Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Great to hear Dave Niehaus so worked up.
Felix Hernandez vs. Big Unit.

Many of you may not know, but I'm a huge Mariners fan. Felix is pitching Jesus facing Satan's team, and former M's Unit and PayRod.
Screw it, why not open up for poetry submissions.

Reading period: Sept. 1 to Dec. 1. Send essays, reviews, poems, translations, collaborative work, queries, etc. Send it in a single Word attachment. Please send to (Please don't send to my Yahoo account cuz it'll likely get lost amongst the listserv, fantasy baseball and general correspondence)
As I mentioned earlier, there's an open call for critical writing and translations for issue 2. One feature of the next issue will be a portfolio devoted to collaborative work -- I'm also interested in reviews of collaboritive projects (written or otherwise) as well as 'theories of collaboration' from those who have engaged in larger or extended works of collaboration.

I'm waiting on opening up for unsolicited poems until I have a sense of what my schedule is going to be like (never been a Ph.D. student before), and whether I can respond to submissions in anything approaching a timely, attentive manner. For instance, I go thru stretches where I find it near impossible to answer email or pick up the phone. Anyhow, apologies for that. I've been thinking anyway of trying to map out certain directions in the first few issues, then opening up more for submissions once I feel I have a better grasp of the direction of the journal.

Ok, first class was Art History last night. Freaking amazing, just what I was hoping it'd be -- the professor has an encyclopedic knowledge of the field (of course), but also is focused on 20th century groups like the Italian/Russian Futurists, Fluxus, Dadaists, etc. The Jerome Rothenberg reading I went to in the spring was arranged by her. This evening is Critical Studies in New Media.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

"I probably shouldn't say anything, but I take offense to Tony Tost's self-positioning as the new messiah of American poetry."

The meek shall inherit the New American Poetry!

On the putting-Fascicle-on-a-pedestal argument: There's a pretty big gap between saying your views of poetry are influenced by Charles Olson or Gertrude Stein, and saying your poems are as good as Charles Olson's or Gertrude Stein's. I think there's also a pretty big gap between saying that your view of how you want to edit is influenced by Sulfur, Origin, Jacket, canwehaveourballback, How2, etc., and saying that your journal is as good as those (even before the first issue is completed!). I mean, it takes some subtlety of thought to consider the above and not jump immediately to "Tony thinks he's Cid Corman!" Just about everyone who has communicated with me gets that, I think, the difference between thinking out loud about how to approach an admittedly ambitious project and declaring one's self Editing Jesus. I don't understand the raging insecurity that underlies so much talking about poetry: "I know I'm a nobody, but hey, [Tony Tost] and I have had a few exchanges that were obviously designed to make him look like a genius." Wha? I'm the fucking son of janitors who grew up in a trailer park. Okay, I'm ambitious, but it's not like I'm sitting around watching TV, wanting to be ambitious. I'm working my ass off. I've had to be ambitious to get my way through community college, a crappy Christian college for poor kids, Arkansas' way-back-machine MFA program to get to this point; if I wasn't ambitious, I'd probably be working at a Wal-Mart or electronics factory with the rest of my family. People talk shit about people who go to MFA programs as spoiled brats living on their parents' dime; my parents spotted my two-hundred bucks to pay for one of my community college classes when I was short. That's it. Anyway, if you think you're a nobody, dude, that's your own fault, not mine. Instead of whining about it, put the bong down and do something that makes you not feel like a nobody.

In other news, me and Kent Johnson are afraid of experimental poetry.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Is Fascicle a boy's club?

The question is raised here. I'll assume for a moment that the question/critique was raised in good faith, and is not just the case of someone who doesn't like me seeking out a means by which to critique this project. Certainly I'd guess there's a small handful of people who would find a means to criticize Fascicle regardless of what it ended up being (because they don't like me, or Kent, or Emily Dickinson, or Chris or Ken); I'll assume that that's not the case here.

I can say that gender was not forefront on my mind in editing this first issue -- I just assume, perhaps falsely, that things like the gender of contributors evens out over a magazine's run. I'm certainly not actively trying to exclude women, or solicit only men. Once I looked up and all our contributions were in, there were more guys than girls. So be it, that's how the first issue worked out; that's where my editing led to in this first issue. I wasn't going to begin asking a bunch of people who happened to be women at the last second to cover my tracks. As far as I know, there is also not a huge proportion of writers of African descent. I have no idea what proportion of the writers may be homosexual. It's my guess that there will be a less male-centric list of names in the contributors' notes in the next issues; I won't be actively doing a gender tic for tac. I don't think the poetry or criticism of Fascicle is particularly masculine nor feminine, whatever that could possibly mean in terms of writing.

