July 31, 2011

Hans Faverey (b. Surinam / Netherlands) 1933-1990

Hans Faverey (b. Surinam / Netherlands)



Born in Paramaribo, Surinam on September 14, 1933, Hans Faverey moved to Amsterdam and a child and lived there until his death in 1990.

     For most of his life Faverey worked as a clinical psychologist, but in his free time, when not writing poetry, Faverey played the harpsichord, composing music for it as well. He also lectured at the psychology department of the Universiteit Leiden.

     In 1953, while traveling on the Croatian coast, he met his wife-to-be, the Croatian poet and literary scholar, Lela Zečković.

     His first published book was Gedicten of 1968, for which he received the Amsterdam Poetry Award, followed by Gedicten 2 four years later. Faverey's achievement was truly realized in his third book, Chrysanten, roeirs (Chrysanthemums, Rowers) published in 1977, which won the prestigious Jan Campert Award and put his works, in the minds of some Dutch readers, in the same league with Gerrit Kouwenaar and Lucebert, poets of the "Fiftiers" generation who influenced Faverey's work.

     Eight major books followed, creating what critics and readers often spoken of as a intense and densely constructed series of musical and sometimes hermetic poems. His fame grew, nonetheless, and he is now recognized as one of the major contemporary Dutch poets.

     Faverey was awarded the Constantijn Huygens Prize of his entire oeuvre the year of his death.




Gedicten (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1968); Gedichten 2 (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1972); Chrysanten, roeiers (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1977); Lichtva (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1978); Gedichten (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1980); Zijden Kettingen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1983); Hinderlijke goden (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1985; Tegen het vergeten (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1988); Het ontbrokene (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1990); Verzamelde gedichten (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1993); Springvossen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2000)




Against the Forgetting: Selected Poems, trans. by Francis R. Jones (London: Anvil Press, 1994); Against the Forgetting: Selected Poems, trans. and updated by Francis R. Jones (New York: New Directions, 2004)


For a poem, "Exorcism," click below:



For a tape on the life of the poet in Dutch, click below:


July 30, 2011

Jan Erik Vold (Norway) 1939

Jan Erik Vold (Norway)


Born in Oslo, during the German Occupation, on October 18, 1939, Jan Erik Vold studied language and literature at the University of Oslo and the University of California, Santa Barbara in the 1960s.

     His first book of poetry, mellom speil og speil (between the mirror and mirrors) of 1965 brought a new energy through his focus on everyday language to Norwegian poetry, and a break from what he described as the lyric tendency in Norway "to illustrate the world through beautiful images and gentle rhythms." His anti-sentimental work also pulled away from the depiction of the inner world the emphasis on the first person. Vold became a central figure in the so-called "Profile" group, named for the journal Profil.

     Highly influenced by jazz and contemporary American writing, Vold has published over 22 collections of poetry as well as fictions, essays, and journalism. Several of his poems have been recorded with jazz musicians such as Chet Baker, Red Mitchell, Nisse Sandström and Egil Kapstad.

     In Norway, Vold is also well known for his community involvement, particularly with regard to skiing and skating, particularly expressed in his collection of poetry, Spor, snø (Track, snow) of 1970.

     The poet has received numerous poetry awards Gyldendalprisen, The Nordic Council of Literature Prize, the Brage Prize, the Cultural Council Prize, and the Tarjei Vesaas debut award.

     He has also translated American poets, including William Carlos Williams, Robert Creeley, and Frank O'Hara, along with translations of Samuel Beckett.

