September 6, 2022

Todd Baron (USA) 1956

Todd Baron (USA)



Born in Hollywood, Todd Baron was a child actor, performing in movies, television, and voice-overs, for twelve years. He attended Immaculate Heart College for two years, studying with Martha Ronk, and later—focusing on contemporary poetics—with Peter Levitt. In 1984 he moved to San Francisco, studying at New College with various California poets, including Robert Duncan, Michael Palmer, Lyn Hejinian, and Diane DiPrima. He earned his Master’s degree in poetics in 1989, returning to live in Los Angeles.


    Earlier, Baron edited a journal, ISSUE (1982-1876) with Tosh Berman, and when that journal ceased, he began Re*Map (1989-2001). With Dennis Phillips, Martha Ronk and Paul Vangelisti, he co-founded Littoral books in 1991, a press that developed out of these poets’ relationships with Lee Hickman. In 1997 he and Noah De Lissovy ran a poetics reading series at Otis Art Institute (now Otis College of Art). Over the past few years he has written art criticism for various journals, including Artnews, Art Issues, and New Art Examiner.

     Baron taught at the Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles City College, and West Los Angeles College. For the past eight years, he has taught at the Crosssroads School for the Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica. He also continues to work with film, serving as a literary consultant to Klasky Csupo animation studios.

     Although clearly influenced by his various teachers along the way, particularly in connection with their relations to “Language” poetry, Baron’s writing is often centered on a fluidity of movement in line and meaning strongly influenced by film.




partials (San Francisco: e.g. press, 1985); Return of the World (Berkeley: O Books 1998); (this...seasonal journal) (...) (Providence: Pardigm Press, 1990); Outside (Bolinas, California: Avenue B Books, 1995); Tell (Norman, Oklahoma: texture press, 1995); That Looks at One and Speaks (San Diego: Factory School Books, 2001); TV Eye (Phoenix: Chax Books, 2003).



from “The Rooms”


I want to write, and writing, write.

so in the effusion,

deems, willow’d, branched,

comes a day. And there,

here she says,

moving in unmoving ways, chords so tight you fall be-

loved, into & out of

pitch-syllable. poverty of glance

tress by a pin hole, someone coming

takes this back from where it came,

the text & the text, for texture,

in tnets not in caves, so in the final sense

are other’s language. book on the table

cup in the mask,

sun sticks in a circle of fire,

first rock or orb I thought would covet thee. that I could love

blood flukes, despair & unbelief, that ‘til my spirit

rises, they raise. sit, stare

sighted, open in summer, to park, stare

or place.


(from Return to the World, 1988)




(series of three)




what is it, without image, metaphor, or doubt—


summer comes as fall approaches,

unstead and distressed to see.


voices hold

as leaves drop


chained to circumstance, brown

flora & other marks whose name


the sound of a chair, wakes

the middle of day, scrawling


sound of the bed, the floor, bereft

of nobility. the dream


in a dreamer’s dream, coming

in a room, bored with reason,

even with reasoning. even the want

of need, & back again, a like-


geometry. a game, counting

windows by the road,


sitting on the deck, what passes for

silence as if it were a figure


gesturing the hand. Bearing

each hand back towards


likenesses of imagery, old

father, older father, apprentice-


ship of facts, walking, walking

appearances of land.






what is this interior motivation—


to be given strength for everything

that blends into one. The vast


empty desert,

endless &


flooded with water. Like a movement shoehow

exapnding on rochs, that utterance


bordering the field. Or is it

entrapment I meant to find


how beautiful and delicate, even

fragile, the framed


sad head was. A statue

a running set of monologues,


gripless and fortunate, wavering

indecision like a mask amid tracing elements.


the period the flower

of even questions asked.


uneven borrowed stares

of the irradiataed risk.





is it moments, out of place, there’s dust on the floor—


the particular means of a particular shape.

is it morning & the fall and rising of sheets,


drapes, not the window or cars going by

outside the door. or the motion of sleep


as a statement of health, a statement of words,

of necessity. a problem of gaining, to


augment the self the untouched key

remembers. This, then in being,


taken reluctantly, fullest brightest scale

trying to reach the flattest modality.


