November 28, 2010

Michael Gizzi

Michael Gizzi [USA]

Born in Schenectady, New York, Michael Gizzi has lived the majority of his life in Providence, Rhode Island and Lenox, Massachusetts. He earned degrees in English and Creative Writing from Brown University. He spent the next decade as a licensed arborist in southern New England. He was during this period closely associated with the poets surrounding Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop’s Burning Deck Press, which published three volumes of his poetry: Bird As (1976), Avis (1979), and Species of Intoxication (1983).

Gizzi moved in the early 1980s to the Berkshires in westernmost Massachusetts, where he began teaching. For the next twenty years he coordinated many poetry readings, most notably at Simon’s Rock of Bard College and at Arrowhead, the former home of Herman Melville. These readings included among others: Robert Creeley, John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, James Schuyler, Bernadette Mayer, Clark Coolidge, Michael Palmer, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, Rosmarie Waldrop, Harry Mathews, and Emmanuel Hocquard.

Throughout the 1990s Gizzi edited Hard Press and lingo magazine. The press published a variety of titles, among them Bernadette Mayer’s classic Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters, Merrill Gilfillan’s poetic travelogue Burnt House to Paw Paw, and Trevor Winkfield’s resplendent art book Pageant. Gizzi has continued in this publishing vein with Qua Press, which he co-edits with poet Craig Watson in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

Gizzi has collaborated on a number of projects with Clark Coolidge. Hard Press published their Lowell Connector: Lines and Shots from Kerouac’s Lowell in 1993. John Ashbery said of Gizzi’s No Both (1997), “Razor sharp but also rich and generously compelling, Michael Gizzi’s poetry lambastes as it celebrates, bringing us finally to a place of poignant irresolution.” He is presently a visiting lecturer at Brown University, where he coordinates the Downcity Poetry Series.

Gizzi died in 2010.


Bird As (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck, 1976); Avis (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck, 1979); Species of Intoxication (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck,1983); Just Like a Real Italian Kid (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures 1990); Continental Harmony (New York: Roof Books,1991); Gyptian in Hortulus (Providence, Rhode Island: Paradigm Press,1991); Interferon (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures,1995); No Both (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures/West Stockbridge, Massachusetts: Hard Press,1997); Too Much Johnson (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures,1999); Cured in the Going Bebop (Providence, Rhode Island: Paradigm Press,1999); My Terza Rima (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 2001); The Depths of Deadpan (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck: 2009); The Collected Poems of Michael Gizzi (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Firgures: 2015)

╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
A Brodeyak (1942-1993)

It's not humility I'm after nor the pit of my gums
that change verbose signals in this cocoon I keep decoding
call it Opera Buffo just stay the hell away from my noses
they're too rheumy for the harpoons you swallow

Consider the swabby who shares me to you
from perfect glottal yodelling in the next-to-nothing sense
Davy Jones hipflask in the john forsythia
53 rounds with the storied Mazeppa
ballpeen on the lens infiltrating looks waving glemas

And I think how your nails must feel
stuck in a magazine trollop
your sunny likeness misfit to this undertow elongating
thirst for disintegration that lines the sides of shadows
emitting phosphor atop replays one stops to ignore

The child swing ruffian giddyap truck tire rascalings
in grey air as if crystal clicked into memory tic
crystallized names and fallen trees
fallen as this passion inside of me
as you drop to your knees for a taste from another sun

Reprinted for Object. Copyright (c)1994 by Michael Gizzi

╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Chimes at Midnight

The father in exile
stripped of his sundial
borrows the equator for a belt

the son in translation
misrules on a run-through
for eternity

noon would love to behave
like midnight
for once

the past
rides out of houses
green with red breath

only the billowing overcoat
is left everything else
is made up

Reprinted from Big Bridge, III, no. 2 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Michael Gizzi.

November 27, 2010

Standard Schaefer

Standard Schaefer [USA]

Standard Schaefer was born in Houston, Texas in 1971. His father was an office furniture/equipment salesman and eventually became a fanchisee for an office supply manufacturer. His mother was a teacher, translator, and a secretary for a Chilean based pipeline manufacturer.

In 1992, after working for the Public Broadcast Systems, Schaefer moved to Los Angeles to attend Occidental College. There he encountered the poet Martha Ronk, and studied poetry and fiction with Dennis Phillips and Douglas Messerli. He graduated Magna Cum Laude, with a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature in 1995. In 1997 he took a Master of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California. In 1998 he worked temporarily as an editorial assistant for Filmmaker Magazine, and throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s he worked for various small businesses from wine importers to dog grooming. In 2001 he developed his own marketing and ad copy business, Schaefer Enterprises, concentrating on food distribution and real estate development. More recently, he joined the staff of Just Dissent, an organization that protects civil liberties. He also teaches at Otis College of Art.

In 1997 he began, with Evan Calbi, an important Los Angeles literary magazine, Rhizome, which lasted for four issues through 2000. Like many other Angeleno publications, it combined a wide range of American poetry with the work of international figures and contained extensive reviews. With the closure of that magazine, he worked as co-editor, with Paul Vangelisti, for Ribot: A Journal of the Arts. He also edited Vangelisti’s selected poem for Agincourt in 2001. He is currently the non-fiction editor of the Otis College of Art & Design journal, The New Review of Literature.

In 1999 his book of poetry, Nova, was selected as a winner of the National Poetry Series and was published by Sun & Moon Press in 2001. His second book, Water & Power, appeared in 2005. His poems, fiction and essays have appeared in numerous magazines.


Nova (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 2001); Water & Power (New York: Agincourt Press, 2005)
To read poems by this author, click below:

Franklin Bruno

Franklin Bruno [USA]

Born in Pomona, California in 1968, Franklin Bruno was from a family of Italian immigrants. All four of his grandparents had come from Italy, and both his grandfathers grew grapes and boysenberrys in the area. His father taught psychology at San Bernardino College, and wrote several textbooks and popular reference works.

Bruno received his Bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1990 from Pomona College, and a Master’s degree from Claremont Graduate School. He is currently completing his doctoral dissertaton in philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles. Although his philosophical training has primarily been within the Anglo-American tradition, he personally resists the notion of an unbridgeable gap between that tradition and Continental philosophy. At UCLA he has taught courses on property rights and symbolic logic.

Although Bruno describes himself as mostly self-taught with regard to poetry, he was influenced by courses at Pomona with Jed Rasula and Dick Barnes. He began writing seriously in the early 1990s, and published his first work in Paul Vangelisti’s Ribot in 1995. He also participated as one of the writers contributing on a regular, monthly basis, to Vangelisti’s Lowghost. Since that time, he has contributed to numerous journals, and has had one small collection published by Guy Bennett’s Seeing Eye Books, AM/FM (1999). He has also completed a full-length collection, “Rhododactyl.”

Other than poetry, Bruno is very active in music and music criticism. A guitarist, he has been the primary singer and songwriter for the rock trio, Nothing Painted Blue. The group has released four albums to date, and have another, Taste the Flavor, planned for 2004. He has also been involved with other recording artists such as Jenny Toomey and The Extra Glenns. Music criticism of his has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, Spin, Time Out New York, and CMJ Music Monthly.

He describes his poetry as “arranged” or, preferably, “accumulated” rather than written. The work often deals with music and other elements of popular culture.


AM/FM (Los Angeles: Seeing Eye Books, 1999)

To read poems by this author, click below:

W. S. Rendra [Willibrordus Surendra Broto / Wahyu Sulaiman Rendra] (Indonesia) 1935-2009

W[illibrordus] S[urendra] Broto/Wahyu Sulaiman Rendra (Indonesia)

Born into a Roman Catholic family in Solo, West Java, in 1935, Rendra was baptized as Willibrordus Surendra Broto, but changed his name to Wahyu Sulaiman Rendra when he embraced Islam upon his marriage in 1970 to Sitoresmi Prabunigrat, his second wife. Throughout much of his life we he was known simply as Rendra.
     He studied English literature and culture at Gajah Mada University in Yogykarta in central Java, but did not graduate, being involved in his first theatrical production for which he was employed. He staged his first important play, Dead Voices, in 1963. Rendra was fascinated by theater since it could embrace both his interest in religious ritual and Western-influenced avant-garde experiments. His sometimes audacious readings and his own poems and the outrageousness of his theater performances brought him wide attention throughout the sixties and into the 1970s. The press gave him the name "Burung Merak," the "Peacock."

