Friday, November 30, 2012

New work

A few new pieces, poems written after some extended tramps into the New Zealand bush, appear in the  most recent CultSoc update, along with poems by Peter O'Leary, Mark Truscott, Amanda Nadelberg, Mark Scroggins, Joseph Massey, Shannon Tharp, Whit Griffin, and other dynamos.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


In Dante's cosmos the southern hemisphere was covered entirely in water, broken only by a single, lofty mountain island: Purgatory.

I turned to the right and contemplated all
            The other pole; and four stars o’er me came,
    Never yet seen save by the first people.
        All the heavens seemed exulting in their flame.
                   O widowed Northern clime, from which is ta’en
     The happy fortune of beholding them!
(Purgatorio I, trans. Laurence Binyon)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Notes Apropos "Robert Creeley in NZ" and Jack Ross on NZ Poetry

Robert Creeley in Auckland, 1995
When I arrived in New Zealand this past August, I had intended to begin a book chronicling Robert Creeley's influence on the New Zealand poetic community. A number of factors temporarily halted the project in the "research and development" phase: full-time employ, diverted attentions, and a fresh round of PhD applications. I've chided myself since then on time wasted, on time that could've been better spent toward the completion of this project, a project I still very much believe in.

Now, I'm in Wellington and knee-deep in a new project which concerns Ezra Pound's theory of melopoeia, "wherein the words are charged, over and above their plain meaning, with some musical property, which directs the bearing or trend of that meaning," and its implications for contemporary poets. And while I'm deeply engaged in and excited by this new project, my thoughts often return to "Creeley in NZ."

Last week, Ellie and I hiked the four-day Milford Track with her parents and some family friends. And eight-hour days of tramping through fern groves, lichen carpeted beech woods, and rough, brown tussock is ample opportunity to hatch ideas and scheme about books: past, present, and future.

During my time here, I've tried to familiarize myself with contemporary poetry in NZ and get a sense of its trends and taboos, and the traditions it holds dear. My reading has only served to make me more curious, less sure. I've had this notion that Creeley's 1976 visit to NZ totally rocked the NZ poetic community, that it introduced the possibility of experimentation and "New American Poetry" to poets nursed primarily on the British tradition. I had hoped, perhaps vainly and prematurely, to trace an aesthetic through-line from Creeley's early and mid-career work to contemporary NZ poets.

After talking for hours with Ellie while ambling along the Milford, I'm less certain that such a neat and tidy "reading" of this multifarious national community (or communities?) is valuable or even possible.

More and more, I'm fascinated with the idea of influence itself. In the States, so much importance and emphasis is placed on who you read, on poetics as a sort of genealogy of influence. When asked, I once told another American poet that I really enjoyed Robert Duncan's work and had recently fallen in love with Ronald Johnson's ARK and Susan Howe. They described their love for the work of Charles Wright and Richard Hugo. I'd like to say this kind of interaction is based purely on curiosity, but we were both probably guessing in that moment what the other's work was like.

Does that happen in NZ in the same way? Obviously, New Zealand has a totally different history and relationship toward its history than the U.S. has with its own. What role does experimentation or an "avant-garde" presence have in NZ? What relationship, what conflict or curiosity, does it have with its language?

I was happy to come across a new feature on Jacket 2 this week, Jack Ross's ongoing column on NZ poetry. In his introduction to the commentary, Ross writes:
Allen Curnow, in his classic 1943 poem "The Skeleton of the Great Moa in the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch," wrote of the Moa's (by extension, our) "interesting failure to adapt on islands". More recent ecological theorists have suggested that, on the contrary, islands have a tendency to be engines of evolutionary change: extraordinary adaptations to unique circumstances.

So which is it? Is New Zealand poetry more or lessinteresting as a result of our isolation?
On the one hand, it can lead to a willingness to break the rules, lending our writing a wild and lawless frontier feel. On the other hand, there's a certain tendency to reinvent the wheel, proclaim as innovations techniques which are the most hackneyed commonplace elsewhere.

It is encouraging to know that someone else is asking these questions and I look forward to reading Ross' forthcoming posts as I continue to develop this project further.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Reading tonight @ 7:30pm Meow Cafe

Dear friends in the Wellington region,

I am reading this evening with my partner, Ellie Catton, as well as David Fleming, Lee Posna, and Therese Lloyd.

All of us would be very excited to see you at Meow Cafe (9 Edward Street) at 7:30pm.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Andrew Joron's Theremin

Highly recommend this essay, new at Evening Will Come. Joron talks theremin, "dreamweapons," and Rossetti's "Monochord."

