How would you define Slam Poetry?

There are three root definitions of what the term poetry slam means.
Poetry Slam is performance poetry — the remarriage of the art of performing poetry with the art of writing poetry. During the 20th Century “performing” poetry aloud was a practice frowned upon and discouraged by many “establishment” poetry circles — most acutely in Europe and the United States. “Poets are not actors. They should allow the words to do the work of the poem not the physicality or emotions of performance.” The result was a decline in attendance at poetry readings to the point where even the most well known published poets had only a handful audience listening to them at recitals. Poetry Slam changed that through performance.

Poetry Slams are highly entertaining interactive performance poetry events. Slam events are art forms in themselves. Most poetry readings prior to the emergence of slam were formless lackluster events stage in a library under fluorescent lights, college auditoriums and lectures, and/or between bookstore aisles. Little consideration was taken to provide the audience an environment conducive to the intimacy of thought and passion poems are meant to convey. Slams are not academic exercises. They are as entertaining as a musical concert, dance performance, theatrical drama or comedy, or any of the all other performance arts. To be entertaining is essential for all art. Entertaining means simply to hold an audience’s attention. As Martin Esslin wrote:

“… the basic task [of the performative arts] is capturing [the audience’s] attention and holding it as long as required. Only after this fundamental objective is accomplished can loftier motives be achieved” and ambitions and intentions fulfilled which are imparting wisdom and insight, poetry and beauty, amusement and relaxation, illumination and purging of emotions.”

Poetry Slam can be and are often performance poetry competitions. Competitions are one of many performance poetry formats used to focus an audience’s attention to the stage and the poetry being performed on it. Slam competitions were never meant to be a serious determination of which poem or poet is the best. They are merely one type theatrical device for framing a performance poetry event.

When you first came up with the word, why exactly you related word slam to poetry?

It was quite an arbitrary choice of words that stuck. It sprang to mind when I was being interviewed by reporter about the creation of my new show at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Chicago. She asked what I was going to call it. Up until that moment I hadn’t thought what I’d call it. In the moment several things came to mind. Slam dancing (a craze at the time), grand slam home runs, slamming the door in someone’s face. The term slam had both positive and negative connotations. Performance poetry (sans the name slam) had already come into being at The Get Me High Jazz Club, my first show, where the audience was allowed to both praise and heckle poets. The double meaning of the word slam seemed a good choice that proved to be a lasting one.




Talk on Oulipo Movement with Mr. Paul Fournel, Winner of the Prix Goncourt, Paris

Which constrained writing techniques and forms did you use in Oulipo?
(And in other, you play with étreinte, rondel, villanelle, pantoum, sonnet?)
Using old constraints, forgotten or not,is an oulipian habit. We have a lot of “anticipatory plagiarists” and we are always revisiting old forms. This is the reason why, in my poetry book “Le bel appétit” for instance, you can find old Villanelle, old rondel alongside recently created Terines or Etreintes.

