Here is my entry for Creeley's For Love: Poems 1950--1960 as it appears in the Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Twentieth Century.

Robert Creeley’s poems are exceptional in their impassioned concision, unpretentious but highly focused lexicon, and offbeat cadences. These characteristics are apparent in work collected in his first trade edition, For Love: Poems 1950--1960. Issued in 1962, the volume was circulated nationally, instantly and widely acclaimed, the poetry judged as “spare and tender” by Allen Ginsberg and as a “plea for the heart, for the return of, into the work of language” by Charles Olson. For Love was nominated for the American (now “National”) Book Award and has been Creeley’s bestseller, in print in various editions for decades.

The poems, composed during a tumultuous period in which Creeley divorced his first wife and remarried, speak to intuitions developed falling in and out of particular exigencies of love, “warmth of a night perhaps, the misdirected intention come right,” as Creeley writes in his preface. The majority of pieces consist of couplets and quatrains of sometimes breathtaking brevity addressing what Creeley sees as marital confusion and isolation. The work is gathered in chronological sections of decreasing durations: 1950--1955; 1956--1958; 1959--1960. Some titles of poems--“The Wife,” “The Bed,” “A Marriage,” and the ironically rhymed sing-song “Ballad of the Despairing Husband”--forecast the scale of intimacy.

The opening of “Ballad” makes plain what is at stake: “My wife and I lived all alone, / contention was our only bone.” Still, “Ballad” contains another bone. The third quatrain, as originally written and as it appeared earlier in Donald Allen’s New American Poetry, begins: “Oh come home soon, I write to her. / Go fuck yourself, is her answer.” For the first edition of For Love publisher Charles Scribner, Jr., insisted the word fuck be replaced by the more respectable screw. Donald Hutter, Creeley’s editor, unable to persuade Charles Scribner, Jr., “of the acceptability of any vernacular in a meritorious book of the sixties” recalls this incident with “a swell of frustration” [from a memoir dated by Hutter as August 1987]. Fuck as first inscribed was restored in later editions.

Intriguing events led to the publishing of For Love, Scribner’s first one-author book of poetry since 1954. The writer Michael Rumaker, Creeley’s colleague from Black Mountain College, had a selection of his stories featured in Scribner’s short story series, and he in turn recommended Creeley to the publisher. As a result, two years before For Love, Scribner anthologized prose by Creeley in Short Story 3. Scribner then asked to see a new book-length manuscript. Counter to Creeley’s initial intent, a decade’s worth of verse (most of which had been the basis for Creeley’s M.A. thesis at the University of New Mexico and previously published by small presses) was reconstituted as the hugely successful For Love. In correspondence Creeley explained:

I was trying to connect with James Laughlin’s New Directions--he had said he would be interested in a new collection of poems. . . . to satisfy Scribner’s legal provision (that they get first look at what new manuscript I might have) and to clear the decks for going to ND, I made a book of all I’d written and gave it to them to look at, presuming that they would turn it down. They didn’t.
[E-mail correspondence from Robert Creeley to Jack Kimball, 2000.]

Tonal and narrative twists animate For Love in evidence of how Creeley follows William Carlos Williams’ directive to “think with the poem.” In “The Whip” a narrator talks of two women, one “my love . . . a feather, a flat // sleeping thing,” the other

above us on
the roof [a] woman I

also loved[.]

The reader might assume the second woman is prescience or memory of an intuition, and if so, the first--“a feather”--more a composite of mind than substance. Surprisingly, the woman on the roof whom

. . . I

also loved, had
addressed myself to in

a fit she

“Feather” and “on the roof” may serve as signs of the ethereal, but emotional qualities in the misgivings Creeley conveys prosodically bring them down to earth. Shortness of breath, stressful hesitations at line endings (“I”; “had”; “in”) are purposeful. Creeley relates in e-mail correspondence that the woman on the roof “is a real person, really up there (at 52 Spring Street, NYC)” and thus she has really “returned,” as the poem argues. She registers (making a racket upstairs?) as a material part of the narrator’s “night turning in bed.” The first woman is a real person, too, who wakes:

she said beside me, she put

her hand on
my back[.]

