Paraphrasing John Donne, we humans don’t make very good isolated islands when we cut ourselves off from everybody, but we make damned fine peninsulas by being realistically senitive only to the needs of those relatively few people in our lives to whom we are very close.

– Manuel J. Smith, _When I Say No, I Feel Guilty_.


Each of us is ultimately responsible for our own psychological well-being, happiness, and success in life. As much as we might wish good things for one another, we really do not have the ability to cerate mental stability, well-being, or happiness for someone else.

You have the ability to please someone temporarily by doing what he or she wants, but that person has to go through all the work, sweat, pain, and fear of failure to arrange his [sic] own life in a way that makes him [sic]  healthy and happy. In spite of your compassion for the troubles of others, the reality of the human condition is that each of us must come to terms with eth problems of living by learning to cope on our own.

– Manuel J. Smith, _When I Say No, I Feel Guilty_.

She enjoyed reputation but burrowed into obscurity; she feared loneliness yet courted solitude; she wished to be openhearted yet came off as evasive.

— Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman and the City.

We leave the diner and walk to the bus stop. “Let’s stand here,” she says, pointing to a spot a few feet beyond the sign. “It used to throw me into a rage,” she explains, “that the driver would always pass the sign and stop here. I never understood why. But now I realize that it is actually easier for him to lower the step here for people like me than it is at the sign.” She laughs and says, “I’ve noticed lately that when I don’t get angry I have more thoughts than when I do. It makes life interesting.”

Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman and the City.

In thrall to the intensity generated by passion, we invest love with  transformative powers; imagine ourselves about to be made new, even whole, under its influence. When the expected transformation fails to materialize, the hopes interwoven with the infatuation do a desperate dissolve. The adventure of feeling known in the presence of the lover now bleeds out into the anxiety of feeling exposed.

In both friendship and love, the expectation that one’s expressive (if not best) self will flower in the presence of the beloved other is key. Upon that flowering all is posited. But what if the restless, the fluid, the mercurial, within each of us is steadily undermining the very thing we think we most want? What, in fact, if the assumption of a self in need of expressiveness is an illusion? What if the urge toward stable intimacy is perpetually threatened by an equally great, if not greater, urge toward destabilisation? What then?

— Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman and the City

ceci n’est pas une manifeste

WANTED: one (1) readymade self-contained experimental poetics


  • novelty
  • staying power
  • potential to become the establishment just as soon as it gets done disestablishing the one we have now
  • a firm belief that this will never happen


  • shock value
  • schlock value
  • one or more figureheads with chips and/or good heads on their shoulders
  • a catchy name

REWARD: this is an unpaid position but you will get some great exposure.

An experiment should test a hypothesis. Poetry can never be disproved; either poetry is God, or we need some measurable outcomes. Set up indefensible dichotomies and adhere to them. Think of new oxymorons and refuse the easy line break. Pile an idea on some other ideas and call it an aesthetic. Add another one and call it an anti-aesthetic.

Viktor sez: as perception becomes habitual, it becomes automatic.
Xgau sez: if you’re real nice maybe he’ll let you attach it to a garbanzo commercial.
Frank sez: the recent propagandists for technique on the one hand, and for content on the other, had better watch out.
Kenneth sez: boring, uncreative, unreadable.
John sez: if it’s boring, try doing it for longer.
Simon sez: stand up.
Himanshu sez: sit down, man.
I sez: christ, what a sausagefest.

As rebellion becomes habitual, it becomes automatic. As transgression becomes habitual, it becomes automatic. As innovation becomes habitual, it becomes automatic. As experimentation becomes habitual, it becomes automatic. As poetry becomes habitual, it becomes automatic.

Automate the reverence out of your art. It’s amazing what they can do with physics and silicon now, dizzying arrays that are going to pass a Turing test any day now, kaleidoscopes transcending their primordial geometry. Make less sense than they can. Appropriation is never inappropriate. How could it be? Embrace plagiarism as practice. Go down to the Build-A-Genius and assemble your own from the available materials. Then throw it to the wolves.