searching uncertainty even

rain unfolds, even rain





(from Tell, 1995)







he wanted the experience back & into

the narrow regions the music


telling & from the distance toward he fixture

the camera moving clapping


a breeze the weather moving & a sound distinct

rain or a street a circumference


where the travels would each

& after sleep only


turning the ankles knees locked as if an arrow

losing a bend the entirety of silence


a light wind changing after a changing frost

a declarative moment the sound of a bell


to own is each an image picked ripe and found

in a jar a shelf of sand


a line over & about velocity & a list of things corrected

surrounding the pitch of day the rock


like a sound in the mind centuries overcome

by the significance of a phrase


“bouquet of roses in sunset” metaphor the real

emergence of colors the dusk brown hue


here in the morning after the harmonies have left

which is ever constant adversity like a fountain


made in the mist of the fountain the stream

fashioned in the sense of a stream in the light alone


the abundance of inactivity

the tangle of mass



(from Outside, 1995)




from “(INDEX)”





there’s only an outside that comes from the inside

how many takes it takes to fill the lens


Placed and permeating capacity composition discerns control

when you count one who drew the course


or moved constellations afloat

a chain or chair a seat the ground until the edge


together to shake or form one mass

or clipping of stone “a single life”


a cell a hut to hide in

the strive against to stand corrode


Who made the track by signing addition

to avail a censor


originally a critic an opinion

not a contract rending throats


which merely means to talk to get it down

to where inaction was which merely means together and apart


across the other other

Coined from steel both


chapters unafraid the clouds are

charcoal vapor variations covered with cloth



A clump of citizens’ senses

a bulb or sphere stopped


to drag

without them & entrusted



(from Outside, 1995)




from “(INDEX)”





there’s only an outside that comes from the inside

comes a narration rending what happens to be


The secret eternity weakness serenity’s calm

soaking the breeze


The sound of the drifter

reading desolate isolation wintering


tales of sudden unlit figures

resting the faculty


he said that she says writes

what she writes he says


the real who

unmystified forced to get out among branches


passes a building thinking belief

teped isolation blinding the page


overcome with himself he

who writes it is


unfinished work

labors cultivation


learning the letter’s pronounced

with only one tongue


only the thought

the remnant of time



(from Outside, 1995)







when you say (what

I think you say, that you prefer the

ordinarily immersed transcendental line,

what do you mean? For me

there is a secret to each

unraveling (like) film

moving an audience from one

matrix to the other . starting out to find

the “why of it” seems to generate

silence . (a squirrel

jumping from one tree,

the maximum of force

from which all things deliver.


I’ve known this conversation before,

and it’s ours, meaning

yours, mine and his, but I also love

The small & feel of the sun

on the balcony over the backyard

in the morning . waking

is constantly unattended, as if feeling

would rouse the day

as ciphers do, to find

a page that reads


each metamorphosis is there

when you’re ready.


entering what appears to be a long trance

or just sleeping too late even knowing

that the painting in the next room

is really a clock & the clock

over the fireplace an object

found on the street, shy

of what comes as intention

or judgment.






Outside the alphabet of each stone,

The idea baducted by loss

& the meaning of loss . the question of mis-

representation as a color of skin

or speech as the suns’ reflected

by trees & the artifice of buildings.


as a footnote then

the form of an apparent journal

by less caustic remarks . but the

remainder stays the same

because a voice

is common & prosaic

to the question of vanity

& number . (the gardener cuts

grass & the smell

the scarcity of change . no,

there must be presence to time

as if it were devotion.



Buddhists meditate

on death.


to Martha Ronk


(from That Looks at One and Speaks, 2001)






so you add to each day

a monstrous figure undressed

or undressing each state

with less heart than mind,

an outline of spirit, feeling

& growth . (pineapple sage in a pot

by the window, direct & laconic,

wanting the sun.


ideas & associations trace the subject of art

& the problem of light . reading old letters,

abstract & real, gone &



the mind as part of the body responds to distinct imagery


trying to break things down.

because it is singular

in the world, sentiment

& disfigurement, caring &

the opposite of fiction . (like aloe

outdoors, what manner

is redundant, what

motive regurgitates sound?


Isolation respects the concept

of life, drunk or drinking

each doorway . my sense

of a house is one that’s

unnumbered, equally

held & unbroken . that night

we sat by the stairs,

thinking of parallel visions.


tender, beneficent favors,

water boiling (kindly

generous meanings . limbs still

carry the sail no matter how

avarice or self-centered

waking is . but does that change

the music of change?

rather, watch each fire

as sleep modifies

each pronoun’s response

to a place that seemingly

has no concept behind

or in front of—


one judgment, one logic

or symbol addressed.



to Lee Hickman


(from That Looks at One and Speaks, 2001)





[“I want to write, and writing, write.]

Reprinted from Return of the World (Berkeley: O Books, 1998). Copyright ©1988 by Todd Baron. Reprinted by permission of the author and O Books.


“(series of three)”

Reprinted from Tell (Norman, Oklahoma: texture press, 1995). Copyright ©1995 by Todd Baron. Reprinted by permission of the author.


“transparency,” “C” and “W”

Reprinted from Outside (Bolinas, California: Avenue B, 1995). Copyright ©1995 by Todd Baron. Reprinted by permission of the author.


“2” and “3”

Reprinted from That Looks at One and Speaks (San Diego: Factory School Books, 2001). Copyright ©2001 by Todd Baron. Reprinted by permission of the author.

No comments: