Distribution Automatique

Sunday, December 26

Happy 2011 New Year Poem from

NIcole Peyrefitte and Pierre Joris

Sunday, December 19

Eric Ewazen, American composer

I went to a concert this afternoon at the Brooklyn Public Library. Eric Ewazen's String Quintet
(Sinfonia for Strings) was performed by Harumi Rhodes, Adela Pena, Ah LIng Neu and Roberta Cooper. I found a work online by Ewazen whose music is certainly worth learning more about.

Eric Ewazen Down a River of Time and other mp3's

A duet for our time, of

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A Radical Cut in the Texture of Reality

Friday, December 17

Thursday, December 16


Even as you live, to live is to remember to live.

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Everything in contemporary culture tends to become a popularity contest. Nothing wrong with this, except that the truth is rarely popular.

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This just in from Kimberly Lyons

"Come in and enjoy!
take a break from toil & trial,
all the wear & tear of holiday prep:
         a book signing/reading
                  BY VYT BAKAITIS
                     LYNN BEHRENDT
                   AND JOE ELLIOT
          to take place from 2:00 p.m.
      this Saturday 18 December 2010
at Unnameable Books: 600 Vanderbilt Ave
(between Dean St & St Marks Ave), in Brooklyn NY

yours, Kimberly Lyons"

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Tuesday, November 30

Lunar Chandelier Press

had its debut reading tonight at the Poetry Project. Of the three books presented I am most familiar with Joe Elliot's Homework. When I edited OCHO 21 I had the immense good fortune to choose from a large portion of the as yet unedited manuscript of this book. I can say that my most immediate feeling was sadness at not having chosen to edit a magazine much sooner and I could now see why so many of my poet friends had done exactly that with a good portion of their time over the years. When I was asked to write a blurb for the book I was delighted and honored but soon realized what a daunting task it would be, having already experienced so many waves of emotion about Elliot's powerful work. When I brought the book home tonight and began rereading it I got a glimmer of just how strongly his work had affected me, not only by way of enjoyment and admiration, but viscerally and very personally. The thoughts and feelings I am driving at here are somewhat summarized in the blurb I wrote for Joe's book, available on the Lunar Chandelier website (above), and, in a shortened version, on the back of the book. More of that some other time, hopefully soon.

I have had a couple of days to begin reading Lynn Behrendt's new book and I am impressed and excited about that book as well. My first thought was that my reaction to q quick read of parts of this book reminded me of my reaction to hearing and reading Ted Berrigan's Sonnets, over 40 years ago. This response might have had to do with these lines:

"I am a language vole too.
I got glue
in my vagina"

(from the poem The Ulna Slash Uvula Laid Bare Lingual Age)

I had the same sudden feeling reading this poem two nights ago of a manifesto of an impending poetic movement as when I read Berrigan's sonnets for the first time. And I think, in particular of these lines:

"baffling combustions are everywhere/graying the faces of virgins/ aching to be fucked/we fondle their snatches/and O, I am afraid!/The poem on the page/ will not kneel/for everything comes to it/gratuitously"

Now, I've thought in recent and not so recent years how sexist these lines must sound now, since the "we" obviously refers to men, and therefore hints of a predatory male conspiracy. But reading it then, I don't believe that is how it struck me. Berrigan's Sonnets deftly wove such sexual and sensual longing within a lyrical, complexly rhythmic, linguistic thread of philosophical and literary intellectuality, wit, self-effacement as well as countless other emotions and observations blended with numerous fragments of conscious and unconscious, fantasy experience. I feel the same in Lynn's poem- the poem continues with variations on the original words much the way Berrigan's Sonnets turn lines again and again around and within themselves.

Behrendt's poem continues:

"It's me and thee and analog glee-
lingo vogue
in isotope tetrameters"

and later:

"You're one alluvial egg
you lover of lingo slag
a lovely oval lung"

and later:

"how long , lonely little Anglo?
I'm venial Eve hitting a gog
in a dollar store lounge"

The final reader tonight was Vyt Bakaitis, whose book I have not yet seen, but whose reading evoked countless memories of New York School charisma. His wit, charm and lyricism pulled in the whole room, and by extension, the world outside the room.

The whole evening left my mind virtually swinging from, and with, the Lunar Chandelier.

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Debussy plays Debussy- You Tube

Sunday, November 28

Keepaway's Latest:

Kompetitor (EP) Free Download!
(To just listen without downloading click on the arrow at the top)

Keepaway: Kompetitor

Saturday, November 13

Two Aphorisms by Nietzsche

Thoughts: -- Thoughts are the shadows of our sentiments--always however obscurer, emptier, and simpler.

* *

My Dog--I have just given a name to my pain, and call it "a dog,"--it is just as faithful, just as importunate and shameless, just as entertaining , just as wise, as any other dog-- and I can domineer over it, and vent my bad humour on it, as others do with their dogs, servants and wives.

(Joyful Wisdom, 1882)

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New Poem by Nico Vassilakis

Diminished Use Value/Disturbed Surface

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I'm Reading (with Lisa Robertson) at the Poetry Project

On January 19, 2011

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Robert Archambeau Interview on The Argotist Online

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Ray DiPalma on PennSound

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David Antin Rethinks Freud

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Laynie Browne on PennSound

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Rosemarie Waldrop

reading at KGB Bar, November 22, 7:30 pm

Celebrating her new book DRIVEN TO ABSTRACTION

Friday, November 5

Keith back on the air this week. 300,000 people signed the petition!"

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Anchor's Away

Guessing what might happen to Keith: Forbes

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Bring Back Keith Olbermann Now!

Sign The Petition!

* * * *
Colin Harrison and James Ellroy, two important mystery novelists were interviewed in June of 2009 by Sarah Weinman on her blog Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind. If you enjoy contemporary crime fiction, this is an interview well worth watching.

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Outrage Misguided by Noam Chomsky

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The new (free) Ebook from Argotist Online is Tracking Systems by Alan May

Sunday, October 10

2cd Avenue: The Occult Issue, guest edited by Alan Ramon Clinton

2cd Avenue: Volume 3 Contributors

Toni Simon: Anubis Bastet Sebek Thoth

Toni Simon: Earth After Earth

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October 31

Otloths issue 19 Southern Spring 2010
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October 31

The new Ebook from Argotist Online is IMPRESSIVE (BIG) INSTANT (BANG)! by Ivan Arguelles

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October 31

Poets and Artists December 2010-Edited by Didi Menendez

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The New E-book from Argotist Online is: Vernon Frazier's Margin- L

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The new Ebook from Argotist Online is: Jerome Rothenberg's The Jigoku Zoshi Hells, A Book of Variations

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Argotist Online E books

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Must Not Sleep- a complete novel online by Michael Brownstein

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Home Alone

In Real Life

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Today is David Bromige's birthday
Scroll down for Wood s lot feature

Sunday, September 26

Toni Simon reading a selection from her poem Earth After Earth with projected illustrations at the 2cd Avenue vol. 3 Occult issue launch at The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City on Saturday 9/25. Full text with illustrations on the 2cd Avenue Website coming soon! A glimpse of overall editor and event organizer Paulo Javier may be seen at the end of the clip. Paulo Javier announced that Earth after Earth was one of guest editor Alan Clinton's favorites.

* * * * *


A couple in love are like two trapeze artists: jump, flip, free fall, reach out two hands are there. And for life, if you're lucky, like me.

