Essays & Interviews

‘to be a boundless reflection’
On critical composition in Hejinian and Scalapino’s Sight and Hearing

As a writing teacher, I am relentlessly bugged by the question of how to move students toward an organic practice of critical inquiry, to help them feel pulled by it at the most basic, creaturely level. In my search for a pedagogy that feels right and real, I look toward the texts that have become my own exemplars of compelling argumentation and analytic integrity, only to realize that my favorite works of critical writing are, in fact, poetry. This, I believe, is due to the characteristic ease with which poetry can investigate its own form: it is a manifestation of language that can’t relax into sonic, syntactic, or dictional givens but rather is propelled by formal attention every step of the way. It’s a craft that is inherently reflective in that the poet cannot proceed without attending to the writing’s physicality — a thinking that sees itself … Read more at Jacket2

Interview with Max Wolf Valerio

MWV: I’ve always enjoyed the extremes of gender expression. And that includes the bodily expression of gender, the magnetism of biological sex, gender expressed, encased and lived through the body. In the body… Yes, binary sex roles are sexy and while androgny can also be sexy, I generally am more magnetized by extremes…

I didn’t use third person gendered pronouns in many poems, and I was busy vacating the “I” and coming at the poem as though it were a camera lens or a tape recorder, a perspective continuously experiencing. I never identified the “watcher” but shared the “watching”…

MA: This idea of being both immersed in gender and at its edges seems so fruitful as an impetus for art-making. It’s what poets do with the vestment of language: that fertile alienation that arises from inhabiting some faculty very intensely, both living it and expressing it from many different angles… Read more at Caesura

“What Does the Boss Want?”
Jimmie Durham in the Haus Wittgenstein

During a three-year stint writing reviews for Art in America, I was asked more than once by my editors to devote added attention to the language being circulated about the exhibitions I was enlisted to cover. It was a request for better accounting on my part. Curatorial statements, press releases, wall labels and magazine reviews help account for a work; and when certainty about the alleged meaning of art is widely accessible, so becomes the capacity to assess its selling price. The result of all this seems to be an enforced split between the object in its ostensible mystery and the linguistic account in its ostensible transparency. The opposition conceals that words, too, are mysterious; that the work they do is more than simply saying what this or that thing is, assigning it a meaning… Read more at Art Handler

notes on art and transcendence

The course of my life thus far has been externally mapped by a number of forces.
After finding my first captain and cartographer in the God of the old testament,
each new transcendent figure who served as point of focus by which my identity
could settle into balance had traces of its original precedent, to whom I was taught
to pray as soon as I could speak. His sanction could substantiate the whole lot of
them because, as the most abstract, he was also the least arguable. Death, too, was
inarguable, yet proved an insufficient image of transcendence because, when I
pictured my life from death’s perspective, I found myself still beholden to divine
vision, as death’s absolute negative turned positive when situated as life’s constitutive
power. To really believe in death, I would have to forget transcendence… Read more at Haunt Journal