Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Mathematical Sublime: Mark Scroggins on Contemporary Poetry



Mark Scroggins is, hands down, bar none, my favorite critic of contemporary poetry. His latest collection is out now from MadHat which, under new leadership from Marc Vincenz, is turning into a press I'm very into watching (they're about to publish the latest book by Michael Anania).  The Mathematical Sublime takes a broad and ecumenical look at contemporary poetry, often of the more adventurous kind, and examines a host of fascinating figures. I mean, Scroggins has taste in poetry, damn it, no matter what one thinks of his Doc Martens and skinny jeans in (shall we say) surprising colors. Poets discussed include:

Charles Bernstein
John Matthias
Eric Selinger
Norman Finkelstein
Maeera Shreiber
John Wilkinson
Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Peter Quartermain
Nathaniel Mackey
Charles Alexander
Rae Armantrout
Daniel Bouchard
Julie Carr
Cris Cris
Stephen Collis
Joseph Donahue
Cecil Giscombe
K. Lorraine Graham
Janet Holmes
Tony Lopez
Tom Mandel
Geraldine Monk
Jennifer Moxley
Tom Pickard
Patrick Pritchett
Kit Robinson
David Shapiro
Ron Silliman
Stephen Vincent
Craig Watson.
Geoffrey Hill
Susan Howe
Robert Duncan
Ronald Johnson

Also, due to Scroggins' idiosyncratic reading, the great Victrorian John Ruskin and some guy named Robert Archambeau.

The fool who does not buy this book is, to paraphrase that icon of literary acumen, Mr. T., to be pitied.

Friday, September 23, 2016

In Which I Host A Deranged Literary Cooking Program



Some interesting reflections on my most recent book of poems, The Kafka Sutra, are up at the Queen Mob's Teahouse site.  Stu Watson has a number of nice things to say, but the one I'm thinking of keeping for a future blurb is "one at moments can almost imagine Archambeau as the host of a deranged literary cooking program." Read all about it here!


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Inventions of a Barbarous Age, or: How I Finally Dressed Like Mark Scroggins


Here's the cover of my next book, Inventions of a Barbarous Age: Poetry from Conceptualism to Rhyme. I'll post something about the contents soon, but I'm not here to talk about the contents today, I'm here to talk about the cover.  Because it represents the first time I have presented myself as spiffily as Mark Scroggins, whose The Mathematical Sublime: Writing About Poetry will appear from the same publisher at the same time.

Mark, you see, is a snappy dresser. Here he is in his ordinary togs. If you wish to imagine me on the same day, think rumpled cargo shorts (summer) or rumpled Brooks Brothers (winter).  Either way, Mark wins:





But compare our book covers:


Twinsies! In fact, the resemblance is so strong that MadHat will be offering the books in a special, bundled deal for a reduced price.  Go nuts!


Friday, September 02, 2016

The Barbarian Invasion of Poetry (Hurrah!)



The barbarians are here! They've breached the walls of the fortress! The city lies in ruins! Poetry is at their mercy!

Well, it's all a bit more complicated and not so grim. Find out more in the first monthly installment of the new "Essays and Comment" feature at Plume. I will be editing, and sometimes writing, the feature.  I wrote the first one, "The Barbarian Invasion of Poetry (Hurrah!)" and it begins like this:
This just in: the Empire of Poetry has fallen to the barbarians. The fall was not sudden—it took place over the course of the last seventy years or so, and even before then alarmed sentries spoke of shaggy hordes moving in the dark forests beyond the far-flung border outposts, clutching their axes and the icons of their strange, compelling gods. Let me begin by making clear that I, bred within the confines of the old and dying Empire, welcome the barbarians as friends, and as a force to invigorate our aging and insular imperium. 
When I speak of barbarians, I speak of them as the Italian novelist and essayist Alessandro Baricco does in his study The Barbarians: An Essay on the Mutation of Culture, a book largely unknown in America, despite having been serialized in one of the most prominent Italian newspapers, giving rise there to a nationwide discussion of the changing nature of cultural production and consumption. For Barrico, the barbarians are a group on the rise, and not just in Italy, or even Europe, but worldwide. Ever more visible, they cause great distress among the more hidebound Catos committed to the old and dying virtues of the Empire—not, it is important to note, a distress that Barrico shares. Barrico sees the barbarians everywhere, marked not so much by their different culture as by the different way they think about culture, be it musical culture, literature, cuisine—even wine and soccer (Barrico is, after all, Italian). The old ways of the Empire are deeply traditional, rooted in an appreciation of the specific history of whatever cultural form is under consideration. But the barbarians see things differently. They are eclectic, these nomads from beyond the borders, and less attached to the traditions of the imperial past.
It goes on to talk about Frank O'Hara, Claudia Rankine, Michael Robbins, C. Russell Price, and others, with some notes on how to drink wine and listen to music.  You can find it here.