[for Toni Simon]

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There are ideas whose purpose is to entice the seeker to go in circles; a fruitless search might end by revealing a cruel face behind a mask

* * * * *

found contradicta

[tattoos on the arm of a cashier at MOMA- 10/2/10- quotes from Charles Bukowski]


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Some people never go crazy- what horrible lives they must lead

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Publishing as an Art Form

Poets and Artists November 2010-Dulce Menendez, editor

On the cover is a painting by Denis Peterson and reading his contributing poem for the painting USA Today is Geof Huth (when the site opens you will hear Geof Huth reading his poem)

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Sheila Murphy interviews Mark Young

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Ned Rorem 5 CD Set- Serebrier Conducts Rorem

Tuesday, October 19 Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble Ned Rorem

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Mark Lamoureux Dance Poems (pdf)

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Steven Fama on Lamoureux' Dance Poems The Glade

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Quixote radio

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Tuesday, September 21

you are invited to the launch of

2nd Ave Poetry , vol 3: The Occult

guest edited by alan ramon CLINTON

Saturday, September 25
5-7 pm
The Creek and The Cave
10-93 Jackson Ave, Long Island City
(on the E, G, & 7 train, B61 bus)

featuring readings & multimedia performances by

mitch HIGHFILL * toni SIMON * hector CANONGE
charles BORKHUIS * priscilla STADLER
brenda COULTAS * jill MAGI * kelly SPIVEY
douglas a. MARTIN * mark LAMOUREAUX
downstairs after-PARTY with live set by dj DESPO

volume 3 also includes work by

kevin KILLIAN * leslie SCALAPINO * dodie BELLAMY
jeremy THOMPSON * rit PREMNATH * caitlin PARKER
tsering wangmo DHOMPA * thom DONOVAN
r. zamora LINMARK * thomas FINK * denise DUHAMEL
lyn GOERINGER * matt JONES * clayton ESHLEMAN
charles BERNSTEIN * stephanie GRAY * gerrit LANSING
vincent KATZ * rusty MORRISON * laynie BROWN
emmy CATEDRAL * yago CURA * ernest CONCEPCION
jonny FARROW * alan ramon CLINTON

Tuesday, September 14

The Unbearable Lightness of Blogging

Around the time Toni and I moved to Park Slope, I wrote a piece about Hazlitt on this blog. That was 4/25-5/2 2004. Someone must have linked to it, and I noticed the link on my site meter. I reread it and thought to repost it.

* * * *

new issue: k a m a t e k a o r a (New Zealand)

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Anne Tardos, Nine, 40 A flow movie

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Alan Davies featured in Craig Dworkin's

UBU WEB Anthology of Conceptual Writing

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Works Received:

Ray Di Palma: House of Keys (foldout chapbook, art and poetry): Longhouse, Longhouse Poetry

"But at least for the moment unable to think further, though/
with a sense of being a privileged insider whose querulous/
nature was never far from the surface and was always ready/
with a challenging response meant to be heard never more/
than in partial jest..."

* * * * *

Geof Huth: untitled 10 page privately distributed chapbook dated 9 September 2010

"dendritic /excercises towards (no, toward (no, to))
the thought thinking"

Geof Huth's email: geofhuth@gmail.com

Geof Huth's 365 ltrs

Sunday, September 5

New Nico Vassilakis book from Xexoxial: Starings

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Peacock Online Review #1 includes Anselm Berrigan, Joel Lewis, Alice Notley, others

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The New Book from Argotist Online is The Collected Essays of Adam Fieled

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Issue 1- (flash- takes a minute to load)

via wood s lot

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Delirious Hem: A Tribute to Leslie Scalapino: Day 1 of 4

* * * * * *

Robert Reich Op-Ed NY Time September 2, 2010
How to End the Great Recession

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Poets and Artists October 2010 Edited by Didi Menendez

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Text Festival

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Nico Vassilakis Staring Toward Vispoetics

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David Arner & George Quasha perform Tuesday (9/7) at White Box, 7:30 PM

David Arner/George Quasha perform Axial Sound Composition at White Box

which involves percussion, piano, proto-language, and urmusic.

Pasha Radetzki will perform at 7:30
Arner & Quasha at 8:30
Location on Broome between Bowery and Christie
329 Broome Street. New York, NY. 10002
Phone: 212-714-2347

Wednesday, September 1


Happiness is an attitude, not an outcome. When things go wrong, straighten out the dent in your attitude, then proceed.

* * * * *

Every minute of every day the gap between love and fame grows wider.


"Oh, well." Already you've taken a first step towards forgiveness and philosophy.

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You went the right way, you went the wrong way, now you can rest.

Monday, August 30

George Quasha and friends perform Axial Compositions at White Box, 8/26

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The new e book on Argotist Online is Paradigm of the Tinctures by Alan Halsey and Steve McCaffery

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Contradicta Book Titles

A Tragic Honesty- (The Life and Work of Richard Yates) -Blake Bailey

The Truth of Poetry- Michael Hamburger

Monday, August 23

Jack Gilbert: Poet Without a Career
Jim Finnegan

via Word Pond

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The Brooklyn Book Festival

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Argotist Online Interview with Sheila M. Murphy

Friday, August 13

Thanks to James Geary for featuring Contradicta: Aphorisms on

All Aphorisms All The Time

and to Jim Finnegan for the recommendation Uraprache

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Ten New poems from Ray DiPalma on Jacket 40

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The new book from Argotist Online is Ric Carfegna Symphony Number 2

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My Whole Street is a Mosque Mira Schor: A Year of Positive Thinking

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The latest Mipoesias

Tuesday, August 10

The new Argotist Online E-Book is Doom Cusp by David Meltzer

Thursday, July 8

Jerome Sala (Expresso Bongo) on The Critic as Artist and Vice-Versa:Thoughts on Oscar Wilde, Wallace Stevens, and Nick Piombino (July 30)

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Mark Young writes about his father The Victorian Age

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Les Black "The Listeners" Eurozine
Via wood s lot

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Otoliths Number Eighteen

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The latest issue of Poets and Artists edited by Didi Menendez

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"Wikipedia refers to Sven Birkerts' 1994 study The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in the Electronic Age, and the work of developmental psychologist Maryanne Wolf, who pointed out the loss of "deep reading" capacity. Internet-savvy users, she states, seem to lose the ability to read and enjoy thick novels and comprehensive monographs".

The colonization of real-time and other trends in Web 2.0"

viaWood s lot
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Looking for Love: Douglas Messerli on Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts Green Integer Blog

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the new books on The Argotist Online:

The Blast Area by John Tranter

Pesticide Drift by F.A.Nettlebeck

Noise Difficulty Flower by J. D. Nelson

Solzhenitzen Jukebox by Ann Bogle
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Fragments of a Broken Poetics by Jennifer Moxley

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Blogging is Dead: :Long Live the Blog by Joshua Corey

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The new book on Argotist Online is A Year of Ordinary Moments by Rich Curtis

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New from Otoliths Expanding The Radius by Mary Ellen Derwis, Joe Balaz

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New Books from Argotist Online by Chris Stroffolino and Evelyn Posamentier

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Norman Fischer interviewed by Hank Lazer on the Argotist Online

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Fiber Optic Tapestry by Ligorano Reese- Kickstarter

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The new book from Argotist Online is

King Amour by Jack Foley

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A Celebration in Poetry and Art for Didi Menendez

50/50 Words and Images for Didi Menendez

High Resolution PDF

Low Resolution PDF

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The Project for Innovative Poetry

Today, Douglas Messerli posted a listing for me on his PIP blog:

THe Project for Innovative Poetry

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--Nico Vassilakis-asemic poetry--"In this episode, the alphabet refuses to be belittled by word logic and takes its revenge by dismantling it".
--from: The Bleed A journal of vital, progressive visual, concrete and experimental poetries

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While all lives end with death, most novels begin with one.

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Everything in the world exists in order to end up looking for a book.

Sunday, July 4

Video: Stop Gambling on Hunger

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Amiri Baraka interview-- Argotist Online

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Don Share on Ron silliman on W. S. Merwin as Poet Laureate Squandermania

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Poets and Artists Summer 2010 (Didi Menendez, ed)

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Argotist Online E-Books

The two latest ebooks for Argotist Online are by Alan Sondheim and Jeff Harrison. Here is the entire backlist of free ebooks from publisher Jeffrey Side:Argotist Ebooks

The new ebook from Argotist Ebooks is “Stories Short and Strange” by Bill Drennan.


“Stories Short and Strange” is the first volume of a unique collection by Bill Drennan. These tales are typically laced with blends of absurdist science fiction, satire, childish cartoonism and black space humour.

Available as a free ebook here:

Stories Short and Strange

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The latest issue of Wig edited by Kristen Gallagher and Tim Shaner just arrived. This issue features watercolors by Steve Benson and writing from Laynie Browne, Del Ray Cross, Thom Donovan, Patrick Durgin, William Fuller, Kristen Gallagher, Judith Goldman, Brandon Holmquist, Rodney Koeneke, Richard Kostelanetz, Bill Marsh, Tim Shaner and Carol Szymanski. $10 to Tim Shaner at 130 E. 49th Avenue, Eugene, OR 97405 gets you 95 pages of exciting new art, poetry and commentary.

