Distribution Automatique

Saturday, March 22

Some have said that blogging about anti-war activities or opinions or writing on the poetics list about such things is redundant. I don't agree. One of the most important functions of these activities is to offer an alternative to a mass media approach to information dispersion and opinion formation. That said, I don't have much to report about today's convergence beyond what has been generally reported. A group of poets met at Gotham Book Mart as planned around 11 am. Anne Waldman and Ammiel Alcalay very effectively led the small group on a circuitous route, eventually to Broadway from about 47th Street on down, turning eventually at Union Square towards and down 5th Avenue to Washington Square Park carrying a banner stretched widely across the street, held aloft by 2 or 3 marked "Poets Against the War" that was cheered by many on the 40 or so block walk. At one point the poet Ron Padgett helped with the banner. We shared funny stories about high school assemblies that carrying the banner reminded Ron about. Many poets familiar to bloggers and listees were there including two I had not met before- Hilton Obenzinger and Joe Safdie. Hilton O and I reminisced about 60's magazines like "Strange Faeces" where I remembered reading his work that long ago and he reminded me about "Big Sky." Joe Safdie and I talked about blogging and the list. He is a warm and kind man from Seattle who knows my friend the poet Nico Vassilakis. Someone handed me a quite beautifully printed paperback called "A Brief Illustrated Guide To Understanding Islam" by I.A. Ibrahim. I had brought along a book by Anne Waldman that I've had for a long time (it was published in 1970) that I've always wanted her to sign titled "Baby Breakdown." I promised her I would carry the banner if she would sign it (this was a joke, as I planned to do both if I could anyway). She graciously agreed, and made sure I carried the banner. While she was holding the banner aloft, (we had to stand still for about an hour and a half because we were towards the end of the line and the line stretched from 47th Street all the way down to Washington Square Park) I told Anne how moved I was by her reading the other night at the Paula Cooper Gallery. When I told her I felt that she was channeling Allen Ginsberg, especially when she was chanting Blake, she told me she really missed him. I had spoken with Hilton O so long that Ron P seemed to have given up on me and Toni taking the banner back. Toni and I proudly carried the banner for the rest of the way down to Greene Street. Time seemed to stand still, many memories emerged from years past. Nada Gordon copied page after page of slogans that she plans to use as source material for a poem. I chatted with Gary Sullivan, Mitch Highfill, Lee Ann Brown who was wheeling her baby daughter Miranda in a stroller, Maryann Shaneen, Drew Gardner, Katie Degentesh and a longtime friend, the film maker Ed Bowes. I noticed Simon Pettet there also, but didn't get a chance to chat with him. There were at least 350, 000 more people there I don't yet know by name. When some of the poets were no longer around any longer to help with the banner (it was huge!), probably because we had to wait around so long, other demonstrators volunteered and helped us carry it. Of course, the feeling was nothing like the last convergence on that freezing day in February. The bombs had not started to drop yet, the casualties had not yet started to mount. Nathaniel, who had created the banner and also a beautiful large copy of Guernica that he and another poet had been carrying, somehow found us in the crowd and took the banner back. Also Toni had been carrying a small Guernica poster we had found at the February convergence that she had given to Mitch, who apparently gave it to someone else, and which found its way back to us at the Cafe Orlin where Toni and I had dinner later on! (A lot of synchroncities about Guernica today.) At one point a stranger came over and told me another story about Guernica. He had pinned up the poster for a friend with a nail after it had kept falling down in the friend's apartment. On the anniversary of the event the painting represents, it fell off the wall on top of him. Toni and I made it down to Washington Square and were nearby the area where some of the arrests were about to take place. We cheered on those who were about to commit acts of civil disobedience and finally left, although one policeman sarcastically urged us to follow him to the area where some of the arrests were about to take place. Probably because someone thought I was planning to get arrested since we were so close to the action, that person tossed me a "Buck Fush" t-shirt. We found out later about 85 people got arrested right at the southeast corner of the park where we were chanting with the crowd, not long after we left. This was about 5 p.m. Although it was a gorgeous day, and even though I smiled at a lot, I did not and do not feel very uplifted, but just as upset as I felt when the first bombs dropped. "We all live in a military state" sang the demonstrators as they moved towards the police to provoke their arrests in acts of civil disobedience. They are right. Now what remains to be seen is: what else can be done about this?
For today's convergence against the slaughter: poets are meeting at the Gotham Book Mart, 41 West 47 Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, 11 AM. See you there!

CNN team kicked out of Baghdad. More importantly: No news from Raed since yesterday. Baghdad blog link to your left.
"Equanimity" (Jordan Davis) noted yesterday:

Nick's linking to the Daily Show, Jon Stewart's war news teaser reads: Iraq: Are We There Yet?

