Friday, November 30, 2007

PUBLICATIONS by JOHN BLOOMBERG-RISSMAN, TOM BECKETT and ARGEL CORPUS

ERNESTO PRIEGO Reviews

World0, by John Bloomberg-Rissman
No Sounds of My Own Making by John Bloomberg-Rissman

Unprotected Texts: Selected Poems (1978-2006), by Tom Beckett
Steps: A Notebook, by Tom Beckett

Este bienestar, tibio/this Well-Being, warm, Poems in Translation, by Argel Corpus

+++++++++++++

World0, by John Bloomberg-Rissman
(Leafe Press, Nottingham; Bamboo Books, Culver City, 2007; limited edition of 100 copies)

No Sounds of My Own Making by John Bloomberg-Rissman
(Leafe Press, Nottingham, 2007)

John Bloomberg-Rissman doesn't need to invoke John Cage to become an experimental musician. He is a poet in the sense he used words and writes and organizes those words according to recognizable patterns, but his aesthetic enterprise seems to go beyond poetry to enter the realm of sound art. Both his chapbook, World0, and his book, No Sounds of My Own Making, are experimental artefacts in themselves, disguised as “traditional” poetry (even though the use of the hay(na)ku form is privileged, the latter not being, precisely, “traditional”, at least not in the canonical sense) but in fact working as exercises in sampling, looping, cutting and pasting. Bloomberg-Rissman uses the word processor and his blog as a deejay and remixer would use a pair of decks and a sound editing software: what counts here is poetry as organized words and the sounds and ideas they represent. These two are brilliant consequences of blogging as a poetic platform, and as such bear the mark of digital and online poetry: hypertextual, non-sequential, playful and free from the constraints of current mainstream or official tendencies in America or Europe. No Sounds of My Own Making is outstanding as an experimental long hay(na)ku, a piece that musically would traverse everything from John Coltrane to DJ Shadow to to Richard P. James, all seasoned with a bit of Sigur Ros's made-up lyrics. Bloomberg-Rissman's poetry is intellectually demanding because it forces to reader to map out his reading cartography, the literary landscape of his sources. Experimental yet experiential and therefore autobiographical, here's an attempt at reorganizing chaos and rediscovering the aura brought out by repetition. The author is dead but alive and well, thank you, because this poetry is foucauldian deleuzianism in all its splendour: it is not where words come from, but how they are arranged; where things are coming from is the least of our worries, what matters is where we will make all that go.


+++++++++++++

Unprotected Texts: Selected Poems (1978-2006), by Tom Beckett
(Meritage Press, St. Helena/San Francisco, 2006)

Steps: A Notebook, by Tom Beckett
(Meritage Press, St. Helena/San Francisco, 2007)

Tom Beckett has to be one of the most inspiring contemporary poets out there. His writing is as simple as it is complex: the reader is trapped in his fishing net (one pictures, also, Beckett dressed in fishnet stockings), because this is seductive poetry at its best. This is not, mind you, love or erotic poetry as Barnes & Noble or Borders know it. Unprotected Texts is a poetic photo album populated by snapshots of zombies, questions, ghosts, reflections, comic book aesthetics, critical theory, psychoanalysis and that humid, warm sensation of bodily fluids. Playing around with different stanzaic forms (hay(na)ku, tercets, couplets, lists, prose, aphorisms and other variations) Beckett has a voice that spectrally populates, under different masks, a poetic discourse that is as irreverent as authoritative. If Unprotected Texts has the melancholy tone of masturbation as an act of love, Steps, as a custom-made, handwritten “Tiny Book”, has all the playfulness of the unique event, a poetic journal that becomes public diary, extension of his now-defunct blog, yes, but also prosthesis of his body. Beckett's poetry, like Bloomberg-Rissman's, is the result of an aesthetics fully inserted in the 21st century, in the age of electronic global communications and the becoming-gadget of the human body. Unlike Bloomberg-Rissman's, Beckett's poetry is unavoidably possessed by a single voice, even if its manifestations are all multiple and variable. The fact that Unprotected Texts concludes with an interview with its author materializes the factual blurring of pre-existing categories that clearly differentiated bodily experience from literary act. Beckett's poetry is all corporal, and as such becomes to the bare eyes of the reader a naked performance: the Author's presence is that of a pole-dancer, tantalizing and perpetuating the reader's desire. Unprotected Texts and Steps are books for those who are willing to share his bed with a total stranger, beyond sexual orientations or distinctions of any other order.


+++++++++++++

Este bienestar, tibio/this Well-Being, warm, Poems in Translation, by Argel Corpus
(La Mano Izquierda, Victoria, BC, 2006)

Este bienestar, tibio/this Well-Being, warm finally reaches our hands via Mexico City. Argel Corpus (Mexico City, 1973) has written a touching, warm, vulnerable collection. A bilingual edition (translated by Maleea Acker, Susa Oñate and the author), this limited edition chapbook (75 copies only) offers a painful testimony of an experiential poetics that is nevertheless constructed around a careful, conscientious concern for form. Fully inserted in a Latin American tradition of contemporary poetry, Corpus carries his last name like a cross: his poetry is fragmented but aspires to wholesomeness; his words behave like bodies with dismorphic disorders and mirror themselves in the English versions next to them, giving back intimate reflections on the nature of time passing, the relationship of the self with the external world, proprioception as a phenomenological dilemma, the need to express the whole existence through the observation of what is small and apparently insignificant. Picture a crystal-clear lake and the sky mirrored on its surface: as readers our minds become naked feet not daring to test the waters on pain of disturbing the still peace of the whole landscape; such is the effect of Corpus's project. Mostly written in three stanzas of four lines each, with the occasional syncopation of one-liners in italics, the poems in Este bienestar, tibio/this Well-Being, warm have to be read in both English and Spanish to attempt a more or less just approach to what they may coyly suggest. There is a sadness here, a coldness of the heart that finds refuge in the obsessive contemplation of the physical world. Think of Sylvia Plath's “Tulips”: it is winter here.

*****

Ernesto Priego was born in Mexico City. He lives in London. He blogs at Never Neutral and is the author of the first single-author hay(na)ku poetry collection, Not Even Dogs. The "jainakú" is Mexico's version of the hay(na)ku poetic form.

2 comments:

EILEEN said...

Other views on Tom Beckett's UNPROTECTED TEXTS are offered in GR #5 by John Bloomberg-Rissman at:

http://galatearesurrection5.blogspot.com/2007/02/unprotected-texts-selected-poems-1978.html

and

in GR #4 by by Nicholas Manning at:

http://galatearesurrection4.blogspot.com/2006/11/unprotected-texts-selected-poems-1978.html;

and

in GR #4 by Fionna Doney Simmonds at:

http://galatearesurrection4.blogspot.com/2006/11/unprotected-texts-selected-poems-1978_30.html; and

and

in GR #4 by Beatriz Tabios at:

http://galatearesurrection4.blogspot.com/2006/11/unprotected-texts-selected-poems-1978_29.html

EILEEN said...

Another view of
John Bloomberg-Rissman's WORLD0 and NO SOUNDS OF MY OWN MAKING is offered in GR #11 at

http://galatearesurrection11.blogspot.com/2008/12/world0-and-no-sounds-of-my-own-making.html