Category: Books

N. B.

Books, Philosophy, Poetics, Poetry, Theory and Criticism, Translation, Writing May 26, 2015

I have about ten notebooks currently in my possession. This may not sound like a lot, but they have notes in them from every class and every guest lecture I’ve attended as a graduate student. I write on every page and am very sparing with the use of paper. So it is a lot, actually.

I’m about to enter a summer of what is known as “comprehensive exam study.” It is about as bureaucratic as it sounds.

In order to prepare for it, I’ve been going through these notebooks, deciding what I need around me as I attempt to think this summer.

And the notebooks don’t want me to.

Here are some excerpts from my notebooks, at random.

*

why does apostrophe allow a move to the present?

thing: “a gathering of people to make law” (Saxon)
etymology
(Joy[c]e: thing mode)

voice
|
the occasion for
constantly turning
in and what
comes out is
a new modality
something pure

but for Cecil [Taylor]
|
a breakdown
of the self
|
what
emerges is
a radical
sociality

“consent not to
be a single
thing” Read More

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Best Things 2014, Part I: Books

Books, Language, Philosophy, Poetry, Prose, Theory and Criticism, Translation January 5, 2015

Upon deep reflection I nearly came to the conclusion that 2014 was a total shit show, unworthy of comment/time travel/etc.

Then upon deeper reflection I realized that I read all of Proust’s Search in roughly eight weeks.

So yeah, 2014 is exonerated!

In addition to these extraordinary books—

In Search of Lost Time Volume I: Swann’s Way. 1913.
In Search of Lost Time Volume II: Within a Budding Grove. 1918.
In Search of Lost Time Volume III: The Guermantes Way. 1920-1.
In Search of Lost Time Volume IV: Sodom and Gomorrah. 1921-2.
In Search of Lost Time Volume V: The Captive & The Fugitive. 1923-5.
In Search of Lost Time Volume VI: Time Regained. 1927.

in the 1992  Modern Library translation by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Terence Kilmartin, and D. J. Enright*

[*I like their work, though of course the argument can and has been made that they’ve over-smoothed the French, which Lydia Davis has not. I was reading Proust in a small group and this was the translation chosen out of consensus. I’m happy I went along because the Viking series, from my occasional referencing it, seems to be inconsistent probably on account of having different translators for each novel.

One day I’ll read in French. And do my own translation! Ambitions.]

Robertson_Adnan_Jabes

Lisa Robertson. Etel Adnan. Edmond Jabès.

 

—I began my discovery of three writers whose work, like Proust, will have a lasting impact on how I read, write, think, live:

(1) Edmond Jabès; 

[I read the first two volumes of The Book of Questions (The Book of Questions. 1963. & The Book of Yukel. 1964.), translated by a my biggest translation hero, Rosmarie Waldrop, and published by Wesleyan University Press. This was part of an amazing one-on-one tutorial and I’ll be reading the rest when I can breathe again.]

(2) Etel Adnan (who is going to be a major figure on my upcoming comprehensive exams—she is completely stunning and writes in multiple genres and languages);

[Sitt Marie-Rose. 1978. Translated from the French by Georgina Kleege. Post-Apollo Press, 1982.
Seasons. Post-Apollo Press, 2008.
The Cost for Love We Are Not Willing to Pay. Hatje Canz Verlag, 2011.
Sea and Fog. Nightboat Books, 2012.]

(3) and Lisa Robertson (whom I got to hear read and lecture at Naropa and make sign a billion books for myself and a friend).

[Occasional Work and Seven Works from the Office of Soft Architecture. 2003. Coach House Books, 2011.
Magenta Soul Whip. Coach House Books, 2009.
Nilling: Prose Essays on Noise, Pornography, the Codex, Melancholy, Lucretius, Folds, Cities and Related Aporias. BookThug, 2011.
The Weather. New Star Books, 2011.]

I should add George Oppen to this list, though technically I’ve read his books before; Read More

Recent Acquisitions

Books, Philosophy, Poetics, Poetry, Prose, Sociology, Theory and Criticism, Translation March 20, 2014

As would any serious readerly person, I treat my books like real estate.

Or is it a bad thing to treat one’s books like real estate? Either way, I like to look at my shelves the way an Austen character might look on the prospect of a mansion–you know how that is.

OK, I have to say this before I forget it: I’ve been bingeing on BBC televised versions classics for the past couple of days in order to get over the trauma of yet another academic term as a doctoral student. The best thing about these shows is how all the characters say RRUHM for “room.” Apparently it’s some sort of old-fashioned British thing, like the way they used to say GUHLANT for “gallant.” Such beauties.

Onto far more important things, I only bought two books in February, but they were both so excellent, and strangely of similar sizes and colors even.

Carmody_Sartiliot

Teresa Carmody. Claudette Sartiliot.

Teresa Carmody is a super talented PhD peer and co-founder of Les Figues Press. I don’t know how much you can tell this from my scan, but the book is narrow and long. It feels very different in my hands. I like.

The Claudette Sartiliot is an utterly random discovery. I looked up “discourse of flowers” in the library’s search engine, figuring that someone must have written a measly essay or two on the subject, and turns out there’s a whole book. It’s out of print and rather exquisite. Hardback with actual dead flowers in the mix. Read More

Best Things I Read in 2013

Books, Philosophy, Poetics, Poetry, Prose, Science, Translation January 25, 2014

Apparently, most people make such lists at the end of the year rather than a month into the next.

