(A scene from Les Maîtres Fous (The Mad Masters), a film by Jean Rouch)
My left eye is fucked. It isn’t the first time. I’ve mentioned its swollen episodes everywhere: in poems, on the phone.
Because I think it’s hysterical. Because I really can’t get over it.
LOLOLOLOL. A POET. WITH A SENSITIVE. EYEBALL. FUCK ALL THAT.
Lately, there are tiny, irritated dots that have been piling up in the corner. My roommate gives me clay and DMSO, which is HORSE LINIMENT. She dabs it on for me. The eye’s anger ebbs and flows.
I like that my own body keeps haunting me from this particular room, always from this left eye, trying to get me to deal with or acknowledge some part / stress deposit of myself that I’ve neglected / buried. Your own body interrupts you. It unexpectedly cuts you off. I feel more than slightly disembodied when I look at it in the mirror, when I touch it. Ghosts are red.
Masochists, manic depressives, suicides, all poets are neurotics of the death instinct, losers and failures who embrace the misery of their wretched trade, who wallow in its servile aura of diminishment and squalor—its paltry practice.
But among poets, those dismal defeated schlemiels and corner-biting cowards lured by vile Virgils into the abyss of verse, a fortunate few manage to inhabit the upper circles, its higher hellblocks—
Even among the damned there are divisions…there are even (and it’s almost unbelievable that they can exist) some poets who want to succeed! Who want their poetry to be read! Who actually try to write poetry that is accessible and can reach an audience!—
What traitors these are to their class—(jeez, if they didn’t want to be failures, why did they become poets!)
1. I AM IMAGINARY 2. I GIVE YOU A STIGMATA 3. MAKE A SOLILOQUY ON WHAT YOU THINK GREAT IS 4. I MAKE YOU BELIEVE 5. WHY BYARS 6. WE HAD EXACTLY THE SAME IDEA 7. THE IMAGINARY PERFORMANCES OF JAMES LEE BYARS 8. I GIVE YOU PERFECTLY NOTHING 9. I WRITE A 100 POEMS A YEAR 10. THE GIRL IS SO PURE SHE DOESN’T EVEN DRINK WATER 11. B?B 12. DON’T YOU LOVE MY NEW FRAME :: :: 13. ½BELIEF IS A LOT 14. I’M HIS IMMORTALITY 15. WHISPER PERFECT TO THE GOLDEN PEAK OF THE KUNSTHALLE 16. SEE IT IS THE GIFT 17. TOODOOLOO 18. BEAUTY IS MY MOTIVE 19. HYPOTHESIS DOESN’T EXIST 20. HIS STYLE IS A GLASS OF WATER 21. I MADE UP THE CONSCIENCE OF THE EXHIBITION 22. THE PERFECT AUDIENCE IS TO TURN AROUND 23. HE KNOWS HOW TO TAKE COMPLIMENTS THANK YOU 24. MAMA WAS HIS DEATHWORD 25. SEE HOW HE SHOWS HIS NAME 26. TELL MY STYLE 27. THE EXHIBITION OF MR B. THINKING 28. I FREE YOU 29. THE SHOCK OF WRITING A LETTER 30. IT’S TOO BEAUTIFUL 31. THOUGHT IS PERFORMANCE 32. THE PERFECT DOOR IS A SPHERE 33. I CAN’T FIND A THING 34. PERFORM THE IMAGINARY STONE 35. ALL WORDS COME FROM O 36. IT IS A POEM IF YOU BELIEVE IT 37. I TEACH ME 38. THERE ARE 100 HEARTBEATS IN THE ROOM 39. WHAT’S ABOVE PERFECT 40. THE SILK WRITING CHAIR MAKES YOU SIT UP STRAIGHT AND IS SOFT AT THE SAME TIME 41. I LOVE MAYB 42. THE STONE MAKES ME WANT TO KEEP 43. THE EXHIBITION RECALLING THE ATTENTION OF THE CITY 44. THE END OF NAME 45. I MADE THE POETIC FLAG OF SWITZERLAND IN THE TRADITION OF THE IMAGINARIES 46. I WROTE A WORD THAT KNOCKS YOU OUT 47. BLACK CHAMPAGNE IS A POEM 48. THIS IS 