Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Blog of Thank You (Gracias Ergo Sum)

This blog hasn't been a vehicle for much. I never used it to prove much more than I appear to exist, and never gave much to qualify that. There was very little poetry, by myself or anyone, published on this blog. I don't know if I ever had specific intentions for it. Every so often, I felt like saying thank you. Most of the entries going back are thank yous, often to poets and artists I've never met. But also thank you to performers, poets, and friends, and to performances themselves, a few of them performances I participated in. While I know I exist (I have first-hand evidence), if, as is conceptually possible, this blog connects me to people to whom I have never met, then I give them inference of my existence, second-order confirmation. And that inferential confirmation is often in the form of a thank you.

But it's been a while since I've given a thank you through this blog, far too long. I have a lot to be thankful for. I'm not going to list it all. I got to spend last week with a number of people that I very rarely spend any time with, or less- that is to say I met a lot of great folks last week and had a lot of great experiences.

So I want to say thank you to Kyle Schlesinger for driving nine-hundred and ninety-five miles with me, from Lawrence, Kansas to Oklahoma City and Norman, Oklahoma, and to Fayetteville, Arkansas. I'd like to thank Kyle for reading from The Do How with me on the four occasions that we did. It was a real pleasure, and somehow I think those readings add something to the work itself. Our collaboration now exists in an additional dimension, or two.

I would like to express gratitude to the poetry (and extended) community of Lawrence that welcomed me: Jim McCrary, Megan Kaminski, Sue Ashline, Nick Smith, Joe Harrington, and all the poets and audience who attended our reading. Not to forget our reading companion Siobhán Scarry. I was so impressed by the energy of Lawrence and the ability of the organizers there to work without enforcing the poet-political boundaries that seem to structure communities so often.

Thank you to the poets and poetry enthusiasts of Norman, Oklahoma and Norman North High School. Professor Crag Hill gave Kyle and I the initial impetus of taking our tour of the Midwest through the Southern Plains to Mid-Southern United States. Crag was also, with Laurie Schneider and Noemi, our host. His generosity fits in pretty well with the generosity and enthusiasm we met giving two creative workshops on collaboration at Norman North High School. The kids blew my mind with their energy and insight into writing, poetry, collaboration, and poetry communities. Professor Jonathan Stalling was an amazing force to encounter as well. Any serious poet would do well to check out the Mark Allen Everett poetry series Crag and Jonathan co-host, for the audience they might bring as well as the conversation that will follow. Thank you Scott Pierce and Kathleen for coming to the reading and the day meandering Oklahoma City. Come to Portland.

After all that, the reading in Fayetteville could have not turned out and I would still have felt the romp around the country was a success. Not so: Fayetteville offered us something near a full house, an energetic audience, and a half-dozen gracious hosts. Thank you to the operators of Back Space (thank you), the lovely Matt Henriksen and Adele (thank you), and C. Violet Eaton and Sara Nicholson, both of whom read with us and allowed Kyle and I to stay with them our last night away from home (thank you and thank you and thank you and thank you, each particular and essential).

You help me realize who I am. Thanks again!

Monday, September 16, 2013

In the place
Of coalesce we're
Sometimes offered song

At Linda Austin's
The broken basketball
Hoop is trembling

Existence with objects
Built for us
To do what

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I traded Adam at DL a poem composed in exchange for a/the new (?) edition of UKANHAVYRFUCKINCITY BAK. D.A. LEVY A TRIBUTE TO THE MAN AN ANTHOLOGY OF HIS POETRY

 I believe I first read Levy in my sister's copy of The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and shortly thereafter bought Mike Golden's anthology of levy's poetry and collage- The Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle. I was also recently given the White Wall of Sound edition of d.a.'s Cleveland Undercovers & know I've seen a few other recent editions/collections (one of which is newly printed for $50).

UKANHAVYRFUCKINCITY BAK. is a fitting document of a poet who will be forever peripheral to the academic mausoleum and a saint to natal poet punks trying to come alive in boring cities. The introduction by d.a.'s soul-brother rjs is less decipherable than the rest of the book, both in terms of the print and his spelling. 90% or better of this book is a second or third generation generation xerox of the original mimeograph edition. Crazy-sexy and deteriorating.

Somewhere, prior to my discovering levy, I recall being momentarily whelmed by the Sonic Youth levytribute (of sorts) NYC Ghosts & Flowers. I don't think any of us thought it was that great a SY record(though did William S. Burroughs also do the cover art?) the lyrics were certainly Levite, revealing a familial resemblance that could be generational, terrestrial, or both.

The contents of UKANHAVYRFUCKINCITY BAK. is also peppered with collaborations, poems in tribute to levy, "essays," by second-cousins such as bpNichol. It makes me imagine- what if levy had gotten to Canada! He'd probably be Prime Minister by now and talking down the Kootenai School of Writing, palling aaround with Michael Ondaatje. It's sometimes difficult to see who wrote what in this book. That fact, coupled with the introduction, typescrawled in its disappearing script are twin aporias that add a peculiarly Levite to the form of the book itself.

