1) Radial Symmetry by Katherine Larson. — i only put this one on the list first because her poem “Love at 32 Degrees” was probably my first college experience with a piece of modern poetry that was at least semi-abstract that i got. now granted, the poem was published by Poetry Magazine, which, well, i’m sure we all have our opinions on that publication, does indicate the level of work, however you wish to take that statement. but i still really like the book, as a full collection of single authored poetry, that maintains a semi-coherent theme, & does have interesting phrase turnings.
2) The Tennis Court Oath by John Ashbery. — interested in a collection of super abstract poetry that will leave you confounded, dizzy, angry, but re-returning just to get one’s literary fix of stretching one’s mind towards understanding what one didn’t before? this is the first place to go, in my opinion. Ashbery has come down to earth considerably (i like the more accessible “A Wave” quite a bit, also, though it’s not one of his cannonized texts), so don’t go into TCO assuming it’s going to be anything like Ashbery’s recently published works appearing in lit mags like Paris Review or Jubilat. The poems aren’t easy, but are always rewarding, over and over, testing the reader’s capacity of interpretation.
3) The Commandrine by Joyelle McSweeney. — “The Cockatoos Morose”… those last several lines, what a revolution for me, personally! I have a reprint of the last page of that one framed on top of my fridge. Just a big fan boy of her work, even if her book on Spork didn’t really do as much for me as I’d hoped, and thus haven’t bought Gernade Percussion yet. The Commandrine and The Red Bird are two out-right masterpieces, in my opinion, which can be broiled upon sensitivities of language manipulation. Her words are always interesting, surprising.
4) Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud. — Easy choice here. I have Ashbery’s translation, which is the only i’ve read (in its entirety, to date), but I’ll explain my feelings as follows: someone from a message board i used to post on replied to me, when i’d mentioned i’d started reading the book, that he wished he could relive his first experience with the text. I feel the same way. The brevity, ease, and naturality that a teenaged Rimbaud rumbles through these poems is both inspirational and degrading. So mature in his vision did the writer do battle with life’s grand ills.
5) Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein. — What a relief to finally find this book was! This book was a relief to finally find what? After reading more modern poetry by people like McSweeney, my own writing couldn’t help but assimilate towards puzzle mashing language. But it was becoming more and more puns. Puns more becoming was it more but. Reading Stein was like listening to Notorious BIG as a young aspiring rapper and just wanting to quit, seeing that the task had been accomplished by someone else, someone much greater, someone of one sum. But rather, as BIG did for me as well, it became a reference point spring board of not only a far greater understanding of language poetry, and as such life, but it meant I had to dare more personal and acute. Sure, much of Stein’s work can begin to drag, but she is so deft that the moment one begins to assume the reading is sliding down the edge of a dagger, the tip is blunted, stabbed upon reader’s liver, and venoms coagulate a meta trip up one’s spine, transmutating mute trances of ing. (Sorry for that. Makes me feel like I’m writing bad album reviews again. yuck)
6) all things findable by Ariana Reines. — I’ve elaborated on her enough already. She is the Kafka of poetry.
7) Goethe’s Faust & Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. — Probably technically novels in poetic form (not counting Nabokov’s literal Russian to English translation of Pushkin), both of these books are majestic and undervalued by modern scholars. Except in Russian, where Pushkin is god like and worshiped in classrooms to exhaustion like Shakespeare in european grade schools. However… The riffing between Enlightenment and Modernism in Onegin and the thrill joy/kill of Modernism in Faust are perfection. I normally hate HATE the lyric novel. So much so that I rewrote a prose version of Pushkin’s book so I could read past the line breaks. But I could spend my lifetime ruminating on these two books and their meanings, production, a/effects on the world.
8) The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book edited by Bruce Andrews & Charles Bernstein, and The New Sentence by Ron Silliman. — Simply put, these are my two favorite essay texts on poetry. At least that I’ve read so far. Silliman is a genius when he is properly focused, and Andrews/Bernstein collected the best essays from their publications into one book. There is a bit of tedium to be had in Silliman’s book, but the reward is more than worth that battle. A/B’s book has a new master building atop the last one every other page.
9) Collected Poems by both George Oppen and Robert Creeley, respectively. — I know, I know. Collected poems by a given author is about as keen as Bob Marley’s greatest hits cd’s. But for the interested novice who is unfamiliar with the Black Mountain poets, or the reader who is fresh off the Beats, looking for better academically constructed renderings of poetry, go to Oppen and Creeley. Both are taut mirages in every poem. They don’t drift like Ginsberg, point like Burroughs, nor dreamscape too cleverly like Billy Collins. Both Oppen and Creeley are masters of using as little wordage possible and do incredible actions with the white sheet, resulting in miraculously multitudes of meaning.
i’ll leave it at that for now. it’s long enough.
what would you suggest to me, in turn?
books received today:
The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens
All The Whiskey In Heaven, Selected Poems by Charles Bernstein
The Golden Section by Scott Olsen
Zohar Annotated & Explained by Daniel C Matt
The Art of Syntax by Ellen Bryant Voigt
and Rachel’s copy of the Difficult Farm by Heather Christle came, too.
tomorrow hopefully they deliver my order of The Best of Fence Books, which I’m siked as fuck about.
honestly, i never though
i’d say this, but i could
not give less of a damn
about music. & it was my
entire life for like the first
28 years. not to date myself,
but none of that matters.
music helped me understand
the world in the same way
poetry and literature do now.
so that music (rap, specifically)
taught me how to learn how to learn
is something that makes me
an endentured servent to it
forever. but honestly i’ve moved on,
i’ve always written, so this is
a natural progression. and i still want
to finish some rap songs with my
big homey victor. maybe another
FPC song with rachel on it. but, otherwise,
i just want to get through this charles
bernstein book, i want rachel to give up
the copy i bought her of all the garbage of
the world unite for her birthday so i can read
it and so she can get started on
the network so i can then read that
and i can finish bernstein and baudelaire’s paris spleen
and maybe she will like those like she liked
mina loy and gertrude stein, but at least for now
literature is all i want. i listen to cubs games
on my ipad, watch them when i can, but even
that has taken a grave step back from literature.
it’s weird but totally easily recognizable as
the supposed to happen progression
from being a kid to being almost a grown up,
like the britney spears song. only i don’t have
a vagina. whatever that means. for whatever
its worth rachel and i basically listen to lana del rey
and kanye west/jay-z, if anything. and it works.
i’m not chasing some 15TB external hard drive
race to fill the whole thing with mediafire downloads
game like i used to when i ran goldenhymn.blogspot.com
and some other download sites.
meh. things just shuffle about. & so on.
if i have recently followed your blog, it is because you hash tagged one or more of the following:
-franz kafka (who i was reluctant to search because of popularity — the reason i didn’t tag search david foster wallace, unfortunately — and the way in which people just shit themselves to be associated with the term kafkaesque, inexplicably)
- gertrude stein
- ariana reines
- joyelle mcsweeney
- ron silliman
- fence books
- charles bernstein
- john barth
- rimbaud (again, reluctantly, and i can already tell a few follows will get cut from the team soon enough)
- heather christle
- mina loy
next up we’re gonna get more gritty, probably searching writers like sebald, hollebecq, george oppen, robert creeley, the author of all the garbage of the world unite! (if rachel ever responds to my query), nick demeske, john ashbery, c.a. conrad, carlos fuentes, cesar aira, pynchon, robert walser, andre gide, georges bernanos, bolano, thomas bernhard, david markson, john williams, maybe nabokov, stefan zweig, peter nadas, malcolm lowry, borges, pound, definitely not tao lin because fuck that guy, foucault, pushkin, robert lowell, william t vollman, robert anton wilson, walter benjamin, susan sontag, coetzee, robert coover, javier marias, clarice lispector, andre breton, julian gracq, chekhov, dylan thomas, william gaddis, william h gass, bruno schultz, enrique vila-matas, cortazar, motherfucking charlotte perkins gilman, matthea harvey, peter gizzy, scalapino, marjorie perloff, buckminster fuller, paul virilio, feynman, william carlos williams, norman mailer, georges perec, dan beachy-quick, samuel beckett, katherine larson, bob hicok, alicia ostriker, kay ryan, maybe proust, joyce, cormac mccarthy, milan kundera, faulkner, nabokov, and dostoevsky. george w.s. trow. special shoutout to no f. scott fitzgerald but for sure michael silverblatt.
that should do for now.
any one got any other bright ideas?