The ongoing mystery of the disappearing self

Martin Corless-Smith

2020

This book had me at "Martini Rosso on the mantlepiece," though also: the last glimpse of plum trees in blossom (from a death-bed), and the "dull primrose/white" of a wall in a seaside town that the speaker will never visit again. Martin Corless-Smith has written a tidal work: the intense present of making art, and the sensory surge of the last minutes, or hours, of an artist's life. Something ebbs: "No, I can’t recall having met her. Once I was bowled over in the ocean...." Something appears: "...another world, like a door underwater." This is perimeter consciousness, drawn from what lies beyond the frame: a sky that's only and actually "colour," and a sense of natural time that's both entropic and livid: "Lichen-like." A painter and poet, Corless-Smith draws upon the water table of his own gifts to preserve, destroy and create The ongoing mystery of the disappearing self, again and again. "Call the beautiful a surge in feeling an atmosphere a reaction a response to the world to our senses but whatever it is it cannot be held fast." I keep returning to this line as the watermark or imprint of this collection, something that's both a part of the paper it's written on and the means of its dissolution. -- Bhanu Kapil

Purchase

A Voice to Perform: One Opera / Two Plays

Carla Harryman

2020

A VOICE TO PERFORM is: HANNAH CUT IN: Assembled in time-bound segments, each derived from the idea of interruption in the writings of Hannah Arendt, this play was created for a Poets Theater event at the University Art Museum, Berkeley, 2017. MEMORY PLAY: A two-act, multifaceted conceptualization of memory-as-performance proffered by personified creature and instructions, a child, and a Miltonic Humiliator toy. GARDENER OF STARS, AN OPERA: A duo, a trio, a quartet, an ensemble, this work adapts Harryman's experimental novel, GARDENER OF STARS "paradise and wastelands of utopian desire."

Purchase

Revolution Goes Through Walls

Safaa Fathy

Translated by Pierre Joris with Safaa Fathy

2018

Revolution goes through walls was first published in Arabic by Sharkyat in 2014. Tarabuste Editions published a French edition, Révolution traverse des murs, translated into French by Hélène Nancy, Hedi Djebnoun, and Jean-Pierre Daumard, with a preface by Jean-Luc Nancy, in 2017.

Purchase

The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters

Bernadette Mayer

2017

First published by Hard Press in 1994, SplitLevel's reprint edition of this Bernadette Mayer classic includes an introduction by Laynie Brown. Long out of print this eagerly-awaited book continues to be a timely meditation on motherhood, writing, life, and art.

Purchase

Decoherent The Wing'ed

Elizabeth Zuba

2016

Quantum physics meets fable in this first full-length book of poetry by Elizabeth Zuba. Infused with fanciful characters and narration DECOHERENT manages both madcap meditation and tensile elegance. Translator of volumes by Marcel Broodthaers and editor of Ray Johnson’s writing, Zuba’s DECOHERENT is a happy companion to these artists’ particular, hyper-quotidian, and fantastical worlds.

Purchase

This Fatal Looking Glass

Martin Corless-Smith

2015

"A man in his forties is walking along the embankment of the river Thames. He has recently abandoned his marriage and has thus imperilled his care and responsibility for his son whom he loves. He now does not know if he is experiencing freedom, or a condition of being irrevocably lost. Or are these the same? His brain, or so he has read, is a contorted maze of surfaces (he must look this up). But then what was the reality of the so called outside world? One so seldom saw or touched anything except a surface—that of the glittering river, for instance, which was like a looking glass, or like love. Unless one jumped in and drowned, that is. But then, might not life and death seem the same? Especially if one were a poet or a painter. Which he was. Both, I mean." —Nicholas Mosley