The critical work is what is pointed out the most as a boy's club, so I should address that specifically -- not to explain away, but to give a basic account that can be taken as one wishes. The amazing essays on translation were the result of Kent's terrific editing prowess, and his relationships with writers who are very well versed in Kent's innovative views of translation (Weinberger, Rosenberg, Epstein, et al). That accounts for the translation essay writers other than Eshleman, who when solicited for translations offered the talk on translating Vallejo -- I suppose I could have turned it down for fear of having too many dudes, but that'd be kind of dumb. The rest of the critical offering consists of work written by me (guy), or work sent in as a response to a series of open calls for critical writing (guys), or in one case a friend passing along a piece for me to read and I asking him if Fascicle could have it (guy). Eshleman asked about having his Conductors of the Pit reviewed, and I thought of Mayhew, who had mentioned Eshleman's translations on his blog (I hope its obvious that the fact that Mayhew has testicles wasn't the motivation, but rather his interest in translation and his critical acumen). I asked Leonard Schwartz if Fascicle could run the transcript of an interview from his Cross-Cultural Poetics radio show; we were going to run his interview with Fanny Howe, but there was a mixup and it ended up in Jacket instead. He offered a newly transcribed interview with Joseph Donahue next, which I jumped at since Joe is one of my favorite poets, was contributing poems, and is an important part of North Carolina poetry. I'm just trying to point at the myriad of ways by which work ends up in a journal. I asked both Dale Smith and Alan Gilbert separately to contribute poems, and being low on poetic work offered the dialogue. I asked Standard Schaefer if I could do a brief interview with him because I think his new book is great, and I wanted to try to keep it from getting lost in the shuffle. I think that accounts for material that leans in that direction. I waffled on whether to place Edna Sarah Beardsley's work under critical, or in the larger creative section -- her work is from an out-of-print, impossible to find, possible self-published book that is excerpted in the Imagining Language anthology. I really loved the two pieces in the anthology, so I tracked down a copy of the book, and typed up a couple selections for the first issue. I put it in the creative section since the critical section was much more expository, and I thought the Beardsley pieces would perhaps be more puzzling than inviting in that context. I'm planning on running more of Beardsley in issue 2, but in a much, much more conducive context.

Of course there were numerous women who I asked for work from, and who didn't have work. Of course, there were also a number of men. What I'm basically saying is that if you indeed find it alarming that there are more men than women in the first issue of Fascicle, all I can ask is for you to not assume that I'm attempting a boy's club -- I'm ultimately responsible for the contents of the journal, so if after a number of issues things are unfairly slanted as predominantly white straight American males, then that indeed would point to the limits of my editing vision.

There is the issue of the entire editing team being guys; that I can cop to. Kent was the person to turn to for translations in issue one, as he's my friend and the person whose ideas on translation I'm most interested in. Chris and Ken are my NC buddies. They're dudes. Maybe it's a flaw in my character or personality that these are all guys that I asked.

I hope 1) I don't have a boy's club mentality, and 2) I don't project a boy's club mentality if I don't have one (if I do have one, it'd probably be better to be honest and project it). I'm going to keep asking the most interesting writers I can find to contribute to Fascicle, regardless of gender. If it ends up mostly guys again and again, then #1 would have to be true, wouldn't it? I do hope that that's not the case. I'm going to try to be honest enough with myself to note close it off as a possibility, however much I hope that it's not the case.

Now would be a good time to say that Fascicle is opening its doors for critical essays, reviews and translations from across the globe. Email me at tonytost AT yahoo DOT com if you have an idea for a review or essay or translation project, or to send in already completed work. Deadline is December 15th. I would also love to have more Local News correspondents -- and in particular, if you live outside the US, let us know what's going on in your neighborhood.