Note: Like most bloggers, Jon Stewart only works Monday thru Thursday.

(Surgeon General's Warning: "Equanimity" is highly addictive and may put you dangerously in touch with your thoughts and feelings.)
Read all the war coverage I could find, and came back to -froth- , as usual. (Maryann Shaneen reports on the human shield project). Links to your left.

Friday, March 21

Pantaloons: Tykes on Poetry

Posted by Pantaloons today (Jack Kimball):
Friday, March 21, 2003

A friend to poetry and coolmeister of the craft, Alan Davies needs work in the NYC area. Alan has taken on a variety of jobs, ranging from corporate sales to providing care for the infirm. He is meticulous and a whiz in handling details. His situation calls for immediate attention. If you have any information on a likely line of employment for Alan, full- or part-time, and / or a house-sitting situation, you could call his friend Brenda Iijima. If you don't have her number, email me and I can help put you in touch with her or Alan.
posted by Jack 10:06 AM
To discuss the more revolting aspects of the Buffalo poetics list here in Blogland is pointless, it's like reminding someone about their headaches or insomnia, as in, "How's (whatever it is) that makes you miserable lately?" Valery once wrote: "Please oh please don't ask me. Who wants to be reminded of what one is thinking about all the time?" I enjoy the list the way one might enjoy a friend who wants to have something to say but who either always says bitter or sarcastic, mean things or who utters intelligent remarks in an unintelligible way. I can't post the maxims I was responding to in posting the following this morning on the list - essentially, they are the exact opposite to what I say below- you can check these out there if you are interested- or on the EPC poetics archive if you don't presently subscribe. To your left for the links, please.

In any case, here are the aphorisms I posted early today:

In light of an illegal attack upon a devastated country that has already lost 750, 000 children due to an ongoing embargo and a previous merciless attack upon this country in 1991 I would like to muse on my situation as an artist who has other roles and responsibilities and concerns as well.

War is not only obviously bad, but it is also banal.

This is not a war, and it is possible to end the pointless slaughter.

Artists can avoid responding to war, but there is little point in remaining helpless, passive, and silent about these atrocities.

Even better, It is possible to avoid introspection, but since there is little point in trying to deny one's thoughts, it is best to try to reflect on them as if to say "oh god, that's who we've really become by sticking our heads in the sand."

If you believe in art and in your personal art, you might try to inspire others and reinterpret the facts and the actual situation to everyone who has been misinformed and hypnotized by the omnipresent corporate owned, manipulated media.

War will horrify you and will deluge your reservoir of artistic source material with images of misery, futility, hopelessness and pain before, during and after the event.

Get in touch with your feelings and share them with anyone who will listen; as a result you will feel energized instead of depressed, bitter and cynical.

With immense sadness, and hope,

Nick- "We must love one another or die"-Piombino

An obsession with "good versus bad" or "successful versus unsuccessful" poetry is the hobbyhorse of conscientious or anxious beginning writers and readers and poetry professionals. Experienced poets worry about this about as much as a chef in a very busy restaurant might worry on any given day about whether their meals are up to snuff. They think about it if a customer complains or if a reviewer has entered the restaurant because their focus, in any case, is to cook as well as they can all the time. Experienced poets worry less about whether their own poetry is worthwhile and more about whether the whole endeavor of poetry is worthwhile -particularly in their own era.

Thursday, March 20

This just in from Eileen Tabios - the url for a blog from "some young folks in Baghdad." This is a frequently updated blog with photos and many local links. Check it out: http://dear_raed.blogspot.com/
Lately when I wake up the first thing I do, even before I've had my tea, is to read all the blogs on my links bar. I hope you have the time to check out Drew Gardner's blog, which is excerpted on "Circulars" as well. And Caterina's interesting quotes from D.W. Winnicott. Usually this is enough to brush off the morning mist surrounding my thoughts. Not today. Today the blues got me and I got the blues. Big time. I thought of my all time favorite blog, Jordan's one word blog some weeks back this winter. "Blizzard." I was tempted to follow suit with "War." But Maryann Shaneen is reminding us that this is not "war." This is slaughter.

