Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

2009 is still in its shell but I can hear it chirping. So, some New Year’s Resolutions.

First: I didn’t read much poetry this year, thank God, and I’m resolving to read even less next year. The favorite thing I read all year was a Folk Tale from Finland where a fox procures for his simple woodsman master a castle and a princess. Below is the fox with a dragon called “The Worm.” (the Fox burns him up in a linen closet)

Second: In this morning’s paper there was a picture of a man arrested for masturbating in front of a child. He’s in jail and I’m watching cars and pedestrians cross the bridge beneath the trees. Three hanging bridges cross this river. I’m going to cross them more. (ie, walk more).

Third: I’m resolving not to die this year. In Merwin’s “The Lice” there’s a poem about how each year you pass over the day of the year you’re going to die on. (The Anniversary of my Death). When I first read this poem I thought it was a very cool idea.

Fourth: I’m going to abstain from “Whale Wars.”

Fifth: In the center of the earth there is a stone. In the center of the stone a star. In the center of the star a drop of water. I’m thirsty.

Sixth: My Love Birds won’t have a nest. They kill their babies.

Seventh: I’ll be in Italy in the middle of January and I’m resolving to eat as many pizzas as possible. I want to be a fat, lumbering ox.

Eighth: I’m going to use the words “cunt” and “fuck” less often

Ninth: I’m going to join Gold’s Gym. My wife goes there five days a week. Seven days a week I sit on my ass. Last week I picked her up. All the creatures hopping around and strutting to Madonna and Kylie Minogue songs made me sick. But, I need to turn my life around—

Tenth: I will not get too worked up about Cricket. When South Africa beat Australia in Perth and then Melbourne (these past two weeks) I acted as though my life depended on it. Harold Pinter was a big fan of cricket. The current Australian Captain, Ricky Ponting, goes by the nickname “Punter.” Punter’s a short Tasmanian who’s scored many centuries but he was just out for 99. Howzat!!

Eleventh: I’ve never “believed” (as in a God, etc) but I still used to think someone or something was going to save me. I want to feel that way again.

Twelfth: I’m going to visit the Fish Market more often. The shrimp lady’s a siren. I like to watch her selling. Last time we spent 300 pesos with her: and it was well worth it.

Thirteenth: I’m going to eat more tacos al pastor. The ones down by the Café de Olla. Their agua de jamaica’s really weak. But, O, their tacos al pastor. “Three please, no onions.”

Fourteenth: I’m going to hang that picture I bought in Chiapas.

Fifteenth: I’m going to go back to Chiapas, damnit.

Sixteenth: I will improve my Spanish.

Seventeenth: I am resolving, finally, to not gain weight.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our Local Jail

Here's why I try to keep out of trouble when down in Mexico... The article says that 94 men are "housed" in the "facility" designed for 44.

Lucha Libre

Last night was my first taste of Lucha Libre. My wife's son, David (20), said it's much more interesting in Guadalajara, but, nonetheless, I was quite entertained.

This was my first experience of any type of live Wrestling, but I’m guessing it’s quite similar to smaller-town shows in the U.S.

Quite different from watching Felix Trinidad and Oscar De LaHoya in Vegas what seems like a million fcking years ago.

The event was held at “La Paloma”—Our Bullring, where every Wednesday a few of our very own prancing amateur-butchers dispense of a few bulls in front of a crowd of mainly Gringos (many off Cruise Ships which dock just across the highway)

Also, I’m thinking I will post a larger selection of pictures up on to my Facebook page.

Lucha Libre Photos

La Parkita (The Little Skeleton) finds himself in a bad position...

Many of the Wrestler "characters" are effeminate... and the crowd loves to howl out things like "Joto" (fag), "Puto" (bitch), Maricon (fag, again), etc, etc,...

a lucky female member of the audience gets a table dance in the ring

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Johannes Göransson Interview: Ecstasy of Dismemberment

The following posts contain an email interview I recently conducted with Johannes Göransson regarding his translation of Aase Berg's "With Deer" which releases from Black Ocean in the Spring of 2009. (possibly available at AWP).

"With Deer" is violent, persistent--and it is beautiful.

Here's a relatively mild sentence from one of its early poems ("In the Guinea Pig Cave"):

There lay the guinea pigs and they ached all over and their legs stuck straight up like beetles and they looked depraved and were blue under their eyes as from months of debauchery.

Here are Bios that Johannes supplied me.

Johannes Goransson is the author of three books - Dear Ra, Pilot and A New Quarantine Will Take My Place - and the translator of five books - "With Deer" by Aase Berg (forthcoming shortly), "Collobert Orbital" by Johan Jonsson(coming soon), "Gingerbread Monuments" by Victor Johansson (poems) and Klara Kallstrom (photographs), "Remainland: Selected Poems of Aase Berg", "Ideals Clearance" by Henry Parland. He is also the co-editor of Action Books ( and the online journal Action, Yes

Swedish poet Aase Berg's first book, With Deer, was published in 1996. Since then she has published Dark Matter, Transfer Fat, Uppland and Loss. She is considered one of the most influential and unique poets in Sweden, and her poetry has been translated into English and various European languages. She also works as a translator and has translated several young adult books into Swedish.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Johannes Goransson, at the bottom of this post)

Johannes Göransson Interview: Question 1

RK: For those not familiar with Aase Berg's work: why Aase Berg?

JG: In her first two books you get a powerful, cinematic experience (in the second book, Dark Matter, this is really pushed to the limit). It's an experience of what Steven Shaviro, writing about the movies in his brilliant, Deleuzian book *The Cinematic Body*, has called "visual fascination": "Visual fascination is a passive, irresistible compulsion, and not an assertion of the active mastery of the gaze." And elswewhere: "visual fascination as a restless, shattering mobility." It's a poetry that explodes the control, the mastery, that rational gaze that is idealized in much of art (especially poetry); it's the antithesis of the pervasive idea that if our art should provide us with enough distance so that we can somehow approach it logically, an approach which comes out of the naive fallacy that art is part of an illusion we must free ourselves from.

That pervasive insistence on freeing ourselves from the illusions is ultimately based on a utopian idea of a kind of primeval communism, in which we are not alienated and interact honestly. A load of crap. And always xenophobic: the foreign, foreignizing, strange is suspect. Another thing that is great about Berg's work is the way the Swedish language is seemingly constantly breaking down and being reshaped into a kind of foreign language. It is both Swedish and foreign. (What Deleuze and Guattari would call "minor literature.") Strange neologisms and permutations proliferate.

Also, I should say that my cinematic analogy is not arbitrary. Aase started out as a member of the wild and unruly Surrealist Group of Stockholm, and one of the major original influences on Surrealism was Andre Breton and Jacques Vache sneaking in and out of movies, an experience that left Breton "charged." Further, film – especially B-movies, horror movies, zombie flicks - are a big influence on Berg. In her second book, Dark Matter, she is more explicit about this (she addresses her lover as "leatherface" from Texas Chainsaw Massacre). I think more than the violence and hallucination, what she gets from these B-movies is the powerful combination of estranging cheapness and visceral power, confusion and bodily reaction.

It is related to the quote from Dodie Bellamy that I posted on my blog a while back: about the influence on gay pornography on her work. I think it's a similar dynamic of alienation and viscerality. The body is central in both poets, but it's not the body as "the authentic" or "true" but the body as both alienated and visceral. To provide another American point of comparison: We can say that Plath's (and Plath was of course a huge movie buff) speaker in "Lady Lazarus" subjects herself to the gaze of the peanut-crunching crowd, dreaming of destroying the gaze; Aase's poems fulfills the dream (eating men like air), blowing up the gaze, opening the bee box. We are enswarmed.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Johannes Goransson, at the bottom of this post)

Johannes Göransson Interview: Question 2

RK: In the Action Books catalog description of Remainland (a selection of Aase Berg's first 4 book, translated by you also) "With Deer" is described as a "wrecked fairy-tale-scape." I don't think Black Ocean has come up with a book description for their website and/or a Press Release yet, so in order to give us a bit more sense of the book, its nature and scope, could you in a brief paragraph or two tell us a bit more than "wrecked fairy-tale-scape" (which by the way is a very good 2 word characterization)?