Unrelated note: Courtney, if you're still checking here, my email's in the paragraph up above this one (there's also a link to my email address down at the bottom of the blog, next to the "Site Meter" box. I don't have your email. It'd be great to hear from you.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Tiring day today, want to go sit on the beach for a week. Next best thing, tho: next week is my first as a Ph.D. student at Duke. I'm pumped about my classes, only one of which is in the English Dept. The classes:

Critical Studies in New Media is an innovative new course that examines recent new media technologies--such as videogames, VR, computer graphics animation, and digital art installations--via an engaging, transdisciplinary approach. ISIS 250 will build upon existing work in literature, film, and technology studies by McLuhan, Foucault, Peirce, Derrida, Kittler, Deleuze, Bergson, Baudrillard, and others to question what exactly is “new” about new media. Critical Studies in New Media will combine readings and discussions with active, hands-on engagement with new media works to promote the development of a critical analytical framework for new media discourse. ISIS 250 is open to both upper-level undergraduate and graduate students.

Methodologies of Art History. Various theoretical perspectives that have shaped different disciplinary perspectives and practices in art history. Introduction to particular types of methodologies (i.e. Marxism, feminism, race and gender, psychoanalysis, post-colonial theory, and deconstruction) as fields of inquiry through which the study of the visual arts and culture have been practiced. Historiography of the last two decades in art history; selected contemporary debates. Taught by Kristine Stiles.

Representations of Christ in Late Medieval England: Literature, Theology, Politics. Representing, narrating, alluding to and addressing Christ were pervasive in late medieval England. As the title of this course indicates, it welcomes a diversity of approaches to its materials: medieval forms of writing, like the forms of life which produced them, do not fit conveniently the divisions of study shaping our own institutions. In trying to understand the implications of different ways of representing Christ, in different contexts, we will necessarily be moving between literary, theological, and political discourses. At the center of the course are two long and astonishingly complex works of the later fourteenth century, Julian of Norwich's Showings and William Langland's Piers Plowman. To these we will give sustained and close attention. Alongside these we will study an immensely popular and anti-Wycliffite translation of the already immensely popular thirteenth-century Franciscan Meditationes Vitae Christi, together with the extraordinary work of Margery Kempe.

Gonna be a good start.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The first issue of Fascicle is here.

The first issue features a special portfolio of Poems on Poetry by Hebrew Poets from Spain & Provence (12th – 15th c.) translated by Peter Cole.

Also featured are the first two Fascicle chapbooks, Duncan's Spiders by Paul White, and Quasi Flanders, Quasi Extremadura by Andrés Ajens (translated by Erin Mouré).

Issue one includes critical prose by Eliot Weinberger, Clayton Eshleman, David Rosenberg, Jon Thompson, Tony Tost, Thomas Basbøll, Graham Foust, Kent Johnson, Mikhail Epstein, and Nicomedes Suárez-Araúz. Also: Jonathan Mayhew on Eshleman's reissued Conductors of the Pit, and Tony Tost on recent releases.

Fascicle also has a unique feature, Local Poetry News from 18 different locales/scenes.
There are also interviews with Joseph Donahue and Standard Schaefer, as well as an extended dialogue between Dale Smith and Alan Gilbert.

