31 August 2011

Snow Sensitive Skin


I've somehow neglected to officially announce the reissue of Rob Halpern and Taylor Brady's Snow Sensitive Skin, orginally published by my Atticus/Finch in 2007 and now available as a trade edtion thanks to Displaced Press. The new edition features a plethora of supplemental material, including workng texts by both Taylor and Rob and an afterward, "Collaboration, Gesture, and Improvisation," collaboratively written by both authors. In addition, I was asked to contribute a preface, which I append here as an introduction to the project. Here goes:

I first discovered Taylor Brady’s work after a memorable conversation at Small Press Traffic circa 2002. Brady made some trenchant comments about the work of noise—how distortion too falls prey to the whims of capital unless it succeeds in reconfiguring the frames of legibility around it: that to be noise it must remain noise. I was struck then by how decisively Brady honed in on the value of the negative, especially because, post-9/11, everyone wanted to make noise but nobody seemed to know how against the din of rhetoric and sophistry and predator drones washing over our impotent negations in waves of terror and abjection.

After our discussion, I immediately located and devoured Brady’s first volume, Microclimates, and while I must have registered Rob Halpern’s name on the back cover, I didn’t thoroughly investigate his work until after leaving the Bay Area to enlist in the Poetics Program at SUNY Buffalo, which seemed like the logical place to ferret out the riddle of praxis. I invited Taylor to visit once settled, a trip roughly coincident with the publication of Halpern’s first book Rumored Place, and Brady’s praise of the project was so effulgent that he sent me fairly breathless to the bookstore down the street, where I found it rhyming with the concerns of Microclimates, an autonomous critical ecology—a rupture (rapture?) of possibility by which reader, writer, and (coming-)community could imagine a critical engagement that will have been the conditions for a possible future.

Both poets seemed to write, in the words of Fritz Breithaupt (after Walter Benjamin), an “empty space (as) the condition of possibility of (their future) arrival,” and both offered an impassioned model of praxis translating perfectly into the material practice itself, an engagement gleaned from the New Narrative mentors they share, and where, no doubt, they learned to deftly move between poetry, prose and critical exegesis.

So perhaps my interest in commissioning what would become Snow Sensitive Skin was more conspicuous than I imagined at the time. I was curious to learn how their voices would coalesce—what of shared aesthetic concerns, political commitments, and countless hours of conversation would find its way into the work. But in the end, I was interested in what I (and Rob and Taylor) would learn from it (and each other) and how we might “occupy” the foreclosed “now” as artists and thinkers—how we might use invitation as a model to engage. And this is precisely, in my estimation, what Snow Sensitive Skin offers its readers.

I invited Rob to visit Buffalo not long after Taylor, in September of 2005, and after his return to California I asked the two to collaborate. The terms were simple: commit to a project together—no deadlines, no injunctions as to form or content; I committed to print the collaboration with Atticus/Finch sight unseen, if and when it manifested. It seemed to me then that such a communal endeavor would test the stakes of collective engagement, and I wanted to take Breithaupt at his word that emptying the space of possibility “is all that is needed.” I’m not sure when they began working in earnest, but throughout 2006 I received emails in fits and starts while both worked on other writing projects and dissertations and maintained relationships, and then, suddenly, in the spring of 2007 the project had a title. By November, two years after the invitation to begin, the book saw publication.

The complexities of this particular collaboration are difficult to suss out, even for those intimately involved, so I can’t speak to what happened when Brady and Halpern sat down to work (though it is crucial that they did so in person). Even in close communication, I couldn’t decipher who wrote what and under what circumstances, though I certainly have some hunches. My guess is the project truly found its legs with the addition of a fourth collaborator: the Lebanese musician and visual artist Mazen Kerbaj, and I suppose, by default, a fifth: Israel’s aerial bombardment of Lebanon in the summer of 2006. During the “July War,” a 34-day siege that left over 1,000 residents of Beirut dead, Kerbaj met the “summer rain” of missile attacks with the kind of anxious inefficacy we all felt (feel) under the reign of the industrial military complex. Through the barrage he began a blog, posting cartoons and music in an effort to document his rage, vitiation, and guilt. He posted his own collaboration, “Starry Night” a “minimalistic improvisation” for trumpet and bombs in which he played his horn with, between, and against the percussive explosions of Israeli artilery. In a way, it is precisely this sense of “collaboration” (collaborating with and against), that informs Snow Sensitive Skin, this improvisation with a summer rain we both precipitate and endure.