A year before For Love appeared, Creeley noted elsewhere: “The local is not a place but a place in a given man . . . brought by love to give witness to in his own mind” [First Person, No 1, 1960 (cited in The Collected Essays of Robert Creeley, 1989)]. Poem after poem Creeley brings the reader close to him, into his local place. Yet he speaks responsibly for America’s 1960s generation and for many others as well when he observes in “The Kind of Act of” there’s “no more giving in / when there is no more sin.” For Love earned immediate and sustained popularity because Creeley’s place is familiar to a culture that engages inclusive experience and graceful romance. The poem “Song” starts:

What I took in my hands
grew in weight, You must
understand it
was not obscene.

Creeley will never seem more doctrinaire, nor sound more like his New England ancestors, nor strike a more devout pose for the cause of living “in a prayer” so unpuritanical. He disclosed in an interview soon after the release of For Love that he does not choose subject matter, never “setting out to write a poem literally about something,” but finds “articulation of emotions in the actual writing” ["Linda W. Wagner: A Colloquy with Robert Creeley" in Robert Creeley's Contexts of Poetry: Interviews 1961-1971" edited by Donald Allen, 1973, Four Seasons Foundation, Bolinas, CA]. Creeley’s strategy is unembarrassed and fearless: forces of nature brought to breath, not by giving in to them, but with emotions to give, and poems to think with, to live.
Robert Creeley, R.I.P.
A Sheep

Want to create an affect but I could care less
squandering the opportunity --
I didn't have to what the hell?
Living life seems to require
alternative media to the puzzled trot,
the smell of making a movie, one's
being a movie from every progressive angle.
I'll affirm I'm winding into a reliance
on the present hardworking pleasures, broccoli-
like rays, rumbles, plans, lots,
and this most generalized, I guess,
burningly turned back.


Stealing a wireless connection Simon DeDeo reviews "Sonnet (69)" by Jimmy Behrle, published in now perpetually-hiatused The East Village. Good sleuthing on Simon's part uncovering a gem. Comments that follow, engrossing.


On a drizzly March afternoon I'm sorry
I conferred with my young colleagues.
Sorry I would present my proposal
for an invisible addition. Sorry
one of my associates extracted a model
from a container the size of a shoebox.
I'm sorry it was a blunt geometric form.
I'm sorry it was shoddy. I'm sorry pieces
of blue and orange foam and Plexiglas
had been glued together. Sorry the model
had been hastily assembled the previous
night at headquarters. Sorry hours
earlier I ordered radical simplifications
to the design. Sorry my most important
role is to undo things. Sorry there had
not been time to make a more polished
I wrote your dessert.


You date smart!
Your slightly shabby rooms are elegant.
There's a scent of acacia and soft frangipani, but that's not your story.
You are a triumph.
You love skiing but you also play chess.
You come as you are.
I have your sock.
You are prepared, in control as your influence multiplies.
You're a particularly effective imposter.
We've got to get you some better clothes.


Upstairs in a large atelier they're publishing your new book.
Your main interests are pop music, going dancing and wearing Lacostes.
You make me feel better about myself.
You're thinking again about naked boys.
You thought of pushing pieces of notepaper behind the mantelpiece clock.
You nabbed a spider.
You met your goals more than 2 minutes ago.
You are two beautiful women in the sky kissing.
Your arms and legs wrap around each other.
You seduce your clients.
You're a person of interest.


You sit languidly on the other side of the room, ignoring me.
You're locked tight.
On the internet you generate considerable traffic, some of it ugly.
You discovered there had been a stir in the press.
Your party last night was great.
You like to dwell publicly on differences, on crispnesses in whispers in the air.
You may already be a Nobel laureate.
You're the single most important thing for me.
You chill the sorbet and warm the surf.
Your sleep is like a language recognized by NASA.
You pay your late fines.
Mercury is wow! pensive. It's coming back, back...


No time, no god, no Sephardic mustard.
No to tokens, symbols and their prototypes. No to signs. No to sign-in feuds, grim ball-bearings. Forget protestant vulnerability. And no rodent names, no tufted scopes. No to poems living a life as a masterpiece, dressing for a doormat standing an inch off the casing, a fourth up past the itch out of nowhere, nothing. No tempo of glyphic turmoil grounded into dotage and torpid incision printed in not one memo, no prophase to expensive description. No!
No contusion of the spheres.
No Shelley for dummies, so no making me dizzy, and no looking nuts like wingtips in war.
I dislike insatiable shine.
I'm saying no to a day lying on the ground, kitsch first, no to virulent extol, callow graphemes, a stance cover and mongrel humphs. Cut the skull-like crocus, low opinions and bloodied mesh. No aplomb in nature, please. No chiastic haunts. And no golf property for now.
Have no interest in a hull cathode, none. No ilk of valid colloids -- simple? Send me no city glittering at sunset or dawn. No Violet, no Sonny, drop no machinery on my head.
No quanta, thanks, no mimic measure, no ceremony "plinthing a drumbeat."
Avoiding attrition tools. And anyplace named Meadow Central.
Also, dyscalculia.
Avoiding Vegas, hindsight bias, rose-flavored gum.


PhillySound, link right, has a sweet, off-hand interview that gets serious somewhere in the middle -- CAConrad q's Eileen Myles; then Joseph Massey "calls up" Philip Lamantia!
Knowing what you do, how could you?
Maybe this question only applies to queers and auto-erotics, still I think it's essential. Seeing yourself as you are now, would you pick yourself up? Another question, what would you say?
If I put a question mark after feeling genreless, it becomes a pick-up line.
What is it about nether?
Feeling genreless.


2 Years Later

A blind texture pours over adverbs, rocks
Is that all you're having for dinner?
Eating edge to make it up for more
As you advance through security
The shadow is busy.

You -- early to bed and early to rise?
Wolf is a chump, the sunset forms a light
Puff since everywhere turned up's circular
I trust you on military issues. One apiece.
A pause, a very young street, theme-wise

(my Denmark) gotta make it to Empire?
I thought you and I were soul mates?


Technology has not yet produced an effortless way to learn poetry or poetic language, but it can lend a hand. Advancements in multimedia and the growth of the Internet have led to an assortment of poetry tools that can complement or enable studying poetry and poetic composition on your own schedule.

Software options offer a variety of technological features and instructional materials, and can range from straightforward drill-oriented tools to interactive programs with speech recognition and 750 hours of learning. Online offerings can range from free self-tutoring Web sites to live virtual classrooms with poetry instructors for groups or individual instruction from poetic tutors accessible through search corporations like google.com and drewgardner.org. The options also have different philosophies behind their teaching methods, enabling users to choose a delivery mode best suited to their style of learning. Some choices can be expensive, though, so understanding what a program promises to teach and the features it offers can be worth some initial research.

A program called Christina Rosetti Stone (www.rosettistone.com), from Lord Yaweh Rules Electronics (LYRE), based in Mt. Olympus, WV, offers study software that uses a motherese-immersion technique. The program strives to replicate the way Ozark moms sing to their children to aid them in learning native hymns and blues; all of the instruction is in richly soothing poetry language, and nothing written or spoken is translated down to urban street English. To emulate this childhood learning process, the program displays a series of photographs combined with audio and text. For example, at the beginning of the first lesson, the user is presented with four dog-related photographs along with the text and spoken words of "Song," which starts out:

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree

Since in this case only two of the four photographs are right, the user must select one, either of a dog casket or a dog brushing against a cypress tree, to get to the next screen.

As you advance through the screens, each displaying four photographs from which to choose the correct response, the materials become more complex, building on what was previously learned. By the final screen of Lesson 1, you are asked to choose the correct photo for phrases like "I shall not hear the nightingale / Sing on, as if in pain," or a boy in an airplane. A critical element in the Christina Rosetti Stone approach is deductive reasoning. Through an intentional juxtaposition of the photographs that encourages you to discern the correct response, often through a process of elimination, you are developing deductive reasoning skills that can be transferred to real life poetic situations, according to the company, enabling you to think and write reassuring lyrics on your feet.

