Sean Bonney | Anna Mendelssohn—”Minds do exist to agitate and provoke / this is the reason I do not conform”

  If you want to find good poetry written in Britain, you have to go looking for it: with very few exceptions, it is hidden away behind a poetry of more or less genteel self-expression, metrical sentimentalities and easily digested liberal homilies that are essentially reports on police reality. But there is a vast seem of artistically and politically complex poetry also being written here, and Anna Mendelssohn, who sometimes also published under the name Grace Lake, wrote some of the best. It is chaotic, at times manic and compulsive, by turns mocking and playful, hurt and exasperated, and always…

Julian Murphet | “Wide as Targes Let Them Be,” or, How a Poem Is a Barricade

  The commons are what capitalism has always been committed to enclosing within its apparatus of accumulation.1 On their violently vacated place arise the motley privacies of individual contracts, rents, factories, banks, police, and all the interrelated paraphernalia of capital’s machinery of valuation and surplus. The commons themselves cannot be valued—they are beyond, prior to, value. Common land, common air, common water; but also, horticulture, animal husbandry, grain storage. The collective practices developed over millennia to harness the resources of our planet, and maximize human potentiality, form a sometimes vicious, sometimes virtuous feedback loop with the commons and dynamize their…

Ruth Jennison | “A Whole New Set of Stars”: Poetics and Revolutionary Consciousness

  Current political conditions and conjunctures are making possible a serious reconsideration of the histories, forms, and political urgencies of twentieth and twenty-first century, left anti-capitalist poetry. The end of the Cold War has been registered in transformations of poetry and the scholarly work that attends to it at what can only be described as a glacial pace. Part of this is generational—Marxists are only beginning to repopulate the universities from which they were expelled during the McCarthyism that has re-branded itself as liberal hegemony. Likewise, poetry, so long kept restricted to the hermeticism of New Criticism, and taught largely…

Sean Bonney | Notes on Baudelaire

      “I will get a map of London to see where Hackney is” – Ed Dorn “. . . left the ruins, climbed out from under the white stones” – Amiri Baraka     (((1))) — think ghost shit as a set of rooftops imposed on other systems of twitching in public. our language is also that debased. think cancer as radical nostalgia for legitimate ruins like the letter I.     (((2))) — or put it this way – the coiled voice interferes, & by the fourth day colonies of brightly flourescent cells can be seen gathering…

Sean Bonney | Poems after Katerina Gogou

        Dear Katerina, Yes I know, things are bad for us all these days. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve disappeared over the past few months. There’s an uneasy nausea settled into the basic awareness of, well, everything. Its not even the news or the weather. Even the raw evidence of our senses – sounds of machinery outside the window, smell of diesel and gas, the elevated railway, bird-song etc – has become sinister. The sunset is a warning. The ticking of the clock a threat. Everything has combined into a pitched malevolent force…

Best Books of 2019

    Miyó Vestrini | Grenade in Mouth Those who write are not even of a race. Nor a caste. Nor a class. Nor are they one. They ruin the point of living, like women in a world of science. Behind thick lenses, the court is never dull. They have all privileges: from philosophy up to anger, passing through conjugal relations, and the length of the paragraphs. Between the rights of man it is figured that the writer should write largely for himself first, then for the others, with a purpose well or poorly defined: to flood the window displays,…

Sean Bonney | Heroes

  Heroes 1. Mustapha Khayati, I got a question. When you were writing your dictionary, did you have any sense which words might be snitches and which might be scabs. While the Eiffel Tower continues to mean what it does, sending out signals no-one could ever translate, these questions continue to matter. Mustapha Khayati, say something. Fascism does what it does without a need for language. 2. Jean Genet, if alive today, would be somewhere at the bottom of the ocean, entwined with all the other human bones. No-one would say his name. His fingerprints would be stored in an…

Lyn Hejinian | From ‘Positions of the Sun’

The book pivots around the disorientation of the “aesthetics of minutiae, with their promise of infinitude”; a pointed and inconclusive protest against an “awareness of orders of magnitude that include atrocity, war, capitalism , and perhaps—though it may be mortality’s saving grade—death.”

riots and/or poetics [10/2019]

TRILCE XXVII    That flood frightens me, / good memory, strong sir, implacable / cruel sweetness. It frightens me. / This house does me complete good, complete / place for this not knowing where to be. // Let’s not go in. It frightens me, this favour / of returning by minutes, by blown up bridges. / I’m not going ahead, sweet sir, / brave memory, sad / singing skeleton. // What content, of this haunted house, / gives me deaths by mercury, and blocks / with lead my conduits / to sheer reality. // The flood that doesn’t know how…

riots and/or poetics [8/2019]

The exact link is uncertain. But we know the Nazis loved / America; Hitler yearned to paint a twin, // a green room where the dead are everywhere. / Asked Abraham before the flame, to the obedient tribe // What are these statues you cling to? // Why calico, why Spanish moss, why the crickets scream. / Confederates raise the undead everywhere. // In a segregated graveyard, no stone reads / private or public; the local jail is everywhere. // Before another body is buried, a window is broken. / A window was broken. The window is broken. // I look everywhere for Fanon’s knife, waiting for…

Sean Bonney | Letters Against the Firmament

  I haven’t written for a while, I know. There’s not been much to write about, or maybe, if there has been I haven’t seen it. That’s leaving aside, of course, the royal birth, the jubilee pageants and the olympics, that inbred panegyric. Christ, I’ve really felt the wings of imbecility passing over me lately, over all of us. Its as if the ruling class, sheer power, whatever you want to call it, whatever it’s local franchise likes to call itself, had, via some kind of sadistic alchemy, taken the moment (around 2 in the afternoon) on 27th March 2011…

Two Poets — Ida Börjel & Amiri Baraka

Ida Börjel is one of the most striking voices in contemporary poetry. Each of her much-praised and awarded collections forms a cohesively and rigoursly composed whole that is always rooted in extensive research and a strong thematic principle. Her collection “Miximum Ca’Canny; the Sabotage Manuals“ appears to be both a practical handbook and a philosophical study of the various ways the language of power and authority can be sabotaged, a recurring theme in Börjel’s poetry.

riots and/or poetics [8/2018]

“he is as a neighborhood beauty queen / lauded with ribbons and canes / and with his lapdogs / who lick at the rottenness / seated at the right side / of mama democracy / he dialogues long / with the mouth of a murderer. / he raises his hand in that sustained and easy style / wiggles his fat ass / and with the boyish brilliance of an ephebe / he shits in the country / with all his soul“ Roberto Jorge Santoro | POETRY IN GENERAL (II)   Manson & Mendoza; Windsuckers & Onsetters: Sonnots for Griffiths Andrea…

Two Poets — Anna Mendelssohn & Miyó Vestrini

  Anna Mendelssohn Anna Mendelssohn, also known as Grace Lake, who has died aged 61 of a brain tumour, was principally a poet, and a poet like no other, but was also a painter, musician, actor and, earlier in her life, a political activist. She came from what she described as “a very strict working-class socialistic Jewish background” in Stockport, Cheshire. But what impelled her throughout her life was a 1960s spirit of radical revolt. At first it was political but, after a great turning point in her life, it was artistic. She was educated at Stockport high school and…

Two Poets — Ed Dorn & Sean Bonney

Ed Dorn “He knew that just to wake up in the morning is to be political.“ Jennifer Dunbar “No poet has been more painfully, movingly, political“, writes Robert Creeley: “the range and explicit register of Ed Dorn’s ability to feel how it actually is to be human, in a given place and time, is phenomenal.“ “Ed Dorn (1929-1999) was born and grew up in Eastern Illinois, on the banks of the river Embarrass (a tributary of the Wabash). He never knew his father. His mother was of French-Canadian ancestry, his maternal grandfather a half-Indian Quebecois railroad man (“master pipefitter in…