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The latest issue of Provincetown Arr Magazine features a cover, interview with Charles Bernstein and an article/essay about artist Mira Schor

Blog-A Year of Positive Thinking

Thursday, July 1

Ray DiPalma- Obloquium and Committer of Tidings- 7 Poems (Jacket) .

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"Mr. E. was a self-made man who grew up in a poor immigrant family. He was a brilliant businessman, though, and for those at Pickwick who showed more than just a passing interest in the industry, he gave of his wisdom freely. ONe of the many pearls he shared with me was that although the best sellers are exciting, they come and go. It's basically a business of one's and two's when it comes to the backlist books that consistently make money for a bookstore over the long haul. More than three decades later, I believe this philosophy still holds true for independent bookstores."

An Alphabetical Life: Living it Up In the World Of Books- Wendy Werris- 2006

An Alphabetical Life- Goodreads listing

Wednesday, June 23

I received an email from Ron Silliman telling me that Peter Seaton died last month on May 18, 2010, of an apparent heart attack.

Peter Seaton and I met at City College (CCNY) in 1960 or 1961, when we were freshmen or sophomores. He was born on December 16, 1942. We spent many, many fascinating hours together discussing literature and reading each others writing throughout our college days. Peter's appearance changed little over the years. He had short, close cropped light brown curly hair, which later became gray. He wore glasses, frequently sunglasses or glasses with clear plastic frames through which you could invariably observe twinkling eyes, often a dark brown henley t-shirt and light tan corduroys, and though short in stature he had a distinctive walk, a rolling gait that sometimes reminded me of a sailor. Peter was a terrific marathon one-on-one conversationalist, a mordant, literary wit of the Holden Caulfield variety, an indefatigable reader who loved to endlessly talk and search for books and new ideas. This, combined with the fact that he was among the most private and secretive persons I have ever known, added immeasurably to the quality of mystery that surrounded both his presence and his absence. Other than the fact that he attended boarding school, he spoke little about his early life. One of his first short stories that may have been written for a writing class we took together was of a character obsessed with going out into the city on an inexplicable, lonely search for a certain hard to find poster. Our interests and directions concerning poetry and poetics remained parallel after graduation in 1964, often attending readings together at St Mark’s, reading The World magazine and other poetry magazines and discussing them avidly, through to the establishment of This magazine, and L=A magazine, up to the early 80’s. During the opening and middle years of Language poetry many of Peter Seaton’s long prose poems were published, widely read and influential. Peter and I did some writing collaborations and even some film experiments together in the late 60’s and early 70’s (we were then both big fans of Stan Brakhage) although these may now be lost or hard to locate. I may still have one or two letters or postcards that he wrote to me when I was living for awhile in Italy and Morocco in the late 60’s. It was he that told me that Bernadette Mayer, whose work we both greatly admired, was giving an open workshop at the Poetry Project in 1973. He always encouraged me in my writing and collage productions particularly, explaining to me that he was knowledgeable about this because his mother had once run an art gallery. I am sorry to say that we lost touch with each other in the early 80’s. Peter’s writing and poetry and his penetrating insights into poetry, culture, technology, language and life were of constant interest to me during our many years of close friendship in the 60's and 70's.

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Penn Sound Obit

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Wikipedia page-Peter Seaton

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Peter Seaton Community Facebook Page

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Eclipse Author Index, including three complete books by Peter Seaton Eclipse

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Sunday, June 13

Friend of The Dead

Have you checked out Joanna Fuhrman and Toni Simon's funny, charming and beautiful collaboration Friend of The Dead in Paper Bag Issue 1 yet?

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There are these split second inklings of eternity all day long, right before you start, when it feels like this time it's never going to end

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Forget make it new just make it quick.

--- My thanks to Ray DiPalma who has suggested that this aphorism, for a variety of reasons, might offer a highly suspect bit of advice.

* * * *

Shadow Poetics

Juliana Spahr- notes for a talk for rethinking poetics-swoonrocket

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Seinfeld's anomie:Expresso Bongo (Jerome Sala)

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A Renaissance in the Art of the Book 1946-1981-Center for Book Arts- Curated by Kyle Schlesinger

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On March 18, 2003, I attended a reading at Cooper Union that included Ann Lauterbach, Anne Waldman, Michael Lally and Robert Creeley, which I wrote about on this blog: March 19, 2003. Regarding Michael Lally's poem ("March 18, 2003"), I wrote: "Michael Lally read a very powerful long poem in that personal homespun style of his, enunciating so many offensive acts and policies of the far right that he made us understand that we have far too lightly critiqued these vicious movements for the past 50 years in this country, while endlessly muttering to ourselves, the audience seemed reluctant, even after 30 minutes, to allow him to step down." This post, by the way, is included in the book fait accompli, published by Factory School in 2007.

Tonight I had the amazingly moving experience of hearing Michael Lally read that poem again, on his new CD "Lost Angels." The album includes 9 other incredibly cool tracks with two excellent jazz combos behind him. The album includes "My Life 2" and "Before you Were Born," and is available from :Monomania Records. If you were not present at that reading back on the night before the initial bombing of Iraq, or even if you were, you should not miss listening to and having this amazing CD.

Sunday, June 6

Anubis Takes Joanna Fuhrman and Toni Simon on a Guided Tour Through Park Slope

Paper Bag Issue 1

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* * * *

RE-ENGLISH-- Daria Fain and Robert Kocik--Governor's Island, June 4, 2010

with Aretha Aoki, Margot Basset, Chung-chen Chang, Stephen Cooper, Levi Gonzalez, Hasuki Homma, Masumi Kishimota, Kora Koimtzi, Athena Kokoronis, Martin Lanz, Mina Nishimura, Peter Sciscioli, Kensaku Shinohara and Samita Sinha.

As part of an ongoing collaborative "research" project conducted by Fain and Kocik that they call The Prosodic Body one of the dancer/singer/workshop member/performance artists recited the following "anonymous 17th century protest poem" titled "Goose":

"The law locks up the man or woman who steals the goose from off the common
but leaves the greater villain loose who steals the common from the goose.
The law demands that we atone when we take things we do not own
but leaves the lords and ladies fine who take things that are yours and mine.
The poor and wretched don't escape if they conspire the law to break;
this must be so but they endure those who conspire to make the law.
The law locks up the man or woman who steals the goose from off the common
and geese will still a common lack till they go and steal it back."

This poem powerfully captures the aims and insights of the "commons" philosophy enacted in the piece and later discussed throughout the film presentation. I was sorry to have missed the earlier panel discussion that included Fred Ho.

The other night Toni and I watched the last of the 5th season of episodes of The Wire.. Although we've been sad to see other tv series end - I noticed this time Toni was particularly perturbed. There were a number of reasons for this, but one of them, I'm sure, was the series' political astuteness along with the excellent acting and narrative power to support the cultural and social points being made, and the stories being told, many of which were based on actual events in recent years in Baltimore..

Like The Wire, but here more in the realm of experimental high art, the Fain/Kocik Re-English has much to offer in the way of social/political critique, the difference being that in this collaboration solutions are being actively sought, and the early seeding of an actual social movement may be observed. The performance went on for about forty-five minutes and there were fourteen performers. Each performer enacted individual movement scenarios, and one by one the performers recited pieces written or collected by Robert Kocik,including the one quoted above. There were sung elements as well, and pre-verbal phonemic utterances that were sometimes said, sometimes chanted and sometimes sung. HIstory, political critique, music, movement, shamanistic chant, and psycho-lexical experimentation and many other elements have been brought together and developed in the Fain/Kocik research mode towards a philosophy they have described as "The commons." The group has been in evolution for over four years, Fain describes the effort as a form of "economic research", ironically referring to the financial struggles of the group as well. It is gratifying to witness the survival of a group that has an aim that combines the political, the social and the artistic.

