Encrypted is an essay by New Yorker critic Alex Ross about French 19th Century poet Stéphane Mallarmé, and the difficulties he poses for translators and scholars. Notoriously the most bourgeois of avant-garde poets, his life has proved difficult to write about. So perhaps it's best to just go straight for the poetry. The Electronic Poetry Center has a nice page on his late masterpiece, Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard, with the original and several translations.
The Last Days of Kathy Acker by Jason McBride. Mathias Viegener, the friend who stayed with the author during her final month, also wrote an account of her passing called Cannibal Acker. Shortly after her death, her friend Peter Wollen wrote an obituary, Death (and Life) of the Author.
Act 1, scene 1. "The stage directions read, “Vienna. The Ringstrasse promenade at Sirk Corner. Flags wave from the buildings. Soldiers marching by are cheered by the onlookers. General excitement. The crowd breaks up into small groups.” The newsboys with their “Extra Extra,” announcing the outbreak of war, are interrupted by a drunk demonstrator who shouts “Down with Serbia! Hurrah for the Hapsburgs! Hurrah! For S-e-r-bia!” and is immediately kicked in the pants for his mistake (LTM, p. 69). A crook and a prostitute exchange insults, even as two army contractors, talking of possible bribes the rich will use to avoid the draft, cite Bismarck’s words, in Neue Freie Presse (Vienna’s major newspaper at the time of the assassination of the archduke in Serbia), to the effect that the Austrians deserve kissing. One officer tells another that war is “unanwendbar” (of no use) when he really means, as his friend points out, “unabwendbar” (unavoidable) (LTM, pp. 70–71). A patriotic citizen praises the coming conflict as a holy war of defense against “encirclement” by hostile forces, and the crowd responds by making up rhymes (in Viennese dialect) denigrating the enemy (LTM, p. 72)." [more inside]
"The prominent literary critic Marjorie Perloff has recently begun using the term 'unoriginal genius' to describe this tendency emerging in literature. Her idea is that, because of changes brought on by technology and the Internet, our notion of the genius—a romantic, isolated figure—is outdated. An updated notion of genius would have to center around one's mastery of information and its dissemination. Perloff has coined another term, 'moving information,' to signify both the act of pushing language around as well as the act of being emotionally moved by that process. She posits that today's writer resembles more a programmer than a tortured genius, brilliantly conceptualizing, constructing, executing, and maintaining a writing machine." --Kenneth Goldsmith on why "genius" is an archaic concept, and how literature in English has fallen half-a-century behind advances in visual arts and music
In those years I imitated him, to the point of transcription, to the point of devoted and impassioned plagiarism. I felt: Macedonio is metaphysics, is literature. Whoever preceded him might shine in history, but they were all rough drafts of Macedonio, imperfect previous versions. To not imitate this canon would have represented incredible negligence.From Jorge Luis Borges' eulogy for Macedonio Fernández. Borges' relationship with Macedonio was complicated, as recounted in The Man Who Invented Borges, a fine essay by Marcelo Ballvé. Macedonio's most famous work, the posthumous-by-design work (he believed literature should be aged like good whiskey) The Museum of Eterna's Novel has finally been translated and published in English translation, here is an excerpt from the novel (one of the ninety or so prologues). The introduction to the novel, written by its translator Margaret Schwartz, has been put online by the publisher (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Schwartz also sat down for a short interview. You can download an mp3 of a great hour-long panel discussion on Macedonio and a master's thesis on Macedonio by Peter Loggie [pdf]
David Markson has died. David Foster Wallace called his Wittgenstein's Mistress "pretty much the high point of experimental fiction in this country"; but Markson also wrote, earlier in his career, an oddball Western, hardboiled detective fiction (Here is a tribute constructed entirely from text from Epitaph for a Dead Beat), and some uncommonly lusty stuff for a dedicated experimentalist. [more inside]
"The written word hasn't kept up with the age. The movies have outmanoeuvered it. We have the talkies, but as yet no Readies." So wrote Rob Brown in 1930 in his book The Readies. Putting his money where his mouth was, he made a prototype readie, which has since been lost. Brown's story is recounted by Jennifer Schuessler in The New York Times. Brown expert Craig Saper has created a replica Readie online, which includes amongst others texts by Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, F. T. Marinetti as well as translations from Horace by Ezra Pound. [Some of the texts shock modern sensibilities]
Tango With Cows is an exhibition by the Getty Museum of the book art of the Russian avant-garde from 1910 to 1917, which included a performance of sound poetry, all captured on video, both of Futurist poems, other historical sound poems, and contemporary works. Among performers are Christian Bök and Steve McCaffery. The exhibition takes its name from the book of ferro-concrete poems, one of 21 books can be downloaded as PDFs, most are by Alexei Kruchenykh but there are also works by Roman Jakobson, Vladimir Mayakovsky, David Burliuk, Andrei Kravtsov, Vasily Kamensky and Velimir Khlebnikov. These were all Futurists. [more inside]
Vispo is a site dedicated to visual poetry, both static and animated, run by Jim Andrews (though there's also a sound section). Among my favorites are bpNichol's First Screening (made in Hypercard), poem game Arteroids, the works of Ana Maria Uribe, Oppen Do Down (warning: audio starts immediately), Enigma M, strings and a selection of typographic works by Clemente Padin
Asemic is a magazine of asemic writing, which is writing without semantic content. The editor is Australian Tim Gaze, who's made the asemic books Aussie Runes and The Oxygen of Truth, volumes 1 and 2. "Only words lie; asemic texts cannot lie." [more inside]
Sean Bonney's translations of Baudelaire are unconventional. Instead of following the form of the French originals they are semi-concrete typewriter poetry. In a review of the book, everyone's cup of tea, onedit magazine says that they are "certainly the best translations of Baudelaire in English ever written." Which might explain why they published 35 of them in their latest issue. You can listen to Bonney read his translations here [mp3]
MNMLST POETRY is an essay by Bob Grumman about a strand of poetry that he claims is "unacclaimed but flourishing". Here are poems in this vein by Aram Saroyan (2), jwcurry, LeRoy Gorman, bpNichol, Michael Basinski, John M. Bennett, Karl Young, John Martone, Ian Hamilton Finlay and finally some mathemaku by Bob Grumman, the essay's author.
Carnival by Steve McCaffery (wikipedia entry). One of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets. Their late 70's, early 80's magazine can be found archived here and makes for interesting reading. However, I suggest you start off by looking at the two beautiful panels that comprise Carnival. They're both visual art and poetry. There's also a terrible pun hidden in one of them if you can find it. But if you hunger for more, here's an interesting critique by Marjorie Perloff [note: The Carnival panels are too big for any screen, but they can be shrunk by hitting "map"]