Imagine the speech-sphere turned inside out: its center—its source in sound—becomes its outer surface. Its new center is a vanishing point into which meaning recedes and finally disappears. All that remains is the exteriority of sound. One sound––miraculously, it also happens to be a word—now covers the entirety of language. That word is susurrus. It is similar, perhaps identical, to the “hum of the Earth.”

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Proud to be among good friends and great poets in the inaugural issue of SET, a journal of experimental poetry and art. You can read it here.

The poems are from a sequence on the Ryder-Waite Tarot I wrote a couple of years ago.

Jack Spicer, apparently, was also really into the Tarot. From "A Plan for a Book on Tarot" which appeared in boundary 2 (Autumn 1977):

If the average person has heard of a Tarot deck at all, he is likely to associate it with dark rooms full of cheesecloth ectoplasm, old women who make a practice of sticking pins in wax dolls, or one of the various seedy attempts to exploit the occult which, for all their impressive trappings, move the modern man to pity rather than to terror. If he had the further misfortune to read one of the many books written on the interpretation of Tarot cards, he would have the further impression of a very old and impressively historical set of symbolic pictures whose meanings are as clear and arbitrary as the language of flowers and, while admiring the quaintness and charm of their design, would look on their use for a serious purpose as an idiocy - or, at best, a parlor game.
The truth is quite different.

A big thank you to SET editor and these signals press mastermind, David James Miller, for including the poems in this beautiful journal.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Parliament

New at Owl Cottage, Ellie Catton's owls, "an only bird."

'Beneath the quivering intensities'

There are a few happenings that make me feel my distance from the U.S. and friends acutely, painfully.

First there's the very exciting news of the publication of friend and phenomenal poet Nicholas Gulig's first book, Locality, forthcoming from YesYes Books.

Here are some poems of Nick's that quiver.

Then there's this:

"William Bronk in New York"
A Conference on the Life and Work of William Bronk


Celebration of the Publication of
Bursts of Light: The Collected Later Poems of William Bronk

Sponsored by

Columbia University, New York University, and Talisman House, Publishers

Friday, April 13, 2012 at New York University
(The Great Room, 1st Floor, 19 University Place
View Map:

Saturday, April 14, 2012 at Columbia University
(501 Schermerhorn Hall
View Map:

Free Admission and Open to the Public

* * *


Friday, April 13th, NYU (The Great Room, 1st Floor, 19 University Place)

William Bronk Correspondences 10:00
Robert Murphy, “The William Bronk – Robert Murphy Correspondence”
Mark Katzman, “Desire and Denial: The William Bronk – Mark Katzman Correspondence”
Paul Pines, “My Brother in Elysium”

William Bronk and Reader Reception 1:00
Daniel Wolff, “Why Nobody Reads William Bronk”
Stephan Delbos, “Cusp Poet: A Case for William Bronk”
Burt Kimmelman, “The Problem of Pleasure in Reading William Bronk”

William Bronk and Religion 3:00
David Clippinger, “Bill the Taoist”
Daniel Leary, “The Mystery of Faith in Two Poems by William Bronk”
Ed Foster, “William Bronk and the Reformed Church”

“William Bronk’s Walk by the Canal" 5:00
(a talk by Daniel Leary about his photographs of William Bronk)

Plenary Address 6:00
by Henry Weinfield, “[Title TBA]”

Saturday, April 14th, Columbia University (501 Schermerhorn Hall)

William Bronk’s Rhetorical Forms and Figures 11:00
Jane Augustine, “The Image in Bronk, Early and Late"
Elisabeth Joyce, “‘another house’: William Bronk’s Contained Spaces”
Joseph Donahue, “The Ones We Meet Asleep: William Bronk and the Limits of Dreaming”
Jonathan Curley, “"Gnostics and Nots: William Bronk's Poetic Questionings”

William Bronk and Nineteenth- Century Writers 2:00
Norman Finkelstein, “Bronk, Melville, and the Mild Day”
Carole Stone, “Gender Issues in Emily Dickinson and William Bronk”
Tim Peterson, “The Presumptuous We: Figures of Address in Bronk and Thoreau”

William Bronk and World 3:45
Sherry Kearns, “The Arts and William Bronk: Response and the Artist”
Eric Hoffman, “‘The Real World’: William Bronk as Nature Poet”
Deborah Diemont, “A Visit to the Ruins: William Bronk, Pablo Neruda, and Octavio Paz”

