:

"to the girl I accidentally punched a while back"

runner up: "RedBull Sophmore at St Johns!?"
runner up: "Cutie in Target"


Cutest: "You sold me cherry tomatoes at the Union Sq Market today"

Sorry, kiddo, but I don't think the kind of person selling cherry tomatoes at a farmer's market will be checking missed connections. Maybe you should just go back next weekend.

*****

Do you guys remember the doll for boys? Widely marketed in the 1980s by Hasboro: My Buddy.


See an ad for My Buddy. I've never seen boys more happier to play with a doll:

My brother was a premie and my mom is a shrink. I'm sure she thought it would be healthy for him to play with My Buddy because it was less violent than GI Joe's etc. But this just meant that My Buddy got his hair shaved off and his face colored in with marker before he was dragged through the mud and tied to the swingset like a witch. She also failed to calculate that my brother, being a premie, was still on the tinier side, and was not that much bigger than the doll itself. She also failed to consider that I might try and save My Buddy from his faux-firey death at the stake. And when I did this, it gave my mom the biggest scare. I distinctly remember jumping on the sofa holding My Buddy upside down and singing and my mom looked up from whatever she was doing in the kitchen and thought I was dangling my brother and shaking him wildly. I have never seen my mother jump so quickly over so many pieces of furniture to save my "brother." It was like watching an Olympic hurdler in slow motion- beautiful and terrifying.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I Forbid You To Bale That Hay Press

The David Shapiro/ Frank Sherlock reading was awesome. If you didn't make it there, I suggest going back in time and trying again.

Shapiro:

Um, crane your neck? For some reason no matter how hard I try I can not get this picture to be Vertical.

Sherlock (torso/beer):

I smell an author photo...
(Refrain from comments about giant beer pint and strategic placement of said drink, thank you.)

You should definitely buy Sherlock's chapbook/poem, "Wounds in an Imaginary Nature Show."

I'll try and review it later but for now you get these killer lines:

The cruel the vulnerable seeds witness

a radiated eye cast through branches projects a belly up / nude

the yumyum's got a dark organ taste

celebrations / free of / loss are / not the / memorable / festivals

this nature / it can have space for a party / a surrender of circumstance / get down get down

Chapbook from Night Flag Books, www.NightFlagBooks.blogspot.com

Don't these books look like they died and went to Book Heaven?:

I didn't know people still had shag carpets. Apparently they do on the upper east side. Nice.

What do you get with a surprise birthday cake days before the actual birthday, trick-candles that don't blow out, cake decorations that catch on fire, and mildly drunk people waving sparklers that smoke like crazy while singing happy birthday INSIDE the kitchen?

Yes, you get a fire alarm and frantic calls to assure the fire department that you are not on fire.

I was blindsided by the cake, but luckily I have class next week to distract me from my actual birthday and as a valid excuse not to celebrate anything. Take that 26!


JPH is smartly hiding behind the flowers as the action goes down and smoke clears.

Cicada shells by my favorite fur tree: