"The Theory of the Active Reader"
There are a few books on my desk that I keep coming back to obsessively, that I can't keep my hands off of. Some are brand new, like *Ripple Effect* by Elaine Equi, (many of these poems were prevously published in her books from Coffee House) There are some timeless hits like *Lesbian Corn* "In summer/I strip away/your pale kimono" and some new lines sure to become classics like: "Autumn is a solitude/Winter is a fortitude/Spring is an altitude/ Summer is an attitude." This is a "New and Selected", but like some other new and selecteds, namely, Ann Lauterbach's stunning *If In Time* (Penguin) and Kathleen Fraser's beautiful *il cuore: the heart*, when you are affectionately familiar with the originals, it can be a joy to see how the poet regathers and reconnects the poems. For all these reasons and more I am eagerly looking forward to exploring what David Shapiro has done with this form (his selected is just out from Overlook), and getting absorbed in Charles North's recent new selected, his previous one long a favorite of mine, and I am particularly anticipating discovering how Tom Beckett shapes his current poetic and aesthetic viewpoint through such an arrangement of his earlier and recent work..
As soon as I start reading in Ammiel Alcalay's new (2007) book for Factory School's *Heretical Texts * series, *Scrapmetal" I immediately feel like again paging through its 2002 predecessor *from the warring factions* from Beyond Baroque. Similarly, Simon Pettet's 2005 book *More Winnowed Fragments", returns me to his 1995 Selected Poems from Talisman House.
My eyes delight in paging through the visual pleasures of Nico Vassilakis' new book from Otoliths *Diptychs*, and I am anticipating delving into recently publishedOtoliths books by bloggers Harry K. Stammer, Mark Young, Sandra Simonds,Vernon Frazer, Jordan Stempleman, and Jean Vengua.
Ron Silliman's *Woundwood*, a fine chapbook from Cuneiform, will no doubt disappear off the shelves of bookstores quickly; and I noted recently at the St Mark's Bookstore that his brilliant *Age of Huts* that includes the classic Chinese Notebook has been spiffed up and reissued.
This is the thing about poetry. When it's good, it doesn't get old, so as I mentioned yesterday, I was pleased to see Kasey Mohammad review a book from Lytle Shaw, Lobe, from a few years ago. Charles Alexander's *Certain Slants*("thank you for the book/to write in to lie down in') (Junction, 2007) sent me hunting through my shelves for his unforgettable *Arc of Light/Living Matter* (1992, Segue) ("calling them bloomies calling, jams to brace her bread warmed and butter recedes"), as well as his great 2004 Singing Horse Press book, *near or random acts* ("cash flies her away form/prose's comfortable kingdom"). No,my books are not in alphabetical order as Mitch Highfill noticed on a recent visit here with Kimberly Lyons. Mitch spoke eloquently about Alan Davies' poetry and why should I be surprised when Mr. Davies' new chapbook from Katalanche, *Book 5* ("slip into/ love like/genital/marginalia" should quickly lead me to search my shelf and reread in its entirety his famous This Book classic *Name*(1986):"Before we were happy/we were human." You want to listen to these edgy, delicate echoes resound in your mind over and over.
Taylor Brady wrote in his 2005 Factory School *yesterday's news"This is my theory /of the active reader, and it is dense." Indeed it is, and thus I oscillate between that and his 2006 book *Occupational Treatment* from Atelos. Well, it's now past 2 a.m. and I should get some sleep- after all, But now my fingers have come across my copy of *microclimates*(Krupskaya, 2002)-well I know I need to delve into that one further, which will no doubt take me back to the other two. I do have to work tomorrow. But how could a week be complete without reading awhile in Drew Gardner's 2005 Roof Book *Petroleum Hat* "Bad boys are full, tamed, safe/and charged with sexuality." Uh-huh! And Katie Degentesh's 2006 Combo Book *Anger Scale*"Since I just got a haircut today/everything is turning jiggy around me." Hard to get through a week or two without looking for an attitude refresher in their two books.And I want to stay up all night and write about Rodney Koeneke's *Musee Mechanique*, a 2006 book from Blaze/Vox: ("the delicious limbs of summer"),Gary Sullivan's *Elsewhere* #2 (2006) with text by Nada Gordon; "is your throat dry with the deviousness of following?"; Norman Fischer's powerful *I Was Blown Back* (Singing Horse 2005), Johanna Drucker's electrically syncopated typographical wonder *From Now* (Cuneiform, 2005), Heriberto Yepez's psychologically riveting soon to be a cult classic *Wars. Threesomes. Drafts.& Mothers (Heretical Texts, 2007), Catherine Daly's politically awakening yet subtly lyrical *Chanteuse/Cantatrice*, also from the Heretical Texts 2007 series (her book includes "collaborative" quotes from every Heretical Texts writer!). I want to be an insomniac blogger again, as I was in 2003 and keep reading and writing about Tim Peterson's award winning *Since I Moved In * (it won the first Gill Ott award) ("Why you writng a poem called The Age of Advertising/anyway?"). Ray DiPalma's *Mules At The Wake* ("what trace lingers in this edit"), Mode A's Grand Piano 1 & 2 "Door, garden, shadow, skirt. Are these ideal forms I envision in my mind's eye?" (Carla Harryman). And, as part of my recent desire to delve into German and Austrian history based on the moving, politically potent recent Weimar Show at the Met, I am enjoying Marjorie Perloff's engaging *The Vienna Paradox* (New Directions, 2004) ("This was, in any case, the book that I was reading in Innsbruck while our suitcases were being searched and our money taken away" as well as Wolf Lepenies' fascinating and provocative *The Seductiion of Culture in German History* ("But the illusionary overrating of culture thus played a particularly dangerous role in German history." And, as part of my ongoing feminist self-analysis, I have been enjoined by Charles Bernstein in his inscription to my copy to "be a" *Girly Man*("day retreats into quicksand/on the good nights.)" And, smiling impishly from behind a fan, who do we see holding a new Roof Book with an arresting cover designed by Gary Sullivan but Nada Gordon who will be celebrating her new book *Folly*, approprately enough on April Fool's day at James Sherry's loft on Sunday afternoon, April 1st. And she has hinted that she hopes all will come, say. imaginatively attired.
to be continued (including mentions and or reviews-trumpets and drums please- of the names Bob Perelman, Ron Silliman, and Rae Armantrout in recent editions of the New York Times Book Review and Art Forum. Ta-Da! A lot to celebrate, but now it's it's getting way late!)