January 04, 2014

English 204: Craft of Poetry

Last year when we revised the craft curriculum, we designed a two semester craft sequence for first year students. This is the second semester of that. Loosely, the first semester was to be an introduction to the wide range of aesthetics and concerns that define the genre of poetry in the twentieth century so as to gift you with a fluency in the complicated ecosystem that is contemporary literature. And then the second semester was to be a chance for more indepth study of a few of these aesthetics and concerns. With that in mind, and building off the work you did last semester, we will begin this semester by reading some of more sociological concerned methods of literary analysis of recent years. After that, and keeping these methodologies in mind, we will look at three aesthetic “clusters”: movement (aka identity) poetries, conceptualism, and a lyric of political antagonism. I have chosen these clusters because they are ones that Mills graduate students frequently use, so you are encouraged to locate your work within these areas. I have designed each cluster to tell a developmental, historical story of the form. Out of this, we will discuss how literary forms are formed in response to and/or in dialogue with various socio-economic forces, how they atrophy and how we recognize this, and then how they mutate.

 REQUIREMENTS

One demonstration.
As in use some of the critical methods that we've been discussing. Apply Moretti. Bring in a map, graph, or a tree that tells us a story of some sort about poetry. Or apply Evans. Count some prize winners. etc. (Note, I really want you to do demonstrate your ability to use the more sociological methodologies used by Moretti, Evans, DuBois, or McGurl rather than the close reading methods that someone like Berlant uses. Nothing against close reading but I am assuming you've been trained in close reading all your life, want you to try something else.) Suggested length here is 2-5 double spaced pages. Bring copies for the class.

Three presentations.
Each presentation should be two parts. Presentations are the second week of each of the clusters. Bring copies for the class. One part should be a description of what has happened. Or a historical overview. You are welcome to make these larger than the works we read in class. In fact, are encouraged to do so. This part of the presentation should draw from or enact some of the critical methodologies that should be in play by this point in the semester. Suggested length here is 2-5 double spaced pages. The second should be either a description of a possible project or an enactment of a project that illustrates something that could also happen in the form/content area/etc but has not yet been done. (Get it? First, historicize. Second, innovate.)

January 22 introduction

January 29
Franco Moretti, Maps, Graphs, and Trees 
Sebastien DuBois and Pierre Francois, “Career Paths and Hierarchies in the Pure Pole of the Literary Field: The Case of Contemporary Poetry”
Sebastien DuBois, “The French Poetry Economy: Strategies, Stakes, and Methods”

[January 30 at 7 pm at Bay Area Public School, Stephanie Young and myself will be hosting a discussion of the Weeks and Berlant texts. ]

February 5
Kathi Weeks, The problem with work: feminism, Marxism, antiwork politics, and postwork imaginaries
Introduction, Chapter 3: “Working Demands: from Wages for Housework to Basic Income," the last section of Chapter 5: "From the Manifesto to the Utopian Demand" (pp. 218-225), and the Epilogue "A Life Beyond Work."
Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism
Introduction, the first section of Chapter 6: "Always Now: Situation, Gesture, Impasse" (pp. 191-200), Chapter 7: "On the Desire for the Political," and "Note on the Cover Image: If Body: Riva and Zora in Middle Age."
Wages for Housework communiqués

February 8
Cruel Work
Mills Hall 133
12:00–1:30, Jasper Bernes and Maya Gonzalez, Wendy Trevino, Kathi Weeks
2:30–4:00, Lauren Berlant, Dawn Lundy Martin, Jackie Wang
Poetry Reading The Public School, 2141 Broadway 7:30, Jasper Bernes and Mara Gonzalez, Dawn Lundy Martin, Wendy Trevino, Jackie Wang

February 12
Steve Evans, “Field Notes: October 2003-June 2004”
Mark McGurl, The Program Era: “Art and Alma Mater: The Family, the Nation, and the Primal Scene of Instruction” and “Miniature America; or, The Program in Transplanetary Perspective”

February 19 no class//February 8 conference is substitute for this class.

February 26 no class

March 5
Demonstration due. Bring copies for the class. Be prepared to speak about.

