Friday, April 28, 2006


FizzPo: A poetry that constantly reaches the precipice of off(s)ense -- a state that so thoroughly overloads the senses and sensibilities that it offs them -- but instead of crossing into it, reroutes the whole approach.

This is a poetry that meshes with a very modern style of interaction, wherein we skim for what slices us, but abandon the blade once we receive the signal. We're not even left with a paper cut. We're left with that white smudge of heat. A poetry that operates through hyperlinks, so hyper it never actually links.

This is an abstract structure, this essential "99.9% bang + abandon" equation that underpins FizzPo. You can orient this effect around the line, and from there, the line as any combination of visual or sonic unit. Or you could abandon the line. It doesn't really matter. But consider: to coax the archaic line into such magic, that's pretty fucking rad.

And it is important to accept and indulge in your colonization of feelings and source gunk. You blaze into the house, start to redecorate it, and right before it gets amazing, you go on to the next house. In this way you produce one hell of a neighborhood. This is a poetry of strange neighbors, disunited and still sworn together. We're not out in the woods, building new houses while everyone gawks. We're using what we're among.

FizzPo. Skittish. Jubilant. A million slender hallelujahs bouncing between shoulders. A pinball slipping right past the most secret pit and almost in, an almost enough to illuminate presence.

FizzPo is the poetry of strobe lights. FizzPo is the poetry of granular light.

FizzPo is the poetry of a hyperactive heart machine awash in the new light of fractures.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

We need to institute a mass "surprise poetry" movement where we trick people into reading poetry. For example: we should start sending poetry back with our credit card payments, putting haikus in comment boxes, hiding poems in the middle of magazines in libraries, and just leaving them strewn about in general.

I'm serious. We should do it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Both our other essaythings concerned poem reception, not poem production. How poetry works on its reader, not how poetry generates itself. What's the deal with this question then?

I think Spicer was right about the Other thing, about poetry as "dictation." Artistic thoughtstream is like another person. It seems to me like the imposition of all other people and intelligences I've experienced. Like they shed a little when we launched against each other. Obviously my mind can't grasp having other things live inside me. So it feels like a comfortable stranger.

Imagine someone in your house since childhood, since birth really. Never a part of your family, but always respected and prompted for wisdom. Never seeming to establish a presence, always existing when you call him. Never seeming to mind his servitude. I don't know.

A muse makes sense: sure, logically, it lives only inside you. Logically, language is a socially constructed relationship engine and we're all alone. But despite the fact we can't feel the Otherness of the muse-thing — as that's impossible to reconcile with our self-awareness — maybe the muse-kids were on to something. Maybe the tangled body of all we've encountered lives inside us, allowing us to call it our own because it is intelligence without the vanity of self-conception.

So, where I differ with Spicer: poets are not lonely radio antennas, nor are the transmissions singular packets from a singular "outside." Poets live with their transmissions/their transmissions live inside of them. I don't know how important this distinction is. I'm trying to say that we're not the translator: the Outsider is the translator living within us, the one that picks and chooses which material he'll deliver when he tells us we're going to write a poem -- or when we want to write a poem, I'm not picky.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My turn.

I H(ate)eart Poetry

Poetry is like having massive head trauma from being run over by a car. Everything starts out okay, the birds are chirping and shit, then I wake up in a hospital with a fat nurse with a hairy mole hovering over me.
My view of what poetry is and isn’t has been drastically altered in the past six months or so. I used to think poetry was something people did when they were drunk and confused. Now I know it is something people do when they are sober and confusing.
Lately, I’ve been writing poems that poke fun at things, and I try to keep the reason for my poking fun at things confusing. If I come across as a complete asshole with no heart in my poems where I make fun of people, then I fail.
I think the only positive way to look at ourselves and others is critically. Being critical is important if we hope to move forward. However, there is a difference between being critical, and being mean. I don’t like to be mean in my poetry, however I don’t think being politically correct all the time (if any of the time) is any fun.
People should be able to read my poems and grin. I find joy in producing grins, and the grinner must enjoy it doubly. This is crucial: I don’t ever want to write poetry like the poems in the current issue of I hope this is not what an MFA does to me. I will fight it in court.
I want words to power our cities. We should run off of words and language instead of coal. This would be much more fun, and environmentally friendly. I am all for this. I will do a research paper showing the efficiency of language vs. fossil fuels in accomplishing things.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I wrote this to try to wrap signifiers around feelings. "The testimony of feeling," I guess. Which I ripped from a groupblog discussing "postmodern Christianity." That's why I wrote this. Now, I'm posting it to look cool. There are things it takes for granted that other models reconstruct, such as Jessica Smith's poetics of plastics -- to name something I just read -- with its notion of reader defined poetic space manipulation. My model prolly doesn't give the reader enough credit.

But my disclaimer rhymes with burk-shin-fogress.

So Here Goes:

Writing poetry is performing language. Language is performing thought.

Talking about how poetry works is notoriously tricky, as it lends itself to cutesy, "poetic" truisms like the first two sentences of this poetics statement.

That's understandable, as a breakdown of poetry seems to demand certain poetic accoutrements, such as tidy rhetorical patterns, just as talking convincingly about how baseball works demands you employ the baseball-contrived meanings of "slugger" or "closer." Poetry is an unnamable essence and baseball is an unnamable essence, so to identify either essence requires you catalog and use all the devices that point to that essence. There's no way of constructing a door to a house while attempting to circumvent all notions of "house" and "door."

