The Rejection Group is Kent Johnson. 5 Works was published by David Hadbawnik. I republished many of these awesome poems in BOTH BOTH. Here is a video of Kent Johnson reading from that issue of BOTH BOTH.
62. Beauty Was The Case That They Gave Me- Mark Leidner
Mark ordered a cheeseburger, I ordered a Pliny The Elder. I told him and Amanda Nadelberg a story about my high school stalker. About how he showed up at my house one night, about how I thought he might have had a gun (he didn't), about how he accused me of spying on him, of working for nefarious-fill-in-the-blank organization, about how I was poisoning him, drugging him, turning people against him, about how I was monitoring him from the van parked on his block. I very carefully talked him down, tried to appeal to reason, I told him he had to leave, I then called his Dad and told him that his son was very sick.
63. House Of Leaves- Mark Z. Danielewski
I would read this every evening after boxing, I would have to stop once it got dark. Easily the most profoundly unsettling book I've ever read. House Of Leaves is about architecture, the DARK, hallways and Nothing. It's about how we inhabit our houses and how houses inhabit themselves. I made a mix tape called The Navidson Record, I don't reread books often but I know I'll be picking this back up sooner than later.
64. The Power Of Myth- Joseph Campbell/ Bill Moyers
Joseph Campbell is a beautiful man. Bill Moyers is a somewhat annoying interviewer. When Joseph Cambell emplores us to "follow your bliss!" I really feel like following the hell out of my fucking bliss. I just haven't found what my bliss is yet. Do you think most people feel like they know what their bliss is? Or are most of us cluelessly/ carelessly blissless. I don't enjoy reading myth very much (not even the Greek ones), but I could listen to Campbell talk about myth all day.
65. The Poems Of Gaius Valerius Catullus- Brandon Brown
Brandon Brown has written the book of the year, easily. I think Catullus is more like the book of the last few years, let's say 3. This book is so good I'm having a very hard time saying anything about it. You should read it, write about it, recommend it to your friends, pass it around, interview BB, invite him to your birthday party, to your East Bay BBQ, to your road trip to LA...you should invite Brandon Brown up to the Russian River over Memorial Day weekend, do you enjoy fishing and beer? Invite Brandon on your next fishing expedition, organize an orgy and have Brandon be the star, what's Brandon favorite ice cream, I think it's chocolate, you should buy him a pint. If you find yourself kicking it in Dolores Park with BB on one of those deliciously warm but rare San Francisco afternoons, offer to rub sun screen on his naked back.
Seems like all Language Poets work in the computer industry.
52. Jimmy And Rita- Kim Addonizio
I once wrote a semi-horrible serial poem about two SF junkies called Yellow.
53. 26 #C
I think they made it to E or G. I moved to Boulder around the same time as Elizabeth Robinson. I think I only slipped on the ice on Pearl S. 3 times in 2 years. I almost tore my ACL skateboarding home from The Catacombs after making out with a girl with a shaved head.
54. Hymns Of St. Bridget And Other Writings- Bill Berkson/ Frank O'Hara
I started dreaming of Frank O'Hara. And then I wrote this poem after Bill Berkson:
I was making tuna salad when my MAG-lite went lumpy
My Search For Animal Chin scars are Blue As The Hero
I bought 2 bottles of Pinot Grigio
For a backache and exo-warehouse hullabaloo
My apartment smells like Nag Chompa
On Fredrick Douglass Plaza
I don’t have a baby to save, Madmartigan
I’m the J. Williams score F.O.B.ing backgammon in the background
Attention all Busters:
A moratorium on the Occult feltches gossip from the cauldron
Deer are played out because antlers are played out
Because “word verification” is played out
Who said “Portes, Plakoto, Fevga”?
Dear Bill, I feel lighter than when I left work
I don’t recognize my colors
I can bank on my own tradability
If we could do this any other day
I might sport my druthers
Dear Bill, I feel sloppier than those bright balloons
I’m groping towards an interlocutor
55. The Collected Poems Of Ted Berrigan- Ted Berrigan
I want to say something about Sulfur #8 but I'm going to ask you a question instead? Have you read that poem Columbus Day by Brandon Brown? It was published in Mrs. Maybe #3. It is a seriously good poem. If I didn't leave my copy of Mrs. Maybe #3 at Heart And Dagger the other night I'd probably be reading that poem right now.