JG: I think the reason we put "fairy-tale-scape" into the description was because a lot of this book take place in a kind of "scape" of fairytales and folktales: in the woods, with animals etc. In his introduction to Remainland, Swedish critic Daniel Sjolin argues that the book detourns the motif of the lost girl in the woods (here the girl gets rabies). Of course in an American context of cleaned-up Disney versions of fairytales, that might not make any sense. But in Sweden the fairytales tend to be very violent and grotesque. The gnome slaughters the barn, the naked woman is made of tree bark, young people always drown or get lost in the woods.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Johannes Goransson, at the bottom of this post)

Johannes Göransson Interview: Question 3

RK: "With Deer" is, to put it mildly, strong. How was the book received in the author's native Sweden when it released there 11 years ago? What did people, poets and critics have to say about it--good, bad and indifferent (and by indifferent I have in mind the sort of critics who early-on dismissed Neruda's rich and dense language, imagery and play of tropes by labeling it "tomato sauce")?

JG: Throughout her public career, Berg has received a lot of praise as well as a lot of critique. Many people love the powerful, dynamic poetry, but a lot of people find it decadent. I should say that decadence and left-wing politics make up a kind of axis around which a lot of Swedish culture rotates. To my mind, almost all of the interesting Swedish art is decadent, and most of the boring stuff is earnest, responsible and left-wing (see my previous answer for people yearning to reach beyond the alienation of language). "With Deer" was her first book and my impression is that it was popular but considered a kind of oddity. Her second book, Dark Matter, was more popular still, somethign of a cult classic. And then her third book, Transfer Fat, suddenly seems to have made her into one of the absolutely most important poets in Sweden. Her most recent book, Loss, probably received the best reception of any of her work. It was reviewed in pretty much all the daily papers and a lot of critics argued that her motherhood trilogy (Transfer Fat, Uppland and Loss) is a major work in the history of Swedish literature. So over the past 11 years she has gone from weirdo to an important writer in literary history. I think a lot of that has to do with a shift in generations among the critics. I know that Bengt Emil Johnson, the old concretist poet from the 60s, has long been her supporter, but I've noticed that a lot of the other reviewers are younger writers now, writers who started writing in the 1990s. And her influence on younger poets is very evident. I should also note that poetry is much more popular in Sweden than it is in the US. Berg's books sell out their printings of a couple thousand copies even though she's writing in a country of 8-9 million people.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Johannes Goransson, at the bottom of this post)

Johannes Göransson Interview: Question 4

RK: A few places on line, including Action Books' website, have excerpts from Berg's essay "It's not acceptable to be a fatso" (first published in the journal 90Tal, number 3, 1999). Here she writes that she values the "aggressive, baroque and esoteric" and that she laments that "the fleshy, screamy and overdone...are so taboo in our culture." I remember, also, you using (in an email to me a long way back) the term "fat surrealism." Berg's surrealism seems to me to be the "fat" sort. Care to talk about Berg's particular sort of surrealism and surrealism in general? Where she stands, in this regard, to her contemporaries and predecessors? I wouldn't mind hearing you comparing her "fat" surrealism to Simic's "soft" (Silliman's term), but as you wish.

JG: To begin with, Aase joined the Surrealist Group of Stockholm when she was around 20, and she kind of grew up with that group as her major artistic influence. She was 30 when With Deer was published, so she spent many years engaged in activities with this group before publishing, or even writing, the book. The group is a quite notorious group in Surrealist circles: very extreme, very motivated, very dynamic at times. This isn't Surrealism as a few literary devices- the way someone like Simic has used it (if you ask Simic he'll tell you that he doesn't like Surrealism, though it was an important influence on his work) - and not avant-garde as a literary or artistic or
academic mode, but a group for whom art is not autonomous objects but a process of oppositionality. So Berg's artistic learning took the shape of vandalisms, trances, protest, happenings and the like. It's a really interesting group; not a mere re-creation of Breton's ideas from the 1920s, but also influenced by Situationism, Foucault and contemporary thinking. However, Berg left the group in the mid-90s at the time she started publishing her poems, in part I think because she didn't subscribe to their increasingly militant views.

In Berg's manifestos and essays there's a very interesting emphasis on the body - what Masson called "physical idea of the revolution" or what Bataille called "the bloody farce". There is more focus on the administered body than the unconscious/ego dynamic. In part it's important to view this in the context of the Swedish welfare state, which is a culture based in large part on an obsession with the healthy body. One of the first things the Social Democrats did when they were voted into charge was to make sure everybody got healthy -that everyone knew how to exercise, how to practice healthy sex, how to take virile camping trips etc. How to make them "hard" bodies – not surreal, strange, foreign, leaky, repulsive etc - in other words. But
it should also be seen as part of the obsession of our global capitalism culture - ideal body images, Vogue Magazine articles on the best sexual positions, dieting etc. These two often join in Aase's work: sex ed and tanning beds are on the same page in a lot of ways.

With your "Soft Surrealism" comment, you may be referring to Joyelle's and my manifesto "Find Us With the Lemurs," in which we espouse a "soft surrealism" in opposition to Ron Silliman's rationalist/macho "hardness". We took the central motto from a manifesto Aase wrote with Matthias Forshage (still one of the driving forces of the Surrealist Group) in the 1990s, a manifesto in which they suggested that they were not advocating the old heroic revolution that takes over the city, a revolution which will never come (and would be terrible if it did!), but a revolution of infestation, of submitting oneself to attacks by lemurs. I like that I idea of the artistic experience.

I think part of the statement "soft surrealism" that I don't like is the assumption that there is a true, "hard" surrealism. Surrealismstarted out as Dadaism, started out as shell-shocked soldiers babbling to Breton during WWI, started out in movie theaters, started out with trances and mediumistic exercises, started out with a fascination withcrime and pulp fiction, started out before it started out with Rimbaud, de Sade, Lautremont. A few years in, we might argue that Surrealism became "harder," as it sought to align itself with more traditional leftism. But even during the era of the second manifesto and WWII, I think Surrealism was rather soft, splitting off into other groups (such as the Documents group with Bataille) and translating into many languages and cultures.

Joyelle and I used the term "soft Surrealism" rather as a response to the macho rationalism of Ron's statements. And this goes back to my earlier statement about the naivete of the anti-alienation ideas. Ron is very much a rationalist. Distrusts the visceral and the confusing. His way of dealing with this is to split the world into hardness and softeness, the serious and the frivolous, the illusory and the true. A very binary, reductive worldview. And I would add, that this is no separate from his pervasive distrust of the foreign, the translated (even the British poetry!). I am in favor of the strange, the stranger, the foreigner, the homosexual, the wimp etc.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Johannes Goransson, at the bottom of this post)

Johannes Göransson Interview: Question 5

RK: Translation's always a difficult, tricky and delicate matter. A piece of any language of any complexity simply can't be "brought across" exactly as it is in the original. Since you've translated other writers as well as later-career Aase Berg can you tell us what was particularly and uniquely difficult about translating "With Deer?" What sorts of tough decisions did you encounter and what sorts of compromises did you have to make? And because of such compromises what hasn't come across in the English as much and/or as well as you'd like?

JG: On translation: A lot of people in the US have problems with translations. They're scared that they're not getting the original. But you're never getting the original. No ultimate reading is available. A lot of folks have trouble with translated poems because they sound strange. Of course they do, they are foreign. This foreigness is key I think, because it reveals the artificiality of all language and literature.

Part of what makes Aase's poetry great is the way she makes the Swedish seems foreign, she "minoritizes" it to use Deleuze and Guattari's terminology. The most obvious example she does this is by doing strange neologisms which make the reader aware of how weird the regular compounds words are: marsvin = guinea pigs = (night)mare pigs; nackrosen = water lily but also nude rose (with all of its fetal associations).

People in Sweden always say: Oh, how could you possibly translate Aase Berg, it's impossible. The reason for this is all the intense wordplay and such, but that's precisely what I love about translating Aase Berg. It asks me to rethink English entirely. It refuses to be merely transferred from one language to the next but insists on transforming the English in the process. It is very demanding and very rewarding.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Johannes Goransson, at the bottom of this post)

Johannes Göransson Interview: Question 6

RK: You mentioned "visual fascination" earlier and that the poetry in this book "explodes the control, the mastery, that rational gaze that is idealized in much of Art." The book is certainly an onslaught, being swarmed again and again by Lemurs. But one might say that what keeps it (the book, the experience of it) from being completely blown apart, what allows it to maintain "integrity," is that the heroes of the book (in spite of the relentless assault against their bodies, mostly their bodies, and selves) continue to strive-- "you and I, with your soft wax skin and our love." And the book ends on a upbeat note: "Now it is time for the cutting to slowly start to heal." So, one could say that the onslaught, the persistent horror, is just style, style in abundance, overabundance even, and that the substance or gravity--the real heft--of the book comes from its tiny soft-white core. Or is the end of the book a mistake? A cop-out? Or an author's lie? A fake-illusion? Can it really be the beginning of healing? Your thoughts, please.

JG: I suppose you can read the ending of the book as optimistic. However, in difference to the typically arched poem, I would say there is not a conflict resolved in epiphany. Much of western poetry over the past few hundred years follow that paradigm: the broken becomes whole, or - to reference Joyelle's and my "Manifesto of the Disabled Text" – goes from disabled to "healed". Instead here we have damage after damage after damage. There isn't really progress or even narrative; mostly it' s a matter of addition: this happens and this happens etc. There's not causality.

That very last line, while not ironic, sounds insufficient to me, overwhelmed by the melee that precedes it. There is also no stable core, no sense that "this is reality" or "this is the way the worldworks"; therefore it's hard to say what is optimistic and pessimistic. And if there is no ultimate stability, there can be no healing (which means returning to an original balance). It's also important to note that it's the "logging" (the dismemberment) that is going to heal, suggesting that it may be more about getting ready for another "drubbing" than becoming a "healed" individual.

I don't think it's a sad or depressing book; rather, it's an ecstatic book. It's the ecstasy of dismemberment (of body, text, language). The "characters" tend to be frail but ecstatic. They're also not really characters, they don't have any interiorities. They are not any more important than any other object in the book. The "logging" or "drubbing" space of the poem is not brought beneath the rule of characters with interiorities. It's the space, I suppose, more than the characters that is ecstatic

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Johannes Goransson, at the bottom of this post)

Johannes Göransson Interview: Question 7

RK: You referenced Sylvia Plath earlier. The poetry of her husband, Ted Hughes, especially his early and mid-career poetry, came to my mind as I read "With Deer." His poems are also filled with animals. Many of them ARE animals. Also, his language is grotesque--bent, twisted--and often shares with Berg a made-on-the-spot feel. But with Hughes I think you would say that there is a much greater element of the illusion of the control. That Hughes continues, through what are only just projections, to be a relatively cautious and conservative observer. Whereas, as you say in reading Berg, like moviegoers, we are enswarmed. Why do think so many of us, then, are so ready to be masochists? Are we bored? Are we fat and lazy in the shade? Are we, like you and me, (those who enjoy "With Deer" or similar poetry) just more sophisticated connoisseurs of a more sophisticated and literary version of the B-Movies you mentioned earlier? (The danger of shattering poetry is its very own shattering.) And if the time is ripe for lovers of poetry to be masochists then isn't there a clear and present danger (ha ha) for B-Poetry to flower, awash with gore and blood? (I haven't asked a question about Ted Hughes but if you'd like to comment on him and Berg that would be great. Or not.)

JG: Hughes believed in all kinds of Jungian stuff, that's a big difference, it has a higher meaning, an idealism behind it.

Yes, there's a danger of flowers blossoming in blood and gore. Anarchic pleasure.

And I guess we're just masochists.... The masochistic view of art acknowledges that we are not "rational" being; it relinquishes that "gaze of mastery." We cannot think our way out of our ideological house.

I would also say that the goal of poetry like this is not traditional lyric notion of poetry, which is not only to bring the speaker back whole at the end - in Slavoj Zizek's Lacanian terminology the real without the traumatic kernel of the Real, coffee without caffeine, laxatives that taste like chocolate, virtual reality, damage that doesn't damage - but also to do so within a "contemplative space". As Walter Benjamin points out in his famous essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Dada and Surrealism sought to "shock" or "distract" the reader out of that contemplative space. Often that "shock" is misread as the Hollywood shocking of giant sharks and such. But it's more of an electrical shock that charges you up and exhausts you. Breton said he felt "charged" from going to the movies with Jacques Vache. And I think Aase's poetry in many ways is a more extreme version of this kind of electric shock: to damage the reader out of his or her numbness. To charge us back to electricity. The "healing" can't start until after the fox-drubbing. The "healing" might be comparable to the exhaustion people reported after coming out of the movie theaters in the 1910s.

The paradox of the way I'm putting this is that the "aliveness" is the compulsive pleasure of jouissance that comes from the death-drive. To go back to Plath, her speaker is scared of opening the bee box because she senses the horrible pleasure of the contents, which is death.

Josh Corey has repeatedly argued on his blog that my poetry and the writings of various poets I like (Lara Glenum, Ariana Reines and others) display a lack of form that he finds himself longing wistfully for; he yearns for a more simple, direct art (like hurling feces at the windows of authority, I think he wrote). I wrote to him that what he is longing for is an idea of the unconscious: that there is all this violent sensation in his own unconscious that he has responsibly tamed with his formal training. But it is an extreme love of form that sends us out of the suburbs and into Dorothy Valens bedroom (to invoke David Lynch's "Blue Velvet"); there is an extreme formalism in Frank's recitation of 50s songs and his ether-breathing-machine. The jouissance comes out of a compulsive form. It is not freedom and artlessness Josh tries to restrain, it is obsessive form, death drive, jouissance.

Likewise there is a lot of talk about the ethical value of bringing people to poetry. Right now I fear that poetry is an instrument of restraining jouissance, of teaching people how to not be carried away, how to be less "artistic" not more. A bunch of Utopian thinking, really. And there can be no utopia if we want to be dead-alive. Modernist architecture is beautiful, but I feel like if I lived in a Modernist building I would have to stand perfectly still and have someone else come in to cut my hair. To shave it off. And to shave off my pubic hair. I would never die. I would always be a dead child.

The other counterpoint to this masochistic enjoyment in art is the 1960s idea of empowering the reader/spectator, of activating the audience. For example Fluxus art or any number of versions of happenings (though some of these were unabashedly masochistic and Artaud-influenced, Oyvind Fahlstrom is an interesting mash-up of the two). In writing, a bunch of texts that come in random order – the reader has to make the decision, has to arrange the chapters etc. (Also known ans choose your own adventure). In a twist similar to the one Zizek mentions about the the passion for the real turning into the spectacle of the real, this kind of art which aimed to activate the reader and be democratic becomes the most controlling: it wants not only to overwhelm the reader/audience, but to control its jouissance, to even control its physical movements (to force them to be "active" to turn the page, to join in the theater etc). Also, whenever I get invited to participate in these kinds of events I feel very awkward and self-conscious. Very manipulated. I prefer to sit back in the dark.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Johannes Goransson, at the bottom of this post)

Johannes Göransson Interview: 3 for the Road


Questions for the Road:

RK: Tea or Coffee?

JG: Coffee with caffeine. Without it I can't deal.

RK: Palm trees or thorn trees?

JG: I like palm trees. I'm not sure what thorn trees are but it sounds very Christian. I most of all love evergreens. Especially near the beach.

RK: Cum, shit, spit or blood?

JG: This questions offends my refined sensibilities.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Johannes Goransson, at the bottom of this post)

Moonlight and "A Tragedy"


A Tragedy:

I've been in a desperate mood lately. Maybe it's the holidays. Maybe it's the holidays and my wife's entire family descending on our house. O, who knows. But, honestly, i've been desperate. On-the-edge desperate.

And a desperate man resorts often, it is said, to desperate measures.

This afternoon I decided to read something off my old-bookshelf. So, after some perusing (and the rejecting of many great books) I, tragically, took down Robert Hass's "Sun Under Wood."

I bought this book for a class I took many years ago. The class's teacher was a big Robert Hass fan. A big fan of "the well-made poem." One night in that class i made a passionate but probably nonsense-filled rant about the poetry of "Sun Under Wood."

But, today, tragically, I took this book down off my old book shelf.

Upstairs, in my black recliner, I read pages 3 through 22 of "Sun Under Wood." Actually, I also read the title and first line of the poem on page 23-- "The rain loves the afternoon."

Pages 12-22 constitute "My Mother's Nipples."

The third section of "My Mother's Nipples" contains certain "songs" like

"The Romantic's song"
What could be more fair
than les nipples de ma mere?


"The utopian's song"
I will freely share
les nipples de ma mere."

Actually, this is not a Tragedy. Not a Tragedy as I see it. A tragedy is where a man is doomed and everyone knows it. But, also, in Tragedy, the man struggles and struggles and struggles.

I didn't struggle. I just leaned back in my black recliner and took it. Took it and took and took it. And pages 3 through 22 and the title and first line of the next poem is a lot to take, i swear.

And the "songs" i've quoted above might actually be the best parts of Pages 3-22 and the title and first line of the next poem of "Sun Under Wood."

And, as you can see, this is no Tragedy-----This is just damned pathetic.

But since i am so damned desperate i'd love for some smart poet and/or person out there to demonstrate to me, logically and poetically and humanely, that this is INDEED a tragedy..... Please !!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ejecutan a Arcadia!

In broad daylight former police chief gunned down by four masked assassins.
"Help me!" he screamed. "Help me!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Silliman Dreams

To Follow are a new batch of Silliman dreams I've had. As you will see these might be the last. Quite bittersweet. But, you never know,....

Ron Silliman Dream #1 (3rd batch): Seven More!

I’m in a conference room with Ron Silliman. He leans back in his big red-leather chair, creaking.

“We’re done, Rauan,” he says, and now he’s up at a chalkboard.

“Well, almost done,” he continues. “You’re going to have seven more dreams about me, and that’s it.”

“But, why Ron, why?” I plead, hot tears gushing down my cheeks. “Hasn’t this been good for you?”

“Yes, yes it has, my darling,” he replies softly. “Lately I’ve got an extra bounce in my step."

"It's like...It's like..." he mutters, "It's like I’m permanently on Viagra. I’ve never felt better.”

“But then why, Ron, why?”

“I’ve started to wake up in the middle of the night,” he says (with a tortured look on his face, like a frightened dog), “and I’m covered in sweat and I know you’re dreaming about me and I’m filled with an impending sense of doom.”

Ron pauses, looks down at the ground, trembling all through his body, and then he continues——

“...Other times I’m making sweet love to my wife and that same corroding-poison floods my mind and heart. Rauan, I want to. O how I want to! I swear on a big fat Buffalo’s head: I want to! I want to! But we just can’t go on.”

It's quite obvious he's a broken-man. A used-up old coal-horse.

So, “Fair enough,” I tell him, resigned.

“But seven more dreams, huh?” I add, looking up at him coyly.

“Yes!” and he’s perked up right away.

“In the first one,” he says. “I’ll be licking your toes.”

“In the 2nd we’ll discover the North Pole together...”

“In the 3rd, boil potatoes...”

“In the 4th———”

Ron’s glowing, ecstatic, and he shouts out:

“Christ!! Why did I ever learn to count to seven ??!!”

And, then, like a King or a Clown or a Magic-Lizard, he rises up in a cloud of swallows.

Ron Silliman Dream #2 (3rd batch): The Mountain

I’m waking up slowly and I’m stretched out against my red and purple sheets like a cat and I am sighing, like the sun rising and setting, and, as I crack my one good eye open, I see that Ron Silliman’s sucking my toe. But my toe’s much bigger than normal——It’s the size of a really big banana, or perhaps more accurately three big pomegranates stacked on top of each other.

And, hell!——this is heaven. And hell!——Ron’s a pro. He must have done this a billion times. But then, all of a sudden, he hops up and walks into the bathroom and——O My——standing there in the doorway he’s young Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke.”

“I can’t do this any more,” he says. “I’m bored.”

So, I’m helping him pack up his stuff. All his Bee-Gees and Lionel Ritchie LPs. His hope chests full of Lalique nudes and Wild West Chia Pets. Kimonos covered with African Art (all bought, he told me, from the royalties from his first book).

We’re sitting on the grass together. The sun’s setting. It feels like Creeley and Olson in a diner after talking all night.

“How does the mountain die?” I ask.

“It dies,” Ron intones. “It dies.”

Ron Silliman Dream #3 (3rd batch): Whaling

Ron and I are watching “Whale Wars” together.

The best part’s when we’ve finished up the popcorn which Ron’s prepared in his adorable little French Maid outfit (wiggling his ass the whole exquisite time) and we’re cuddling together on our snow-white bear skin.

Meanwhile, our heroes are hot on the Japanese tail—— maneuvering beautifully and dangerously through the floes.

But the screen goes all white-fuzzy and Bob Hass, a young Bob Hass, comes on, and announces: “Now I am going to read some Haiku from my new Harpoons-Book “Killing the Big Fat Blubbering Ron Silliman.”

Ron, in my arms, has gone stiff as a roach.

“Whalingly Black Macho Ron O
We’ve come so far damned wrong———
Puked up Ice—Glass—Shattered Black-veined God.”

“Wow!” I exclaim, “He sounds like Aase Berg.”

But Ron doesn't answer, because, I see, he's frothing all through his body like a stomped-on roach.

“Ye Old Black Time-Heart Sky
Blubbering Ron Whale Swimmingly
Swooooooosh——Fat Bob Hass Death!”

I can’t see anything at all now except for Ron’s roach-froth which has spewed out and dissipated into and around everything: a kind of mist I’m walking into, bellowing out, like a foghorn--"Ron, Ron, Ron”

And I bellow and I bellow and I bellow but all the fog offers back to me is one final Death-Throes verse:

“Whale-Musk-Puke Spouted Love
Ass-custard bright-green Death
Soups and statues, slurp slurp slurp.”

And nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Just fog.
And my grief.

My lonely foghorn's grief-cry

“Ron, Ron, Ron.”

Ron Silliman Dream #4 (3rd batch): Burger King

We’re at a Burger King shoving down french fries and Ron looks up at me, all forlorn. When he does this, like Bambi's eyes in a snowstorm, I always want to cry.

“I’ve done it,” he says. “I’ve taken the job.”

“What job?” I ask.

“I’ve thought about this long and hard and, really, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I ask again and by now children, thousands of children, have gathered around us.

“Can’t you see,” he says. “It’s fate.”

And, now, all the kids are droning like zombies.

“All of time,” he continues, “every bit of it has been pointing into this moment.”

The droning’s getting higher and higher and they’ve hoisted him——my Ron!!——up on to their shoulders.

“Adieu, mon ami, mon chere ami,” he waves, cavalierly, as the horde, disappears——still shouldering him, My Ron!!——into a bright red cave.

Ron Silliman Dream #5 (3rd batch): The Center

“In the center of time there is a black hole.”

I’m alone, drifting. I can see nothing, feel nothing. It’s as though I’m in a kind of giant universe-womb and I’m in thrall to this queer and wise voice, which, it seems, is delivering me.

“In the center of time there is a black hole and everything——your love, desire, the beaks of egrets in the river, monkeys and sunflowers, the blackheads on your face, everything, everything——points into this one true center of time.”

I feel so relaxed. Like I’m getting a massage. But terrified also. Here, I think to myself, the blood gets stripped away. Here, I think, the mountains sway.

“Here in the center of time,” the voice continues, “you must stop kicking. Here the fire and the ice twist together like a DNA coil.”

This feels like pre-coitus, in-coitus, and post-coitus. This feels like everything.

“Here everything in the center of time is created and destroyed. Here, my love, I am making you, and I am loving you.”

“Huh?” I think to myself, “This is stupid. This is so damned fucking stupid.”

...I’ve dropped out of a hole. A woman’s screaming. A man in white’s slapping me on the back. And I am filled with breath-light. I am burning. I am alive. I am dead.

“Go forth into the world, my love. Go forth!”

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Coming Soon

This Blog will soon feature an interview with Johannnes Göransson regarding his translation of Aase Berg's "With Deer" which will release in early 2009 from Black Ocean.

Aase Berg is one of Sweden's foremost poets and, in my opinion, she's the source of some of the most exciting poetry written by any one alive in any language.

Johannes is a poet, critic, theorist, translator, teacher,
husband and father,-- and he has a great blog you should
check out if you're not already familiar with it

"With Deer" is shocking, horrifying, dynamic, powerful, etc, etc, etc and in one word: Wonderful.....