Fascicle also features work from: Fernando Pessoa (tr. Daniels), Mary Burger, Joan Perucho (tr. Billitteri/Friedlander), Urmuz (tr. Semilian), Geof Huth, Coral Bracho (tr. Gander), Pamela Lu, Omar Pérez (tr. Dykstra/Tejada), Linh Dinh, Rob Stanton, Kent Johnson, Marcus Slease, Gherasim Luca (tr. Semilian), Ana Cristina Cesar (tr. de la Torre), Du Fu (tr. Klein), Mel Nichols, Ariane Dreyfus (tr. Nolan), Thomas Basbøll, Martha Ronk, Gérard de Nerval (tr. Lamoureux), Sextus Propertius (tr. Johnston), küçük Iskender (tr. Nemet-Nejat), Eric Baus, Adam Good, Stephen Jourdain (tr. K.Waldrop), Joseph Donahue, Sophocles (tr. Tipton), Ece Ayhan (tr. Nemet-Nejat), Ken Rumble, Evelyn Schlag (tr. Leeder), Tim Van Dyke, Daniil Kharms (tr. Ostashevksy), Peter O'Leary, Cesar Vallejo (tr. Eshleman), Ben Lerner, Li Shangyin (tr. Klein), Carla Harryman, Lev Rubinshtein (tr. Metres/Tulchinsky), Evie Shockley, FT Marinetti (tr. Encke), Aaron McCollough, Anise Koltz (tr. Joris), Chris Vitiello, Cheng Hui (tr. Bradley), Simon Pettet, Sappho (tr. Vincent), David Berridge, Valerie Mejer (tr. Giancola), Buck Downs, Astrid Lampe (tr. Nolan), Philip Metres, Andrea Zanzotto (tr. Chambliss), José Martí (tr. Weiss), Todd Sandvik, Dino Campana (tr. Ballardini), Celal Silay (tr. Nemet-Nejat), Adam Clay, Sagawa Chika (tr. Nakayasu), Shimon Ballas (tr. Alcalay/Shelach), Tony Tost, Abe Hinako (tr. Sato), Lara Glenum, César Marañón (tr. Suárez-Araúz), Ulf Stolterfoht (tr. R.Waldrop), Mary Margaret Sloan, Reina María Rodríguez (tr. Dykstra), Judith Goldman, Rodrigo Garcia Lopes (tr. Daniels), Edna Sarah Beardsley, José Kozer (tr. Weiss), Jerome Rothenberg, Meredith Quartermain, Henry Parland (tr. Göranssen), K. Silem Mohammad, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (tr. Rothenberg), Standard Schaefer, Wen Yiduo (tr. Klein), M. NourbeSe Philip, Abelardo Núñez de Arce (tr. Suárez-Araúz), Alessandro Niero (tr. Sweet), Brent Cunningham, Takarabe Toriko (tr. Sato), Noah Eli Gordon, Nguyen Dang Thuong (tr. Dinh), Nishiwaki Junzaburô (tr. Hirata), Stacy Szymaszek, Jaime Luis Huenún (tr. Borzutzky), Matthew Henriksen, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboglu (tr. Nemet-Nejat), Carlos A. Aguilera (tr. Gudding), Semezdin Mehmedinovic (tr. Alcalay), Can Yücel (tr. Nemet-Nejat), Tim Peterson, Amalia Iglesias & Lola Velasco (tr. Mayhew), Salvatore Camilleri (tr. Ballitteri/Friedlander).


Tony Tost, editor
Kent Johnson, contributing editor (translations)
Chris Vitiello & Ken Rumble, contributing editors

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Wild Turkey is half gone, Exile on Main Street is cranked up, about an hour away from launching Fascicle.
Hey all -- I appreciate folks linking to the contents page of Fascicle already (contributors have been given a preview address), but we're not quite ready to launch yet -- Friday night we'll be ready to go live. Got a review yet to come in, a few pieces of my own to finish up, an interview to finish, some last detail work. I can't wait to launch. I've been putting in 12-14 hour days on this thing for weeks (months? I've lost track) and between my excitement/anxiety/stress of the launch, and starting the Ph.D. program at Duke in like a matter of hours, I'm on the verge of either spiritual breakthrough or physical breakdown. I basically threw up in my mouth today, just sitting there thinking about getting ready for the launch. When we do launch, I hope you'll dig it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Back home from four days on the road -- if you're awaiting an email from me, they'll be coming shortly, tho likely not until after I finish up my talk on Ronald Johnson for the inaugral installment of Chris Vitiello's LuciTalks series Sunday (today) at 2 pm. 11 hours from now. Fun stuff. Probably a 20-30 minute talk (w/ handouts!), followed by Q & A. If you're in the area, you should come out. To whet yer appetite, the opening sentence:

Maybe the best essay written about Ronald Johnson’s poetry is Charles Olson’s “Human Universe,” which was written in 1951, years before Ronald Johnson (born in 1935) was writing poems.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

So we have a Fascicle launch date: a week from Wednesday, which is the 24th. Tons of tweaking to do. Even a small thing, like putting [page x of x] on each page ends up being a day long job w/ the hundreds of html pages.

Last call for Local News reports! If you can get them to me by the 22nd, I can sneak them into the first issue.


Friday, August 12, 2005

An odd thing, that a documentary (In the Realms of the Unreal, on Henry Darger) has me resuscitating a project I'd spent a month or so on earlier in the year, an abandoned piece called Remote Tux that I find, to be honest, pretty and moving, but which I find I can't explain why (to myself or others), by either process or result. I haven't just tried to make like that in a long time, since bits of Invisible Bride. For whatever reason, I find myself back in a psychic space where I just want to write something that I'll want to reread over and over again. Editing Fascicle, and finding myself loving work wildly different from my own, I think has been an element of it, getting me to pull back from appraising and back into experiencing.