     Increasingly in the 1970s and 1980s, Rendra moved away from his controversial innovative experiments to an embracement of multi-ethnic cultural expressions throughout Indonesia. In a 1969 drama, he required his actors to give up dialogues, using only their bodies and simple sounds such as "Bib bop," "zzzzz," and "rambate rate rata," performances which journalist poet Goenawan Mohamad described as "mini-word theater."
      Among Rendra's 1970s plays were Mastodon, The Condors, The Struggle of the Naga Tribe, and The Regional Secretary, some of which were banned because of their criticism of the second President of Indonesia, Suharto.
      He also performed Western theater such as works by Shakespeare, Brecht, and the Greeks. Looking younger than his years, Rendra played Hamlet into his late 60s.
     During the Suharto reign, Rendra lived in a poor district of Jakarta, visited by artists from around the world. He was increasingly involved in poetry during this period, using both his performances and readings as a way to gather the masses. In 1979, during a reading at the Ismail Marzuki art center in Jakarta, agents of Suharto threw ammonia bombs onto the stage and arrested the poet. He was imprisoned in the Guntur military prison for none months, kept in solitary confinement.
     After his release from prison, Rendra continued performing and reading, starring in his own eight-hour long play, Panembaha Reso, a work centered on the succession of power in Indonesia. 
     In his later years, Rendra received numerous literary awards, including the Art of the Indonesia Government award in 1970, the Prize of the Academy Jakarta, and the Main Book Prize of the Ministry of Education and Culture in 1976. He was often mentioned as a possible choice of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
     Rendra's poetry is narrative and colloquial, sometimes employing sounds and rhythms such as those he used in his theatrical productions. 
      Rendra died of coronary heart disease in 2009.


Ballada Orang-Orang Tercinta (Kumpulan sajak); Blues untuk Bonnie; Empat Kumpulan Sajak; Sajak-sajak Sepatu Tua; Mencari Bapak; Perjalanan Bu Arminah; Nyanyian Orang Urakan; Potret Pembangunan Dalam Puisi; Disebabkan Oleh Angin; Orang Orang Rangkasbitung [help is sought in obtaining the city and publisher and the dates of these books) 


Ballads and Blues, trans. by Burton Raffel, Harry Aveling, and Derwent May (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1974); featured in Contemporary Indonesian Poetry, ed. and trans. Harry Aveling (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1975)

A public performance: Rendra and Kantata Takwa, "Puisi Kecoa Pembangunan, live performane 1998




One hot Sunday

in a church full of people

a young priest stood at the pulpit.

His face was beautiful and holy

his eyes sweet like a rabbit's

and he lifted up both his hands

which were lovely like a lily

and said:

"Now let us disperse.

There is no sermon today."


No one budged.

They sat tight in their rows.

There were many standing.

They were stiff. Refused to move.

Their eyes stared.

Their mouths hung open

they stopped praying

but they all wanted to hear.

Then all at once they complained

and together with the strange voice from their mouths

which had to be quickly stifled.


"You can see I am still young.

Allow me to care for my own soul.

Please go away.

Allow me to praise holiness

I want to go back to the monastery

to meditate on the glory of God."


Again they complained.

No one moved.

Their faces looked sad.

Their eyes questioned.

Their mouths gaped

wanting very much to hear.


"This people ask for guidance, Lord

God, why have you left me at this moment?

Like a flock of hungry lazy jackals

they hang their mouths.

It is hot. I piss in my pants.

Father. Father. Why hast Thou forsaken me?"


Still no one moved.

Their faces were wet.

Their hair was wet.

Their whole bodies were wet.

Sweat poured onto the floor

because it was so hot

and of the misery they bore.

The stench was extraordinarily foul

And their questions took stank foully.


"My brothers, children of the heavenly father.

This is my sermon.

My very first sermon.

Life is very difficult

Dark and difficult

There are many torments.

So in this regard

the wise way to live is ra-ra-ra

Ra-ra-ra, hump-pa-pa, ra-ra-ra.

Look at the wisdom of the lizard

the created God loves most

Go close to the ground


Your souls are squeezed between rocks



Like a lizard ra-ra-ra

like a centipede hum-pa-pa."


All spoke together:

Ra-ra-ra. Hum-pa-pa.

With a roar everyone in the church:

Ra-ra-ra. Hum-pa-pa.


"To the men who like guns

who fix the flags of truth to their bayonet-points

I want you to listen carefully

to lu-lu-lu, la-li-lo-lu.

Lift your noses high

so you don't see those you walk on.

For in this way li-li-li, la-li-lo-lu.

Cleanse the blood from your hands

so as not to frighten me

then we can sit and drink tea

and talk of the sufferings of society

and the nature of love and death.

Life is full of misery and sin.

Life is a big cheat.

La-la-la, li-li-li, la-li-lo-lu.


They stood. They stamped their feet on the floor

Stamping in one rhythm and together

Uniting their voices in:

La-la-la, li-li-li, la-li-lo-lu.

Carried along in the strength of their unity

they shouted together

precisely and rhythmically:

La-la-la, li-li-li, la-li-lo-lu.


"Now we live again.

Feel the force of the flow of the blood.

In your heads. In your necks. In your breasts.

In your stomachs. Throughout the rest of your bodies.

[See my fingers shaking with life

The blood is bong-bon-bong.

The blood of life is bang-bing-bong.

The blood of the common life is bang-bing-bong-bong.

Life must be lived in a noisy group.

Blood must mix with blood.

Bong-bong-bong. Bang-bing-bong."


The people exploded with the passion of the lives.

They stood on the pews.

Banged with their feet.

Bells, gongs, door-pailings, window panes

If it made a noise they pounded on it.

With the one rhythm

In accompaniment to their joyous shouts of:

Bong-bong-bong. Bang-bing-bong.


"We must exalt love.

Love in the long grass.

Love in the shops of jews.

Love in the backyard of the church.

Love is unity and tra-la-la.

Tra-la-la. La-la-la. Tra-la-la.

Like the grass

we must flourish

in unity and love.

Let us pulverize ourselves.

Let us shelter beneath the grass.

Let us love beneath the grass.

Taking as our guide:

Tra-la-la. La-la-la. Tra-la-la."


The whole congregation roared.

They began to dance. Following the one rhythm

They rubbed their bodies against each other

Men against women. Men against men.

Women with women. Everyone rubbed.

And some rubbed their bodies against the walls of the church.

And shouted in a queer mad voice

shrilly and together:

Tra-la-la. La-la-la. Tra-la-la.


"Through the holy prophet Moses

God has said:

Thou must not steal.

Junior civil servants stop stealing carbon.

Serving-girls stop stealing fried chicken bones.

Leaders stop stealing petro.

And girls, stop stealing your own virtue.

Of course, there is stealing and stealing.

The difference is: cha-cha-cha, cha-cha-cha.

All things come from God

which means

everything belongs to everyone.

Everything is for everyone.

We must be one. Us for us.

Cha-cha-cha, cha-cha-cha.

This is the guiding principle."


They roared like animals:

Grrr-grrr-grrr. Hura.

Cha-cha-cha, cha-cha-cha.

They stole window panes.

They took everything in the church.

The candelabra. The curtains. The carpets.

The silverware. And the statues covered with jewels.

Cha-cha-cha, they sang:

Cha-cha-cha over and over again

They smashed the whole church


Like wet panting animals

running to-and-fro.

Cha-cha-cha, cha-cha-cha.

Then suddenly the shrill voice of an old woman was heard:

"I am hungry. Hungrry. Hu-u-unggrryyy."

And suddenly everyone felt hungry.

Their eyes burned.

And they kept shouting cha-cha-cha.


"Because we are hungry

let us disperse.

Go home. Everyone stop."


Cha-cha-cha, they said

and their eyes burned.


"Go home.

The mass and the sermon are over."


Cha-cha-cha, they said.

They didn't stop.

They pressed forward.

The church was smashed. And their eyes flashed.


"Lord, Remember the sufferings of Christ.

We are all his honored sons.

Hunger must be overcome by wisdom."



They advance and beat against the pulpit.


They dragged the priest from the pulpit.


They tore his robes.


A Fat woman kissed his fine mouth.

And old woman licked his pure breast.

