Monday, August 31, 2009

Gladys Knight &

The Pips!

Stan Brakhage

Eye Myth, 1972

and from 1963

VW takes on the gas shortage



White Line Fever

Have a ball: Gadji beri bimba

Gadji beri bimba

gadji beri bimba glandridi laula lonni cadori
gadjama gramma berida bimbala glandri galassassa laulitalomini
gadji beri bin blassa glassala laula lonni cadorsu sassala bim
gadjama tuffm i zimzalla binban gligla wowolimai bin beri ban
o katalominai rhinozerossola hopsamen laulitalomini hoooo
gadjama rhinozerossola hopsamen
bluku terullala blaulala loooo

zimzim urullala zimzim urullala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam
elifantolim brussala bulomen brussala bulomen tromtata
velo da bang band affalo purzamai affalo purzamai lengado tor
gadjama bimbalo glandridi glassala zingtata pimpalo ögrögöööö
viola laxato viola zimbrabim viola uli paluji malooo

tuffm im zimbrabim negramai bumbalo negramai bumbalo tuffm i zim
gadjama bimbala oo beri gadjama gaga di gadjama affalo pinx
gaga di bumbalo bumbalo gadjamen
gaga di bling blong
gaga blung

And do nip over to UBU for more Ball. Click on number 8 to hear Marie Osmond read one of the Dada Bard's poems.

1973 "Sorry Out of Gas"

Green is not a straight line:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nicole Brossard & Fred Wah

The National Poetry Foundation had a conference on the poetry of the 1970s last year. There are many conference reports up on the site now. But I'll offer you a brief reading by Wah & Brossard, two poets that were very active in the 70s. And still are. The conference corresponded with Steve Evans Course, Feminist & Avant-Garde Poetries of the 1970s, which included Brossard, Susan Howe, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Bernadette Mayer and Florence Howe--a new name to me.

Turn of a Pang, was published by Coach House in 1976, translation by Patricia Claxton, and Coach House continues to publish Brossard--most recently Fences in Breathing. Turn of a Pang, along with A Book, and French Kiss, or A Pang's Progress, were later published as The Blue Books.

Series: Coach House Quebec Translations
Here composition is both the subject of the novel and a metaphor for the lives of its characters. Cherry composes herself in derivative images - the cheap red of cosmetics, the glossy red of escapist romance - in a futile search for the richness of relationship which the sexual pun of her name promises. In narrative technique this is one of the most semiotic of contemporary novels; the story is conveyed by a series of recurring signs and images - rust, networks, membranes, fingernails. Brossard's language is playful and punning - qualities strikingly preserved by Patricia Claxton's 'traduction'

Burn baby burn

Burn, baby

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fox & Fluevog

Fox & Fluevog was a Canadian affair (now simply Fluevog). John Fluevog grew up in Vancouver. Wiki, master of all knowledge, has the following to say of the shoe duo:
"In 1970, he joined forces with fellow co-worker Peter Fox to start up their own shoestore in historic Gastown. The partnership, known simply as "Fox and Fluevog" lasted over ten years before the two split amicably in 1981..." Um, not the silver buckled platforms, though I might be persuaded.

John Fluevog talks to Sook Yin Lee.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Talking Heads

Early Talking Heads from TALKING HEADS: 77 . They had three albums in the last three years of the 70s, More Songs About Building and Food 1978, featuring the cover "Take Me to the River," and Fear of Music, 1979. Remain in the Light appeared in 1980.

Can't quite get over how wholesome they all look in this vid--Tina Weymouth with a bowl cut.
"Take me to the River,"

Byrne keeps a blog.

pre punk

Iggy Pop Lust for Life

Iggy on the CBC circa 1977
"I'm not that great..." "This is serious...I'm serious about what I do..."