So, inching closer to having all the Fascicle content together -- just a handful of translations and poems, and some local news reports, a few reviews. Kind of a bummer that two of my favorite translation selections will be delayed til the 2nd issue, which is good for the 2nd issue of course.

Anyhow, a few paragraphs from Remote Tux, which I'm hoping will end up as an either novel or novella length piece full of novelistic detail, insight and emotion:

Our father was alive, we took decisions, and we obeyed to him; he had greeted the spring holiday, put our bare breasts smack on the "glass ceiling", and even shown how the tubes were constructed and coated—all this with the sepia glow of nostalgia; and he was equally at home in a Shakespearean forest, as usual I wanted to be everyone who participated, and the sky turned a deep dark blue ignored before the sunset. But he had, like a saint, if little attended, fresh wounds, a wife with a broken leg, even if she was mad as a cut snake, born and bred in captivity, thought of nothing else but war and fighting, and how many languages I should have in my possession.

But at heart we subscribe to the universal, she with her arm extended towards you, you with your self-assigned role of liberator; she dreaming of horses or daydreaming of horses, no matter which hill you would die on; you on the other hand enjoying an unobstructed view of the ground underneath yourself, seeing us with a banner flying off the back of the boat. Give us our humanity. With all this precision and attention to detail we are excellent at keeping the flies off our faces but so absent from life, the feast, at which you and I are to become servants, really millennial beasts. Who can say I have never felt like lowering my head and crying? Your life is primarily funny because it taps into the zeitgeist, mine so boring it doesn't even make a good story, and yet our systems utter songs, both of us have to struggle to see each other, both trying to reach a collapsed tunnel.

We clamber up the bank and the fire was in the sagebrush and moving through the grass (those innocent eyes sparkling, an omen of travel; but who could be redeemed?), we follow the path where the branches are broken by your body, jumping from ornament to ornament, I will not go angry to the grave. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever had to watch, for you were still too tiny to come home—unjustly we suffer in this desire to please—generosities for which one expects a return (or society will lose a lot of us due to death and so on? or the world will shift into neutral?) as we are to be the prison for all our sins.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Well, I was hoping to remain too busy w/ both personal matters and Fascicle prep to avoid chiming in on what's turned into another Kent Johnson-Jim Behrle feud -- it seemed to be going down the well-worn path, but now this evening Kent passed along the following email to me:


Date: Mon, 08 Aug 2005 23:39:20 -0500
From: "Kent Johnson" View Contact Details
Subject: Fwd: Re: Lyric Poetry [review and response]

Sent by Behrle to my college President.

Forwarded Message [ Download File Save to Yahoo! Briefcase ]

Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2005 19:32:38 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Jimmy Behrle"
Subject: Re: Lyric Poetry [review and response]
To: "Kent Johnson" ,

Plain Text Attachment [ Download File Save to Yahoo! Briefcase ]

Mr. Field--

Hello, I'm a poet from New York City. I wrote a
review of Highland Instructor Kent Johnson's new
chapbook--this response was posted to several sites
afterwards. Is this indictative of the level of
maturity of the faculty of Highland?

Be well.
Jim Behrle

--- Kent Johnson wrote:

> There is a response from me to a rather unfriendly
> review of Lyric
> Poetry after Auschwitz: Eleven Submissions to the
> War.
> The response is here:
> There is a link to the original review at the top.
> The writer of the review seems to have suffered some
> kind of emotional
> breakdown on his blog as a result of my book. If you
> want a taste of the
> depths to which ad hominem attack can reach in the
> poetry world, you
> might want to take a look here:
> Kent


We all know that the Behrle-KJ feud goes back a ways, with both taking potshots at each other -- but isn't this crossing some sort of unspoken ethical line? Foetry behavior. If you pride yourself on your verbal jousting acumen, isn't this a little like running to the principal because you're losing a fight?

I've pretty much stayed out the brouhaha in large part because I've had mixed reactions that weren't of much use -- for instance, I tended to agree with Gary Sullivan's critiques of Chris Daniels' polemic piece on behalf of Kent's new book, and also felt Gary was getting dogpiled on at Texfiles. Of course, I also thought the discussion at Elsewhere plummeted beyond any hope of intelligibility the second Behrle entered the fray. And while I'm giving my personal play-by-play, since the issue seemed to be settled (between Gary and Kent at least), I was a little taken aback when Kent's piece at Hotel Point seemed to take a gratuitous swipe at Gary.