And girls pulled at both his legs.


And thus they raped him in a noisy throng.



Then they chopped his body to bits.

Everyone at his flesh. Cha-cha-cha.

They feasted in the strength of their unity.

They drank his blood.

They sucked the marrow from his bones.

Until they had eaten everything

and there was nothing left.



Translated from the Bahasa Indonesia by Harry Aveling

Copyright ©by W. S. Rendra; English language copyright ©1975 by Harry Aveling Reprinted from Harry Aveling, ed. and trans. Contemporary Indonesia Poetry (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1975.

November 25, 2010

Toon Tellegen

Toon Tellegen [Antonius Otto Hermannus] [Netherlands]

Antonius Otto Hermannus, writing under the name of Toon Tellegen was born in Den Briel, Netherlands in 1941. He is considered one of Holland’s finest poets, and his work has received numerous literary awards, including the Zilveren Giffel in 1990, 1997, and 1999, the Jan Campertprijs in 1993, and the Constantijn Huygenprijs in 2007 for his complete works.

Although Tellegen defines himself as a poet, he is also a noted novelist and children’s book writer, noted particularly for his animal stories, and he also has written several plays. He works as a General Practitioner of health in Amsterdam.

His first book of poetry, De zin van een liguster, was published in 1980, and he has gone on to write some 26 books since, most of them published by the noted Amsterdam publisher, Querido.
The poetry has been published extensively abroad, including in the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, and Russia. Two of his books have been published in the US.
His English translator, British poet Judith Wilkinson has written of his poetry:

[Tellegen’s] poetry, with its absurd humor coupled with an unexpected urgency, occupies a unique place in Dutch literature. Indeed his work defies comparison with that of any other Dutch poet and might better be seen in a larger European context. Tellegen has been compared, for instance, with Russian absurd writers like Danill Kharms, though he does not quite share the Russian feeling for the macabre. One of his earliest influences was perhaps his grandfather, a Dutchman who was himself an unpublished but highly imaginative writer, and who had lived in Russia until 1918. Tellegen recently published his memoirs of this grandfather, who shared with the young Tellegen his extraordinary stories of Russia, mixing fact and folktale, full of fran-
tastical metamorphoses and utterly unpredictable twists of events.


De zin van een liguster (Amsterdam: Querido, 1980); De aanzet tot een web (Amsterdam: Querido, 1981); Beroemde scherven (Amsterdam: Querido, 1982); De andere ridder(Amsterdam: Querido, 1984); Ik en ik (Amsterdam: Querido, 1985); Mijn winter (Amsterdam: Querido, Amsterdam 1987); In N. en andere gedichten (Amsterdam: Querido, 1989); Een langzame val (Amsterdam: Querido, 1991); Een dansschool (Amsterdam: Querido, 1992);
Tijger onder de slacken (Amsterdam: Querido, 1994); Als we vlammen waren (Amsterdam: Querido, 1996); Over liefde en niets anders (Amsterdam: Querido, 1997); Gewone gedichten (Amsterdam: Querido, 1998) Er ligt een appel op een schaal, (selection of poems) (Amsterdam: Querido, 1999); Kruis en munt (Amsterdam/Rotterdam: Querido/Poetry International, 2000);
Gedichten 1977-1999 (Amsterdam: Querido, 2000); De een en de ander (Amsterdam: Querido, 2001); Een man en een engel (Amsterdam: Querido, 2001); Alleen liefde (Amsterdam: Querido, 2002); Wie A zegt (Amsterdam: Querido, 2002); Minuscule oorlogen (niet met het blote oog zichtbaar) (Amsterdam: Querido, 2004); Daar zijn woorden (selection of poems) (Amsterdam: Maarten Muntinga / Rainbow Pockets, 2004); . . . m n o p q . . . (Amsterdam: Querido, 2005);
Wachten op wonderen (Amsterdam: Querido, 2005); Raafvogels (Amsterdam: Querido, 2006); Hemels en vergeefs (Amsterdam: Querido, 2008); Stof dat als een meisje (Amsterdam: Querido, 2009)


In N. (New York: Cross-Cultural /Communications, 1993); About Love and Nothing Else (Orinda, California: Shoestring Press, 2008)

“Everyone is alone”

Everyone is alone.
Everyone thinks everyone else is alone.
Everyone knows this for certain and sets off on a journey.
It’s stormy, it’s autumn.
the roads are impassable.

