Michael Leong

Post image for Genet Redux: On Chris Tysh’s ‘Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic’

Chris Tysh’s Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic is, as the title suggests, a revision, or better yet, a re-sounding, a twenty-first century echo of Jean Genet’s transgressive and groundbreaking debut novel Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs, which he drafted in prison in 1942 and framed as a kind of playful, metafictional autobiography.

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Post image for Found Sounds, Found Stories: Andy Mister’s Liner Notes

Andy Mister’s recent book ‘Liner Notes’ captures the intimate texture of a consciousness that interacts with both the boring mundanity of an everyday work routine and the drug culture that, to some, is associated with an artist’s life.

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Post image for Geography Lesson: Lytle Shaw’s Fieldworks: From Place to Site in Postwar Poetics

Lytle Shaw’s Fieldworks is a big and ambitious study that is a welcome addition to the dense, unruly, and relatively unmapped field called “postwar poetics.”

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Post image for Long on Ambition: The Public Poem in Books from Rachel Levitsky and Andrew Zawacki

According to Mark Edmundson’s uncritically nostalgic and, by now, notorious article “Poetry Slam: Or, The Decline of American Verse,” which was published in the July 2013 issue of Harper’s, “[o]ur most highly regarded poets—the gang now in their fifties, sixties, and beyond” (such as Sharon Olds, Robert Hass, and Mary Oliver) are, despite their lyric gifts, in a state of bland and unambitious decadence. “At a time when collective issues—communal issues, political issues—are pressing,” argues Edmundson, “the situation of American poetry … [is] timid, small, [and] in retreat.” As can be expected, a range of commentators have already taken Edmundson to task for his gross overgeneralizations and his extremely parochial and outdated understanding of the contemporary scene, but I would like to use his provocation as a starting point and foil to discuss what I take to be one of the most exciting trends in post-millennial American poetics: the importance and evolution of the long poem.

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Post image for Reading the “Nothings that Are”: Craig Dworkin’s “No Medium”

“In No Medium Craig Dworkin looks at works that are blank, erased, clear, or silent … point[ing] to a new understanding of media.” So goes the back cover copy of the author’s new book, which was released in March by MIT Press. This paratextual statement, while certainly catchy, is a bit misleading regarding Dworkin’s argument as well as the actual nature of his objects of study (some of the treated works, such as John Cage’s 4 ’33” and Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings, are well known while many others are not); and it risks obscuring, to some extent, the host of wonderful subtleties, the wily interpretive moves and maneuvers that can be found within the book itself.

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Post image for The Work of Fiction in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Alexandra Chasin’s “Brief”

Alexandra Chasin’s Brief, an innovative narrative in the form of an iPad app, is “Exhibit A” in the case that the novel is finding exciting new ways to reinvent itself after the digital turn. Brief, the first novel-app of its kind, would make a rich and wonderful addition to any syllabus or reading list on appropriation, experimental fiction, new media literature, visual studies, violence and representation, or text and image, and I hope in these “brief” paragraphs to adumbrate some of the reason why.

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Post image for Mechanical Brides and Theatrical Politics: Laura Mullen’s Enduring Freedom

In 2009, Stephen Burt identified a new poetics for the twenty-first century, a poetics that insists on a kind of phenomenological permanence and solidity, on a material “thingness” rather than a “showy insubstantiality.” In his widely read essay “The New Thing,” Burt argues that there has been a marked shift away from a poetry of “illogic” and “associative leaps,” which dominated the 90s, toward a poetry of “[r]eference, brevity, [and] self-restraint,” toward an aesthetic that “eschew[s] sarcasm and tread[s] lightly with ironies.” After judiciously analyzing an array of compressed poems by writers such as Jon Woodward, Devin Johnston, and Graham Foust and after connecting the New Thing’s concern with exteriority to the documentary modes of Mark Nowak and Juliana Spahr, Burt takes a preliminary stab at historicization…

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Post image for Surrealism in a Minor Key: Recent Translations of Ghérasim Luca

Considered through Deleuze and Guattari’s somewhat idiosyncratic interpretive lenses, Ghérasim Luca is a minor writer — minor in the sense that he relentlessly pushes language toward its limits, that he deterritorializes it, that he transmutes it from a mere instrument of representation into an extreme style of intensities. This is to say that Luca should not be deemed “minor” in any canonical sense — quite the opposite in fact — for within Deleuze and Guattari’s system of thought, to be called minor is an honorific of the highest order. This is also to say that Luca should be recognized, once and for all, as a figure on par with the other so-called “minor” auteurs within Deleuze and Guattari’s pantheon: Kafka, Beckett, Joyce, Pasolini, and Godard.

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Post image for “Writing with Scissors”: Graham Rawle’s Woman’s World

Last month, the UK-based novelist Graham Rawle gave a lecture at Antenna Media Centre in Nottingham called “Writing with Scissors.” Writing with scissors — a synonymous phrase for textual collage — would seem to aptly describe the compositional process of Woman’s World, Rawle’s handsomely designed and cleverly concocted novel that was first published in Britain in 2005.

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Bern Porter’s Found Poems

by Michael Leong on February 12, 2012

Post image for Bern Porter’s Found Poems

Nightboat Books is, according to its website, “a nonprofit publishing company dedicated to printing original books of poetry and prose, and bringing out-of-print treasures back to life.” Bern Porter’s Found Poems, a collection previously published in 1972 by Dick Higgins’ Something Else Press, is surely one of those treasures, and we are fortunate now to have easy access to such a singular text.

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