This is mostly to say that I haven't felt too strongly about the proceedings of the last couple days (as I've caught bits of them) to pull my head up from Fascicle to comment upon them, until Kent passed along Behrle's above email to the president of the community college where Kent makes his livelihood.

It speaks for itself. For my part, as Kent's friend, how can I let it pass? I can't. When's this kind of behavior going to stop being regarded as cute and mischevious and begin to be acknowledged as pathetic? Maybe when he's 40? Or am I missing something? Is everyone just afraid they'll end up in a cartoon, or not get to read in NYC? Or that his cooler friends won't speak to you? Yes, he has really cool friends, & I like a lot of what Behrle's done in CWHOBB, that he supports & goes to a lot of readings. I think the pirates are funny, etc. I met him once. He seemed nice. He's supposed to be "nice in person." We've had run ins, but I kind of have the sort of personality where that happens quite a bit.

I actually think Kent was a little annoyed with me for being silent on all this stuff going on since we're buds, share the same publisher, are working on Fascicle on a daily basis, etc. I've just been too busy to keep up w/ it all, let alone to get myself dragged in & distracted by it all. Of course an email from a guy w/ a cartoon blog isn't going to have much sway with a college president, but just the insiduousness of it, the pathetic nature of the act. I'm curious -- is there a different response to this? Am I overreacting? It seems Behrle has just as big crew of 'apologists' as Kent (I think we usually call such people friends, but apparently Kent only has apologists). What am I missing here? I am chagrined, even annoyed by some of the things Kent writes & does -- I'm easily chagrined & annoyed. I also think he's a brilliant poet, translator, and editor (as I'm learning first hand working w/ him on Fascicle), as well as a generous soul.

As an added bonus, whenever Kent and I get in an argument, I'm never afraid he's going to email my fucking boss to get back at me.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The songs I am obsessing over right now:

Artist: X-Ray Spex
Song: Germ Free Adolescents
Albums Germ Free Adolescents

Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Song: Racing in the Streets
Album: Darkness on the Edge of Town

Artist: Shuggie Otis
Song: Strawberry Letter
Album: Inspiration Information

Artist: Prince
Song: When You Were Mine
Album: Dirty Mind


So, getting closer to Fascicle launch -- maybe waiting on work from a dozen or so folks. Completely revamped the design, deciding to punt coolness for easy navigation. Looking at around the 20th of this month, I hope. About a 1:1 ration between work from in & out of the US.


It's not too late if you want to write up a Local News piece for the first issue -- what I'm looking for is just 2-3 paragraphs of noteworthy poetry-related events in your community -- this can be readings, reading series, publications, gossip, etc. Off the top of my head, we've got correspondents already from Vancouver, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Athens, DC, Philly, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Raleigh (NC), Chapel Hill, Asheville (NC), Portland, San Francisco, Ithaca, Western Massachusetts. I'm sure there's a couple more I'm forgetting right this second -- would love to have more. Drop me a note if you're interested.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Zach's put together a brilliant, exciting issue of Octopus. I'm excited to read the whole thing; let me start off my recommending the work of Brian Howe and Randall Williams in this issue. Get to reading your next favorite young poet while they're young and nubile.

From Zach:

Octopus #6 has arrived and it is not like the others. The poetry side of the plate is filled only with 16 promising young hot shot poets in the very earliest stages of their long careers-—for some of these 16, this is their first publication. 8 poems from each poet are included so that the reader can get a more complete representation of the work. And each selection is introduced, each poet endorsed, by a more established poet.

The ones giving the introductions: D.A. Powell, Dan Beachy-Quick, Matthew Rohrer, Heidi Lynn Staples, Jonah Winter, Matthew Zapruder, Dara Wier, Andrea Baker, Wayne Chambliss, Tony Tost, Donald Revell, David Lehman, John Koethe, Timothy Liu, Chris Vitiello, and Dean Young.