7 THINGS 49. HER LAUGH IS SILENT 50. I SEE THE WORD ON MY BREATH 51. THE PEDESTAL FOR LISTENING TO PERFECT 52. LAUGHING OVER MY SENTENCES IS A GOOD WAY TO SHOW THEM 53. WATCH NOW I’LL PERFORM IN YOUR IMAGINATION 54. I MISS B. 55. GOD TAKES THE FIRST PERSON 56. I VOCALLY PUBLISH 57. THE PLAY OF GREAT IS GR. 58. SH 59. I’M LAOTZU POCHUI CHUTA BASHO ISSA ZEAMI AND HAKUIN 60. FROM NOW ON YOU WILL HEAR PERFECT EVERY ALL THE TIME 61. STEPPING OVER THE STONE IS MYSTIC 62. A WORD IS YOUR EPITOME 63. I HAVE EVERY HUMAN GLORY 64. SELFCONSCIOUSLY FORGET SELFCONSCIOUSNESS 65. I MADE IT OF THOUGHT 66. THE PERFECT WHISPER IS TO NOTHING 67. THE HIGH ROMANCE OF THE LILAC ARROW 68. GUESS WHAT MIND CAME BY AGAIN 69. MY CHEEKS TINGLE WITH A 100 KISSES ON THE LEFT AND A 100 KISSES ON THE RIGHT 70. IT’S A WORLD COMPLIMENT 71. I’M 50 72. I DON’T THINK A WORD IS EVER LITTLE FOR ME 73. ARE YOU SO SOPHIS AS TO THINK YOU COULD TRY TO TELL A LIE 74. I MET A SAINT PERSON 75. I WROTE THE FIRST TOTALLY INTERROGATIVE PHILOSOPHY 76. SAY BOTH TO THIS STONE 77. TOT. TRU. 78. WHAT’S A WATERLILY TO MONET 79. JOKES DON’T EXIST 80. YOU GATHER 700 PEOPLE TOGETHER AND TELL THEM TO THINK ABOUT THEIR PSYCHE 81. THE GREAT ART SHOW MOTHER AND DAUGHTER GO TO EUROPE 82. THE PEARL COVERED BOOK OF BOTH 83. I SAID GR. ONCE IN THE MUSEUM THAT WAS THE EXHIBITION 84. I PUT THE PERFECT SIGH IN A STONE 85. THE GHOST OF BOOK 86. INFLUENCE IS IMPOSSIBLE 87. THE CENTER OF THE ROOM IS HOLY 88. I SAW HIM OVER THERE 89. THIS WAY TO THE MIRACLE PLAY 90. A SINGLE SYLLABLE IS ELOQUENT 91. A MYSTIC DIALOGUE B. SAYS TH FL TO IN PH C. SAYS YES 92. HISTORY IS A CONSTANT 93. I HUM WHEN I THINK 94. IT’S THE FIRST TIME YOU SAID SOMETHING I DON’T AGREE WHIT 95. IMAGINE YOU SAY I CHANGE MY MIND THROUGH THE GOLDEN HOLE 96. THERE ARE ONLY 3 GREAT IDEAS IN HISTORY 97. I CANCEL ALL OF MY WORKS AT DEATH 98. THEY SAID OPEN AMERICA IN CONVERSATION ON THE 50TH FLOORS IN N.Y. AND L.A. THAT WAS THE EXHIBITION 99. THE LIGHT OF A KISS 100. DO YOU THINK THERE COULD BE TWO PERFECTS
(Text taken from I’m Full of Byars: James Lee Byars – A Homage, p. 144)
The poet doesn’t invent. He listens. ~ Jean Cocteau
Words are everything else in the world. ~ Wallace Stevens
In the Creative Writing classroom, I don’t teach so much as I lead. Discussions. Close-readings. Deep-readings. Free-writings. Whatever it is, I keep minds attuned to construction rather than destruction. Destruction is better left to the literature classroom, where it has its purpose, surely. We don’t read to answer what or who but rather why and how. We read widely, and we imitate shamelessly; we invent, therefore, with an existing form as backbone before we learn to invent forms of our own. We string words on the page like Christmas lights across the roof; we have purpose and design in mind, but mainly, we just want shit to glow brightly. The goal: limit the variables, at least at first. As we learn to construct within the preconceived frames, we increase the variables beyond simple imitation, and the possibilities to invent then grow considerably. We understand, ultimately, that poetry can exist in many physical shapes, and we strive to keep the language malleable within whatever shape it takes.