Through Kerbaj’s daily practice of attending to the violence of the present using the tools at his disposal, Brady and Halpern ask the question (in “City Made of Boxes”) “can we even be here now?” What can a writing look like in which “a thing records the conditions of its own inscription” (Rumored Place) in order to see itself seeing? What kind of time will have been the moment of rupture in which the possibility of a future is not coincident with its own destruction? In some ways, the terms of engagement and the consequent space produced through the very existence of these terms allows for a tentative response. By working closely together, we created a space to let our thinking exist in a state of inoperativity. We didn’t know what this project would be, and as such we allowed it to become what it will have been, without deadline or marketing interests or the more practical exigencies of publication. We decided to let the project develop on its own, despite the contingencies of everyday responsibility, and the outcome did more for my thinking than I could have imagined in the most optimistic of scenarios.

The authors write in their acknowledgments “we want to give ourselves to a present that is something other than the debased ‘now,’ and to a future that will not have been terminal” in which “we find / ourselves still trying to link our language (what they call a “second language…taken up as an act of love”) to the / thing that happened when all our stacked vocal / harmonies tumble into public spheres.” It is this new historiography, not the “metal time we’re fed by others,” that allows us to exist next to how we find ourselves, embroiled and abject. It is no accident that the most frequently used words in Snow Sensitive Skin (after requisite prepositions and articles) are “we” and “our.” I am grateful to count myself part of this possible plural, even if we have yet to fully understand the conditions of our redemption.

30 August 2011

One Last Note on Pornotopias

In a follow-up email to the "Pornotopias" conversation, Rob Halpern added the following crucial notes in response to our questions regarding lyric function and the figure of the soldier. I thought to post them here as a compliment to Rob's notes (and as a way to neatly tie-up the "Pornotopias" thread!).

Here's Rob:

...I came away from the discussion grateful for several new insights related to Music for Porn, insights that will certainly feedback into the work. These came by way of yr questions regarding the importance of lyric and the function of the soldier. I’ll share these with you briefly here, if you're interested in reading on, as I’m trying now to bring these insights to articulation for myself.

As for lyric: I think the lyric impulse in my poems is a critical impulse to embody some sense of relation to things which have otherwise become entirely abstract. “To know” a thing in the sense of Oppen’s imperative--and in the case of my poems, this "thing" would be the body of a soldier--might mean nothing more than to restore that thing to some semblance of relation when relation has been otherwise suppressed or withdrawn. What might that relation feel like? And how might these feelings lend real shape to a obscured and mystified world. I think this kind of "knowing" is paradoxical. Sometimes it can only register real blocks or obstacles to relating, and requires amplified forms to push to the limit of that. At best, such impossible "knowing" can potentiate new forms of feeling, knowing, and relating, but it requires lyric’s commitment to arousing and mobilizing forms of subjectivity against the mirroring of dead things (abstract, alienated) whose mere reflections (as occur, say, in certain conceptualist writings) fail to relate. Acker's lesson is that subjectivity can’t be confused with “self-expression."

As for the soldier: I realize again how my "soldier" is working overtime at the level of allegory. His body only enters the poems because his representation--the way it circulates in both the social imaginary and the symbolic order--has been more or less severed from the real bodies of military men. My “soldier” really isn’t anything more than an exaggerated “type” in my poems, much in the way that gay porn film narratives of the 70s (before narrative was all but abandoned in porn films) are organized around familiar/generic/allegorical types, something that finds exaggerated pop cultural expression with The Village People: you know, the Indian Chief, the Construction Worker, the Cowboy, the Cop … well, the Soldier. It’s a figure that occupies a place in the cultural imaginary, but whose relation to us has been entirely mystified. The figure arouses desire while registering how our living relation to the thing it represents is blocked. Hence my poems’ obsession and frustration.

