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« The Perry Mason Screen Tests [for Jim Cummins] | Main | The Book of my Enemy Has Been Remaindered [by Clive James, 1939-2019] »

November 30, 2019


Dispatches from the Poetry Wars has proudly been hosting Emily Post-Avant for a few years now. During that time, she has written over 60 poetry-advice columns for us (a dozen which were lost forever when we overhauled the site a couple years ago, alas). But you can find over 50 extant pieces by her, nearly all of them badly behaved, by clicking on the Author tab at the top right of the Dispatches home page. Type in her name or find her alphabetically in the 'P's'. She has communicated she plans to answer a letter she received today about appearing at Best American Poetry. I hope she'll be in a good mood about it.

Emily has long been a favorite of mine. Her writing often removes my shoes and socks, and I am helpless to stop this though I know each time I read her she is dangerous. She will not like me to say this about her as she is rather shy, but she is the best poetry critic around. Though she finds the words "poetry critic" an insult.

Who better to cite than Peggy Lee? Leave it to Em.

“Note: a comment posted here was fraudulently attributed to Charles Bernstein.”

E mil y. Uy.
Esto me recuerda una historia (story) inédita de Borges (que finalmente no entró en Ficciones, por insondables misterios), llamada precisamente "Pessoa". Borges juega ahí, cómo no, con la indecidibilidad del término (Pessoa), entre nadie y el poeta-profeta del V Imperio (portugués). En alguna parte "Pessoa" menciona también el conocido entrevero de Odiseo con Polyphêmos (paradojalmente casi otro Fernando Pessoa; ‘de muchas palabras’). Y concluye con una cita (con la que a su vez concluye la story de Kafka) de "Ante la ley": "Nadie pudiera entrar ya aquí, pues esta entrada era solo para ti. Ahora me voy y la cierro [Ich gehe jetzt und schließe ihn]". Sólo para no cerrar tan expeditamente esta puerta, un par de yapas al "Pessoa" de "Borges". 1. Si le se arruina o se le cae toda ontología a Borges, todo "ser" sin más, comenzado por el "es", ¿qué hay? ¿Nomás una suerte de recaída ante la puerta tecno-orgánica alienígena (see Borg en Star Trek)? 2. Celan y recelan... estos Borg, pero. De qué manera! Y, sin embargo, o acaso justamente por eso, ¿cómo no leer mejor a nadie? ¿En Celan? (Die Niemandsrose (1963), claro, meridiano, austral). [À suivre]

The comment about Borges and Pessoa, by Andres Ajens, is amazing. If you don't read Spanish, please run it in Google Translate to get the gist of it. And then seek out Borges' story "Pessoa."

In fact, sorry, that comment by Ajens is pretty Derridean in its play and punning, so Google Translate probably won't work. On another topic, is that an actual comment by Charles Bernstein? It seems too silly to be re.

couldn't the guy have just tossed it down the sewer gate and saved us all some mental anguish?

Derridean? Mamma mia ! [El adjetivo, cuando no da vida, mata (V. Huidobro), KJ]. And what about this fake comment attributed to Ch. Bernstein? Just more Poe & cia. ? Mamma, but really Mamma mia !

Molly Arden's recent shout-out to Emily Post Avant of Poetry Wars is a useful reminder of the serious critical work coming from that particular crater. On this occasion Emily has looked into Anthony Madrid's typological reading of El Zahir and proceeds to distil the Borgesian alchimie du verbe into a suggestive retort: 'thus, in what might be secondarily taken as an allegorical critique of the circulation of capital and its attendant fetishisms (with the minted coin, writes Engels, “The commodity of commodities had been discovered, that which holds all other commodities hidden in itself, the magic power which can change at will…”), he passes on the coin’s infectious spells to unfortunate others. '

Indeed yes, since one aspect of the tale is a critique of the gift relation, or any theory of exchange as mere translation. The forms of circulation in El Zahir are not equivalences, but close to the poisonous transfers characteristic of M.R James (Casting the Runes) , Borges' beloved Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island !) or even H. P Lovecraft (donor and recipient both circumscribed by the contagion of insanity) .

One year after Borges was born Georg Simmel noted that 'the function of money in measuring values does not impose upon it the character of being itself a valuable object', and the remarkable Chilean poet Andres Ajens reminds us, in his comments below , that selfhood (the condition of being everyone and no one) is no mere deconstructive, post-avant carte de visite but is vulnerably rooted in cultures either preterite, unavailable or closely guarded by ritual, defensiveness and secretive disinvestment from the mainstream koine of Euro--American intellectual activism. The 'self consumption' of literary forms (their exchange-ability) may well outlive the infinitude of Reason, but even if the spirit is willing (Nueva refutación del tiempo),the body is not unrecyclable : Cannibal Lecteur---mon semblable , mon frere!!.

Thus Emily, in the space of 30 lines or so of numinous numismatics manages to link the political theology of the banking system to the global financial crisis of our poetries and their unstable concepts of the fiduciary,whose disorders are both social and also societal, pervading state, nation, and community (see Keith Hart: Money in an Unequal World ). The central message of EP-A( God Bless, is that her real name??) is to suggest that (to paraphrase David Graeber)- 'any new, viable ((poetics)) will either have to draw on the accumulated knowledge of feminism, behavioural economics, psychology, and even anthropology ... or once again embrace the notion of emergent levels of complexity—or, most likely, both '( )
Reader: can you credit that?


Since we are speaking of supply and of a certain demand, and of the money supply (sometimes known in poetry circles as funding), it is timely as well that the mental wizards of Powerless Contempt, Personal Cappuccino (or whatever it is being called this week), should weigh in,for a consideration. But I can only wonder why,if it's a penny for your thoughts, there's always somebody who needs to get in their two cents' worth?

Remarkable, K e vin ! Qué pócima -- de las mejores cepas (wine strains) de Saffron Walden, por lejos. Just that: what's that: Chilean poet (qui, d'ailleurs, rime pas mal avec the Kent's Derridian)? ¿Existe eso? ¿Hay tal? (And, of course, too: American, British, Chinese, French, German, Jewish, Irish poet or poetry, etc., the Best as the Worst, etc.). No fuera solo la cosa o cuestión acerca de algo así como una determinación y/o pertenencia estado-nacional o comunitaria en poesía (que nunca se habrá dado por demás sin más), ni tampoco una mera desestabilización de toda equivalencia entre poesía y ciudadanía sino, también, como tú muy bien dices, mon cher dissemblable, mon cher difrère, the political theology of the banking system to the global financial crisis of our poetries and their unstable concepts of the fiduciary, whose disorders are both social and also societal, p e r v a d i n g state, nation, and community… Lo cual, más claro que agua en aguayo, en effet, no conlleva denegar todo efecto de state, nation, and community, pero. Lo que me recuerda al paso la cosa del don (posible imposible) en poesía, así como ese ejemplar de ese bello artefactual “poema” de J. L. Martínez, “La poesía chilena” (con burocráticos certificados de defunción de Gabriela Mistral, Vicente Huidobro, Pablo Neruda, Pablo de Rokha y del padre de Martínez), que en alguna inmemorial vuelta por el CCCP habré dejado olvidado en Saffron Walden, y que, acaso, habrá sido una buena pócima para tu boca. ¡Salú!

Ps. By the way, en cuanto al f a k e c o m m e n t a t t r i b u t e d to Ch. Bernstein, en mi anterior post, remarca ahí las invisibles comillas, las orejas de conejo antes que las patas de ganso, meridiano está).

Anthony Madrid throws some big shade at Emily Post-Avant today (12/11), at Paris Review Daily. It's passive-aggressively brilliant:

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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