March 12-April 2 SOMEWHAT IDENTITY/MOVEMENT-ESQUE
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass 
Langston Hughes, “Negro,” and “Let America be America Again” (but these are also interesting on this topic: “America,” “Ballads of Lenin,” “The Negro Mother”)
Rudolfo Corky Gonzales, I am Joaquin 
Marilyn Chin, “How I Got That Name”
Robert Frost, “The Gift Outright”
Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning”
Elizabeth Alexander, “Praise Song for the Day, Praise Song for Struggle”
Richard Blanco, “One Today”
Trisha Low, the Compleat Purge 
Nourbese Philip, Zong! 
Edwin Torres, “Neomanifestany” in The All-Union Day of the Shock Worker

[March 26 spring break]

April 9-23 SOMEWHAT CONCEPTUALISH
Charles Reznikoff, excerpt from Holocaust 
Heimrad Backer, excerpt from Transcript 
Peter Weiss, the Investigation
Rob Fitterman, Holocaust Museum 
Vanessa Place, excerpt from Statement of Facts 
Mark Nowak, Coal Mountain Elementary 
Josef Kaplan, Kill List 
Stephen Collis, “Of Blackberries and the Poetic Commons”
Kenneth Goldsmith, “Towards a Poetics of Hyperrealism”
Abe Louise Young, “The Voices of Hurricane Katrina, part one” 
Raymond McDaniel, part two  

April 30-May 14 SOMEWHAT ABOUT LYRIC, SOMEWHAT ABOUT ANTAGONISM, SOMEWHAT ABOUT OCCUPATIONS
Kristin Ross, The emergence of social space: [Rimbaud and the Paris Commune] especially “Introduction” and “The Transformation of Social Space”
Rimbaud, A Season in Hell 
Gisele Sapiro, “Forms of politicization in the French literary field” 
Ronald Paulson, the Art of Riot 
David Buuck, editor, Hi Zero feature on Oakland
David Buuck, “We Are All Sound”
Jasper Bernes, We Are Nothing and So Can You [pdf]
Jasper Bernes and Joshua Clover, Götterdämmerung Family BBQ [pdf]
Joshua Clover, editor, “the Insurrectionary Turn” American Reader.
Joshua Clover and Juliana Spahr, Two Poets on Politics
Sean Bonney, “Letter on Silence”  and “Letter on Poetics”
Joshua Clover, “Georgic for the World System”
Anne Boyer, “From Occupied Kansas City
Jackqueline Frost, The Antidote
Rachel Levitsky, The Story of My Accident is Ours 
Renee Gladman, the Activist 
Stephanie Young, Ursula or the University

Thanks to Kaplan Harris for some articles!

June 03, 2013

Letter to UK Comrades. with Joshua Clover and Chris Chen.

January 07, 2013

Talk for MLA 2012 panel on "Poet Scholar."

I have an autobiographical relation to the poet scholar category. I wanted to be a poet. I went and got a PhD in English with the idea that even the TA line would be a sort of day job. At the time this being a poet and being a scholar felt not quite related. My first job was as a scholar. My second, and current, job is as a creative writer. Everyone told me for years I had to be one or the other. I continued to muddle on as both. There is nothing unique about this story, so I will present it as anecdotal example. I will in these notes just quickly attempt to enumerate the terrain which I think might explain how we have found ourselves at a panel on the poet scholar at the MLA in 2012. I will draw no conclusions from it.

When I was applying for that first job, I thought I was entering the job market in its decline. Casual or adjunct appointments were at around 30%. This felt catastrophic. The general thinking was that that there was no way it could get worse. Who would do the service?, it was often said by colleagues in the hallways, it would be unsustainable to go lower. But then adjunct labor was teaching 50% of the classes when I got this second job in 2003 as a poet, in what Mark Nowak calls the American neoliberal MFA industry. What I realize now that I couldn’t see then was that despite the massive casualization of academic labor, I was at the same time getting a job in what is looking like it might very well be an MFA bubble economy. When I got my first job in 1995, there were somewhere maybe around sixty-five MFA programs. In 2009 there were around 194. I got these numbers from Seth Abramson. And in his estimate the cohort groups for these programs average out to about 20. So in less than fifteen years, the US has gone from producing around 1300 to close to 4000 MFAs per year. Many of these MFA programs are clustered at tuition dependent universities (although some state universities have begun to see these programs as good ideas because they can educate that casual labor pool they so need to have around). But there are next to no employment prospects for these graduates, which wouldn’t necessarily have to be a problem if not for how so many have funded their degrees through large amounts of student loans. This is why the MFA numbers look unsustainable.

