Sunday, October 23, 2005


Received: Wherever We Put Our Hats, No. 2 (Fall 2005), edited by Jon Leon.

Writing by Tyler Carter, Ken Rumble, Kate Schapira, Jon Leon, Ange Mlinko, Kent Johnson, Heather Brinkman, Jen Hofer, and Jess Mynes.

The Heather Brinkman pieces, tough and immediate, apparently out of an abecediary:
h h h

asphalt working worker boys
I gun giver asphalt
fucking working boys on glittering
black top

like inside trolley cars from
this side of town to arcane

city organ pipes, the clockwiser
album of clove leaves
where you and I will remain bound
in Ricard’s Flowers, blood jewels

i i i

time’s beard grows off
your maxilla & I, the pricker
take nothing back
as you the rattler

will continue inside me

& Elvira, let’s throw her
to the cooker & douse her in
a bastard’s game of chips

j j j

if we could only rowboat 1
to grey light 1
Also: a generous wad of Kent Johnson’s epigrams out of the forthcoming Epigramititis: 111 Living American Poets (including one for one “John Latta”—“For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses”?) All’s I can say is: That book’s going to burn some not-so-negligible (that is to say deserving) asses when it comes out.


Padgettesque typo: Look! I typed blook for blood!

Clyde Embree, bicyclist, Burns, Oregon, circa 1900
Greyly overcast Sunday, a bicyclist fleet in empty streets lowing out Dylan’s “Mississippi”:
City’s just a jungle, more games to play
Trapped in the heart of it, trying to get away
I was raised in the country, I been workin’ in the town
I been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down . . .

Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long.
At the Friends of the Library book shop (I continue to trudge there, pickily, yea, contemptuously, avoiding th’effing dealers with their under-table caches and dishonest breezy patter), I found something call’d America & Alfred Stieglitz: A Collective Portrait. “Edited by Waldo Frank, Lewis Mumford, Dorothy Norman, Paul Rosenfeld & Harold Rugg. With 120 Illustrations.” The Literary Guild (1934). “This book is an attempt to express the nature of the career of Alfred Stieglitz by being, itself, in spirit and form, a communal work, a work organic with its subject.” Besides the editors, pieces by William Carlos Williams, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, Charles Demuth, Victoria Ocampo, Gertrude Stein, Paul Strand, Jean Toomer, Sherwood Anderson, and others. Jam-pack’d. Here’s Lewis Mumford waxing lyrical on “the pinnacle of animal achievement”:
While the tree and the sky are dominating symbols in Stieglitz’s work, brought to sharper focus by their steady exclusion from the urban landscape [Humph. I thought it not possible to make a picture of something’s absence. I thought that was the happy onus of words, the not.], there are two others that were important, both in his personal life and in his vision: the race horse and the woman. The thoroughbred horse, quivering in every muscle, nostril open, eyes glaring, hooves delicately stamping, ready for the race or the rut: symbol of sheer animal vitality, bred and nurtured with a single eye to that final outburst of speed which carries horse and rider down the home stretch to victory. From the black heavy-flanked Waterboy or the low-slung, short-legged chestnut Sysonby, to the great Man o’ War and his present-day successors, these horses represent the pinnacle of animal achievement: proof of man’s skill and intelligence in alliance with the world of life, symbolic of those new strains of wheat, those new hybrids or sports in flowers and fruits, whose conquest was ultimately more important to man than were half the mechanical contrivances on which the metropolitan mind doted.
Mumford saves less vigor for Stieglitz’s women— (“. . . if the horse was animal vitality, woman was—if one may combine the words—animal spirituality . . .” O dear.)

James Linton, New Haven Scotland, 1845, photograph’d by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson
Paul Strand, arguing that technology determines output, after favorably mentioning the Sotsman D. O. Hill and the Frenchman Eugene Atget, “who died in relative obscurity in Paris but a few years ago”:
For the history of photography . . . is almost entirely a record of misconception and misunderstanding, of unconscious groping, and a fight. The record of its use as a medium of expression reveals for the most part an attempt to turn the machine into a brush, pencil, whatnot; anything but what it is, a machine. Men and women, some who were painters, others who were not, were fascinated by a mechanism and material which they unconsciously tried to turn into painting, into a short cut to an accepted medium. They did not realize that a new and unique instrument had been born of science and placed in their hands; an instrument as sensitive and as difficult to master as any plastic material, but requiring a complete perception of its inherent means and of its own unique approach, before any profound registration was possible.
The arguments for sui generis Internet’d Gesamtkunstwerk forthcoming (pitch to all fronts).