I sat there drinking my tea and trying to figure out a way to get undepressed. So I casually opened the new issue (March 20) of "London Review of Books" lying there in a basket on the floor. Read through the usual literary stuff, how French biographies, this one of De Gaulle, are not very annotated (yawn), another article about the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation-interesting, but this won't help me feel less depressed, and then I found it. All new cartoons by Art Spiegelman! It happened again. I was laughing out loud. Very loud! A full two pages of color cartoons in the centerfold. One cartoon is about Mr. and Mrs.Spiegelman's visit to their daughter's school on the morning of September 11. Nadja's school is close to Ground Zero. Mrs Spiegelman is screaming to be allowed into the school and they are finally allowed inside, the only parents to be admitted. Art comments that sometimes hysteria pays off. They are waiting around and then they hear an announcement from the principal on the loudspeaker: "ATTENTION: DUE TO TODAY'S UNUSUAL CONDITIONS NO STUDENTS WILL BE ALLOWED OUTSIDE FOR LUNCH."

-Fait Accompli- started with the idea that "the past, present and future are one." Since much has been presented in these pages about the present and the past, we felt that it was time to take a look at the future. Fortunately for us, we have a trained psychic on our staff, the artist Toni Simon, who offers this prophesy: "I predict: the army will 'discover' a weapons plant in Iraq and 'destroy' it. There won't be any real proof or evidence and no one will be allowed to verify this for 'security reasons.' It will be used to berate the French and justify U.S. actions- by the time its exposed as a lie the American press won't bother to report it."

Wednesday, March 19

I'm feeling particularly fond of Canada these days, not only for producing the likes of Kevin Davies, Karen McCormick, Alan Davies and Steve McCaffery, but also for taking a strong stand in opposition to the second reich here in US-and-only-USland. A blogger in Victoria, B.C., Caterina Fake, seems to have very recently taken an interest in -fait accompli- (thanks for the link, Caterina) and she also very kindly discussed the catalogue to the "Poetry Plastique" exhibition, curated in 2001 by Jay Sanders and Charles Bernstein at the Maryann Boesky Gallery, which Caterina came across in a bookstore and recently purchased (!) there, as well!. Caterina noted my discussion of the paradigm transforming work of the British psychoanalyst D.W.Winnicott concerning the role of transitional objects in early psychological development, but also, significantly, in relation to such basic facts of cultural life as spirituality, art and poetry, universal cultural formations that Freud never seemed to have found a way to incorporate into his theory beyond a bare bones notion of "sublimation." I would be more than delighted if you might garner a moment to check out Caterina's lively and lovely site. (Like so many writers these days, Caterina is sleeping less and reading and writing much more). Links to your left at the sidebar, please. Hey, readers and bloggers, blogland is going international! (More about "Poetry Plastique" at the Electronic Poetry Center)

And while you're at the links bar, if you happen to have another few moments, be sure to check out on -Elsewhere- (he's back!) Gary Sullivan's latest, as always, completely absorbing musings, this time on drug culture. It appears the harried Gary had to squeeze quite a few moments out from his busy life to again edit, with Nada Gordon, another new and exciting upcoming edition of "The Poetry Project Newsletter."

I certainlly can't close without mentioning the anti-war reading at the Paula Cooper gallery tonight. Ramsey Clark gave a rousing speech that had the audience jumping up to applaud him (there would have been a lot more people except for tonight's demonstration at Union Square, but there were at least 60 people there, anyway.) His expressive, but quiet, thoughtful style came through in stark contrast to the violence during the Gulf War that he described with a welter of painful historical facts, such as the 3000 guided missiles that will be used during the first hour of this war, and the 11 year old girl he watched receiving an amputation of her leg without anaesthesia during the 1991 Gulf War ("it took 4 men to hold her down.") Thougtfully, he mentioned that she survived. He also mentioned the fact that 45 percent of Americans think, incorrectly, that Iraq was responsible for Sept 11. Since Iraq is almost completely without medicines or even bandages, he asked Bush and Kofi Annan if could we offer at least some medical supplies before devastating their country. During the Gulf War the water supply was deliberately destroyed during the first hours. Mothers, as a result, had no milk to offer their babies many of whom (at least 6000) died of dehydration. It is estimated that since the Gulf War 775,000 children have died there due to the combined effects of war and embargo. The speaker for A.N.S.W.E.R. mentioned that the full cost of bringing the world into the 21st Century in terms of basic needs would be 45 billion dollars. The cost of this war will be over 200 billion dollars. Ramsey Clark urges us to support the Vote to Impeach BushCheneyRumsfeldAshcroft. A few days ago 100,000 had signed the petition. It's already come to 200,000 by practically only whispering about the existence of www.VoteToImpeach.org (1901 Pennsylvania Ave.,NW, suite 607,Washington D.C.20006.)