Ever since I read a handful of Berg's first-book poems on Conduit I've been waiting for the release, in English, of the entire collection.

So, look for the interview soon... and after that, the book itself !!,...

Monday, December 15, 2008

3 New Pieces at Lamination Colony

3 New "Pieces" of Mine are now on-line at Lamination Colony

one's a previously unseen Ron Silliman Dream

one's a set of 3 visions inspired by Dodie Bellamy's "Cunt-ups"


one's just a rude, crude, stupid dream

actually, all three are pretty rude, crude, violent, depraved, obscene, scatological, etc, etc,.... so, if this isn't the sort of thing you want to read then, plz, don't go see them,...

but, if you're interested, then please check them out !!! :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Greatest Song Ever

Someone in Jon Leon's wonderful chapbook "Hit Wave" (Kitchen Press) claims that Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible" is the greatest song ever.

This morning I say it's the Royal Gigolo's "California Dreamin'"

It's all life's bullshit. Waiting for God. And getting it.

Flopping around on the dance floor at 2am. Waiting for God. And getting it.

It's the fluid I'm writing my poems in.

"Hold me my sweet
Hold me love
Hold me god
And I shout
The sound for the soul
A portal
I travel through time
All my senses burn
The portal can learn
The portal can burn
Hold me
Hold me
Hold me..."


Friday, December 12, 2008


"In Chiapas, wife-beaters are jailed.
Turn them in!"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Seguridad Publica 2

This one has me confused. How does the woman with telephone and cord relate to the header that says Public Security (Seguridad Publica)?

Is the woman calling the Police or some sort of 911 service?

Or is SHE the 911 service you call ?

Anyways, I'm quite perplexed,....

(p.s. ignore the fact that all pages of The Meridiano say Seguridad Publica)

Ejecutado era Narco

Drug Dealer Executed
(decomposed body found now... had been missing since March)

Chocaron Camiones

Bus Crash

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blake Butler- "Ever" Interview

The next several posts are the text of an email interview between me and Blake Butler discussing his wonderful novella "Ever" and related matters.

This is the Bio Blake sent me:

Blake Butler's EVER will be released Jan 09 by Calamari Press and is now available through the book's site online at

His second book, Scorch Atlas, will be released on 09/09 by Featherproof Books. He lives in Atlanta and blogs at

Blake Butler is human-buzz. Just reading "Ever" these last two days while Q and A-ing with the buzz-man has me super-buzzed.

Read the interview for a small to medium buzz.
(ignore my questions even).

Then buy "Ever". Wait for it. Read it. Get super-buzzed.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Blake Butler, at the bottom of this post)

Blake Butler "Ever" -- Interview: Question 1

RK: The beginning of "Ever" seems crushed and whole in the beginning and end of time. In the space-time foam that physicists--string and other--are, in our world and lives, trying to explain. The beginning pages of Ever seem partly built from physics notes and partly from descriptions of dark paintings. Clearly, the world (the universe) has gone to shit but the narrator still wakes humping the wall. Can you please, then, tell me (us) a bit (or a lot) about the wombing and birthing of this book?

BB: I didn't mean to start writing a book really. Besides one section near the end of the first third, this whole thing was written in about 5 big sections, one after another. I think I thought I was going to write a really long novel. The form that I wrote the lines in I think dictated the voice and the disconnection of thoughts to a large extent, though that original form is absent from the final book. Originally, the lines were numbered and subnumbered, in the way of Wittgenstein's Tractatus. 1, 1.1., 1.11, etc. When I was doing the writing, then, each line kind of stood on its own and had its own inner logic, and the way they came together was much more loosely based on this kind of listmaking and building off one another or then ramping off into sub thoughts, new veins, etc.

So I wrote these 5 big sections each was meant to stand alone but eventually perhaps be woven into a larger thing that I didn't understand. During this time a tornado landed on my apartment. My shit was all either soaked through or in boxes and I was staying with my parents for a while in a room I had grown up in. That probably came out in the landsapce of the novella also: for sure it did. Then at some point, after I finished the 5th large section, I stopped working on the project. I put it down I think with intentions of coming back, thinking I had a lot more to do on it, that I had just started. Though when I came back, about 2 months later, unable to sleep one night at like 4 AM thinking, I realized it was all right there. That there was no way for me to say anything else, and that I couldn't even really find a way back into what was already there: the book kind of locked me out I think. I wove the 5 large sections in with a couple other fragments I had written and not remembered writing that were hidden on my hard drive, worked it all into a massive rubric of some sort, and sent it to Derek to check out, which in more than one way was extremely lucky for me, as I now realize after the fact, that no one else could have released this book as what it was meant to be but Calamari Press. I mean that not only in that Derek was big on taking the numbering system I'd created and melding it into what eventually became the bracket structure that contains the texts where the numbers had been, like little rooms, but also his art in and around the book is so intrumental to me in the texture of it: it could be no other way.

So yeah, I think you are very right about the whole thing being a big collision of space-time foam and weird physics and other apocrphya: it is bitchmaster of mangled air.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Blake Butler, at the bottom of this post)

Blake Butler "Ever" -- Interview: Question 2

RK: The opening of the book made me think of Rumi recounting how a fat man taken into Muhammed's house wakes in the middle of the night and can't get out of his room. Locked in. The bathroom outside. And he needs to crap. And he is panicking. You, Blake Butler, fixate deeper in the book more obviously on religious matter(s). With all the universe, string theory, etc, that seems inevitable. But you didn't have to flow that way. You could have stayed with just "light," let's say. But you move into "prayer" and "he" etc etc,.... And even though you revoke that, right away at first, you circle it and circle it... This seems to be a circling question too... Can you talk about this? (the religion aspect, please, and whatever,....)

BB: It's funny, I only started to notice how much religious imagery and speech and so on were in the book after I got pretty deep in the revising. There's a lot of it there, and so much and so embedded in this woman's head that I don't even know exactly what it's after. Growing up in the South, and particularly Georgia, is funny because religion is so embedded and social that you tend to forget about it. I've never been a religious person in the way of that, though I do believe in god, and I believe in things outside of human comprehension. What its function is is for whoever, though: why people spend all their earthly human time trying to consecrate ideas of something they by definition posit as unknowable is to me in a way profane. I think god has to be a funny motherfucker. I think god has to know what he was doing when he put shit inside us humans.

So much of what you hear when you hear people in certain circles talk about 'what fiction should do' is that fiction should talk about 'what is human.' To me, what is less human is the idea, like god, that you can make these big dashing remarks and consumptive poses in text and language that are meant to direct you to 'the heart of the matter.' The heart of it for me is, most days I don't feel my body. I don't know where I am going when I know where I am going. There are so many rooms in so many houses and no matter how many times I come inside them I will never know what I am inside of and when I stop coming inside them the house will not know and will not flinch.

Someone just IM'd me 'i need to stop waiting for a miracle.' That is one of those thoughts that you think knowing you won't be able to stop thinking it, the same way that I am kept awake at night precisely by my inability to stop fixating on the idea that I need to go to sleep.

But I also think that in my inability to stop thinking the thing that thinks me into what I don't want to be, that is how I am created. And how what goes on in rooms is created. And something else about god. And walls.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Blake Butler, at the bottom of this post)

Blake Butler "Ever" -- Interview: Question 3

RK: It's great to hear that you and Derek working together transformed a list/numbering format to the bracket structure which is, I agree, a tremendous improvement. This is essential in emphasizing and, to a large extent even, creating the "Russian doll" effect that I think I remember Derek comparing the book's structure to. Rooms. Cells. Doors. Maybe I'm wrong on this but I don't there are too many small press editors (or any?) who're prepared to invest so much time and energy on a manuscript. To look at something and think "this is good, but rough. i think it can be great though, and i'm going to try to make that happen." So, yeah, I think you and the manuscript are lucky. Anything else you'd like to add, generally or specifically, on this?

BB: The thing about the creation of the text is that while I was writing it I knew there were things I would figure out as I went and things that would not, mainly because of the state of the narrator's voice, some sort of amalgam of disassociative state(s). When Derek and I talked about the numbering system, the main idea was that there needed to be something to guide the reader through the narrator's mind in the same way that the narrator seems to be leading herself in her own mind. I thought a lot about David Markson's 'Wittgenstein's Mistress' when I was working on the text, I think, and how he was so casually able to layer all these idea and threads in the narrator's mind into one labyrinthian text that also has a definitive pull. I had kind of constructed it knowing that the numbers weren't the best thing and that in the end if the book was made it would maybe have to be something typographic, and I am very fortunate not only that Derek was open-minded and process-oriented enough to see what he saw in the text itself to then work to build around it.