"For us, that skill, the skill of learning about learning how to learn poetry, is probably the most important thing we do, because ultimately it is the skill you need when you learn finally to get away from the computer," said David M. Hess, director of training and marketing for LYRE. For example, while you may not understand every word when you hear someone speaking the poem you are learning, Hess said, you can start with what you do know, then add clues from gay facial expressions, lewd body gestures and your poetic and contextual surroundings. "You begin to deduce the meaning, and can even start to paraphrase, if you catch my drift," Hess added. "Since you are doing that at every screen on the Christina Rosetti Stone, it is a skill we feel is crucial to develop and reinforce as you move along into deeper matter."

The Christina Rosetti Stone has other features and is available in American English, Australian, British and, incredibly, Irish English, as well as 28 lesser languages, from Arabic to Welsh, and runs on PCs and Macs. Prices vary depending upon the cultural level of a particular language. Online versions are available on a celebrity or sub-celebrity sign-in basis.

LanguageNow!, software from Transparent Language (barrettwatten.edu), based in South East Detroit, MI, takes a different approach. The program's objectives are to provide fast access to obscure but just-so reference materials and to make learning ongoing and theoretical. "You learn a poetics, or frankly anything, by having frequent successful experiences in that," said Ray DiPalma, a vice president and general manager at Transparent Language. "We provide all the hip references right on the screen: Kafka never heard it either, but it sounded like this. And when you come to a three-syllable word you don't know, you can just look down and see the one-syllable translation of it."

In one of its main features, the program plays video with poetics-speaking actors playing out scenes in the "textual" language, often comically, while at the bottom of the screen the dialogue is displayed in the 'serious' poetics language and in 13th arrondisement French and Frankfurt German dialects from which it derives. This is useful for the uninitiated; you can pause on a seemingly prolix passage to explore its opaque and meta meanings and hear it pronounced by practiced speakers of poetics in English. You can also pause on entire sentences and replay them to translate each long word or to listen to it in the original poetics languages as many times as you need to understand the non-hegemonic concepts being taught.

In one lesson in the advanced LanguageNow! software, for example, the characters in the video, Herb Marcuse and Ted Adorno, are traveling through Italy to gather information to publish a travel guide spoof in language-y poetics. At times they encounter others who think Herb and Ted may speak too obscurely, that is, too fast for the unitiatiated to understand; having the option to pause over those sentences, to break them down word by word, is useful. There are also ways to practice speaking language poems. Using a microphone, you can play the parts of the Herb and Ted characters in the video, then replay your lines to hear how you sound. The program has asyntactical reference materials and includes quizzes about identity and meaning in the context of domination by modern mass communications, as well as game-theory games, like a crowded metropolis of immigrants, exiles and refugees; fill-in-the-blank subject-object model essays; and a scrambled critique of Husserl's subject functioning as a sort of replacement for essences. LanguageNow! is available for 16 levels of initiation.

Tell Me More, a program from Alli's Log (alliwarren.net), based in Buzzard's Bay, MA, takes another approach. The premium version of the software ($1950) includes three CD-ROMs with instructional dream material, a duckhat headset with a "beak" microphone and 750 hours of intensely hypnotic instruction. The program uses sleep recognition as a central teaching tool. For example, in one section the user listens to questions and must fall into a coma to continue. There is also a poetry pronunciation section. You can practice speaking poetry sentences and compare the results against actual speakers in your dreams, and the program highlights mispronounced words, encouraging you to use them in your own poems! And in a section of phonetic exercises, the program demonstrates how to mispronounce sounds by using 3-D animations of slips of the tongue and pelvic movements and analyzes your pronunciation.

Another program, called Instant Results in About 10 Minutes, from Descriptors Entertainment (de-script-ent.uk.com), based in East Rentourbridge, Oxfordshire, UK, offers many quality levels of British poetry and several types of programs. Options are available for children as well. Instant KidSpeak Auden ($30) offers lessons in manifesto and occasional verse. JumpStart Larkin ($18), from Prynne Adventures (prynnejumpslarkin.com), is a cheaper British option for children ready to advance from high chair to high table.

Web sites with free lessons are plentiful. A free site offered by Benjamin Friedlander, an assistant professor at University of Maine, Orono, (www.umaine.edu/~free&freaky/exercises) has interactive lessons for modern poetry that include audio, video and finger exercises. Many of the lessons provide immediate feedback, Professor Friedlander said, which is one advantage technology has over textbooks or instruction in a classroom. A list of free and commercial online resources is at ilovefeedback.com.

For online instruction with teachers, Jimmy Behrle, Inc., the original crush-list company, offers a distance-learning option for young women, mostly, called Jimmy Berhle's Virtual Crushroom (www.berhlewhoelse.us/online). The teaching method is the same as in Behrle's conventional blogging classes, an immersion technique that lionizes as it pans its students who are remade into humiliating but huggable cartoon characters. Users can learn in small worship groups or have individual "etching" lessons with a Berhle instructor. The online instruction employs Web conferencing software from Streetwise; a student speaks and listens through a computer of her choice, writes on a shared whiteboard and can record the lessons (through a Squawkbox add-on). Videoconferencing is not a part of the program (neither the teacher nor the other students are visible), so you can dress casual. The cost for the group classes is $799 for 10 sessions (15 minutes each). For individual instruction the cost is $1,975 for 18 sessions (9 minutes each).

Sifting through such an array of poetry-learning tools can seem daunting. One rule of thumb, according to Jessamine Cooke-Plagwitz, assistant professor of Germanic Pop Culture at Northern Illinois State Community College Extension Online, is to look for options that cover the four main poetry-learning modes: plagiarizing, speaking, writing and reading. "Most of them do not work on all four areas," said Professor Cooke-Plagwitz, who is working on a book about technology-enhanced poetry theft and learning. "But the best ones do." Professor Cooke-Plagwitz also says programs that include video of real poets stealing from cohorts carry an added benefit. "You can read a lot just by the way a person moves their hands, or their fake innocent expressions," she said. "There is a lot more comprehension that can go on if you can actually see somebody stealing and then speaking your target poetics or poem."


There's reason to pity the nearly perfect. They have so many ways to falter. In thrall to their own legend, they might well overreach, trading glory for folly, or they might simply coast, converting acclaim into idle narcissism. They might allow self-assurance to bleed into arrogance and let down their guard against error.

These are a few of the traps that the editors of An Anthology of New York Poets and the poets they selected have long faced -- and avoided -- for more than three decades, now. The anthology earned critical acclaim from Stephen Koch in The New York Times less than a month after it was published in 1970 and has never slipped from its high ranking, maintaining its superior critical rating longer than any other anthologized collection. The runners-up, In the American Tree, published in 1986 and An Anthology of New (American) Poets, published in 1998 are relative newcomers in comparison. None of its peers have built legends so large and sturdy.

All of its peers can learn from its example. An Anthology of New York Poets has aged with astonishing grace, more Deneuve than Dunaway, the work it contains doing what it must to remain youthful without ever making an elastic fool of itself, staying true to its identity while, as all great poetry does, adapting to changing times. Now as before, it is a high church of reverently prepared prosody and sarcasm. But more than ever, global currents appear to have informed and influenced what emerges from its "urbane" and / or "ironic" texts that can no longer be succinctly described as simply "New York."

Consider one of the "worldly appetizers" engagingly titled "ly" offered by Aram Saroyan, in its entirety: "ly ly / ly ly." This is somewhat of a "progressive tasting," according to one of the anthology's close readers and critics Larry Fagin, "like fluke ceviches that turns into a cosmic headache!" Reading the poem from left to right, first up is "ly" that has been marinated, as it were, in its own line. Next, "ly," "ly" and "ly" are thrown into the mix: "think of the bracing Mediterranean and the hardy vocatives of thin-waisted boys fishing as if their lives depended on it," Fagin said in a recent telephone interview. After "ly" comes another poem consisting of one word, "aren't." "Now isn't that cool?" Fagin pondered. "And it has nothing to do with Hannah Arndt." David Shapiro and Ron Padgett, the anthology co-editors, could not be reached for confirmation.

The flavors of Euro-surrealism have beguiled a number of the anthology's contributors, including Dick Gallup. "For a while the mantra for this anthology was that any poem that mentions fish is a star," Fagin said in our telephone conversation. That's why we take note on Page 486 when Gallup writes, disarmingly: "A green lobster is saying its prayers." Fagin adds, "Today we are a little less wiped out about the color of the lobster, but, look, the religious reference is as spell-binding in 2005 as it was back in the 70s." I agree with Fagin a little but not a lot, and therein lies both the secret to the anthology's continued success and the reason I regularly field complaints from friends who find their experiences reading through it a tad disappointing.

Because of the anthology's legend they expect a riot of flourishes, an explosion of fireworks. Nothing less than being made to levitate above the bedside table will do. An Anthology of New York Poets does not work that way. Sure, it musters bits of incidental theater: in keeping with its uptown background it serves many offerings with a final, fancy application of deft craft and in-your-face insouciance. But it eschews high drama, both in the range of poets selected, and in the actual texts, many of which are paradigms of subtlety. Only with careful attention do you register and revel in the anthology's grace notes: a veiled first-person narrative from Kenward Elmslie titled "Shirley Temple Surrounded by Lions," a poem whose stanzas are all precisely the same size and each perfectly equidistant from the others; or John Ashbery's audaciously English version of the French poem "Le livre est sur la table," with its vaguely bitter, peppery, mintlike hints.

You can absent-mindedly polish off page after page of barely pronounceable text in An Anthology of New York Poets and still know that you are reading something good. Or you can pause, ponder and realize that you are reading something with an exquisite balance of theoretical structure, ingenious tropes, and vocal flavors. The ornate clumps of Harry Mathews's "Comatas," which starts, "In the snowy yard a baroque thermometer..." sit atop simple, alternative pleasures from Tom Veitch who manages to rhyme "pain" with "rain." Ed Sanders memorable lines, "Soft-man / is OUTIS, no-one," which appear rather orange in tone and slightly acidic, are actually green, compositionally, and vaguely unctuous. The full appeal of Sanders's work reveals itself only upon close scrutiny. This way An Anthology of New York Poets is a resource for people who really focus on the poetry.

The language of these poems, as I view it, is divided into three categories with regard to text rewrites -- almost raw, barely retouched and lightly reworked -- which underscore New York poets' sustained belief in the sacredness of first-thought-best-thought. The late Edwin Denby's gift for straightforward first-thought declaration is exemplary: "The cat I live with is an animal..." strikes me as primal utterance but layered with a darkness I might want to characterize as tart, overall. Similarly, the undetermined first associations of a talent like Clark Coolidge ("...'Gosh!', hyphen / ledge it glow harm...") constitute sophisticated wordplays without being pretentious; this is first thought or perhaps lightly reworked text operating within multifaceted vectors, of course, but not unduly fanciful.

"This is what poetry only wishes it could be," says Sheila Murphy, not included in this anthology, a younger poet based in Arizona. For sure, you may encounter compositions in An Anthology of New York Poets with less ostentatious complexity than you expect, but you will never doubt that the poetry is of the highest quality and has received the utmost care, Murphy feels.

I think some poems soar on the luxuriousness of their linguistic stratagems. John Perreault's cleverly 'framed' poem, "Talk," initiates a parole-like hiphop of observation that is pretty hard to turn off: "So I was saying to you / yesterday," the poem begins. It goes on to report, "Your lap, however / disappears when you stand up." Later: "Today I am the tomorrow / of your longitude." Language like this is almost criminally opulent. Other poems by other poets excel because everyone included in the anthology knows how to write very, very well. An Anthology of New York Poets may be the most vital compilation of mature work ever. Consider this advice from another of its best pieces, "Easy to Grow" by John Giorno: "Where winters / are severe / start plants / indoors." Another, lesser talent would be tempted to go heavier. But Giorno holds the effect in check, doing justice to the adjective "tantalizing."

Epitomizing a certain kind of class, An Anthology of New York Poets amounts to a summation of poetic genius equivalent of, well, old, old money, so secure in its station that it need not strut, so practiced in its posture that it never slouches. And yet it somehow avoids stodginess and complacency, a minor miracle that, for us readers of verse, is a major necessity.


Another take on the Downing ~ Benson reading from Drew.


Christina's coming home!
Quick, dumb -- regisphilbinlike.

for Chris Sullivan.
Chris Sullivan writes to let us know he's moved his blog to http://dohc.blogspot.com -- also this:

Hello Jack, I''m chainey country suction cup forehead buttoned to a 27 inch TV screen and forced to watch reality and game shows, so now I have to ask -- for you too write about snow -- reghisphilbinlike for the One T- Gigabyte Storage Unit (screen equivalent = surface area of Luna) What is so "snowiest" in the tradition of contemporary poetry it is often brought to picnics to keep beer cold? Thanks,

-- Chris

As for the snowiest question, maybe I'll have a response soon. Chris keeps alloying the oddest text and graphic elements for blogging, an amalgamator!


Rebuilding the future.

-- sign, Mass. Pike
Admittedly, reprinting a piece by Kent Johnson on one's blog borders on the generic, still his correspondence with Campus Watch is splendid propaganda and self-promotion, exemplary in both regards! What do you think?

Dear Campus Watch,

I have recently read the diatribe on the poet and activist Ammiel Alcalay, published in the American Thinker on March 4.

I am not writing this letter to argue politics with you, for that would be silly, wouldn't it? I am writing, rather, to ask that you add me to the list of American poets you are putting under surveillance. Allow me to briefly list some of my credentials, as I think you will agree I deserve to be given a file in the archives of your organization.

I was one of the poets published in Sam Hammill's "Poets Against the War" anthology. My poem, which was widely distributed before its anthology publication, including by the openly Marxist journal "Monthly Review," is titled Baghdad, and it is loosely based on the children's book "Goodnight Moon."

Days went by... Then, the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib prison happened, and I published a poem titled "Lyric Poetry After Auschwitz, Or: Get the Hood Back On." This poem may be of particular interest to you, since (in addition to the fact that it is accompanied by photographs and the music of Dean Martin) Ammiel Alcalay himself saw fit to send it abroad for possible translation into Arabic. I don't know if it has been translated yet, but the English version is available here, where it has received thousands of visits since its appearance : http://www.blazevox.org/kent.htm

Further, this poem is now the title poem of a collection of mine that is soon to appear. This book will contain numerous pieces by me (not everyone would judge it poetry!), all of which have some relation to the war in Iraq. The cover of this book will be, I think, somewhat original: The infamous shot of the American soldier holding the leash which is clipped to the neck of the prone prisoner shall be surrounded by pictures of daffodils among which shall be little Cupids shooting their arrows inward, toward the picture.

But the most important thing I wanted to say about the forthcoming book is this: I intend to announce in the book that all author royalties from the sale of the collection are to be donated to Campus Watch. I wish to do this (and I hope you will accept the gesture) because I strongly believe your proto-fascist activities are an excellent stimulant to the defense of American values, like civil liberties and other stuff.

Also, I should tell you that I correspond with Joseph Safdie, one of the "leftist" poets mentioned in the American Thinker article! He and I almost co-edited a book of recipes and favorite dinner anecdotes by poets. Alas, this book idea fell through, though I now can't quite remember why. But someone else should certainly do it, as it is a wonderful idea. Oh, and I should also say that in the 1980's I worked as a literacy teacher in Nicaragua on two different occasions. This was when the Sandinista's were in power. Though I'm more or less a social democrat now, I was *really* radical back then. From our village, we could hear the Contra mortars going off almost every night. Some of my friends died. Then I came back and founded the Milwaukee Central America Solidarity chapter, which went on to do all sorts of protest activities. One event we organized was called "Who's Watching You in 1984?" and hundreds of people attended, including numerous FBI agents. Not to get too sentimental, but it was at this event that I met my future wife.

So, these would be some reasons you might wish to accept my request to be inducted into your files. I will be sure to send you a copy of the forthcoming book, which, again, shall go to support the activities of your organization.


-- Kent Johnson


In a week filled with questions out of nowhere, this is the least prosaic: "Is Pluto a planet or is it just a little ball of uninteresting and perhaps smelly ice very far away from us?"
Look, these cris de coeur can get out of hand. That's why I admire Josh Corey's letter (March 9) to Campus Watch and American Thinker, outlining exact bases for his irritation vis a vis the cases "against" Ammiel Alcalay. Corey asserts that he himself is of the same "type" as Alcalay, one who would take up "the encouragement of anarchy. Not in the chaotic and violent sense ... but in the original Greek sense of 'no rulers.'" Corey concludes, "if you're making an enemies list of anarchists, poets, peaceniks, and intellectuals, I'd be glad if you'd add me to it. It is a roll of infinite honor."
Worth waiting a day for Gary's reading report (March 11) on Brandon and Steve's bitchin' night at the Project Wed, which I missed. I first met Steve Benson only a few months ago, and, after reading Gary's summary, I'm surer in my take on Steve as a figure's figure in poetry, that is, a person who matters in the moment you see him, talk to him, in the moment he listens to you. Brandon Downing of course is of the moment, the wisest guy I know.


Four pieces from Behind the State Capitol or Cincinnati Pike.

John Wieners marqueed.


��Lisa Jarnot is urging poets to apply powers of "positive visualization" to counter political attacks against Ammiel Alcalay and, by association, Anne Waldman, Joe Safdie, Amiri Baraka, perhaps you. Read what she has to say, and take care. It's a call deserving a response.
This is not only the most recent marquee, it's by far my favorite. Color, font, text, marquee pretty. See.

Ron Padgett marqueed.
I've been wasting time for the past week and a half doodling with marquees. It's been a goof assignment that I'm surprised keeps me thinking critically. I've found recent work by others to be waiting, hungry for the marquee treatment, Hannah Weiner's for instance. It's fabulous (code for outright queer) to see her gremlins re-invoked, whistling across the screen, both in the html form I've linked to (March 7, below) and more surprising in the blogspot 'text' boxes that I used earlier to 'preview' the full-throttle form. After I entered the 'up' and 'down' direction commands for Hannah's marquee in the blogspot box, though, I found the "top" pixel measurement had to be adjusted (increased 100 px or more!) for each subsequent post to get the original marquee fonts to 'stay' in their 'proper' place (all these half-quotes are fabulous? -- and, by the way, does this make any sense?). Before adjustments, once I posted after Hannah's marquee, the marquee started floating over the screen, intersecting with the later blogged text material -- this sort of floating is the right idea, maybe, for Hannah and for blogging. (It would not take much effort to convert a blogspot template into a hell-fire of buzzing, bumping texts.) Still, the better place to float is in, and with, a text designed or redesigned to behave that way. By marqueeing, I've learned a lot very quickly about the force of Ryu Murakami's short declarative bursts of self-indictment: I got famous; I got fat; etc. (link March 2, below). In marqueeing just a small chunk of Lissa Wolsak's Pen Chants (link March 8, below), I get the corporeal oppositions of political anxiety at the lexical level: warmth; breastlessness; ant song; omni-range. Other texts are just fun to do. Yesterday John Latta reprinted on his blog "First Drift" by Ron Padgett, and I couldn't resist marqueeing that! Link above.

Later this week I'll finish marqueeing four poems from Behind the State Capitol by John Wieners. That should rid me for now of all spooks of the floating-over-the-screen variety.


Lissa Wolsak marqueed.
Paraphrasing Nina Simone's Ragman -- love lost oooooooooooooooooooo what's that worth?


I'm no longer responsible for what I say or do in Alli's dreams. Yellow-highlight that.

Hannah Weiner marqueed.


"K is for Pantaloons..." Correct! Thanks Jonathan!


There's nobody else who'll get me worked up about wearing another woman's panties. Mikarrhea, I'm your Pere David's deer, quick, throw something at me!


Ouch. O thank you.
Oh, and Geof Huth, too, who wrote me after my first crack at the marquee, 2/26, noticing my lift of his terrific perforation, "Many visual poets do not yet fully understand what they're doing, do not yet understand what they can do and how their poems can mean."
Whole lot of thanks going round. This from Jukka-Pekka Kervinen whom I thanked a couple of days ago for the inspiration and start-up code for doing my marquees:

Dear Jack, Thank you, too !!! Wonderful (marquee) pieces in Pantaloons, have really enjoyed them !

And thanks to Mark Young as well for liking them.


Time to get serious. Not that this is Pantaloons, Inc. or anything. Waiter approaches four ladies at lunch looking good in hats. "Is anything ok?"
Promethean winnowing?
It's not an A list, is it?
Three marquees: Fairfield Porter, Ryu Murakami, Stacy Doris.



        another winter

scientific ferment

          thick rivers


pursuing l'amour

        2 colonies

Party, party, party.