Fred Wah

from Breathing My Name With a Sigh
are origins magnetic lines across an ocean
migrations of genetic spume or holes, dark
mysteries within which I carry further into the World
through blond and blue-eyed progeny father’s fathers
clan-name Wah from Canton east across the bridges
still or could it all be lateral craving hinted
in the bioplasmic cloud of simple other organism
as close as out under the apple tree?
Does time stick to poetry? Time and place? Lines like windy afternoons in cities, swirling with the daily wash of print. Naive enough perhaps, I am wondering what places this or that poem in the 70s. How the bump and grind of other dialogs is unearthed in the sediment of words. And loving the idea of this early Fred Wah, his lyric voice stitching time, or at least, looking into the vortex:
lines co lure added up into placed
numbers games matrices objects such as trees
designs parents children thinking
all about it all the time you believe
it’s mother but you you’re the one
indexed here too thought up by living
at once feeling the ten commandments
part of the mountain or father caught
into the typology stuck with the gender
listed calendar birthday interstitched
I thought world and the beauty of language
as a system too to reinforce the continual
build-up and impression on the life of itself
so at any point it knows there are those three
as well as itself plus objects as voices
texture too fits in the right spot
You can find the entire poem online. And an essay by Shane Rhodes on the poem here.

I also love Wah's Pictograms from the Interior of BC. Gary Barwin recently posted on them.
Caloplaca is lichen, that yes, seem as though they might be able to bubble up off of rocks and lift into the air. How like an ocean floor earth can seem. Even dry as a bone up in the rockies or wet (or once was wet) on the west coast: everything clinging in the air and if you squint, mushrooms like jelly fish floating and silky in currents. in the air

(But not over on Harriet.)

Never enough for's John Paul Young from 1978 and perhaps it takes the cheese prize. I'll take the cheese prize, why not. I watched Strictly Ballroom again last night--I love the broad strokes in this instance. And I couldn't help watching it as an allegory for the poetry world. NO NEW STEPS! If you can't dance the steps you can't teach them...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


We are the robots...from 1977
here's a wacky video for Das Modell

and how about a little Radioactivity

Sunday, August 23, 2009

jonathan livingston seagull

I saw the movie at a "drive in" in Nelson, British Columbia, circa 1974. I doubt that the drive-in is still there, but driving to it, along Kootenay Lake from Kaslo in a friend's mother's Datsun--a novelty car at the time--was probably better than the movie (though probably not the popcorn).

Later I had a teacher, a sort of straightened-up hippie who was a Richard Bach fanatic. He took it all very seriously, the Bach thing, but ultimately he was a total misanthropist whose only dream seemed to be of flying off the grid. He wrote parodies of the school administration and refused to teach creative writing, allowing us to use the period as a study hour, or reading hour, or whatever, unless we actually wrote something at which point he read it and we talked. He brought in books like Illusions, another big selling Bach book, and the even schmaltzier There's No Such Place As Far Away (1979), though come to think of it, I don't believe he actually shared these with the general student population. As far as I know he achieved his dream in the early 80s, disappearing on a boat into the Pacific. I like to think of him there in any case.

On the other hand, he was NOT a fan of Rod Mckuen. No, not at all. In fact he had great taste in poetry (go figure). He was a big fan of Latin American political poetry and introduced me to Jose Marti among others. He was also a big fan of DTUC, which later become the Kootenay School of Writing and introduced me to living breathing Canadian poets (bp Nichol, the Four Horsemen, Atwood, Ondaatje, P.K. Page) through poetry magazines. Not sure how he knew them (the poets I mean), but there were a lot of hippies in the Kootenays then, a lot of American draft dodgers in the small towns I moved in and out of. A lot of folks hiding out, trying to get off the grid, but not really wanting to give up the fight. A lot of folks with oddly contrasting influences and politics.

Robert Bly

Driving West in 1970

by Robert Bly
My dear children, do you remember the morning
When we climbed into the old Plymouth
And drove west straight toward the Pacific?

We were all the people there were.
We followed Dylan's songs all the way west.
It was Seventy; the war was over, almost;

And we were driving to the sea.
We had closed the farm, tucked in
The flap, and were eating the honey

Of distance and the word "there."
Oh whee, we're gonna fly
Down into the easy chair. We sang that

Over and over. That's what the early
Seventies were like. We weren't afraid.
And a hole had opened in the world.

find the entire poem over at Poetry Foundation

Nicholson, Nicholson, Nicholson

1970 Five Easy Pieces

1974 Chinatown

1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

1975 The Who's Tommy

1976 The Last Tycoon

70s Canadian Classics


And from 1971, a little on the sweet side, and apologies for the video quality.

April Wine
Bad Side of the Moon or Could have been a lady...

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Edwin Starr, 1970

Catch 22

Woody Allen, Manhattan, 1979

Art Gallery scene

Caroline Schneemann

See Meat Joy and Fuses, both from the 60s, over at the incredible


Ain't Life a Brook


Before there was Ani diFranco there was Ferron, out of Vancouver. But I checked with Ferron and yes, much of Testimony was written in the late 70s. The documentary Girl on a Road which begins to take account of Ferron's life and work, appeared this year. She is now in Michigan though still of course, very much tied to Vancouver and the Gulf Islands. She has a small music festival now, hence the film above. She has been touring with Bitch these days.

It was Shadows on a Dime that put Ferron on the map.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

glam rock

Which Elton John song to feature? Which album? There were so many. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road stands out for me--I was barely double-digits and relying on my sisters for music. One was into glam rock, one into pretty/soft rock. "Bennie and the Jets" below from a live concert circa 1976 was a total mystery, as was Bernie Taupin (I think he still is, but check out his blog here).
Elton on the Cher show

Not quite 70s...close (a few months shy) Here's Major Tom.

Again, it's ridiculous to try and pick a Bowie from the 70s...he was the 70s...hit after hit, and all that morphing of identity.
Here's a strange little clip of Bowie and Warhol

Did you read Future Shock?

Orson Welles on Toffler's Future Shock, 1972

Grace Jones, Klaus Nomi, Nina Hagen

Grace Jones, recently covering her 1975 hit

Klaus Nomi

and Nina

(technically from 1980) And thanks for the link Vanessa Place.

Steve McCaffery

Several people have suggested Steve McCaffery's Carnival, Second Panel 1970-1975, on the Coach House archive. An amazing resource, as all things Coach House are. For me, the must have is Seven Pages Missing, the two-volume collected, a formidable publication. You can read a discussion of this text by Christine Stewart and T. Byrne over at Poetic Front. You will find Every Way Oakly in Volume 1, but you can also find it newly released from BookThug:
Every Way Oakly is Steve McCaffery's homolinguistic translation of Gertrude Stein's monumental Tender Buttons. Originally published in an edition of 100 copies (for a class at the University of Alberta in 1976) and issued, as a photocopy, on letter-sized sheets stapled along the spine, it has long been unavailable.
I really, really, really wanted to include some of this in Open Field, but it just didn't work out. Next time. Meanwhile, here's one of my favorites. McCaffery's version first, Stein's following.

a method of a cloak

perhaps you should read the
poem poem poem backwards reverse
the descent to where the top
forms a beginning as
your end so that

you end as you are start in
a swapped limp to the edge of

margins margins.

margins to jump or

to look at the time

loc locating its mechanics in
locating the atmosphere

resign and win

(these words are (these words are clouds'

in a met in a metallic midnight.


A single climb to a line, a straight exchange to a cane, a desperate adventure and courage and a clock, all this which is a system, which has feeling, which has resignation and success, all makes an attractive black silver.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Extreme Shepherding

Um, beat that:

Couldn't resist...thanks Ms. Place

Andy Warhold Adverts


Braniff Airlines

Sneaking this in, it's 1985
Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, and computerized drawing...

rhythm and repitition

Here's Steve Reich, who won a Pulitzer this year. You can download Music for 18 Musicians, which premiered in 1976, from his website.
Nibelung Zeppelin

Brian Eno's Ambient Music for Airports appeared in 1978

Here's an interview with Eno

Ubu has an amazing video from Brian Eno, it's from the early 80s.

Richard Serra

Surprise Attack, 1973

Armand Schwerner

"My favourite 70s poems are those sections of The Tablets that Armand Schwerner wrote during the 70s. I don't know if they would be "classic 70s" because they have nothing to do with the 70s. But I can think of no modern poems that better harness the strangeness of writing from times and cultures which regarded words as things that possessed true power."
-- Jonathan Ball (via email)

Here's a snippet of a poem gleamed from a review by Norman Finkelstein over at Jacket.
Consider the opening lines of Tablet VIII:
go into all the places you're frightened of
and forget why you came, like the dead

what should I look for?
what should I do? where?
aside from you, great Foosh,
who is my friend? a little stone,
a lot of dirt, a terrible headache
and more than enough worry about my grave. Hogs
will swill and shit on me, men
will abuse me (29)
Hear Armand Schwerner read over at Penn Sound.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Whatever happen to Redbone?

Redbone. Come and Get your love was in the top ten in 1974.

Here's an original version. Better but can't embed.

Days of Heaven, 1978

Best voice over ever

70s classics, the poet boys

Dylan, bien sur.


John Thompson, 1977

So far, two Canadian poets--Phyllis Webb and John Thompson--have made the ghazal, a Persian and/or Urdu form of poetry consisting of couplets (rhymed in one version not in another), their own. Many of Thompson's lines inscribe themselves: "Yeats. Yeats. Yeats. Yeats./Why wouldn't the man shut up?" Both poets take the personal dialog with the other, with the beloved, to very interesting places. In Thompson's case a bloody interrogation. Yvonne Blommer offers an insightful reading of Thompson's Ghazal XXI over at Arc. The ghazals that make up Stilt Jack have been referred to as a long suicide note: all 38 apparently written while on sabbatical in Toronto shortly before he died, at just 38. Stilt Jack was only his second book of poetry. I know little of Thompson other than those 38 ghazals, a bit of essential reading for Canadian poets I think. Fraser Sutherland however, seems to know a little more:
John Thompson's death and work is the stuff of legend, or at least of heady anecdote. These days professors, too busy fighting sexual harassment cases, don't usually indulge in drunk driving-or at least aren't caught much. Nor do they typically stab hunting knives into tavern tables or randomly fire off shotguns. Thompson did such things, and his publicized rows with Mount A.'s administration were only matched by the devotion he inspired in his friends, students, and colleagues. The last two days of his life were spent drinking with students, drying out in the Sackville jail, and visiting a fellow poet. As a permanent division of labour this was plainly untenable.
Ah the ill-mannered, swaggering, ruggedly handsome, egotistical poet. We can't resist them can we? Well, I can resist that personality, but when the poetry matches it in terms of the rawness, the ability to go the edge of the form, or content, then while I might not swoon, I do stand at attention. It's rarely the case however, that the ego matches the work, or rather the work matches the ego.


Now you have burned your books, you'll go with nothing.
A heart.

The world is full of the grandeur,
and it is.

Perfection of tables: crooked grains;
and all this talk: this folly of tongues.

Too many stories: yes, and
high talk: the exact curve of the thing.

Sweetness and lies: the hook, grey deadly bait,
a wind and water to kill cedar, idle men, the innocent

not love, and hard eyes
over the cold,

not love (eyes, hands, hands, arm)
given, taken, to the marrow;

(the grand joke: le mot juste:
forget it; remember):

Walking is all: readiness:
you are watching;

I'll learn by going:
Sleave-silk flies; the kindly ones.

Someone in New Brunswick is busy stenciling lines of poems on the it.

More lines I couldn't resist. Such couplets. Oh, if poets would attend to the couplet.

From XXV

In a dark wood,
and you in a strange bed.


The blood at night sounds
with your swimming.

From VI

I want to cut myself off. Bone says:
I'll dance with you and you with me.


I'm waiting for Janis Joplin: why,
why is it so dark?

I've just learned that Arc Poetry Magazine out of Ottawa has devoted its summer issue to Thompson. Well now. Very much looking forward to that. Particularly Rob Winger's thoughts.

Janis Joplin, 1969

Summertime. You have to wait about 58 seconds....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bergman's Bodies

Maude 1972

It's not a dirty word you think about that.

Simone de Beauvoir

Thus we must view the facts of biology in the light of an ontological, economic, social, and psychological context. The enslavement of the female to the species and the limitations of her various powers are extremely important facts; the body of woman is one of the essential elements in her situation in the world. But that body is not enough to define her as woman; there is no true living reality except as manifested by the conscious individual through activities and in the bosom of a society. Biology is not enough to give an answer to the question that is before us: why is woman the Other? Our task is to discover how the nature of woman has been affected throughout the course of history; we are concerned to find out what humanity has made of the human female. --The Second Sex
Simone de Beauvoir, feminist or not feminist?
It was not until the 1970s that Simone de Beauvoir publicly defined herself as a feminist. In an interview with Alice Schwarzer in 1972, she explains what has lead her to become 'une militante féministe'. Before 1970, according to Beauvoir, feminism was reformist and legalist, whereas the new feminism is radical. By 1972, she has adopted the slogan of Italian feminists: 'Pas de révolution sans émancipation de la femme, pas d'émancipation de la femme sans révolution' (Schwarzer 1984, 47).
For more musing on this question follow the link. Or listen to de Beauvoir below.

