Wednesday, December 31, 2008

are you sure?
torch light
three zero three
do it
car (fx: doors closing)
same excuse
“just doing my job”
walk up the walls
or float in the air
are you sure this line is clean?
you can make it.
Go –


Listening to the reissue of David Byrne's Music for the Knee Plays.

My liking for Talking Heads has waned but I still like the stripped down sound of this music.

It's a shame, though, that they didn't retain the original cover art. Somewhere upstairs I have the original album and the beautiful Robert Wilson drawing. However, I did find another one on the Knee Play site.

(walking 31.xii.08)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

the lexicon
marconi. hertz. maxwell. edison.
a violin a tree a body
14 to 18
the thought that forms
scale of relations
“we are poets” says pythagoras
the ocean teaches
the pulse of language
model a universe
death of the monument
birth of the moment


Monday, December 29, 2008

* yawn *

& now to bed.
& if you're interested in following up on Keri Smith ...

... then go here:

& keep clicking.
& now I'm back & blogging again, who - or what? - is The Princess of Pastiche?

I happened upon this book in Blackwells' Art Bookshop. It's quite a find - kind of Bernadette Mayer's Poetry Experiments List for visual artists. Individual ideas are good but it's more the overall approach that grabs me. Basically: start looking and drawing and assembling and living. A book to take you through into 2009.

Highlights of nearly a week in the U.K.?

1. The Jack Spicer 'My Vocabulary Did This To Me' volume arrived the day after Boxing Day just as we were having breakfast before leaving.

2. Jonathan Black's 'The Secret History of the World' which I'd never heard of and found by accident in Waterstone's.

3. Jack & The Beanstalk at the Camberley Theatre (Simple Simon: "The Giant's so big he has people bicycling up and down his back - he's a cycle path" - geddit?)

4. Getting through the whole Christmas Thing without a major row involving all concerned and the Wafflettes being just Outstanding with Grandma & Grandpa.

5. Two or three really great bottles of wine.

6. My Dad looking - given the circ's - pretty good.

And the lows?

1. The sense that the U.K. is up for sale, everything at 50 or 75 per cent off which confirms that we've been ripped off all along.

2. A copy of The Independent costing one pound. What? A quid for a newspaper?

3. Motor way stupidity & arrogance & hogging the middle lane for no reason at all.

4. Blackwells' 'Poets' Corner' poetry section which has to be one of the most uninspired collections of volumes I've seen (at least since last time).

5. The little tosser who hurled abuse at my wife as he cut in front of us on his bike on the pavement.

6. The sense of a culture utterly in thrall to 'Celebrity' - there's now an entire magazine devoted to Jamie Oliver? What?

O Albion ...

To come: New Year Resolutions.

Monday, December 22, 2008

the seven hours

of the sun        a nothing
of the flood         a word
of the beast            a lust
of the shadow      a body
of the hour          a grave
of the stone          a light
of the epitaph       an art

all some properties invest

ours the essence in quintessence
ours the sense in absence

were I that I were


Sunday, December 21, 2008


(first throwings ...)

it is precisely because
it is drawing a circle
or it is precisely
because the material presence of
yes it is
precisely having to hand
isn’t it that
a crystallization
is it not
this putting you through
it is


a gum to commit matter
a bubble of exceptions
a grave dug in the map
a means of transporting a sentence
an example found lying in the street
a tree full of Oedipal fruit
a new calculus for arousal
a particle lost under the piano
a non-stop turmoil of attics
a light colourless guess
thereof we speak
in silence


the word in the form of the hawk
the word in the name of the raven
the word in the breath of the moth
the word in ash of the basilisk
the word in the verse of the retriever
the word in soul of the sparrow



More 'product' to follow when I can get at the other computer.

For the time being ... what I'm experiencing is an odd mixture of excitement and bewilderment. I thought I knew what I was doing. Or, rather, how these poems would develop. Instead, they seem to be pulling in different directions. Is this sheer incompetence? Or how the materials can work if you allow them? I don't know. Furthermore, they get more demanding - the first ones were quick. The more recent ones are half-finished, won't gel, won't co-operate. And they seem to be aware of each other in odd ways.

As such, it seemed to be a L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E inspired procedure: deliberate setting of rules, a method, 'anti-expressive' stance. Then, on working with what is on the page, a very different kind of text emerges. I'm finding how one direction of abstraction starts to touch on ritualistic patternings of language: spellings (pun intended).

I suppose - thinking in terms of the visual arts - it's similar to the work of painters such as Klee, Kandinsky and Ben Nicholson. Does Formalism always tend to magic?

Those texts I started back in March & April - the 'Elaboratory' ideas etc. - seem to relate.

I'm thinking, too, of that great statement by Fanny Howe about her approach to her writing in the Daniel Kane volume - "I think of them as days more than anything else, days in the ancient sense of an act or a feeling that begins and completes itself. How many times the sun sets in that kind of day is of no importance. All that matters is knowing when it ended, and, more mysteriously, when it began."

So maybe I should just accept that work from 9 months ago has decided to resurface in what I thought was something 'new'.

What do I know?

Friday, December 19, 2008

no pretence to 'finished product' - these are the first so many of what seems to be a new series. The rules? Twelve lines. Whatever comes to hand. Every day. Or, better, several times a day. Thinking on the spur of the moment: what occurs in a line, across a line, from poem to poem. I'm going to write ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred (?) (!) ... and pick the best. Golden rule: just keep going. ( - what happens the moment things free up at work).

morse solids

now culminates
the atmospheric cryptogram
true theory of outré
a punctured has been
whatever remains
cobbling the improbable
a shrill call drops from the flaw
significant lifting
the speciousness of origin
pinned to a plan in a pen
the nest is flown and empty
sob cut short incense


cherubic boy
in chapbook tones
cropped below the crotch
comic strip relic
from the chapel of moths
how to move
from love to aesthetics
physics spins specifics
in a circular humdrum
can facts soften
the rough edges of life


start from scratch
seed for second sowing
if a man’s hoe breaks
borrow another one
osiris says
vulture signifies mother
osiris says
culture dignifies murder
solar and lunar
ox fish bird star
a handful of dates
and the word for life is the word for arrow


as the azaleas
in visible antithesis
lube blues
why not just middle in
signature style
thought inverted commas
feeling smudged
rhythmic into surface flux
hard-edged extremes
colour in existence
this dance which is inductive of this
scribble in minimum


Saturday, December 13, 2008

marking marking marking marking marking marking

On the plus side - an extract from one of the exam papers has sent me back to Don Delillo's White Noise. Reading the first few chapters I see a lot of Peter Gizzi in there. Something to do with the shift between cold factual banality and a sense of unspecific menace.

And now and again a sentence such as "Rain is a noun".


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"A poetry painted with every jarring color and juxtaposition, every simultaneous order and disorder, every deliberate working, every movement toward one thing deformed into another. Painted with every erosion and scraping away, every blurring, every showing through, every wiping out and every replacement, with every dismemberment of the figure and assault on creation, every menace and response, every transformation of the color and reforming of the parts, necessary to express the world. ...

"... For writing is a graphic art, and a word projects either stroke or color. As it is born, a poem is drawn. It can begin with a figure or a line. It can begin to clothe a cartoon or about the idea of anything. It begins to paint itself. It can be made with a pencil or a knife, with a pen or a recorder, or with a keyboard contraption that strikes the paper. It requires patience, approach, observation, technique, impulse, intent, alternation, energy, and obsession. ...

"I consider the enterprise of poetry therefore to be musical and graphic at once, more than literary. For how much more illuminating and amusing it is (MUSIC/MOSAIC, belonging to the muses) to compose language, or to paint poetry, than to simply write it.

As should a book be as deep as a museum and as wide as the world."

(Stephen Rodefer, 'Preface' in Four Lectures, 1982)

In parliamentary terms: "hear! hear!"

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

One reason for the hiatus in posting is the arrival (yesterday) of Stephen Rodefer's Selected Poems. The extracts from 'Four Lectures' are terrific - and make me hungry for the entire volume. I see it used to be available as an online pdf but seems to have been deleted. Anyone know to the contrary?

I'm sad to hear that Oliver Postgate has died. To him I owe a childhood haunted by Pippin and Tog, the Pogles, the strange Plant, the Pipe Cleaner People and low budget animation which continues to enchant. The Clangers were good too, of course.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I've been doing a little bit of research and discovered that the voice of Life Without Buildings belongs to Sue Tompkins who - post LWB - has been working as a 'sound artist' (wouldn't 'poet' do just as well?).

Above is a YouTube link. Go to
for a much longer dose.

It all makes sense - those lyrics (wouldn't 'poems' do?) for LWB were just too good to have come out of nowhere and then disappear for good. Does she need the music, though? That's a good question. I'm listening to Live at the Annandale as I type and find it astonishing how she veers around, dives within, glides over the rhythms working between drums, bass and guitar. Phrases are like flicks of paint - fully gestural - sense but one component of what the language is doing. You catch onto a sense unit (what did she say?) at the risk of losing another collision of half syllable stutterings or a lullaby cadence. The same phrase but different intonations seems to open up words within words, adjacent vowel sounds, slurrings, a sudden discovery and another direction. She stalls on a line - as if the needle's stuck - but it sets up a counter rhythm to the band. Really exciting stuff. I've read a lot about Schoenberg's sprechstimme and failed to get through Pierrot Lunaire several times. It sounds just too damn cerebral for my ears. Whereas LWB - why not say it? - rock. Here's spittle cheekiness pazazz - the style's catching. 

Watching her perform in a more 'art' context I'm reminded of my daughters: pure uninhibited vocal play. Hums, half-remembered song lines, little jigs, the body and voice working before poise and self-image set in. Glossolalia.

The 'visual' work looks interesting too: kind of Bob Cobbing meets Eva Hesse's notebooks.

One of Belgianwaffle's 2008 highlights. For sure.

"If I - if I - if I - do - do - do - do - gee - gee - gee ... " 

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Just to prove we're still here amid all the last-few-please-read-my-personal-statement-have -you-marked-my-essay-we-have-a-meeting-at-lunchtime-can you-pick-up-the-girls-and-we've-run-out-of-bread weeks of early December hassle, a quotation from Jack Spicer:

"Even the subconscious is not patient enough for poetry."


. Driving into work the other morning with 'Village of the Sun' playing & humming & drumming along  & think...