Your impressions about François Le Lionnais.
He was a great man with an awfull lot of talents. He was not a writer, he was not a mathematician, he was not a great chess player, but he understood all that and was able to deal about almost everything with the best. He had an idea a minute, among those, a fantastic one every hour. He was the one to create Oulipo and to convince Queneau to follow him.
His life was a novel with many dark pages.
His little book “La peinture à Dora” is a masterpiece about concentration camps.
I enjoyed very much, when I was a young oulipian, to go to his place on Route de la Reine, in Boulogne, among cats and books.
When did you first meet Raymond Queneau?
In 1969. I planned to write my “Mémoire de Maîtrise” on him and I asked for a meeting at Gallimard to ask him a few questions. I had 7 questions. He asked me to read them and concluded that they were good questions and that I would have no trouble in finding the answers. Then I left Paris for Princeton University. When I came back, a year later, I brought my Mémoire and the manuscript of my first book. He decided to publish my book at Gallimard and part of my Maitrise in the NRF and he made me a “slave” at Oulipo…  So was Mr Queneau…
What is Oulipo understanding of poetry how does it explain poetry, and how do you comprehend it?
François Le Lionnais often said that “La poésie est un art simple et tout d’exécution”.
Oulipo does not “explain” poetry, Ouilpo tries to find constraints for new kinds of poems.Oulipo is not into theory, it is a place of creation. We have no “idea” of what poetry should be or is, but we write poems.
There is ambiguity, formal is understood as classical, and yet Oulipo is avantgardish and experimental?
Oulipo is not an avant-garde and does not want to be. Why “formal” should be “classical”?
Is there a use of Oulipo in your prose writings?
Yes, of course. My novel “La Liseuse” (“Dear Reader”), for example, is a sestina. My novel “Chamboula”is a binary graph.
What experience gave you great Oulipo adventure?
I was still a student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure when I entered Oulipo. That means that I have always be an oulipian. You can imagine what it brought to me : everything I know, more or less.
I “d be grateful if you could give your definition of language, especially written one.
That is a huge question!!! My Mémoire de Maitrise was about “Raymond Queneau et le problème du néo-français” so language was at the center of my problems, especialy in the relation between spoken and written language.
Relations of Oulipo to Theater, and pataphysicism.
Some oulipians write for the theatre ; Jacques Roubaud, Jacques Jouet, Hervé Le Tellier and myself. Some of our plays are based on oulipian constraints other not. Oulipian work is not restricted to poetry.
Does Oulipo batter with sense, and such questions as absurdity, or is it just more positive [formal] in its request?
Not really. Absurdity is not a notion that we use in oulipîan work.
In what way Oulipo follows pataphysical tradition?
Some of the founders of Oulipo were members of the College de Pataphysique. Latis who was in charge of the College has decided that Oulipo should be a “co-commission du Collège”, the “co-commission des imprévisibles”. Apart from this, there is not theoretical link between Oulipo and Pataphysic. Today some oulipians do not belong to Collège and do not want to. We have friends in the College and good human relationship, but nothing in common as far as work is concerned.
Pataphysics is original literal and philosophical value. It posed absurdity in creative manner.
‘Pataphysic’s philosophy and absurdity are concepts that do not operate in oulipian work. ‘Pataphysic goes it’s own way and “absurdity” looks today as something of the past is literature and theatre.
Avant-garde, athleticism, sport endeavor,  you are untypical writer in further concept?
I do not feel avant-garde, I do not feel untypical. Sports is a subject as commonplace and legitimate as love for example.
Olimpism, absurdity, byclislism all pioneering you as French avant-gardist
For instance Les Athlètes dans leur tête and then returning to in Besoin de vélo
is questioning the basic values of humanity, is the sport philosophy of man,
or is it absurdity, classical one?
Sport is plainly a human activity, no more absurd than plenty others. It questions the basic values of humanity like every human activity does…
Could you give your definition of athleticism. And sport?
Could sport be pindarian poetry once again?
I have no plan to chant the great athletes of my time – we have plenty of magazines and TV shows for that. I am more into the little pleasures of ordinary amateur athletes and little cracks in the minds of professionals. I stand on the fragile side of sports.




Firstly, let me to ask you do you prefer poems of publication?

I write a lot but I don’t publish a lot. I’m working to finish many of the fragments I have, as my conception of what a poem should be is changing, and changing in such a way that it is accommodating the fragmentary and elusive more. I’ve only published a hundred or so poems, but I think my rate of publication is going to rise over the coming years.

How do you define language?

I think language is consciousness itself, not merely its medium but its essence. But these are dark, mysterious waters.

Give us some artistic explanation of poetry, in a few sentences.

Poetry is language organized by rhythmic energy in which the ratio of implicit meaning to explicit meaning is very high, tending in  the most sublime cases toward infinity. To give a counterexample, journalism, which can also be great art, has an explicit-to-implicit-meaning ratio that is close to 1 to 1.

What about joining contemporary to tradition?

I’m someone who reads across languages and deep into the history of English poetry. Poets all the way back to Chaucer don’t feel archaic to me, but contemporary. They feel, in fact, in some cases, more contemporary than living poets, because of course their poetry is living, and is very vital. So I guess I would agree with T. S. Eliot that part of the job of the artist is to join and develop a tradition. But you could also say that part of the job of an organism is to have a genetic code. An organism IS in some sense its genetic code, and an artist IS in some sense his or her or their (for artists who don’t identify themselves by gender polarities) tradition.

What places are lyrical in Brooklyn?

Along the water’s edge up and down the harbor is always lyrical. Some of the warehouse neighborhoods, in Bushwick and around the Gowanus Canal have a real beauty to them. But I enjoy those places as a person, not as a poet, necessarily. As a poet, recollection in tranquillity is the source of lyricism for me.

As to classic poets and poems, give us favorites.

The list is long, but Song of Myself is probably my favorite work of literature. I always read Wallace Stevens, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Yeats, Blake. I’m reading The Triumph of Life a lot these days. I’m reading Lorca and Jimenez in Spanish. I’m reading and translating the great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib.

You are quite philosophical in your attitudes?

Philosophy was my subject in college, but it created an attitude rather than a subject matter in my writing. I think of philosophy as a highly technical discipline, like mathematics. I don’t think I philosophize in my poems at all. Rather I tell stories that occur on a metaphysical plane, if that isn’t claiming too much for myself.

Poetry must be made by all and not by one?

Yes. Poetry is the articulation of the collective, the universal, consciousness, as embodied in language, examining the minute particulars of experience.

Imagination in the writing process?

