23 January 2014


For me, 2013 began when, in March, I moved to Queens from Northampton, Massachusetts, and lived, until the summer, beneath a table in Kevin Cassem's library, in a pillow fort named Fort Radiator. The series of fragments that follows this list is for him, with thanks for making 2013 possible, so far as I came to know it. So, “without further ado,” here are some highlights from the year, in no particular order.

Steven Sho Sugita-Becraft's translations of Hirato Renkichi, now trickling out into the world in various magazines (Chicago Review, 6x6, Lana Turner). I found out about them when he gave an energetic reading of them at a Tri-Lengua reading in Brooklyn and have been awaiting their publication ever since.

Hearing everyone who made the trek to come read at Wild Combination throughout the year, at Flying Object or in Providence.

The founding of the writing space Wendy's Subway near the Graham L in Brooklyn.
Kevin Killian's readings at Flying Object and Brown, his Poet's Theater workshop in Providence, and his recent free translations of Marcel Schwob.

Konrad Steiner's filmic complement to Leslie  Scalapino's Way.

Alice Sant'Anna's cheer & book of Portuguese-language poems written in the in-betweens of transit and the workday, Rabo de baleia (Cosac Naify, São Paulo).

Everything up on La Vie manifeste, run by Amandine André and Emmanuel Moreira in Marseille.

Nathanaël's translation of Danielle Collobert's first book, Murder, for Litmus Press.

The weaving-language project of Francesca Capone.

Trying to keep up with Modo de usar & co.

Lanny Jordan Jackson's blue sunglasses (specifically when worn at night) and recent films.

Judah Rubin's trifecta: the two Phrenologues with Ugly Duckling and O'clock, as well as his chap with Diez.

erica kaufman and Simone White's reading at the Poetry Project.

Pierre Mac Orlan's Handbook for the Perfect Adventurer, translated by Napoleon Jeffries for Wakefield Press.

Charity Coleman's tape collection.

Erin Morrill and David Brazil's reading at Molasses Books in Brooklyn, as well as their books, Erin's with Diez, and David's with Compline.

Collected Poems, Joseph Ceravolo, from Wesleyan UP.
Mary Hickman's Poet's Sampler in Boston Review.

Ana Cristina Cesar's complete works in Portuguese, Poética (Companhia das letras, São Paulo)—a nice sampler, translated by Monica de la Torre, here.
Jack Frost's The Antidote (Compline), You Have the Eyes of a Martyr (O'clock), and talk on “Poet as Radio”.

Washing dishes for 12 days straight at 5:30am in the basement of Scratch Bread, listening to Chet Baker.

Having the chance to look through Anne Gibbs' collection vernacular photography at White Mule in Manhattan, in search of imagery for book covers.

Léon Genonceaux's The Tutu, translated by Iain White, another Schwob translator, for Atlas Press, as well as Marc Lowenthal's review of the book.

Evan Kennedy's e-mails about baseball on the radio, and his Krupskaya book, Terra Firmament.

Andrew Dieck's Thank You, I Know My Way Out, which is still, I think, my favorite title of all time & has a favorite poem: “These Surfaces for Rent”.

Reading An Army of Lovers by David Buuck and Juliana Spahr alongside The Unseen by Nanni Balestrini (thanks, Matt).

Joe Luna's Astroturf.
Trafficker Press' triplets: Macgregor Card's Magenta Burana, Cecilia Corrigan's True Beige, and Corina Copp's Miracle Mare, their reading together (from the pulpit) at AWP in Boston.

Lynn Xu's Debts & Lessons.

Ronaldo Wilson's improvisational reading at Brown.

Having the chance to translate Amandine André's Cercle des chiens with Jocelyn Spaar.

Dana Ward's reading for the release of The Crisis of Infinite Worlds at Unnameable Books.

Finding Pierre-Albert Jourdan's The Straw Sandals: Collected Poems (2011, Chelsea Editions, edited/translated by John Taylor) in a library, by accident. (Reviewed here by Kate Schapira a while back.)
Robert Fernandez's Pink Reef.

Josef Kaplan's readings of Shoot Kids in the Head.

 Trisha Low's Compleat Purge

Andrew Durbin and Cathy Wagner's readings at the New York Poetry Festival on Governor's Island.

That one week when Clark Coolidge came to New York and seemed to be reading everywhere at once for seven days straight.

I still think one of my favorite things I did in 2013 was to go over to Matt Longabucco's apartment, and make macaroni and cheese and hot dogs with him and his daughter, Malka. Also, the afternoons we passed by Abraço were good times. Best coffee, hands down.