     Vold currently lives in Stockholm.


mellom speil og spiel (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1965); HEKT (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1966); blakket (Oslo: Komment Forlag, 1966); Svingstang (private printing of 700 copies); Mor Godhjertas glade versjon. Ja (Oslo: Glydendal, 1968); Bo på Briskeby blues (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1969); kykelipi (Oslo: Glydendal, 1969); Spor, snø (1970); Bok 8: LIV (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1970); S (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1978); sirken sirkel: boken om prins Adrians reise (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1979); Sorgen. Sangen. Veien (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1987); En som het Abel Ek (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1988); Elg (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1989); IKKE: skillingstrykk fra nittitallet (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1993); En sirkel is (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1993); Kalenderdikt (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1995); Ikke [illustrated by Steffen Kverneland] (Oslo: Samlaget, 1997); I vektens tegn: 777 dikt (Oslo: Gyldendal, 2000); Tolv meditasjoner/Twelve Meditations [in Norwegian and English] (Oslo: Gyldendal, 2002); Diktet minner om vrden (Oslo: Komment Forlag, 2003/enlarged edition, Oslo: Gyldendal, 2004); Drømmemakeren sa (Oslo: Gyldendal, 2004); Huset er hvitt: dikt 1970-1978 (Oslo: Gyldendal, 2005); En som ser: dikt 1965-1966 (Oslo: Gyldendal, 2005);  Store hvite bok å se (Oslo: Gyldendal, 2011)


Tolv meditasjoner/Twelve Meditations [in Norwegian and English] (Oslo: Gyldendal, 2002)

To read one of Vold's "Twelve Meditations," click below:



For a performance of his sung poem "Balladen om reven og råken," click below:



Paal Brekke 

Profil Group (Norway) 

In the mid 1960s, Norway's writers became increasingly politically conscious, and were determined to bring Norwegian literature abreast of the rest of European literature. Profil would eventually become the most notable literary magazine. 
      To achieve their goals of radicalizing the writing of Norway, the writers of this journal rebelled against the traditional psychological fiction and poetry. The question of the true identify for the modern state was core. Dag Solstad contributed significantly to this late 60-figures modernism through his articles, essays and literary works. 
      Although poetry had already begun exhibiting a modernist style through the 1950's and early 60s, young poets sought a break with the traditionalists who still wrote in fixed stanza forms. The younger poets targeted replacing the 50s-style symbolism, and Jan Erik Vold was at the forefront of this insurgency. 
     Profil poetry introduced a new simplicity, concretism, and use of everyday language. Paal Brekke was particularly noted for promoting modern European poetry, both as poet and critic. He argued for a renewal of Norwegian poetry, and spread knowledge of foreign literature through translations of English modernist writers like T.S.Eliot. 
     In the mid 1950s Brekke participated in the debate on lyrical form, and opposed André Bjerke and Arnulf Øverland in the so-called Glossolalia debate. 
     Among the established lyrists, Olav H. Hauge transitioned to modernistic and concretist poetry and enjoyed a renaissance, especially with his collection entitled Dropar in austavind, which inspired other, younger Norwegian poets, such as Vold. 
      After a short period the Profil group went separate routes, as authors such as Dag Solstad, Espen Haavardsholm, and Tor Obrestad turned to the newly formed party Workers' Communist Party (Arbeidernes kommunistparti or AKP), and become involved in formulating a new political program that based on the view that literature should serve the working people and their uprising against capitalism. Arild Asnes Solstad's 1970 is a key novel to understanding the desire of the modern intellectual to connect with something larger and more realistic – the working people and a cause.  

--Douglas Messerli

July 26, 2011

Christian Morgenstern (Germany) 1871-1914

Christian Morgenstern (Germany)


Christian Otto Josef Wolfgang Morgenstern, born on May 6, 1871 in Munich, spent his early schooling at the "humanistische Gymnasium" in Breslau, later studying law and economics at the Breslau University. Yet he chose not to enter in either career, but worked first as a journalist in Berlin, traveling extensively to other parts of Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, in part to find relief for his tuberculosis.

     Although his health was never restored, he did meet some of the foremost literary and philosophical figures of the day.

     Most of his short life was devoted to writing, composing his most famous collection, Galgenlieder (Gallows Songs) in 1905. Humorous and witty works, these poems grew very popular, the author himself living to see fourteen editions published. In the tradition of Lewis Carroll, and Edward Lear, Morgenstern's works satirized scholarly writing through intense wordplay and nonsense.

