Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Day Workshop at Portland Art Museum

James Yeary and Nate Orton will be teaching a drawing and writing workshop at the Portland Art Museum on Sunday, January 6th. Contact or 503.823.2787 to sign up...

Join fellow writers and artists inside the Portland Art Museum. Enjoy a day of writing, drawing, and exploring the museum’s riches. Find inspiration in the surroundings and the sculptures, vessels, and jewelry that make up the Body Beautiful exhibit along with the permanent collection. We’ll plan to meet again to create a self-published book from work produced this day. 
Museum admission of $20 is not included. 
385142 Sun. 11:00 am - 4:00 pm Jan. 6 $37 [1 class] 
Nate Orton & James Yeary

Meet in the museum café.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


(image by antic-ham)

Fantagraphics has just released the advance copies of Crag Hill & Nico Vassilakis' anthology: The Last Vispo: 1998-2008 (it's called something like that). Nothing of its kind has been published, neither in size, nor quality. It is a huge volume, in something like five sections, amounting to sub-categories (or categorical possibilities) of visual poetry, alongside over two-dozen essays by different practitioners of visual poetry and viewer-readers alike.

It is a strange volume. It includes sculpture, drawing, typewriter art, digital art, photography (found and otherwise), and various kinds of collage. Presumably, the artists within all believe that their work fits into the "movement" known as visual poetry, but it is not a simple question: what is it that unites these works? Certainly there is a tendency to the celebration, perhaps, or the exploration, of letter-forms, and I think of this tendency as something inherited from the practice of Bob Cobbing as well as the Canadian concrete poetry movement (not to say such practice was non-existent prior), and this practice of the letter-form may be the main, though not the only thrust of visual poetry at this moment. But there is much work in the anthology that falls outside of this rickety convention. So much can be found in the section labeled "collage," as well as scattered other work, that, to me, resembles abstract expressionism, and may lack letter-forms entirely. Much of editor Crag Hill's own work as a visual poet (though not included in this anthology) takes textual sources and visually manipulates them into what would improperly be called abstractions, as they are really developments, akin to Bob Cobbing's stretching, twisting, and warping of letter-forms. Then there are those like Bob Grumman, who use the visual structure of mathematics to suggest a new syntax.

Without any intention to insult I would suggest that many of these visual poets are coming from beneath established art conventions. As Geof Huth has said (I'm paraphrasing): "visual poets are artists who can't really draw, and poets who can't really write." though I'm not sure I agree with that.

Of the many centers of visual poetry, the one that is most interesting to me is the letter-figure that splits off from language, invoking the primal act of scrawled symbolism that somewhere and how inspired written language. But there are many other possibilities, and many other actualities. New possibilities for syntax, abstract expressionism in new media, post-literacy sign-painting, post-literature nature worship, vocal choreography, neo-Patchenism, and of course, zaum, which never gets old. All of these in some sense can be found in The Last Vispo, and it may be as well worth noting that most if not all of these ideas are working in between or across different media, sticking to the etymological fore of modern poetry that is: "MAKE IT NEW." The program os visual poetry has put everything in the fire, the heating of the heart at art's center.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

generations generating

How did I come to find you? Barrie? Can you hear me?