Parallel to what is looking like an unsustainable MFA bubble, is what I might call the “possible creative writing-ization” of the English major. Again, numbers here are hard to find, so I’ll resort to anecdote. When I was an undergraduate way back in the 80s, colleges and universities tended to treat creative writing classes like candy, too many would make you sick and weak. The small liberal arts college that I attended taught two poetry workshops a year: a beginning and an advanced one. You had to apply to take them. 12 students were admitted. The rest, it was felt, did not deserve such a pleasure. Other schools, if they even had a creative writing major, tended to limit the creative writing majors. They had a gateway admissions process and only a certain number were allowed to be majors. Some schools, especially big state universities, still use this model. But in general, as the university system has begun to see students less as children whose candy intake should be regulated and more as consumers whose candy tuition money they want, they tend not to regulate but to provide. Anecdote again: the small liberal arts college where I now teach when I began teaching there used the limited class offerings model to regulate creative writing majors. Each semester there was a beginning and an advanced, waiting lists and demand be damned. At a certain point, the department begins to receive more and more pressure from the administration to enroll whatever would enroll however it would enroll. So the department began to offer more and more undergraduate workshops. Now the department’s unregulated undergraduate creative writing majors tend to double undergraduate English majors.

There are numerous reasons for this: the grades in creative writing classes are obviously higher; the reading is less; the writing has a lower word count; etc. But not all of them are necessarily negative or lazy assumptive. I’d like to think that students might also be looking at the five page seminar paper, the continued tendency to teach mainly the literatures of only two nations, and the strict century coverage model that begins in the early modern period, and think to themselves, well at least the novel, say, has the possibility of being read by someone outside of the classroom.

Beyond anecdote, there is a fairly obvious piece of evidence to support this “possible creative writing-ization” of English departments. Although the AWP started in 1967, it did not feel compelled to hold a conference until 2005. It started small, with 3000 attendees. Last year it had 11,000 attendees and it expects more this year. The MLA at its peak in the mid-1990s maxed out with around 12,000 people attending its conference. Last year it had around 7,000.

I doubt this “possible creative writing-ization” is in anyway a permanent change to English departments. And that is how it should be. However, it definitely has had a major impact on the hiring patterns of English departments and English departments will be changed by this for years to come. And while whatever happens next remains to be seen, I doubt it will look like a retreat to what English departments looked like in what we might now want to begin to call the glory days of the 1990s. The profession is obviously in the middle of a profound metamorphosis of some sort, from the fairly dramatic funding cuts that are privatizing the state university systems to the increasing evidence that the private system might have reached peak tuition a few years ago and might now be massively overpriced in relation to student ability and/or willingness to pay or borrow in a fairly stagnant employment market. And then English departments have their own narratives within these large scale changes. I’m not sure, in short, that the profession could pay its composition and intro class instructors so little if it were not for the current large numbers of MFA graduates. It is also worth remembering that when Bennington fired all its tenured line faculty, under the advice of John Barr—recently retired president of the Poetry Foundation, they justified this by saying that they wanted to hire working artists and writers rather than scholars. But that is another talk for another panel, the one on the role of creative writing programs in the privatization of education or the one on the role of MFA programs in the casualization of the labor of English departments.

That said, I don’t really have a profound conclusion here. Except, as much as it might be the time of the “possible creative writing-ization” of English departments, it might also be the time of the poet-scholar. And what it means to be a poet scholar feels one that is full of these issues. I’ve been a bit grumpy about it all. But one of the potentially productive things that could happen out of this “possible creative-writing-ization” of English departments is that this old standoff between creative writing and scholarship might dissolve. One thing that I’ve noticed where I now teach is that as the number of creative writing majors have grown, more and more students are writing a creative thesis that is basically a form of scholarship. In recent years, in addition to the usual retellings of Jane Austen novels, I’ve read an novelization of a queer subtext of Shakespeare’s Henry the 8th, a feminist reworking of a series of classic male performance art pieces, a detournment of a Hemingway short story with the genders reversed, etc. I am, in short, watching undergraduate students attempt to write what I might call “more interesting to me literary scholarship” and they are reading and thinking and arguing with the informed critiques and discussions of the field. Although I should admit that graduate students are still doing what they tend to do. They are still writing, with a few lovely and notable exceptions and god bless these, the mainly confessional, even when experimental, observations about their lives and their loves and sometimes the weather and the land and the suburban animals.