     His humorous songs were followed with the publication of Palmström in 1910. Three volumes Palma Kunkel (1916), Der Gingganz (1919), and Alle Galgenlieder (1932), were published posthumously. Although the poems are notorious difficult to translated, several translations of Gallows Songs have appeared in English and numerous other languages.


In Phanta's Schloss : Ein Cyklus humoristisch-phantastischer Dichtungen (Berlin: Schuster und Loeffler, 1897); Galgenlieder (Berlin: B. Cassirer, 1905); Galgenlieder, nebst dem Gingganz (Berlin: B. Cassirer, 1909); Der Gingganz (Berlin: B. Cassirer, 1919); Palmström (Berlin: B. Cassirer, 1920); Auf vielen Wegen (Munich: R. Piper, 1921); Palma Kunkel (Berlin: B. Cassirer, 1922); Einkehr (Munich: R. Piper, 1922); Melancholie (Berlin: B. Cassirer, 1928) 


Galgenlieder, trans. by Max Knight (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963); Gallows Songs (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967); The Great Lalula and Other Nonsense Rhymes (New York: Putnam, 1969); Gallows Songs: Galgenlieder (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1970); The Daynight Lamp, and Other Poems (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973); Songs from the Gallows (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1993)

For a discussion of the sound values in one of Morgenstern's poems, click here:



For a video performance of some of Morgenstern's "lyrics" in German, click below:



Das grosse Lalulā


Kroklokwafzi? Semeememi!


Bifzi, bafzi; hulalemi:

quasti basti bo...

Lalu, lalu, lalu, lalu la!


Hontraruru miromente

zasku zes rü rü?

Entepente, leiolente

klekwapufzi lü

lalu lalu lalu lalula!


Simarar kos malzipempu

silzuzandkundkrei (;) !

Marjomar dos: Quempu Lempu

Siri Suri Sei []!

Lalu lalu lalu lalu la!



The Two Donkeys


A gloomy donkey, tir-d of life

one day addressed his wedded wife:


"I am so dumb, you are so dumb,

let's go and die together, come!"


But as befalls, time and again,

they lived on happily, the twain.


--Translated from the German by Max Knight


(from Galgenlieder, 1905)


The Twelve Nix


The Twelve Nix raises up his hand

and midnight strikes throughout the land.


The gaping pond in silence harks;

the canyon canine softly barks.


The bittern rises from its bog;

out of his swampland peers the frog.


The snail perks up within his house,

and likewise the potato mouse.


The will o' wisp has stopped its jig

and rests upon a broken twig.


Sophia dreams, the hangman's wench:

The moonsheep pleads before the bench.


The gallows gang sways up and down;

an infant cries far off in town.


Two moles, just married, turn about

and kiss each other on the snout.


While deep within the forest's mist

a spiteful night ghoul shakes his fist


because a hiker, late on tour,

did not get lost in pond and moor.


The Raven Ralph calls out in fear;

"The end is near, the end is near!"


The Twelve Nix, now, puts down his hand

and sleep again enshrouds the land.


--Translated from the German by Karl F. Ross


(from Galgenlieder, 1905)

July 11, 2011

IMAGISM (Imagisme)

IMAGISM (Imagisme)

The Imagist movement of American and British poetry began in 1912, with a statement by Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Richard Aldington, R. S. Flint, and T. E. Hulme. The first manifesto contained six simple assertions, but the overall might be summed up by describing it as a call for clarity of expression and the use of precise visual images. Along with that, the poets argued for a new "cadence" that incorporated new ideas.

These statements were in reaction to Victorian and lingering Romantic styles of American and British poetry still heavily in use the second decade of the 20th century.

The manifesto statements were:

1. To use the language of common speech, but employ the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.

2. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better expressed in free verse than in conventional forms. In poetry, a new cadence means a new idea.

3. Absolute freedom in the choice of subject.

4. To present an image. We are not a school of painters, but we believe that poetry should render particulars exactly, and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. it is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to us to shirk the real difficulties of his art.

5. To produce a poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.

6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.