59. Homage To Frank O'Hara- ed. Bill Berkson/ Joe LeSueur
A fantastic book I bought at City Lights back in 2002. A sad book, almost like a funeral. I started dreaming about Frank O'Hara a lot while reading this book. I really wish there was an O'Hara documentary in the works, I wish James Franco would give some competent documentary director a lot of money to finance his Frank O'Hara pet project.
President's Day trip to Port Costa. Said hello to cleaning lady on the street who then invited us to explore the old haunted hotel/ former brothel. Beers and Bloody Mary's over at Warehouse Cafe. Cargo ship passing through the Carquinez Straight.
Currently listening to Aidan Couglan III drinking black tea with milk and honey. I'm sick again, I've been sick 6 times this late Fall/ winter season. My right tonsil looks like an ovary, I'm on meds. I spent over $100 yesterday on meds, oranges, soups, tea and honey and milk. I watched 4 episodes of Swamp People and a documentary on Pete Rose.
42. The 3:15 Experiment- Bernadette Mayer/ Danika Dinsmore/ Jen Hofer/ Lee Ann Brown
I met Will Yakulic at the Potrero skatepark a couple summer's ago. I was meeting up with Micah Ballard and P. Dunagan. Will was with his girlfriend, he was tall and skinny, he was wearing a too large baby blue mesh cap. I don't remember if he was visiting because he had a show in SF or it was just a social visit. Later on that night I went to a party at Cedar Sigo and Johnny Houston's house. I think that was the first time I met Julien Poirier. I was surprised at how easy it was to park in that part of the Mission.
43. Excess Space- Christina Fisher
Christina has a very fantastic energy. I couldn't remember her name for the longest time. I introduced her to my brother one night, I said "Hey James, have you guys met yet?" James knows that "have you guys met yet?" really means "introduce yourself and then ask her her name in front of me because I've forgotten it and I don't want to look like a dick by asking her her name again, we've been hanging out for too long at this point...". So James says "hey, I'm James...what's your name?" and Christina goes "I'm Christina...nice to meet you"...
44. The Violet Suitcase 1992-2004- Matt Gonzalez
I met a very pretty Portuguese girl at Spec's in North Beach. When I called her to set up a date she just kept saying "it's too hectic, so hectic...". I never saw her again.
Michael Koshkin gave me this back in 2005. He had a couple poems in it. Yes, I actually read the entire thing, and yes, it sucked.
48. Alternate Endings- Frances Jaffer
Human Universe I don't want
to paint a face on
a rock I speak to without
my face Little Sir
side of the bay is
the same and not
curses the paint
49. GirlVERT- Ashley Blue
I wrote this on AUG 19th, 2011. "Oriana Small (Ashley Blue) came into SPD today. it was great to meet her. she was with her husband Dave Naz. she told this great story about drawing a mustache on a dude's penis at Booksmith last night. and then she also autographed someone's butthole. i read her book GirlVERT in two days in my office a couple months ago. i played some early Rolling Stones while she signed a bunch of books. SPD can be weird sometimes."
50. Memoir 1960-1963- Tony Towle
I read this in one sitting. A very young Kathleen Fraser makes a cameo appearance. I'm not sure Tony had much to write about here, but it was fun nonetheless.
It's Allyssa with 2 "l"'s...it's Mathew Timmons with one "t"...the first time I met Allyssa we shared a bottle of red wine outside of The Commons in SOMA. Allyssa is probably the most interesting poet in the Bay Area that nobody (at least Oakland coterie) talks about.
32. The Tower Of Babel- Jack Spicer
I read this in my car on my lunch break. I wish Spicer finished it...the kitchen scene with the drunk Zen monk taking the piss out of the overeager white intellectuals had me in stitches.
33. Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
I like how Bradbury presaged the iPod with the omnipresent "seashell" earbuds. Not so much the State did this to us as, look what we did to ourselves. Sometimes people stare at my cellphone with a bewildered look on their face, "how do you get by without a smart phone?"..."how do you know where you're going?!". I was talking with Anna Moschovakis about all this, not being on Facebook is not a heroic act, it's just, choosing not to pay attention to all of that anymore.
34. Night- Elie Wiesel
I read this at Heart & Dagger after an all day skate session at Lakeshore Elementary. It was overcast, I was drinking Trumer, I think I landed my first heel flip that day.
Fun bathroom book in a Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls early-70s kitschy charm/ picked up a copy for a nickel at the Goodwill on a lazy Sunday kind of way. And then suddenly in 2011 we have the History Channel's mostly ridiculous Ancient Astronauts program plus Ridley Scott inexplicably basing a lot of his Alien prequel'ish Prometheus on Von Daniken Ancient Astronaut theory. (Have you seen the Prometheus trailer? It's so so good, I get chills thinking about it, watch it HERE)
Actually, remember a couple posts back where I was being kind of snarky about oddly shaped books? I think this is actually the book I had in mind. Is this a Belladonna book? I think I remember the cover as being oppressively white. Isn't this the book with the beautiful typset rings running throughout the text? Or was that just on the cover. Marcella Durand is one of 4 or 5 people who wrote very popular poetry books within the last 5 years to have the word "Weather" in the title.
40. Selected Short Stories- D.H. Lawrence
Oh boy, is all of Lawrence like this? (kind of want to flip the script and call him D.H. (sometimes I forget how the phrase goes and say "flip the switch")) cause this shit was capital B B.o.r.i.n.g. I think every story ended in a wedding. I think someone's sister died in every story. I'd rather have a mosquito bite on top of a staph infection on my eardrum that read another D.H. story.
I met the guy who wrote the theme song to The O.C., he's a friend of Estee's. Estee is basically friends with Los Angeles.
27. Temblor #5
Hickman doesn't seem to know how to close out a journal. He'll cram an incredibly dense, unintelligible and meandering 6 page book review on John Ashbury into the last 10 pages of the magazine, I can't fathom how anybody would think this a good editorial move.
28. A City A Cloud- Elizabeth Workman
I don't remember this book. Was this the poster?
29. Combo #9
Did Combo only go 10 issues? In any case, I've only read the first 10 issues, so, one more.
30. The Sentinel- Arthor C. Clarke
I was really into the story where the aliens have colonized Earth, but no human has ever actually seen what they look like (they communicate telepathically, and through human envoys). At the end of the book, after much scheming to get a glimpse of them, our hero, before passing out, catches sight of the backside of an alien as it flees the room, all he can make out is what looks like a devil tail.
Sup. I made a new one-off magazine, it's called White Castle Skateboard Stunts. It features new work by David Brazil and me. If you'd like a copy give me a holler at firstname.lastname@example.org, always free, always proud, buy USA.
Stacy was a friend, mentor and teacher of mine (a lot of us). Very sad to learn of her passing this morning. Doesn't seem all that long ago that me and Brandon, Stacy and Chet were all in Greece together drinking wine till all hours of the night, every night, gossiping and eating and laughing, talking poetry and food, swimming and translation.
(and years earlier)
In between classes at SFSU I'd often visit Stacy in her office, I was reading a lot of Yeats at the time, I remember one particular afternoon, after spotting my big fat Complete Yeats book peaking out of my backpack, she turned to me and said "read me some Yeats...," then without waiting for a response, quickly made herself comfortable on her little couch and closed her eyes, I was flabbergasted and flattered. I proceeded to nervously read her a random smattering of Yeats poems for half an hour or so, it was an electric experience for me, I was blown away. There was a lot of magic in the air in the early 2000s San Francisco, and that afternoon still stands out for me as one of the most magical. You'll be missed dearly Stacy...
Here is an interview I did with Stacy while Editor-In-Chief of SFSU's Transfer Magazine. Interview appeared in Transfer #85 (Spring 2003).
AN INTERVIEW WITH STACY DORIS
by JOHN SAKKIS AND BRANDON BROWN
TR: First of all, welcome to San Francisco State as our new Professor of Poetry.
SD: Thank you.
TR: You are a teacher as well as a writer. How do you balance your school obligations with your aesthetic ones? What does the term/ position of teacher mean to you? Do you consider it a vocation?
SD: I don’t know how to balance things really. I came here because I really wanted to teach. Though there was more than one reason I wanted to teach, one being in light of September 11th, I wanted to make a different kind of contribution to America. Before September 11th I was living in Paris and thought I was always going to live in Paris, I thought I had moved there permanently. In the beginning I was going back and forth between New York and Paris, but I’d really been in Paris for three years and had dropped the idea of living in the States. I never really imagined living anywhere in the States, except New York. After September 11th, I wanted to be in dialogue with this culture in a positive way, so I wanted to teach and was willing to give up everything that was good in my life to do that. I guess my fantasy about it was, and has always been, that I can bring things I’ve been looking at and wondering about and can’t solve on my own and try to share them and talk about them with other people. A lot of good things have happened to me so far in my one and a half semesters of teaching here. For instance, one thing that has been useful to me is a call that I am teaching now about African-American songs in the south recorded before World War II. It’s an area that I’m interested in but really don’t know anything about. So I’m learning about that at the same time the students are, and that’s very useful for me. I’m making a lot of connections and they’re making a lot of connections, and all of us are really bouncing off each other. I’m just figuring it all out.
TR: It appears that most of your books, though inflected with many voices, work as long poems, and can be taken as semi(meta)-narratives. Poet Benjamin Hollander has written, “I don’t write occasional poems and think mostly in terms of the books that will be, which takes a long time to evolve.” What differences do you see between the “occasional” and long poem, and how do these differences/preferences pertain to your writing?
SD: I would agree with Benjamin Hollander in the respect that I don’t write single poems, I write books. My first two books were written for the page. I regard it as composing or making an artistic composition say, in that my format is the 8 ½ by 11, white piece of paper, and my other materials are typed letters. I also consider my work to be theater for the page—so the page is the space the poem occurs in, but the book is also the space. It seems that now I’m not thinking so much about the page mainly because it seems we’re so engulfed in the electronic age and that the page has a different kind of meaning or value. It’s really in flux so much that I don’t think about the page much anymore.
TR: if you don’t compose within the page how are you thinking about your poetry as opposed to the page?
SD: Unlike some other people who might have a better sense or more stable sense of their work, I have a really strange and evolving sense of my own work and always will. Like you noticed, my second book, Paramour, is really a study in form and questions as much traditional poetic form as I can find, and distorts it. But at the same time it’s trying to work as a single palindrome that reads exactly the same from front to middle, and from the middle to end, like opening a mirror. It is also trying to use electronic space like you would experience if you were surfing the web or if you were just clicking all over the place and finding new things all the time, it changes rapidly. After that, I felt like I really exhausted what my possibilities for form were. And since that point I’ve had a lot of questions and no answers about it. Initially I felt that when I wrote Conference, I had a lot of ideas about the formal structure of the book, but then I just decided to forget about them and say to myself, “let’s face it, I have this problem with form and at this point I can deal with it from the outside, from a kind of formlessness.”
TR: In the preface to Paramour you write of the book as being, “very conservative.” Could you tell us what it is about the book that is conservative: themes, forms, and processes?
SD: The forms are conservative but they’re all perverted. There is a mirroring going on in Paramour but also a lot of the poems act as mirrors, so they are written double on the page.
TR: Do you see it being conservative in the sense of how Jackson Mac Low calls I Euro-American in subject?
SD: Mac Low said, “Why did you say this is conservative,” and, “You shouldn’t say that it’s conservative.” One of the reasons why I kept the word conservative in there is because the book deals with form and it deals specifically with traditional form. It’s also systematic in the way that it distorts form. There’s a lot of system working—a lot of the perversion is through translation, and translation of translation of translation. Another kind of perversion happening in the book is through taking something and literally putting it backwards, but then I fool around with it so that it’s not that way anymore. So there is a lot of system and a lot of tradition that is being departed from, but a sense of tradition is clearly there.
