Saturday, February 25, 2012

Photo from The Indian Moose Tour, New Hampshire and Maine. (This is Maine, Friday, February 17, 2012.)

What does a transcendentalist look like?


Friday, February 24, 2012

Susan Bee, Recalculating, 2010. (Oil on linen, 16 x 20 inches, from the collection of Richard Deming and Nancy Kuhl.)

I am happy to have been able to make it over to the School of Visual Arts (133/141 West 21 Street) last night for a talk and presentation by the artist Susan Bee (see The Susan Bee Interview at E·ratio). This was part of SVA’s ongoing Art in the First Person lecture series. Bee is charming and amusing talking about her work and what I learned increased my appreciation of her paintings significantly and opened a new window on her collaborations, especially those with her husband, the poet Charles Bernstein. Bee is open-minded and undogmatic—and both where concerns issues of aesthetics in her own art and where concerns the role of art generally. She is humorous without being comical and serious without being stern, and this fits well with her Recalculating series: renderings, or, “recalculatings,” of details of scenes from film noir movies. (Her recalculatings add an element of paraphrase to the scenes sometimes bringing to the surface what was otherwise subliminal.) This film noir series of paintings makes up a very small part of her output and as a small series it succeeds. The presentation was too brief to be an actual overview of her work, for instance the series “Philosophical Trees” was left out. She did show some of her most recent paintings and I was deeply impressed by these and by what I would consider their “psychological content” (I was reminded of Hesse’s drawings for his Pictor’s Metamorphoses and C. G. Jung’s drawings in The Red Book). I am very much looking forward to her next show.

Watch the video: Susan Bee: Recalculating: paintings and collaborations.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Next time you’re in a used book store that carries old journals and old art-lit ’zines, look for copies of Atticus Review. Atticus Review was edited by Harry Polkinhorn and David Quattrociocchi.

Featuring mostly concrete and experimental poetry, issue 17 (1989) includes contributions from Dick Higgins, Harlan Ristau, Clemente Padin, Jake Berry, Kevin Schiedermayer, Norman Conquest, Greg Autry Wallace, Ronald D. Rosen, John Eberly, Ruggero Maggi, Trudy Mercer, Petr Sevcik, Mike Miskowski, James Cushing, Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino, Barry Casselman, John Stickney, Serse Luigetti, Chris Winkler, Guttom Nordo, Kent Clair Chamberlain, Greg Evason and Erik Belgum. Highly collectable.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

a noun sing e·ratio 15 · 2012

with poetry by

Morgan Harlow, Candy Shue, Jan Lauwereyns, Doris Neidl, Tim Trace Peterson, Jen Besemer, Sheila Squillante, Lisa McCool-Grime, Natalie Watson, Julie Wood, Kristina Marie Darling, Felicia Shenker, Scott Bentley, J. Crouse, Bob Heman, James Davies, Dylan Harris, Michael Sikkema, Kent Leatham, Parker Tettleton, Bobbi Lurie, Lauren Marie Cappello, Erin Heath, Wynne Huddleston, Jane Olivier, Elise, Nathan Thompson, Tim Wright, Tim VanDyke, Iain Britton, Ian Hatcher, C. Brannon Watts, Seth Tyler Copeland, Rich Murphy, J. D. Nelson, Howie Good, Monty Reid, Dave Shortt, Billy Cancel, John Clinton, Thomas Fink, Larry Ziman, Valery Oisteanu, Michael Crane, Jon Cone, Mark Cunningham, Rick Marlatt, Nikolai Duffy, Alessandro Cusimano, Jacob Russell, Corey Wakeling, Stephen Nelson, Steve Gilmartin, James Valvis, Greg Cohen, Derek Henderson, Travis Cebula, Sean Howard, Walter Ruhlmann and Márton Koppány

and featuring

The Mallarmé Project, an examination of a yearlong series of art and writing in Seattle by Joseph F. Keppler


The Susan Bee Interview

E·ratio is edited by Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino with contributing editors Joseph F. Keppler and Lauren Marie Cappello

E·ratio is reading for issue 16, the fall 2012 issue.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Joseph F. Keppler on Ralph La Charity


That ancient Greeks worked in the language and culture of their day comes as no surprise. Nor should it be a surprise that a contemporary American poet like Ralph La Charity works in his. Yet the consequences of being an artist in far different times and places are too little appreciated.

It is a small book La Charity sent me. Four 8½ by 13 sheets are folded in half and stapled to become a 16-page, 6½ by 8½ book, entitled flawed man drowns. For images, the booklet has three surrealist collages.

Reflecting on the once inspired Seattle poetry scene I remember the pro-vocative, confrontational way La Charity presents himself and his poetry. This seems to me to be how La Charity composes: to write poetry in con-temporary American English, speak like Homer, think like Socrates.

Yet our present language is, like us, full of sales and fury, signifying noth-ing. Just listen to radio, television, or the conversations around you. Today it seems much talk is a racket we make to one another. American English is maybe as stuck-up, musical, and abstract as Periclean Greek but surely not as momentous, meticulous, or particularly philosophical. The U.S. is not ancient Greece, and Bengal Cincinnati, La Charity’s home, not bronzed-armored Athens. Differences time takes take time. La Charity is practicing an ancient poetics in our noisy streets’ exhaust and exhaustion.

He performs poetry like a traveling rhapsode from a long-forgotten legend. Sometimes he’s a bard accompanied with music. He recites from memory and repeats stock phrases the same way oral poets like Homer have always done. Playing his voice and his words he appears to enter a trance as his rhythms work their way through his mind. He also wrestles with countless demons in league against divine poetry and that means challenging his con-temporaries. With Socratic insistence, he probes their knowledge and deliv-ers their affectations.

Poets like Ed Dorn, Lew Welch, and Roberto Valenza he admires. Using their work to accompany his own, he memorializes a period only slightly past. Other names in his poems are little known outside the poetry world and require footnotes like those supplied by scholars who translate the com-pany of Plato’s or Xenophon’s Socrates. Those who know who ‘Major’, ‘Bill’, and Tom Beckett are can better realize that in a poem like ‘pithy yet over’ La Charity is taking to task the publisher and editor of The Difficulties and E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S (the one a journal focussing on lan-guage-school poets, the other a series of poet interviews). La Charity criti-cizes this apparently sophist editor’s choice to surround himself with aca-demic starlight while slighting the lights shining in his own neighborhood.

Other poems in the booklet range from the sweeping Taklimakan Desert to La Charity’s own sense of what his life really means. In ‘flawed man drowns’ the poem that gives the book its title, La Charity writes his Apol-ogy. He wonders, “so what will it feel like to be deeply me/doing the very thing I want to & must do” when drawn into “the obliviating proverbial gun-fight armed / only with a smattering of mattering . . . dependent upon / the silent tympanic of strangers?”

Like La Charity we can only wonder what if any poetry from today might become as immortal as the ancient epics. We cannot decide that; it is not our decision or a decision at all.

Rather it is for poets to oblige greatness while alive and then to die like and unlike everyone else:

      The dead do
      not oblige

      they do so

For those interested in this unique booklet or in his poetics, La Charity’s email is

Joseph F. Keppler
Seattle, Autumn 2011

Joseph F. Keppler’s essay, The Mallarmé Project, an examination of a yearlong series of art and writing in Seattle, will appear in E·ratio 15.