Postmodern Collage Poetry

A blog about writing collage poetry, post modern poetry, multi lingual poetry

Saturday, January 31, 2004

A Fine Friday

Met William Allegrezza on Friday-- what a good soul-- regardless of the fact that he is Italian which is tops on my cool pyramid. He is a real poet. He also published Joe Ahearn who is a someone who has had such an effect on my writing. We are going to work together in the future.

Friday, January 30, 2004


Since today is Cold in Chicago- negative 20 degrees centigrate-- I was thinking about things that are just excellent and tops on my list are great bookstores. Is there anything better than two or three hours searching a bookstore?

In my opinion these are the best bookstores in the US;

Seminary Book Coop in Chicago
This Academic haven is great for finding the obscure and the rarely seen lots of small press and Mr Cella the general manager is just great he makes the trip worthwhile.

Booked Up In Archer City Texas,

Among the many things I miss from Dallas, friends like Brian Clements and Joe Ahearn, and good brisket is
Booked Up, if you secretly loved 84 Charing Cross Road the movie and yearn for rare editions and cool stuff this it it. Millions of great books in one place with no hassles. This is worth the trip. The best poetry section I have ever scene

Prairie Lights in Iowa City;
I am a Hawkeye and so Prairie Lights needs to be mentioned this is my 'home' bookstore it has a great selection and a great staff and is only blocks away from Iowa City's other great institution the Hamburg Inn.

Powells In Portland;

What a great place, the City of Books, I was in Portland on business once and spent 5 hours when I should have been working in this palace.

Gotham City Bookmart/Strand Bookstore

It is a shame that New York is no longer the bookstore city it once was-- rents are too high but these two stores, one in the Diamond District (Gotham) and one off Union Square (Strand) do satiate, I hear that Gotham may move? Gotham has the best new poetry section of any store anywhere, and the Strand is

Woodland Pattern, Milwaukee Wisconsin,
this is the best small press bookstore in the world, period they have more small presses than I have ever seen and you are close to lots of beer and german food, plus their events calendar is worth the trip.

In the end the only things better than a great bookstore are Italy, the whole country, Brazilian Beaches with Traudi, a Chicago Style Hot Dog, Comiskey Park when the Sox are winning ,and dinner at my mom's house.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Chicago and Poets

Recently on our local Public Radio Station they brought together writers to talk about whether Chicago is a good location to be located and talked about the community. I think for poets (who are infinitely superior to mere writers) Chicago has great potential but this potential is not tapped because of the lack of institutions. If you look at the institutions we have many of them are not serious about creating community the Poetry Center for example is great at bringing in some readers but most of them are at best bland (Billy Corgan?). The Hands on Stanzas poets in the schools project of which I am a member is a great program but there ought to be projects like this reaching out to other groups, working class ethnics
african americans, business people. The problem with Chicago is that there is no critical mass and the pubs we do have such as ACM and Poetry, Chicago Review are not really Chicago pubs in the way that Tin House, Fence is a New York Pub or Chain is a Philly pub. In the end it will be up to the poets in this community to create something new. The fact is that the state of poetry being created by younger poets in the USA is moribund at best apart from a few stars such as Peter Gizzi and Lisa Jarnot GenX has not produced a Robert Creeley or even Charles Bernstein, and we are still calling people ' language poets' 30 years after the demise of Language. This is what needs to be acted upon our great Inland Sea of poets in Chicago. Creating something new, making it new

Monday, January 26, 2004

Poetry and Bowling and Public Intellectuals

Last week I met with my group of favorite local poets, Kerri Sonnenberg, Mark Tardi, Jesse Seldis, Chuck Stebelton et at one of Chicago's finest literary venues, Miami Bowl at Archer and Pulaski on Chicago's South West Side. The evening was filled with a discussion about Charles Bernstein's essay Pound and the Poetry of Today. Our discussion was fruitful but also the irony of talking about one of the more elitist writers in a Southwest Side bowling alley was fodder for good reflection on my part about the place of the poet in our society.

Then over the weekend Ron Silliman said something that was profound-- Charles Olson-- was a public intellectual. I think that this is the issue with poetry today we do not have enough public intellectuals. Whitman, Pound, Olson, Williams, Stevens, even Frost (whom I hate), Neruda, and many others were not academics they were public intellectuals in dialogue with the artistic world and also with the general world.

Poets of high intellect need to be in this dialogue and need to legitimatize our artform by being part of a dialogue that today is closed to them. This is perhaps the key to bringing poetry out of the shadows --than say dumbing it down-- or Slamming it up-- .

What I think needs to happen is that fine institutions like the Ivies and many others need to realize that there are many poets who are public intellectuals but not academics and they should be engaged with productively.

This engagement is important. a poet like Stevens, or Williams or even Olson would not have enough oxygen in our current environment since much of the potential for publications and dialogue are not open to fine poets who are not academics.

An example of this here is Chicago is the fact that some universities have readings as 530 pm on Tuesday afternoons thus excluding anyone who works for a living and excluding anyone who lives more than a few blocks from campus. I believe strongly that there are great poets who are not part of the dialogue and that this isolation is a problem for the artform.

I do understand that most academic/poets have a vested interest in retaining the status quo. Their livelyhood depends on this because if grants, fellowships and residencies went to poets who are not academics it would cause chaos at major schools-- but chaos might be good for poetry.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Good Coffee

The other night I was hanging out with a friend having the finest cup of Espresso in the City of Chicago when I realized that I think the problem with poetry is the lack of realness. I look around Chicago at the poets who are 'good' and I see allot of coddled grad student types who have never had to struggle or to challenge. Many have money, many are on the academic gravy train, and many are dabblers. It is a little sickening. I like poets who have LIVED. Not poets who have just thought. I was with someone the other day and they said ' well you dont have an mfa' sure that is true but I did spend three years working in Bolivia with inmates in the worst jail in south america, I have worked in the business world around the world, I am better read than most ' mfaers' I speak four languages-- so this is what I mean if all ' serious' poetry is going to come out of people with the same experience, coddled life, mfa, then what's the point? Even the 'minority' writers are part of the same thing. I am an intellectual but I am not an academic and I piss on all gentlemen and ladies. Poets try to ' not sell out' but the fact is that by being an academic you are as much of a sell out as someone who works in business or works as a stripper as well.

It is amazing because in Chicago we have so many poets who have come on the scene who have nothing
to do with the city as it is. Now I lived away from Chicago for 10 years and do not pretend to know all but I do know my Italian Beefs from my Philly Cheesesteaks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

A Continental Poetics

This is what we need a Continental Poetics- so much of our poetry today is defined by the coasts. Poets who dwell a few miles from the ocean and whose influences and concerns are not with the continent on which we dwell. A few years ago a Brazilian poet asserted that his work was bound into the soil of his continent and that the red heart of the matter was the swamps and rain forests. I think that the US needs a continental poetics that fuses what the coasts are doing, along with Europe, Asia and Latin America but that creates something new and something continental.

Poetry and Pound and Fascism and Fiction

Recently in a poetry essay group I am in we talked about Bernstein's essay on Pound and the Poetry of Today and one thing that I brought up was the fact that Pound's Right Wing Avant Gardeism was not as odd as everyone thinks today. It is interesting that so many fine poets were moved my totalitarianism from the left and the right. A friend of mine asserts that Poets are the Catholics of the literature world and that Fiction writers are the protestants because of the fact that poets care so much about ceremony and form. That poets are used to forming around gurus or Abbots and that we as poets do not like sell outs. Where as Fiction writers are like storefront church founders they do whatever it takes to sell books-- or get souls as the case may be.

I have spent allot of time this winter with some old poetic friends, re reading Maximus for example has been a joy. I am also reading peter gizzi's book, this is quite an opera found it very moving. Mark Tardi's new book really tore the scab off the wound of weakness and burns red hot. Jesse Seldis's magazine Antennai got one of his Silliman poems into Best American Poetry. Jesse is such a quiet force-- I wish he would write more I think he has allot to offer us poetically.

A group of we poor Chicago writers are going to readin Milwaukee at Woodland Pattern at their marathon reading, myself, Jesse Seldis, Mark Tardi, Kerri Sonnenberg, and Chuck Stebelton are reading at 1100 pm on the 31st. I cannot think of any group of poets I would rather read with than these people.

Saturday, January 10, 2004


Chicago has been invaded recently by the Readasaurus. This creature has read in every venue possible making sure that no one has not heard her read. The goal I gather is to consume as much air as possible so all the other poets suffocate. I would be interesting to know what happens after every venue has been read in? Also another characteristic of the readasaurus is that they dont attend other's readings.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

January and Poetry

I have often thought that January and February are perfect month to write in. It is the whole Lent thing leading up to Spring a time of sacrifice that creates good things. Ron Silliman is coming to Chicago-- that should be interesting I think.