San Diego Poetry Guild

notes on guild, poetry, and San Diego


Fence V6 N1

[btw: I prefer the "b" tag to the "strong" tag for bolding.]

On a journal-munching rampage this month, most recently feasting on Fence including (some of my favs) Anne Waldman, Eugene Ostashevsky, Eleni Sikelianos, Tom Horacek, Susan Schultz, Joshua Beckman, Neal Gill, Claudia Rankine, Sean Casey, Jeff Johnson, and Morgan Beatty.

Plus a stellar performance by Kristin Prevallet, whose "Other" (a Fence distinction) entitled "Writing Is Never by Itself Alone: Six Mini-Essays on Relational Investigative Poetics" gives much to chew on.

E.g.: "History is what connects a person to space and time; it is not a force that acts upon the individual from the outside. Rather it is story, imagination, poetry--it is a verb meaning 'to find out for yourself.'"

History is evidence-gathering, or documentation, which, adapting Olson, Rukeyser, and Alcalay, she basically states outright later on, adding: "...the Relational poet is concerned with respecting what already exists and translating the content of the borrowed source into a form that usefully complicates apparently simple truths."

Useful complication (as well as translation, refinement) has become something of a mantra for me and other Guild members, especially as we try to imagine ways of translating things like "text" and "image" into realtime dance and gesture. [Come to San Diego in mid-January and "find out for yourself" what the results of this early evidence-gathering will be!]

Also in the issue a provocative set of "What Artists Can Do" statements from Ammiel Alcalay (a poet, translator, journalist, and activist), David Brody (a painter), Mónica de la Torre (a poet, translator, and editor), Alan Gilbert (a poet, editor, and critic), Rachel Levitsky (a poet and educator), George Marshall (an environmental activist), Andrew Maxwell (a poet and editor), Sidney Mackenzie (a psychotherapist), Miranda F. Mellis (an interdisciplinary artist), Rick Moody (a novelist), Chris Offutt (a novelist), David Serlin (an historian, critic, and educator), Prageeta Sharma (a poet, novelist and educator), Susan Swenson (a poet, editor, and gallerist), Rodrigo Toscano (a poet and labor/environmental activist), Anne Waldman (a poet, educator, and activist), and Emma Zghal (a painter).

The assigned task was to comment on "possible programs for the reclamation of rhetoric and the role of the artist in contemporary civic society."

Prevallet's "other" essay was I think the best answer, even though it wasn't officially part of this section. Alcalay also had a lot of important and wise things to say: "we must discover new ways to both renounce and take up power," finding "different ways to cross borders, take risks, and make commitments." Levitsky's directly stated "poetry was born in the political" should not go unheeded.

Also much appreciated was Maxwell's simply-put "The artist must make a vocation of education. The calling is necessary and real." (I note for the record that document technicians [a.k.a. assembly poets] are first and foremost educators, in practice if not in vocation.)

I don't know if she was being serious or not, but I take to heart Mellis's utopian advice that artists should "replace news media as serious investigators and news bearers" (obviously echoing Shelley's "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."). Problems with distribution cannot be ignored, but the effort should be focused there, I agree.

Well, anyway, there's much more to this issue than reflected here. Now I'm off to gobble some more.

Sharpies are the drawing world's 'new media.'

-- J.R. Osborn, SDPG


Assemble the relatives.


Factory School Fall Book Sale

These are truly rock-bottom deals on some great books and chapbooks from Factory School, Meow Press, and PaperBrain Press. Many titles are now (or soon will be) rare collector’s items. The entire list represents over a decade of publishing activity from these three presses. In many cases, only a few copies remain, so take advantage! You won’t be disappointed.

Choose from the following package deals:

(prices good through 2003, while supplies last)
(postage included and quality guaranteed)

Deal #1: Any THREE of the following for $10 (or SIX for $17, or all TEN for $25)

Steve Carll, Drugs (PBP)
Robert Creeley, The Dogs of Auckland (Meow)
William Howe, A #’s Onus (Meow)
Loss Pequeño Glazier, The Parts (Meow)
Jennifer Ley, The Birth of Detachment (PBP)
Noemie Maxwell, Thrum (Meow)
Sheila Murphy & Peter Ganick, Numens from Centrality (PBP)
John Olson, Logo Lagoon (PBP)
Gary Sullivan, Dead Man (Meow)
Zazil 1 (Lowther, Featherston, West, Bennett, Mez,
Fuller, Rodriguez, Stecopoulos, Carll, Messerli, Jarnot,
Collobert, Downs, Smith, Wallace, Cope) (FS)

* * * * * *

Deal #2: Any THREE of the following for $12 (or SIX for $20, or all TEN for $30)

Wanda Coleman, et al., Quartet (Meow)
Dan Farrell, (Untitled Epic Poem…) Grid (Meow)
Benjamin Friedlander, A Knot Is Not a Tangle (Meow)
Benjamin Friedlander, Selected Poems (Meow)
Lisa Jarnot, Two of Everything (Meow)
Kevin Killian, Argento Series (Meow)
Andrew Levy, Elephant Surveillance To Thought (Meow)
Alan Loney, Catalogue (Meow)
Susan Schultz, Addenda (Meow)
Liz Waldner, Call (Meow)

* * * * * *

Deal #3: Any THREE of the following for $20 (or FIVE for $30, or all SEVEN for $40)

Todd Baron, That Looks at One and Speaks (FS)
Mike Basinski, Heka (FS)
Robert Duncan, Copy Book Entries (Meow)
Bill Marsh & Dana Montlack, Recycler’s Handbook (PBP)
Bill Marsh & Dana Montlack, The Bagua Book (PBP)
Reina Maria Rodriguez, Detención del Tiempo (FS)
Laura Stapleton (ed.), 3rdest World (FS)

* * * * * *

Deal #4: Any ONE of the following signed, limited editions for $10 (or all THREE for $25)

Todd Baron, That Looks at One and Speaks (FS)
Mike Basinski, Heka (FS)
Reina Maria Rodriguez, Detención del Tiempo (FS)

* * * * * *

Deal (kicker) #5: Get ALL TWENTY-SEVEN (including signed, limited editions) for $100 – originally over $200 worth of paper, labor, and love.

Please send checks (payable to Bill Marsh) to:

7661 Troy Terrace
La Mesa, CA 91941

The blue fox has ducked its head.


[Assembly Put To Poetry]

I don't try…it is just there to do. Like comb your hair. Or there are the some doves. Perhaps we are all putting on our sneakers at the same time. I thought that it was silly for a poet to write only one kinda poem. Poets should write all forms. If you do that then you are freed from the camp membership, tribe mentality of most poets. Anyway, all times, all forms, no restriction and anytime all the time. Working in various forms there is no moment that can't be put to poetry. If all things are the poem then everything is poetry.
This is poetry too.
Look at my shoe.
It is blue!



The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."

And they said then, "But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are."


Volt 09

A journal that makes me feel like I'm back in grade school reading one of those giant interactive picture books. I.e., broadside-sized, if you haven't seen it. Something to hold and behold.

And nice to see work by Joshua Corey, Cathy Park Hong, Fanny Howe, Timothy Liu, Martha Ronk, and a slew of others (in alphabetical order).

Not sure what to make of the WHOLE THING, though, so I'll leave it be and let it simmer for a while.


Score 18

Just gobbled up the latest issue of Score, produced by Crag Hill, and highlights include:

A large chunk of the Atlanta Poets Group, whose "all language is poetry" agenda shows up pretty clearly here. This is a rad zany bunch of poets and the work is pretty amazing (funny, gross, inscrutable, tender, at turns).

John M. Bennett's wormy calligraphic "Were War" is one of my favorites, but I always look for his work in Score and like that the constants (that inky meandering lettering) remain constant. Check the later collaborations with Andrew Topel and Scott Helmes, too.

Basinski is also a hero of mine -- hieroglyphics meets Madonna.

I don't know if I've seen G. Huth's monolithic concrete poems (sculptures of really big letters superimposed) before, but they look familiar and are impressive. Not so keen on the "Found & Aleatoric" poems, but like a lot of this kind of work, in large doses things start to happen.

A good sampling of more "texty-poetry" stuff here as well -- including new poems by Sheila Murphy, Nick P., Lewis LaCook, and Peter de Rous.

Score is one of my favorite mags -- why? -- because I'm keen on the pursuit of "words unshackled from oppressive contexts." There are obviously other ways to "unshackle" words, but reading/scanning/eating Score puts me in a great mood for casting off chains.


[SAN] Interloper, divine order... the importance of being honest... first impulse: to writing, as relaxation... focus, attention, pulse, prayer... in her lap, portable DVD player, headphones... newspapers - popular isolationism... shoulder pack: "INDEPENDENT"... the shapes of conversation, wash, hum... sun's out... human beings operate on the model of frontal assault (leaning into)... claim San Diego, but what? where?... desperately: an outsider perspective... the use of "surreal" to describe anything out of the ordinary (odd, or exciting, jolting) or disturbing, not normal or otherwise describable - itself a surreal use of language... writing as an appeal to better feeling... Stein: if it can be done why do it?... reading both quells (nerves) and excites (passions)... becomes (this) the "tao of record"... talking into her hand but there's a cell phone in it... [DFW] Beth Anderson The Domain of Inquiry - time filling up - a view on (something) - Query (recto) comment (verso) - "a new noise / hunts for a form"... going away opens up a space in which one can place a perspective... Mount Soledad (Harry P.): sartorial, hyperborean, truncheons... reading English as a foreign language...inanition... WALLLLLL (flush, flood, fence, bucket, canyon, maw, sea, lake, crate, tank) of language... felix culpa... soft forward push or lean as plane brakes in air, speed drawn back under wings... poetry as (tele)communication... The Crisis of Islam across the isle... the writer being ready to read the rhythms of language happening... refusing to budge her pudgy arm... ginger ale without any real ginger in it... Stein's empty apartment in photo in book found in "free" box at library when dropping off video second day of fires... thus a methodological distinction between "scrap/design" and "jot/scratch"... more perplexing: what readings result from a skimmer's approach ?... [NYC] hits & stats... French over Italian food... consecutive years (minimum four) required to start a movement... potential absorption back into generic web space... poems "articulate his perception"... with its system of islands, bays, and waterways, New York is not unlike San Diego, from a few thousand feet at least, and lingering embarrassment even after admitting the comparison does not hold after landing... my face, she said, is a little "pale" tonight... cooler, sun... séance, sustained... restless nativity, the busy frantic clutch/draw/hurt of positioning and influence... Subpress pr be us Ss... certain advantages to being elsewhere... mystic peace (abides)... Bruised Anvils does/does not equal Jewel's Birthstone... the coming, then going, of bundled egos - deep mechanical swank of urban infrastructure... great brick wall of poetry... possible solutions to the problem of repetition: (1) change orientation, (2) plagiarize freely (w/o citation), (3) form a band and travel... author sheep... blog on the Mexican model... new economies of distribution - knowing this, how can you quarrel?... funny, who ends up hearing what... echoes, not outright copying (which is cheating)... why I am a writer and not a pitcher... "the game within daily life"... [LGD] fatiqued, i spy a teenager in fatigues... reading and atomism... chief advantage of a slow pace: good editing... [DFW] a leap but a ton of language not a tongue, or songs that sometimes taper, a tanker of noise (follow along, fall in & under)... poetry connives to know something and then proves a reckless and short-lived somnambulism... abstract doodlism, hedonastic cartoony nihilism, grotesquery... how two (a couple) will bear what's wrong with their bearing... i simply don't want to reach into a thing called the unconscious, nor believe that time will shift my allegiances - would rather skim casual surfaces and dip when the day is done back into the - trouble with poetry is always the lump of payoff... design is not required, but an added element... obsession is okay... waste is not, unless it's the good waste that comes back to make something, but you can never tell until the deed is done... the seem of the scene means seemly in the seen... poetry = practice + persistence... writing makes time go faster... over passing clouds the little campfire towns below flutter and flow by like amber rivers... from "frothy ectocatharsis" to "programmable punchline"... my MFA did this to me... proves what horrors fume in a vacuum... to regret a suckling fun, that, and just as boring in the replay... old wine, new bottles (my life +)... sdpg_image_new.jpg... the bad luck, obviously, of doing a group thing that does one thing, that is (just) itself - is what you make of it, literally - and nothing is the first option [SAN]


Have to say, New York sure got a lotta poetry, and poetry people, and poetry club, and poetry polity. Here in San Diego, we got a kinda poetry sublet.

Others would disagree (with the last part). But they don't blog. But they do pay rent. So.

Dopey with sleep deprivation I'll leave it at that -- with, on a smoke-free horizon, memories, observations, and objections looming to be added here soon re trip to NYC.



.......from NYC.......

Nick P. says it's all about "presence," so here I am.

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