So, following that, poetry's association with emotion triggers another kind of poetry breakdown that rehashes what it "feels like" to write a poem. These are usually fun. Let's try making a few new ones:

Poetry happens when you slice a pipe in your gut and let dawn and TV static mingle with your currents.

Poetry comes from experiences that twist themselves into cowprods and leave distinctive scars on the back of your heart.

Poetry is when words rearrange your headspace like a kitten invading your bathroom.

Poetry is when non-moments feel suddenly lucid, like coming across a face you've never seen before in a class photo you've scoured a million times.

Poetry is a ceiling fan talking to the moon.

But these are ultimately unhelpful. No axe-maker is going to instruct an apprentice solely through attempts to define how it feels to make a proper axe. And poetry happens/comes/is none of these things, really. Such definitions are what us anxious po-mo cripples would call Bullshit. I'm kidding with the "us." I have more confidence than that and wavy hair. But some would call them Bullshit for sure. Poetry happens when I write something and call it a poem. Poetry comes when I say "what is coming right now is a poem." Poetry is that which I get at least one other person to agree is poetry. Or, even worse, poetry is simply what I call poetry. Which is far too boring to be true.

Yet if these methods are too vague, a bog of exacting critical terminology doesn't usually help either. While very useful for naming parts and classifying things into abstract components to highlight the relationship between those components, an overload of clinical rigor seems to whir and wrangle and disappear from poetry entirely, waking up in a field of endlessly less certainty. Any struggle to diagram how poetry works gets you cutting grass blades smaller and smaller until you have to build new machines and microscopes to further your work, by which time you're no longer even thinking about poetry, you're thinking about grass blades.

Eventually, you have to give in and accept both the necessity of analysis and the necessity of a poetic and ridiculous analysis method.

So here is a temporary, shaky, analogy-slathered way of analyzing how I think poetry works.

You have two major elements: the scenic effect (the equipment/content/Furniture of the poem) and the linguistic effect. We're going to call the scenic effect the avocado. Within this avocado you have the avocado pit, that palpable sensation, feeling, insight, revelation, notion, joke, naggynaggyiosity that demands a poem as a vessel. Or that you construe as demanding a poem as a vessel. The avocado pit is inedible, impossible to approach directly, an obelisk full of stars, etc. In fact, it's downright non-existent, just like a pit only exists through the circumference that marks it. To convey the existence of this pit, one has to fill the scene with enough avocado gunk that the suggestion of the pit will arise. This avocado gunk includes: narrative, imagery, stuff. They're not always in agreement with each other. Sometimes the gunk goes crazy and suggests a million different pits. This is fine. There is no pit, remember? If the gunk is charged enough to suggest any pit at all, this is fine.

But the gunk is just going to sit there unless it has some way of getting to the poem's intended destination. This is not always the mouth. Sometimes the brain needs the avocado, sometimes the gut. To transport the gunk, we use the language helicopter. This helicopter is a carefully constructed, whirly assemblage of linguistic devices. The reason it's a helicopter and not an airplane is because an airplane goes down too smoothly, disappears too much, makes flight seem an inevitability instead of a miracle. That's the point of prose, to erase the medium in favor of the goal. The funky mechanics of a helicopter always remind you how cool it is to be flying in the first place, and this is the purpose of the poem. Sure, sometimes you try to mask your helicopter to look like an airplane, and sometimes this works, but to write a poem is always to embrace the notion that language is infinitely cool.

So the language helicopter takes the avocado gunk, replete with its suggestion of an unnamable but somehow tangible pit, and gets that gunk where it needs to go. Sometimes the arrival of the helicopter is the major cause for celebration, and there is only cursory gunk. And sometimes the helicopter is urgent and self-effacing if the gunk is urgent and radioactive. But this relationship, this tension of fragile gunk in a fragile flight, produces the poem.

My favorite poems happen when the sheer bombast of this process flaunts and flexes itself and still manages to retain relevance. My favorite poems juggle a surface razzle-dazzle, a vague aura of importance, a meaninglessness when examined deeper, and an even deeper meaning when really examined super-deep, to employ the utmost technical terminology. These poems are for me the poet, not because they don't trigger some of the same life-affirming clicks and purrs as more reader-oriented poetry, but because they get me thinking of poetry itself, of writing poetry as a living beast, as possible. Few poets do this for me, sadly: Clark Coolidge, John Ashbery, Ange Mlinko, Frank Stanford.

But that's fine, because there are tons of reasons for liking poetry, just as the relationship described earlier between helicopter and avocado can shift its weight and color in a million ways. Here are some of those reasons:

--Language fun
--Dead concerns and lifestyles come alive
--Gutstring twistage
--Weirdness or defamiliarization
--Simple relation/sympathy to worldview
--And even sometimes that oft-battered "wisdom"

This is too reductive, of course, as most poets play more than one note. And I'm too timid to name all my examples, lest I forget people. But however the route, something has to dump avocado gunk into the yesyesyes machine.


Ergo: through the bass thrump of a helicopter dumping gunk inside of us, poems should drum us into caring about what it is to be.

But why bother to use poetry, why not just go out and stumble into life chunks that do the same thing? I suppose it's vanity.

I suppose it's the notion that, entirely devoid of circumstances and context, we as flimsy humans can announce ourselves. We can reproduce from nothing, from a matrix of arbitrary codes, those tricky moments when life seems to flicker an acknowledgement of our importance, our vitality, our smiles or shaky jaws or cold arms or all of it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

we have a colaborative blog now.

er... here it is. ready... collaborate!