It’s day three of Pro Tour Philadelphia, and the final (“Top 8″) competition is underway. This part of the tournament is webcast (you can watch it live here), and is also being transcribed. (Since this is such high level play, players will want to read descriptions of what, precisely, happened on each turn; this is what Bill Stark was doing in the photo at the top of Part 2.)
These match transcriptions often read like a foreign language to non-players. For example, here’s an excerpt from a write-up of a match played yesterday between Jeremy Neeman and Luis Scott-Vargas:
Bhanu Kapil writes “I remembers” with fourth graders. These children are brilliant. Magic. Geniuses.
I remember when I would write poetry in elementary school. Every couple months our class would have a showcase. Our parents would come. We would display our talents. I would always read an original poem. They were often about seasons and candy (what else is new)…and the relationship between seasons and candy (candy corn–so autumn). I was proud that I didn’t have to use a rhyming dictionary to write my poems and the kids would say, “One day you’ll be a famous poet. One day you’ll have a huge book of poems!” One time I tried to do a piano recital but got nervous and fucked up. So I thought, I should stick with the poems. And I’ve stuck with words all this time.
Highlights from Bhanu’s trip to Garfield Elementary School: I Remember: 
READ MORE >
From ABC of Reading
by Ezra Pound
‘Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.’
Dichten = condensare.
I begin with poetry because it is the most concentrated form of verbal expression. Basil Bunting, fumbling about with a German-Italian dictionary, found that this idea of poetry as concentration is as old almost as the German language. ‘Dichten’ is the German verb corresponding to the noun ‘Dichtung’ meaning poetry, and the lexicographer has rendered it by the Italian verb meaning ‘to condense’. READ MORE >
In the poem “Uncle B’s Drive-in, Granbury TX,” Kara Dorris writes: “My bra strap slips off a shoulder / the body a cracked egg.” When thinking of Bone Bouquet, a journal of poetry by women, I keep coming back to the line about the cracked egg—thinking of poetry as cracking an egg, of the egg as a body, the body breaking, poetry… a leaking body.
Another poem in the book—“Tract, Tract” by Emily Skillings—reads:
Every body is a leaking body
Some practices try to control the leaking
but the leaking is too strong
with its five ancillary roots
reaching to the great estuary.
I know because the practices are in my body
much like the leaking.
The attempt to control the body
and the leaking
is sometimes pleasurable,
In a post on the Pank Blog, Elaine Castillo wrote, “Refusal to write through it. Refusal to be cured by writing. This mud hole, writing will not drag me from. This wound, writing will not cauterize.”
On one hand, there is the writer-doctor, the one who sutures the wounds, who masters the wildness with words (“The attempt to control the body”). And then there is the leaky blood-poet, the woman who unapologetically spills her blood all over the page, who rubs her cracked egg into paper and offers it up as a poem. Bone Bouquet seems to prioritize the latter.
There is a reaching quality to the poems, a yearning for something beyond The Word, scattered silence meant to open up space for listening. In Arielle Greenberg’s poem, words are liked black coals coughed up by the body, substitutes for The Unutterable yet still, they burn.
Volume 2, Issue 1 features poems by Carolyn Guinzio, Emily Skillings, Jennifer H. Fortin, Leigh Stein, Dawn Pendergast, Arielle Greenberg, Claire Hero, Becca Klaver, Jennifer Firestone, Tamiko Beyer, Kara Dorris, and Dana Teen Lomax. The issue can be purchased here.
January 25th, 2011 / 8:58 pm
I gave up on new poetry myself thirty years ago, when most of it began to read like coded messages passing between lonely aliens on a hostile world.
1. Lucy Corin Web Log:
Warhol on the Internet (imagine)
567. What is the contagious psoriasis to write shitty poetry? I did it. Hell, some people make a fine time/dime doing it. (I’m going to hell for linking to that kid, but add to tally, that one Tuesday, etc.) Is it developmental, in our DNA (99% of which we share with mice–this explains the dreadful sonnet [titled "Our Chance has Run"] about an ex-lover/farmer’s wife, a shooting star, and a sad owl I found in the cheese)? Maybe it’s a necessary process. The next step is to seek outlets for shitty poetry, explaining scam operations, blogs, script tattoos, and moms. You did it, right? Wrote shitty poems. Do tell.
4. What’s the glow day and time to write? I’m going obvious: Sunday, early morning, while the sky is low/blue, the caffeine burning off the hangover fumes. The brain hops. No?