For me, one of the most exciting moments of the piece was performed by Margot Basset. I can only describe it by saying that she virtually transformed her voice into that of a large, chirping, wailing, whooping, crying bird, in a manner so shamanistically powerful as to bring the energy of the room into another spiritual dimension entirely; this could only have happened in the context of the convincing and moving efforts of the entire troupe, who, it is almost impossible to believe have mostly worked in a piecemeal "commons" fashion employed by the group, as Daria told me later when she and Robert Kocik found me and Toni relaxing on the beautiful Governor's Island lawn as they were leaving after the film and performances. [At that moment Toni and I were in astonished wonder at the synchronicity of our discovering a few minutes earlier that our nephew Michael Burakoff's band Keepaway was then in the process of doing a sound check for their concert later that night at the nearby sound stage at the moment we left after the Re-English piece and the film about the Commons. Put that together with the fact that Governor's Island is my birthplace (my father was an officer stationed there at the beginning of the Second World War), and you've got a series of synchronicities more complex that I can easily process.]

Anyway, In the film shown immediately after Re-English, one goal for the Commons group I feel particularly crucial is the integration of the needs of the individual with that of the group for, up until now, it seems to me all political systems have failed to maximize the potential of these two elements working together on each other's behalf; a goal actually aimed for and often achieved in this choral, soloistic, combinatory, harmonic and planfully anarchic, polycultural, artistic and social theatrical enactment.

Commoning on Governor's Island-Wild Horses of Fire (Thom Donovan)

Thom Donovan on The Phonemic Choir

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Ron Loses Link List

While Ron reconstructs and builds his next link list, check out his latest one:

Rons Link List
David Markson, r.i.p.

"Farewell and be kind."
The last line of This Is Not A Novel (2001)

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

Friday, June 4

Jay Sanders interviews Charles Bernstein in Bomb

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A selection from Ron Silliman's Revelator in Poetry Poetry Foundation

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Once again: Don Share's selection from Contradicta on Squandermania

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Poets and Artists July 2010

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Tuesday, June 1

R. I. P. Peter Orlovsky; La Times
R, I. P. Louise Bourgeois Silliman's blog Wall Street Journal
MIra Schor- A Year of Positive Thinking
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Leslie Scalapino links, Silliman's Blog

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Alan Davies on why poets should write negative reviews, and how I tried to discourage him from doing so. Alan writes: "I have a friend (Nick Piombino) who has more than once advised me to not write a book review unless I have good things to say about the book. Nick himself doesn’t write book reviews / which might be an indication of how many books of poetry he’s found to be worth reviewing (?!)".

I can imagine that I gave Alan this advice, I don't remember doing so, but if I did it was possibly as long as 30 years ago! I am quite sure I wouldn't have given this advice to Alan within the last 20; I think in the past 20 I would know better than to try to deprive him of his peppery critical zest!

Alan also makes the point that I haven't reviewed anyone of late. Actually, I have posted quite a few poetry reading reviews of late on this blog, but I do want to take this occasion to mention that I edited in 2007 and 2009 two issues of OCHO, published and produced by Didi Menendez. OCHO 14, by the way includes a hefty portion of the work of, well, Alan Davies and OCHO 21 includes the work of 14 other poets whose work I obviously admire. Silliman says of Davies work in OCHO 14:" Davies, on the other hand, offers a wide range of works, including some (textually) discrete poems, a long critical work that organizes itself as an a review of Anne Waldman’s Outrider, then a series of excerpts from a longer text – it seems too limiting to call it a poem – entitled This is Thinking. Davies hasn’t been publishing a lot in recent years & to see this much work at once, this much first-rate work, is completely bracing. He hasn’t lost a step & is every bit as uncompromising as ever. This actually can make Davies a difficult read at times, but it never is complexity just for the sake of showing off. He continues to be the Diogenes of the New York langpo scene. At the same time, Davies always comes across as sweet, vulnerable, friendly, somebody you’d love to know. I’d say that Davies’ contribution is worth the price of the issue alone, but I’d say that of well about Gordon, Vassilakis, Mesmer & several other of the contributors." Not a negative review, but, I'm sure most readers will agree, interesting, at least.

OCHO 14 was also reviewed by Nick Manning in Jacket 35

But I will admit to being a subscriber of the following aphorism of Henry James:
"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind". Like most others, I can only claim this as an ideal. Certainly not as a political position, but when it comes to poet friends, well, yes.

Still, the article gives me much to think about.

* * * * *

The way to know people is to care about them. The way to care about them is to forget most of what you know about them.

* * *

If you are looking to get paid as a writer just remember that silence is golden- not your silence, their silence.

Saturday, May 29

Leslie Scalapino passed away on May 28, 2010 in Berkeley, California.

Leslie Scalapino

Wednesday, April 21

Ron Silliman review of Contradicta- Silliman's Blog

* * * * *

5/19/10 NY Times: Arakawa, Whose Art Tried to Halt Aging, Dies at 73

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Contradicta offered as help by a reader to a blogger in a comment stream

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Don Share's selection of Contradicta, "unforgettably illustrated by Toni Simon", posted
on Squandermania 5/21/10

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Mira Schor on the new Godard movie

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Boog City 63 ed. David Kirschenbaum

* * * *

Ray DiPalma and Michael Lally at The Poetry Project Wednesday May 12

---Just a quick note to say that both poets gave first rate performances on this occasion. As it happens, these two readers are superb actors as well as being brilliantly accomplished poets at the top of their form. Each read a few published works, but focussed on unpublished manuscripts. Ray's recent poems were each stunning in their manifestations of surprise and inventiveness.In one poem Ray repeats a line a number of times, each time with a specific and unique ambience, offering, for example, the comic, reflective and ambiguous facets of each line, as if you might be turning a jewel around in the light. Ray DiPalma's mode of reading is acutely and precisely dramatic. Each poem was not only elegantly read in his carefully modulated and pleasant bass voice, but profoundly elucidated by his intricately nuanced internal interpretations as well. Hovering within and around each poem I detected a discrete dramatic persona. This is all the more amazing when you realize that Ray DiPalma's work also emanates on the printed page the penetrating eye of a great visual artist. Thus the multiple layering of Ray DiPalma's work, I would guess can only be completely experienced in eventually reading the work on the page and hearing him read it as well. How many poets can you think of are equally blessed with talents in the visual, verbal and dramatic dimensions? In this way, perhaps, Ray DiPalma is unique among his contemporaries.

Ray's was a hard act to follow. But Michael Lally was up the the task. His abilities as an actor are well known, but in this context, no doubt inspired by Ray's amazing performance, Michael was in incredibly top form tonight. After reading from a few published poems, Michael wove a mesmerizing autobiographical commentary into a selection of newer manuscripts. Michael's minutely described perceptions of his recent experiences before, during and after brain surgery for me, as I told him later, rose to the descriptive wonders of Oliver Sacks. For us, Michael made his struggles with learning how to read and write again, in tiny, gradual steps, fascinating, inspiring; in point of fact, poetic. I think also, for some reason of Christopher Knowles and Adrian Piper. After the operation Michael was unable, as he explained, to blend individual perceptions together. For that reason, trying to watch Jon Stewart and follow his subtle ironies Michael found, for the first time, strangely impossible. (After a decade of watching Stewart's bits, I am starting to feel the same way without having had brain surgery). Another example was that Michael could not be with someone and watch t.v. at the same time. Individual sounds would also be heard by his brain in a way that demanded equal attention, thus making it difficult for him to meld them together into a whole perception. He gave an example by noticing the sound of someone's water bottle very quietly popping in the audience. Michael also wondered whether the simplistic comprehension abilities of right wingers might owe something to a similar tendency toward concretization and the inability to form insights. He had us all laughing at this one. As Michael Lally wove his monologue around readings of some spare, but moving poems written before and after his operation, we were offered an unusual opportunity to glimpse the inner workings of his uniquely moving, and personally revealing creative process. I remember a poem in which he tells a young woman how much he is enjoying being in a comfortable bed after having slept in some pretty grungy ones. The woman said to him, perhaps this is why you are not more successful, you are so easily satisfied! Has Michael Lally gained enlightenment, he wonders aloud at the end of the reading? He hopes so, while we know so.

As they has been able to do for decades, on this occasion Michael Lally and Ray DiPalma, by means of their poet/actor magic alchemy, renewed our love for life's ambivalent mixture of tragedy and triumph, pain and laughter.

Jerome Sala on Michael Lally's reading [Expresso Bongo]

Lally's Alley- ML on his reading with Ray DiPalma

Lalley's Alley- 6 Months Since Brain Surgery

* * * *

Expect the best; people tend to give you what you expect, rather than what you want.

* * *

All your longings know where to go, but you have to tell them when to open their eyes.