All About The Body

The Laugh of Medusa, 1975
I shall speak about women's writing: about what it will do. Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies -- for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Women must put herself into the text -- as into the world and into history -- by her own movement
I write this as a woman, towards women. When I say 'woman', I'm speaking of woman in her inevitable struggle against conventional man; and of a universal woman subject who must bring women to their senses and to their meaning in history. But first it must be said that in spite of the enormity of the repression that has kept them in the 'dark' -- that dark which people have been trying to make them accept as their attribute -- there is, at this time, no general woman, no one typical woman. What they have in common I will say. But what strikes me is the infinite richness of their individual constitutions: you can't talk about a female sexuality, uniform, homogeneous, classifiable into codes -- any more than you can talk about one unconscious resembling another. Women's imaginary is inexhaustible, like music, painting, writing: their stream of phantasms is incredible.

The Divas: Aretha, Patti, Thelma, Maxine

Aretha. Released in 1967, but this is the 70s to me, so here we go.

Patti Labelle, 1975

Don't let go...

Maxine Nightingale

Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands

A Woman Under the Influence, 1974

Opening Night, 1977

Adrienne Rich, the wreck and not the story of the wreck, the thing itself

Chris Hutchinson chooses Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972, Adrienne Rich, W. W. Norton, Norton, 1973
First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.
For the entire poem, and to hear Anne Waldman read it visit the Poetry Foundation.

Adrienne Rich reading

A response to Rich

Carol Dorf on Rich
First, and foremost both of these writers (Grahn and Rich) are coming out of a political context, that of the feminist movement which was the primary social movement of the 70s and 80s (not that the anti-war and black power movements weren't still significant forces; but by and large the creative energies of that period were tied to the feminist movement). I'll focus on Rich's book The Dream of a Common Language. The first poem of the book is called "Power," and like many of the poems it ties in the life of a feminist forebearer, Marie Curie, to the struggle for women to find a common language to encompass their experience. At the same time, she critiques the denial she sees in Curie's approach to power:
She died ... denying
her wounds came from the same source of her power.
In the long poem "Natural Resources," Rich connects environmental struggles to the feminist project. The poem connects the reader to another set of forebearers -- the workers who make use of the earth's resources. Later in the poem, Rich writes,
There are words I cannot choose again:
humanism androgyny
Such words have no shame in them, no diffidence
before the raging stoic grandmothers:
(section 13)
Then she concludes this 14 part poem
My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
Rich connects the poet to all of those "grandmothers" who take on the work to "reconstitute the world."

The 70s radicalism of Rich's position is based in her contextualizing the work of poetry along with other work. I see this as a rejection of the romantization of the role of the poet, as a person with an extraordinary sensibility.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I've got a brand new key

This song was a hit in the early 70s. One of many strange and wonderful novelty hits that made the decade entirely least for inquiring young minds. Here is a much older Melanie singing her hit now, if you are so inclined. Otherwise, thanks to Katherine Parrish for this version:

Anti-cable ad

"Don't let the monster into your living room..."

Haorld & Maude, 1971

Before there was Wes Anderson, or Rushmore, there was Hal Ashby's Harold & Maude. I knew a law student who had seen the movie 27 times. We watched it together once. Here it is in 90 seconds.


Oh, having a lot of fun with this. And the timing seems good. Just discovered this amazing folio of hitchhikers from the early 1970s over at Walrus. Must see.

Judy Grahn

"A woman is talking to death," by Judy Grahn
Testimony in trials that never got heard

my lovers teeth are white geese flying above me
my lovers muscles are rope ladders under my hands

we were driving home slow
my lover and I, across the long Bay Bridge,
one February midnight, when midway
over in the far left lane, I saw a strange scene:

on small young man standing by the rail,
and in the lane itself, parked straight across
as if it could stop anything, a large young
man upon a stalled motorcycle, perfectly
relaxed as if he'd stopped at a hamburger stand;
he was wearing a peacoat and levis, and
he had his head back, roaring, you
could almost hear the laugh, it
was so real.

"Look at that fool," I said, "in the
middle of bridge like that," a very
womanly remark.

