Saturday, March 31, 2007

His ideas were
so out

it was
appropriate they came

strapped to
a carrier pigeon.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

please / allow me / to introduce myself

(which, given the title of the post immediately below, strikes me as an appropriate title for this post)
I'm a man
who usually
doesn't preen

but in this case, forgive me.

Have just received my print copies of Otoliths issue four - yes, I'm always the last to get them; I live on the edge of the world, & then you have to go inland - & let me just say that, apart from my fuckup in forgetting what year it is, they're impressive.

Because I don't live in mainland America, the copies I receive are printed by Lulu's Spanish associate printer who doesn't do anywhere near as good a job with b&w as Lulu's US-based printing works. But they don't seem to be able to screw up the colour issue, & I love it!!!!

Actually, I love both issues, & would like to give a great big thankyou to everyone who contributed & made them what they are. My on-going regret is that, even though I may be a man of taste, I am not sufficiently a man of wealth to be able to give contributors a copy of both parts &/or be able to afford to print it as one single issue. That latter option would have a total print & postage cost of about $2000; the former about $1500. But if the Lilly Foundation decided to bequeath to what's actually going on rather than what's in cryogenic suspension & pretending to be alive......

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

artifact reverb-
erates, becomes real.

A defeat for Hicks, a victory for the hicks

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA — Australian David Hicks pleaded guilty Monday to material support of terrorism, securing a symbolic victory for the Bush administration in the first war crimes trial since World War II.

After a day of legal wrangling in which two of Hicks' three defense lawyers were barred from representing him, the 31-year-old Muslim convert and soldier of fortune told the military judge in a specially reconvened night session that he had aided a terrorist group.

Bedraggled and appearing irritated, Hicks showed little emotion at the prospect of potentially leaving Guantanamo Bay after more than five years in military detention.

Under an agreement between Washington and the Australian government, Hicks would be allowed to serve any sentence in an Australian prison.

The tribunal's presiding officer, Marine Col. Ralph H. Kohlmann, is expected to hear the details of what Hicks has admitted to this afternoon, and the 10-member military commission could gather by the end of the week to determine a sentence, said spokeswoman Maj. Beth Kubala. The tribunal is formally known as a commission.

Hicks was captured in December 2001 by Afghanistan's Northern Alliance fighters while attempting to flee the country in a taxi. He was turned over to U.S. forces and flown to Guantanamo Bay in January 2002.

He faced allegations of using a gun to guard a Taliban tank, conducting surveillance of the empty U.S. Embassy in Kabul, attending Al Qaeda training camps and fighting American forces in Afghanistan.

Although she proclaimed herself a neutral party in the Pentagon's newly reconstituted war crimes process, Kubala said Monday's proceedings demonstrated that "this is a process that is transparent, legitimate and moving forward."

Hicks was the first detainee to be prosecuted among the nearly 800 men who have been brought here as so-called enemy combatants since January 2002, and the only one charged formally with a war crime. He also was one of 10 suspects charged under tribunals enacted by President Bush in November 2001 that were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court nine months ago. About 385 detainees remain in the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Under the evolving rules of the Military Commissions Act passed by Congress in September, the defense and prosecution can cut a plea bargain, as in a civilian court, and recommend a negotiated sentence to the tribunal members, who act as judge and jury in meting out punishment.

Hicks changed his mind about entering a plea after more than four hours of pretrial procedures in which his main defense lawyer, Marine Maj. Michael Mori, was unable to persuade Kohlmann that he needed more time to prepare.

Mori was left alone at the defense table with the defendant when civilian criminal defense lawyer Joshua Dratel was barred from participating because he refused to promise to adhere to procedural rules that had yet to be defined.

"I can't sign a document that provides a blank check on my ethical obligations," Dratel told Kohlmann, saying his obligation was to his client, not to the military process. "You can't make it an all-or-nothing proposition. I can't buy a pig in a poke."

Kohlmann also declined to approve a second civilian lawyer, Rebecca Snyder, on the grounds that commission rules allowed civilians only if their representation incurred no expense to the U.S. government. Snyder is a Pentagon employee.