October 23, 2012

"Index" for Under Under
at Konsthall C in Stockholm, Sweden
by David Buuck and Juliana Spahr
images by Mikael Lundberg


wall text:
One thousand, nine hundred and ten. Twelve thousand, seven hundred and ninety three. Five. Five hundred. Three hundred and forty thousand. One hundred thousand. Six eight thousand. Four point seven percent. One point two percent. Three point eight percent. Three thousand one hundred and forty. Thirty one thousand. Fifty nine thousand. Six billion, eight hundred and eleven million. Seven hundred and eleven billion, four hundred and twenty one million. Eight hundred and seventy eight million.

before


description:
Participants wrote the numbers by jumping up as high as they could. And they wrote them as large as they could. Attention was paid to the jump, not the writing. They did not erase or edit. It was okay if the numbers overlapped. And they didn’t have to go from left to right. They wrote the numbers in whatever medium they desired. Sharpee was fine. Charcoal was fine. Ideally the writing instrument produced black marks. As many people as desired were used. And these people did this either before or at the opening. The point here was not legibility but difficulty. Yet the piece was not just the jumping, it was also the results. What was created was a collection of number-referencing abstract marks.

"Index" for Under Under by David Buuck and Juliana Spahr

"Index" for Under Under by David Buuck and Juliana Spahr



Underneath the text the following videos looped:



Call Me Maybe Cover - Kunar, Afghanistan - US Army Soldiers

SABATON - In the army now (Afghanistan War)

Images of US Soldiers With Afghan Corpses (Graphic NSFW)

Tribute To The Swedish Soldiers In Afghanistan

U.S. Army Sniper Engages Enemy Forces In Afghanistan

Spectacular Footage of Taliban Attacking US Military Base, Afghanistan.

Swedish soldiers VS Talibans in Afghanistan

US military, CIA out of control in Afghanistan

Swedish forces fighting the Talibans in Afghanistan 2011

US Troops Burning Afghan Taliban Corpses

Swedish Army Elite - The One And Only

Gimme Shelter in Iraq and Afghanistan 



"Index" for Under Under 
by David Buuck and Juliana Spahr
 

April 12, 2012

I intend to go to the office next to mine to ask some absurd unanswerable question about the body and growing old and being female but I forget to do this and instead I talk some more about the economics of higher education, the student loan industry, various other sorts of numbers. We have been doing this all year, attempting to understand the way these numbers press in on our bodies, trying to find an impossible ethics in them. I go to get back to work, absurd unanswerable question about the body and growing old and being female unasked and before I leave I am given Jennifer Moxley's Evacuations. I take it and read it immediately. It ends:

In fact, if I were an industrial worker
and not a poet and I read this "experiment" I would
think to myself, that poet has too much money,
she has lost touch with working people who
don't care about poetry. It is a vicious cycle.
Bladders and feet, however, are everyone's concern,
culture, education, and class aside. In the present
they press on and pain us. They make me think:
this has got to stop.

April 11, 2012

"3. Abomunists demand the abolition of Oakland." --Bob Kaufman, "Abomunist Election Manifesto." 

and

"What is not in the open street is false, derived, that is to say literature." --Henry Miller

thanks J.M. Fazzino 

March 07, 2012

What FTP Means to Me

In late December of 2011, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) began pulling people out of the crowd at Oscar Grant Plaza (OGP), the gathering place for Occupy Oakland (OO), for no apparent reason and "arresting" them on charges that could not legally stick. Arrestees have been given "stay-way" orders that prevent them from gathering at OGP. The ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild are challenging the constitutionality of these orders in court. In response, it seems, the Alameda County district attorney has become unhinged enough to write an op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle defending the stay-away practice. See here for some good analysis.

There is one particular snatch and grab case available on youtube that is shot from the point of view of the arrestee, @geekeasy. See here.

This happened to a lot of people and continues to happen. In the video, it's particularly interesting that one of the arresting officers tells @geekeasy: "Let go of it, Mr. Katz. Let go of it." ("it" is the camera). It's clear OPD knew his name before they arrested him. Yet it's not clear what "Mr. Katz" did to deserve that pre-knowledge or that arrest.

In response to this practice, on new year's eve 2011, a jail solidarity (noise demo) march was organized by the Occupy Oakland Tactical Committee (ooTAC). If you've seen the Occupy Oakland "sign" it is usually carried by an ooTAC member. See here.

The idea of a noise demo is to march to the local jail and make as much noise as possible so as to let the prisoners know someone knows they're there.

We were in the crowd of about 100 people. We were getting ready to march from OGP to the jail. Part of the preparations concerned unveiling a large black banner, three traffic lanes in width, with the words FUCK THE POLICE thickly stroked in a red non-serif font. See here.

We marched down Broadway behind this large banner to the police station. We stopped in front of the station and stood near the entrance and performed a party. Some people made gestures to the five or six riot cops guarding the doors of the police station from the inside.

One half hour later we moved down seventh street to the jail. On the way an OPD flag was grabbed from it perch. We stopped in front of the jail and again performed the party. We shouted to the prisoners. They flicked the lights on and off. People brought out fireworks and flares and lit them. See picture of rocket.

Someone burned the flag snatched earlier. This party lasted for one half hour after which we made our way back to OGP, but not before walking back up seventh street to again make gestures to the five or six riot cops guarding the doors of the police station from the inside.

At the plaza we had a real party with dancing. I think michael jackson songs were played. Some people kissed anarchists. The next day, near year's day, there was a march from OGP to the fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant was shot in the back by BART police while he was handcuffed and face planted on the platform early new year's day 2009. We marched behind a family who brought a mobile sound system and played NWA's Fuck the Police over and over. See here.

I make a note regarding the ooTAC that they are largely people of color from the east bay about the same age as Oscar Grant. They rallied after the "verdict" of the BART officer who shot Oscar Grant in the back while he was handcuffed and face planted on the platform early new year's day 2009. They came to know each other in real life (IRL). I don't know members of the ooTAC in real life. They probably think I'm a cop. After all, I do play one on tv.

After the relative lack of police presence at the noise demo, the next FTP marches were met with a serious police response: large white vans full of cops in riot gear, lines of cops in riot gear, motorcycle cops, batons, "non-lethal" rounds. During FTP 1 on January 7, for example, the cops kettled and attacked the marchers, beating them and making numerous arrests.

FTP 1 Jan 7, 2012 Downtown Oakland, CA
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/19634501

metadata:
1) 00:03:20 The entire precinct is outside arming up, putting helmets on. Protesters coming down. '... from Oakland to Greece, fuck the police...'

2) 00:21:00 Discussion with someone snatched from Oscar Grant Plaza. The arrestee, Tiffany Tran, was charged with lynching.

3) 00:40:00 Standoff .

4) 00:44:00 Riot cops attack.

5) 00:54:45 Discussion with food committee member Leila with swollen knuckles: "They took my cake, they took my bike, they took my trailer."

To date, there have been 10 FTP marches. I think the new year's eve noise demo can be called FTP 0. I assume there will be more. I get updates about FTP marches from the Twitter Social Media Site. I follow @occupythemob and @LadyGoftheTAC.

Occupy4Prisoners Benefit March 1, 2012 Grand Lake Theatre Oakland, CA
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20818490/highlight/245880

metadata:
1) 00:22:45 Blank Panther Elaine Brown gives a brief lecture on US Capitalism 101 and the prison industrial complex.

2) 00:28:45 Elaine Brown's closing thoughts: "[I am happy to] urge you to organize yourselves and arm yourselves for the inevitable government onslaught and know that we are still dreaming of that day when power will come to the people and we will all truly be free at last. Power to the people."

So, given that brief FTP background, I want to make a point about a recent blog article concerning one cluster of contemporary american poetry, a thoughtful exchange between Brandon Brown and Thom Donovan. They fawn over each others' new books; hey, I'll fawn too, you should read them: The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus and The Hole. Get them. They're good poetry. They talk some about the lyric and its (new) possibilities against a backdrop of anti-lyrical sentiment starting in the late 70s or so with Language Poetry and ending with the Telling it Slant book of essays in the 90s. (disclosure, I think I must be under attack since I have an essay about gender in Telling it Slant). It's a reasonable piece written by two poets who I like personally and whose work I admire. See here.

I only have one problem with the piece. I found myself wishing they had used another title:

"Enframing the Brink: Fuck the Police and Fuck the Avant-Garde Too."

1. "Enframing the Brink"... not sure what that means. Fine. Whatever. It's not the part of the title I have a problem with.