What did the Phoenix do between ending life as Harry Crosby in 1929 and touching down as levy in 1942?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Four books from mIEKAL aND's Xexoxial Editions/Xerox Sutra

The other day I received in the mail four books published by Xexoxial Editions, a state-run imprint of the Autonomous Republic of Qazingulaza. Four books: of fracture, a collaboration by Buffalonian Robin F. Brox and mIEKAL aND (prefect of Qazingulaza); Xerolage 51: graphemachine by SFer Lily Robert-Foley; Xerolage 50: Three Sequences by the late Bob Cobbing; and The Elimination Considerati by mIEKAL aND.

I feel that these are four distinct modes I will try to describe succinctly. A hypothetical translation, from the unreadable to the more familiar. A translation of another kind, from the familiar to the sculptural, diagrammatic, concrete, visual. Unfamiliar plays of shape and light and darkness, presented as (perhaps) language sequences. And language blown and distorted to examine the qualities of the edges of words.

As such, they all seem to have different, but related, pivots. Changes. And different kinds.

Of Fracture. This collaboration between Brox and aND takes an older book length poetic sequence called factura by Langpo fungimentalist and conservative radio antennae Bruce Andrews, and twists it, visually, from things resembling words, transforming it into a poetic sequence more intelligible than the original, while maintaining its original, concrete, shape.

To explain Andrews' factura a bit more, it's written in "Near English" as I would put it. Words and word parts suggestive of language you might know, but never with an obvious word it "should" be, and as such without any concrete meaning. So then of fracture is something akin to a homophonic translation, taking words we know (for the most part) and putting them in the places of Andrews' Near English. There may be more to the constraint used by aND and Brox but this is how it appears to me. I attempted a similar project some years ago. I made a poem of book-length by taking Jackson Mac Low's Words nd Ends from Ez, which is also composed of words and word parts, and "staring" another text out of it. It makes little sense perhaps but I was attempting something I have been calling "translation by Rorschach." I would suspect similar projects have been undertaken by other poets (and I would like to see them. Commentators suggest there is nothing new under the sun. In my poem, Dawn's Erasure, the language seemed to be a blend of the recent/familiar and the repressed, with a fair amount of "other" thrown in. In this sense the language "of translation" is coming from the "back of the head" and the "bottom of the guts." What's interesting to me is this kind of translation being done as a collaboration-where are the guts? Are they shared, manufactured, both?

In graphemachine, the 51st installment of Xerolage (a serial devoted to xerography, collage, concrete & visual poetry) we have another kind of translation. Interpretation might be a better word. This time there is a personal language, of self description (i.e. "Lily needs a boyfriend of any kind") used as the source material. In graphemachine, the author takes the source and breaks up the language into diagrams, often reminiscent of Jackson Mac Low's "vocabulary gathas," resemblant of ancient (1960s) vispo.
These are then transformed, in series, into things like architectural diagrams, board games, paper jewelry, cubist bookshelves. All of these executed in a graceful and soft dark pencil and/or pen. I hope she sends me something for the newsletter (if anyone reading this knows her, tell her how, or give me her address).

I probably don't need to say too much about Bob Cobbing or mIEKAL aND. I'll say this: Three Sequences is the best reproduction of his visual poetry, and maybe the most interesting work of his, period, I have seen. But I haven't gotten to see that much. And I'm told there is a lot a lot out there. What I gather from the introduction (which, in Xerolage, always appear at the back) is that the format of Three Sequences is closer to the format he generally worked in. These are the furthest in this package of books from any convention of language. The other book of mIEKAL's, The Elimination Considerati is similar to the Cobbing in that its interest is the plays of disintegration and light, etc, but here with language as a still-apparent source material. Both of these books (email me if I'm wrong) are vispo of a time and style of which a fair amount exists: xerox, or ditto-based. However, I'm not sure an anthology of Xerox (or ditto)-based vispo does, or any otherwise collection. It seems to be underrepresented in the Last Vispo, though the scope of that anthology falls on a later time period. Are there collections of vispoetry from the photocopier? Doesn't mIEKAL live in a museum of just this?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Next Big Thing

My partner in rooming and doffing, Jen Coleman, has tagged me in a series of cryptic chainletters. It involves answering a series of questions revolving around a hypothetical, but unnamed "book," which I will pretend is referring to my forthcoming chapbook "10th Spectral Cannon," published by Hank's Original Loose Gravel (  

What is the working title of the book? 10th Spectral Cannon

 Where did the idea come from for the book? It's a section of a larger book, which is technically untitled but always gets called Spectral Cannon. 

 What genre does your book fall under? Colorful poetry.

 What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie
 rendition? Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers as an ampersand. Leo Daedalus as Ron Silliman. Richard Froude as all of the orange sentences. Homer Simpson's voice as the person talking about the dragonfly. Jen Coleman as the tongue-in-cheek sentences. That guy from Tron as Jeff Diteman.

 What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? Supercritical bottleneck.

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? As a formalist, that is hopelessly complicated.

 Who or what inspired you to write this book? I had a dream where I thought I could write all these sentences in different colors, and then if I wrote them again in yet different colors they would say something different entirely. I thought it was a Ron Silliman thing. It was. He needs to acknowledge this.

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It's designed by Morgan Ritter. She is a famous artist. 

 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Jim McCrary is no ordinary agency.

 My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:  Crag Hill, Morgan Ritter, Paul Maziar, Chris Ashby, Sam Lohmann.

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.