29 August 2011

Specificity of a Gay Pornographic Subject


We never quite discussed what a "pornotopia" might be during Rob Halpern's recent Nonsite Collective discussion about pornotopias because we dove into Halpern's figure of the soldier instead. As such, I asked Rob if I could post this section of his notes, provisionally entitled "Specificity of a Gay Pornographic Subject," to point toward what a "pornotopia" might be. Here's Rob:

At its limit, gay porn becomes its own perfected formalism where a social typology of marketable masculinities is celebrated as a pure construct, empty of any essential content. Identity becomes fictionalized as mere mask, and hypostatized as a lubricant for the circulation of bodies and pleasures, before being permitted to dissolve. Robert Gl├╝ck addresses this in his essay called “Caricature” in issue #4 of Soup, that is, the way porn sets up character systems and social typologies “in order to tear them down” (23). In other words, porn exteriorizes character—de-psychologized persona—as nothing but a social artifice where absolute content and the pornotopia of degraded narrative converge with absolute form, so that the commodified body mediated by legible social “type” collapses into its opposite: the body shorn of stable social identity. Identity is nothing more than a social and economic lubricant; and when its exchange value is consumed, when the link is consummated, its usefulness is exhausted, if not destroyed. And here lies the beautiful contradiction of pornographic logic: just as Eros converges with “the death drive” in the dissolution of identity, commodified relations potentiate the dissolution self-preservation’s logic, identity’s reason for being.

While parodying society’s identity structures—so many of which are anchored in labor—identity as a job—from taxi driver to chauffer, secretary to businessman, plumber to architect—porn gestures toward a logic of disintegration, and the need to break up social reality if only in order to satisfy desire. And yet, as a genre, porn remains inadequate to alter the mechanistic relations that ensure the ongoingness of pleasure’s ‘bad infinity,’ insufficient, that is, to go beyond the limit of identity’s spontanaeity. Porn thus becomes yet another “negative imprint” of utopia as it simultaneously illuminates and contains the social promise of democratization that it stimulates. While porn may underscore the contradictions of identity and its negation at the limits of lived social relations, it remains complicit in reproducing the terms of a broken reality whose norm is precisely relational dissolution. Unable to transcend its own commodity status, porn can only gesture toward the utopia it blocks.

The objective system of exchangeable individuals made legible in porn lacks a corresponding subjective element that might challenge that system, for to challenge that system could mean to undermine the distribution of pleasure. Porn’s limit is in fact the absence of the “subjective factor” which, according to Ernst Bloch, is crucial for any utopian form to make a countermove against what he refers to as “the bad existence” of society as it maintains itself within predetermined norms (Utopian Function, 108). Overcoming the spontaneous status quo hardened in those norms “is impossible to manage,” Bloch argues, “without a subjective factor, and it is equally impossible to neglect the profound dimension of this factor, its countermove against the bad existence, its mobilizations of those contradictions inherent in the bad existence in order to overcome that existence, in order to bring it to the point of collapse” (109).

Pornotopias, then, not as a critique of the mediated quality of our relations: but rather an opportunity to saturate the social space of our bodies’ appearance with as many mediations as possible. The more mediations, the more enhanced our chances become of grasping the whole.

The promise of porn: to suspend the paradigms within which the body means this or that. Porn becomes the scene where the body as means for reproduction can contest the terms of its own predication by returning to the body as a means without an end. In other words, to activate, rather than limit, the profanatory potential typically associated with porn—the promise of porn to profane being a promise betrayed by porn’s simultaneous ability to eroticize the apparatuses that capture and control—identify and predicate—us.

Porn, then, as both the regime of representation that harnesses the potential of the body’s use value, while also conditioning the possibility of unleashing it. To profane what the apparatus seeks to resanctify—sex directed toward generic ends, futures (finance)—if only in the most amplified terms: i.e., the money shot as evidence of desire: the prescription of the cum shot as evidence of desire’s fulfillment: precipitation of capital’s dreams about itself.