2) "Fuck the Police" ... I know what that means. But I'm not sure the authors do. Here's why I think that. If the authors knew that police feeling, the one you get, for example, from facing a line of riot cops, they probably wouldn't trivialize it by transferring it to the realm of poetics and using it as a hammer against some perceived elitist, vanguardist or old-fartist tendency in one cluster of contemporary american poetry. Or maybe I just mean I wouldn't. Why?

a) It gives you a feeling inside

"Recent advances in understanding what psychologists call 'embodied cognition' indicate a surprisingly direct link between mind and body. It turns out that people draw on their bodily experiences in constructing their social reality." duh.

Go to oakland and participate in an FTP march and see how it makes you feel inside. I'd recommend against bringing the kids, but do pack a bandana, protective eye-wear, and a bike helmet. Bring also some water as you'll probably be walking a few miles. Enjoy the streets. They're your streets. Watch out when the cops try to join the march. Walk, don't run.

Now try to use the phrase Fuck the Police as a metaphor to make a literary point in a blog post. Wait, did I just do that?

b) I snark tweeted
Let me tell you the timeline of my encounter with Thom and Brandon's blog piece. I first read it after seeing a link on facebook. I thought oh, fine, whatever. Thom and Brandon like each other and that's nice. I had a few discussions with folks in real life who were a little tweeked by the piece, but I really didn't feel compelled to have an emotional reaction or respond in any way.

A day or so later I was reading the Twitter Social Media Site and had just finished wondering about a story about another snatch and grab episode and OPD's press release regarding same. You should probably read the Press Release (PR).

Thanks OPD, my new favorite phrase is "calling for a riot." Seems like OPD has not forgotten about Althusser. Operators are standing by. Call 1-800-RIOT-NOW.

(btw, if you're flush, like David Buuck, you can donate to the bail fund here.)

After reading that press release, a link to Brandon and Thom's piece showed up in my Twitter Social Media Site. I experienced a feeling inside I had not had from reading it when linked via facebook. I snark tweeted. Odd. Embodied cognition? Twitter is generally where I get information about Occupy Oakland and FTP and other anon news. Facebook is much more literary in terms of contact ratios. So sorry for the snark tweet. This is what I meant to say.

I feel a little odd, like I'm claiming some ownership over the term FTP when I have very little involvement with the actual actions or the actors. I really don't want to scold. What I want is Brandon there at OO and the others too. There used to be a lot of poets showing up and now they're not there so much. I love you poets. I miss you!

3) "Fuck the Avant-Garde Too" ... that is fine also. I don't theorize about vanguardism, so again I leave that to the realm of whatever. As a way out of here, let me pull a transformation from the literary realm to the realm of the anarchist discussion board.

Charles W via King Tender
‎"Direct Action Brigade of Wild and Eternal Childhood"

Chile: Claims Of Responsibility For Santander Bank & Banco Estado Attacks
http://cuntrastamu.com/2012/02/28/chile-claims-of-responsibility-for-santander-bank-banco-estado-attacks/

Yesterday, February 27, 2012

Tony Dohr, Sara Wintz and 2 others like this.

Chuck M
I think actions of this sort are very destructive. Sure, they might evoke a sensibility, but they are inherently vanguardist and elitest.
February 28 at 1:45pm • Like

Charles W
I don't know much about the action; or anything about the people who did it, or their relationship to and place within the broader movement. But I think their name is pretty funny.
February 28 at 2:27pm • Like • 3

José P
@Chuck, thats what parents say to their kids. Better yet, what is said about OO...
What else do you propose people do in the face of this violent/murderous system? What shall we tell the people of Chile about how they should fight back?
February 28 at 7:28pm • Like

Chuck M
‎"Chuck, that's what parents say to their kids"? Huh? Did your parents call you elitist and vanguardist? Really? Well, ok, then. . . I'm not sure if the people of Chile care what I have to say, but you do and so does Charles and maybe a few others. And, yes, it IS elitist and vanguardist when a small, secret, unaccountable group of militants set fire to a bank in the name of the suffering masses. No thanks! Who needs another revolutionary elite, acting in the name of the people? I certainly don't and I suspect that most Chileans don't either. I want a MASS revolutionary movement, not one organized around elites (Bakuninist, Guevarist, Maoist, or otherwise)
February 28 at 7:44pm • Like

José P
lol.
February 28 at 7:45pm • Like

Chuck M
for the sake of comparison, right now there is a very radical, mass student movement in Chile that can shut down Santiago with huge marches, has an impact on public debates throughout the country, and has a very important anarchist influence. It is a mass movement-in the streets, on the campuses, and engaged in discussions with millions of ordinary Chileans. This is the sort of thing I support, not a small, secretive group focused on extending its members childhood.
February 28 at 7:56pm • Like