I don't know how many other publishers there are out there who have that kind of flexibility of mind in the creation of art object, but I do know that what Derek does is so singular and so focused that if he hadn't seen whatever he did see this book would almost without question be something that sat in with the burgeoning dungeon that is my hard drive(s) for posterity or maybe in segmented pieces somewhere if I was lucky. Not to mention that Derek's understanding of texture and aura and book as object in the creation of the art that goes with the book, the covers, and all else, is so vital to it to me now that I can't imagine it without. Calamari Press is truly a thing in and of itself, and one I have long admired before I ever thought of sending my own work. So, it's definitively an honor. I feel like I'm a band on Dischord in the early 90's.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Blake Butler, at the bottom of this post)

Blake Butler "Ever" -- Interview: Question 4

RK: I'd like to hear you talk about style and language a bit. Often during the book, especially when the intensity pitches, you slop and slap words round like a painter painting with something other than a paintbrush. And I think the "space-time-foam" nature of the book makes this if not easy then at least natural for you. And for the reader experiencing it. When I read McCarthy's "The Road" I was distracted, irritated, and ultimately infuriated by the language distortions-- the compound words and the archaisms. Every time I found myself in them I thought to myself: Ok, now McCarthy's trying to be "deep." But the good and honest reader can, I think, smell bullshit. When the language starts to blur in "Ever", though, I trust it, believe it. It feels like an extremely agitated and heightened mind grabbing at what comes first to mind/hand-- "on the dried crust most above," "bees runned with honey," "in the runned slush," etc,... In your space-time-foam, at its most intense, its high tides, "the oceans nestled down to just one fat lather," and "I slushed myself into the color." Your thoughts?

BB: I think a lot of my recent writing, and maybe especially in things written after EVER, I've become more and more reliant on the impulse, the underlying, particularly in the opening sentences of a section. I find that the less I think about what I am saying and more focus on the rhythm and the texture of it, the way the syllables fit in my head both alone and then in strings, that is where I start to find shit out. That's not to say there is no thought involved, or that I am just splattering text around on the screen. I remember particularly during writing EVER, and in the mindset of the numbering system I mentioned above, that though each line seemed to jump out of me without me knowing exactly why or what it was leading up to, I spent a lot of time between sentences, just staring, not thinking anything directly. Maybe I write more than the mind inside my mind rather than the palpable mind that controls the way I speak to people via mouth (I am often horrible in that context, blather, dumb). There is a disconnect, but also an electric current braided in the leaking, if you will, almost as if I am not writing by direction but by the loosening of things I did not know I had lodged. I've always been more interested in the unexplained, the unexplainable, than the 'ultimate truths of humanity' or something. I think the truth is a product rather than an equation.

I think I've said before that I think one of the worst rules I hear among workshops or whatever form of writing teaching is 'Write what you know.' If I knew what I was writing, why the hell would I want to write it? I'm not trying to write a proof for a math theorem that has already been made law. I am trying to make new. I like the idea of painting with something other than a paintbrush. Maybe with a plastic sword and an orange and a rabbit.

Speaking of McCarthy, though, he has been huge for me: I think his 'Suttree' and 'Blood Meridian' are two of the greatest books ever written. A lot of that dense, sometimes colloquial and often very ornate languaging, especially in the latter, get run up against these simple, boundless ideas, that don't try to say what they are even in the bigness of the words. The scenes near the end of the book where the boy is hiding from the Judge in the desert and watching him pass are maybe some of the most vivid images left in me from any book I've read. That said, 'Blood Meridian' is one of those books you could spend a lifetime reading, even just once.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Blake Butler, at the bottom of this post)

Blake Butler "Ever" -- Interview: Question 5

RK: I've asked you about slush and foam but it's structure that also (and mainly?) holds this book together-- and you've talked about structure a bit already. Whether it's on the organizational level (controlling by "doors," a "drain," a series of "rooms," etc) or on the sentence level even (I've talked about how sometimes the words feel like a kind of paint, better perhaps to say language a kind of paint, but for the most part the sentences themselves are pretty clean, pretty normal) this books needs and depends on structure. Something for the black fat to hang on, dripping. Again, yr thoughts?

BB: There is a definite arc to the book I think, even in its layering and skewing of rooms, and of the narrator's probably complete inability to parse it, as in a way a lot of the house she lives in is herself. Because the book is delivered as a monologue almost, to a person that the narrator does not seem to be able to place to one place, though there are focuses at times on certain people in her past and periphery, I think mostly the way it functions is as a tour of the narrator's body, which again, is also enmeshed with her home, with those who have lived in the house before her, with her, and who will come after, who appear outside the house in droves. There is a big sense of intrusion and extrusion on her part, trying to claim what is hers and what is not hers and yet there's also some kind of fascination on her part with encroachment of the other, in the form of both the ruined state of the outside world and those crushed around her, which to me gets more and more flesh-embedded as it continues to renegotiate her brain.

The first half of the book, then, is in a way her parsing what she has, and in the parsing of herself, finding ways to open it up, which leads into the second half, where her body, the house, becomes more and more riddled with tunnel, spore, canal. This is reflected I think in the lines as cells and the pages as sheets, and in the way there is an inhale to the first half, and an exhale to the second. A rupture, an enmeshing, a spreading out and spreading in.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Blake Butler, at the bottom of this post)

Blake Butler "Ever" -- Interview: Question 6

RK: Ron Silliman (a man much dreamed of) refers to Charles Simic's work as "soft surrealism." "Domestic" and "tame" are words I'd add. Your surrealism seems to be a wild, running, slush, manic sort. It kind of just leaps up, grows bud, points of steels, shadows, whatever. From my viewpoint it seems as though you kind of hit a vein, get in a zone, and then just let it ride, trusting your language skills to mostly get things right and to keep you on the bull for 8, 16, 32 or however many seconds. Care to talk about your and other kinds of surrealism? (influences, literary and other?)

BB: the history of surrealism to me is 95% soft. That it was born as a political statement, in political clothes, says a lot to me about what its intent is. I'm not interested at all in Breton's idea of what surrealism was supposed to be. 'Nadja' is about as normative as 'Friends' in my mind. I don't even see Simic as a surrealist (not that I've read a ton of him), soft or hard or liquid or made of showerheads. Because I think everything is human, and everything is real, even asdhfoashdfouyase8ryasuhdf, when you get into dealing with the term 'soft surrealism' and all other sorts of ism sism isimsimsimismimsims, you've got your arm up your dick. The only reason I sleep is because the woman that eats my mind every night is a surrealist of the seventh order, and has had her vulva sewn shut by god. That woman would eat Simic's first through tenth born. She'd spit out the eleventh and make a handbag of it to carry a bomb in. I don't know. I am tired of political implications. I am tired of people talking about what they intended to do 'in case it did not come through.' I am tired of soft or hard, even for my dick. I'd drink coffee in the sauna if there were room in there after all the old antiques and luggage my parents have crammed in it. The only place I can write is in the room where I grew up, the room where I was a self-imposed virgin until 19 or something, where I didn't drink or do drugs and put my arm through the wall once after having been up 128 hours straight. You could call those influences. You could call those vulva.