Sean Bonney | COMETS & BARRICADES: INSURRECTIONARY IMAGINATION IN EXILE

  Sean Bonney | COMETS & BARRICADES: INSURRECTIONARY IMAGINATION IN EXILE Let every word indicate the most frightening of distances, it would still take billions of centuries, talking at one word per second, to express a distance which is only an insignificance when it comes to infinity. ¹ Louis Auguste Blanqui; Eternity by the Stars Imprisoned on the day before the declaration of the Paris Commune, in a cell in the Fort du Taureau, ‘an ellipse-shaped fortified island lying half a mile outside of the rock shores of Morlaix at a place where, after briefly morphing into the English Channel, the…

Sean Bonney | Notes on Militant Poetics

  Notes on Militant Poetics 1/3 “There is a zone of nonbeing, an extraordinarily sterile and arid region, an utterly naked declivity when an authentic upheaval can be born . . . . (a) descent into a real hell” (Fanon) “Truth content becomes negative. [Poems] imitate a language beneath the helpless language of human beings: it is that of the dead speaking of stones and stars” (Adorno) The Situationists called poetry the “anti-matter of consumer society”, a fairly questionable claim, but one that is at least expressive of the chasm that operates between official reality’s definitions of poetry and those…

riots and/or poetics [6/2018]

“[…] But here: distillation, composition, narrow-mindedness; and the oppressive summers: the heat isn’t without respite, but given that good weather is in everyone’s interests, and that everyone is a pig, I hate how summer kills me when it appears even briefly. […] The worst is that all of this will bother you as much as it will. It seems for the best that you read and walk as much as possible. Reason enough not to remain confined to offices and homes. Mindlessnesses must be given free reign, far from confinement. I am not about to be selling balm, but I imagine…

Sean Bonney | Our Death

  Our Death / Abject 2 (after Baudelaire) Great love, that will crush the human world, I wish we could do something to help each other. But today we are separated by so many tedious enemies. They smile at us all day long and ask us about our fever. What is there to say?  That “fever”,  in the way they pronounce it, isn’t much more than a weird reflection of their smile, which in itself is a symbol of their sense of rightness within the so-called world. But that we feel that the five characters that make up the word…

Best books of 2017

Nanni Balestrini; Blackout / Commune Editions Heriberto Yépez; Transnational Battle Field / Commune Editions Attila József; Liste freier Ideen / roughbooks Ursula Andkjaer Olsen; Third-Millennium Heart / Action Books / Broken Dimanche Press Sean Bonney; Ghosts / Materials Georges Didi-Huberman; Die Namenlosen zwischen Licht und Schatten / Fink Pierre Guyotat; In der Tiefe / diaphanes Aimé Césaire; The Complete Poetry of Aimé Césaire / Wesleyan University Press The Invisible Committee; Now / Semiotext(e) Mark Fisher; The Weird and the Eerie / Repeater François Dosse; Gilles Deleuze Félix Guattari / Turia + Kant Harun Farocki; Zehn, zwanzig, dreißig, vierzig. Fragment einer Autobiografie /…

READING LIST [08/2017]

Atlantic Drift; An Anthology of Poetry and Poetics Francois Dosse; Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari Maurizio Lazzarato; Marcel Duchamp and The Refusal of Work Bertolt Brecht; Arbeitsjournal Étienne Balibar; The Philosophy Of Marx Pier Paolo Pasolini; The Selected Poetry Of Pier Paolo Pasolini Pier Paolo Pasolini; Unter freiem Himmel Collected Works of Velimir Khlebnikov Sean Bonney; Letter Against the Firmament MÜTZE # 16 URS ENGELER (Robert Kelly, Jerome Rothenberg, et al.) Georg Baselitz, Alexander Kluge; Weltverändernder Zorn Ellen Meiksins Wood; Das Imperium des Kapitals