It's not just the works of the fixed stars in my constellation that I would keep track of, it's also my relationship to them (it's the astronomy and the astrology), but I'm not sure where bpNichol came in. It seems that it may have been in the first package of Score magazine that Crag sent me, it may have been the Emmett Williams anthology. I'm not sure. I remember that I stumbled on the Martyrology in Powell's, and bought books 1 & 2 (which is one book), and I was confused by the clearly elucidated language, the modest but significant emotional introspection, which pivots between an eye (an I) on the saints, a thin veil peopling a self's landscape. I was confused because I was looking for the most out there work, and had found it in his concrete- or maybe that's not right. I found the most out there, experimental work that made complete sense to me, that touched on things new, and also touched me, talking about the visual and concrete work. And then, finding the Martyrology, and being shocked by the openness and honesty of the poem (is it ok to like this?). In spite of these disconcerting thoughts, I read through the book pretty fast. One or two sittings.
Then came across the sound poems somewhere. Probably watched Crag sing "What is a poem" before I met him, and that may have been my first bite. Also disconcerting (how sweet!). But it was the works he first published as Aleph Unit that I think asked me to keep coming back (and read the Martyrology). The Aleph Unit visual poems bridge concrete poetry and comic illustration, taking letter forms and making a nexus of the images that compose the sequence, within the individual images as well as across the sequence. You also find some of the first breaks with the concrete tradition as Crag would define it (a verbal/visual score that can be pronounced, performed). In the Aleph Unit and other series the gesture of making the letter forms becomes the arena, and this makes bp not the first, but certainly some of the first recognizable work to mark the transition from "proper" "concrete" to the very gesture-defined and defying generation of visual poets at work now. Go Canada!
I have a new ritual of picking up another section of the Martyrology from Open Books whenever I'm in Seattle. I read 3&4 (most of it) taking the train back last year, and picked up 5 a few weeks ago. Book 5 of The Martyrology is going to be trickier for me to read in completion because its structure allows one to take different paths through the book. I gave it one terrific reading (in one sitting) and it was fantastic, absolutely beautiful. I can't imagine giving another reading of it and competing, but I am having as much trouble putting the book back on the shelf.
Derek Beaulieu of No Press just sent me a chapbook version he has republished of Lungs: A Draft, which is a part of bp's Selected Organs autobiographical sections. I believe the Selected Organs are going to be re-published themselves again soon. I'll quote Paul Dutton's blurb on the back of The Alphabet Game: a bpNichol Reader: "Read him! Read him! Read him!" 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

photo by Julia Peattie

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


An on-line magazine of visual art and poetry that can be found here

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Thursday March 22nd-Saturday March 24th an otherwise empty studio space (supplied by a friendly and generous design firm called HAPPYLUCKY) held one of the most interesting and memorable multimedia events I have had the chance to be a part of: Liminal presents Gertrude Stein.

I didn't arrive in Portland in time to be clued in to the activities the great post-theatre company years ago, and the stories I've heard about the often multi-room theatrical happenings have left me wondering if there is anything more to do. A Theory of Love from 2007 is a legend, indeed I have nostalgia for this play on plays I never got to experience.

So you can imagine I was thrilled to hear that John Berendzen was re-adopting the Liminal banner to put on a tribute to the idiom-defying Gertrude Stein. I saw hints of what was going on at the Dadashop Salon a year ago, as John wrote a Steinian text across the floor of a salon in a line. Though I don't know the nature of that text's transformation into the events of last weekend.

Liminal presents Gertrude Stein included two multimedia installations, one by Liminal founder Bryan Markovitz and Ben Purdy, the other by sound designer Doug Theriault and video artist Stephen Miller. Doug and Stephen set up a rather chill lounge, featuring a minimal 60-minute soundtrack by Doug over a looping six-minute video by Miller. A voice reading from Gertrude Stein's plays guided a woman, again and again, through a portal, before becoming a shadow (if a rather shapely one). Across the hall, Bryan and Ben's installation and take on The Making of Americans paired some incredible ink drawings (whose process I'm told is equally intriguing) with video and audio narration. The video component mirrored the grammar of The Making of Americans, creating new images by arranging a vocabulary of sources, as Stein's text tells its complicated story with its own limited and repeating vocabulary.

The first of the two major performances was Virgil Thompson's Capital Capitals. Virgil Thompson was a contemporary of Stein whose work has been largely forgotten. The vocal performance, for four male vocalists is humorous, with enough physical nuance of gesture between the four performers to be really quite entertaining. But the amazing paper wigs by Jenny Ampersand, brought it to the level of sculpture, and on top of all that (literally- I think) Anna & Leo Daedalus video projected a tour through a city made entirely of paper, both from the perspective of sculpture and video making Capital Capitals a stunning, multifaceted, and unforgettable work.