That said, there's been several recent things that have been getting me really amped in the mind of what I go to sleep for, which is the only reason I read, and the only place I find the way-jargoned to shit term 'surrealism' has any application, off the map. Johannes Goransson and his Action Books, as well as his wife Joyelle McSweeney: they are heroes of a sort in that way for me. And Derek White, I don't care if I am referencing the most recent book by my publisher: he did something so new and of the dream mind with his 'Marsupial.' Sean Kilpatrick is a friend and one of the best writers I know of such mind. Brian Evenson is hugely important to me, and especially Ever (read his story 'One over Twelve' from 'The Wavering Knife' if you want to see a very clear unconscious influence on the book by him). Jesse Ball. Nina Shope. Sam Pink. Kelly Link. Norman Lock. Eugene Marten. I could go on. I won't.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Blake Butler, at the bottom of this post)

Blake Butler "Ever" -- Interview: Question 7

RK: Earlier in this interview you wrote that "There is a definite arc to the book I think" and I think that is true to a large extent. Fuck it, let's stay it's true. It's true. At the same time though I think I can view (describe) this book in terms of a universe breathing, exploding in and out. It's filled with gore, in and out, gore dripping from bus-tops and children's lips. Gore in the eyes of birds. Gore from clouds which are falling in and out of the center. At the end of the book, though, and throughout, again and again, we're kind of at the same point as we started. This being said, at a sort of center therein there's a child's bed, a child's bath, a child's drain, a child's mother: a still point, where the pictures of one's life adorn the walls. But the waves keep crashing in and out. And there is still gore everywhere. In and out. I see your book some times as a horror story. Recurring eternally. Breathing in and out. There is no hope. No hope except for the narrator's voice. And that's hope enough, because in a world outside of God, (even though you said earlier that you believe in something like a God this book, i think, is a world outside of God), there is no other hope. Towards the end of "Ever" the narrator writes that the "the house had learned a song." I would say instead that she understood that the house was a song. So, i agree and disagree with you. Set me straight or crooked? Or just riff on the subject.

BB: It's interesting that you mention specifically the breathing in and out. In the final arrangement of the book (which you may not have seen yet), there are two sections, one in the first half (the narrator describing the doors in her home) and one in the second (the narrator describing rooms she passes through), that are arranged, unlike the rest of the book, with a lot of white space on the page. I liked the folding of this, the kind of passage in and passage out that it made, and Derek specifically called it a 'breathing in and breathing out.' I also think that the way the book ends in a way could then be extended as a door right back into the opening of the book. In that way, yes, wholly, the book could be considered neverending. Neverending things are frightening. Especially when it seems, as you say, that the book is full of a stream of terror inflicted on the narrator in a way that may or not be a function of her own mind. There is something of a question of what being alone does to a person, what getting locked in one mind while everything else is allowed to run its course, which I think is what happens to certain people.

I have been in close proximity to watching the dissemination of several loved ones' brains in the past few years. My grandmother lost her mind in the last time after her husband of 50+ years passed. My father is showing signs of Alzheimer's, which have bene getting worse. My mother seems to have her whole memory in this, and yet is at the crux of it, and slowly as a result beginning to lose some of herself in the mind as well. This is why the book was dedicated to those 3 people. This is why I wrote the book in my parents house.

I think the thing I like most about the narrator is not only the tinge of hope she keeps, however embedded, in the spinning and gore and in inflation/deflation the book is made of, but also how she at the same time shows almost no fear in the moving through the terror, which is how anyone these days, I think, must live.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Blake Butler, at the bottom of this post)

Blake Butler "Ever" -- Interview: Question 8

RK: I love coming up against and walking in minds that are very different from mine. I'm kind of primary colored. And hard-edged. I personally don't think there are questions at all. And I think one should write what one knows. But it's not so easy to know it properly or new-ly and say it so. I think, too, that there's a basic answer or two round which everything flows--and part of life is just fucking coming to grips with those damned headstone and footstone realities. You seem to have a billion questions, angles and these last two days I've been reading and re-reading "Ever" and it has been a pleasure. The piece on pg. 60 (which i'll call a prose poem) is by itself a masterpiece. I've read it a dozen times at least so far and it's magic hasn't faded. I'm going to record it and other passages and store on my Ipod:

[ The next room was melon yellow, zapped with lightning-- huge bananas-- bumblebees-- bees runned with honey-- their own honey-- bees eating bees-- up to my neck and in my knees. ]

...I think this is last question/comment of this interview. Please finish things off by knocking back up against or into what i've written above and anything else.....

BB: I mean, I think some things are known without being knowable and without having a way to say them as they are, because what they are is more than a mouth or hair or blood and the only way to say what you know is to say it in a mode that invokes the knowing that gets mad lodged way up in that neon gristle. I was going to make that sentence longer but stopped. I want to find the thing I did not know I knew and then throw it up out of me and eat it again and throw it up again in repetition until the house is full of me and I am full of the house. Maybe that's what the narrator of Ever does, and maybe that's why she makes sense to me in her unmaking.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Blake Butler, at the bottom of this post)

Blake Butler "Ever" -- Interview: Questions for the Road


And three questions for the road:

RK: Tea or Coffee?

BB: Coffee. Out the eyes. My blood is black now I am sure, more so than it was before I started with the coffee. Often it hurts to think.

RK: Palm trees or thorn trees?

BB: How about a thorn tree made of butter? That would make for a good waffle before bed.

RK: Cum, shit, spit or blood?

BB: Shit. All the way. Shit for life. Shit castle. Shit beeper. Shit house on the beach in Des Moines. I like blood too.

(to see the rest of the interview look in archives--dec 2008-- or, more easily, click on one of the labels, like Blake Butler, at the bottom of this post)

Monday, December 1, 2008



if you're interested in more Stupid Drawings then
please visit my other blog

Friday, November 28, 2008

Newspaper Cover

this one's a double cover...

A mountain-king (someone from Monterrey) kills himself


Police Wounded

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Ocean Special (Chance to get a copy of Holy Land at a great deal)

I just heard that my publisher is running a special this Friday,....

So, if you've been thinking of snagging a copy of "Holy Land" and haven't bit just yet then this would be a great time to get it with no shipping charges and get a copy of, let's say, Zach Schomburg's "The Man Suit" or Paula Cisewski's "Upon Arrival" thrown in for free,....

(only potential catch is that you need to pay with paypal....)

Black Ocean Celebrates Black Friday

***Buy One, Get One Free***

On November 28th, from 12:01am to 11:59pm, buy any book priced $11.95 or more and get a second title of your choice FREE (offer does not apply to issues of Handsome). Just write in a note on the PayPal order page which title you’d like to receive. And, as always: Free Shipping! Go to to place your orders.

Support independent publishing and have a very handsome holiday.

Love Janaka

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


some stuff
Forthcoming from Rauan Klassnik:

"Ringing"-- A Chapbook from Kitchen Press.
a collection of "I want to fuck you" poems.
(early 2009)

"Dreaming"-- a Chapbook from Scantily Clad Press.
(Summer 2009)

7 poems in Coconut

3 (or 9, depending on how you count) poems in
Double Room

3 poems in Typo
(early 2009)

3 Poems in Tarpaulin Sky
(about now)

More Mexican Newspaper Front Pages

Nov. 20th-- Decapitado y Quemado
(Decapitated and Burned)

Nov. 25th-- Se Ahogo un Desconocido
(Unidentified man drowned)

Monday, November 24, 2008


i recently subscribed to HTMLGIANT and have enjoyed many of the entries on it. Today, for example, there appears a blistering attack on Tao Lin.

Tao Lin is not a ‘good guy’

(for whatever it's worth i don't know Tao Lin or his work really.... but this post is worth looking at,...)

Asesinan A Taxista

Taxi Driver Killed. (throat slashed).

Friday, November 21, 2008

Secuestrado y Torturado

Mexican newspapers like to feature graphic photos on their front covers. This is seems is what sells here. The cover of this morning's Meridiano is a relatively mild example.
A waiter, kidnapped and tortured.

Manta Rays

In Huatulco we saw hundreds of medium sized Manta Rays (about a foot and half to two feet across). Often they'd jump out of the water. Sometimes three or four at the same time, or in quick succession. They made big splashes and a couple of times they flipped over in mid-air and landed on their backs. The captain of our "lancha" told us that some people think they're looking to see where the coast is. I think they're just having fun.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Here's a poem that for many reasons I can't see myself trying to be published. except for here on this Blog. Where I can do whatever I want. Damn, I'm in a mood today.



Like trees, there are three types of God. The first is flowering, and filled with fruit. Always. Eat, drink and be merry! The second you are tied to. The side hard with sun. And you are lashed. But these trees both live inside the 3rd——the Tree of Life. It’s the most perfect, beautiful and glorious. And it is going to die with you.


Travel Writing

Just got back from a week in Oaxaca. Beautiful place. And while sitting in the plaza there one mid-afternoon I thought about how much Travel Poems bother me.

