I can’t sing for shit, which makes this sound even more fun. I was just singing the opening of Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity in the hallway (it was empty, thankfully), and the idea came into my head. I think a lot of it would start to sound like death metal cartoon music.

Other free jazz great’s that would be great a cappella are:

  • John Coltrane’s Interstellar Space
  • The Cecil Taylor Unit (mid-70’s)
  • Pharoah Sanders on Sonny Sharrock’s Ask the Ages
  • Anything with Evan Parker
  • Or Masada
  • Plus highlights from Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun (I think this would sound like Beavis and Butthead on meth)
  • And much much more!
The most used word in Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans, as determined by Wordle (discounting common connecting words).

These wordles were created with the complete text of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans. Don’t ask why. The program by default does not display common connecting words like ofand, etc. I have created one which display EVERY word graphically as well (see notes).

Notes: The first three wordles below display the 150 most common words in the text infographically. The fourth one below displays the 20 most used words. The fifth displays the top 925 words (one for each page in the Dalkey Archive edition) when common connecting words, prepositions and pronouns are not considered. The final one display the actual top 925 words from the book.


Wordle: Stein Making of Americans 3

Wordle: Stein Making of Americans 4

Wordle: Stein Making of Americans 5

Wordle: Stein Making of Americans 6

Wordle: Stein Making of Americans 7

Wordle: Stein Making of Americans 8


Here the list of the 20 most frequently used words in the novel. Just for reference.

Word Frequency
in 20272
of 18310
one 17987
and 15763
to 14278
was 13671
the 12372
them 12137
a 12009
being 9563
that 9266
living 8677
then 8109
is 7479
not 7308
her 7146
be 6414
it 6174
some 6019
I 5188

I read Marjorie Perloff’s “Poetry on the Brink: Reinventing the Lyric” today. I’m not feeling very engaged today, or focused (migraines and stormy weather and all), but I’ll start out by saying this article does a great job of describing the inner workings of the Poembassy in my head that I blew up years ago (see this blog’s title/poem). Perloff has developed and condensed in this article many of her ideas about the current state of Laureate or academic lyric poetry along with the poetry of appropriation, remixing, mashing, citation, multimedia, etc., which stands outside of or against that status quo:

Composition as transcription, citation, “writing-through,” recycling, reframing, grafting, mistranslating, and mashing—such forms of what is now called Conceptualism, on the model of Conceptual art, are now raising hard questions about what role, if any, poetry can play in the new world of instantaneous and excessive information.

As a poet who has for years been using computer programs to do “recycling,” and “mashing” (my favorite of those terms) I am happy to see such a succinct description of this development in poetics, and the readings of Cage’s and Howe’s poems are excellent. And while Perloff’s analysis of the conforming pressures of publication on creative writing faculty seems sound to me (along with the backlash that can accompany a professor attempting anything “experimental” within the graduate workshop setting, where too many M.F.A. students are similarly obsessed with the demands to be published, gain a good reputation, and win awards in order to establish a career), I do feel optimistic about the future of creative writing in the academy for poetry, granted that there is room for optimism for the humanities and/or higher education more generally in this country.

Maybe I’m just deluding myself, as I am considering putting myself on the market for a professorship (any digital poetry jobs being posted out there?) and I need to have something to keep myself motivated. I am certainly more of a pessimist and nihilist by nature. I do have some experience to draw from for my optimism, though. My writing has definitely been outside the status quo since I began an M.F.A. program in 2006, but I was able to get through it all without much conflict and a good deal of encouragement while writing in a range of avant or experimental modes. My thesis was completed as five distinct chapbook projects, two of them exclusively written in collaboration with computer programs and source texts, one of them a citation poem that used Google News, one of them visual or concrete in nature, and another which was a loose collection of poems written in a variety of ways with and without digital means. I had no trouble defending its aesthetic, in spite of these aesthetics being outside of what is the academic norm.  (I should also note that I was and am still struggling to fully understand the poetics of what I am doing.) I offer this as just one example of how, at least within one graduate creative writing program (and not one with any avant- reputation), “otherwise” or experimental writing is at least given space and tolerated.

My experience with web publication and group collective blogging (see eRoGK7 on Gnoetry Daily) have given me some optimism as well. I feel that I am one of hundreds (or is it thousands?) of young writers who are using these various Conceptual and digital techniques and are serious about writing poetry that is an engagement with language, the world, politics, living and being, etc. There is more going on online that interests me than in most print journals (the Chicago Review remains a notable exception), and the resurgence of vispo and vidpo is extremely exciting. I would love to know if there is greater interaction between poetry and other arts now as well, as it seems that poetry is being viewed more widely as a vibrant art form than a stagnant literary form, something I strongly advocate. Having more poetry writing programs established in arts schools and the art departments of larger universities would be a great thing to see happening as well.

So I’ve lost my focus. “Poetry on the Brink,” in spite of its title which seemed at first to suggest another alarmist end-of-the-poetry-world argument, is a good article to explain some of the major directions in the real world of contemporary poetry, and I’d recommend it along with Perloff’s most recent book, Unoriginal Genius, Charles Bernstein’s Attack of the Difficult Poems with Craig Dworkin’s anthology of 21st century poetics, The Consequence of Innovation.


Don’t listen to the ridiculous distortions or the simply lame reporting of the protests that you hear on corporate owned media, PBS/NPR and the BBC. There are thousands of very articulate people in these protests, and their various demands are serious. Watch Democracy Now!‘s coverage. All the anger about Wall Street, capitalism, the wealth gap, unemployment, the scam that is health insurance, the corporate ownership of politics and media, student loan debt and the cost of education, etc. etc., that came out of me for the past two years in 6x6x6 seems to be verified now in all of these people taking a stand. I thought that people weren’t ever going to start up anything. Whatever city you are in, support this thing. I’ll be in Pittsburgh this weekend and I’ll find the protest there.

Here’s a prayer:

May the American People arise
Where they have not arisen;
And where they have arisen, may they not disperse,
But increase further and further.

You may have noticed that I’ve been obsessed with 9/11 recently. So much disturbs me still about it, especially as the anniversary comes and goes each year: how it forced such a negative sea change in international politics (or was manipulated to that end) as well as a return to a McCarthy era-like culture of fear and self-censorship. Also disturbing is how so much of the evidence from the attacks was literally carted away and destroyed before any serious and thorough investigation could be conducted. The spectre of Virtuality haunts the entire spectacle, regardless of the particular narrative ascribed to the events to make them more real and, as would be expected, more terrifying with each detail. This goes for every theory of events I’ve read or listened to. The fact that we will never know everything, regardless of how often the standard narrative is reinforced or how many times you watch Loose Change, is perhaps the most disturbing thing.

Anyways, I’ve been reading a watching just about everything of any value that I can find about 9/11 and the response to it. I was looking through the Articles section at Poetry Foundation today and found this excellent reflective essay on the issue:

Beyond Grief and Grievance: The poetry of 9/11 and its aftermath by Philip Metres

It very thoughtfully examines a number of poems which responded to 9/11, providing a thorough summary of the 9/11 poetry phenomenon. I especially appreciated it’s treatment of Baraka’s “Somebody Blew Up America,” which I agree was a very important poem that few were willing to listen to. For me, it’s most important point was to emphasize the fact that there has never been a unified America, that the 9/11 attacks did not bring us all together, and to say so is to whitewash the violent and divisive history of America, both in its past and its present. Metres essay gives it a fair reading and treats it’s message with the respect it deserves.


“When people are doing something that’s really innovative, it’s not recognised for a long time,” says former fellow Richard A Muller, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley laboratory and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. “Most people think you’re just wasting your time.” (BBC, “Is ‘genius’ a dirty word?“)

The first issue of the only journal I know currently devoted to Vispo (and really good vispo at that) is now up. The range of different types of visual poetry presented there is truly stunning. You can purchase or view it online via the links below (I love issuu!).

Oh, and I’m in it, too. Pages 73-78.



Available in print and digital edition through MagCloud.

Avantexte – The Bleed 0.1 (or direct link to issue @ issuu)