Porn is fundamentally about temporality: the present as lubricant to a future that reproduces the present’s fantasies about itself.

But rather than reaffirming an end-directed sexuality determined by dominant paradigms of sex and gender; pornographic writing—writing that fucks with the border between visible and invisible, being and non-being, life and death—can undo those paradigms by learning to sense—to be affected by—the radical particularity of the untagged that has been excluded in the order to consolidate a normal sexual subject.

So while consumer pornography is a conservative and often nefariuous apparatus, and what it conserves, even as it exploits it, is a certain essence of aim driven sexuality, which participates in a consolidation of the human, what I’d like to propose is a way of thinking porn that arouses the potential to fuck with that essence: to fulfill porn’s promise to profane “the human”. To elaborate the unfulfilled place of the inessential.

To stimulate the possibility of an irruption into the apparatus of sexuality by perceiving something the regime of representation can’t account for—what is unthinkable within its terms. Pornography: being the limit of what can be seen and thought. To allow for what is fundamentally incompatible within the symbolic order. (Edelman). To render the private self as an improper self: [post-] porn as placeholder for everything excluded—withdrawn into scenes of invisibility—in the interest of consolidating dominant meanings of human being: to hold a place open “where value as such is lacking” (Edelman).

25 August 2011

And also...


CJ Martin's Two Books is now available at Small Press Distribution! Go get it...

24 August 2011

Haecceities at Damn the Caesars


Rich Owens just posted a super generous review of my Haecceities over at Damn the Caesars. Perhaps you'll take a look?

And I apologize for being so quiet this week. I've been really very sick, but I hope to be up and running by tomorrow...

19 August 2011

Halpern on Acker


In his introductory preamble last Sunday, Rob Halpern used the writing of Kathy Acker to frame how a conceptual interest in pornography could be used to understand his "own desire to write." My notes from the afternoon didn't quite captured how Rob subtly used Acker to frame his workshop at Naropa and his own work in Music for Porn, so I asked if I could post his notes. The following is Rob's opening gambit:

It may have been with Kathy Acker that I first began thinking about porn in relation to my own desire to write. One passage in Acker’s early novel The Life of the Black Tarantula in particular was extremely salient and I’ve been living with it for a long time now. In a chapter called “The Story of My Life” Acker assumes the persona of the Marquis de Sade, and pilfers, appropriates, collages, from Sade’s writings, together with passages from W. Lenning’s biographical Portrait of Sade, and in doing so, she constructs a meditation on the contradictions and impasses around what she calls “personal life”:

“I’m trying to get away from self-expression but not from personal life,” she writes, “I hate creativity. I’m simply exploring other ways of dealing with events than ways my lousy habits—mainly installed by my parents and institutions—have forced me to act. At this point I’m over-sensitive and have a hard time talking to anyone. I can fuck more easily.”

What the narrator here calls “self-expression” is one of those lousy habits, a bad fiction sanctioned by the institutions she’s resisting. Acker’s writing struggles against a range of institutions—gender, family, money, law—together with the division of labor, and the whole economic system whose interests these institutions protect. “Self-expression” implies a kind of spontaneity that fails to recognize the way expression is constructed and mediated by the institutions she most abhors. Within this framework, we might understand how Acker sees identity as yet another institution whose violent strategies themselves masquerade as “self-expression,” whereby identity appears natural and true. We might also begin to understand how her writing aims to undo that violence.

For Acker, identity and self-expression obscure something else, something even more “real,” something she refers to in this passage as “personal life,” which may have less to do my “my self” and more to do with the impersonal forces—those institutions— that condition our individual lives, and constrain our collective possibilities. In other words—and this is probably obvious—personal life is social life.

Acker’s language refuses to countenance the common sense assumptions that block our engagement with the real conditions of these lives and possibilities. Hers is a language of negation, a language “which describes yet refuses to be a language that is socially given” (that’s what she writes about Goya’s visual “language” in her essay “Realism for the Cause of Future Revolution”). This is a language that wants to get at “the connections between the ‘real’ events, and the holes, the silences…the interstices through which all of us fall.” Moreover, it’s a language that wants paradoxically to articulate “places where language cannot yet be,” like “chaos, or the body, or death.” (These passages come from “The Killers,” which appears in Biting the Error.)

I began thinking of Acker as a kind of realist insofar as her writing embodies the crisis of security. (If boundaries aren’t stable, how are we to distinguish between the valued thing to be secured—be it the self, or the nation—and everything else that appears to threaten it?) Her work shows how the boundaries upon which security depends are always the effects of various fictions. This realism makes the self legible as a mutable set of stories; and rather than disavowing these stories, Acker embraces and displays their mutability, as well as their ability to register the contradictions that make them what they are.

Finally, Acker’s work is not the record of an individual, but rather register the scandal of our own social pathologies: the determination of our tiny, fragile egos to keep otherness out by walling ourselves in; the way we reproduce social separations and divisions by immuring ourselves—taxonomies of identity and hierarchies of class, genres and genders, nations and rogues, etc.—all in the name of that “social good” called security. Acker’s work stages this so-called “social good” as social violence, and in doing so her writing goes where socially sanctioned language can’t go.

Years later—which was still some years ago now—and without consciously noting the connection, I decided to call the poems I was writing Music for Porn. Something I’m able to acknowledge now, without having registered it then: Acker’s insights informed how I was beginning to think about porn, pretty expansively, as any regime of representation where one’s most intimate relations – be it to one’s self, to one’s body, of to the body’s of others—are mediated by the most impersonal images and discourses: “and to see them / is to know ourselves”, as George Oppen might have said) that is, in order to begin sensing the social composition of a self—whatever that might be—requires that one reckon into one’s perception—or the very organ of sensation doing the perceiving (in this case, a lyric poem)—the most impersonal forces, social dynamics, images, discourses, whatever—all of which disable what we might think of uncritically as spontaneous expression.

Upon first reading Acker, I referred to this as the violence of identity: the forging of a self thru endless processes of subjection, or more quietly, subjectivization, a violence submerged in any expression of a self that disavows the social relations that make that self what it is.

I realize now, that my early invocation of Porn to refer to something my poems might be doing in relation to those social dynamics and processes is rooted in my reading of Acker, and these were whole apparatuses of representation I imagined my lyric both to be “accompanying” and “exchanging” itself for porn (Like Darwish’s Memory for Forgetfulness), but I also wanted to think about my lyric (music) as being also for porn in the sense of being in support of insofar as I think the “pornograph” has the potential to do a particular kind of critical work. For porn, too, in the sense of helping porn, transforming it, returning to it its power to profane.

As I’ve already suggested the other end of my thinking, there was a haunting specter Oppen’s Of Being Numerous: “There are things / We live among ‘and to know them / Is to know ourselves’” and somewhere in the thinking that my poems were just beginning to enable, there was another realization, and that is that those things Oppen says we must know in order to know ourselves are bodies, bodies reduced to the status of things, often dead bodies, bodies withdrawn from view, bodies that can’t be seen, the circulation of whose images has been proscribed and rendered taboo as a matter of socio-political policy.

In order to know myself, or whatever it is I might call myself—and in the case, the self as the subject of a lyric poem—I must “know” these things, these expendable bodies, having become things, reified and withdrawn, and yet ready to be used for ends not my own, like prostheses of a social body that is nonetheless of me, in me, for me, a social body whose organs of sensation have atrophied, seemingly beyond repair. But “to know” here might mean nothing more than to restore to subjective relation: to activate (resurrect?) whatever residues of living labor cling inside a thing seemingly void of subjectivity. To restore to relation requires needs lyric’s commitment to subjectivity against the mirroring of dead and “undead” forms, whose mere reflection fails to relate.

To write lyric under such circumstances and constraints, then, is to create organs so that these bodies might be perceived, located in (impossible, submerged) relation to my own.