* * * * *

Life ia a Time of Contraction

Drunken Boat
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Mother's Day

This was posted on Mother's Day on Wood s lot
Once again, Mark Woods gets it!

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Otoliths Issue 17

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Poets and Artists May 2010 Poets and Artists

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Gregory Vincent St Thomasino reviews our book party for Contradicta at the Zinc on Sunday e ratio

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I'm still very proud of my interview with GVST on The Argotist Online

* * * *

Gregory Vincent St Thomasino's work was included in OCHO 21 OCHO 21

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Jerome Sala's new blog-- Expresso Bongo

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Mira Schor's new blog-- A Year of Positve Thinking

Reading Carla Harryman --ed. Laura HInton-- How 2 Silliman's Blog

Saturday, April 10

Book Launch & Signing
Sunday April 25, 2010
Zinc Bar
82 W. 3rd St, New York, NY

Contradicta: Aphorisms
by Nick Piombino
with illustrations by Toni Simon
Green Integer


If Not Metamorphic
Brenda Iijima
Ahsahta Press

Music and projection by Pattern Diver (aka Mike Burakoff) of the band Keepaway
Pitchfork magazine's "Best Music 2009"

Contradicta available from SPD
St. Marks Bookshop (NYC)
Unnameable Books (Brooklyn)

* * * * *

Ron Silliman Jacket Feature

* * * * *
THE THING at WHITE SLAB presents VIRAL VENTURE: a digital movie by
Joseph Nechvatal. Tuesday, April 27, 2010 @ 8:30 pm and 10:00 pm. Free.

White Slab Palace is located at 77 Delancey Street (Southeast corner
of Allen and Delancey) Transit: F to Delancey St.; J/M/Z to Essex St.

The Viral Venture projection consists of imagery of Nechvatal’s most
recent artificial-life computer virus attacking his digital images.
The score is by Rhys Chatham, recorded at the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in
Paris using 400 electric guitars.
* * * *

Tony Torn's iBatross

* * * * *

Composer Franz Kamin died 4/11/10

"The stranger may appear in any locale...may dance with some...make secret pacts with others....may walk among the dead....or abandon himself to the flames of madness....the stranger is all-pervasive...he will come to carry you away..." (Behavioral Drift XV, "News", performed May 25, 2007)

Franz Kamin, Wikipedia

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it's all poem

* * * * *

from Jack Kimball's Pantaloons

Friday, April 09, 2010

For the first time a round of Faux books, due earlier this year, will be late but not too late. Michael Gottlieb’s, for instance, Memoir and Essay arrives in a couple of weeks

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Bob Perelman feature on Jacket


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Rae Armantrout Wins The Pulitzer Prize

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All The Whisky in Heaven-Bernstein's Selected reviewd in the NY Times Book REview

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this just in: from Nico Vassilakis
on April 16th thru 18th in Bellingham, WA
PHRASINGS: Words and Dance
among other poets
the Bellingham Repertory Dance Company
will be interpreting my sound poem VOWELIST
(you can see/hear a snippet of the poem performed by John Olson & myself - VOWELIST
for more info:
staring poetics:
staring poetics
* * * *
Hannah Weiner's Romeo and Juliet in Semaphore

Kenning Editions

Saturday, March 13

Stacy Doris and Katie Degentesh at the Bowery Poetry Club, Saturday March 13, 2010

The "Segue Series", sponsored by the Segue Foundation which includes Roof Books, goes back to 1977 at the Ear Inn, making it just 33 years old. Can you believe that Nada Gordon and Gary Sullivan have been curating it for two months every year for 10 years now? Anyway (which was the name of the restaurant a few of us went out to tonight after the reading) Gary and Nada have every reason to be proud, for tonight's offering was totally memorable.

At one point early in her reading, Stacy called for a martini which was soon supplied by publisher James Sherry. Someone shouted out, "now that's a publisher!" Instant applause and well, I had to put my hands together to agree. The mood of elegance was instantly set, but Stacy did not really need this particular detail to supply it. Later, Stacy mentioned that she had promised herself to learn German by the age of 40. Of course she should learn German: she is our poetry Marlene Dietrich , no doubt about that. Stacy could have sat there sipping her drink as the whole show, it wouldn't matter. At this point, we all had an instant lesson in what hipness is, could or should be. Stacy misses New York, and New York completely misses her. By the way, she also read some terrific work. First, a manifesto (strangely, and perhaps one day famously, refused by MOMA), then a guide to psychic nutrition (evidently one of her many talents), but also what she described, jokingly, I think, as a translation of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. There's the German again, but we should say, the European again, for, as we know, France is Stacy's second home, in which language some of her work has been written and published, Greece perhaps her third, San Francisco being her current place of teaching work and family life. The third work, for me, the "Hegelian" one, actually pleasurably reminded me of Bernadette Mayer's masterpiece Studying Hunger. Stacy Doris' "Phenomenology" is just that, taking you tellingly, and secretly inside everyday thought and feeling, but within a rhythmic style of literary syncopation that gently walks the listener/reader through internal experience in a vivid novelistic, cinematic way, reminiscent for me of Antonioni's early trilogy, that included L'Aventura. Stacy Doris as Monica Vitti? Easily, very easily, says I. As Stacy Doris writes in her (2000) book Conference: ""What the movie taught me: Time's an enchantment. Refusal never stops, and memory's its opposite. Memory whisks us away, sweeps us off and beyond. The art of living in time where there is none is memory."

Speaking of Monica Vitti (if some of my readers are too young for that reference) I don't know who to suggest for the next reader Katie Degentesh. Toni suggested Pris in Blade Runner (played by Daryl Hannah in 1982). Oh, where are the film makers in the poetry scene? You missed your big chance tonight, or maybe not. Abigail Child, as far as I know is still in Rome, working on her project for her Prix de Rome. Henry Hills filmed the poetry scene back in the 70's with a film called (Money). Did you ever see Alan Davies, James Sherry and Diane Ward in that one? Well, tonight's offering by these two poets reminded everyone who luckily forced themselves through a movie-sized rain storm (Ann Tardos described it to me as passionate) to see and hear these two show us what the word charisma rmeans. (At dinner, later on, James Sherry pointed out what fine performers Nada Gordon and Gary Sullivan have become on the BPC stage as emcees.)

Katie Degentesh's latest book was called The Anger Scale, a flarf work that combines googling with material taken from a psychology test by the same name ("I feel as if I am being plotted against/and the only real way out of it for me/would be pregnancy"; "I feel there is no other alternative than to/pretend to despise you, yet long for your touch."). However she does it, Katie D is a poetry magician, an alchemist who is able to turn the detritus of everyday life into poetry gold. She explained, after reading a few works from the Anger Scale book, that her current work employs a survey using the question "What do you like about sex?" Katie Degentesh's Sex in the City is not very much like the tv series, which this blogger loved, by the way. KD's answers included a boy that is transformed into an owl or a bat, and a girl who likes sex because she likes to get presents, and someone else who liked sex to keep warm; Katie Degentesh's recent poems are small treasures of metamorphosis; part surrealist, part flarf, but also something all its own that challenges whatever we thought poetry could be and be about, a crucial factor that other flarf poets keep reminding us of. Didn't a poet say, "What does not change/ Is the will to change"? This is what the poetry avant-guard, at its best, has shocked and surprised us with in the past. Real change is possible, and very welcome. As the Segue Series has shown us once again, tonight, at the BPC, and, in this instance, with much charm, elegance and style.
* * * * *

Tomorrow: My Garden Pets Emilie Clark at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Stenhardt Conservatory Garden Opening Reception: Sunday, March 14, 1-3pm.

Show continues through Monday May 31

"Artist Emilie Clark's exhibition at Brooklyn Botanic Garden was inspired by the 19th century natural scientist Mary Treat, an expert on carnivorous plants and the relationships between plants and insects. Based on the artist's research on Treat in BBG's Rare Book Room and her observations in the Garden, this conceptually-based installation includes paintings, works on paper, archival letters, and plant samples, as well as a mapping of Treat's correspondence with such liminaries as Charles Darwin and Asa Gray, who admired and cited her work."