José P
Chuck,
Have you ever been part of any "mass revolutionary movement" in the Global South? Do you know that some actions are done in secret because of the nature of the action? They have state power last time I checked. What does YOUR experience tell you about how revolutionary actions take place? Not what you read, not what you wrote, what your experience there tells you. So, they burnt a fucking bank, what will you say when the 3 billion people on this planet--who live on less than $2.50 a day--seek to burn Wall Street and its junkie capitalist economy?
Yankee Go Home, J.
February 28 at 8:02pm • Like

Chuck M
Am I the Yankee you're telling to go home, Jose? Is that directed at me?
February 28 at 8:36pm • Like

Chuck M
I'm not sure where your indignation comes from Jose, but, yeah, I support mass, popular movements, not elitest, vanguardist groups. I actually want to see a movement of three billion people and, yeah, juvenile vandalism has nothing to do with it
February 28 at 8:42pm • Like

Chuck M
Jose, i'm guessing that you're probably not familiar with it, but there are big debates within the Chilean anarchist movement about the role of vanguardism, terror, and all of the related issues. Most but not all Chilean anarchists share my position (which is not controversial there)
February 28 at 8:47pm • Like

King Tender
tomorrrow morning, i am so calling sasha elitist and vangardist.
February 28 at 11:01pm • Like • 1

King Tender
then i'm going to use it on charles.
February 28 at 11:01pm • Like • 1

Charles W
Hey, both Sasha and I only have pure revolutionary motives. We are so "of the people" that we don't even need the people.
February 28 at 11:03pm • Like • 1

King Tender
yeah, yeah dream on haoles.
February 28 at 11:13pm • Like

Charles W
Watch your step or we'll denounce you in our next construction-paper communique.
February 28 at 11:23pm • Like • 1

-----------

@bluoma

December 20, 2011

I am filing the letters J, K, and L. Then I moved M.

Leaving the Antocha Station, Ben Lerner. Self-mocking literary autobiography. American poet in Spain on a fellowship to write a long poem about the Spanish civil war spends most of it stoned and thinking about women. I confess I could not stop reading it. Adding it to list of prose books about being/becoming a poet that includes Bolano's Savage Detectives Moxley's The Middle Room, DiPrima's Memoirs of a Beatnik.

Life of Crime: Documents in the San Francisco Poetry Wars Containing the Complex Life of Crime Scurrilous Newsletter of the Black Bart Poetry Society edited by Steve LaVoie and Pat Nolan that Scandalized the Literary World in the 1980s. Serious archival autobiography with no self-mocking. Still somewhat fascinating because suddenly I understood reasons why people do not talk that I had not understood before. Deep minutia about bay area poetics. There is a photograph of a youthful Lyn Hejinian and Carla Harryman, arms around each other.

An Old Junker: a Senior Represents, Howard Junker. Blog as autobiography. Opens with a story about a fight with Stephen Elliot and then Elliot throwing a beer on Junker. Has Junker-esque figure throwing gang signs on the cover and then Junker batting in a pumpkin costume on the back cover.

September 29, 2011

"Today I read poems, I write poems, and at times, yes, sometimes for hours on end, I forget about women." Ted Kooser, "A Poet's Job Description" in The Poetry Home Repair Model: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets.
A man waves at himself in the mirror while tying his tie. "The Necktie." Ted Kooser. Delights & Shadows.
"commodity riots." Harry Cleaver, Reading Capital Politically.

September 13, 2011

The Poets Laureate Anthology in association with the Library of Congress, edited by Elizabeth Hun Schmidt includes James Dickey's poem "Adultery" and Louis Untermeyer's "Infidelity." And a poem by Louis Gluck that goes "I hate them [mock oranges] as I hate sex" and a number of poems by Donald Hall where the narrator seems to be enjoying sex. And a poem about Bush's war by Bob Hass.
National Endowment for the Arts Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, ed by Andrew Carroll begins with an "I remember..." poem.

September 02, 2011

Proof that I am right to be so obsessed with Ida Börjel.

August 07, 2011

Among the things I've been reading lately, this week loving Catherine Meng's Pure War: I'm Not Writing This is a Grocery List. At least I think that is the title. There is a refrain of "available balance as of today."

P.S. The one good thing about twitter: Catherine Meng chapbook.

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