17 August 2011

Notes from Pornotopias


Rob began his talk on Sunday by asking us to respond to a one-word writing prompt: "pornography." In response, I came up with the following questions for myself:

*In what ways is desire instrumentalized (or not) in pornography?
*What are we *seeing* when we view pornography?
*What is the role of abstraction in pornography?

Once we shared our responses, Rob began reading from a set of notes that drew from his recent Naropa workshop and his forthcoming third book of poetry (available later this year from Nightboat), Music for Porn.

Here's what I could get down(!):

*What is the relationship btw. what we imagine to be "pornographic" and what we're doing in our writing?

*How do we address the generic expectations we come equipped w/ when we confront "erotic" material?

*Life of the Black Tarantula, Kathy Acker
"Self expression" is a lousy habit, "identity" is another
So-called self-expression hides how "personal life" is "social life"

*Maybe the so-called "social good" is really a social violence?

*Rob's provisional definition of the "pornographic":
"A violence present in any social institution in which the most personal is mediated by the most impersonal"
(or something like that?)

*Oppen: "There are things we live among and to know them is to know ourselves" // what if these "things" are bodies? sexualized bodies, dead bodies, our own bodies, etc.?

*In order to know myself, I must know these things, these bodies, the apparatus of the social that mediates on behalf of? for? between? these bodies.

*Lyric as an organ of sensation: to register these things in the poem

*Apparatus of mediation determines what can be seen or known before we really know it // Poem as organ can "know" apriori?

*"Violence," as a concept, is working overtime: much too abstract a term to do the labor we ask it to do

*Whitman's Civil War poems: wealth of affect
What are are these poems asked to do?
Do they have a healing function?
Are they a healing agent for the nation?

*Jean Genet's Funeral Rites: How do I mourn the lost love without my mourning becoming instrumentalized or "useful"?

*"I get off on relating to invisible suffering and then eating what I produce" // from the proem to Music for Porn?

*Lyric, as an organ of sensation, draws bodies (imagined or otherwise) into relation // Music FOR Porn: as a stand-in but also as oorganized stress to frame/organize experience

*Organ of sensation: making coherent apriori to processed experience ("thought"): organs can do work we can't access



15 August 2011

CJ Martin's Cosmetic Practice



Thom Donovan just posted a totally essential Q & A with CJ Martin over at Wild Horses of Fire, wherein Chris says, among many other really astounding things:

"In part, why the term cosmetic appeals to me is that its critical edge highlights the profanity, the complete trashiness, of getting visible---the fucking faith lift is brilliant (as pun) but just completely terrifying (as principle)---dear lord, suck out the fat of my faith, lift it up & stitch me back! Suck out the nation fat (deport it, suppress it), iron any wrinkles & make me look young again. The proximity b/w faith & face is kind of astounding in its obviousness, but as anything more than proximity, I'm not entirely convinced. That interface would necessarily be interfaith is kind of a given after a certain point, but as program it's so UN ('In your faith!', might be more like it, in terms of an encounter in the world)."

Umm. You should probably read the whole thing...Find it here.

And while you're reading this crucial exchange between Chris and Thom, you should listen to Chris read from Two Books at the con/crescent reading series (thanks to con/crescent curators Nicholas DeBoer and Jamie Townsend for preparing this audio file!).

2011.04.02 CJ Martin at con/cresent by Michael Cross

And if you haven't heard this short bit of Chris reading on Dona Stein's "Poetry Radio" program, you should totally spin this while cleaning the house or something:

C.J. Martin reading on Dona Stein's Poetry Radio by Michael Cross

And finally, if you don't have Two Books yet, you need it (them?!). Seriously.

12 August 2011

BIG MOVES!


We're making big moves this weekend, and you're welcome to join us! Tonight, we'll celebrate the launch of Displaced Press' new suite of books with readings by Brandon Brown, Samantha Giles, Taylor Brady and Rob Halpern at Small Press Distribution (1341 Seventh Street, Berkeley). Doors at 7:00 pm, reading at 7:30.