The young hot shot poets: Heather Christle, Alessandro Niero, Bill Cassidy, Betsy Wheeler, Joe Fletcher, Andrew McCarron, Brian Howe, Geoffrey Babbitt, Jill Beauchesne, Brian Dewan, Ethan Bull, Farah Marklevits, Danny Khalastchi, Randall Williams, Caryl Pagel, and Michael Quattrone.

Be sure to read all of them before deciding which poet is your new favorite.

Also check out REVIEWS from Brandon Downing's "Dark Brandon" by Brandon Shimoda, Michael Ives' "The External Combustion Engine" by Kathleen Ossip, Standard Schaefer's "Water & Power" by Allyssa Wolf, and Heidi Lynn Staples' "Guess Can Gallop" by Brad Flis, and an ESSAY on Gregory Corso by Matt Hart.

And RECOVERY PROJECTS on Edith Sodergran's "Complete Poems" by Johannes Goransson and Pam Rehm's "The Garment in Which No One Had Slept" by Stan Mir.

And don't forget: our reading period is the month of August. Send us your best, or else you'll have to wait again until next year.


Zachary Schomburg, editor

Denny Schmickle, design

Monday, August 01, 2005

Three posts in one day. Unprecedented.

So, I suppose I'm coming off as arrogant/egotistical? It's true, I'm excited about Fascicle. It's not even all together yet, though, and I'm still trying to figure out what it is Fascicle should attempt to do. Because I want to clarify these intuitions to myself, and also to Ken/Chris/Kent and others who will be shepherding the journal -- having a sense of what you want a journal to be like is one thing, articulating that sense to yourself and to others in order to begin to bring it about is another thing. Unquiet Grave is a good place to do this because it is public -- there's no reason to be coy or mysterious about my intentions as an editor. It's also a good way to test them out -- I note that I'm interested in archival work, but also that the contemporary work that I find myself most drawn to seems to arise out of past traditions. So one reaction to this is to question whether I'm trying to avoid chaotic, liminal present. A valid question, but I feel that a knowledge of the (often times equally) chaotic, liminal past is one means of approaching the present. I feel pretty secure in this, for my own reading, and for the journal, which again should operate as something more than the implementation of one (or several) person's aesthetics -- more interesting would be to use a journal to track and encourage developments out of some overlapping precedents.

Maybe it'd be less arrogant if I blogged less about my editing ideas and more about my personal life? I just finished cooking spaghetti, we're eating it and watching Hitchcock's Notorious as soon as Leigh gets home. See, I'm a real person too.

Anyway, editing: I'm trying to find a contrasting view -- it won't be fully evident in the first issue, but hopefully by 4 or 5, that'll be enough space to do so. It's not a case of me thinking this journal will be better -- better/worse is a viewpoint I've been trying to work away from. Not just a journal of good poems, but hopefully a somewhat cohesive view of poetry -- and because I don't think just my personal taste is the most relevant barometer for this, I'm trying to blog about the means by which I hope to find this coherence. So I'm curious to see how this first issue hangs together, if it makes sense to have FT Marinetti, Linh Dinh, Kasey Mohammad, Vicente Huidobro, Sappho and Meredith Quartermain in the same issue, as well as Cesar Vallejo, Mary Margaret Sloan, Coral Bracho, Ken Rumble, Dino Campana and M. NourbeSe Philip.

There are some definite things lacking in the first issue that I'd like to address in the second -- I want to present visual and concrete poetry, and more work that is shamanistic/tribal, as well as more reviews and interviews. I'm also hoping for more lengthy critical work on younger writers -- there'll be two pieces on Flarf in this issue. I'd like to develop more critical writing focused on less critically addressed poets/tendencies.

I'm not delusional -- it's not going to be a flawless issue, but I think it'll be interesting at least, perhaps really interesting and useful, and I don't think people should apologize for being ambitious. I'm not running for poetry prom king, I'm trying to find a way to make a journal that will become an essential factor for how some people view contemporary poetry.

Leigh's home.
Woo hoo, I'm a strawman.