The imagination is central. Everything proceeds from it. The illusion of confession is just that, an illusion. However realistic a poem may seem, if it a real poem it springs from the imaginary, not the real. As Muhammad Ali said, without an imagination you cannot fly.

What about your other books?

As I said I’ve written a lot, even though I’ve published only sparely and sporadically, so each of my books is a kind of selected poems, though each has aesthetic unity. “Wild Kingdom” is a book the background of which is nature primarily and, secondarily, the exile from nature into a cityscape riven by racial differentiation. It has a strong political quality to it. “The Long Meadow” is in its largest conception–though of course I didn’t write it with this consciously in mind; it just came out–about the relationship between myth and meaning. That is a rubric only, but one that comprehends most of the poems in the book. And in using the word myth, I’m including its earliest denotation: in ancient Greek the word “mythos” simply means plot, as in a story. Both those books are story-driven books.

How do you see speech?

I don’t think speech, language, can escape meaning. I don’t think it can be reduced to it’s inner structural relationships, as some language poets try do, independent of what words represent. I’m a representational poet, and a realist.

Is speech like society?

Well, I would say that language is collective, it is the form and the substance of the collective consciousness, so language probably IS society is some sense. Language, to mangle Wittgenstein a little, is a game we can only play with others–even when we think we are talking to ourselves we are playing it with others.


Note. Interview made from February to June 2016. 




You attended San Francisco State University. What are your experiences with San Francisco Renaissance?
A Berkeley Renaissance did exist in the very late 1940s and early 1950s, centered around Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser and Jack Spicer, but also including Mary Fabilli, Landis Everson, Philip K Dick, Rod McKuen and some others. But the term got imported and translated into San Francisco Renaissance as something of a joke, I think, as well as a means of distinguishing those poets who predated the Beat scene of 1956-7. Jack Gilbert used to joke that the Beat revolution could never had occurred if Robert Duncan had not gone to Majorca during that exact moment, because he would not have allowed it, and Duncan himself certainly concurred. So for several years it meant “pre-Beat” and also to some degree anti-Beat as well. And yet Lawrence Ferlinghetti ends up fitting that pre-Beat definition quite well. But there had been a continuous poetry community dating back to the days of George Sterling and Ina Coolbrith in the 1920s. Kenneth Rexroth, who really was the poet who first made the important connection of San Francisco literary culture with Asian writing, arrived in San Francisco the same week that Sterling died, and the scene that was to become the so-called renaissance really were the writers who were his friends and peers. Kenneth Patchen, William Everson (Brother Antoninus), Madeline Gleason, ruth weiss, Tom Parkinson, and finally this wave of poets from Berkeley drawn by the presence of a scene, as well as by gay bars that had existed since the end of prohibition. By the time I first attended San Francisco State in 1966, the renaissance term had been loosened and broadened to include any non- or anti-academic poet in the San Francisco Area, so someone like Michael McClure — clearly a Beat poet — was always being called that.

Spicer died the year before that happened, and I never met him, although there is a description of a party at the Berkeley Poetry Conference in Spicer’s biography that indicates that he and I must have been in the same room once, although I did not know it at the time. I first learned of him at a memorial reading given the week of his birthday in 1966 at the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Berkeley (it may still have been called the Rambam at the time). Blaser read Book of Magazine Verse, which is still one of the ur-texts of my imagination, but he was already getting ready to move to Vancouver, which he did along with George Stanley and Stan Persky, other key members of the Spicer circle. Before Stanley moved up there I got to know him slightly through Gilbert (who had been a member of Spicer’s Magick Workshop at the San Francisco Public Library, as well as a protege both of Stephen Spender and Gerald Stern.

Duncan and I always had a complicated, somewhat difficult relationship. I am certain that he thought I was presumptuous, and I always felt that he distrusted straight men (albeit with some good reason), but we often had deep conversations, especially during the times when we would ride the old F bus from Berkeley to San Francisco. He was the person who insisted to Richard Baker-roshi that I should run a reading series at the Tassajara Bakery in the Haight, but he also wrote a letter that he read at several public occasions blasting me for suggesting that the arrest and potential trial of Lenore Kandel’s The Love Book represented an important moment for civil libertarians because here was a text that fully deserved the protections of the US Constitution, but which could not be defended as good or great writing, which was the hedge that had always been played in other literature-as-pornography cases, from Ulysses to Howl.

On the other hand, there were lots of those writers with whom I had very little interaction. My only conversation with Lawrence Ferlinghetti in my entire life was in Buffalo one day when I was palling around with Robert Creeley and Ferlinghetti also happened to be in town.

