2001 – 2002 Readings and Talks

April 16, 2002

From Vincent, Homesick For The Land Of Pictures

— Peter Gizzi
Is this what you intended, Vincent
that we take our rest at the end of the grove
nestled into our portion beneath the bird’s migration
saying, who and how am I made better through struggle.
Or why am I I inside this empty arboretum
this inward spiral of whoop ass and vision
the leafy vine twisting and choking the tree.
O, dear heaven, if you are indeed that
or if you can indeed hear what I might say
heal me and grant me laughter’s bounty
of eyes and smiles, of eyes and affection.

Continue reading “Vincent, Homesick For The Land Of Pictures” on The Poetry Foundation’s website.

Read more about Peter Gizzi

Bright O’er The Floor

— Elizabeth Willis
Suddenly the daisycutter someone was waiting for. I hear
the keys like modern ice on its way to hell. We safecrackers
have come here for the job, a gasp among luggage. Useless
wings. Hook & eye. Assemblage as forgiveness. Get in the
car on collaborative ankles. We’re rowing like Greeks
before those trees turn to treason, erased of all their writing.

Read more about Elizabeth Willis

February 12, 2002

Philosophia Perennis

— Anne Waldman
I turned: quivering yellow stars in blackness
I wept: how speech may save a woman
The picture changes & promises the heroine
That nighttime & meditation are a mirage

To discuss pro & contra here is mute
Do I not love you, day?
A pure output of teleological intentions
& she babbles, developing a picture-theory of language

Do I not play the delicate game of language?
yes, & it is antecedent to the affairs of the world:
The dish, the mop, the stove, the bed, the marriage
& surges forth the world in which I love

I and I and I and I and I and I, infinitely reversible
Yet never secure in the long morning texture
A poor existing woman-being, accept her broken heart
& yet the earth is divinity, the sky is divinity
The nomads walk & walk.

Read more about Anne Waldman

The Most Perfect Hill

— Lisa Jarnot
On this most perfect hill
with these most perfect dogs
are these most perfect people
and this most perfect fog

In this most perfect fog
that is the middle of the sea
inside the perfect middle of
the things inside that swing

In this most perfect rhyme
that takes up what it sees,
with perfect shelter from the
rain as perfect as can be,

In this most perfect day
at the apex of the sun
runs this most perfect
frog song that is roiling
from the mud

In these most perfect habits
of the waving of the trees,
through this imperfect language
rides a perfect brilliancy.

Read more about Lisa Jarnot

March 26, 2002

Final Selection From ‘Eleven Eyes’

— Lyn Hejinian

The spoons have clattered
Aren’t children little pears and observant birds
I note that the green blanket is askew again briefly
I have flung my sweater over the banister again
The corn cockle is beautiful
For months I’ve owed someone I’ll call Amy Rossini a letter and tomorrow I’ll write it but I can’t explain
There was of course the matter of the curious descent into a mine and the terrible ascent of children hauling ore out of context
Brevity is not child’s play though child’s play is brief but slowly
Today a man in a green leather hat advised me to sink my shovel
If I were to write a letter to Knut Handekker now he wouldn’t remember who I was which in any case is not who I continue to be
Tchaikovsky died when he was 53
We’ll celebrate my birthday wearing hats in May at the beach
Taking the espresso I said gracias, and much else in daily life is unauthorized
The house in which I toss is known by its address but it might have been named Credulity and called a film
Believe me
Long ago I was once in Seville in a blue dress that could be washed and dried in less than an hour
I want to speak of revolutions in beauty but I hear hordes counting down to midnight
The tales I used to tell myself no longer do
None of this is true

Read more about Lyn Hejinian


— Tom Raworth

joined harmonising the best
so it needn’t wait
phrase: the question are you sure?
hanging three feet off the ground
silent, absolutely quiet
headquarters – we travelled north
clawing back small shelter
hung with screaming
on the same rig
blended in enthusiasm
as the race approached
through cracks in snow
free-falling into mind
alive with brightness shivering
instantly into sleep
changed, re-formed
they run, they run
with madness into chutes
of changed values
all of them conventional
vibrations of division
dare to refuse the glass
lazily through long green
discrete landing sites
to a transmitting unit
over the protective line
wave patterns in space
form black against
sifted patches of moonlight
birds move in the dark
their faint contours
singing small notes
to the rhythm of a train
so empty at this hour
silence in between
contains the words
things whiz past
once more
the sound of calculation
by indirect means
receives its full due
along the wet pavement
human flesh
fallen in all directions
to fresh eyes
something to do with the sky
senselessly dishevelled
resolves and fixes
the foundation
desirable to guard against
relative soundness of approach
including human shapes
used by the dealer
connecting them
to a sense of common
unforeseeable properties of relics
considered in place
so deceptive
their firesides play
optimism for its object
without arousing
constitutional tradition
beyond the rules of the game
hailstones imagine
moist sea air
disordered beyond it rise
drearier philosophies
to resist retrogression
faster than anything
directly stimulating receptors
attention moves
many possible representations
inside the heart
decayed into blackness
fine details of the scene
creep along for years
hard to become
immune to a predator
silhouettes of participants
dangle in their own data
faint green clouds
in almost pure alcohol
calibrate the equipment
to assume a more personal form
susceptible to psychic influences
does not contempt breed
often in disguise?
slipping past a window
on communal stairs
into faded yellow
flashed with orange
slanting through smoke
swished into a perfect dome
dissatisfied when calm returns
centered around a food animal
mastery of areas
managed to neutralise
subjects into waves
to destroy communication
more easily on scanty pasture 

Read more about Tom Raworth 

November 15, 2001

From Kumina

— Kamau Brathwaite

for DreamChad on the death of her sun Mark – mark this word mark this place + tyme – at Papine Kingston Jamaica – age 29
midnight 28/29 April 2001-1002-0210-0120-0020-0000
rev 29 feb 04


Kumina is the most African of the [cultural expressions] to be found in Jamaica, with negligible European or Christian influence. Linguistic evidence cites the Kongo as a specific ethnic source for the ‘language’ and possibly the music of Kumina. There are varying theories as to whether it was brought with late African [arrivants] after Emancipation, or whether it was rooted in Jamaica from the 18th century, and deepened by . . . later African influence.

‘[Kumina] is to be found primarily in St Thomas and Portland and to a lesser extent in St Mary, St Catherine, and Kingston. Kumina ceremonies are usually associated with wakes, entombment, or memorial services but can be performed for a whole range of human experiences (births, thanksgiving, invocations for good [or] evil).

Continue reading “Kumina” on The Poetry Foundation’s website.

Read more about Kamau Brathwaite

October 16, 2001

Command Filter with Negative Entailment

— Steve McCaffery
A bridge is a passage between two banks. On Saturdays, both banks are closed. A well is located in a wall of sound. But space is not the stake and suddenly both travelers fall in. Now draw a line between some water and their eyes. Express it as the border of a reservoir. The term ears stands ready to attack. Attach it then repeat the phrase my body lives inside a closed shed. The nose with this noise invents a scale. The cottage is attempts and tries to break at random or at noon a forest hidden by a single tree. Narrative dilates sporadic or clairvoyant in a place where bed becomes the meaning of the rest. Now say embrace me. Motors trivialize. Eighty-six windows show the noun to be a house. The heart is now a hole in space that falls across and leaves a certain number. Forget the thirds in this and the silhouettes change place. You can no longer have a choice. You start at zero by the church called word in the forest by a beach beyond the sea between a fingernail at the moment logic begins. Basic liquids add a soup. Now change it. Write down I can no longer state a model is at work. Then make filters for each body. Draw all the composition off. Forbid readers to leave. This sea as a mixture and the sand relating questions to the horizontal movements of a prebiotic plan. You are now discovering that concrete form involves both circulation and the clinamen. Start to weave and you’ll connect this space. Now try to say the eye is paradoxical so that all future lines repeat a plate. Nothing is narrative. Now alter it. The equator drops and float upstream. A pluralist sidewalk remains. Go back to the start. The Saturdays stay close to a catastrophic separation. The bridge is now a son who kills the father at a crossroad. In the well of the week drops the son’s name. Add wings to it. Now set out all the other links to constitute a set of probable ideas. The crevice of the lip connects a writing that’s as still as ink. This final switch is exactly what’s happening. The constant factor in a cloud.

Read more about Steve McCaffrey


–Julie Patton

Read more about Julie Patton

September 25, 2001

From Islanders

— Ammiel Alcalay
He struggled to remember the table, a big table, unpainted, unstained, with simple legs, the whole thing cluttered with papers, objects. In the corners stacks leaned precariously, pens, pencils, scribbled notes surrounded by magazines, radio parts, half-used matchbooks. The table he had now was neat but his fingers picked and scratched at the damp label on the wet bottle that sat before him. Her arm stretched in front of her, then shot down past her mouth and the cigarette there as she spoke. “Five letters, they buried gasoline and shells and everything under the pyramids, each letter in Egypt stood for another stash.”

Read more about Ammiel Alcalay

I Am The President Of Regulation

— Jerome Rothenberg
I am the Giant Goliath,
I digest goat cheese.
I am a mammoth’s calf.
                  (H. Ball)
I know your pinnacles by name.
My fingers close around
your fingers. I grow pale.
I become your executioner.
I come forth fat & bloody.
I propose a toast to peace.
I am the president of regulation.
None are savvier than I.
I forge a pact with murderers.
I claw my way to freedom.
Mark my words. I have no time
to be your humble servant.
I make a rope from women’s hair.
I bite into the mighty pippin.
I turn & then return by turning.
I turn a vessel over with my hands.
I turn a pretty penny.
I am called the lord of dimes.
I turn my thoughts to daily deeds.
I turn my eyes to heaven.
I turn a screw no one has turned
before me. I predicate
& postposition freely.
In me the numbers come to naught.
I find a secret world in mirrors.
My fingernails are pale,
my steps are perpendicular.
I parachute & strut.
I seek acceleration day by day.
I am a man who swims among the drifters.
Istanbul is not my home.
I turn a page & listen.
I am as hard as nails.
My body swells from all the sounds inside it.
I show myself in dreams.

Read more about Jerome Rothenberg