Distribution Automatique

Saturday, March 29

Nada reminded me of her penchant - and her considerable talent -for songs and singing.Today, on her blog, she recalled this one:

"come on people now smile on your brother everybody get together & etc..."

This was, in fact, one of my favorite 60's songs. Years ago Toni and I went to see the lead singer of the group that recorded it... He had become kind of slick, short haired, pale, and sang songs about his divorce. But by then we were used to the almost complete evaporation of the 60's spirit. With a little bit of luck and a lot of protests maybe a similar spirit will make its way back here, who knows? If Marianne Shaneen's attitude is any indication, the signs are good.
Now I have to stay home tomorrow and interview potential roommates rather than march for peace. Sigh. Everyone, please get arrested for me! Pepperspray yourselves!

Jim Behrle
"...the sense of sound: ornate, spiraled,
descending: why

should the heart
drown in its own red

Sandra Simonds
Quoted by Gwyn McVay in a letter to me:

"We should all heed the universal call to like your neighbor just like
you like to be liked yourself."
-- George W. Bush, quoted in the Financial Times, January 14, 2000
Thanks to Salam Pax, little j journalism is earning its big J, big time.

If he survives, give him a Pulitzer.

Hugh Nicoll

Ignore me, Lord. I know there are Bombs dropping.

Joseph Massey
Thursday, March 27, 2003  
"My normal state of mind after getting home from work, eating dinner, reading the NY Times and watching the TV news is a simmering despair, with anger, and intense pulsations and rivulets of depression. Tonight I implemented a no-TV or NY Times rule."

Drew Gardner
but I couldn’t bear seeing car after car drive by...when the time came, I decided to jump the barricades. I laid down in the street for quite a while and was ‘picked up’, rather gently, by a cop and handcuffed with plastic cuffs.

Marianne Shaneen
A thought: the war is about ERASURE of ORIGIN. That is, The cradle of civilization will be the grave of civilization. #

Nada Gordon
from "Wine Poetics" (Eileen Tabios)

"Incidentally, four years after changing my lifestyle to spend nearly every day in the writing studio writing poems, I have started to meet others like me who spend their time in this world trying to return to a parallel universe. Several are poets, which would seem to be logical for do not such things labeled as “transcendence” and “longing” fuel much of poetry? We recognize each other when we meet, primarily by the furrows carved by tears against our cheeks. Tears – they often well up from having ripped off halos for the ecstasy of the fall. These otherworldly poets are like fallen angels: when we see sacred cows, we think only of sucking their bone marrow."
"Can’t we just get oblong?
In this universe, the mind
of whatever, we inhabit.
The laws have their own laws."

David Hess

" I want to run into the wall of the social like a glass egg, not to say there is a toy or surprise at the center or that for my self I'd employ the same metaphor so often used upon me earlier to explain about the trinity, and the spirit, and the shell which holds it all together even when blown out through a safety pin sized hole. "

Stephanie Young

"When people pray, even monks, they never really get there. Though they might feel they receive some kind of blessing or inspiration...Every person's life is a process of building belief or faith...Why should we live? Even though we know we must die, we still try to discover something so that we can pass a better day. Those who are sick understand this...It's the in between...Whatever we believe in we create a space there. That space is a kind of realm or as Joseph Beuys put it, "Thought is a form of sculpture."

Montien Boonma

Friday, March 28

(Heart) Breaking News

Each successive stage of development brings with it its own measure of responsibility. The idea we have of progress and change is mistaken. The movement of light to dark, from hurting to helping, from creating to killing is never more than a series of masques, broken mini-narratives, reoccuring in more or less the same manner from age to age, through all time and for all time. The Hindus have always had the clearest picture of these changeless stories and archtypical characters. There is Shiva the destroyer, unquestionably in the ascendant now, Vishnu the protector, the preserver of the cosmos, upholder of the universal laws, and Brahma, the creator. It is no use to think that events are gradually revealing progress, developing. They are not and never will. It was an occasional, shimmering bright dream to think for a few moments that humankind was getting a better picture of reality. Pictures, yes. The whole picture, no. It might have been true, or seemed to, if it were not for the fact that we simultaneously, as a society, forget as much as we have learned, and sometimes even more than we have learned. Those fragmentary stories, or broken dreams as I once called them in a poem, are alternately exhilirating and pulverizing. What's the use of trying to derive a universal pattern? When we are not out there murdering each other, as in Basra, we are observing each other furtively trying to figure out how to get more of what we are so pursuaded we desperately need from others or from the earth.

We should watch over each other more and try to ask things of each other or influence other people more gently, more considerately. Far too much bullying, shouting, bossing, berating, cajoling, hectoring, screaming, yelling, sternly explaining, , arguing, angrily debating, hating, criticizing, contemptuously judging, classifying, correcting, deriding, condeming, assessing, testing, categorizing, obtaining, verbally and sarcastically torturing, chafing, arranging, putting down, hurting, damaging, wounding, killing. We never stop, won't stop, can't seem to stop. We never leave each other alone in the sense of allowing the other to complete a thought , see a set of related feelings and then ideas and then convictions emerge and then mutual projects develop in a reasonable period of undisturbed time so we have some shape to the picture of how we are feeling, before we give into our strong need to intervene. We hardly ever or not nearly often enough leave one other alone , even when trying to communicate with one another in the sense of allowing the other person time to figure out something to its conclusion on their own, turning things over and over in their minds, appreciating their ambivalent, ambiguous and multi-dimensional aspects, allowing time for ourselves and others to appraise the situation in a wide-ranging way as we exchange opinions, and take the time to consider what is apropos, each of us hearing all the others. If we are ever to cope with these sudden heart wrenching, terrifying paradyme changes by means of a changed frame of reality, we must learn how to sense and comprehend what masque we are presently in and find a way to acquaint each other with the changed cast of characters and what this ageless dynamism is trying to tell us. We like the movies because they are the closest thing we have to a way of visualizing the big picture as it is, unearthing and tracking a way of seeing the underlying universal archetypes and their interrelated motivations, drives, illusions and delusions, track and plot this archetype of rage and destruction as it really exists, and pervades our every feeling and thought. Ah Michael Moore, Michael Moore, bless your brilliant, insightful, profound, caring, good hearted, hilariously outraged and rousing soul.

The article below appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times yesterday. I am quoting it here because of how relevant it is to the very useful discussion that has been taking place between Masha Zavialova and Tom Bell and a few others, that came about partly as a result of my posting a letter from the poet Herberto Yepez, poet and philosophy professor living in Tijuana, Mexico on the Buffalo poetics list. If you haven't checked out the list lately I want to encourage you to read it regularly now. It is a center for alternative discussion on this useless, terribly destructive, and heartbreaking Iraq invasion. In spite of the occasional silly nit-picking, squabbling and bickering (this often happens anyway among poets who are constantly and jealously clamoring for the attention and affections of a highly fickle, though occasionally very generous Muse, and except for this have every reason to have mostly only affection and respect for one another) the list is a fine place to discuss real issues in a media environment of intensely vicious progagandizing and disinformation.

March 27, 2003  
Words of War

ASHINGTON — These days I am often asked what I did in Tehran as bombs fell during the Iran-Iraq war. My interlocutors are invariably surprised, if not shocked, when I tell them that I read James, Eliot, Plath and great Persian poets like Rumi and Hafez. Yet it is precisely during such times, when our lives are transformed by violence, that we need works of imagination to confirm our faith in humanity, to find hope amid the rubble of a hopeless world. Memoirs from concentration camps and the gulag attest to this. I keep returning to the words of Leon Staff, a Polish poet who lived in the Warsaw ghetto: "Even more than bread we now need poetry, in a time when it seems that it is not needed at all."

I think back to the eight-year war with Iraq, a time when days and nights seemed indistinguishable, and were reduced to the sound of the siren, warning us of the next air attack. I often reminded my students at Allameh Tabatabai University that while guns roared and the Winter Palace was stormed, Nabokov sat at his desk writing poetry.

My Tehran classroom at times overflowed with students who ignored the warnings about Iraq's chemical bombs so they could reckon with Tolstoy's ability to defamiliarize (a term coined by the Russian Formalist critics) everyday reality and offer it to us through new eyes. The excitement that came from discovering a hidden truth about "Anna Karenina" told me that Iraqi missiles had not succeeded in their mission. Indeed, the more Saddam Hussein wanted us to be defined by terror, the more we craved beauty.

If I felt compelled to keep rereading the classics, it was in order to see the light in the eyes of my students. I remember two young women, clad from head to toe in black chadors, looking as if nothing in the world mattered more than the idea that "Pride and Prejudice" was subversive because it taught us about our right to make our own choices.

Among my scribbled notes from those days, I found a quote from Saul Bellow about writers in the Soviet work camps. To my friends in the United States who are skeptical about the importance of imagination in times of war, let me share his words: "Perhaps to remain a poet in such circumstances is also to reach the heart of politics. The human feelings, human experiences, the human form and face, recover their proper place — the foreground."

And so a new war has begun, though this time it is my adopted country and not the country of my birth that is fighting Iraq. Nothing will replace the lives lost. Still, I will take some comfort now as I did then by opening a book.

Azar Nafisi, a fellow at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, is author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran."

Thursday, March 27

Jordan Davis called the blogger attendance roll at about 10:00 this morning finding all of us a.w.o.l. The thing is, I think at least one of us may have been somewhere in the Rock a feller area lying down on the street about 8:00 am. By now she may be getting fingerprinted in the labyrinths of the New York criminal justice system. I'll let her report her own scoop so mums the word.

My only excuse is that I was at the gym running the 31/2 miles I used to do every three or four days until I fell in head over heels in love with that mysteriously magnetic siren Ms Blogga , who calls to me heart and soul 24/7. Sometimes I do a few other things, but she's forever there and I'm rarely more than a thought away from her waiting...uh...screen.
In response to a passionate call for action on the part of US poets from Heriberto Yepez (see below) that I published here and on the Buffalo poetics list this fascinating letter posted by Masha Zavialova has quickly provoked an important discussion tonight on the poetics list from Tom Bell and many others, that I expect will continue for some time.

With her kind permission, and our immense gratitude, the complete text is reproduced below:

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 19:54:19 -0600
From: Masha Zavialova
Subject: what can poets do

What can poets do?

I am starting to develop a deja vu feeling. Some of the things from my
life in the Soviet Union are returning that have been repressed. So what can
poets do?
Apart from doing what a physical body can do - like going out in the
streets, or whatever, and making one‚s presence visible as the opposition
to the regime, in times like these poets could do one very specific thing
that only writers can do ˆ be sensitive to current usage and scrape off the
official ideological shit from the language. I remember a phrase from the
soviet past Œthe wolf is the janitor of the wilderness‚ in the sense that
wolves put away sick animals who are unable to run fast. So poets in the
late Soviet times were the janitors of the language. By 1980s the Soviet
official language became so stale that many words became meaningless or
rather filled with such meanings that one had to be within the context and
know the official doctrine in order to understand. Should I say that what
the ideological apparatus did was to make an attempt to arrest the permanent
sliding of the signifier? Maybe I get it wrong but anyway the ideocratic
state made an attempt to secure the meanings of words and control
signifying processes so that eventually you could not use lots of words
unless in a joke or in some sort of an ironical sense. It was kind of weird
because it would seem that words are polysemantic and you can actually
switch registers, leave newspeak behind and still go on speaking but what
happened was that the whole language was compromised and contaminated and it
took literally hundreds of poets and prose writers, (D.A. Prigov comes to
mind first) to try and repair the abuse.

(I joined the list after a long break thanks to Maria Damon so this is a way
to re-introduce myself. Sorry if I am out of the discourse)


Wednesday, March 26

Posted on the Buffalo Poetics Listserv:

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 10:09:33 -0500
From: pmetres
Subject: antiwar anthology/Rachel Corrie

From Gabe Gudding's message, and others, I assume this is an appropriate and
timely posting re: the death of Rachel Corrie.

"John Bradley, and William Witherup, co-editors of the anti-Iraq war
anthology in progress, HOW MANY MILES TO BABYLON, invite all poets to
submit an elegy to Rachel Corrie, the courageous young woman from
Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington who stood up to an armed
Israeli bulldozer in Rafah, Palestine, the West Bank, on Sunday, 16
March, 2003. If you want more information, contact Bill
Witherup,co-editor, at moolmool27@msn.com. We're still accepting poems
on the war on Iraq. Send poems to John Bradley, 560 Normal Rd., DeKalb,
IL 60115. Enclose an SASE. New deadline: April 30, 2003."


Tuesday, March 25

Can't resist recounting a most rewarding early evening walk through blogland park today. Wow! Stephanie Young zooms in close on protest vomit and a handy 1998 issue of Sufur, a charming David Hess poem concerns a bookcase with a mind of its own, Josh Corey quotes from "The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm," Ron Silliman remembers Larry Eigner, Nada Gordon's 3/16 peace convergence poster list tickles the war gloom spot, Anastasios Kolaitis serves up the full text of a Frank Rich classic essay on "Chicago," Jordan Davis entices his enraptured readers one poetic step closer to never again associating the word "million" with money and burgers, Eileen Tabios comes through with a mini- review of his new Faux Press "Million Poems" book, Jonathan Mayhew weighs in on "the human," and Jack Kimball recounts a new Beat (Maggie Zurawski) chicken dance. Links to your left, please.
Several people have written to the Buffalo poetics list to thank the listees for providing so much valuable information and useful debate on the war against Iraq and the Bush administration policies on civil rights. I couldn’t agree more. When you compare the poetics list and what is available online to mainstream media coverage it is clear that the information gap is widening every moment. A demonstration in Chicago on Thursday led to the arrest of 800. These were not provoked or planned arrests. Another link provided on the list reported on a demonstration in Greece numbering in the hundreds of thousands. These were hardly touched on in mass media reporting. Michael Moore's courageous statement at the Academy Awards ceremonies last night may well be prophetic. At one point, a Mexican show business professional -worked on “Frida”- made an anti-war statement and I decided to write to Heriberto Yepez (who teaches philosophy in Tijuana, Mexico and who is a poet who recently visited here and read recently in Lytle Shaw's "Drawing Center" poetry series) about this. When Michael Moore won the Oscar for “Bowling for Columbine” (a movie I greatly admired) and made a rousing speech against the war and Bush’s illegal coup I wrote to Heriberto again. I didn’t at all expect the answer I received but it made me think. I wrote for his permission to publish it on -fait accompli- and on the poetics list. To view "The Tijuana Bible of Poetics" go to the links on the left.


I am writing a blog on the Oscars/Frida/anti-war involvement and I just read your email, and I was also thinking of you when was seeing that-"you" meaning American poets. You need to do something. I don't know what but this is a moment when the intelligent people of America need to do something radical to stop the meaning "America" has now to many many people on the world. Stop this government. Nick I think your community (LangPoe, Post-s, NY, etc) needs to do something visible against this goverment you have. Those protests agains the war in NY are great. That's helping a lot the way the outside world, the media, etc, is seeing what America really is.

I think it was Adorno who said what a nation (people/culture) is not what the norm is_does but what opposes that. So I know the Americans are always intelligent. The sleepwalkers need to understand they are not being American, they are damaging not only countries like Iraq and Mexico but also America itself. Being a Mexican or being an American or being a Iraqi needs to be being-totally-intelligent.

As a reader of contemporary experimental writing and I self-made-expert on wanting to understand what "America" really means, I need to tell you this is the moment experimental writing needs to be socially relevant to your culture. This post 9-11 world is a new Vietnam situation in which writers need to act. In Mexico we had that wake up moment in 1994, with the NAFTA and with the zapatista movement. Even though still we need to wake up even more, because too many Mexican writers and artists are so fucking boring and conservative.

What would an experimental writer from the best avant gards do in times like this? The Mexican and the American writers and every writer needs to do something, is not enough to be so complex

˜ you're complex, get over that fact, go beyond˜

now you have to be so much more than that. Talk with the other langpo people and beyond them, this is the historical moment when we are going to know if the LangPo and beyond scenes are a real avant garde or just literature-as-usual.

You're a person who I respect a lot and I think the American writers can find a way to do something versus the war˜go to the Media or something, put the experimental writing history into real political public debate.

Saludos y muchos abrazos,


Monday, March 24

Laurable did a search on MSN search engine for kickthepodium. How does the adorable one think of these things? Go to Laurable and check out her note for Friday.

Also: Read Raed! The Baghdad Blogger.
I didn't think my admiration for Pyra Labs and Google could get much higher. But how about this from Raed?

" Monday, March 24, 2003 ::

The last two days we didn’t have internet access. I thought that was it and started what a friend called a “pblog”, what you will read is what should have been the entries for the 22nd and 23rd.
Blogger and Google have created a mirror to this weblog at [dearraed.blogspot.com] for those of you who have trouble with the underscore in the URL. There are not enough words to thank the people at Blogger for their help and support."

Three cheers for Blogger and Google!!!

Raed's latest reports are up! Go to Baghdad Blog on the links to your left.

Little prediction: Nobel prizes for Michael Moore and Raed.
During the Oscars I wrote to Herberto Yepez to mention the Michael Moore speech contra Bush and his Iraq slaughter.
He wrote back to me to say he was writing about the Oscar ceremonies for his blog. He wrote:

"After the MX Actor a second speech against the war took place. The filmmaker Michael Moore started saying “We like non-fiction”.

‘I like documentaries, because I like non-fiction... In a country where an election is a fiction… fictitious president... and is going to war for fictitious reasons... We opposed this war… shame on you Mr. President.. your time is up!’"

I have written to Herberto to ask him for permission to publish his letter to me. He feels that writers here could be doing more to oppose the war, especially experimental writers, specifically the Language writers. This is a worthy challenge and I hope we will succeed in meeting it. To view Heriberto Yepez' blog "The Tijuana Bible of Poetics" go to the links on your left. Also Raed, the Baghdad blogger is back! He got so many hits his server got jammed! How about that? Go, bloggers!

"The Pianist" winning three oscars is a fine thing too. Anti-war efforts got some major prime time yesterday, giving us a little relief from the misery of the past few days.

One day Toni and I ran into Michael Moore outside Border's Books in Manhattan shortly before "Bowling for Columbine" was released. Toni said: "Michael Moore for President." He laughed and said, "Don't say that!" But his speech on the Academy Awards made us feel proud and a little hopeful. Go, Michael Moore! If you haven't seen "Bowling for Columbine" or read "Stupid White Men" check out the bravest and brightest mind in Us and Only US-land.

Sunday, March 23

Every place has its elsewhere, its neighbor not completely known, its strange part. We think of "the known" as conquering "the unknown," two vast terrains, each pitched in darkness, one advancing on the other, and the other in grave retreat. Probably a more accurate portrayal, such as exists between two people, let's say, allows for a more conflictual, yet webbed relationship than that. And partly because the two "sides" are exchanging something vital to each, like a hot potato that neither completely wants, yet neither can entirely let go of either, over time the relationship itself changes both. Eventually, the known and the unknown look more and more alike, yet essentially completely separate as they ever were. At the boundary point between the two there are "leaks," there are clusters of origination- like morning beads of dew on leaves of grass- that erupt very briefly at this peripheral zone, then melt away. Life is this sparkle of movement, even this reflection is part of it. Life is the crumbling of something that once was whole. All we can feel now are the minutest shards of it, but even this tiny part is composed of the same constituents. Contenting ourselves with the slightest whiff, we must reconstruct what may once have been. Always, the whiff is intoxicating. Near it, we may shed tears, we may commune with things we had long forgotten or never knew existed. Yet, like a scorching flame, we must view it from some distance. In any case, time eventually directs every particle into the flame. The consumer becomes part of the all-consuming.

How cold must timelessness have been. With what momentum must life have caused itself to be.