Let me also note that while I was at SF State, Spicer’s death was the tragedy that hung over everybody, and that George Stanley’s writing of that period was seen by a lot of those poets as on a par with — maybe even better than — Duncan’s. But folks like Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder were mostly not around (I saw Whalen read a few times but only met him once at McClure’s when we were performing a gagaku music session along with Michael Palmer and the composer Chris Gaynor (whose name I might have mispelled). Snyder and I corresponded a little when I was the editor of the Socialist Review, but the one time we talked in person was at Josephine Miles’ house near the Berkeley conference.

The only one I actually studied with was William Everson, a course on “creativity” that he team-taught with the dancer Anna Halprin and composer Charles Amirkhanian. I still use some of the things Everson said in his class whenever I am teaching.
Form is of interest only to the extent that it empowers liberation.
“Wild form” uses Jack Kerouac. What are your favorite predecessors among SF?
Kerouac was a brilliant, but brief flame and burned himself out very quickly with alcohol. As did Spicer, although Jack’s writing got stronger as it got worse, quite the opposite of Kerouac. Visions of Cody is the key to Kerouac’s work, a systematic reinvention of the novel (not unlike what Kathy Acker would do in the 1970s with her early novels). Spicer’s work from Heads of the Town Up to the Aether to the end of his life is utterly amazing.

Robert Duncan, from The Opening of the Field to Roots & Branches to Bending the Bow was the unquestioned master of poetry in San Francisco, and the other utterly essential figure for me was George Oppen, the Objectivist poet who lived the last decades of his life in the city he had been raised in. And, in this context, I should note also that Michael McClure was a fearless poet, and someone who can be read with great value for both how he uses science in his writing, and also his pacing of detail. Michael Palmer is the only poet I know of who comes anywhere close to that sense of pacing.
You worked as engaged lobbyist do you prefer to see poetry as active form?
The poets who have been important to me, from Pound, Williams, Zukofsky and Oppen to Duncan and many other of the New Americans all have always presumed poetry to be essentially political, in the most literal sense of being addressed to the Polis, the city, by which they mean readers-as-citizens. In this sense, William’s Spring and All and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric are completely agreed.
Could you say something on The Age of Huts [knowing it is produced in swivel years of Language poetry]
In Rousseau’s original model, The Age of Huts is the one that occurs between The Age of Innocence and the Age of Experience. The quartet of poems that begin the lifelong writing that is Ketjak occupy precisely that space in my own life, after the early poems, but before I had arrived at any sense of true maturity as a poet.
Who came up with name of language poets?
It was jointly created by Steve Abbott, an editor of Poetry Flash, and Alan Soldofsky, an academic poet who had been an undergraduate at Iowa City back when Robert Grenier, Bob Perelman, Ray DiPalma and Barrett Watten were all grad students there. Steve wanted to put together a special issue of his tabloid on our writing and Alan needed a name that he could use so that he dismiss us as decadent narcissists. Ironically, we share this feature of having been named from the outside by people with no particular sympathy for our work with such movements as the Beats and the Fauvist painters.
Why exactly language, is it [for] theoretical, or lingual value of poetry. is it break up with 
lyrical or light poetry. was the language something new in that moment. (Have you thought that language could replace poetry, by putting language poetry to lyrical poetry
for instance.) 
Language is to poetry what sound is to music or paint and light to painting. The original impulse was a materialist one born, I would argue, by our experience collectively coming of age during the Vietnam War. We felt that the illusions that made the American Exceptionalism that could “destroy villages in order to save them” during that conflict was no different, really, from the un-self-critical gush that accommodated far too much of the New American Poetry.

I never felt that even short, self-contained poems by so-called language poets were lyrical in that sense. I do not think of Rae Armantrout as a lyric poet and think it’s a fundamental misreading to take her work that way. It has so many layers of thought and analysis going into it.

I think that your fragments, inner structures, created poetry within the phrase, making lingual poetry possible, and [simply or just] creating lyrics in prose. 
Is Universe extension of Alphabet?
The large frame of my project I call Ketjak, of which the first poem in The Age of Huts is just one part. But I think of each section — The Age of Huts, Tjanting, the Alphabet and Universe — as functioning rather like nested Russian dolls. Rather than going from beginning to end, for example as Pound’s numbered Cantos do, it proceeds from inside to outside, toward an ever-expanding arc. Universe in this sense is a verb, not a noun.
With which poets of Language you find most associated
There are too many to really spell this out. Rae Armantrout, Barrett Watten, Kit Robinson, Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian and David Bromige are all poets without whom my own poetry could not exist.
Have you best friend in Language? What particular work have you co-authored
worth highlighting?
I used to say that Rae Armantrout was the sister I never had until, at age 50, I suddenly discovered my sister Nancy Bryant. But she is the one with whom I communicate almost every single day. Not long ago, I had an assistant who spent the better part of a summer doing nothing but printing out and organizing some 5,000 emails we had traded over the past 15 or so years.

Engines, in The Alphabet, co-written with Rae, is the one work in my main project that is a collaboration with another.
In the American Tree you use in title : Language, Realism, Thought, why realism? Do you believe in realism in poetry?
Yes, I do. I very much am about reportage and documentation, in the sense, say, of a Charles Reznikoff, But also in the sense of Italian cinema after the Second World War.
Is that realism proactive?
And what is relation of thought to labels and super active society..?
Labels are boxes that can be useful for sorting, but they are only that. The specificity of the material world is not to be denied.
I would like to emphasize The New Sentence, Legend, What, Lit, Sunset Debris you wrote…   
You have came up with the concept of new sentence.
Could you explain concept of sentence in poetry?
Historically, the defining feature of poetry has been the line, a unit that originally was predicated upon sound, specifically the recurrence of sound or rhyme. Stanzas did not really exist until poetry had a primary existence as a print phenomenon, but print rendered the use of rhyme literally unnecessary, suggesting an obsolescence of the line, which has been increasingly a nostalgic presence in the poem unless organized otherwise. Which is why the line in free verse shortened greatly during the 20th century, and why certain poets — Olson, Duncan, early Dorn, Blackburn — took it upon themselves to create a new, speech-based more complex line. Olson’s longest lines — which almost always take place at the beginning of his poems — are marvels of architecture. But even this is still predicated upon sound, which linguists from Saussure forward have insisted upon as arbitrary from one language to the next. Look at all the variants of a dog’s bark from language to language. But since Baudelaire first had his creative misreading of Arsene Houssaye, the sentence and all the other units of writing (as distinct from speech) have been available to writers. The prose poem is one of the three great poetic innovations of the 19th century — the others being dramatic monologue and free verse. It was my generation’s fortune to note that in English the uses of the prose poem had barely been explored by earlier US poets who had incorporated only one thread of what already was a rich tradition in France. It was as if the whole of French poetry extended from Max Jacob to Max Jacob, with no recognition that the likes of Perse, Ponge, Segalen, Butor or Roubaud ever existed.
Who has right to define verse. Verse is not the purpose, if not the concept, poetry
is purpose. Seeing predefined verse is just as seeing predefined poetry.
Poetry is not technically, or theoretically predefined. Poetry is not prejudice.
Poetry is manner of everything.
You are right, basically. Every community has the obligation — not only the right — to define what poetry can be for them. A poet who keeps her texts to herself in a notebook is every bit as legitimate as somebody who publishes in the New Yorker every year. Once a tradition sinks in roots, it seldom goes away. There are oral poetries specific to the US African-American community, but also to the fishing industry of Oregon and to the last remaining cowboys across the American west. It is much more interesting to examine what the functional terms and conditions of such poetry might be. Is identity an aesthetic, or can  it be one? You bet!
Could you define yourself as poet of everything.
That is so global as to sound meaningless to me. More precisely, I try to find those things less often commented upon, the forgotten and unseen. I’ve joked that I’m the poet laureate of lint, of accumulations of dust behind the couch, but in fact I take that joke very seriously. We have just seen what can happen in an election when a large portion of the electorate has become invisible to the elites of the two coasts. I straddle those worlds, which gives me some advantages.
I believe that you created new lingual verse [or logical verse] in poetry
and by that created new kind of poetry, wide and non-formal
poetry of real lingual poem, lingual reality that is liable to poetry.
Reality [that] is not potent to poetry?
I am not sure what you are asking here. In an important sense, I have created nothing other than a number of lines (and paragraphs) of verse. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, so as to be part of something that could only have occurred at the community level. Nobody can take credit for language poetry, so-called, not even Robert Grenier. It was something that occurred in our midst, but it was the collectivity that proved defining.
Poetry is aesthetic style, aesthetic obligation, you agree?
I often think of poetry as philosophy in action, and as something that demands intense training in listening and reading the world.
“American Tree”, is one of the most important contemporary American
anthologies, on what idea and criteria you assorted?
I tried  very much to focus on the community aspect of it all. The anthology focused upon three physical communities, in New York, the Bay Area (San Francisco and Berkeley, with a smidgen of Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz), and Washington, DC. I insisted that everybody needed to have appeared in three key publications of the community and not be previously associated with an established school of poetics. And I asked everyone who should be in it as well. There were poets — Larry Eigner, Robert Creeley, Bill Berkson to name three — who would have qualified had they not been identified thoroughly with different schools of poetry. And there three poets who did qualify whom I omitted for various reasons — Curtis Faville and David Gitin had both, at that time, stopped publishing altogether — and I mistook Abigail Child as a film-maker who wrote, which was an obvious (and no doubt sexist) mistake on my part. And I included one poet, Tom Beckett, who really did not fit the criteria because he was not in any of the three geographical communities and had no opportunity to partake of the important face-to-face interactions that most of the other poets took as vital. In a sense, Tom is there really to represent a broader possibility for that writing than could be contained in just three metropoles (already Michael Davidson and Rae Armantrout had moved to San Diego, for example). I have sometimes thought about poets who in those days took themselves very much to be critics of language poetry — Leslie Scalapino, Beverly Dahlen, Jerry Estrin, Joan Rettalack, for example — but who over the decades now seem quite thoroughly within a broader arc of it that would not have been plausible without their own contributions, critical as they were. But I can imagine Jerry Estrin howling at seeing himself characterized as a language poet in his own obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle. So in that sense Tom Beckett serves as an important reminder or marking post in that collection — one that I caught a lot of heat for, but which I’ve never regretted.




I like to emphasize the tree poetries The Holy Worm of Praise (2002); Living in the Past (2004); Failure (2007); and The God of Loneliness: Selected and New Poems (2010). Before you write also. Is it to you any recognizable difference?

I’m making a distinction here between being a nobody and a failure, not a failure and success. I’m saying, somewhat ironically, that nobodies are forgettable but people remember failures. Since my father was a failure and I’m memorializing him in this poem and others in this forget I clearly find him memorable.

Can you describe the relationship between fame and poetry. Fame tries to destroy the beauty of poetry? How do you defend?

If you mean do I think fame affects my poetry (I can’t speak for others), then yes. It gave me a little more time and resources with which to write. It doesn’t in any way affect my writing process nor does it change how I see myself.

In your words, what is substantial problem of contemporary poetry? And society? Does poetry correspondent to reality?

I write, as you know, about real people and situations, about politics and nature, so reality is important to me. Good poetry mirrors the world, the real world. The beauty as well as the ugliness.

Now to re-erect Failure. How much time did you take to write this book of poetry?
In some sense I was writing Failure, both the poem and the book, most of my life. It took me a long time to understand how my father’s failures weren’t my own. That fact that in doing so I wrote my most successful book is of course ironic. It also took me a very long time to develop the craft necessary to express with any subtlety and persuasion the delicacy of these feelings.  If there’s any truth in what I wrote, it’s for the reader to interpret that.

Did you write, simultaneously and other poems?
I often write many poems at one time, because I find discovering the meaning of one informs my understanding of the others. I was also looking at 9/11 and its affect on New Yorkers, the relationship between humans and dogs (animals) and how difficult and beautiful life in the contemporary city can be.

Absurdity in poetic sense. Otioseness of absurdity in new century. How to sing after after absurdity?

I embrace Camus’s idea of absurdity. The difference between what exists (reality) and the necessity of our having to skewer our vision of it in order to survive can produce absurd as well as tragic circumstances. I want to write my story in a way that others could identify with; to make my intellectual and emotional discovers interesting and moving to others too, knowing the very attempt is on some basic level absurd. Beckett’s hobo’s attempting poetry amid such intense self-obfuscation.  The humor in such struggles may be the final answer to a question no one has asked of us. If what we write has any lasting value it may be in the absurdity of such a vulnerable and human endeavor.

American poetry, or Anglo-American, is the great mix, or compression, of influences. Migrations, Afro flow, Hindu, Jewish, then all those other influences. How do you understand impact of Jewish poetry to modern American verse?

There is most certainly an Hebraic influence on modern English poetry. The Five Books of Moses, or Torah, as well as the New Testament, enriched Anglo-Saxon literature, as well as all the Romance languages, in style as well as subject matter and story-telling techniques.  Modern Hebrew poets, like Yehuda Amichai, work directly out of this tradition though are also influenced by American and European poetry.

Jewish lingual discourse has a fine sense for poetry. It is a language of ancient utterance. Whether you agree with me, that it is language with perfect structure?

But something special happened to American poetry in the19th century when Walt Whitman broke with more traditional English poetics and fashioned an American poetic style as innovative and imaginative as the new nation itself. He created a persona narrator whose ambition it was to embrace all the ideals and spirit of rebellion and revolutionary zeal of its history, while creating a language free of old world formalists constraints. His new music was influenced by the Hebraic bible in its use of incantation and rhythmic repetition, and his stories were also both biblical and innovative in nature.

His language combined raw ambition and traditional influences into a propulsive and incantatory style whose sounds were different from  anything written before. One could claim all of modern American poetry comes from him and Emily Dickinson who in her quieter way  engendered a similar influence.

Will you explain how, in your view, Jewish migration shaped great mainstream culture?

Contemporary American poetry is also highly influenced by jazz improvisation and blues and the rich cultures of so many layers of immigrants who have forged a musicality all their own. I became a poet in San Francisco in the 1960s when the Beats and Allen Ginsberg were creating their own cultural and linguistic innovations, which were blending into the rich intonations of Neruda, Vallejo, Pound, Machado, into the Japanese and ancient Chinese-influenced American imagistic styles of Robert Bly and James Wright. It was a great  free-spirited time for poetry, a meet-ground for world poetry rekindled and inspired by a new generation of innovators and rebels. The Vietnam war and resistant movements against it provided a context in which popular musicians like Bob Dylan and Robert Lowell  found common ground with Ginsberg and Whitman. I am without a doubt a product of that period of American poetry, as are so many of my colleagues.

How would you describe condition of Contemporary American poetry? Its diversity and trends?

There is a more traditional and academically conservative trend recently, but much of modern American poetry is still inspired by the politics of the moment, wherever that moment may be found and inclines to takes us.


Interview by Lepota Cosmo, February 2016


Superspeech is metalingual phenomenon. Its metalinguistic nature produces useful lingual values. Whereas its rhetorical and psychological label clearly indicate the intentional or unintentional discapabilities. Superspeech is comprehensive chatter, long, excessive and exaggerated speech, with involuntary forms and unique postive side-effects of language (Newmeyer, 1996; Segalowitz 2001). In concept of lingual vocation, superspeech is intentional rhetoric capability, superb lingual practice unique ability to use words, phrases, or a speech in such a way to prevail an opponent speaker. Subject is a speaker, accomplice, or interlocutor with formal or informal priority in the group. The speaker who talks a lot, is using the same devices as the orator with limited period of time (Utsumi, 2006). Directional rhetorics is trying to establish itself as the valuable discourse. Therefore, time is intensive metalinguistics with the applied style of profitable devices (Klujeff, 2005). Speaker will not talk all the time, but will have magnetic and comprehensive speech, will use right words, be opened, speaking what others would speak but speaking for itself. Superspeaker talks all the time, intuitively captures the reality, speaks before something is created, further he creates by speech. Elements of this can be read in the vernacular and rhetorical devices:
(1) “of course i will not tell that [then telling it!” obivous hypercolloqium;
(2) “surely you know that”, “i know what you’re gonna say”, “we certainly want to”, the imposition of intent;
(3) interruption of speech of interlocutor, jumping in someone’s speech, almastinephrax, stinephrax,
(4) taking the words out of someone’s mouth, speaking of what the interlocutor wanted to say, device verba ex ore, pestering by expression, pyrhazoephraxis,
(5) thinking aloud, decide aloud, apophasíseidynata,
(6) interference of speak by speaking, paremvolia, uelut loqui,
(7) articulating science or mood, figure of diathesis,
(8) or the word that floats in the air, on which everyone is thinking, is about to be imposed, a word which came about during the dialogue, fteroúgisma, verbum volitans,
(9) talk of thoughts instead of talk of words, in the promotion and prevention of speech, indirect device, does not speak directly by words, do not articulate the intention, disputatio cognitationum, syzitisitonskepseon,
(10) deliberate speech, speech which is not the purpose of the speech, delibrate talk, and talk in order to talk, deliberata sermonis,
(11) protheseos (ek protheseos thóryvo), override the voice, apophasis,
(12) wherein the speaker or writer brings up a subject by either denying it, or denying that it should be brought up, anapodonton,
(13) it is a figure of speech or discourse that is an incomplete sentence, parrhesia,
(14) speak in such a way that others wish to speak, not to oppose than to join the conversation, epithymonexphrasos, exhortation, exoptamus.
Superspeech as wordiness, long-windedness, grandiloquence, garrulousness, chattiness, glibness, is formal expression of talkativeness, purposeful and stylish speech within limited budget of time and colloquial words. Speech is imposed but with intent purpose and metalingistical discourse (Gumbert, 1993). Positioned within linear budget and its transcending function. Its rational limitations are rather projected to transcendental style of rhetorics, or funds of noncolloquial word and expressions, as forms and devices. Ranks of words, and basic modalities of lingual logic are exposed to lingual metalogic. Metaspeech is formulated in flosculas as a whole, that are playful with modes of formal logic. Its ability to change modes, shows that it is not something within mode, but rather transcendent to it, as creation to the object, or insight to the phenomenon. Further words are active realities, they correspondent to realities, all words are ontologies, phaenomenon in productione, things that produce things. So all subjects are political onthologies, onthologies that are not normative, but producible, capable of creating realities, that are not only new words but also colloquiums. Treating subjects and object as words in logic, and corresponding words to the realities, would neglect possibility of metalinguistics, that the the things (in this case the object) is not formal ontology, in its projection to the words and linear logic, but original ontology with transcendental function.
Wordiness of superspeech is proven by phrases in given modalities, devices that stand always contrary to the expected creating positive lingual effect by producing different modalities of reception or articulating modalities of speech, to inflexion or motivation. That is position of superspeech, its possibility to be expressed in rhetorical devices, in articulation that changes reality, that is in original language of literal creativity.