Then we heard the meaning of the noise
of metal on a concrete bridge at 50
miles an hour, and the far left lane
filled up with a big car that had a
motorcycle jammed on its front bumper...
Published in 1977, Diana Press, Distributed by Crossing Press (Oakland, Calif, Trumansburg, N.Y). The text can be downloaded here or here. Several people from the Women's Poetry Listserv suggested Grahn. This certainly embodies a moment.

Here's Honor Moore who recently edited Poems from the Women's Movement
At first it seemed that New York City in 1970 had no room for personal poems by privileged white women like me. The women's movement I tracked down was heavily influenced by the left politics I was familiar with, protesting racism, the war in Vietnam, inequity of rich and poor, all of which, women's liberation now declared, were consequences of male supremacy and patriarchy. Fulfilling the pledge I'd made when I quit graduate school, I took to the streets, and one day, hearing that the radical newspaper Rat had been taken over by a cadre of women guided by WITCH (the Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell), of which Robin Morgan was a founder, I visited its offices on East 14th Street. There I found a book by the black poet Sonia Sanchez, whose fierce lyrics startled me with their directness and intimacy. It was there too, in the first woman-produced issue of Rat, that I read "Goodbye to All That," Robin Morgan's declaration of independence from the male left, its title borrowed from Robert Graves' 1929 anti-war memoir. Defending in polemic the takeover of a paper whose radicalism was compromised, she declared, by the pornography that drenched its pages, Morgan took on the sexism of the radical men for whom she and so many movement women had fetched coffee and typed flyers. "Sexism is not the fault of women—kill your fathers, not your mothers," she wrote. Goodbye to all that indeed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Al Green & Marvin Gaye

Oh my god, I adore Al Green... Yes, Tina did it in the 80s, but just let the original marinate a bit. It's from 1971.

Don't give up or adjust the dial on the Marvin Gaye below: the silence in the beginning of this is intentional. I think Michael learned a thing or two from Marvin. This is 1973
Marvin Gaye - Heard it through the Grapevine

I have no idea where that video came from, but wow.
Here's a live 1980 version with back up band:

and of course,

I've changed this last video several times--the footage of Gaye doing that song isn't great. By 1980 he doesn't seem to be hearing the words, and of course he died in 1984, shot by his father. Would love to see something written about Gaye. Something that rises to challenge that is, because clearly there was a lot going on.

Phyllis Webb

I have just acquired a copy of Phyllis Webb's Wilson's Bowl.

Selections from "Letters To Margaret Atwood"
Peggy they say yours is an 'astonishingly cruel talent" and that you have very little love for anything. They are wrong...

Dear Peggy: I have news for you. The Stone Angels are crumbling in the cemetery. The Ice Virgins melted last year and became a deep pool of rainbow trout which they are trying very hard to love...

Peggy: Sometimes I hear you screaming between the paragraphs and poems. That doesn't really bother me. Screams should be heard and not seen...
And from "The Bowl"
This is not a bowl you drink from
not a loving cup
This is meditation's place
cold rapture's.
Moon floats here
belly, mouth, open one-eye
any orifice
comes to nothing...
You can find a copy of the original broadside printed by Oolichan Books, Lantzville (Hi Ron!). The poems of Webb's that I'm most familiar with don't come until the mid-80s. Particularly the ghazals, or anti-ghazals as she called them:

I watch the pile of cards grow.
I semaphore for help (calling the stone-dead John Thompson).

A mist in the harbour. Hydrangea bloom turns ink.
A game of badminton, shuttlecock, hitting at feathers!

My family is the circumstance I cannot dance with.
At Banff I danced in black, so crazy, the young man insisting.

Four or five couplets trying to dance
into Persia. Who dances in Persia now?

A magic carpet, a prayer mat, red.
A knocked off head of somebody on his broken knees.

Phyllis Webb, from Water & Light

The 70s was in fact a decade that saw only the publication of a collected, but what seems to have been happening during that time is a relocation and shifting. A move to the west? A movement toward poetry's sister art. Well, I have my reading cut out for me, and hoping that you do to, which is why I offer this taste of Webb today.

Here is an annotated lecture on Webb, bare bones indeed, but useful, and here is a link to Phyllis Webb and the Common Good: Poetry/Anarchy/Abstraction, Talon Books, by Stephen Collis, recently published and on my list of books to read. An interesting discussion by Pauline Butling in Seeing in the dark: the poetry of Phyllis Webb, in which she explores the possible reasons for Webb's lack of critical reception, a lack of "egotistical self," a lack of "individualism" and other essentialist epithets. Sadly I don't have Butling's book and need to find it.

There is an essay by Liza Potvin online that traces Webb's developing feminism:
Once she dismissed Buddhism and any notion of a transcendent truth, Webb severed all attachment to organized religion:

My antagonism toward conventional religions of all kinds is focussed on the patriarchal structure. I don't want to become more involved with that, thank you. I want to become less involved. (Wachtel 13)

Webb next shifted her allegiance to feminism, which seems to have replaced religion for her; she states that she was "intuitively" a feminist as early as the 1950s:

But I never questioned the patriarchal order when I was at the beginning of my writing life. I was surrounded by all these super-brilliant men and they allowed me in. It didn't feel sexist at the time. But now when I look back on the way that the history of Canadian literature has been written, it's been documented mainly by Frank Scott and A.J.M. Smith themselves and they have created their own little history . . . I lost my father through divorce at an early age so I gravitated to men, to fatherly figures. (Wachtel 13-14)

The reader of Webb's poetry sees her gradually shedding her privileged position in the patriarchal world, needing the approval of fatherly figures less and less. The move away from fatherly literary figures is paralleled by Webb's loss of interest in God the Father, described in her poetry as a kind of death.

I also found this little bit of trivia:
In 1982, because Wilson's Bowl (1980) had failed to win even a nomination for the Governor General's Award, a group of poets led by Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, bpNichol, and P.K. Page, collected $2,300 which they sent to Webb, stating that "this gesture is a response to your whole body of work as well as to your presence as a touchstone of true good writing in Canada, which we all know is beyond awards and prizes. --John F. Hulcoop.
Finally I have to post part two of this interview Webb did with Nichol and bill bisset--looks more like 60s--and who knew Webb was so hot? My god. They're all compelling, yes. Fresh faced boys. Here is part one (thanks to Peter Culley). Oh, and apparently one needed to smoke in order to write...or move for that matter.

Ntozake Shange

For colored girls debuted in 1975.
here is Shange reading in 1978

and here is Shange now

The show is up in Atlanta now.

Chomsky and Foucault

Human Nature: Justice versus Power, 1971

and more recently, Ali G interviews Chomsky

Friday, August 14, 2009

And you may ask yourself....

Technically from 1980, and for the purists, here they are performing this song in Berlin, 1980 (it's not great). There will be more Talking Heads later.

Once again, thanks to UbuWeb we can hear early Laurie Anderson including "Two Songs for Tape Bow Violin" (1977), and "Is Anybody Home" (1976).

Here's a piece from From The Kitchen Presents Two Moon July (1986)

Christopher Dewdney

Fovea Centralis, 1975

'In this particular thought sequence (reading up with time) the flowerhead of realization is preceded by tentative symmetrical idea-tendrils. The form coincides exactly with that of a Devonian species of Crinoid.
'Remote control is a linear paranoia tracing the absolute-event- horizon of omniscience. Remote control is singularity worshiping at the pagan altar of Fovea Centralis. Remote control is the incisionary instrument of a parasitic secret society in the violated memories of unwilling prisoners. Fear runs fast in still waters.' - Christopher Dewdney