But no one is alone.
No one struggles against the storm,
no one stumbles,
no one falls and can’t go on.

and no one is found, on a November morning,
when the crows are cawing
and the sun is pale and servile.

—Translated from the Dutch by Judith Wilkinson

(from Gedicten 1977-1999, 2001)

A Door

I came to a door and read:
Thinking About Death is Forbidden.
I cast down my eyes
And stopped thinking about death.

I went inside and someone cried:
“What are you thinking about now?”
“About nothing.”
“Me too!”
I walked through gardens, climbed mountains,
waded through rivers, got lost in swamps and deserts
and only just managed to find the way back.
I came to the same door and read:
Think Only About Death.

“Are you thinking about it?” I heard someone call.
The scent of honeysuckle, the sun setting.
It was summer, freedom reigned

Translated from the Dutch by Judith Wilkinson

(from Gedicten 1977-1999, 2001)

Copyright ©2001 by Toon Tellegen. English language copyright ©2005 by Judith Willkinson

November 24, 2010

Stephen Ratcliffe

Stephen Ratcliffe [USA]

Stephen Ratcliffe was born in Boston on July 7, 1948, and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the age of four. He went to Reed College for three semesters, then transferred to the University of California Berkeley where he received a B.A. in 1970 and a PhD in 1978.

Since the 1980s, Ratcliffe has published a number of books of poetry, including New York Notes (1983), Distance (1986), [where late the sweet] BIRDS SANG (1989), spaces in the light said to be where one/ comes from (1992), Present Tense (1995), Sculpture (1996), and SOUND/(system) (2002). He has also published three 474-page books, each written in 474 consecutive days: Portraits & Repetition (2002), REAL (2007), and CLOUD / RIDGE (2007) He followed these publications by three 1,000-page books, each written in 1,000 consecutive days: HUMAN / NATURE (2007), Remarks on Color / Sound, and Temporality (both still unpublished). His 14-hour reading of HUMAN / NATURE at the University of California-Davis on June 8-9, 2008 and another 14-hour reading of Remarks on Color / Sound on May 16, 2010 at Marin Headlands Center for the Arts can both be found at PennSound (

He is also the author of three books of criticism: Campion: On Song (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981), a "close reading" of one twenty-four line song by the English Renaissance poet/composer Thomas Campion; Listening to Reading (SUNY Press, 2000), a book of essays on contemporary ‘experimental’ poetry and poetics; and Reading the Unseen: (Offstage) Hamlet (Counterpath, 2010), a book about action that doesn’t happen in Hamlet except in words, the Ghost’s speech about his murder in the orchard, Ophelia’s speech about Hamlet’s visit to her “closet,” Hamlet’s speech about his voyage to England, Gertrude’s speech about Ophelia’s death in the stream, etc.

Ratcliffe received the Emily Chamberlain Cook Poetry Prize at UC Berkeley (1974), a Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing at Stanford University (1974-75), and awards from both the National Endowment of the Arts (1990) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (1985 and 1995).

He lives in Bolinas, a small town on the coast north of San Francisco, is the publisher of Avenue B books, and teaches at Mills College in Oakland.


New York Notes (Bolinas, California: Tombouctou, 1983); Distance (Bolinas, California: Avenue B, 1986); Mobile/Mobile (Los Angeles: Echo Park Press, 1987); Rustic Diversions (Los Angeles: Echo Park Press, 1988); [where late the sweet] BIRDS SANG (Oakland, California: O Books, 1989); Sonnets (Elmwood, Conneticut: Potes & Poets Press, 1989); Metalmorphosis (Oakland, California: THE Press, 1991); Before Photography (Oakland, California: THE Press, 1991); five (Oakland, California: Slim Press, 1991); Selected Letters (Tenerife, Canary Islands: Zasterle Press, 1992); spaces in the light said to be where one/ comes from (Elmwood, Conneticut: Potes & Poets Press, 1992); Private (Buffalo, New York: LEAVE Books, 1993); Present Tense (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 1995); Sculpture (Los Angeles: Littoral Books, 1996); Mallarmé: poem in prose (Santa Barbara, California: Santa Barbara Review Publications, 1998); Idea's Mirror (Elmwood, Conneticut: Potes & Poets Press, 1999); SOUND/ (system) (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2002); Portraits & Repetition (Sausalito, California: The Post-Apollo Press, 2002); REAL (Bolinas, California: Avenue B, 2007); HUMAN / NATURE (New York: ubu editions, 2007); CLOUD / RIDGE (New York: ubu editions, 2007); CONVERSATION (Lowell, Massachusetts: Plein Air Editions, 2010)

╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English


Mica, asleep in this thought of a bed in the next room
and you in the story about to believe what you read is not the truth
of people you drove beside as if it were a freeway, planned
at play in the in the folds of a quilt whose leaves piled
like sand, like fur—but to tell the shape
first the foot in its still carefully broken light, the house a shadow thins
silences toward an answer as sure in the blanket dark let go
as talking surrounds the car, a look that is
the "circumstance" of something in writing about the garden
in its present position, the letter too loud untitled
thinking for example that by its presence in the world music
has to do with evening distances, how everything dissolves almost
as words remembered in places we sat at the end of nothing
hanging in a screen, believing that nothing but space and light
between wind on the street and the way you see it
in a prism opened by a knife, abstract
on the edge of inflection
moving without knowing it passed the line as if it were the street
you walk in a circle down the block, something
close to you—air clear
by design in a place wavelengths hide under the music
memory of the form the face lost, most thin.

Reprinted from O.ars; copyright © 1993 by Stephen Racliffe

November 22, 2010

Steve Benson

Steve Benson (photograph by Jude Ornstein)

Steve Benson [USA]


Born in Princeton, New Jersey in 1949, Steve Benson graduated from Yale College in 1971. He studied writing with Susan Holahan, Peter Schjeldahl, and Ted Berrigan at Yale during the period of the Vietnam War Moratorium and the Bobby Seale trial. In this milieu he heard readings by many of those known as the second generation New York poets.

While in high school, Benson became overwhelmingly interested in theater, in foreign film, in experimental non-narrative film, in postmodernist graphic art, and in contemporary art movements on the Lower East Side of New York City. He graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California at Irvine in 1973 and worked as a high school teacher and then as staff in a library and bookstores until 1989.

From 1976 until 1992 Benson was active in the "Language" poetry scene in the San Francisco Bay area, where he gave readings, performances,and talks, and acted in Poets’ Theater plays , while also writing, collaborating, and publishing. He co-curated the series at the Grand Piano with Carla Harryman from February 1978 until February 1979.

In 1992, Benson moved to the East Coast where he has earned a living as a psychologist and raised two children. He lives in Downeast Maine and is active in his local peace and justice group, food co-op, zendo, and Waldorf school.

In 1977 Benson began integrating oral improvisation into many of his poetry readings. Readings and talks also frequently involved use of one or more media in addition to live spoken voice, including costume changes, tape playback, projections of slides and/or film, lighting adjustments, and props. In his presentations, media have not been employed with mastery but rather with considered respect for their material specificity and potential for interaction with spoken words.

He has often experimented with writing by hand or on a laptop while orally representing or speaking variations on the text while it is under creation during a public reading. His books have presented careful transcriptions of performances involving improvisation, as well as texts written and revised for publication. From 1990 to 1992, Benson frequently improvised with his speaking voice as a fifth instrument in concerts and recording with the Splatter Trio, and more recently he’s collaborated publicly with filmmaker Konrad Steiner and the Jon Raskin Quintet.


As Is (Berkeley: The Figures, 1978); The Busses (Berkeley: Tuumba, 1981); Blindspots (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Whale Cloth, 1981); Dominance (Oakland, California: The Coincidence, 1985); Briarcombe Paragraphs (Paris: Moving Letters, 1985); Blue Book (Great Barrington, Massachusetts and New York: The Figures and Roof, 1988); Reverse Order (Elmwood, Connecticut: Potes & Poets, 1989); Roaring Spring (Tenerife, Canary Islands: Zasterle, 1998); The Ball (on line: ubuweb, 2004); Open Clothes (Berkeley: Atelos, 2005); The Grand Piano [co-authored with Rae Armantrout, Carla Harryman, Lyn Hejinian, Tom Mandel, Ted Pearson, Bob Perelman, Kit Robinson, Ron Silliman, and Barrett Watten] (Detroit: Mode A, 2006-10)

Links to audio, video and written publications on line can be found at Benson’s Wikipedia and PennSound pages.

