Wednesday, November 21, 2007


“And I will have more to say about these books, Patrick's tie … and this whole idea of readership, audience, the scene and poetics, Bay and otherwise, anon.”

So I said a while back and while I am still not ready to deal with the full implications of Patrick Durgin’s tie, I find myself wanting enthusiastically to recommend Jesse Seldess’ magazine ANTENNAE. He calls it a journal of experimental writing, music, and performance, and so, excellently, it is. Being happily home with an honorable but not too severe sore throat on this almost holiday, I have enjoyed reading through the issue I have which is #9. I presume you could own it yourself by contacting Jesse at

I wish I could include a scan of the beautiful cover. Picture an off-white linen tablecloth, a field of snow or a watercolor painting just before the water or the color have hit the paper and you will have an image of it. Inside and out the paper is thick. The 11 by 17 format with generous margins is lavish. It is stapled and so falls open on the lap like an infinite picnic. ANTENNAE may be the perfect magazine.

The magazine opens with Tenny Nathanson’s meditation on zen, the war, poetics and daily life from a book-length poem he is writing called ghost snow falls through the void. This discursive poem is incredibly readable and completely plays my tune. In fact, several pieces in this issue are poetic essays or discursively inflected poetry or critical epic, as I might call Barrett Watten’s engagement with Williams' PattersonCorrelation of Patterson, Book 1. I like the way the critical vocabulary -- the teacherly & scholarly breath of thinking about Williams -- is deployed in a procedural way (there is a chance element in the presentation of the text) which naturally reflects the writer’s poetics, his life, Williams' thinking and life and inevitably your own. It’s a case where to read is to to argue. Carla Harryman’s piece, “anachronistic doggedness (noise at the graveside lecture notes)”, takes the form of what might be called a theatrical lecture. The liveliness of the enacted thinking will be familiar to readers of Carla’s work and both satisfying and surprising of their expectations. The sense of death in it is scary and considered and somehow more visceral than that in Tenny Nathanson’s evocation of deaths in Iraq which have the distanced journalistic feel appropriate to his discussion. David Pavelich’s “Brevity’s Lure, or A Poetics of the Small” brings up Wall Mart (the not small) along with Whitman, Dickinson, Niedecker, Hejinian, Poe,and himself, and others, in this particularly persuasive example of the essay poem genre.

The collaboration by Jen Hofer and Patrick Durgin, “four parables from The Route” -- bits of which I have now heard and seen variously -- is convincing in its artfully dissonant yet almost lyric diction. Actually, I have just forsworn that word -- lyric -- because I have admitted to myself that there really is a lyric mafia and I don’t want to encourage them. I have in the past used the phrase ‘highly prosodized formal unit’ and so they are – although there is properly no “they” – but an overlapping network of units that communicates a lot of mutual thinking about sense, syntax, sensibility, politics, friendship and form, to name a few of its (their) themes. It is a consideration of this way of writing -- that many of us do these days – this finely contrived anti-syntactical yet tactical morphemics that connote and denote while playing around with sound – that would encourage a person profitably to think through the resonances of the two lines below, presumably arrived at independently. The first is by Jen and Patrick, the second by Bill Luoma, recently quoted here:

of of of from of

of the head of of of of of

One could have a lot of fun examing the nuances of meaning and difference between these phrases. And the dream class about collaboration that would include Snow Sensitve Skin along with The Route (out soonish from Atelos) will be one I will want to take if I don’t end up teaching it myself.

Two pieces in the magazine come from the theatrical realm and include scores and diagrams which could presumbly be used to actually perform the works. These are “from ‘The folks who sell the food sell the cars on the street’” by Travis Just and “90 degrees” by Carol Genetti. They give you the feeling that you could take ANTENNAE to an island and survive performatively off it for a long time. I am chainwatching dvds of Lost lately so the idea appeals to me.

There is, finally, a connection between the broken-line highly prosodized units of John Tipton’s "Eight Tokens" which take wild advantage of the generous ANTENNAE page --

gauze resembles winter resembles light
waver the distance the sole syllable remote
speak & you speak again

-- and the effete yet elegantly simple poems of Donna Stonecipher (from Into the Hands Of) (very much after my own heart) which gloriously invoke centuries of European culture with stanzas like

At about that time, the gist of the sublime
was located in the hieratic
parcel of air held
by the wings of an imported

Take that, lyric mafia!

Laura Moriarty


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