The word “flux” comes up often in descriptions of Dewdney’s work, as do “fossil” and “memory.” Dewdney explores multiple binaries, positioning himself in various gaps between science and art, nature and culture, being and non-being or “defined” and “undefined” (or perhaps undescribed) spaces, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, spaces where stillness and chaos exist simultaneously. Karl E. Jirgins describes Dewdney’s writing as “a grid or network of intersections between worlds and words.” As a scientist he is interested in disseminating useful knowledge, fostering public interest in science, and continuing to research and engage in the world around him, but as an artist he is more interested in “perception” than “logic”; and in probability rather than certainty, favoring composition by association. These “contradictory tensions,” as poet Christian Bök points out, also shed light on the chasm between the “romantic tradition that depicts nature as a pantheistic avatar of a benevolent deity” and “the scientific tradition that depicts nature as a subdivisible continuum of objective phenomena.” These tensions are inviting and alienating, pragmatic and wildly innovative. They may also partly explain the comparisons by Steve McCaffery and Bök, to William Blake, Yeats, and Jack Spicer, in terms of his shamanic, visionary, and projective work.In order to achieve his goal of scribe to the natural world, Dewdney invented poetic structures that engage him in every aspect of production, including design. This process began in 1971 with the self-produced Golders Green published with Coach House Press. A Paleozoic Geology of London, Ontario: Poems and Collages (1973), which he also designed, won him an Award of Excellence for design. Foavea Centralis (1975) was written in a stream of consciousness, illustrating Dewdney’s intuitive sense of poetry. The first of the natural histories, Spring Trances in the Control Emerald Night (1978), established the erotic, primal landscape conflating the present with what be seen as a continuous past. Prefaced with an account of the inside of a tornado, this text foregrounded Dewdney’s roll as witness/poet. Alter Sublime (1980) focuses more on language and discourse, suggesting, as Darren Wershler Henry has pointed out, that Dewdney is a “data harvester”, and his skill at harvesting, or selecting material, is what reflects the quality of the text.

The second natural history, The Cenozoic Asylum (1982), contained “Grid Erectile”, one of Dewdney’s best-known poems, a random, scientific catalogue with the repetitive, mantra-like quality of Ginsberg’s “Howl”. Dewdney’s major work, Predators of the Adoration: Selected Poems, 1972-1982, a finalist for a Governor General’s Award for poetry contained the first two natural histories and the series “After Sublime” as well as introducing readers to the epistemological and fragmented “Log Entries”, as well as the “Remote Control” series. A preface by Dewdney and an afterward by Stan Dragland provide biographical and critical context. Permugenesis: A Recombinant Text (1987)—while not published as part of the natural history—continued to explore similar themes in a lyrical prose style similar to the first two natural histories. Radiant Inventory (1988) is a mix of prose and more lyric poems. In 1991 Concordat Proviso Ascendant, the third book of the natural history was published. Demon Pond (1994), marked a shift to a more accessible and familiar erotic lyric, followed up in Signal Fires (2000), a collection that also contained the final two books of the natural history. ECW Press published The Natural History in 2002, bringing together all four books for the first time. Critics have hailed this book as a Canadian Paterson. The work is an erotic pastoral as much as an epic love poem, or adoration—an undertaking for which Dewdney is uniquely suited, and which with its blend of history and myth, technical and poetic language, is significant not only in the tradition of the long poem, but the field of Canadian poetry.
From "The Cenozoic Asylum"

Wooden alveoli erect and fragile
in the rarefied air of October, leaves
frosted-glass,rock chapel orange and red.
The sky no longer enclosing us. The sound
Of a distant airplane blossoming into clarity
and not enclosed. Eels pulled from
the canal. Even the planets are motile,
hoary with diamonds above the chiming
sunset. She swims alone and naked
in a clear October lake. A white building
stands free and O the spirits look dimly
out from there.

A light Modigliani orange as June evenings
are a pastel rainbow of dreams and mercury
vapour lamps,like giant mantids, just
coming on over the shopping plaza.
The violet and pink light setting tanned
skin aglow.Each muscle a new surrender.
The quiet village streets technologized
by our telephoto insignia,lush nightfall
still after a summer shower. The expectant
interglacial period gardens, their scale-speed
hierarchies squandered by darkness. Stars
arbitrate the carnivorous writhing
of cycads.

Here's Dewdney reading one of my favorite list poems

70s Environmentalism

These early 70s Public Service Ads featured Iron Eyes Cody.

On horseback with a more positive note

Sugar Bear cares about air pollution

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bernadette Mayer

Bernadette Mayer
[Sonnet] You jerk you didn't call me up

You jerk you didn't call me up
I haven't seen you in so long
You probably have a fucking tan
& besides that instead of making love tonight
You're drinking your parents to the airport
I'm through with you bourgeois boys
All you ever do is go back to ancestral comforts
Only money can get—even Catullus was rich but...
For the entire sonnet check out Mayer at the Poetry Foundation website.
Reading at the Ear Inn, 1979

Anne Boyer recommends:
Eruditio Ex Memoria, Lenox, MA: Angel Hair, 1977.