Click below for a poem:

For numerous readings and performances by Steve Benson, click below:

November 20, 2010

Rob Stanton

Rob Stanton [England]

Born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham on August 11th, 1977, Rob Stanton spent his childhood in Solihull, Birmingham. He has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wales, Cardiff, an M.A. in American Culture and a Ph.D. from the University of Leeds. He has worked as a postgraduate and then postdoctoral teaching assistant at the School of English, University of Leeds since 2001 and is currently thinking about becoming a high school teacher.

From 1999-2001, he edited the University of Leeds-based Poetry & Audience. In 2005 he was short-listed for an Eric Gregory Awards. His poems have appeared in can we have our ball back?, Fascicle, Great Works, Octopus, The Rialto, Shampoo, Shearsman and Stride. Critical writing has been published in Canadian Literature, Jacket and How2.

From an ars poetica in process, Stanton writes: “Operational metre/Inexplicable orchard….Sing, thing, and / set to off: go blam…. Language is vast. Vast and obvious…. Bite-size interaction. Mind- / found micoscapes. Marks made…. Nuts. Bolts. Let flower…. ‘To jangle and confute the English tongue.” ….Outta breath. Exegetes / speak for themselves. The dad / do not speak…. Our piece our poem…. Any source legitimately yours…. Concussive sun, percussive between bars. The fence occludes (all fences do)…. Good / tread. Sound / system…. Late student of beginnings. I have favourites. ‘I’m no / one to talk.’ ….You yourself your captive audience. The / turn. Nail maker. Splurge rightly. Duck.”

Click below for the poem:

Daniel Bouchard

Daniel Bouchard [USA]

Born in Cincinnat, Daniel Bouchard grew up in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and an M.A. from Temple University.

Two books of his poetry, Diminutive Revolutions (2000) and Some Mountains Removed (2005) were published by Subpress, a collective of which he is a founding member. He is editor of The Poker, a poetry journal, and co-curates the Union Square Poetry Reading Series outside of Boston. His pomes have been translated into French and Italian. He is currently employed by The MIT Press and lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and daughter.


Wrackline (New York: Situations Press, 1999); Diminutive Revolutions (Honolulu: Subpress, 2000); Sounds Swarms & Other Poems (Somerville, Massachusetts: Slack Buddha Press/La Perruque Editors, 2004); Even Song for the Lost Pollinators (New Haven, Connecticut: Phylum Press, 2004); Some Mountains Removed (Oakland, California: Subpress, 2005)

Click below for the poem:

Julia Istomina

Julia Istomina [USSR/USA]

Born in Moscow, Julia Istomina spent a happy seven years with her very young parents and a large Russian extended family. Her parents moved to the United States right before the fall of Communism (1990) because of a rare study-abroad opportunity presented to her father.

Istomina began writing poetry at 12 years old, guided by an ex-con English professor who told her she had something going. She studied contemporary and Australian poetry with John Kinsella at Kenyon College, where she first picked up on the political insinuations of utilizing particular forms and styles in writing. Her poetry has appeared in Strand Magazine (UK), Big Bridge, the Bathyspheric Review, DMQ Review, Plum Ruby Review, Shampoo Poetry, Pudding Magazine, Los international Journal of Poesy and Art, Cortland Review and Salt International Journal.

Her translations of Russian poets Mikhail Lermontov and Marina Tsvetaeva have appeared in several issues of Ars Interpres International Journal. Julia's first book, tentatively titled "Americanka," explores bi-culturalism in her experience as an emerging Russo-American, and is currently under review for publication. Presently, Julia is working on a thriller in verse, which attempts to dissect the psychological, biological, social, lingual aspects and implications of human violence and passion. She believes that language is never a static entity, and that the continuing exploration and manipulation of organic and traditional structures of poetics serves to bring new, non-secular possibilities into the heterogeneous communal space.
Click below for the poem: