Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Drunken Boat Issue 15 book reviews by Jennifer K Dick, including one on Against Expression by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith

Last fall with an overcharged semester I completed a series of reviews for Drunken Boat magazine. These have been programmed to appear since January 2012. So it is with great great joy I see the lovely new issue 15 is up online with 3 book reviews by me and A 4th which is a co-review-dialogue on a poet's work. I admire the web formatting and colors of the new Drunken Boat edition and the attention that went into getting this issue out, including that attention to detail by Shira Dentz the reviews editor (click to read her reviews intro).

I hope that you enjoy what I have to say on Drunken Boat's site, and will support again the presses keeping exciting experimental poetry alive by publishing it.  
Buy books, read books, review books!
keep poetry publishers out of the red!

The 4 reviews:
Review 1: Against Expression by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith
A LONG pro and con reading of the anthology of conceptual writing AGAINST EXPRESSION. (Northwestern University Press). I try very hard to go through the real strengths and values of this anthology for poets, teachers, general readers and then to cover some of the problems I see with this first collection of work in English trying to address what Conceptual Poetry is.  

          I also recognize that the anthology has had a lot of publicity and cybertraffic around it--my favorite being the image posted on Lemon Hound (April 2012) stating "Conceptual Poetry Carries the Weight of Contemporary Poetry" on sites such as Ron Silliman's Blog, the Poetry Foundation, conference sites on Conceptual Literature, UBU, etc. There is much one can say about conceptual literature, much that is being said. To enter into that dialogue, perhaps pick up a copy of another fine book, Vanessa Place and Rob Fitterman's theory collection "Notes on Conceptualisms" and read Ron Silliman's review of it HERE (CLICK) In which he places it on par with Spring and All and Call Me Ishmael! Or check out Marjorie Perloff's article "Conceptualisms Old and New"(2007) (available online directly as a pdf) To see what the editors of this anthology have to say about it themselves, go to Kenneth Goldsmith's interview on the BOMB magazine site which also appears on the Academy of American Poets website at: or see the Academy's "brief guide to conceptual poetry

I find interesting and amusing Ron Silliman's blog post about Conceptual Poetry vs Flarf. Very recent debates posted this April 2012 on the questions about and reactions to statements that Conceptual Literature is dead. Is it dead? (Gosh, if so, I am getting into the conversation a bit late--but no surprise there, I live far away from where this debate has been happening!) But to read a comment/reaction on that, see "The Jubilee of Poetic Crises" By Canadian poet Christian Bök (often one of the first names to come up when talking of Conceptual authors) on the Harriet site.
Among my criticisms in the review I wrote is a tiny remark at the end about the gender issue in this book. It is a small comment, but I admire other's addresses of it--for I know that my list of names of women that I felt should be included (which is near the end of the review) is insignificant and also would make some people furious (yes, Susan Howe is NOT a conceptual poet, certainly not in her own terms--but by the standards defined here in this anthology she would be).  To this end, Ron Silliman asks the question of whether Cole Swensen should be seen as a conceptual poet on his blog. And I enjoy the short commentary regarding Spahr and Young's writing to the authors of the anthology about "what's it about all these men" that appears at the end of Laynie Browne's questionnaire on Conceptual Poetry which was published on one of my favorite blogs, Lemon Hound.
Review 2 
Laura Mullen's DARK ARCHIVE. (University of CA Press) It is always interesting to review books by an author you really like and who has been an important teacher and mentor for you. In my case, that would include many writers--evidently including Laura Mullen. This review therefore has a different feel (I hope) than the others as I did. It is a very personal review, where I am not looking at the entire book, but really focusing most of my attention on reading a single poem a bit more closely as it pertains or resonates for me across the book. I admire this book. It hurts. It aches. It excites. It rips me open on personal, narrative, lyric, formal levels. I imagine it will do the same for you!

Review 3
A Lily Lilies by Josie Foo and Leah Stein.
This dance-poetry collaboration review can be found at the direct link:
I had had the great joy of discovering Josie Foo's writing years ago when a friend of mine--Julie Brown (who now runs WindHorse Intuitive: showed me her copy of Josie Foo's Tomie's Chair (Kaya Press). It was therefore a pleasure to see what Foo has been doing since and to read through the collaborative spaces of this book. Hope you enjoy my thoughts on it!

Review 4
RONALDO V WILSON's "Poems of the Black Object" (Futurepoem Books)
A review-dialogue with my friend and fellow poet, JONATHAN REGIER of a book we both really admire and enjoyed thinking about together. For anyone that is wondering, no, this is not a new book, not hot off the presses. It came out in 2009, and I have been reading and re-reading it since I got a copy at the AWP book fair that year. It bears relooking at critically and reminding anyone who has not read it that they should. Among the 10 best poetry books by American authors in the first decade of our new century, I would have to say this is right up there!  It won the 13th annual Asian American Literary Award for Poetry. An interview with its author by Elizabeth Hildreth appears online at Bookslut at Author  Ronaldo V. Wilson is also the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, from University of Pittsburgh Press
          I advise anyone that has not yet gotten themselves a copy of Poems of the Black Object do so NOW--and thus also support one of the finest presses putting out books in the USA today, FUTUREPOEM BOOKS.  For more on my co-author of this review, read Jonathan Regier's first collection of poetry, Three Years from Upstate published by Six Gallery Press. 

Lastly, for anyone who has been following the Lex-ICON pre-conference blog project (an image a day for 60 days at: they will notce that the very very exciting section of Drunken Boat 15--HANDMADE/HOMEMADE was curated by Deborah Poe whose image appeared on Lex-ICON last week: IMAGE 45. Congrats on this exciting work on Drunken Boat, Deborah!

1 comment:

Jennifer K Dick said...

Talon books took part of my comment from the end of the Against Expression review and Adeena Karasick's fabulous, witty, well-composed response to her exclusion from such a collection and posted it on their website for all to read at:

As I said to Adeena when she saw Talon had done this "That is lovely! Good for them. It will get support for your books where you need it, and I hope also bring you into a dialogue as an author and among authors where your work deserves to be."