Between 1914 and 1917 the group produced four Imagist anthologies, including early selections in the magazines Poetry (1912) and The Egotist (from 1914): Des Imagistes (1914), Some Imagists (1915, 1916, 1917).

Pound, one of the major figures of early Imagism, felt betrayed by Lowell's notions of the movement (expressed most notably in her essay "Imagism") and her inclusion of numerous other figures, suggesting even Frost and Sandburg as Imagists. Other poets, including John Gould Fletcher, Harriet Monroe, Conrad Aiken, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, D. H. Lawrence, and T. S. Eliot were, in fact, influenced by aspects of the group.

By 1914, Pound had broken with what he described as Lowell's "Amygism," turning to the British Futurists in order to create a new movement, Vorticism. Pound succinctly summarizes his view of Imagism in his book, Gaudier-Brezska (1916), explaining his dissatisfaction with the way the movement ultimately expressed itself.

—Douglas Messerli

For a lecture on Imagism by Langdon Hammer at Yale University, click below:

July 5, 2011

Investigative Procedures: Publishing Spatola

Investigative Procedures: Publishing Spatola
by Douglas Messerli

Adriano Spatola The Position of Things: Collected Poems 1961-1992 (Los Angeles: Green
Integer, 2008)

With the Green Integer copy of Adriano Spatola’s collected poems, The Position of Things, in hand, wherein Paul Vangelisti thanks me in his “Translator’s Note,” for my “longstanding commitment to the book, I thought I might ponder why I had been so committed to and active in seeing this book come to print, particularly since Paul asked me to write something about the publishing of the book. I thought perhaps it will be of some interest to readers to consider why a publisher chooses the books he does, why a particular book—as opposed to all the others that could possibly have been selected—is brought to life. My choice of books is very personal, as I seek works that elicit deep feelings in me or intimately relate to my own
experiences. Accordingly, I ask the reader’s indulgence in this particular exploration of a great author’s work as I compare my own life and perceptions of myself with those of another. My comparisons are not of the quality of work, but of impetuses behind the writing.

I had previously published the long Spatola poem, “Material, Materials, Recovery of” in a bi-lingual edition in my 20 Pages Sun & Moon Press series. And I had printed a large chunk of Spatola’s works in the 1999 Sun & Moon anthology, The Promised Land: Italian Poetry After 1975. I also had been given copies of Paul’s noted earlier translations of Spatola’s Majakovskiiiiiiiij and Various Devices (I have two copies in my library), and I’d read portions of those titles. Yet it seems amazing—particularly given all the other hundreds of poets in translation I was reading during these same years—that from 1996 to the present I kept advocating the publication of Spatola’s work.

In a sense, I had felt Spatola’s presence in Los Angeles the moment, after moving here in 1984, I began to meet some of the serious poets of the city. Paul, of course, spoke highly of Spatola, whom he had first published in 1971 in his magazine, Invisible City, and whom he had first met in April 1975. Spatola had himself visited Los Angeles, long before my coming here, in 1978 and again in 1980, and memories of those visits and his poetic impact were still fresh in the minds of writers such as Dennis Phillips (who had not met Spatola, but had read his poems) and Lee Hickman, the latter of whom published in his last issue of the magazine Temblor (issue no. 10) Spatola’s poem “Little Exhortation” and Antonio Porta’s obituary of Spatola, “From the Threat of Silence,” as well a selection from my own work. I don’t recall reading that obituary at the time, but I must have, at least, scanned it, noting Porta’s impassioned exhortation of his first paragraph:

It doesn’t seem possible that we would want to forget so quickly and without any reservation a poet of absolute value like Adriano Spatola. Yet one has the unpleasant impression that there is no desire to take serious stock of his death (having come last November 23, at the age
of 47). Have we really become so “cool” toward a poetry that was never conformist? Are we truly content with our modest coaster and our comfortable little neoclassic harbor, and do we prefer repetition to invention? So it is necessary to call attention one more time, empha-
tically, to the work of Adriano Spatola….

I must also have noted, later on in this short essay, Porta’s loving tribute to his poet friend:

Founding Tam Tam was Spatola’s moment of major cultural determination. That act of courage, personal and political, which helped many rediscover a trust in poetic language, would have been enough to ensure him a definite place in our cultural history.

If nothing else, I assimilated these ideas about Spatola, that he was an important poet, like myself an editor, and a man who lived a life almost completely immersed in his art. As Beppe Cavatorta has written: Spatola was a “renaissance poet,” “a visual poet, a sound poet, a concrete poet, a linear poet, editor of an innovative magazine, a refined critic and translator, organizer of historical poetry happenings…and founder of his ‘republics of poetry.’”

As late as 1996, when Paul and I first began our aspirations of publishing Spatola’s collected poems and I wrote to Bianca Maria Bonazzi for permission to do so, however, I had not yet read most of Adriano’s work, and Spatola remained for me a somewhat shadowy figure. How then explain my fervor and long-lasting commitment over these years when I was so overcommitted to publishing other poets, fiction writers, dramatists, and belle-lettrists?

When Vangelisti and I finally determined, late last year, that the time had come to actually produce the book, moreover, I acted—which what many of my writers will describe as uncharacteristic swiftness —producing the finished book in just a few weeks after the delivery of the final manuscript, taking time out only to finally read the whole of it!

What I discovered in those poems and the excellent afterword by Cavatorta, was a confirmation of the poet—as if he needed my confirmation! But I think I can now, at least, explain my previously sublimated interest in the man and his work.

I have already alluded to feeling a great interconnection with Spatola’s literary activities and my own life. I might never be willing to call my publishing pursuits, which have now spanned more than three decades, “courageous” acts—although leaving the university and all financial capabilities behind represented, if nothing else, slightly insane behavior. But reading Cavatorta’s descriptions of Spatola’s intellectual “poetocrazia,” his “country of poetry,” along with Spatola’s own comments—

What then is my activity? First of all, it is a full-time activity. I am free only when invited to a festival of poetry…. On Sundays I have to meet authors and friends who work and are busy during the week. During the other days I typeset, layout and finish books for the printer, I take care of correspondence, I prepare large and small packages for subscribers, I answer the telephone, I cook….—

made me aware that we are at least “soul brothers” in the lonely act of living a life of art. As most people who know me well can tell you, I am to be reached in my Green Integer (and formerly at my Sun & Moon) offices (the latter located behind the self-proclaimed Getrude Stein Plaza) any day of the week. And, although, unlike Spatola, I do little cooking (my companion forbids me from turning our kitchen into a culinary chaos—which also explains why, instead of Spatola’s favorite working space, the kitchen, I packed up books in Sun & Moon’s early days in our bedroom), along with my new enterprise of publishing an annual book of cultural memoirs, one might say that, like Spatola, I live what many might describe as a “committed life”—perhaps a somewhat selfish life, but one I see as representing an impassioned dedication to poetry and writing in general. For me also, art is “serious business.”

That said, Spatola and I do not exactly share the same poetics. His para-surrealistic, paratactic language, a writing which he often describes as “black, dirty, and personal,”

Black poetry black on both sides
doesn’t eat with its mouth or its teeth
not even forceps cancers asthma urology
lips almost open and almost lacerated
the zoomorphic animal that appears dilated
or salad sand of mature thoughts
little by little but only slithering
black dirty privy of presentiments

seemingly bears little resemblance to my more lyrically-inspired, more American romantically-based, and hermetic work. Certainly, our poetry often shares in the density and impactedness of the language, but my collage-based aesthetic is oppositional to Spatola’s longer, repeating poems. Yet in a work like his “The Scissors on the Table,” in which the poet wittily pulls the chair out from under his four-lined rants, “cutting” away the significance of his own dark and emotional statements as he lays them, so to speak, out upon the table, I recognize some of my own early attempts to stealthily situate my own emotions in relation to the reader.

From things the silence the lazy indifference
the old grudge the irresolute insistence
brick upon brick without the last rows
fermented fears irrational requests
nothing much important.

To make sense the rule a secret understanding
syrupy backgrounds odd prejudices
ball of wool and subsoil background with shadow
above all the absence the satisfied coldness
nothing much important.


By repeatedly insisting upon the unimportance of his previous comments, Spatola, of course, draws attention precisely to his words and, by poem’s end we recognize the “acts of degradation,” the “homicidal combustion” and other forces he catalogues as being very much of importance, as representing just those things about which we should become outraged. By work’s end we may recognize, indeed, that it is the “lazy indifference,” the “old grudges,” the “odd prejudices” which ultimately come to be “nothing much important.”

It is perhaps the very differences between us, however, that so draws me to this poet. For in a work such as “Material, Materials, Recovery of”—a poem I could never have written—I am completely overwhelmed by Spatola’s powerful images of a truly “black and dirty” world, a near-holocaust landscape where seemingly all of society has come together to destroy the planet:

Toward the city of placental byways
grazed by the plentiful wares of florists
of pharmacists endowed with prenatal memories
in the gilded bream that seems to swell
dualistic like the profit of interested parties
with the correct and three-dimensional perception
even the look is important in doing business.

Toward the glacial cold the genetic weakness
of formal thought’s painless erosion
which we suspect inside erratic boulders
or among the ants of the frenetic spirit
the force of belligerents with a lively cure
but the grindery carries out the grinding
never had the wound been so simple and pure

How far we have come from Eliot’s contained patient “etherized upon a table” or even William Carlos Williams’ “road to the contagious hospital!” In Spatola’s bleak and blasted environmental disaster, there is no possible redemption. His “acrid zone burning with combustion,” a world of “grass crushed by rasping bulldozer tracks,” where “ambulances are busy with the locals,” represents something of which we only take stock, seek out the “microfilm of the life of investigative procedures.”

One might almost use that metaphor to describe much of Spatola’s writing: “investigative procedures” into how, in the latter half of the 20th century, we lived our lives. If his poetry gives us any evidence of our failures and successes—and it does—I am proud to have been able to help keep those words alive, and further, introduce them to an American audience so much in need of comprehending what has happened to create, as he begins his Eliotic satire “The Cocktail Hour,” “This image of an uninhabited planet.”

Indeed Spatola lived the poetic life—a somewhat hidden life, at times a lonely life—almost as an undercover detective devoted to getting at the truth. His admission at the end of that poem—

I am this history, canned beef, illustrated cerebrum
exhibited in a lecture hall, with my cortical zones and
traces of thought and memory and time and the violence
of comprehension

—might almost serve as a preamble to the aspirations of my own poetic and critical acts.

Los Angeles, March 2, 2008

Presented at a three-day celebration of Spatola, “The Position of Things: The Life and Work of Adriano Spatola,”in Los Angeles (Bonelli Contemporary art galley, Otis College of Art + Design, and the University of California, Los Angeles) on March 6-8, 2008.
Reprinted in Or, No. 1 (September 2008).

July 3, 2011



Less a formal "group" of poets than a gathering of Southern California poets through a series of interrelated friendships, these writers stand apart from the other various and diverse poetic activities throughout the region.

Although many of them had long worked together and appeared in small groupings in numerous anthologies and magazines, they were most notably linked by Douglas Messerli's anthology Intersections: Innovative Poetry in Southern California, as the fifth volume in his The PIPAnthology of World Poetry of the 20th Century of 2005.

The poets included in this volume—Will Alexander, David Antin, Rae Armantrout, Thérèse Bachand, Todd Baron, Guy Bennett, Franklin Bruno, Wanda Coleman, Robert Crosson, Catherine Daly, Michael Davidson, Leland Hickman, Barbara Maloutas, Deborah Meadows, Douglas Messerli, Harryette Mullen, Martin Nakell, Dennis Phillips, Christopher Reiner, Martha Ronk, Joe Ross, Jerome Rothenberg, Mark Salerno, Standard Schaefer, John Thomas, Paul Vangelisti, Pasquale Verdicchio, and Diane Ward—were linked not so much by aesthetic or structural issues than by what Messerli described as "intersections," a series of concerns and poetic issues which occurred whenever two or more of them came together.

