Jeanette Lynes

Here’s a poet with wit and heart, and here’s a great Canadian magazine. Check both out. Lynes is the author of three books, Girl on the Antikokan Highway, Left Fields, The Aging Cheerleaders’ Alphabet and a chapbook I have yet to see, but love the title of: inglish prof with her head in a blender turned on high (above/ground press). Follow link for an interview and four poems.

Suzanne Zelazo, Atwood and Virginia Woolf’s childhood home

You too can spend a weekend at Woolf’s childhood home and pine not to go the lighthouse, but “for” the lighthouse. It seems that soon enough the lighthouse will be put out of commission. (See post below).

I have been reading Suzanne Zelazo’s Parlance again, and I think it’s great. Particularly the first series of prose poems. The language is just so surprising. She has a response in here to Woolf’s To The Lighthouse, and it’s interesting, but for me not as sparkling as other parts of the book. It’s a fragmentation of the narrative, and in a way satisfying in terms of its reconfiguring–certainly it’s successful, it just doesn’t please me as much as the rest of the book does. For instance, the beginning of “Missplit”:

“Wetted ashes the body pretends. The flag a
dismal delirium. Aiming towards empty.
She falls. How grand after death. Lunation
toiling monumental impermanence…”

Or “Coehill”:

“A pyramid in reverse. My echo sees itself
coming. Hesitation. This is his own hap-
pening. Make a move and get out of here.
The delta opened its soft mouth and took
you in…”

Wonderful prose line–so firm. I’m not sure why I hesitate with the “Through the Lighthouse” section. I wonder about the choice to make the fragments so ordered, I suppose. And I wonder too about the coiffed feel of the fragments. More like beach glass than shards, but again, it’s a success I would say, a wonderful response to Woolf.

**Update note. I see that I will have to reread Selazo’s “Through the Lighthouse” in light of Jackson Mac Low. More on this in the coming weeks.

Here Margaret Atwood wonders how she could have been so wrong about To The Lighthouse:

Why go to the lighthouse at all, and why make such a fuss about going or not going? What was the book about? Why was everyone so stuck on Mrs Ramsay, who went around in floppy old hats and fooled around in her garden, and indulged her husband with spoonfuls of tactful acquiescence, just like my surely boring mother? Why would anyone put up with Mr Ramsay, that Tennyson-quoting tyrant, eccentric disappointed genius though he might be? Someone had blundered, he shouts, but this did not cut any ice with me. And what about Lily Briscoe, who wanted to be an artist and made much of this desire, but who didn’t seem to be able to paint very well, or not to her own satisfaction? In Woolfland, things were so tenuous. They were so elusive. They were so inconclusive. They were so deeply unfathomable.

I had often wondered whether Atwood had ever read Woolf.

Marjorie Perloff

Wow, what an amazing woman… Here she is talking about the fact that no one outside of the academy knows who Zukofsky is:

What this means is that the fans owe it to their audience and each other and to the audience outside the walls of the university to explain what’s so great about their poet and also to engage in critique. When is X good, when less good? Does poem Y work?

The major newspapers and magazines have abandoned poetry completely but this in itself needn’t be such a bad thing. What percentage of the population read poetry in Mallarmé’s France? Or anywhere else.

Chicago Postmodern

Here, here. I love this! Who, if not the poets, will spread the word about poetry? And who if not the poets, can give shape to how the work is read/received? So yes, go out there and recommend.

Everybody’s Autonomy

I’m reading Spahr’s Everybody’s Autonomy and loving it. What a lucid, accessible and intelligent academic writer. I’m fascinated by the discussion of accessibility, and of course thinking of Stein as an immigrant writer, the detailed comparisons of sentence structures to that of ESL speakers. There’s clearly some kind of connection…but more as I read. Here’s a link to the introduction, and here’s a review.

And I found this on the UPenn site and loved it:

Juliana Spahr on how reading is taught in school

“Reading is usually taught in school so as to walk hand in hand with assimilation. And it is at its most oppressive when taught through principles of absolute meaning. Beginning reading exercises tend to emphasize meaning as unambiguous and singular; the word ‘duck’ in the primer means the bird, not the verb. Further, as a learned and regulated act, reading socializes readers not only into the process of translating symbol into word with a one-to-one directness, but also into specific social relationships. Dick and Jane, to use the most cliched example of a primer, teach how to live the normalized lives of the nuclear family as much as they teach how to read. Further, much of what is read does not fully engage the resistant possibilities within reading, and as a result it tends to perpetuate reading’s conventions.”

Juliana Spahr, Everybody’s Autonomy (2001), pp. 11-12

belladonna* May, Zinc Bar

Martine Bellen & Karen Weiser

Another great belladonna last night. I know Martine Bellen, who also teaches at Rutgers, but hadn’t heard of Karen Weiser. Loved her reading and look forward to her new work. Here’s an intriguing snippet from Lungfull. Martine read from a new chapbook, as well as from the belladonna chapbook–a do-si-do–one side “NY Stories” and the other “Lessons of the Microscopist”. Bellen is a great lister, a great gatherer of wonderful sounding words and images, and this last section was my favourite. For a sample of her work check out Web del Sol.

Belladonna* is a feminist/innovative reading and publication series that promotes the work of women writers who are adventurous, experimental, politically involved, multi-form, multicultural, multi-gendered, unpredictable, dangerous with language (to the death machinery). In its five year history, Belladonna* has featured such writers as Leslie Scalapino, Alice Notley, Erica Hunt, Fanny Howe, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Cecilia Vicuña, Lisa Jarnot, Camille Roy, Nicole Brossard, Abigail Child, Norma Cole, Lynne Tillman, Gail Scott and Carla Harryman among many other experimental and hybrid women writers. Beyond being a platform for women writers, the curators promote work that is experimental in form, connects with other art forms, and is socially/politically active in content. Alongside the readings, Belladonna* supports its artists by publishing commemorative pamphlets of their work on the night of the event. Please contact us at to receive a catalog and be placed on our list.