TR: So in some senses it’s fundamentally conservative but you’re liberating it in other ways?
SD: Yeah, but another thing I was thinking about when I wrote the book was Joyce and the upcoming end of the century. I started writing the book in 1995 and wanted the book to act as a census of what had happened up until then, and in a way sum things up, at least for me, and see what the possibilities were afterwards.
TR: Your Mop Factory Incident (Women’s Study Workshop, 1996) was a project in which you collaborated with artists Melissa Smedley, and is described as a Mexican, multi-lingual-play-poem. Could you tell us a little about the play and through that comment on the design and material of the book?
SD: The book was based on Mexican comic books, so it was like a melodrama, and the paper for those is poor quality newsprint and the format is small and square with a very low-tech production. The book is called multi-lingual because it’s in Spanish and English but it’s not bi-lingual. We were trying to distinguish it from being bi-lingual, there’s no translatability—sometimes it’s in Spanish and sometimes it’s in English—but there is no translation involved, it’s either one or the other. We made it out of mop paper from actual mops we acquired from a Tijuana mop factory. Melissa’s collaboration was very much in the design, not in the writing. It had mini Mars bars attached to it and it was shrink-wrapped, it was fun.
TR: Your books Kildare and Conference have a listed cast of characters, or maybe more appropriately, cast of voices. How does this polyphony of voices throughout the books enforce what you have called the “transgressive,” that is, in your words, “writing that dismantles and rewires the social and corporeal body of today’s America?”
SD: In terms of narrative and culture I have a lot of interest in problems. When I wrote Kildare, part of what I was trying to do was make a science fiction story that didn’t have traditional narrative. I find that science fiction always has the simple boy meets girl structure, and I wished that there could be science fiction that wouldn’t follow that pattern. Through some attempts have been made in science fiction, like the writer Octavia Butler who used shape-shifting characters and characters that are living in different periods of history concurrently. My interest in characters is with slippage, one becoming another, becoming another, is that they are interchangeable, and I’m interested in that interchangeability. I think that we as human beings are interchangeable, but I think that this quality has both negative and positive dimensions, like poetry. We are all the same, and if we could realize that we would be in much better shape. But at the same time the culture makes us interchangeable and makes us all the same in that we all want to look the same way, or we all want to posses certain things, so I’m working on exploring what that means.
TR: Through you stated that Conference as a book is still being worked on you decided that it was ready for publication. Could you tell us why you feel it still isn’t finished?
SD: I thought it was finished, but at the same time I felt that part of its vitality was due to a kind of messiness it possessed. The book was really concerned with problems of fundamentalism, religion, belief, beauty, perfection, poetry, and government and what their interrelations were, and if poetry always had to be subservient to power structures and perpetuate them. I was working on these questions for years and in a way they came to fruition in terms of September 11th. I felt that what I was trying to do with the book, which I had abandoned, was try to make a reverse comedy and tragedy. Also, I rewrote the book in French and I did that by translating it and then rewriting it so that in French it’s quite a different book, a lot of the messiness is gone. It’s carried more on voice and the strangeness of voice. And another reason I feel I’m not finished with the book is because these kinds of questions became more serious after September 11th.
TR: You’ve spoken a little to the idea of a kind of formless poetry. You stated that your book Conference was written with(out) form as a reaction, or consequence to your feeling that the English language was no longer accessible to you as a medium of form. How did you go about composing the book with the anti, or (un)formulaic mode in mind? What were some, if any, of the difficulties?
SD: Like I was saying, I started out wit a lot of different formal structures in mind but then I decided they had to be abandoned. So they’re there in the book but they are kind of bouncing off this kind of formlessness.
TR: Is that akin to the perversion of form in Paramour that you mentioned before?