All four readers-Ann Lauterbach, Anne Waldman, Michael Lally and Robert Creeley were excellent. Robert Creeley did a particularly affecting reading of Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach" as well as some of his own anti-war poetry. Anne Lauterbach read the touching poem about Sept 11 she read on WNYC's recent presentation concerning Sam Hamill's "Poets Against The War"activities (check the audio link out on Laurable.com); Anne Waldman did a hypnotic, trance-inducing shamanic reading during which she seemed to be channeling Allen Ginsberg (she did sing Blake just as he did) as well as possibly some unnamed male and female Anastazi spirits-Anne W chanted beautifully and was emotionally and mystically transcendent on this occasion! Michael Lally read a very strong 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!(I also got him to sign my precious copy of his rare, wonderful book "Rocky Dies Yellow." I learned that he's been living in New Jersey for the last few years, though we rarely see him at readings due to recent illnesses-he's better now-, and the fact that he is the father of two young children. We've got to get this charming, dapper, witty, lyrical and very smart poet to read around here more often!) Anne also suggested that writers gather at 11 am on Saturday morning at the Gotham Book Mart, 41 West 47 Street to join the overall march on March 22nd.

Tuesday, March 18

From the inbox:


International ANSWER Coalition and Paula Cooper Gallery
invite you to attend

VERSUS: Poets Against The War

Ann Lauterbach
Anne Waldman
Michael Lally
Robert Creeley

with a special appearance by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark

Tuesday, March 18, 7 PM

Paula Cooper Gallery
534 West 21 St.
New York, NY
Check out -Froth- (Maryann Shaneen) for up to date news on anti- war demonstrations and a special message from Paul Chan. Links to your left.

September 11 cartoons by Art Spiegelman, "In the Shadow of No Towers" in the March 6 issue of "London Review of Books" are the first September 11 jokes that actually made me laugh out loud - with the exception of The Comedy Channel's incredible Jon Stewart. Shortly after Sept 11, Jon, who "hosts" what he calls a "fake" news program, and who is never ever anything but funny, actually wept on his show when describing his experience of witnessing the bombings, at the moment he mentioned that because of their absence he could now see the Statue of Liberty. Since then, as before, Jon will never shirk at laughing at anything or anyone, very much including himself. Spiegelman witnessed the bombings also but in one of the cartoons in this terrific two page spread says: "He ran back home to phone the school so he only saw the second plane smash into the tower on tv (a voice says) Art! forget the damn phone- just HURRY (then) though he heard the deafening crash right outside his window (next box) He saw the burning towers as he and his wife ran to Canal Street toward the school... but the view was obstructed as he ran up the next block (next box) He could only see smoke billowing behind a giant billboard...it was for some dopey new Scharzenegger movie about terrorism (next box with poster of Collateral Damage) Oh my God!...oddly in the aftermath of September 11th , some pundits insisted that irony was Dead..." I can't think of anyone better qualified than Art Spiegelman to find a way to laugh about Sept 11- just didn't think it was possible- but I guess honing your cartoon skills on the Holocaust could do it.

Monday, March 17

Sun coming through the window. 62 degrees outside. Chopin on the radio. Somebody walking by whistling "Mack the Knife." Candlelight vigil last night against the war on 92cd Street and Amsterdam- everyone singing all the best anti-war hits of all time-though some disagreement on whether to sing "Masters of War." One of my list pieces(Slam Poetics, or, Who is Bill Kennedy?) published by Bob Holman and Margery Snyder on their column on About. com with loads of great links. Three new links to put on my sidebar. Blogland as provocative, engaging and and absorbing as ever.

Can't smile.


Saw a headline.

Weapons inspectors kicked out of Iraq.

Bloodthristy military-industrial complex in ecstacy.

Stockmarket soaring.

Sunday, March 16

Heriberto is back again!
"In the last ten years, Juárez has lived a social disaster. The Mexican corruption and the spreading of poverty, along with the globalization’s processes have turned Juárez as the example of the hybrid experiment gone wrong"

Check out this disturbing story at Heriberto Yepez' blog. Links to your left, please.

the poet Jeni Olin presenting her fabulous poems

with opening act Jim Behrle reading all 100 Sonnets (don't worry, only takes like 23 minutes).

Soft Skull Shortwave
SUN 3/16/03 at 2:00 PM
71 Bond Street (at State St.)
Brooklyn, NY 11217

DIRECTIONS: The closest subway stop is Hoyt / Schermerhorn; take the A, C, or G there, go out the Bond Street exit, walk one block down Bond from Schermerhorn, and the store is on the northeast corner at the intersection with State Street, on your left.

Alternately, take the F train to Bergen; walk a couple blocks east from Smith to Bond Street; make a left toward Atlantic Avenue; cross Atlantic, and Shortwave is one block up on your right.