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By innovative speech, colloquium however resembles original language. But how much could we create in process of speaking? It seems that speech has its intuitive limits. Although speech is literary activity, making and moving rules of writing and thinking. Original language would imply that speaker should say nothing more than what hearer wants to hear but would be even more pleased to hear and that no one could repeat what once was said. It means that language stands in creation as dynamics and that no category is liable only to figure of speech. Speech creates always something new to the ordinary language, and linguistics standing to metalinguistics is borrowing science, science as language of formal signs thinking of forms as the relations. In linguistics once there were metaforms, forms transcendent to forms as an original language; flows and forms as metalinguistic solutions. Once the speech is perceived, it will remain as metaform, if taken as an object, or an element, or is assigned, will be language of linguistics. Difrence is changed and has new quality. Its advanced logics takes in favour of situation creating perpetual structure, structure that is close to language structure. The rules of transcendental logic are the same as the rules of logic. This projection is not to be applied in case of the metalinguistics. Metalanguage does not have any tangible lines in between, language to metalanguage. Categories for itself are not projections, metalinguistics are beyond domain of colloquial speech or level of letters. Original speech uses rhetorics in monologue for satire in dialogue. It is in relation to the subject, and not to the object. In debate/prominent speech, superspeech is very useful rhetorics. Particularly in debate, protagonists tend to see subject as object, creating underlanguage, and reducing even ordinary rhetorics. This happens desirable in rhetorics when the speaker becomes a listener. Super speech can reduce power of speech, or improve, depending of participant speakers. Superspeech is in relation to object and uses monologue as in prominent speech, or is in relation to subject and uses dialogue as in debate. It will use sarcasm or satire on listener or itself, not to third person weather is intended speech. It is dialogue between subject and object, as in perfect speech, object is always listener and words are interchange. Because of importance of speech, speaker doesn’t think on anybody else but on second part and is creative in the meaning of true metalinguistics. It seems that only live impression can have property of perfect language. If it widen listener’s perspective or speak in terms of lingual logic. Speech is intended to listener, not to third person. Just as someone should listen what speaker said from the listener, which should not be prominent speech. Our own creative speech could not be made from words of others. Humour and sarcasm are made of metalinguistics. We should use superspeech, when speaking in forms and again it would be metalogic. Our creative speech is made of words that we create. Reader does not speak, reading is not creative language, in true reading we are perceiving, and if perceiving we do not speak. We are not oriented toward third person, because the object of our speech is the second participant, that once was speaker and now speaks language inferior to the language of the listener. This listener can interchange in perfect language, making the speech of dialogue, which was the basis of perfect language, with no difference between listener and speaker. Instead of two objects in superspeech, we have two subjects. Humour holds the knowledge of forms. Play with meaning if not humour will become sarcasm, metalanguage that is intended toward others, on behalf of others, unique humour of rhetorics, humour which tries to capture attention. Humour that has power, or force listener, is distinctive sarcasm, if sarcasm could be distinctive, as higher degree of humour, intended metaspeech (Simpson, 2003). Metaspeech do not speak but interact, do not speak to silence but to hearing, and etc. Speaks, than hears, speaks, than hears heard, speaks to heard. If having no benign reception, humour of rhetorics will produce sarcasm. Humour is the most benign reception of rhetorics. Super speaker will always speak, no matter what but will speak to situation. Humorist are in fond of hyperspeech, but only rhetorics uses sarcasm. Sarcasm gives insight in metaspeech. Although sarcasm is a conservative device. Difference is positive, not negative, there is difference between subjects, not their ability. My perfect language means that I can express modialities as well as simple forms, but my ability is political not instrumental, words are not instruments, not a priori, there are forms of perfect speech. Linguistics are hollow in outform, linguistics is not the form but the process, speech in creativity, and its creativity, its metaspeech of modalities is creative to its instrument, it does not change only the language, and values of language, it changes also the subjects.. We can change by creating, because of the ontology of the language. Formal or logical change of modalities that are ranks, is structural, therefore not formal, but inner politics. Political ontology says that words have political values, that means that they change reality of their perception, not as the form but as the quality because it is process between the subjects, that is creativity not the objects. Low language do not change world. Colloquium is not changeable, it is not political. Politics are ontological, within modality of one subject, within modality of words (Devitt, 2006, Antony, 2008). Speech is only part of metaspeech, therefore it is ontological in its value. Superspeech can create and by creating it resembles original language, further, political speech provides insight in, how could we speak without listening poetry, can clamor prevail poetry, can only poetry surpass poetry, speaker uses however simple words.