* * * * *

Rick Snyder's Escape from Combray

Monday, March 8

in conjunction with
RAMPIKE Magazine
Very Proudly Present

T H E   L A S T   V I S P O  

: selections from the upcoming anthology

edited by Crag Hill and Nico Vassilakis

(This selection compiled by Volker Nix)

Opening reception: Saturday, March 13th, 2010, Windsor, Ontario

Exhibition runs until April 10th, 2010


Way back in 2008, American writers Crag Hill and Nico Vassilakis put out a world wide call for submissions for an upcoming anthology of visual poetry. Slowly, in the two intervening years, a 300 page book of such work has been brought together which covers the decade between 1998 and 2008, and features well over 125 different seasoned and emerging writer/artists from around the world. Cut to March of 2010; while these intrepid editors are busily shopping this gargantuan (and very colourful) manuscript around to an array of would-be publishers, Common Ground Art Gallery of Windsor Ontario has jumped at the opportunity to be the first gallery in Canada to exhibit a sneak peak at what these editors are hoping to see published sometime later this year.

Haven't the foggiest notion as to what The Last Vispo is? Should you find yourself in the area, there's no quicker way to answer that question for yourself by attending the reception we are holding in honour of the many artists, writers and editors who have all profoundly contributed to the curious phenomenon of visual poetry; a veritable black sheep on the landscape of our language arts. So come on down to Common Ground the evening of Saturday March 13th beginning at 7 pm and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

The following artists from The Last Vispo have works currently on display in the gallery:

mIEKAL AND (U.S.A.), Hartmut Andryczuk (Germany), Petra Backonja (U.S.A.), Michael Basinski (U.S.A.), Guy R. Beining (U.S.A.), Marc Bell & Jason McLean (Canada), John M. Bennett (U.S.A.), Carla Bertola (Italy), Jaap Blonk (Holland), Chrisitan Bok (Canada), Daniel f. Bradley (Canada), Nancy Burr (U.S.A.), Mike Cannell (England), David Baptiste Chirot (U.S.A.), Jo Cook (Canada), Judith Copithorne (Canada), Klaus Peter Dencker (Germany), Brian Dettmer (U.S.A.), Fabio Doctorovich (Argentina), Maria Damon (U.S.A.), Amanda Earl (Canada), Shayne Ehman (Canada), Greg Evason (Canada), Oded Ezer (Israel), Luc Firens (Belgium), Angela Genusa (U.S.A.), Jesse Glass (Japan), Robert Grenier (U.S.A.), Bob Grumman (U.S.A.), Scott Helmes (U.S.A.), Geof Huth (U.S.A.), Serkan Isin (Turkey), Michael Jacobson (U.S.A.), Karl Jirgens (Canada), Alex Jorgensen (U.S.A.), Chris Joseph (England), Joe Keppler (U.S.A.), Dirk Krecker (Germany), Edward Kuleman (Russia), Jim Leftwich (U.S.A.), Troy Lloyd (U.S.A.), Carlos M. Luis (U.S.A.), Jeurgen O. Olbrich (Germany), Sonja Ahlers (Canada), Donato Mancini (Canada), Cy Machina (Canada), Keiichi Nakamura (Japan), Marko Niemi (Finland), Rea Nikonova (Russia), Christopher Olsen (Canada), Clemente Padin (Uruguay), Michael Peters (U.S.A.), Nick Piombino (U.S.A.), Ross Priddle (Canada), e.g. vajda (U.S.A.), Marilyn Rosenberg (U.S.A.), Jenny Sampirisi (Canada), Suzan Sari (Turkey), Serge Segay (Russia), Douglas Spangle (U.S.A.), Litsa Spathi (Greece), Pete Spence (Australia), Matina Stamatakis (U.S.A.), Miroljub Todorovic (Serbia), Cecil Touchon (U.S.A.), Aysegul Tozeren (Turkey), Stephen Vincent (U.S.A.), Reid Wood (U.S.A.) and James Yeary (U.S.A.). -- ENOUGH ! ENOUGH !

But wait, that's not all !

Karl Jirgens, editor of Rampike Magazine (since 1979!) and former Head of the English Department at the University of Windsor currently on sabbatical, (and ALSO one of two local Windsorites whose work will be featured in this upcoming anthology), had the fortuitous good fortune to choose this exact time to bring out his latest issue of RAMPIKE Magazine; an issue coincidentally devoted entirely to the musings of visual poetry, at that! So, in conjunction with this special exhibition featuring selections from The Last Vispo, Karl has very generously offered to bring a stack of the newly minted visual poetry issue of RAMPIKE to the reception to be given away free to all interested parties who attend this reception. So if you don't know what Vispo is, this exhibition of selections from The Last Vispo coupled with the latest issue of Rampike Magazine will certainly go a long way in furnishing a very concrete example for your edification, amusement and enjoyment !

Furthermore, (if poetry is not your thing and you're more easily given over to pursuits of the boogie woogie kind) local artist/musican KERO, featured on the cover of this issue of RAMPIKE, will provide his unique post-electronic musical stylings at some point during the course of the evening.

This, as with all Common Ground events, is FREE and OPEN to the public.

3277 Sandwich St.
Windsor, Ontario
N9C 1A9



* * * * *

Sven Birkerts on Reading in a Digital Age in The Amercan Scholar

* * * * *

Stacy Doris at Poet's House March 13

* * * * *

Stacy Doris and Katie Degentesh will read at the Bowery Poetry Club on Saturday, March 13 at 4pm

* * * * *

In Your Speakers: Keepaway EP

* * * * *

Nico Vassilakis Notes on Staring Word/for Word issue 15

Tuesday, March 2

Contradicta Aphorisms is now available from SPD

* * * * *
The Health and Illness Anthology

* * * * *

Mark Young's Genji Monogatari

"The Paulownia Court"

Most physical quantities- mass,
length, energy- map out her
book: objects of perfect beauty
& symmetry. Or can be
made so. There are dolls
of various kinds. Talk of the
varieties of women. Thumbnail
functions. The photograph & its
usefulness. The caption &
its reliability. Struggle & combat
occur again & again. The function
of poetry is painfully reached."

"The Paulownia Court" appeared as "Genji Mongatari IV" in

* * * * *

From Publisher's Weekly:

All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems Charles Bernstein. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26 (298p) ISBN 978-0-374-10344-6

This gathering of 30 years worth of work by the prominent L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet and essayist offers a rigorous critique of the art of poetry itself, which means, among other things, a thorough investigation of language and the mind. Varied voices and genres are at play, from a colloquial letter of complaint to the manager of a Manhattan subway station to a fragmentary meditation on the forces that underlie the formation of knowledge. Bernstein's attention to the uncertainty surrounding the self as it purports to exist in poetry—“its virtual (or ventriloquized)/ anonymity—opens fresh pathways toward thinking through Rimbaud's dictum that “I is another.” In addition to philosophical depth—which somehow even lurks beneath statements like “There is nothing/ in this poem/ that is in any/ way difficult/ to understand”—a razor-sharp wit ties the book together: “You can't/ watch ice sports with the lights on!” These exhilarating, challenging poems raise countless essential questions about the form and function of poetry. (Mar.)

* * * * *

Music Vagabond keepaway intervew

Wednesday, February 17


Events are brief; thought is long.

* * *

Extremes partake of emptiness.

* * *

Keepaway performs in Brooklyn, Sunday February 19

L magazine

Our December 2009 blog post on Mike Burakoff, song writer, artist and keepaway band member

* * * * *
Kimberly Lyons on Peep/Show

* * * * *

* * * * *

March/April 2010 Poets and Artists Online

* * * * *

Jacket 39: Stan Apps interview with James Sherry

* * * * *:

Jacket 39: Manuel Brito on Ron Silliman

* * * * *

Mei-Mei Bersenbrugge and Anne Waldman read at KGB, Monday, February 17

Thursday, February 11

A Seventh Birthday Fait Accompli Synchronicity

Today is fait accompli's seventh birthday! It is fascinating, and exciting to me, that copies of Contradicta, our Green Integer book of aphorisms by me and illustrations by Toni Simon, just arrived today. My goal from the beginning of this blog was to try to consciously create conditions that would bring about such synchronicities.This one is, to me, very special indeed. Page 11 in the book contains a collage by Toni, using a calendar page from February. Our sincere gratitude and affection goes out to our publisher, Douglas Messerli. We couldn't be happier with his work on this book.