Even though it took place on January 1 of the new year, my 2013 ended when, sitting with Judah Rubin and Leopoldine Core at the poetry project's New Year's Day Marathon, the room was brought to silence by the single most powerful reading I have ever had the chance to see, which was given by Jennifer Bartlett.

& plenty of other good stuff that I'm forgetting, now that there's a whole new year ahead to pay attention to.


D U L L   E V E R Y   N O W

for Kevin Cassem

          With names undisclosed, a year or more slipped by undated, by means of a structurally unprivileged memory formation that, with the vibrations deployed from its constant hum, unloosed statuesque morality from its porous ground.

          Changing, stripped, or unaware of hyperpercussion, I have only ever dabbled, come what may, even when vigilantly present, and with chum line of human company in constant orbit—near, then far on irretrievable vacations—with company almost nearing completion, or with one, always only one, missing from the jumble and impossible to address, as with anything that runs on a track or rolls down the center of a groove.

          This is just another way of passing the time.
          Like the others it leaves remnants.

          To leave a context and forget its semiotics feels as necessary as taking a box cutter and scoring the chest to prepare its cleaving open, or “laying it the fuck into a face” (as Ames said on 1st), for every choice is symbolic, and to make one forecloses every other, and when the choices are many, it can take all the energy you have to say no to the invitation to go out.

          To spend the night in.
          Shouldn't that be simple?
          But then, to all the energy you would otherwise expend in meaningful production . . . which should be the point . . . farewell! . . . adieu! . . . good to know ya! . . .

          Thankfully we've taken all the Adderall by 4am, when you get into your cab for JFK and we say goodbye, maybe for the last time, “goodbye”, “love you”, “safe trip”, “make it back to us in one piece”, “may you make it home safely,” to prove the space we create is eternal.

          We look into the hardly shadow of everything in the sun just coming up, Katie too saying goodbye, she asking that I take your picture together at the entrance Union Square station before you go, so you tell the driver to wait and you get out, a little reluctantly, I have to say, damn grump, and we take the picture.

          I'll remember the skies drumming blue, but so awake: seemed only normal.

          The whole ride home then I counted two women among the countless sleeping men, drunk and alone and shuttling asleep through the tunnels to Queens.
          No words I know can express the sadness I felt over these numbers.

          How many lonely hearts does it take to keep the subway open 24-hours?

          The next day there comes the rapture, which is merely a noise, quadrilateral & impatient.
          Over the next month, sometimes you call from the road.
          You're riding from Portland to New York on your motorcycle. I think you might die.

          I feel a great stoppage when we catch up and I'm not able to find the words to tell you, no, I really mean it, these languages really are transparent light does pass through them light does pass through, and every window here is dark and yet still a bottle drink from—.
          So I write, I'm so afraid you won't make it back to us that I caught myself writing, 'Could hardly and then rarely and then never-ever reclaim the semblance of a ceremonious imitation of death-as-scattering, I would breathe the sourest odor as late as need be; when not on the record, sleep immediately secondary, or out of the equation; the present capable of infinite extension, unthinkably outward through the pale skin of industrial light on Varet St.; through constraint and webbing that closes that theater of filmic trial-and-error, darker walls we for some reason haven't sledgehammered yet, for the creamy texture behind them leading to nothing; the scat of a regular tardiness, and the slow light of ego-theocratic regret redeeming the beck-and-calls of hemorrhaging dreams cast thick on the ideal screen; imprisoned by language, I understand words to be the scratch marks of fingernails on my cell walls, which you {2nd p. plural} will only find when I am finally released.'
          Sarah tells me to calm down. It works, more or less.

          Then I come to and I'm just another one of the men passing through the tunnels, alone, with no one.
          It was okay, obviously, but in the end I'll admit, if nothing more all I wanted was someone to drunk dial, or for someone to drunk dial me, remembering when, in those darker regions of their history, some unbreakable accord was struck, no matter how quiet or brief or irrelevant.

          Subletting Charity's room for those two weeks in July, there came a night when I sat down late to transcribe a certain journal, and the work from this night is peppered throughout this piece.
          I liked working there at her desk, with its basket of tapes—this certain mix one of her friends must have made her that had a song by a band called the Breakaways I liked to listen to in the afternoons, then something by Galaxie 500 I would listen to at night, and I had an Aye Nako tape of my own (sorry, Dylan), which I would listen to now and then, or I would write with Glenn Gould's Bach on, taking the too-hot, rancid air of Varet St. on my face as it came in from the Boar's Head factory through the open window and puffed up the lightweight pink and white curtains that hung down a good eight feet from the tall ceilings.
          I didn't go to sleep until it was light out that night, typing out what then looked like ten or so pages of verse, testing the tensile strength of their points of intersection, their ability to be soldered together before, eventually, being broken apart into new, hybrid fragments.