Camille Cettina & John Berendzen brought a collaboration of durational composition and attention. One Dancing, likely the most difficult for some audience members, was probably also the most moving for others. At least literally. I may have my numbers wrong, but I believe there were six dancers and six vocalists, this time all female. One Dancing is the name of -I believe- a longer play by Stein, that features a very repetitive-seeming, but never actually repeating text, set to music by John Berendzen, primarily just in the voices of its chorus, though occasionally sliding and transforming into minimal electronic passages that seemlessly moves between the choral phrasings. All the while the dancers moved slowly among the audience, as there was no real distinction between dance-floor and auditorium. The dancers at various points would interact with the architecture, columns and walls, would sometimes disappear to center attention on one or more of the dancers, or at least you might think so, until you turned around.

One Dancing ran longer than an average feature-length film, and I believe may have been better appreciated by those who occasionally left the room for a drink or a breather, not necessarily because it was too much to take in, but maybe because the appreciation of the durational element may be better with some punctuation. At any rate, I have to mention the effect of the singers who surrounded the auditorium and dance-floor, projecting their voices from all sides, is something that most definitely made you need to be in the room to appreciate it. For me, having seen in the last few weeks two performances by Morton Feldman (one being his four-hour String Quartet II), I felt Berendzen's musical accomplishment fit in perfectly for me with those. This one all the more enjoyable to me in its mutability of art and idiom, positioned between dance, music, literature, theatre.

I can't forget to mention the readings of early work provided by the peripatetic David Abel, who broadcast from a wireless microphone before during and after Capital Capitals and One Dancing. I don't know if I know a reading voice I prefer to hear more, and I've certainly heard others say the same.

If you were there and feel I've left something out, remember I was tending bar almost the entirety of all three nights, and this is what I've been able to put together from when I could sneak away. Hopefully that says something for how impressive the weekend was.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Last night I went to the release party at Floating World Comics for this book, D.I.Y. Magic, by Anthony Alvarado. The book, as a project, began as a series of articles for the now-defunct (but fucking legendary!) Arthur Magazine. I was way into Arthur Magazine back when I was skipping classes at the University of Idaho. Arthur blew me away by 1.) being free 2.) having a column where Thurston Moore reviewed noise records, and 3.) having these articles on the multifaceted metapharmacospiritualist and Occult underground. The latter was actually of huge importance to me, but I did find it interesting.
Flash forward a few years (I graduated?), and shortly after I meet Anthony he tells me he's been writing articles for Arthur Magazine (I'm like, "there's still an Arthur Magazine?" he sez, "yeah, online"). That was probably one of my first important small world moments.
So anyway, Arthur is gone again, but Anthony continued writing these really interesting articles on magic, and not so much "Magick," as "magic" in quotes. Articles on "magic," in quotes because the magicians include people like neo-Luddite philosopher John Zerzan. So, yes, this book is a sort of philosophical re-contextualization of magic as ways of being. We think that's cool.
I don't think when Anthony asked me for an interview for the book I was thinking about this history of his writing (and I really knew nothing of the book itself). He asked to interview me about the idea of the flaneur, and I actually thought I was resisting his questioning by talking about aura when he asked me about walking. Reverse psychology? I played right into your hands, Anton...
Two things really excite me about this book that might not be a given. One is that it is not a book by and for poets in any way, and my component is no exception to that. The circle of poetry and poetry readers is way too small for all that I love it, and it is really exciting to think that all these comics people and neo-Luddite people and Magickshuns might enter I a dialogue with me that would never happen otherwise, especially at something like a poetry reading.
The other thing is that I'm in a book with Ron Rege Jr! (Mom! I'm in a book with Ron Rege Jr!) Okay, neither you nor my Mom knows who Ron Rege Jr is, probably (yet), but Rachel Hays does, and... what else is amazing about this book is that each chapter is illustrated by one or more amazing illustrators, many from the world of underground and experimental comics: Aiden Koch, Patrick Murphy, Dunja Jankovich, Ian MacEwan, and about 15 others- it's incredible, beautiful stuff. It's many different worlds come together-it's MAGIC.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


My Day at the Grotto

My Day on, under, and around the St. Johns Bridge

My Day Walking from Hillsboro to Forest Grove

My Day Walking from Forest Grove to the Tillamook Forest (NEW!)

Monday, February 20, 2012


I'm reading with Hannah Pass & Jacki Penny at the indefatigable If Not For Kidnap reading series, hosted by the not-to-be-caught-in-fatigues fencing artist Donald Dunbar and Presidente of Future Fans of Eliane Radigue, Jamalieh Haley.

7:30pm 2968 SE Mall

extra- real details to be found here:

Sunday, February 12, 2012


what appears to be cobbles to the center where the rock is uncut desolate as the name we must never pronounce light less curious now we will watch the shadowless birdwing refusing wings blossoms falling repeatedly tree to wounded tree stanza to mute stanza houses, the ones we pass by twenty volumes of farmland thick daffodils clicking twenty times because they like to repeat themselves there are many types of waves they all fall differently will they survive the dolphins flight the sun color as its leaving repeats its birdsong on the cusp and knowing it the burning trees will reassemble themselves peak to golden peak

he wished those books were thornier adios to the surgeons to those men of culture who would have you choose between good and evil altar-wise in their coats of paint mountains with their dark and quiet warm as death or in memory of it drawing a blank permits one to sleep for a minute or so when nothing is apparent in your mind I wouldn't mind I wouldn't object to with this black nervous people who cannot manufacture enough air dense as telephone voice humming down the line what glee what ghoulish joyousness the rituals have been observed pottery rattling like candlesticks stronger than rain's grey egoism shifting the iris collapsing not hive but swarm aphid sonnets feeding on my toe Tibet with Monaco thrown in for measure the voices go away for lunch a desk mocks and beckons to effect a change where the ripe dawn hurries let me plead for your brownness to remain are not buildings completed before works of art break off we have a right to autumn steam never lessens its latitude in the sky we find bicycles natural pure, yet feeble this river behaves perfectly reasonably within the city's limits the unreasonable river that both gladdens and disturbs her heart the limits of its angst the unappetizing swell of the muddy river could appeal only to the truly desperate the heavens strike hard on prairies the sickening passages from Longfellow stinking up the night the erotics of root cellars musing the margins drawers of the dream look at that gutter, so muddy

we advance beyond
an expectation of number
in bodies that swim at the last moment

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I read the late Empress' letters & thought they were yours allforgetting Rex I am about to use my voice one sky over I ask if that house is real head and body and tail joined no nearer air than water alas the great daze of desire has passed and mirrors reflect the thick mud where armies have passed the hand that holds is webbed his whole insides protests water on stone hurting the ear to no longer repeat "the mirror is water" the poor dead hands are clean a ring of moon for tomorrow into the mirror sighed "such was I" a minor character was he history or was he not

In the time of great kings I hid this knife with a friend I'll play you it's record the next time we go for a walk seeing the funeral of grass a small tune can be heard when several of the branches creak there when benches are placed side by side as one might plan an audience the air is freed of our crimes come close to it now and listen you there at the entrance take from the dripping roof a cupful to drink while lightning pitches straw and trees glitter strangely crack the wide underground angels are in peril there on the rooftops tomorrow in the outraged sky where no one speaks English what clamors o'er the twain do you know what silence means? her face leaned backwards into the past those forms we see in gauze as arches without moonbeams without shoes the music was distinctly shady inky as were the drawings the fall of my voice would be dying brown the sky was white over Paris until it fell in the streets walk only in the white spaces in the steps where leaves lie and names erase them the treachery is cast by mirrors again, the ride that drift shrieks at low tide sweet voice of brine the magnificent sun waves a flag above it Republic of Space waving the gnats and the small giants no one complained

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012


THURSDAY February 2nd:

the original illustrations by Sandra Gibbons
of selections from Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons

@ The Independent Publishing Resource Center's
Jason Breedlove Room
917 SW Oak Street #203

FRIDAY February 3rd:

paintings by Jeff Diteman

performances by
John Berendzen
Leo Daedalus
Mack McFarland
Mark Owens
David Weinberg
James Yeary

and scores of others...

@ galleryHOMELAND 2505 SE 11th Ave. 7pm