* * * * *

Saturday, Feb 13 at the BPC: Rick Snyder and Anselm Berrigan

Rick Snyder and Anselm Berrigan gave terrific readings today at the Bowery Poetry Club, invited and introduced by Gary Sullivan and Nada Gordon. I was thinking of the contrast between these poets which actually brought out what I enjoyed about each of them. Rick Snyder's poems often reflect upon his experiences in a mordantly funny way. For example, Rick Snyder read this poem:

How Are You Doing?

I can't find examples right now of the science-fiction like poem he read, but after the reading I told him in some ways this work reminded me of David Larsen's who read a couple of weeks ago. Both these men are scholars, Snyder working in the area of classics, Larsen in early Arabic language studies. I think Snyder's poem was called Testimonia and represented the equivalent of bits of classic literature found in the far future from contemporary poets. In the literature of the classics, "testimonia" were commentaries by poets about their contemporaries, but Snyder mentioned these seemed often to be at least partly made up and inaccurate. Some contemporary poets were named in these works such as Ron Silliman and Bernadette Mayer's Midwinter Day (nice touch for the weather we're having here). I wish I could describe these poems better, but their laconic humor reminded me of Larsen's translation of Arabic poems from the middle ages which also consisted of commentaries by poets about translations by other poets, and very funny in the way the Larsen read them, just as Snyder's Testimonia were.

Anselm Berrigan's poems, on the other hand, were, to me, more like thoroughgoing phenomenological studies of his own thought processes. Just as thought is fleeting, evanescent and sometimes contradictory and confusing, enfolded upon itself in mysterious and suggestive ways, Berrigan's work, while acknowledging his own opinions and observations of life in a self-effacing, and yet respectful and somewhat obligatory way, prefers to render his own thought process clearly and objectively as he can; but, as we know, the thought process and our own reflections on it are, by definition, as subjective as anything can be. But for the same reasons that one can spend a lifetime psychoanalyzing oneself and others, for reasons that seem important and can be justified in pragmatic ways, can also seem worthwhile doing for reasons that can be quite as obscure and labyrinthine as the investigations themselves sometimes are and perhaps have to be. That's the way it sometimes is, and in the best poetry of this nature, such as Berrigan's, it both justififies and defines itself in its own terms, refusing to be consciously entertaining or didactic, but becoming so perhaps anyway because of its own inherently rigorous processes and techniques, and also somehow because of all this having a beauty and originality all its own. I can tell you as one who knew him a little, I believe his father, Ted Berrigan, would be fascinated, proud, and, if even a little envious, would find a way to make himself and all of us laugh about such envy and yet own it as a human necessity.

Anselm Berrigan's Penn Sound page

Nada and Gary's introductions to the Snyder/Berrigan reading on Ululations

Friday, February 5

A Middle Way: Mira Schor reads from Jack Tworkov's writings, The Extreme of The Middle at Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery

Mira Schor read from tonight and discussed The Extreme of the Middle, the book of journals, letters, essays and other writings by the artist Jack Tworkov she edited that was published in the summer of 2009, some of whose paintings are currently on display at The Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery through February 20, where Schor gave her talk and reading. I read this book this past summer in Provincetown, where I had the opportunity to talk about the book and Jack Tworkov with Mira. One of the many effective aspects of Mira's talk was the way she integrated some of the most powerful paintings on display at Mitchell-Innes into her selection from the texts and her comments about his writings (she focused on #2, Nightfall, and #6, Trace, viewable on the Mitchell-Innes link above). But one of the most impressive aspects of Mira Schor's reading of Tworkov's writing was the fact that her selection and rendition, for me, reflected an eloquent, poetic condensation of what I thought was most impressive about the book: that a vivid, dramatically fascinating multi-faceted portrait of the artist emerges in a most moving and intellectually satisfying way. We see the artist struggling with his career, his relationships with other artists, friends and family, his ideas about painting and his aesthetic philosophy, but even more touchingly perhaps, his personal and philosophical struggle with life itself and mortality. Tworkov's "middle" comprised anything but mediocrity; it was composed of a consistent and quietly courageous and self-critically honest internal stand in relation to art, perhaps most of all to that seductive yet dangerously imposing occupational hazard that faces any artist: his or her struggle with their own sense of self-importance. What I felt was that Jack Tworkov put becoming a great person on a par with becoming a great artist. This is a specific value, of course, not the only possible value that one can arrive at in a career as an artist, but it is one that I admire intensely.

* * * * *

Two more must see shows are Star Black,"The Collaged Accordion", at The Center for Book Arts and Emma Amos,"Never Forget" at Flomenhaft Never Forget-link to complete show images

* * * * *

Another rave review for keepaway's ep-link includes 3 tracks

keepaway at Webster Hall

keepaway on Myspace

* * * * *

This just in: Douglas Messerli, the publisher of Green Integer Books, has written to tell me and Toni Simon that Contradicta, the book has been printed and a box of copies is on its way to him!

* * * * *


If a picture is worth a thousand words, an insight is worth a trillion of them.

* * * *

Overcoming despair and indolence demands more than persistence; one must also understand the process of spontaneous excitement and its dissipation

* *

I am continuing to develop the Contradicta series on Twitter

* * *
The Case Against Happiness

I heard Jean-Paul Pecqueur read recently with Joanna Fuhrman (Alice James reading) and enjoyed hearing his work. Here is J-P Pecquer on The Case Against Happiness Bookslut

Friday, January 22

Rock Beginnings Now and Then: Keepaway and Patti Smith's Just Kids

They can't keep away from


Pitchfork, the music blog, gives Keepaway a 9! Best new music....

Check out our previous Keepaway report on December 20th

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Today, I read Patti Smith's new memoir about Robert Mapplethorpe completely in one sitting, from page 1 to page 276, without moving from the table I was sitting at in Barnes and Noble.

I learned in hearing an interview with Patti Smith that much of this book is drawn from her extensive and detailed journals. I found Just Kids to be poet's journal writing on a par with Stephen Spender's Journals 1939-1983, Cesare Pavese's The Burning Brand, Ned Rorem's The Paris Diary, Allen Ginsberg's Journals Early Fifties Early Sixties, Paul Auster's Hand to Mouth, Bernadette Mayer's Studying Hunger, Anne Sexton's A Self-Portrait in Letters and, dare I say it, The Diaries of Franz Kafka.

In the best writer's journals, as in Just Kids one might find beautifully stated not only the considered insights of an original and culturally significant mind and talent, but the raw experiential material from which these insights have been exacted. As in Pavese's The Burning Brand, Patti Smith offers the outlines of a philosophy of life culled from experiences daringly sought out, that, in some moments, brought searing pain, and others, excitement on an historically important scale. But here is where the comparison to Pavese's journals takes a 90 degree turn. Where Pavese ends his journal with a decision to bring his life to an early close, Smith clearly offers a parable, with no small degree of wit, of strength, compassion, fortitude, devotion and contemplation that drinks deeply from the well of aesthetic meditation and mysticism. But beyond all this, for me Patti Smith's memoir reveals and underscores both the difficulties of and the abiding value of patience and persistence in friendship, love, marriage and parenthood.

In a passage about her involvement with the Poetry Project in the early 70's, she writes: "Later that evening I sat on the floor of St. Mark's for the annual Marathon reading...I sat through much of it sizing up the poets. I wanted to be a poet but I knew I would never fit into their incestuous community. The last thing I wanted was to negotiate the social politics of another scene. I thought of my mother saying, that what you do on New Year's Day will foretell what you'll be doing for the rest of the year. I felt the spirit of my own Saint Gregory and resolved that 1973 would be my year for poetry." In the surrounding passages, Smith makes clear her respect for some of the central poetic lights of that era such as Allen Ginsberg, Bernadette Mayer, Gerard Malanga, Gregory Corso and Anne Waldman and her close friend, Janet Hamill. She fondly remembers Allen Ginsberg once offering her some change when she was broke and hungry at an automat, mistakenly taking her for a cute guy! When I met and once read with Patti Smith in the early 70's little did I know, since she looked so young, that she had already been harshly paying her dues as an aspiring poet and artist in New York for 6 or 7 years.

