Many have experienced poetic punk rock fall out, but few have written it as a bomb in and of itself. In Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless, Matt Hart’s got an unabashed grandiose vision, a hard low end, a slew of unlikely ancestors to consume from white holes in the backs of hands, and Rimbaud’s Ethiopia in his acid-washed jeans pockets. He rewrites Ohio snowscapes, leaving a trail of teeth lost on tours, and calls them constellations. This is important cartography. A legacy the lot of us aging counterculture intellectuals need, since we burnt most of our maps and can’t read the stars for the chem trails. How do we live the moments after the X-Ray Spex and between Coleridge, Corso, and taking the dog for a walk after dinner? How are words our revolution now? If Hart’s right and “A universe is born every second when you scream it,” what do we scream back and how do we get there? The answer in Sermons and Lectures is so perplexing it must be honest: “Always do the opposite of anything I tell you/I’ll do it too Whatever you say.” This is a line that you can smash and it still says the same damn thing. Physicists and mystics have been trying to convince us that this is the only truth.
As Hart wails, “I want as much as possible for the carnival of what is,” we can hear him stomp into the white space in Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces, spitting some hair from his daughter’s head into Johnny Rotten’s mouth. Whether Hart wants to own it or not, Sermons and Lectures falls keenly into the bruise and shriek glory of the great lineage of Marcus’s heretic avant-garde saints that took up the right to name, smash, and invent new tongues after burning their old ones back at the beginning of the end of the world in 1917 Zurich, Switzerland. Someone did and did not name it DADA Someone boiled it down to Situationist International slogans in ’68. Someone screamed “Let’s go!” filling it with dollars and power chords in the 1980s. That’s when most of us caught it on the tips of our tongues when the itch of there’s something not quite right here, why do I want to shout until my ears bleed hit us in adolescence.
August 13th, 2012 / 12:00 pm
I picked up Gordon Massman’s The Essential Numbers 1991-2008 at AWP. Nobody told me to; I didn’t know that Blake had said things about it. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. This is the most depraved-and-beautiful book of poems I’ve read maybe ever. I mean, Massman’s language forces me read every poem aloud (which is one of my gauges of good poetry); the sheer music of the language propels me down the page, and when I’ve finished every poem, I feel a little sick. I’m glad this book exists in the world. I’m not sure I’ll get through it. Here’s an interview.
In the chapter on capitalization in The Copyeditor’s Handbook–I was just forced to buy a new one because I spilled grouper juice all over my tried-and-true copy; I bought it at Borders for a big-chunk discount because Borders is hightailing it out of my town–so, in this new copy, under the heading “Personal Names and Titles,” is a debate about capitalization. For fuck’s sake, people. If bell hooks or k.d. lang want their names lowercased, what’s the problem? Well, according to Amy Einsohn, who feels like my bff some days, Bill Walsh says this:
Sure, before “k.d. lang” there was “e.e. cummings.” But, as most good dictionaries…and New York Times style recognize, these are logos. The names are K.D. Lang and E.E. Cummings. To bow to the artists’ lowercase demand…deprives readers of a crucial visual cue…