It doesn't take that much of an imaginative leap to consider the work of, say, Olson, or Niedecker, or Khlebnikov, to be as much a part of one's present as the work of living friends. Jordan says, "The present moment will be here when he's ready. And it'll still be uncertain, undefined, uncontrollable. Scary, isn't it?" Which is fine, but the same thing can be said about the past -- attempting to come to some understanding of Bottom on Shakespeare or Words nd Ends from Ez, or trying to develop a view of the contexts in which these works arose, can be just as uncertain, undefined, uncontrollable, etc. Obviously I'm not going to be indifferent to the contested field of the present -- I am going to be clear about how I view that field, at least in terms of Fascicle. I'm going to try to have a greater emphasis on work outside America & in translation, a greater emphasis on what is going on in communities (via 'local news' and a conscious attempt to feature work from NC, DC, Arkansas and other communities which myself and the other Fascicle editors are engaged), and also demonstrate a strong bias towards work that come out of the "growing group of writers [I consider] key, essential figures." I should emphasize again that this manifests itself for me in a lot of different ways -- I view flarf, vispo, hyperauthor work, etc. as all being extremely relevant to my own views of poetry. Not ignoring the present so much as not pretending the past doesn't exist.

The new Silliman? Okay, I'm a little pudgy, have a beard. I work for a software company, like to continually harp on the contexts for poetry. Oh god . . .
Last week or so, mulling my editing ideas going into launching a new journal (after two years or so co-editing Octopus), I mentioned that I was not interested in a one-poet-at-a-time model -- mostly because I'm unsure how it would accomplish one of my editorial goals, which is to present a different model for looking at contemporary poetry than seemingly agreed-upon models that I think the majority of journals have agreed-upon (that this agreement is unspoken doesn't really matter to me).

Online editing is a chance to rethink basic editing assumptions, if just because the medium is so different, with different characteristics -- for my aims, the issue-as-unit isn't anything that is hindering -- a lot of a really well-organized and focused journal's use (I'm thinking of Jacket again) is as a database that's constantly usable, in circulation. Poet by poet journals are of course, by definition, especially good at focusing on individual poets. Great. Not my goal.

Part of editing becomes a test of my own writing, thinking, reading -- does it hold up in a global/historical context? Not meaning "am I going to be anthologized", but am I operating under any kind of awareness of the traditions I find myself drawn to/drawing from? Am I repeating the easily repeatable gestures of a tendency without an actual grasp of what it is I'm repeating, and in what context did this tendency arise? I suppose I'm a traditionalist in a sense -- I find more pleasure in digging around in the history of ________________ (insert poetry, baseball, rock, film) than keeping up with what's now. Sticking just with what's being produced now seems as limiting to me as sticking just with what was produced in 1978. I'm not ignoring what's going on now, of course, but my sense of what poetry is is not completely, or even largely, dependent on what happens to be happening right now.

So I want Fascicle to be one means for me to account for the historical, as well as the global and the local -- over half of the writers for Fascicle 1 are from outside the US, the majority of those in translation. & there's going to be significant never-before-translated work from key early Modernists. & I hope that will be something people will expect, & that some people will find it more interesting than just more new poems from the US poetry machine. There are more structures available than post-avant/S of Q -- that kind of dichotomy doesn't seem to have the same punch or relevancy once you stray outside the borders (geography, language, time) such a formulation assumes (American poets circulating thru the American poetry publishing/teaching complex). So for me taking a closer look at poets operating in that complex is missing all the interesting points of investigation, just like any sort of credo built around the issue of sincerity flies right past all the things I'm interested in when reading poetry.

I'm going to be holding off on opening Fascicle for submissions for at least several issues -- I want to establish a specific context, and it doesn't make sense to me for people to send their stuff in before they even know what that context is going to be. It'll take a few issues before I'm even pretty sure about that. When Leigh and I were talking the other night about how I'm visualizing Fascicle's focus, she came upon a good image that I think is accurate: I consider a growing group of writers key, essential figures: among these writers are Olson, Zukofsky, HD, Stein, Mac Low, Pound, Jabes, WCW, Pessoa, Vallejo. I can imagine these figures as the center of a wheel -- what I find myself interested in are contemporary writers who operate for me as spokes coming out of this wheel -- not repeating/mimicking the earlier writers, but writing out of knowledge of them. This can manifest in many ways, but many of my favorite younger writers seem to me to arise out of an in-depth knowledge of previous figures/movements -- Eugene Ostashevsky and Russian absurdists, Peter O'Leary and writers like Duncan & Ronald Johnson. It's tangible with a lot of these writers, and the pleasures go beyond questions of sincerity of expression or intent.

So anyway, I sent off my first rejection-type emails today, and tried to explain some of this -- that the issue wasn't a matter of the poems being good enough, but of contributing in any way to this developing context.