Oct 24, 2014

Alette In Oakland

FRIDAY 10/24:

7:30pm-9:00pm: Introduction & Reading by Alice Notley

9:00pm-10:00pm: Reception


10:00am-11:30am: Panel No. 1: Maggie Nelson, Sara Larsen, Laura Moriarty, Norman Fischer.

11:45am-1:15pm: Panel No. 2: Allison Cobb, Marcella Durand**, Laura Woltag, Lauren Levin, Brenda Iijima**

1:15pm-2:15pm: Lunch

2:15pm-3:45pm: Panel No. 3: Kaplan Harris, Steve Dickison, Jeanine Webb, Jennifer Karmin, Bernadette Mayer**

4:00pm-5:30pm: Panel No. 4: Becca Klaver, Trisha Low, Cassandra Gillig, Cathy Wagner

5:30pm-6:00pm: Keynote Talk: Eileen Myles

6:00pm-8:00pm: Dinner

8:00pm-9:00pm: A performance of “Anne’s White Glove” by Alice Notley, directed by Alana Siegel

[The cast and crew include Jane Gregory, David Brazil, Kevin Killian, Cassandra Gillig, Helen Frances, Jeremy Michael Dalmas, Annie O'Hare, Elaine Kahn, Crystal Sasaki, Steve Dickison, Kit Schlüter, Paul Ebenkamp, Heidi Gustafson, Alex Cruse, and Monica Raden. The play is free.]

SUNDAY 10/26:

10:00am-11:30am: Panel No. 5: Anne Boyer**, Alana Siegel, Others TBA

11:30am-12:30pm: Lunch

12:30pm-2:00pm: Town Hall with Alice Notley

Oct 17, 2014

RIP Ron Loewinsohn, an honor to read with you in 2012.

Oct 13, 2014

Orlando Soundtrack

66. Thing Of Beauty: New And Selected Works- Jackson Mac Low
University of California Press

who apologized today, what'd I miss?
bridesmaids showing butts is a trend grabs popcorn you fucking devil worshiper
65. The Handmaid's Tale- Margaret Atwood

I could really go for a warm glass of red wine right now
"we should grab a beer sometime" is the new "sincerely yours"
i.e. the regular kaffeeklatsch route
64. Clive Barker's Hellraiser Volume 4: Hell Hath No Fury- Clive Barker

I believe she was wearing tit-high Wranglers

"koalas aren't hard they some little bitches"

and can I just say, Americans don't stroll

I just ran 3.34 mi with Nike+
63. A Man In Full- Tom Wolfe
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Karen: That guy asked for our help and we lit him on fire...
Bert: Goddamn it! What pancakes, you fuck?
Dennis: Pancakes. Pancakes!
Bert: no pancakes
Bert: no pancakes!

Oct 10, 2014

Benjamin Hollander Responds to Guillermo Parra

1) According to some Facebook posts I have been sent (I'm not on social media), I am, according to Guillermo Parra:  "A privileged white North American (Benjamin Hollander) threatening a Mexican intellectual for critiquing Olson and for deciding to retire from writing. Very avant-garde of Hollander."

Well, yeah, I guess I look white (see the lovely poem by my friend,   Semezdhin Mehmedinovic, called "Open Dialogue," about how deceptive looking "white" means for a  Bosnian  Muslim):

Open Dialogue

“What are you reading?”

“Poems by Jallaludin Rumi, a
Poet born in Afghanistan.”

“Where are you from?”


“Serbs and Croats, right? Is anyone else there?”

“There are others.”

“What color are your eyes?”

“Green till Colorado
But since we passed Apache Canyon
They’re blue in the
New Mexico light.”

“So then what kind of Muslim are you?”

Semezdin Mehmedinović, “Open Dialogue”
trans. Ammiel Alcalay, From Nine Alexandrias

But, even “Looking white, ” I’m as un-American as they come, and I  have even written a book with that title, In The House Un-American, which partly emerges out of my history-- I was born and partly raised in the middle east (Israel). I once wrote a book called Rituals of Truce and the Other Israeli, probably the only book by an Israeli Jewish poet which calls out the self-righteousness of his so-called people in their occupation of Palestinian land and people. 
(and so I wonder: how many of the people posting on Facebook about my  “north americanness”  are themselves born and raised in the good ole U.S. of A. and thus much more "North American" than I?).
So, for all that biography and writing history, in one post  I get labeled by Guillermo Parra the "privileged [oh-besides being an immigrant, I grew up in lower working class, Jamaica, Queens--] "White North American.” So a non-American working class Hollander figure has been morphed by Guillermo Parra into someone “so avant-garde,” and Parra somehow has me pegged as Carlos b. Carlos Suares? Huh? This is absurd. Well, o.k.—I guess I have to take the brunt of the attack—it’s to be expected, since I’m a messenger writing on behalf of Il Gruppo (which does exist—see point 2)

But here’s the real point: if Carlos Suarès was really allowed to be read on his own terms, if rather than being personally vilified as my “ludicrous pseudonym” who is “threatening” Yepez, people would actually see that Carlos has had nothing but a lot of history of love for and attention to Yepez’s oeuvre (he even says this in the excerpt posted about “the Heriberto I loved” whose image Carlos tried to save before he had to abandon his hero because of his scholarly follies.

In the Letters for Olson, Carlos Suarès goes into great depth about his love and admiration and critique of Yepez. Well, these letters will now not be seen because the Chicago Review—perhaps out of fear, of what I don’t know—has silenced the Suarès letters. And in response to this end-game by the Chicago Review, Jack Hirschman, the former SF poet laureate, has now also said “no” to that magazine, and has written me to ask them to not let the magazine publish his Letter for Olson, which also addresses Yepez’s book.

2) in their Facebook and Twitter posts, Guillermo Parra (and others?) do not believe these other writers Amiri Baraka, Diane di Prima, Jack Hirschman, Ammiel Alcalay, Benjamin Hollander, Ricardo Cázares, and Carlos b. Carlos Suarès) are a part of Il Gruppo, that's it's me, alone:
“There is no Il Gruppo. It's Benjamin Hollander's excuse to personally attack Heriberto Yépez for daring to critique Charles Olson.”

Does he want to see my emails from Baraka, or Ammiel Alcalay's email from Diane di Prima, or the letter on Olson and Yepez from Jack Hirschman --"the  legendary American communist poet and activist," whom I see almost every week--all of whom support and are a part of  Il Gruppo
Well, no need to open up the email box, let's give Guillermo and friends objective, visual proof:

Just let them  look at Alcalay introducing Baraka at Gloucester, Oct. 2013:
first at appx 8 minutes  and 40 seconds in this video, before Baraka comes on stage, Alcalay mentions Baraka’s support of Il Gruppo, and the ridiculousness of Yepez’s claims (Yepez has written: “From various perspectives, then, the “projective” has much less to do with a poetics of “energy” and “breathing” than it does with a poetics of military movements and information gathering transformed into a poetic sublime”)

Alcalay  says: “well, since Amiri published Projective Verse, [which Yepez suggests is a military —metaphor] ”well, if Olson is the big imperialist, then, by association, Amiri [as his publisher], must be a small imperialist”) What a thought!

then,  Baraka himself talking about Yepez, briefly, dismissively, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWx6Sp6YSm4, saying
at appx. 24:50--25:25 
"That dude who wrote that  book in Mexico, whatever his name is, saying that Olson was an imperialist all he has to do is read this passage" in Olson—Olson’s poem  (Baraka emphasizing that this dude--Yepez--is clueless, just read this passage, please!)
Out of Song 3—from “Songs of Maximus”

 In the midst of plenty, walk
                as close to
                          In the face of sweetness,
                            In the time of goodness,
                go side, go
                smashing, beat them, go as
                (as near as you can


                In the land of plenty, have
                nothing to do with it
                                                          take the way of
                the lowest,
                your legs, go
                contrary, go


and, in an email to me, Baraka wondering who the fuck is this cat linking Olson to empire, when he, Baraka, wrote me that he was trying to crush empire right there on the ground, in Jersey, not in avant-garde theory.

At some point, Il Gruppo will have a further response. For the record, this is 1) a response to the attack on me
And 2) to the claim that I Gruppo does not exist.

Oct 9, 2014

Il Groupo Responds...

[this post contains updates that appear in square brackets]

late last night I received an email/ dispatch from Benjamin Hollander on behalf of Il Groupo regarding the recent revelation that Heriberto Yepez was retiring his 20 year long writing project.   
Benjamin asked if I would post the text below to my blog, Benjamin also wanted me to mention that Carlos b. Carlos Suarès  letters will appear soon in The Chicago Review [ed. correction 10/10/14 Chicago Review will not be publishing the Suarès letters, see below for Benjamin Hollander's statement regarding that situation] featuring "Letters for Olson," also including a letter from former SF poet laureate, Jack Hirschman.

Il Gruppo Responds to Heriberto Yepez's Impossible Resignation

Harriet blog recently posted “The Writing Project that was Heriberto Yepez,” (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2014/09/the-writing-project-that-was-heriberto-yepez/)

 a letter from Heriberto Yepez originally posted at Venepoetics:

“2014 marks 20 years since the beginning of the writing project I’ve created under the signature ‘Heriberto Yépez, I have decided to conclude this writing project. It can be said that Heriberto Yépez’s oeuvre has concluded.”

Harriet asks:

What does this mean for Il Gruppo (whose members have included Amiri Baraka, Diane di Prima, Jack Hirschman, Ammiel Alcalay, Benjamin Hollander, Ricardo Cázares, and Carlos b. Carlos Suarès)

The Chicago Review will publish in the next two issues a section called “Letters for Olson,” [ed. correction 10/10/14 Chicago Review will not be publishing the Suarès letters, see below for Benjamin Hollander's statement regarding that situation] which were composed by members of Il Gruppo LONG BEFORE  Yepez's self-imposed "resignation."  These texts include two “Letters to North American Readers,”  by Carlos b. Carlos Suarès, a warning about the hero he had to abandon, Heriberto Yepez', whom Carlos had to let go before Heriberto could possibly conclude and quit himself.  Here is a sneak preview:    

In the end, my dilemma came down to this: The Heriberto I loved had become a disappointing fraud, at least in terms of his knowledge of Olson, but the fact was I loved him precisely because he had always been a disappointing fraud.  He acted the literary roles expected of him, as Mexican critic, or so he said, “performing a kind of role-playing as an author within a specific culture (in this case, the Mexican Republic of Letters)”   He wanted, he said,  to build “communication between our two cultures through imaginary entities and lies.” His “fictive criticism…was part of a diálogo diablo (to use Groussac’s image) on the periphery of Latin America, a devilish dialogue or diabolical dialogue, a sort of wanna-be experimental cross-cultural setup which [could] accomplish much more than more serious academic approaches.” He was, to an extent, a little like me, when I worked as the gardener for that kind SoCal scholar, when I hoped my skills with hoes would gain me entry into a dialogue with her-- on the heroes and anti-heroes of literature. For example, I would have treasured, like the recovery of a trunk full of manuscripts, a dialogue with her about my other hero, my distant cousin, Carlos Bernardo Soares, who once said:

I am the sort of person who is always on the fringe of what he belongs to….. Everything around me is evaporating.  My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality – it’s all evaporating.  I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else.  What I’m attending here is a show with another set.  And the show I’m attending is myself. 

Hearing my cousin, distant though he was, it hit me: my bond with Heriberto had always been as a person on the fringe of what I belonged to—since there was really nothing there with me and Heriberto, except in theory, as there was really nothing there with Heriberto and Carlos Olson, except in theory.  Curiously, perhaps this was the way Heriberto would have wanted things to end: to be represented by a fact-less biography that explained nothing. So be it. Let him rest, resign, not be, be himself. He had tried to be authoritative and I had tried to save his image, but something else had to happen to rescue him from his “post-Mexican” identity. Maybe he had to become post-Heribertoan.

In fact, one could even say that in my separating from Heriberto, my hero, he had actually succeeded, because I came along to free him from his scholarly follies in order “to destroy his authority as a critic” (these were Heriberto’s words, not mine), which he never liked, or to save him from creating yet another irony to hide his vulnerability in the real world… (I never did that, people heard me confess I almost loved him). But if only a little history was what it took for the memory of Heriberto to be, well, chimera, then, so be it, our bond would have to be broken. Yes, of course I was saddened that it had all come down to a vanishing act in order to break my bond,  that it all had to go up in smoke, so to speak. But what else could I do but let him go? As he  once wrote, and as every one of us knew, “all this role-playing was utterly nihilistic and boring.” And certainly my loyalty to Heriberto, no matter my disappointments, would not allow someone else to just come along willy-nilly and use his irony against him, which is why, plain and simple and not in theory, he had to go before anyone came back for vengeance, lest some stranger come along one day and say with pleasure

“Heriberto, hoy, usted will be hoisted by your own petard.”

Read the complete letters in the next two issues of The Chicago Review [ed. correction 10/10/14 Chicago Review will not be publishing the Suarès letters, see below for Benjamin Hollander's statement regarding that situation]

Benjamin Hollander on behalf of Il Gruppo

updated statement from Benjamin Hollander 10/10/14:

"As of a few days ago, and according to two of its editors, The Chicago Review was in full support of publishing a sequence called Letters for Olson in their next two issues (evidence of this support can be provided). But for some reason they have backed out. Letters for Olson were composed by members of Il Gruppo LONG BEFORE  Yepez's self-imposed "resignation."  These texts include two “Letters to North American Readers,”  by Carlos b. Carlos Suarès, a warning about the hero he had to abandon, Heriberto Yepez', whom Carlos had to let go before Heriberto could possibly conclude and quit himself.  [an excerpt from the Suarès letters is quoted in the post above] which now, because CR has opted out, will not appear, unless other venue takes up Suares' letters--a thorough critique of Yepez's book on Olson."