Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ongoing notes: the dusie kollectiv,

In 2010, American expatriate now living in Switzerland, Susana Gardner, put out a call for what she called “dusie kollectiv 5,” setting into motion some ninety poets in half a dozen countries (focused in the United States and scatterings of Europe), each asked to produce a new self-published work for the sake of sending copies out to all on the list. There is something rare and glorious about sending out that many chapbooks to nearly-strangers and receiving the same amount in return, many from writers I hadn’t previously been aware of. For my contribution, New Zealand poet and publisher Ross Brighton and I actually produced each other's chapbooks (see the link to the one I did of his, here; although I did one of my own, too, as well).

As the packets fly across continents and begin to collect, they will apparently be available at the dusie website at some point as pdfs. Here are a couple of chapbooks I’ve received so far.

Where WH: Dawn Pendergast’s leaves fall leaves (2011) is produced in the same way she produces the small chapbooks in her little red leaves textile series, “lovingly sewn using recycled curtains and other textile remnants,” and opens with this elegant untitled piece:

I’m little wander
er, a little wand
am I, a wad of dawn-
dering wanderous
which is one way
to place my spoon
shape. Mam-
mers, she said
I said.

In this small chapbook, I adore Pendergast’s dancing cadence, her playful hopscotch of image and word, lines that blossom light across the page. There are points at which you can actually track her following the sound, and wondering, delighted, where she might end up, nearly as unaware as she steps and she steps where she might end as the reader, surprised at just what these pieces accomplish. And her little books are beautiful, to boot. How does she maintain such lightness of line, such wonderful ease? Listen to the way her lines break and then fall, but land without bruising or injury, this first stanza of the title poem, that reads:

when fills the sky with leaves
& day bits
& dim breaks
day speaks /
cudgel the word for
casting effing naked claws
at bay
// why sweet bay
my mind ex-

Honolulu HI: Poet and Tinfish editor/publisher Susan M. Schultz has been working with the idea of “memory cards” for some time, from her poetry collection Memory Cards & Adoption Papers (Potes & Poets, 2001) to her more recent Memory Cards: Wolsak Series (France: Ink in Metz, 2010). Her Dementia Blog (2008), written around her mother's dementia, is quite heartbreaking, and the other side of her interest in memory, and the fear of what might be in store for her as well. For her dusie offering, she produced the chapbook Memory Cards: Ashbery Series (2011). As she writes in her colophon:

Each of these memory cards begins from a sentence or a phrase from John Ashbery's collected poetry, Library of America edition. The first six appear in Marsh Hawk Review, guest edited by Eileen Tabios, Spring, 2011.

The memory card form: each prose poem must fit on a card.

The unbound and unnumbered (but dated, from December 27, 2010 to January 24, 2011) cards do exactly what you might think they would, moving themselves through prose poems that begin with an Ashbery line. It doesn't hurt that she's done a good amount of Ashbery's writing, including editing the anthology The Tribe of John: Ashbery and Contemporary Poetry (University of Alabama Press, 1995). Using lines of his to bounce off of, one could argue that any writer could move through near-infinite directions, given the sheer amount of Ashbery's writing, and the infinite weaves of human memory; just how far could Schultz actually go?

For it is you I am parodying, though not through simple reversals, like replacing “dying” with “living” or “paradis” with “enfer.” What you infer from my intrusion is your business alone; we are a private people, after all, locked up in our mansions without furniture, gazing out at the next one over, wondering what lawn service the neighbors use. In my dream, the street directions ended with OM, as if home were nothing more than a sound to summon up an empty lot. The next soccer parent over was placing bets on college games, told me last week didn't go so well. Bookies read the leaves, while we are left with the chicken scratch of print. I open you at random, snitch a line, fear an injustice has inevitably been done. She stole money from the school, then walked away with probation. At least she paid them back.
30 December 2010

Brooklyn NY: For her chapbook, the science seemed so solid (blue language press, 2010), subtitled “(some poems from graceful degradation),” Brooklyn poet Betsy Fagin printed on seemingly-found paper, including what appears to be a paper placemat from something called “Monster Pizzas.” Nice. Considering her reference to “thankless jobs weigh a ton,” I would think she knows much about thankless jobs, whether retail or possibly poetry itself, and the somewhat-rough production gives her poems a kind of cadence, a credibility, in these “poems from graceful degradation.”


established trajectory—
thankless jobs weigh a ton

close observation considers
logistical world focus revelatory.

intentional. obstacles perceived
as progress surround– drawn maps,

charted courses. open avenues
of possibility avoidance.

wrongly directed to a lost wood,
toward the wall; drawn adrift

in collective undertow. time travel
captains position shifts,

re-triangulate. consider gradual
or sudden. undergone smoke wisps,

cinders, structure chrysalis frequency
imaginal cells– strange development.

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