Purchase

P R A C T I C E

Laynie Browne

2015

"Dear reader: practice opening this book, practice turning its pages, practice reading these words and returning to them, and practice these practices repeatedly. Laynie Browne has written a wondrous guide book that doesn't show us where we have not yet been, but more importantly, more beautifully, returns us to where we are—in this body that is mine, this body that breathes, this mind that thinks (or thinks it thinks). Make no mistake, these poems each are small forms of best advice, showing that truest courage requires endless opening to the moment one is in. Lucky for us, the days come as these poems do, one following another, each promising that we have yet another chance to practice what matters most, to arrive in that exalted attention in which the mind's devotion and the arm's embrace and the body's nerves and the lung's deep breath are one. Browne is a poet unrivalled in the generosities she offers her readers, and so we have now, again, a book that knows the gift is in the work, and the work takes practice." —Dan Beachy-Quick

Purchase

The Worldkillers

Lucy Ives

2014

"Poem. Novel. Essay. Here is a literary triptych whose panels swing from one another unfettered by geometry in wide and wild arcs. But there are hinges. Think of the upkeep of the minotaur at the center of what can only be the labyrinthine mind of Lucy Ives. This particular creature feeds on its own enclosure. Who said time is eternity turned into a moving image? How does this work on the page? As soon as Ives allows things focus, she pulls back, revealing a small component of a larger construct, but never anything objective and irreducibly whole. Thus, effectively her subject and obsession is not the demarcation of time, but the inability of time to be properly or comparatively enacted. What if Stein and Paul Éluard were a single poet? What if Wittgenstein, Elaine Scarry, and Charles and Ray Eames collaborated on a novelization of Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits? What if Robbe-Grillet and Hélène Cixous were to re-write The Duino Elegies as an essay? Daedalus never built anything quite like this. Good luck getting out." —Noah Eli Gordon

Purchase

If Reality Doesn't Work Out

Maged Zaher

2014

"In this long poem of poems, each poem page reads as if it could be the last. If Reality represents the end of the world (the end of politics the end of love the end of the poet) in its middle. It is the poem I have wanted to write, the poem that approaches an expression of the pain of the success of Nothing, the united statesian/global obliteration of the shared space of the tragic upon which it proliferates. It is the poem about end, without end." —Rachel Levitsky

Purchase

W—/M—

Carla Harryman

2013

"Part memoir, part autobiography, and part paean to the late Detroit playwright and poet Ron Allen, W—/M— pits Mnemosyne against Minerva, stringing and unstringing the clothesline of childhood, the lunch lines of adolescence, and the assembly lines of southeastern Michigan. Harryman traces and retraces the line per se as nomadic consciousnesses multiplying beyond the doubles that mark, and thus engender, the self-patrolled borders of identities. At each turn Harryman burrows into the interstices between, among, the grammars that partition normative life from its estranged twin(s). Think of W—/M— as an ode to a thinking that outflanks the actual—and so, makes the actual the center from which all thinking radiates." —Tyrone Williams

Purchase

The Longest Total Solar Eclipse of the Century

Catherine Meng

2013

"THE LONGEST TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE OF THE CENTURY continues Catherine Meng's experiments along the radiant edge of how-we-live-now. The book is, among many things, an examination of habit, the daily round of life and language that dulls us to the world. 'Round & round,' she writes. 'We do this again & again.' But it is possible, Meng asserts, to awake in the moment, 'To look up. To say to one's self: this is real. Wanting to touch everything now: the barista's smile, the impossible cake, the change in weather, us, you, whomever you are, reading this, me, twenty years, months, days, hours from now.' THE LONGEST TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE is full of such awakenings, when the world appears new and wild, suddenly freed from the constructs we have invented to tame it." —Jon Davis

Purchase

The Treatment of Monuments

Alan Gilbert

2012

THE TREATMENT OF MONUMENTS collects four long poems written in varying styles. The first poem in the book, "Relative Heat Index," is a serial poem in twenty-three parts that attempts to capture the personal and political climate of the United States plunged by its leaders into war following the September 11 attacks.

Purchase

A Cruel Nirvana

Jerome Rothenberg

2012

A CRUEL NIRVANA both is and is not a new Jerome Rothenberg collection. In other words, almost everything in this collection has been published before.

Purchase