          I'd been out late, doing what I forget, probably drinking with Matt after closing the café, as I didn't even notice the night passing, or the morning coming, until the curtains blew open in a breeze and I saw the gray-blue of the morning light.
          I began to sense the affinities between all these fragments written with no intention of ever being used in any project in particular, these offhand negotiations with the day, written for myself, these seismic readings of the unconscious, not poems or narratives or anything deliberate, just moments I would let language seep out through the interstices of the day, and all that next to these more coherent narratives, which I understood to be personal explorations by way of metonymy, pure and simple.
          Weighing the actualities of my days since you'd left and the concreteness of my fear of your not making it back to us against page after page of freely-associated texts, which I had been writing to explore the idea of a purely textural poetry—not concrete poetry, but its inverse, pure semantics, pure transparency leading not to the objects of life but to the stuff of its language—a transparency giving onto to a fog—which still retained the marks of a life undergoing its being lived.

          I saw what this writing does to my memory, how this memory dealing in linguistic abstraction becomes doubly nebulous due to these language games, how this writing act determines the first step, and so the entire course, of the event's decomposition in time, how it enables the event's reconstitution and persistence, but also its blotting out.
          I needed a scapegoat for everything I'd been forgetting more quickly than ever before, and I wasn't going to say it was the drinking. Does that make sense?

          Clouded over by its duplicity, even without stakes, this kind of sincere language is an erasure of the other, a formal ecstasy of non-growth, an averaging of peak and decay, a union of sympathy and the openness of disclosure in the space where lines break and these resultant shapes must also, necessarily, fall.     
          But sometimes even “truth” is interesting, and is apparently easily confused with “fact”, which here is taken to mean something more like made or done—in the sense of happened—hermetic in its occurrence, and later, in its having occurred.
          Rocking back and forth then, the nesting collection feeds off the froth of sense, the nesting collection is sealed with an amputated-or-therapeutic bent, sunken deeply, so I cannot stand up to death, whose puppet strings “tense” behind every surface and retain me when I go to sit up from this dissection table.

          This is not food, but a substance beyond food: a meal seen through the glass of its own definition.

          Now that concealment is unilateral, the gates of the park remain open past dusk. There's a plant beyond them. We watch it grow, waiting for you to come home, buffered by the forgiving context of the unrelated. From the highest branch comes the insult of silence; from the lowest, the fastest response.
          I close my eyes as the bodies crossed the threshold of far-off shade, and blink them like shutters as they pass in and out of the rhombi of light cast from the storefront windows onto the sidewalks.
          The hours bleed from our eyes, or into our eyes, in streams. Our eyes: we who live in the city or are often late on arrival due to efforts to fill our quota for busy work on flat surfaces.

          Why did the wrong magnets buzz into my head the static of vision's coherence, nearly punctual but disintegrating into a fetal snow?

          I wonder what nooks are purely our own at this age.
          What's the nature of a secret anyways, that like a powder scatters diasporically over everyone with electricity?

          Social obligation, like the means of communication relied on by all these people with slow brains hammering false nuance into the non-reproductive generation, relegates us to the legal status of the witness.
          There is no difference between omni- and uni-directional movement here, except when you consider that, there is no solitude here, only loneliness, the displaced triangles of three-toed impressions that form a path in the sand from an open backdoor toward attractions strong, though unexpressed.

          It's not a bother, but a texture in the throats of pleased gentlemen.
          It's not a bother, but a texture.

          O smug, this manner of working-through dulls.
          With time it will dull every now.

Kit Schluter is the author of Inclusivity Blueprint (Diez, 2014) and Without is a part of origin (Gauss PDF, 2013). Among his recent translations are Marcel Schwob's Book of Monelle (Wakefield Press, 2012) and The King in the Golden Mask (Wakefield Press, forthcoming), Jaime Saenz's long poem, The Cold (Circumference, forthcoming), and, in collaboration with Jocelyn Spaar, Amandine André's Circle of Dogs (The Paper Nautilus, forthcoming). Other work can be found, now or soon, in Boston ReviewPoems by Sunday, InterruptureParis Review DailyLa Vie Manifeste, among othersHe lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where he is curator of the monthly reading series Wild Combination, and, with Andrew Dieck, co-editor of O'clock Press & its review, CLOCK.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Kit for your kind words. Oh and lucky Kevin Cassem to have inspired such a beautiful and affirmative essay slash poem slash manifesto as yours.