I mean the Travel Poems written by beginner or intermediate poets. This is how it usually goes. A poet goes on a trip. He or she sits in a plaza, or by a castle, on the banks of the river, etc-- he or she has some deep thought he or she's only vaguely aware of. Jots down some notes that either's the poem itself or with a few revisions will be. The title of this poem invariably references the plaza or castle or river and definitely the exotic and mysterious city, town or village in which the poet finds him- or herself.

So, in my journal right now I have a couple of poems entitled "Oaxaca." And I'm confident in saying that these poems are not like the ones I'm chastising. And I may even keep the title(s) "Oaxaca."

I'm feeling a bit Silliman-esque as I write this. So, dream about me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Brian Foley's SIR! magazine is now up on line and lots of great work's included....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ron Silliman Dream #1 (2nd batch): Japan

Ron and I are in a plane. An old one. A bomber, and we’ve got a bomb in back, and we’re headed for Japan I guess.

“Ron,” I say. “Shouldn’t we talk about this?”

“Listen, you prick,” he says. “This isn’t a little Haiku joke or sitting down to blog.”

“Yes, that’s what I mean,” I reply. “That’s exactly what I mean.”

But Ron’s shaking his head like a frustrated ape.

“You don’t understand a thing, do you,” he spurts out, and he’s all red and purple and he’s practically foaming.

“These people don’t even write poetry any more,” he fumes. “All they do’s sit around and watch Robert Hass movies.”

“You know,” he continues, choking up, “they don’t even know who I am. A recent poll showed that only 4 people in the whole of Japan know who I am and in the fullness of time you know that’s only going to get worse. Much worse.”

“In 30 years what is my legacy going to look like?” he continues, whining. “O, Bob Hass. Bob Hass. Bob Hass”

But then, suddenly, he snaps out of his funk violently.

“These bastards need to die,” he screams. That’s all the fire he’s got though——and all he manages, now, between fits of sobbing, is “need to die, need to die” in a very low, eerie murmur.

I roll down the window, and float out.

I’m coming in towards my house and I’m wondering if my Love Birds’ eggs have hatched yet. I’m suddenly really worried about them.

Ron Silliman Dream #2 (2nd batch): Dolls

I walk into the game room and Ron’s on the floor playing with dolls.

“Do you know,” he says, as he glances up, “that Chaucer played with dolls. Coleridge too. Basho and Ikkyu. And when Berg translated that crazy monk he played with dolls too. Sometimes all night.”

Silliman pauses and stares at me profoundly and then adds, “A kind of method acting, ya know.”

“You’re making this shit up, pal,” I tell him, as I softly punch his shoulder. (and I’m thinking how nice it is to be so chummy.)

“This’ll prove it,” he says, passing the phone to me——and it’s a voice as though on a loop, repeating over and over

“Stevie Berg here.. Stevie Berg here.. Stevie Berg here.. Stevie Berg here.. Stevie Berg here..” etc etc

Finally, I interrupt: “Do you play with dolls, Steve? Ron says you do.”

“Come on over,” another voice replies (different from the one on the loop). “ And I’ll show you.” And it hangs up before I can say anything else.

Ron and I are trudging along a beach. There are beat-up dolls everywhere.

“These are all Stevie Berg’s,” Ron says, beaming.

And sure enough when I pick one up, and look closely, the proof’s right there on its ass in still-shining blue ink

“Stevie Berg’s.”

Ron Silliman Dream #3 (2nd batch): Cactus

I’m sitting on a rock with God. Below us in a field of cactus a naked Ron Silliman is scurrying after a rabbit.

Again and again it looks like Ron’s about to nab it but he either mistimes his final leap or the rabbit’s too slick and he ends up in cactus. Usually face-first.

But, a couple of times, tumbling over, it’s ass-first. All credit to Ron, though, he’s diligently and painstakingly removing all the needles (sometimes with the help of a mirror he’s produced from who knows where.)

I look over at God. He’s blank-faced.

“Are you upset, disappointed, disillusioned...?” I ask.

“O, no,” he says, “I’ve seen much worse.” And for a moment it looks as though a smile’s flickering across his tough face.

Meanwhile, Silliman’s back in cactus.

“Ouch!” I exclaim. “That was a bad one.”

“You know,” God says, “he really does have a very good heart.”

“You’re probably right,” I mumble, “but the problem with Ron is that he has absolutely no f-cking sense of humour.”

And now, I am sure, God is smiling.

Ron Silliman Dream #4 (2nd batch): Core Strategies

The crowd all around me’s going nuts and I climb into the ring. Ron’s in my corner, and he’s screaming:

“Remember what I told you, son, remember what I told you.”

Yeah, yeah, I’m thinking. This is going to be a piece of a cake. A piece of cake. A real piece of cake.

“Just go East,” Ron’s booming. “Just go East.”

My opponent’s entering the ring, the crowd’s gone silent, and, damn, he is f-cking enormous, with a Mohawk, earrings and studs. And he’s leaping around the ring like a jack-hammer.

And, O no!——the crowd’s started chanting “The hammer.”

“The hammer. The hammer. The hammer.”

And now the ring announcer, a fat version of Michael Buffer, introduces my opponent as the “All-Time King, Bill ‘the hammer’ Snakely.”

I’m getting pummeled. Snakely’s all over me. Nothing helps. I even try reciting the opening to Chaucer’s Tales:

“Whan that April with his showres soote
The droughte of March hath perced to the roote” etc etc

No help.
Ron’s screaming, Bill’s hammering, I’m bleeding.
I am going to die, I think. I am going to die.

But then a tiny little voice comes to me like a water-lily: remember the core strategies of abstraction, son. remember the core strategies of abstraction.

And I am expanding. I am burning. Nothing can stop me. I am all-powerful. Snakely is nothing !!!

Ron Silliman Dream #5 (2nd batch): Tolstoy's

My wife and I have been invited to dinner at Tolstoy’s. We arrive two minutes late and I’m concerned.

Ron Silliman, the butler, answers the door, and he looks a bit pale.

Approaching a huge, bear of a man, Ron the Butler squeaks out: “Senor Tolstoy, may I present Rauan and Edith Kl——“

But before he can finish, Tolstoy, who’s lurched forward at least 10 feet in one giant bound, slaps him in the face.

“You impertinent bastard,” he growls. “In this house you will learn some respect... Yes, sooner or later you will learn some respect.”

At dinner while trying to reposition my wife’s butter knife Ron knocks over a wine glass and Tolstoy’s grabbed him and thrown him up against the wall.

“You filthy dog,” he’s screaming. “You filthy dog.”

“I like these two, “ my wife says. “I want to see more of them. Buy them for me, darling. O, please, buy them for me. O, please, please, please say you will!”

When, finally, I look back Tolstoy and Ron are dancing to a slow Big-Country song and Ron’s burrowing his head into Tolstoy’s chest and he seems to be sobbing.

“Old woman Time and her slaughtered chicken,” I pronounce gravely.

“F-ck you, Charles Simic,” Ron blurts out, and they’re both glaring at me quite ominously and now I feel like I’m The Little Prince and I need, desperately, to apologize to my 9th French Grade Teacher for calling The Little Prince an idiot and tell her I didn’t mean it though I did mean it.

Ron’s sobbing even harder now. And I’m feeling very guilty.

“I didn’t mean any of it,” Tolstoy assures him. “I didn’t mean any of it, Ronny. None of it at all, my boy.”

Ron Silliman Dream #6 (2nd batch): Gorgeous

I’m walking through tall, dry grass and suddenly Ron Silliman’s whispering to me:

“Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky”

I look around but I’m completely alone and, so, I keep on shopping. But when I reach for a carton of eggs

“But I know a place where we can go
And wash away this sin”

Again I look around——but, alas, nothing.

Then, while I’m unpacking, reaching deep into the sack for a bag of asparagus

“We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind.”

Again I look around and this time I notice a note on the refrigerator: “Come upstairs”--- and there are candles all the way upstairs and then down the corridor and all through the bedroom. I knock on the bathroom door:

“Come in, baby. It’s Ron. It’s Ron.”

And, there, rising out of a mountain of bubbles is the most gorgeous woman I have ever seen——a bit like Botticelli’s Venus, but so much greater...

Stepping into the steaming hot bubbles I take her, giggling, in my arms...

“Who knows how long this will last
Now we’ve come so far, so fast
But, somewhere back there in the dust
That same small town in each of us”