5/8/15

My version of "Sacred Hate" a poem from 1898 by the Afro-Barzillian Cruz E Sousa, is in the new issue of The Nation. Here is the original:


Ódio sagrado

O meu ódio, meu ódio majestoso,
Meu ódio santo e puro e benfazejo,
Unge-me a fronte com teu grande beijo,
Torna-me humilde e torna-me orgulhoso.

Humilde, com os humildes generoso,
Orgulhoso com os seres sem Desejo,
Sem Bondade, sem Fé e sem lampejo
De sol fecundador e carinhoso.

O meu ódio, meu lábaro bendito,
De minh'alma agitado no infinito,
Através de outros lábaros sagrados,

Ódio são, ódio bom! sê meu escudo
Contra os vilões do Amor, que infamam tudo,
Das sete torres dos mortais Pecados!



Cruz E Sousa (1862-1898) was born João da Cruz  (João da Cruz e Sousa)
from Ultimo Sonetos (1905)

2/28/15

This poem / Gets up / And does / Something


Tom Beckett's poem "This poem" is all about the question of who speaks in this poem. It is one of the better poems I know dealing with this subject. Who is the speaker? Beckett? Someone else? The poem itself? It opens as follows:
This poem
Proffers
Its ass.
Well, now you know there's not gonna be an easy answer. Which, thank goodness, didn't put off all people, Thomas Fink for instance -- "Beckett's poem is no primer of poststructuralist theory" -- and Nicholas Manning -- "poems too are unsure of themselves" -- and Steve Tills -- "one needs yards and yards of parentheses to contain and to extrapolate what meaning has become facilitated."

"This Poem" is an intriguing piece of work, in which Beckett pokes fun at one or two theoretical discourses. The poem creates a narrative situation in which the existence of an author is denied and in which it looks like if the text is operating on its own:
This poem
Wants to
Get to
Know you.

This poem
Is expedient.
But in the end, when confirmation of Barthes's "la mort de l'auteur" is almost inevitable, Beckett gets back in by the backdoor as the one and only author. The last stanza reads:
This poem
Pretends not
To know me.
Read the full poem at Otholiths. For sale here.

2/27/15

Revealed patterns


Is this a blog about poetry? Yes it is. But I like pushing the boundaries now and then. Jazzberry Blue's abstract maps may not consist of words but they do have rhythm and tonality that stimulate me to perceive patterns of life in his kaleidoscopic pictures. The map of Amsterdam above, the city I live in, gives me pleasure, satisfies my yearning for order, completeness, harmony.

Sometimes ...


What makes something unpublishable?


In a VICE article my eyes fell on a picture of a page out of Elisabeth S. Clark’s work Between Words (2007). This work is more than, as VICE wants us to believe, “an reimagining of a classic text […] where Clark has gone through page by page in the original and removed everything but the punctuation.” On the artists website you can read:
Between Words investigates the topography of language, drawing attention to its construction, materiality and choreography. Using Raymond Roussel’s long 1274-line poem Nouvelles Impressions d’Afrique as its source, it reflects it back, though void of words, as a mere “landscape of grammar” (a landscape of punctuation).

The artist, in this work, conceals the words of the poem to isolate an exact facsimile of the author’s original notational (punctuational) inscriptions found in his oeuvre. The initial book work is then re-translated into a score, arranged in four movements (four cantos) and devised as a: Piece for 4 instruments. The splayed punctuation is transcribed into a landscape of elaborate symphonic arrangement, ascribed with questions surrounding the duration, instrumentation, articulations and dynamics.”
An online version of the “punctuation facsimile” is available on UbuWeb.

2/24/15

Confronting limitations

CC BY Ton van 't Hof

He may be a starry-eyed idealist, a wiseacre, a whopper, a worrywart, or a dreamer, but he definitely has a story to tell: Slavoj Žižek in The LA Review of Books about ISIS – "a case of perverted modernization" – and liberalism – "drop the smug self-satisfaction" – and political correctness – "it is a hypocritical game that […] even trivializes racism" – and freedom – "a burden that deprives us of true choice" – and nationalism – "a new Dark Age is looming, with ethnic and religious passions exploding, and Enlightenment values receding" – and World War III – "we don’t believe it can really happen – and that’s why it can happen. That is to say, even if we don’t really believe it can happen, we are all getting ready for it …" et cetera.

2/23/15

The Enose and Beanos

Antonia Low, The Electric Return, 2010

Covertext, edited by Swantje Lichtenstein & Tom Lingnau, and based in Cologne, Germany, invited artists to answer the following question: Is the artist necessary for making art today? It needs no argument that the answers differ from one another. The most uncomplicated answer comes from Anthony Moore:
"I don’t suppose non-humans would bother with making art. So my conclusion must be, in this case, "YES", we do need humans for pursuing essentially useless pastimes like murder and painting."