Legal analysts were critical of the opening day of the reconstituted war crimes tribunal.

"These trials are the United States' chance to restore its moral authority and reputation as a leading proponent of the rule of law. Instead, today's antics highlighted the illegitimacy of a hastily crafted process without established precedent or established rules," said Jennifer Daskal, a lawyer observing the commissions for Human Rights Watch. "It appears that Mr. Hicks was strong-armed into pleading guilty after two of his counsel were thrown off the case."

L.A. Times

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Way / more West / Way out East

Celebrating Way More West: The Selected Poems of Edward Dorn

The Poetry Project at St. Marks Church, 131 E. 10th St at 2nd Ave
Wednesday, April 11, 8:00 pm

Cost: 8 dollars

A reading to mark the publication of Way More West: New and Selected Poems by Edward Dorn (Penguin Books), Edited by Michael Rothenberg with an Introduction by Dale Smith.

Reading Dorn's work will be Jennifer Dorn, Michael Rothenberg, Amiri Baraka, Anne Waldman, Ed Sanders, Ammiel Alcalay, George Kimball, Rosalie Sorrels and Anselm Berrigan.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

the accidental science experiment

Let me just report, en passant, that the tail of a gecko continues to twitch for at least a minute after being severed from the body.....
Today the
postman brought
me "Ventriloquism
for Dummies".

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Many of the people

who have been interviewed at Tom Beckett's e-values I would class as friends. But they are electronic ones, physically far away, across oceans.

Finally, someone I've actually met, who I had dinner with at a Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of Newtown, Sydney not so long ago, who lives relatively close by - okay, it's 2000 kilometres, but that's only a couple of hours away. Tom's latest interview is with Jill Jones, a wonderful poet. Check it out.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My little old American gramma

I quite happily use program & disk in my regular writings, remember to use color & center when I'm writing html but stick with colour & centre the rest of the time. Occasionally I succumb & use -ize when I don't realise what I'm doing or am trying to extemporise. I have no problems publishing a magazine where one poem title has grey in it & another has gray.

None of that I consider in any way wrong, just different jargons if you like. But I cannot come to terms with the American way of using punctuation inside quotation marks. (& quotation marks are another Americanism I have succumbed to. I learnt at school that only speech or a direct quote should go into quotation marks. Otherwise it should be 'quotation marks'. & please note where that fullstop went.)

I grew up having drummed in to me that only if you were quoting a complete sentence did you put the fullstop inside the quotation marks, singular or plural. So…

In the sentence above I used the words "quotation marks". The fullstop is there to signal the end of a sentence. " doesn't do that. It doesn't make sense to me to write "quotation marks." If I was asked to say what I had written three (now four) sentences ago I would respond:
"In the sentence above I used the words 'quotation marks'."
It's one of those piddling little things that irritate the shit out of me, makes me almost mad enough to launch a pre-emptory strike on whoever the arbiters of grammar in the U.S. are. & you can quote me on that.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

in sight

Translucency on
a different wave-
length. Not light
from behind
but from with-
in. How sweet the
beets are. Leave
the words       out.

Friday, March 16, 2007

the postman
brought me some


Kabuki Dancers

from Ray Craig.

sized, &
glossy. & in

act of
surprising consideration, that

shows that
he knows I

about him
behind his back,

postman parked
his putput motorcycle

the post-
box & walked

the path
to leave the

on the
porch bench so

prints inside
would not get

or damaged
in any way

A footnote to history, for Tom Beckett

It is said that when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed entered the courtroom in his bell-bottomed orange jumpsuit to "confess" to the Military Tribunal at Guantanamo Bay he paused in the doorway & then walked into the room with the best John Travolta strut he could manage within his shackles, & began
Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother,
you're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin',
and we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
At which point the whole tribunal jumped up with their left hands finger-pointing to the cctv cameras disguised as a mirrorball on the roof & joined in the chorus
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

a g(u)ilt-edge confession

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has admitted responsibility for the first Bali bombing and other major al-Qaeda operations, according to the transcript of a hearing at Guantanamo Bay released today.

