Monday, January 30, 2006

Philosophical Investigator

Thought must be hidden

"Thought must be hidden in verse like the nutritive essence in fruit. It is nourishing but seems merely delicious. One perceives pleasure only, but one receives a substance. Enchantment, that is the nourishment it conveys. The passage is sweet." (Valery)

"The passage from prose to verse, from speech to song, from walking to dancing--a moment that is at once action and dream." (Valery)

Last night Karl and I were trying to deal with the "Is it poetry? Or prose?" debate. Think of Dorn's appropriation of the "screen crawl" of words at the bottom of the poetry book page. Prose used for poetic ends?

Poetry is always hijacking prose; prose is always stealing its best tricks from poetry.

Karl was given the assignment to present two pieces for a speech class, one consisting of poetry, the other of prose. He chose Adeena Karasick poetry and Christian Bok prose (EUNOIA).

The problem arises that Bok's book will probably be considered poetry, even though it is clearly a work of prose. It is composed of simple subject/predicate sentences in linear sequence in the shape of paragraphs. Due to the Oulipian constraints imposed upon the text, however, the work "sounds" like poetry.

What to do?

I gave Karl a copy of FINNEGANS WAKE. Tell me whether that is poetry or prose?

It's kind of an old story. Observe the unreflective standards, the easy conventions, in order to get a good grade? Or, present more challenging material which puts the conventions to a test.


How can we make a distinction between poetry and prose until we know how to define poetry?


Prose is one word after another and poetry is one word before another.


Maybe that is the difference. We can write a new definition of poetry every day but the definition of prose is always the same words anew.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Philosophical Investigator

Why Do I Blog?

Because of Ron Silliman.

L=a=n=g=u=a=g=e poetry of the late 70's early 80's remains the only serious literary movement in American poetry in the second half of the XXth Century. Nothing else comes close as a significant force (major works by several authors + theoretical under-pinnings.)

Except, perhaps, the current explosion of internet literary activity. Once again Silliman is at the center of that, too!

Silliman's blog is consistently informative and concise. While he is mostly concerned with poetics, he also has the occaisional movie review--thanks to Ron I checked out SRING, SUMMER, WINTER, FALL . . . & SPRING.

His blog was where I first learned that Derek Bailey had died. I would not have assumed that he would be familiar with the legendary English guitarist, but I was not surprised. Silliman's interests are Whitmanesque, containing multitudes. Almost every day I gain something from his posts.

I started blogging mainly to record the activities of Naked Words, a reading series I present at Miller's Crossing in Helena. Every Thursday night at 8. Sept. through April (roughly).

It's a small world getting tinier by the nanosecond. But also bigger and bloggier. I look forward to when I schedule my first out-of-town reader at NKD WRDS who learned about the series through this blog. Perhaps s/he will be from Belgrade, or Syndey, or Manhattan. (And not just the Montana versions of those towns.)

Froid. I'd like someone to contact me from Froid, Montana. That is my goal.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Another Attempt at Naked Words

M. L. Smoker was the featured reader last night at Miller's Crossing. She presented fine renditions of poems from ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT RESCUE (Hanging Loose Press, 2005) along with one new poem. I've been referring to ANOTHER ATTEMPT as the most significant collection of poetry to appear in Montana since James Welch's RIDING THE EARTHBOY 40, and I guess I'm probably right.

Also reading on the card: Rob Schlegel, from Missoula, and Kate Cholewa of Helena.

Not much time for open mike people, but Scott Walter and Brynn Holt threw in their 2 and 3 cents, respectively. Just kidding--their poems were worth millions . . . of something. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Robert Lee reads at Naked Words

Author of GUIDING ELLIOTT, Robert Lee continues to contribute to the Montana literary community by teaching in the schools, reading in pubs, and fishing in the streams of life. Posted by Picasa

Nkd Wrds Jan. 19 @ Miller's Crossing (as always.)

Robert Lee of Missoula was the featured reader this week. Poems and a short story.

Don't miss next week!

M. L. Smoker! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Ship's Bell is shutting down.

The Ship's Bell is going out of business! Where will we buy our Elvis Collector plates?
Our Baudrillard bolo ties?

It is the midnight hour

for the land of a thousand clowns.

Ebayers at the moon beware!

You are about to be inundated with

collectibles galore. In the original box. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 16, 2006


Marcuse concludes ONE-DIMENSIONAL MAN with the following paragraph:

"At the beginning of the fascist era, Walter Benjamin wrote: Nur um der Hoffnungslosen willen ist uns die Hoffnung gegeben. (It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us.)"

George Bush never tires of warning the American people that we have "enemies who lurk." Yet, it turns out he and his cohorts are no strangers to Lurking on a major scale. Secret prisons; illegal wire-tappings; clandestine dealings with shadowy characters. Little wonder that much of the world--and more and more people in this country--view Mr. Bush with growing unease and distrust.

There's little hope that we can extricate ourselves from the massive problems brought about by the Bush "administration"--no hope at all! Therefore, it is time for hope.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Nightmare Catcher #1

I found a wreath of woven branches. Over the course of the next several months, Kasey and I added found items to gradually create this bit of chance generated wall sculpture. It hung from the mirror of our windowless white van until it became too full, and a bit of a driving hazard. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I never tire of instances of "The Grid" in life and art. This is a garage door down in the Great Northern area of Helena.
Time and materials.

All art is materials: plus time.

Or, as Mina Loy said:

"Music is time

made manifest." Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 13, 2006

Rick Newby listens to the rabble

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Philosophical Investigator

Philosophical Investigator

Rick Newby was the featured reader at Nkd Wrds last night. He gave a spirited performance of his jazz-infused work, followed by the usual parade of open mike-sters. I finally met Mandy Smoker Broadus, who will be reading in two weeks. Mandy's first SVV (Slim Volume of Verse) is called ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT RESCUE (Hanging Loose Press 20005) and is published under the name M. L. Smoker.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Brynn Holt holding forth at Naked Words

Brynn is the Dylan Thomas of Helena.

Helena has hosted 2 Poetry Slams (2004, 2005) and Brynn won them both.

We will be slamming again some time in 2006.

Challengers welcome! Posted by Picasa

Detail from a sample sign-up sheet at Naked Words

 Posted by Picasa

Kasey's birthday

Kasey Bergum runs the sign-up sheet at Naked Words. If you want to read, you must talk to Kasey. Once you are on the list, she will let you know the order in which you will take the stage.

She is always receptive and congenial in her task as Naked Words reader sequencer.

Once your name is on the list, it is subject to graphic illumination and improvisation according to the artistic whim of Ms. Bergum (and the occasional collaborator).

These sign-up sheets constitute a glyphic history of the reading series over the past few years.

To thumb through them is always delightful. Chance words and names and images meld together into an all-over impression of what happens every Thursday night at this storied institution: Naked Words at Miller's Crossing, co-sponsored by Bedrock Books.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Michael Revere reading at the first Naked Words! of 2006. Miller's Crossing.
Helena, Montana. Posted by Picasa