In interviews and in the book, Patti Smith makes it clear, but in a discrete, sensitive and tactful way, that in many ways Mapplethorpe's commitment to daring sexual experimentation in his work and in his life, and in his unabashed search for connections with wealthy upper class patrons were a far cry from Patti Smith's equally stubbornly pointed populist path. But in no way would either Mapplethorpe or Smith allow their gradually diverging styles and philosophies to end their friendship. As you can see from the reviews below, all agree as to the clarity of Smith's prose in this book. Its pace is faultless, never lingering, rarely rushing, its tone warm yet light and never platitudinous or mawkish. There is little blatant poeticism, evidence of a stylistic restraint I would advise all of her contemporaries, including myself, to pay close heed to. This factor greatly amplifies every moral Smith wants you to take from this book, yet she refrains from making these conclusions overt. On the other hand, she does not obscure them with impressionism or post modernism. The fact that this memoir is based on her extensive journals leads to two more things I want to mention. One is that the constant reference to objects that Patti Smith describes, whether a hat Jimi Hendrix is wearing, or an attitude she picks up from a Jim Morrison performance, or a social moment with Salvator Dali (he puts his hand on her head when noticing a stuffed crow she had purchased from the Natural History Museum), or the first guitar she ever bought, or the many fascinating found objects she receives at the Chelsea Hotel from her friend Harry Smith, or an outfit she wore to woo a band, or the toys she played with as a child, all of these keep the narrative fastened securely to the here and now, a dimension in which she obviously is determined to remain, through ecstasy and death, success and failure, tragedy and triumph. The second thing I wanted to mention is that I predict that every reader of this book will be impatiently waiting for more writing from the many and varied treasures carefully and lovingly stored in Patti Smith's journals.

Critical Praise for Just Kids
“Terrifically evocative and splendidly titled...JUST KIDS is the most spellbinding and diverting portrait of funky-but-chic New York in the late ’60s and early ’70s that any alumnus has committed to print. The tone is at once flinty and hilarious, which figures: [Smith has] always been both tough and funny, two real saving graces in an artist this prone to excess. What’s sure to make her account a cornucopia for cultural historians, however, is that the atmosphere, personalities and mores of the time are so astutely observed...This enchanting book is a reminder that not all youthful vainglory is silly; sometimes it’s preparation. Few artists ever proved it like these two.”
“Tenderly evocative...it makes perfect sense for [Smith] to use a memoirist’s sleight of hand...to recapture an eager, fervent and wondrously malleable young spirit. It also makes sense for her to cast off all verbal affectation and write in a strong, true voice unencumbered by the polarizing mannerisms of her poetry.”
“Smith’s intimate memoir is a tender elegy for the man with whom she had a two-decade-long relationship...”Just Kids” is astonishing on many levels, most notably for Smith’s lapidary prose...As a primer on self-discovery and the artist’s journey, “Just Kids” is as inspiring as Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet.” It reminds us that becoming an artist is a worthwhile and brave endeavor....There’s no need to ghettoize this book by praising it as an impressive memoir by a famous musician. It is simply one of the best memoirs to be published in recent years: inspiring, sad, wise and beautifully written.”
“A heartbreakingly sweet recollection of just that sort of vanished Bohemian life...Just as [Smith] stands out as an artiste in a movement based on collectivism, her singular voice gleams among rock memoirs as a work of literature.”
“[JUST KIDS] is funny and sad but always exhilarating. Smith’s sense of wonder at the possibilities of art, and of New York City, seems as fresh as it was the day she first arrived in Manhattan. And as rooted as their story is in the eventful late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Smith’s graceful prose reminds us of the timelessness of love and friendship.”
“Patti Smith’s telling of the years she spent with Robert Mapplethorpe is full of optimism sprinkled with humor...JUST KIDS...is sorely lacking in irony or cynicism; Smith’s worldview is infectious. She’s a jumble of influences, but that’s part of her charm.”
“The most compelling memoir by a rock artist since Bob Dylan’s ‘Chronicles: Volume One,’ written with intimacy and grace, filled with revelation about a romance that might seem inscrutable to anyone but the two who were once so passionate about each other and remained so passionate about each other’s work.”
“A moving portrait of the artist as a young woman, and a vibrant profile of Smith’s onetime boyfriend and lifelong muse, Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989...JUST KIDS is ultimately a wonderful portal into the dawn of Smith’s art.”
“A remarkable book --sweet and charming and many other words you wouldn’t expect to apply to a punk-rock icon.”
“The reckless, splendid circus of New York’s royal bohemia in the 1960s and ‘70s — rock idols, cowboy poets, Warhol Superstars — surrounds Smith in her heady recounting of a halcyon era. But the heart of Just Kids, a captivating memoir, is the lifelong love affair (first romantic, later creative and platonic) between Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, before she became music’s punk poet laureate and he one of the art world’s most provocative and controversial figures. In her inimitable, lyrical style, Patti Smith recalls the pair’s coming together as young, monumentally broke dreamers: ‘’just kids.’’ What follows is both a poignant requiem (Mapplethorpe died of AIDS at age 43) and a radiant celebration of life. Grade: A.”
” A story of art, identity, devotion, discovery, and love, the book is [Smith’s] first prose work...[it] conjures up the passionate collaboration--as lovers, friends, soul mates, and creators--that she and Mapplethorpe embarked on from the summer they met in Brooklyn in 1967.”
“[Smith] has great insight into the development of their creative processes, especially her evolution from writer to rock star, and [Mapplethorpe’s] from painter to shutterbug (not to mention from straight to gay).In the end, it’s not just an ode to Mapplethorpe, but a love letter to New York City’s ’70s art scene itself.”
“Deeply affecting...a vivid portrayal of a bygone New York that could support a countercultural artistic firmament...the power of this book comes from [Smith’s] ability to recall lucid memories in straightforward prose.”
“Funny, fascinating, oddly tender.”
“Patti Smith’s memoir of her youth with Robert Mapplethorpe testifies to a rare and ferocious innocence...’Just Kids’ is a book utterly lacking in irony or sophisticated cynicism.”
“A shockingly beautiful book...a classic, a romance about becoming an artist in the city, written in a spare, simple style of boyhood memoirs like Frank Conroy’s ‘Stop Time.’”
“[Patti Smith] managed to make garage rock both literary and iconic. More than 30 years after its release, Horses still has the power to shock and inspire young musicians to express themselves with unbridled passion. Now she brings the same raw, lyrical quality to her first book of prose, Just Kids, out this month.
“[A] beautifully crafted love letter to [Robert Mapplethorpe]...Smith transports readers to what seemed like halcyon days for art and artists in New York...[a] tender and tough memoir...[an] elegant eulogy.”
“Riveting and exquisitely crafted.”
“She was once our savage Rimbaud, but suffering has turned her into our St. John of the Cross, a mystic full of compassion.”
“A heartwarming love story, a clear song of devotion from Smith to Mapplethorpe, pure and beautiful and fascinating in its own way...a delightful insight into [Smith and Mapplethorpe’s] shared experiences; and for aspiring artists in New York (or anywhere), it’s a ray of hope — a we-did-it-so-you-can-too.”
“Captivating....a poignant requiem...and a radiant celebration of life. Grade: A.”
“More than 30 years after its release, Horses still has the power to shock and inspire young musicians to express themselves with unbridled passion. Now she brings the same raw, lyrical quality to her first book of prose.”
“In the end, [JUST KIDS is] not just an ode to Mapplethorpe, but a love letter to New York City’s ‘70s art scene itself.”
“The most compelling memoir by a rock artist since Bob Dylan’s ‘Chronicles: Volume One,’ written with intimacy and grace....”
“Astonishing on many levels, most notably for Smith’s lapidary prose....[JUST KIDS] is simply one of the best memoirs to be published in recent years: inspiring, sad, wise and beautifully written.”
“[JUST KIDS] is funny and sad but always exhilarating.”
“Terrifically evocative and splendidly titled...the most spellbinding and diverting portrait of funky-but-chic New York in the late ’60s and early ’70s that any alumnus has committed to print....This enchanting book is a reminder that not all youthful vainglory is silly; sometimes it’s preparation.”
“A touching tale of love and devotion.”
“JUST KIDS describes [Smith and Mapplethorpe’s] ascent with a forthright sweetness that will ring true to anyone who knows her work.”
ISBN: 9780066211312; ISBN10: 006621131X; Imprint: Ecco ; On Sale: 1/19/2010; Format: Hardcover; Trimsize: 6 x 9; Pages: 304; $27.00; Ages: 18 and Up

Books by Patti Smith
Auguries of Innocence
Auguries of Innocence is the first book of poetry from Patti Smith in more than a decade.