"I was responsible for the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z," Mohammed, speaking through a personal representative, said, according to the transcript of the hearing on Saturday at the US military prison camp in Cuba.

Mohammed, a Pakistani national, also said he was responsible for a 1993 attack on New York's World Trade Centre, the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, and an attempt to down two American airplanes using shoe bombs.

In addition he claimed responsibility for the breaking down of the Berlin Wall, the bursting of the bubble, the Chernobyl disaster, the rupturing of Britney Spears' hymen, the l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e wars, the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, the Annunciation of St John, the death of Andy Warhol, the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, the creation of hiphop, the production in Hollywood of the phoney movie where man supposedly landed on the Moon & all other "terrorist crimes" that there were no suspects for.

Amazing what three years in a CIA "ghost prison" can do.


So much going on I don't even know what year it is. If you look at the cover of Otoliths below, you'll see that I still think it's 2006.

Changed it in a mad midnight rush (thanks, harry; thanks lines of longitude). Now everything's up to date in Kansas City (says the deposed Wizard of Oz).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Part One of Otoliths issue four contains text & visual poetry & prose by Phil Primeau, Jean Vengua, Daniel f. Bradley, Amanda Laughtland, Karin Kroetlinger, Nicholas Manning, nick-e melville, Katrinka Moore, Jnana Hodson, Elizabeth Kate Switaj, The Pines, Keith Kumasen Abbott, MTC Cronin, Eileen Tabios, Kristin Hannaford, Bob Marcacci, Jeff Harrison, Vernon Frazer, John Mercuri Dooley, Ayşegül Tözeren, David Prater, Ed Higgins, Dion Farquhar, Elisa Gabbert & Kathleen Rooney, Carl Baker, Paul Siegell, J.D.Nelson, Jonathan Hayes, Martin Edmond, Suzan Sari, Samuel Wharton, Kevin Doran, Vernon Frazer & Michael Rothenberg, Caleb Puckett & Tom Beckett.

Part Two of Otoliths issue four contains full-colour text & visuals from Keith Kumasen Abbott, Ray Craig, Andrew Topel, Peter Ciccariello, Spencer Selby, nick-e melville, Ed Schenk, Richard Kostelanetz, David-Baptiste Chirot, Alexander Jorgensen, Carol Jenkins, Nico Vassilakis, Suzan Sari & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, C. Mehrl Bennett, Ayşegül Tözeren, Mikhail Magazinnik, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen & Márton Koppány.

The two pieces of vispo on the cover are by Ayşegül Tözeren.

Contributors' copies have been ordered & should start arriving next week. They're also available through the Otoliths Shopfront along with some other goodies.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The autumnal equinox

draws near. Which means, supposedly, lower temperatures. Except, they seem to be increasing here. Today's temperature was 42° Celsius — that's 110° in US currency.
house hums
with air conditioners.
Today the
postman brought
me a letter from
Geof Huth. I'm
still trying
to work out
what fucking
alphabet it
came from.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

après une aussi longue soirée

     they should
        be called

Thursday, March 08, 2007

really / bad movies / really good movies

This recent talk of books & films is making me hungry…..

But I've been thinking about it at a little more depth than I usually dig, & I realise that I was shaped by the experiences of others, & much of that was vicarious. There is a period where that shaping occurs & the outline of the sculpture appears. What we do after that is polish it, mend & amend little bits, perhaps give it a friendly coat of paint once in a while.

Sure there are changes; but in the absence of some individual act or experience that is life-threatening or –changing, most of the changes are progressions. Exposure perhaps gives us the ability to strike balances. I gained social skills at the same time as I learnt not to suffer fools. I lost my belief in God the same year I learnt to drive — omnipotence takes many forms. I became a man, but I was a child before that & did not necessarily put away the childish things.