How to Write a Concrete Poem: 11 Steps (with Pictures)

Things You’ll Need:

☐ Paper
☐ Pencil or pen
☐ Computer program for image design (optional)
☐ Examples of concrete poetry (optional)
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Make junk art out of junk art.

Then junk it. Wait all you want, it’ll never be new.

Don’t do disorder, dada did it, damn it. How can we rebel against dada, reject the rejection of sense by making more sense? What’s the program? Properly lineated rhyming punctuated etc.,?—if dada is anti-dada can I be anti-dada without also being dada? Not by saying dada again and again for sure that’s for sure a mark of dada. Maybe by stoically refusing the stochastic, staying the same all the time doing the same thing again and again and again and time and again and again all the time the same again and the same thing again and the same again and again. Write the same poem every day for a year. Write The Waste Land every day for a year. Do nothing for a year and title it The Waste Land.

Metamorphose into yourself. Arrière-garde or Aerogarde, we’ll be eating bugs either way. You might want to do something new, you might want to upset somebody. Find a way to upset nobody, which nobody has done before, by doing nothing that nobody has done before. Do nothing. Do whatever you want. Do whatever you don’t want to do. Tell Brian what he can do with his oblique strategies and hit the “I’m feeling lucky” button.

If the machine can’t ghostwrite anything new after all get the real ghost on the job and start stamping ’em out. My dreams are less surreal than my real life but I won’t let that stop me. The kettle boils and I pour water over a teabag and burn my mouth a little when I try to drink. I wake up and I wake up and I wake up.

Nobody understands John Cage but everybody who thinks they do uses his silence as a punchline. Pick someone interesting and build an edifice on your misunderstanding of their life’s work, for art’s sake. Art for art’s sake, nothing for nothing’s sake. Nothing for art’s sake. A joke about sake that nobody’s swallowing. Write a poem for art’s sake and write nothing for poetry’s sake. Call it a revolution because you’re just turning around and around and around. Write like you’re operating a jackhammer while sedated. Get sedated and find yourself a jackhammer.

Blixa’s in the woods somewhere. He won’t have a bar of your avant-canard.

(something new might happen in the woods but it might just be a lot of wet trees and wolves have been extinct here for a long time)

Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek – it must be rejected, altered and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind.

Toni Morrison (Nobel lecture)

It’s wild and weird out there, but if I can survive the churn and the rush and the push to this ancient fucking extreme when clearly I should have died years ago, then I’m damned sure you can too.  You’re not on your own out here. Hold on tight.

– <a href=””>Warren Ellis’ newsletter</a> is a frequent source of more than I expected when I first subscribed.

As we have already stated, we reject the stance of lesbian separatism because it is not aviable political analysis or strategy for us. It leaves out far too much and far too many people, particularly Black men, women, and children. We have a great deal of criticism and loathing for what men have been socialized to be in this society: what they support, how tehy act, and how they oppress. But we do not have the misguided notion that it is their maleness, per so – i.e., their biological maleness – that makes them what they are. As Black women we find any type of biological determinism a particularly dangerous and reactionary basis upon which to build a politic. We must also question whether lesbian separatism is an adequate and progressive political analysis and startegy, even for those who practice it, since it so completely denies any but the sexual sources of women’s oppression, negating the facts of class and race.

– Combahee River Collective, ‘A Black Feminist Statement’

You say my name is ambivalence? Think of me as Shiva, a many-armed and legged body with one foot on brown soil, one on white, one in straight society, one in the gay world, the man’s world, the women’s, one limb in the literary world, another in the working class, the socialist, and the occult worlds. A sort of spider woman hanging by one thin strand of web.

Who, me confused? Ambivalent? Not so. Only your labels split me.

– Gloria E. Anzaldúa, ‘La Prieta’.