SD: It’s interesting that you say that, because the forms are there but they’re already perverted. The messiness intervenes whenever it wants, the whole thing becomes the messiness and the forms are kind of dissolved. At the same time, what is happening in the book is a kind of individual possibility for expression that is disproved as an option, so what happens is form takes over. But form is taking over in the sense of disillusion or death or total domination. So what is the personal is being dissolved, and surrendering to inevitable, totally domination. And I don’t know if that’s clear to someone who is reading the book or not, but to me that’s what is happening.
TR: In your short essay/response “After Language Poetry” you write that, “…American basically lacks what might be considered an intellectual community in general; academia is virtually the sole realm where thinking is a fairly acceptable pursuit…” I’m curious as to what are/ and where these communities exist outside of America. For instance, how are the literary arts received/ discussed in France, and furthermore, since you are now part of the American academy, have your views changed or been re-enforced by actively participating in this kind of intellectual community?
SD: Well going back to September 11th, suddenly I felt that there was some attempt on the part of the media in America to solicit the perspective of intellectuals, but they had a really hard time doing that because the connection between the media and intellectual is completely non-existent in the country. So that the only intellectuals that you could interact with were Susan Sontag and Noam Chomsky, but Susan Sontag basically supported Noam Chomsky’s view and what you were essentially left with was one view—and it was a very strong and extreme view. And then you have Edward Said who didn’t really want to get that involved, for a good reason, he didn’t want to fall into the media trap. At a time like that in France, in fact, at all times in France, there is this connection between the media and intellectuals. There is a column in the main newspaper Liberation every weekend where they feature the intellectuals’ journal writings or musings. There are always real thinkers, philosophers, and historians in the papers, so they have a voice. Writers are also included in that group and have that same presence in the media that is a very important inclusion in a culture. I think it is important to see the views of people who are engaged and devoted to thinking, not only in times of crisis, but everyday. But to answer your question more directly, I don’t feel that I am in this kind of intellectual community, I don’t feel I’ve encountered that here.
TR: Do you consider intellectual community synonymous with poetic community in San Francisco or in America?
SD: I would have to say that my purview is more limited. In San Francisco I feel there is more interaction between people involved in the arts. I feel that the way people feel about poetry in San Francisco is akin to the way people feel about poetry in France, versus the way people feel about poetry in New York. For example, when I bought my used car I had to write my profession down, I wrote poet, and they didn’t say you can’t buy this car—in New York you almost feel like they would say that if you are a poet. In New York if you say you’re a poet they ask you what your real job is. Another thing about San Francisco that makes it feel more like France is that I really find it to be a foreign county. I never really know what San Franciscans are going to say or what they may be thinking when they’re speaking. I can’t take anything for granted and it’s pleasurable.
TR: Finally, is there any advice you can give to creative writing students within the department who want to be part of a community and seek writing as a profession through teaching or publishing?
SD: I think that one of the reasons one would go to a program like this is to find a community, and that’s very important’ though I would suggest that creating a community is just as important as finding a community. Attend readings, talk to other writers and don’t be shy. So many of what I consider the major American poets writing now went to San Francisco State or had some relation to State and went on to become very compelling poets and well published. I don’t know if there is any other school that has such a good record. It’s quite astounding. I also feel that publishing yourself and your friends as a way to build community is part of the tradition of interesting writing. In San Francisco in particular that has been vital. I like thinking about tradition being that way, that there is this tradition of experimentation and innovation using one’s own resources. I also feel that it is extremely important to read other people’s work—your peers and all the poetry you can possibly come into contact with. I don’t think any of us does that enough—I don’t do that enough—and I don’t think it’s possible to do it enough, but it is the most necessary thing to try it you want to write.
The Islands (Nightboat Books), "now, 1/3" and thepoem (BlazeVOX Books) Chinese Notebook (Ugly Duckling Presse)
Maribor (The Post-Apollo Press)
Rude Girl (BlazeVOX Books)
Rave On! (Lew Gallery)
Gary Gygax (Cy Gist Press)
Rude Girl (Duration Press)
The Moveable Ones (Transmission Press)
Benthos (Silas Press). Lives in Oakland. Works for Small Press Distribution.