San Diego Poetry Guild

notes on guild, poetry, and San Diego



SAN: 04.21: 8:30 AM : flight delayed one hour, six hours to Honolulu, three hour time change (splash back) -- Moriarty last night in 26 B on a "poetics of distribution": check penultimate page for great prose poem about the life of a smallpress book -- repetitive stress: hand cramps to hold a pen

pending blog report on last Friday's "Communication in the Wild" showcase at UCSD (i.e., Guild in the Schiller Room, smart board dies), using Lazer on the current state of American Poetry and Meyer's "End of the Wild" on the downright scary state of Planet Earth (both in current Boston Review), to triangulate a new-old poetics of life in the wilds of poetic activity (all action is interaction, blah blah) -- well, that's the plan

for now, note: "security" at the airport is now "everyone's responsibility" (in the same way, say, The Alphabet will soon be everyone's required reading) -- i'm glad to be a writer in the age of writing machines

first class seats are going fast -- i find it easier to travel when i write through it -- Lazer end-notes (6) his own potentially limiting interpretive framework in assessing a "next generation's" approach to the problem of interpretive frameworks but insists nonetheless in the ur-text that younger poets need a more strictly defined (and guarded, theorized) linguistic and/or philosophical framework -- "in the interest of airport security"

oh, but really, I want to say: Look around, read, surf the net, fund a fat anthology: the truth is out there

Tinfish 13: Dirty, Filthy, & Mucky -- on the ground, first class is first class; aloft, the "front cabin" -- coach pisses aft, is asked to respect the privacy of those in the front cabin -- the guiding hand of evolution, writes Meyer, is unmistakably human -- a three-tiered hierarchy of life built around human selection -- weedy species, relic species, and ghost species -- over the next hundred years, upwards of half of the earth's species are destined to become relics or ghosts -- landscape transformation, geochemical modification, biotic consumption and manipulation, and, for the front cabin, privatized urination and defecation

thus, a guaranteed future of biohomogeneity, with an imaginary wild to entertain ourselves

on the screen, pre-inflight movie, an early history of Hawaiian Airlines as inter-island cargo transport business -- "Hawai'i starts here" -- okay, but back to poetry, which, as a threatened wild (with a whole lot of relics, ghosts, and weeds), is also a kind of imaginary wild (dirty, filthy, & mucky) -- to spot it (re Lazer), maybe check "communication" as/in organs of technology and (thus organized) activity systems rather than hunting post-Language "use" of Language poetics "as a means toward new modes of composition"

also, some energy of late (not Lazer) trying to resuscitate "the form" of "the lyric" (caveats re "the" notwithstanding) and therein lies one of the big problems -- forget forms, and even the long list of "qualities" a given form might afford, and think more about activities, and specifically communication activities, in relation to poetic movement, networking, interaction, production, distribution -- under the kooky fetishized radar of form and artifact, the busy buzz of poetry and poetix as communicative activity system

"marinara," i think during lunch, may be code for "vegetarian" -- guy in 33B spends an hour building "leadership" powerpoint slides on his laptop then switches to "unreal" video game, scores bio-rifle, wastes Hyena -- "poetry is not derivative enough" (Yunte Huang, "The Token Road," in Tinfish 13) -- maybe an hour to splash down -- to watch a film at 35K feet is, to me, a bit too out-of-body, like, not wanting to lose touch with the fact that we're up here, in violation -- "Type answer here" -- but able to read lips well enough to understand that angry character #1 has just said to #2, "I hate you!" -- purple interface where "unreal" video once was -- "lie and tell me you are human." (Adam Aitken, "To a Cyborg," in Tinfish 13)

HNL: 04.22: 6:30 AM: in short, less form and artifact, more performing facts -- here, at Steve and Leigh's, the mangos drop ripe from the trees in the backyard, for breakfast, and Donovan, now two, takes his in smoothies -- note: a poetix of the discarded as formal impetus for book production -- e.g., Steve's Hamburger commissioned to fill a hundred or so abandoned hamburger sleeves -- and now: empty checkbook (with Bill Luoma) chapbooks

on SAN time, I wake at 3 a.m. and spy Orion's Belt through large, southern-facing picture window -- on the glass (that is, hanging from the belt), translucent violet and blue Viacom-branded puppy stickers, a cluster of them above Donovan's toy rack -- last night, driving north, palm groves huge and dense at the foot of the hill, like "weeds" in the low areas of my neighbor's backyard

Donovan wakes and wants, seeks out (crying), Mommy -- all of my friends it seems are stuck in a similar "what will it take" mode re G.W. and public opinion polls -- Susan booed when he threw out the first pitch on opening day in St. Louis -- fans glared and we wondered, at dinner: can you boo the man without booing the "president of the United States"? -- since, by their own design, it's all about character now, then, logically, no -- but that surely doesn't bode well for "the president," Bush or otherwise

but back to poetry: Deborah Meadows has written "through" Moby Dick to create a "theory of subjectivity" therein -- Susan Schultz has published a portion of it as The 60's and 70's as a Tinfish Press chapboook -- Donovan operates a "Smart Kitchen" along the smaller north wall next to the kitchen -- Steve and Leigh often take him for a drive at night to put him to sleep

"...lyricism, spirituality, sensuality and social analysis collide" (Tom Beckett, in Tinfish 13) -- and so, poetry: experimental inquiry (robust ethnomethodology) -- and for the dissertation: "The message far outweighs the medium" (Lissa Wolsak) -- a lot of weight in that "outweighs" -- but "letting myself tend toward inner explosive processes" is only so much wiggle -- better: "...the floor as my main work surface when it is time to compose."

Illustrator and In-Design for book-making, 2:15 PM, back in the house of coffee -- 8 miles down to Waikiki, up to Diamond Head Crater, back again -- Wai'alea Boulevard, and finally, caffeine i can count on -- on CNN, MJ's in trouble and W needs another 50 billion

HNL: 04.23: 11:00 AM: Steve's Hamburger: "serving it, not serving it" -- later, with Leigh and little D., through heavy traffic up to north side of island, strong trade winds easterly would last through the night, up at dawn

SAN: 04.24: 2:00 PM: light lift of happiness now on day of return, relief, wanting home, and end to April, and so, back to poetry: Rodrigo's Platform a spit-shine of lexico-historic perturbations, or, cluster to bomb it up, or, an easy read like polychromatic thumb tacks on the tongue -- "antithesis ho!" (73)

my choice: chicken, turkey, or cheese ravioli -- the baby, crying at take-off, since sleeps in father's lap to my right -- Disney in kid-sized pieces today -- now dark approaching this main land, main event

in Disney animations, nobody really dies, they just pass into some finer, subtler form and later return to assist the hero, make good on old promises, uncomplicated, bodiless, until that moment toward the end when, mission accomplished, they rise on a beam of jelly-belly light, leaving our hero alone but wiser/stronger for it, and fade to credits, theme song, fake out-takes, ar ar, ...

TV screen shows pixelated map of west coast, plane's trajectory charted in red: one inch from San Diego -- in sum, to distinguish between a social economy of publishing, networking, blurbing, boosting, etc., as a kind of activity system that supports poetry (as literary form) and a poetics of systematic activity itself, where the map of activity (a trajectory) is or becomes a poetry, perhaps in performance, in the act or transaction -- poem scripts the factual build-up of systematic writing activity -- sounds kinda lean, i know, but add lush in the moments where the red lines of poetic trajectory lift off the screen or page and into multiple dimensions to become real (big) planes coming in for a landing -- otherwise, Steve's right: the language of current occupations leaks in -- though I pledge as i kiss the ground to place a new premium on this sort of tropical activity and fact-finding adventure -- poetry can go there



Honolulu for Tao Drops, I Change book launch and splash down. Check your local listings.


Excential Texts 8: Raworth

From "Letters from Yaddo" in VISIBLE SHIVERS:

This morning I had a letter from Marco Antonio, part of which says:--

I've sent you my long book, COLLECTED POEMS, to the University. Here it has been received with much verbal enthusiasm, but little written criticism. I wonder if it was worth the trouble, and the twenty years I spent writing it.

and he knows as he writes that the whole point is that there are no rewards. The pain, the depression, the loneliness are the flesh of the oyster: that's what poets taste like. And the relief is when a fleck of sand enters and the layers of pearl start building, taking your attention away from your self. There is no feedback from where we are . . . nothing ahead that can throw back an echo. We sit in silence waiting for the faintest sounds, which are the fragments of the name of god. And when they rise, we follow wherever they lead. As last night I followed them into the library, pulled down Maritain's CREATIVE INTUITION IN ART AND POETRY (and when else would I even look at a book like that?), opened it at random, and started reading a poem of Hart Crane's:--

Yes, I being
the terrible puppet of my dreams, shall
lavish this on you---

I live in a country whose poets are afraid of the dark and the wind because they carry burning books outside, which are soon blown out. They have forgotten how to carry a coal, which gives more light as the wind blows. Even the best of them withdraw from what they know they should do. The crack is there in front of them, but they're not sure if they could survive on the other side. They wait for a messenger to arrive and face them: to read out a list of houses, flats, bus schedules and the prices of canned foods. Every day the gap widens . . . and there are no poles left with which to vault across, no planks over which to crawl. Because the trees have long ago been cut down and made into paper for the books they thought would light their way.


Toscano Reading Report

SDPG kicked off its reading series on Friday night with Rodrigo Toscano setting the tone (and the bar) for future events. Thanks to him and an enthusiastic crowd of students, teachers, writers, scholars, friends, and unidentified hecklers who, together, made this truly a night to remember.

Just now Elena from across the hall stopped by to thank me again for inviting her and to say that this guy Toscano was "just amazing." Similar reports started coming in immediately after Rodrigo concluded his "generous" (says Elena) 35-minute tour-de-force tour through new poems (from the soon-out To Leveling Swerve), including "Postcard to Tacitus" and other mini-missives to the ancients which, as of this writing, remain unanswered.


and other "TONS PER SQUARE CENTIMETER" which will soon be made available in audio form on the Factory School audio poetry page (stay tuned for that announcement). The big print on my wall is evidently a reprint from Rodrigo's Philadelphia "bank" series, explanatory details of which can be found at a website to be posted here [XXX] as soon as he emails me the link.

Discussions after the reading (the one or two I managed to sidle up to) stressed both sentence and argument in Toscano's work -- i.e., that while ostensibly fragmentary, the texts nonetheless cohere toward syntactic weightiness and issue unmistakably grounded political dicta whose larger contexts (and therefore agenda) are hard to miss, even in the obfuscatory shadows of what I dared call the sprightly diaphanous phantasms hovering in the literal wake of the poet's trademark funhouse zeal. At one point the word "didactic" came up and I begged, through a mouthful of tofu-pasta salad, to differ, but then I relaxed and noted that my interlocutors brandished Heidegerrian and Althusserian tendencies respectively, which made the point and the salad go down more smoothly.

In short, bona fide great times were had by all, and documentary evidence will confirm this as soon as I can get some posted to the website (pix as well as mp3). Toscano himself confided that, having long ago survived a near-death experience on Federal Boulevard, he is now ready to help breathe life into this fledgling but potentially worthwhile series. For those brave enough to follow his awesome act, we can offer only a warm reception and, for the next few months, even warmer weather, as well as a glass or two of your favorite beverage, home-made grub, a functioning mic, and a roomful of eager listeners only some of whom, for what it's worth, are poets.

My favorite two moments: Rodrigo mumbling inscrutably into the microphone at the end of one poem, then later glossing the mumble as an exercise in real-time tonal modulation, prefigured if not prescripted in the text of the poem--"Here, I can show you!"--or something to that effect.

As communicative effect, that Toscano is really something.



Three fuzzy looks at what J.R. and I did this past Sunday at 040404 conference in Berkeley.


Chez Stephanie, Hayle's remediation as "medial ecology": "robust interactions between media" -- on the kitchen table, Mayakovsky's "How Are Verses Made," and by the back door, a box of Alli Warren's Schema of which a copy my way with a cup of english breaky -- "an ecology in which one medium is remediated in another, only to be remediated in turn" -- decision to lodge visiting readers between the wooden pillars in front of a decommissioned fireplace loaded with candles to give the impression that "something is burning" -- Boog City cover piece on magic -- "Spring Forward" post-it-noted to clock: 7:20 -- Hayle's "grounding" in the "materiality of the literary artifact" is to Stephanie's cat as a poetry reading is to the illusion of fire -- literary theorists fetishize material and mediation with a vigor rooted, I think, in a grounding anxiety about unearthed literary artifacts stripped progressively ("in the zesty, contentious, and rapidly transforming media ecology of the new millennium") of their factual topsoil -- a positivist fantasy eeks out a fascination for 3-D modeling, in other words -- the slime in simulation covers the raw meat of remediation -- a canonizing b friends -- children of privilege, already too saturated to get off on a good play, play the 'mimic' game to exhaustion -- O and I simultaneously start new books -- "electronic literature" (9): boom, there it is

J.R.'s luminescence lifting off the page, in the 12th c., per late manuscript turn from lumination to standardized lettering, the book as printable object born in these early scriptural moments -- more pedagogy than commerce here: how to read, and where is it? (light of text, the light within) -- i.e., Illich, from a bunch of mumblers to silent readers -- S.Y. wonders "what for" (publication as occasion) -- birthday: "in fact, I do feel one our holder" (forward sprung) -- to the alchemical burden of authenticity (via?) debts to authority, antiquity -- originality as personality (no two ways about it) (no two people alive at this moment have a flying squirrel swimming in their coffee, ergo, unique) -- at the Doubletree, e-mail made easy, just plug in this cable, power up, and launch -- are you earning both points and miles?

open source capturing -- the phenomenological fallacy: assumption that, given a sufficient and preferrably sexy set of structural preconditions, whole conceptual apparatuses can be junked which nonetheless prove vital to the argument: e.g., where authors collaborate nonverbally across network spaces, authorship itself "goes out the window" -- the "royal you": looking at this piece, you notice... -- pixel forging, screen blowing, and other new offerings at the artsy foundry -- metadata transfer protocol allows us (univ. "we") to label our image files without sacrificing our Kodac moments -- we need a lexiconography to underwrite our gesturo-haptic signings, J.R. and I -- networked hobos "talking to the air" -- materiality = communicative interactivity -- what exactly is a "material metaphor"? -- as "inscription technology" (24)? -- inherent redundancy in the term "technotext" -- using one derivation as prefix for another -- materiality: "how the work mobilizes its resources" (33) -- computer / software / network, combine to effect "a shift in the material SUBSTRATE of the [literary] artifact" -- this chasing after analytical object, even over shifting material sands -- multiple "components" of a second-gen hypertext become "signifying practices" -- our work here is done


Toscano Reading

SDPG is pleased to present Rodrigo Toscano, this coming Friday, April 9, 7pm. The reading, with reception to follow (and party to follow reception), will be held at the Guild's current headquarters in the Normal Heights area of San Diego.

Originally from San Diego (with some years living in San Francisco), Rodrigo Toscano now lives in New York City, where he works at The Labor Institute. He is the author The Disparities (Green Integer), Partisans (O Books), and Platform (Atelos). Forthcoming in June, 2004 is a new collection of poetry, titled To Leveling Swerve (Krupskaya Books). A poem from that collection was chosen by Lyn Hejinian for the “Best American Poetry Anthology, 2004.” (Scribners). His poetry and prose criticism has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan. He was poetry co-coordinator for “The Social Mark” symposium in Philadelphia, 2003, and a recent participant in the “Poetry & Empire, Post-Invasion Poetics” at the University of Pennsylvania,” as well as in “Societies of American Poetry, Dissenting Practices” at Georgetown University.

Directions to SDPG / Toscano Reading:

From the 8 freeway, take Texas Street south.
Take a right on Madison Ave. (first light at top of hill).
Go about four blocks.
1916 Madison is on the north side of the street (one block east of Park Blvd., near Twigg's coffee shop), at the top of the hill.

Hope to see you there!

SDPG team

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