Sunday, 10 April 2016

Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg – one of the founding fathers of the Beat Movement and probably the most acclaimed American poet of his generation - in Ginsberg’s case, an introduction really seems superfluous.

His poetry, showcasing a radically different way of writing, was probably one of the first major influences of my own early writing attempts. Even today, his poems have retained their immense force. If you haven’t read it in a while – dig out that old battered copy of “Howl”. It is worth it - every time.


My below poem is a response to “Howl”.

~ - ~

Write The Internet

include them all
it’s a long list that you are writing
don’t let your white male middle-class background get in the way
start at the top, make your way down slowly:
aborigines abortionists absentees absolutists
abstinence teachers abusers academics
accountants accusers aces achievers
acid attackers acrobats activists
acupuncturists addicts administrators
your voice will finally speak for them all
like the longest comment thread in digital history
ultimate show case of Godwin’s law
are you lining them up for pure provocation?
are you fishing for fame with the click bait of case?
are you sucking them dry or ultimately blowing?
are you the white space background for all of our dreams?
the road has turned into a data highway
it runs past San Francisco now all around the world
I envy you still - just for trying
go, write the internet
I just don’t believe in it anymore

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll is unlike most of the other poets in Hoover’s anthology. The “unlikely poetry prodigy“ (The Guardian) who combined a punk rock career with poetry came to early fame through his autobiographical book The Basketball Diaries (1978). The story of a New York City high school basketball star whose heroin addiction leads him to homosexual hustling, also inspired the 1995 film of the same title, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Born to a working-class family of Irish descent in New York City in 1949, Carroll began writing poetry at the age of sixteen. This first collection of poems Organic Train was published in 1967. He went on the publish five more books before his early death in 2009.

In addition to his career as a poet he also worked as a musician and songwriter. His band’s 1981 album Catholic Boy is considered a significant punk record and the group’s hit single “People Who Died” was used in the sound track of numerous films throughout the 1980 up until today.

Occupying the position as “rock-and-roll poet” (Hoover) Carroll did not accumulate the usual honours received by many of the other poets in the anthology, yet he was one of few contemporary poets to cross over into the mainstream appearing repeatedly on MTV, collaborating with stars like Patti Smith and Keith Richards. He died of a heart attack at his Manhattan home on September 11, 2009.

Links: (Guardian obituary)

My below poem has its starting point in Carroll’s “Paregoric Babies”. It combines a survey of the expressionist use of colour in the poem with text fragments from a scientific paper on the “Spectral Analysis of the Colour of some Pigments”.

~ - ~

Spectral analysis

BLUE – night begins with
the perceiving colour exhibited
by an opaque object
in space the spectrophotometric
measurements leading to precise
positions of characteristic points
of colours in chromaticity
diagrams as shown SILVER –
heavy like desire shone
BROWN – rooted / hollow BLACK –
in hiding shivering preparation
of this sample performed
by the calcination of
the white lead at
high temperature for a
long time to obtain
both its darkness explained
by the low reflectance
in the middle of
the spectrum how far
from a xy-point one has
to go to sense
a change RED – pulsating
human colour a trichromatic
phenomenon from the diffuse
reflectance spectrum one can
see that it returns
over 90% in the
visible domain so the
colour is almost perfectly
WHITE – the breath of

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Jackson Mac Low

Jackson Mac Low was more than a poet. He was composer, a writer of performance pieces, essays, plays, and radio works, a painter and a multimedia performance artist. As one of the key influences of the Language writing movement and a founding member of the avant-garde group Fluxus, Mac Low’s practice plays an important role for experimental artists and poets alike.

Born in 1922 in Chicago, Mac Low briefly attended the University of Chicago before moving to New York to study Greek at Brooklyn College. As the Poetry Foundation suggests: “His early work as an etymologist and reference book contributor laid the foundation for his fascination with the possibilities found in units of sound and sense.” Influenced not only by the work of Gertrude Stein and Gerard Manley Hopkins, but also by John Cage’s musical compositions, Zen Buddhism, the I Ching and the Jewish mystic Abraham Abulafia, Mac Low built his work on a variety of non-intentional methods which created texts from pre-existing works. The aim was to avoid “the intrusion of the author as ego and to foreground language as such.” (Hoover).

Author of about 30 books and published in over 90 collections, Mac Low taught at many schools, including the Mannes School of Music (1966) and New York University (1966-73). His honours include fellowships and grants from the Creative Artists Public Service Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, PEN, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He received the the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1999.

Jackson Mac Low lived in New York City with his wife, Anne Tardos, until his death in 2004.


Inspired by Mac Low’s use of a secondary text as material, I chose to work with the text of J.L. Austin’s ground-breaking collection of lectures “How To Do Things With Words”. In an attempt to explore the relationship between the book’s language philosophical content, it’s ephemeral i.e. spoken original form and the editorial process which manifested the final book, I decided to combine the book’s index with a list of editorial additions and reconstructions of the original lecture texts.

~ - ~

How To Do Things With Words

in a way, at least draws attention specifically to what we want in certain cases.

“uttering words” not so simple a notion anyway
Boolean algebra
even procedures for bringing oneself under procedures such as “I am playing” may still poss to reject all.

editorial expansion
composite version from various incomplete

Demos, R.
restrictions on “thoughts” here?

maybe could classify here “moral” obligation X “strict” obligation:
but what about threatening not called either!
to say, presupposes
Explicit performatives
saying implies
what you say entails


fragmentary at this point
now we use “how it is to be understood” and “making clear”

  (and even, conceivably, “state that”):
but not true or false, not description or report.
need criteria for evolution of language
? misleading:

Kant, I.
it is the device cp. precision

Locutionary act
and inexplicits do both.

ends here
said = asserted stated.
(1) all this isn’t clear ! distinctions etc.
(2) and in all senses relevant (A) and (B) x (C)) won’t all utterances be performative?
or “imply”, is it the same?
Moore, G. E.
secondary sources

illustrations to (1) and (2)

Phatic (pheme)
secondary sources
Phonetic (phone)
Pitcher, G.
contracts often void because objects they’re about don’t exist –
breakdown of reference.
(N.B. said of course never / not state)
Primary utterance
(also “said” has its ambiguities.
Rhetic (rheme)

right to

cf. declare war, declare closed, declare state of war exists.

promise that I shall probably.

or suiting action to words.

Warnock, G.J.
separate short manuscript
Whitman, W.
confirmed by hearer’s notes