Although few of the poets over the years kept in close contact all the others (indeed three of poets were dead at the time of the anthology), through events such as Messerli's long-running literary salon (1985 to 2006) and publication in journals such as Lee Hickman's Temblor, Paul Vangelisti's Invisible City, Ribot, The New Review of Literature, and OR; Douglas Messerli's presses, Sun & Moon and Green Integer; and the collaborative publishing venture of Dennis Phillips, Martha Ronk, and Paul Vangelisti, Littoral Books made for close working relationships between the majority of these figures.

Messerli defined six major "intersections" wherein most of the poets included came together: 1) an insistence upon editing and creating similar poetic activities, 2) an international perspective, including an interest in translation, 3) an interest in non-Hollywood film, drama, and performance, 4) an interest in visual art, 5) the use of the landscape of Southern California and an underlying similarity of linguistic tropes, 6) a fascination with narrative stimulated by the vast spaces of the region.

Since the anthology, while many of the friendships have been maintained, the spirit of any "group" activity has somewhat dissipated, with some poets (Franklin Bruno, Joe Ross, and Standard Schaefer) moving away from the area.

—Douglas Messerli



A literary movement argued from by the Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro, most particularly in his essay of the same name.

For Huidobro, poetry is a truly new thing, created not to reflect life, but for the sake of itself, a thing made not to represent or point to another, not to please the reader, or even be understood by its own author.

Creationism, accordingly, was a general aesthetic theory rather than a school of art, or a group poets might join. As early as 1912, in the journal The Young Muse, Huidobro had argued:

The reign of literature is over. The twentieth century will witness the birth of the reign of poetry in the true sense of the word; this will be creation, as the Greeks called it, although they never came to realize their definition.

In 1913 or 1914, he repeated a similar idea in an interview in the magazine Ideals. Writing in his essay "Creationism" he summarizes his ideas:

I will tell you what I mean by the created poem. It's a poem in which each constituent pat and everything together presents a new fact, independent of the external world and detached from all reality other than itself, because it takes its place in the world as a particular phenomenon
separate and apart from other phenomena.

This poem is a thing which cannot exist elsewhere than in the head of the poet. It isn't beautiful out of nostalgia, it isn't beautiful because we recall some things seen which were beautiful beings
that we have lost the possibility of seeing. It is beautiful in itself and it doesn't admit of terms of comparison. It cannot be conceived anywhere but in a book.

There is nothing resembling it in the external world. It renders real that which doesn't exist; that is to say, it makes its own reality.*

His inspirations were, in part, the poems of Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, Georges Ribémont Dessaignes, and Paul Éluard. Among the Spanish poets Huidobro sites were Juan Larrea and Gerardo Diego. Yet, obviously, there are similarities in Huidobro's ideas with those of Oscar Wilde, who believed art must stand apart from life.

Huidobro's poem, "Arte Poetica" perhaps best summarizes his argument:

Let the verse be as a key
Opening a thousand doors.
A leaf falls; something is flying by;
Let whatever your eyes gaze upon be created,
And the soul of the hearer remain shivering.

Invent new worlds and watch over your word;
The adjective, when not a life-giver, kills.

We are in the cycle of nerves.
Like a memory
The muscle hangs in the museums;
Nevertheless, we have no less strength:
True vigor
Dwells in the head.

Why do you sing the rose, oh Poets!
Make it blossom in the poem;

Only for us
Live all things under the Sun.

The Poet is a little God.**

—Douglas Messerli

For a musical performance of the Huidobro poem by the Ensable Transient, click below:

*from "Creationism" in Vicente Huidobro Manifestos Manifest, trans. by Gilbert Albert-Gilbert (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 1999). English language translation copyright ©1999 by Gilbert Albert-Gilbert. Reprinted by permission of Green Integer.

**from Vicente Huidobro The Poet Is a Little God, trans. by Jorge García-Gómez (Riverside, California: Xenos Books, 1990). English language translation copyright ©1990. Reprinted by permission.