I said in a post below that there is no beginning. Instead, time frames. The personal; 10 to 25 years of age. The historical; 1950-1965. That was the period that made me what I still am today. The influences that affected me then are the journey lines I follow now. The odd block & beam have been replaced but the structure remains.(I also have a theory that the personal paradigm changes roughly every 17 years, but I'll save that for another time.)

I come from a family of readers. My parents every week to the Public Library, mainly detective stories; but their personal library was full of other things. Nineteenth-century novelists, adventure stories, Bullfinch's Mythology, reference books, dictionaries. My father was a Freemason — books on/of William Blake abounded (& the pics below show why that was.)

My brother, twelve years older than I, grew up in that environment & discovered science fiction, read indiscrimately. His library left with us during some years of absence as he went from small to slightly larger town working for the Public Service. It was SF that shaped my political beliefs though I didn't realise it at the time. The writers I liked inevitably had what I later came to realise were left-wing views & the division between them was quite distinct — think Philip K. Dick & Blade Runner & then think Robert Heinlein & the fascism of Starship Troopers. In a time when Joe McCarthy ran riot in the land where most of what I was reading came from, writing SF offered some concealment — & not just SF; think Spartacus in another genre.

My mother & I listened to the hit parade. Bill Haley came along in the fifties, but because there weren't the same prejudices around in New Zealand, Little Richard & Fats Domino followed not too much later. There was an electrical store by the tram (later trolley bus) stop where I changed routes to go home & the guy there was crazy about jazz, modern jazz. Church & the hymns that were de rigeur at the High School I attended exposed me to another, classical, form of music. (& then there was the afternoon I came across Mstislav Rostropovich rehearsing in the school assembly hall for a concert he was to give that evening. Again, another story….)

But it was the movies that really shaped my tastes. In a time sans tv, going to the movies was an essential activity. News, documentaries, cartoons, serials, trailers — & that was just the first half. I discovered the sophistication of slapstick; the detective stories I'd read lead me to film noir, Olivier gave me Hamlet. Those were the things that prepared me for the next step.

I liked movies, all movies, but a coincidence of things in the few years either side of my 20th birthday both broadened & narrowed my likes. I'm not sure which of two circumstances came first, & now, from this distance, I'm not too sure what belongs where; but the formative shapings were the local film society which had monthly showings, & a double-feature continuous movie house that changed offerings every two days. Writing that it must have been the double-feature first, because I saw my first Bunuel — Robinson Crusoe — before I saw my second — The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz.

I didn't get to see every change. The movie theatre was part of a triangle — the other two points a pool hall (billiard saloon we called them then) & a pub — at an intersection in the CBD close to University. I'd play cribbage two mornings a week at University for threepence a point, get enough from that to go down to shoot pool & get enough from that to support my drinking & moviegoing for the next few days. I didn't care what movies were on, but, just like the SF, I came to recognise my likes. Apart from Bunuel I first saw Les Enfants du Paradis there, & Orson Welles, as well as seeing every American International film made during the time, & all the film noir without the big stars,. Plus there were a lot of strange movies that I might never have otherwise seen. Including one produced by William Conrad — yes, the same guy that was Cannon on tv — called The Ride Back starring Anthony Quinn & Conrad & parts of which still stick in the mind. It was financed by Conrad from his bit & early tv roles because he wanted to make a Western homage to Ingmar Bergman. Think the cinematography & the darkness of The Seventh Seal with sixshooters.

The continuous movie house was primarily contemporary American with a little bit of cheaply-priced older foreign thrown in. The film society was classic European — Eisenstein, Renoir, Cocteau, Vigo — with a little bit of reasonably contemporary Asian — Kurosawa & Satyjit Ray — thrown in. Add to all that a short-lived University film society which managed to show the two Bunuel / Dali collaborations L'Age d'Or & Un Chien Andalou & Cocteau's Le Sang d'un Poète.

But all this was spasmodic, occasional. It wasn't until Fellini's La Dolce Vita broke the commercial barrier, & the film distributors, though realising that that movie's success was probably a one-off, recognised that there was a market out there & converted a smaller theatre to a menu of — where do you want to start? Bergman? Antonioni? Fellini? Kurosawa? Godard? Resnais? Bunuel? Polanski? Visconti?

That was the world view that I was shaped by. The entries to the eye. Augmented by Francis Bacon & the U.S. art scene that was coming alive. Add to that the journies from the ear to the heart by Ray Charles & Miles Davis &&&&, & from the mouth to the same destination of all those in The New American Poetry.

& all around it the local scene, everybody living within walking distance of one another, the poets, the painters, the musicians, the actors, the gays, the hipsters. Overlaps. Everybody knew what was going on in the other spheres. The political activists would come down from Auckland to be recharged. Some of us would march to Ban the Bomb — unsuccessful — but also to stop a racially-segregated rugby team being sent to represent the country in apartheid-era South Africa — successful.

For me this was the golden age, not the supposed age of Aquarius that came after.
OH! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!--Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!

My only regret is that we did not far enough. At some point we rested, thinking we had won, had changed the way of the world. I have come to realise, in these later days, how wrong we were.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

in the                                                             interim

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Five things for Jordan Stempleman

"I now propose a new tag: Things which one has read and has been influenced by which are not confined to those paper-bound vessels of the printed word we refer to as books. Let's call these Non-Books. Or maybe Impossible Books. Or Limen Books? It's up to you."

     —J. Bradshaw (tagging Jordan Stempleman)

There was a line
inside a line
of — was it? —
a Johnny Cash
song that
gave me pause.


Light &
lights in
the sky.


Before the
city was re-
built he would
go up on roof-
tops & look
down on the
signs that
peered over
the tops of
the smaller


As the full
moon moves
across the
sky another
page of the
manuscript is


to know
in my
the Guantanamo
Military Tribunal ruled

analyses of
farts in bottles

under duress
would be accepted

evidence of
terrorist activities whether

were hear-
say or not.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Strike up the banned

In an email exchange with Richard Lopez provoked by the recent round of book memes, he mentioned sharing my regard for one of the books I'd listed. In my response I mentioned that it had been banned in New Zealand at the time I'd read it. The concept of banning books surprised him:
"strange for me to think that books can be banned from the reader, since growing up in 1970s california almost every decadence was on display and could be explored. was it always about sex, and violence was okay?"
& that in turn surprised me until I realised it was a part of the past — the U.S., the U.K., Australia & a lot of other countries as well as New Zealand; even France who printed in English but banned in French — that many people wouldn't now know about.

Yes, books were banned once. Mainly because of sex or more particularly the language of sex, the description of ordinary sex in sexual terms. I grew up in a culture where Henry Miller's Tropics, Black Spring, The Rosy Crucifixion — Plexus, Sexus & Nexus — & The World of Sex were all on the prohibited import list. Along with Lady Chatterley's Lover — English nobility never said fuck or would have sex with a gardener — Lolita, Lawrence Durrell's The Black Book, Burroughs' Naked Lunch, Trocchi's Cain's Book, the Southern / Hoffenberg Candy, Genet, a dull tome called The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall because it was about — blush — lesbianism, de Sade — the list goes on. Films were banned or cut. Steam radio had a list of professions — funeral directors, lawyers, doctors — & a list of products — condoms & sanitary napkins at the head of it — that could not be advertised. Many of the commercial planes in New Zealand were built by Fokker; they had to be referred to as Friendships, Fokker was verboten. The first time pubic hair ever appeared on a N.Z. commercial film screen was Antonioni's Blow Up in 1966-67, followed a week later by the first commercial filmic utterance of the word fuck in the movie version of Joyce's Ulysses (which book was also banned for quite a long time).

& violence? Wasn't really depicted anywhere in those times so banning never reared its head. It kind of snuck in under the radar until somebody realised that all those increasingly gory shots from the Vietnam War that were being shown on the evening news were the gateway to a new genre.

I'll close with an anecdotal story that is so unlikely it's probably true. The works of Anthony Trollope were banned in Australasia for years, not because of their content — no Customs official had ever read them — but because the author's name was given on the spine as A. Trollope, & that was enough.