Apparently, also, lots of people read what is published in the same year, whereas I merely buy those books and feel proud and then read dead people or people I’ve already read.

Generally, this means I’m taking classes over whose reading lists I have no control or that I am attempting postponement of pleasure, which is a thing some of you may know about though most of you will probably be questioning the sanity of such nefarious sacrificial tendencies.

As I have been, imaginably, awake this whole night due to self-diagnosed insomnia* caused by unnecessary thinking about life events, I have decided to give you my list of best things I read in 2013.

[*I wrote this post yesterday and saved a draft. Following writing this post, which I did in a moment of extreme alertness useful to the writing of blog posts but not to reading PhD things, I slept for sixteen hours. So clearly, no insomnia.]

For reference:

things = book-length works, chapbooks included

read = read for the first time, re-reads not included

Poetry

Quintane_Giscombe_Neidecker

Nathalie Quintane. C.S. Giscombe. Lorine Neidecker.

Amal al-Jubouri. Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation. 2008. Translated from the Arabic by Rebecca Gayle Howell with Husam Qaisi. Alice James Books, 2011.

Jorge Carrera Andrade. Micrograms. 1940. Translated from the Spanish by Alejandro de Acosta & Joshua Beckman. Wave Books, 2011.

Inger Christensen. alphabet. 1981. Translated from the Danish by Susanna Neid. New Directions, 2001.

Eduardo C. Corral. Slow Lightning. Yale University Press, 2012.

Robert Creeley. Selected Poems, 1945-2005. Edited by Benjamin Friedlander. University of California Press, 2008. Read More

The Robing of the Bride + Notes + Recording

Books, Poetry, Translation, Writing December 17, 2013
Aditi Machado. The Robing of the Bride. 2013.

Aditi Machado. The Robing of the Bride. 2013.

I have this chapbook out from Dzanc Books, which Matt Bell picked for the Collagist Chapbook Contest in 2012.

I wrote the poems for the chapbook in fall of 2011, surprisingly enough in a craft class.

Usually, a craft class is a space of experimentation and weirdness for me. I get to do a bunch of fun things and maybe get one poem out of the mess I create. Mostly, it’s a lot of learning to be used later, when I’m unaware of the learning.

But for some reason, in this particular class, which studied and practiced different ways of (re-) (un-)writing history in poems, I wrote nearly forty poems. Some of them were fragments or wholes created out of older wholes or fragments, but many were brand new poems in forms that were new to me.

Turns out, I kept notes during this time.

RotB Notes_1

Read More

November Haul

Books, Comics, Poetry, Prose, Translation December 6, 2013

Poetry

Aase Berg. Transfer Fat. Tr. Johannes Göransson. 2002/2012.

Robert Creeley. Selected Poems, 1945-2005. Ed. Benjamin Friedlander. 2008.

Emily Dickinson. The Gorgeous Nothings. Ed. Marta Werner & Jen Bervin. 2013.

Read More

Liquid Paper and Other News

Books, Cinema, Journals, Poetry, Prose, Translation December 2, 2013

Wanda Coleman. African Sleeping Sickness: Stories & Poems. 1990.

Wanda Coleman died on the twenty-second of November. I’d been introduced to her work roughly a year ago and hadn’t been able to let go of her long poem, “African Sleeping Sickness.” Some months ago I found her email address and contacted her. She gave me this stunning poem, which Asymptote published in its annual English Poetry Feature.

I knew Ms. Coleman had been ill, and you can find many instances of her thinking on her mortality in this poem:

My urine keeps getting darker, I must be passing.

But that very brief, personal admission is followed by a response—the poem is structured as a dialog—written in an entirely different register: a less inward-looking voice, a voice that opens out to a world of small, happy objects: a voice seeking, offering a sad pleasure, one could say.

Twenty-two cents, and a pack of mints
a rubber band and a paper clip.
Pass the bourbon and give it a kiss.

The title of the poem is “Tremors & Tempests: A Poetic Dialog.” The shaking, the sign of future destruction or pleasure, the barely perceptible movement, and the storm—that’s how I read it. And it’s a useful way to characterize the various natures of speech as well, or what are privately known quantities and what is gathered from public witnessing. Then, how these speak to each other.

I’ve also been thinking, via this poem, on the tension between the local and the international. Read More

Some Amazing Books of Translation

Art, Books, Philosophy, Poetry, Prose, Psychology, Science, Translation August 16, 2013

Here is a list of translated books I am currently reading or have recently read or re-read or plan to read or have recently bought or plan to buy or have been thinking about for whatever reason. They are all excellent.

Samuel Beckett. The Unnameable. Tr. SB. 1953/1958.

Samuel Beckett. The Unnameable. 1953. Translated from the French by the author. Grove Press, 1958.

Beckett, the great self-translator. I recently finished this, the third of the trilogy whose other two books are Molloy (1951) and Malone Dies (1951). The Unnameable is not surprisingly the most difficult of them all, but glorious. A thing to note: I have the Grove Press editions for all three of these, but for The Unnameable I was able to find one with the (above pictured) Roy Kuhlman cover. I will also say that my copy is less beat-up looking than the one above and at this moment there is a smug look on my face.

Inger Christensen. alphabet. Tr. Susanna Nied. 1981/2001.

Inger Christensen. alphabet. 1981. Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied. New Directions, 2001.

Wow—is there any other way to describe this book? Read More