Then, Sunday afternoon Rob Halpern will share his research on "Pornotopias" before he hops in a car and heads to Michigan. Email for directions: michaelthomascross[at]hotmail(dot)com, or click on the posters above for more information. Hope to see you!

10 August 2011

SOUS LES PAVES #4


There's a ton of super badass material in the new issue of Sous Les Paves, a "quarterly newsletter of poetry and ideation" lovingly edited by Micah Robbins out in Dallas. If you haven't seen this magazine before, it's probably because this one arrives the old-fashioned way, through the United States Postal Service. And like crucial mail interventions before it, say, like HOW(ever), it offers lots of room for correspondence, commentary, and poetry alike.

There's SO MUCH material here worth talking about: a new William Fuller prose poem, a short poem by John Beer, a piece called "The Gift: Globalism and Globilzation" by Tyrone Williams, some Petrarch translations by Tim Atkins, a really amazing piece by j/j hastain, Mary Burger on Robert Smithson and other stuff, etc. etc. etc. And, in order to help us catch up, Robbins has posted the three previous issues in full online here.

There's also a really interesting Frances Kruk poem here, which I've been reading with interest next to her new Punch Press chapbook. Here it is in full:

a circle comes at night and has
no reason for its borders
as it runs up the wall and leaves
a trail of cracks

from which the ghost
of some frayed politics leaks.
visits your face.
calls you gas.

welcomes you to
the equation
where you have no
fingers to count

and your mouth is force-fit
with a cylinder that cuts
circles into everything.
including the black hole

in the corner of the flat
where tiny social mouths
begin to burn during atmosphere.
pity theories, grey mouths.

or somebody says. so
you wrap it in a shell
of what they used to call brick,
and hair, the quiet

nerve nest. put then
as blood and left
a firework, a displease
to the responsibility of lights.

a Moment of geometry ends
in backdraft.
radius in ash.
supefied charcoal helix.

your face disappears but mouth
spills plasmic chance, the
If
arrives
the mouths bloom wide
[end Kruk!]

To get on the mailing list, send Micah Robbins a note at 3515 Fairview Ave., Dallas, TX 75223 or email: micahjrobbins[at]gmail(dot).com. And if you've never seen Robbins' Interbirth Books, you've got to take a second to educate yourself here!

04 August 2011

Displaced Press @ Small Press Distribution


Our friends at Small Press Distribution have offered to host a book launch in honor of the three monumental new releases on Brian Whitener's Displaced Press: Brandon Brown's The Persians by Aeschylus, Samantha Giles' Hurdis Addo, and the new edition of Snow Sensitive Skin, co-authored by Taylor Brady and Rob Halpern. We'll gather on Friday, August 12th at Small Press Distribution to celebrate the press and to hear all four authors read from their work. Doors at 7, reading at 7:30.

Click the poster above for details (and please feel free to spread the word far and wide!)...

And while we're on the subject, I'm currently designing a fourth new book for Displaced, Thom Donovan's crucial intervention The Hole (I'm actually finishing a draft in another window as I type this!), so keep yr. eyes peeled for an early fall release...

02 August 2011

Rob Halpern's "Pornotopias"






















Click image for details, email michaelthomascross[at]hotmail{dot}com for directions...

01 August 2011

Word of the Day!


Okay, this was too rich to pass up! I cruised by Dictionary.com Sunday afternoon while preparing for a Monday afternoon class, and what did I find? A reference to Brian Teare's excelllent UC Press edition, Sight Map!

Sunday's "Word of the Day" was "ambsace," a noun meaning "the smallest amount of distance" or "the lowest throw at dice." To prove that this is, in fact, a word, our friends at Dictionary.com turned to the poets! Here's their example in context:

"Sleeping is thick arras or ambsace, like an alcatraz across water."
Brian Teare, Sight Map: Poems

I'm not sure this line fruitfully illustrates how to use the word, but it is a beautiful illustration of how poets keep the language alive!

Thanks for saving the language, Brian!