William Bronk and Reality/Unreality 5:30
W. Scott Howard, “Apophatic Haecceity: William Bronk and the Analytic Lyric”
James Marian Bober, “The Late Agnostic: God, Sleep and Dreams in the Poetry of William Bronk”
Gerald Schwartz, “From ‘The Sunbeam on the Balcony’ to ‘The Ignorant Lust for Knowledge’: Bronk, Proust, Desire, Beauty and the Reality Veiled”

"String Quartet for Ballet Inspired by Poems by William Bronk" 7:00
(original music by Jonathan Newell, interspersed by recordings of William Bronk reading)
The Silhouette String Quartet, Conducted by Jonathan Newell
Ariana Rosen (violin)
Kate Mollica (violin)
Hannah Hens-Piazza (viola)
Lauren Riley-Rigby (cello)

Readings of William Bronk’s Poetry 8:00
(Closing Ceremony)
Readers (in alphabetical order):
Jane Augustine, Charles Bernstein, Martin Bober, David Clippinger, Jonathan Curley, Stephan Delbos, Deborah Diemont, Joseph Donahue, Norman Finkelstein, Ed Foster, Lyman Gilmore, Michael Heller, Sara Henning, Eric Hoffman, Alan Holder, W. Scott Howard, Susan Howe, Courtney Hughes, Elisabeth Joyce, Sherry Kearns, Andrew Klobucar, Burt Kimmelman, Basil King, Martha King, Daniel Leary, Ruth Lepson, Robert Murphy, Murat Nemet-Nejat, Peter Nicholls, Geoffrey O'Brien, Michael Perkins, Tim Peterson, Simon Pettet, Paul Pines, Gerald Schwartz, Leonard Schwartz, George Spencer, Carole Stone, James Tolan, Henry Weinfield, Mark Weiss, Daniel Wolff.

Me, Jane Wong, Nicholas Gulig, and Jeff Colosino at AWP 2009

A number of friends, comrades, and allies will be heading to lovely Chicago this week for AWP. Some will be reading and debuting new chapbooks and collections. Say what you will about the conference. I would've loved the opportunity to see so many of you and catch your new work.

Bronk knows:

The Tell

I want to tell my friends how beautiful
the world is. Not but what they know
it is terrible too--they know as well as I;
but nevertheless, I want to tell my friends.

Because they are. And this is what they are;
and because it is and this is what it is.
You are my friend. The world is beautiful.
Dear friend, you are. I want to tell you so.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Fellow OR contributor Nate Klug's new chapbook, Consent, is available now from Pressed Wafer. You can order it here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Leonard Schwartz's Eco-Po Playlist

Schwartz on Nature and poetry, on Nature Poetry, on Martin Buber, on Jacket2:

"Nature is the unconscious. Which is to say that when one picks up materials and begins to tinker with them in a certain way: when one picks up language and begins to fiddle with it, as it were absent-mindedly, or by way of automatic writing, or by chance operations, or by working from the black of the page, the unconscious begins to come into view. What was in the dark comes into the arena of humanly generated light. What was coiled in the unconscious enters the social."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Poems

I have a few new poems up in TYPO 16 and The Cultural Society and a few forthcoming in the April issue of Shearsman. Really pleased to be in the company of so many poets I admire and at the chance to encounter new work!

Above: see a poesis

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hank Lazer and Zach Barocas: Two Essays on Poetry and Spirit

Here are the links to two essays that have preoccupied my thought recently, specifically regarding the relationship between poetry and spirituality.

The first is Hank Lazer's "Returns: Innovative Poetry and Questions of 'Spirit,'" published in Facture 2 (2001), which attempts to salvage the connection between spirituality and poetic practice from the "squeamishness" the idea of spirituality often produces in the contemporary reader. Lazer also provides a veritable goldmine reading list of poets and books that demonstrate a commitment to both spiritual investigation and poetic innovation.

The second is Zach Barocas's "on poetry & spirit," published in GutCult 8 (2007). In the short essay, Barocas deftly describes the development of his own poetics of spirit and how specifically he has tried to apply it to his own poetic practice.

Though neither of these essays were published recently, they only came to my attention in the last few months during hours of aimless link-hopping online. Both have given me a good deal to think about as my current research and creative interests fall along the same lines.

I am eager to use this blog as a signpost toward other essays, websites, poems that deal with matters of spirit and poetry. I encourage any readers that might be out there to send anything like this my way.