There's a terrific new site, http://unrealitycheck.com, that aims at the jugulars of manipulative monotheists, limp leftist piety freaks, corrupt political ideologues, right wing fear mongers and other piggy creeps with investments financial or otherwise in the continuing sham of American duh-duh-duh-duh-Mock-racy. As the Lou Reed song goes:
This is no time for Inner Searchings
The future is at hand
This is no time for Phony Rhetoric
This is no time for Political Speech
This is a time for Action
Recently published by Lucky Tiger Press, copies of Austin poet W. Joe Hoppe's Back Roads To Small Towns are now available. It's a small, staple-bound chapbook with photos by SJ (a brief signature, for sure). Regionally specific, Hoppe examines the topography and social transformation of three small towns in Central Texas: McDade, Giddings and Dime Box. Photos show water towers, train crossings, abandoned lots and other "embarrassed landscapes," to borrow Werner Herzog's description, around these small town ruins.
Written in spare, epigrammatic verse, Hoppe takes snapshots in words to correlate with the accompanying images. Ideally, there would be a deeper dive into the humble conditions he exploits for his poetry. The pathetic condition of decay could reveal much of an extended lore and possibility latent in the geographic setting. The writing also needs an energy that transcends the negative dump of its object. To get beyond the surface impression, language roots inward, and it's this inwardness I seek, and miss. The compression one might expect, as suggested in the nod to Basho in the title, often is misstated as brevity.
As an initial dig into a region dear to me, the book is marvelous. The relation of abandoned spaces is extended with quick historical backgrounders. As a work that explores immediate ground, Hoppe's project is admirable, a contribution to American Studies and regional transformation. Its stark verse, flat as the voices of the space it relates, mimetically responds to these landscapes. It renews my curiosity in what we abandon, and what we are willing to retrieve. (DS)
Contact me for copies, or go direct to Lucky Tiger: 1417 Ridgehaven Drive, Austin, Texas 78723
Ron Silliman yesterday on his blog announced the disappointing news of Robert Pinsky editing the Library of America edition of WCW's work. That's like asking Billy Collins to do O'Hara, or putting Jorie Graham on Stein. Soon the rough edges will be cut out of everything.
The particular binaries of Ron's critique don't interest me much (school of quietude vs. the rest of us), but the individual failure that exists on the present scene from top to bottom is notable. Who could claim to live up to Williams' energy and devotion? Another way of thinking about it, given the current political situation: who were the successful poets of the Third Reich? Is success even desirable for anyone now? WCW certainly wanted it. At least recognition for the work. He was an ambitious writer.
I look forward to the book, of course. Creeley might not have wanted to mess with something that is sure to be a tremendous amount of work. Bernstein would be a better choice than Pinsky. Thankfully, Williams' work will hold up to whatever container it's sealed in.