Who Killed Rilke?

Rilke at home, just before being killed by the academy.

     " ... the hallmark of academic criticism: it kills everything it touches. Walk around a university campus and there is an almost palpable smell of death about the place because hundreds of academics are killing everything they touch. I recently met an academic who said that he taught German literature. I was aghast: to think, this man who had been in universities all his life was teaching Rilke. Rilke! Oh it was too much to bear. You don't teach Rilke, I wanted to say, you kill Rilke!"
     -Geoff Dyer, Out of Sheer Rage.


Puccini's Oregano

this week's libretto
     "Opera begins in the market where, over and above the simple demands of competition of being able to attract customers' attention, stall holders have to convey the color and taste of fruit in their voices. The man selling oregano, for example: he called out and the air was fragrant with oregano.
His job was not to sell oregano, but to fill the air with the sound of its scent."
                     -Geoff Dyer in Out of Sheer Rage.


Call for 'writing on writers'!

     PageBoy invites you to submit original work in any form on the theme "writers on writers." Please consider writing something on your favorite author, or your least favorite author; or on an author you feel deserves more attention, or on an author you feel deserves less.    
     Homage/essay/elegy/interview/rant/criticism/limerick/etc. will all be considered for publication in our upcoming, ninth issue. Subjects can be well known or little known, widely published or not at all, so long as the piece itself is interesting enough. Work should be submitted by Nov. 15th.
     We look forward to reading your work,
         - PageBoy Crew


Those Divine Words

     "Writing is spooky. There is no routine of an office to keep you going, only the blank page each morning, and you never know where your words are coming from, those divine words."
     - Norman Mailer.


Painting Badly

Montagne Sainte-Victoire painted badly by Cezanne
     "The most admirable thing in the life of Cezanne was his perseverance in painting badly."
          -from an obituary of Cezanne in Le Soleil.


A Pitcher of Wine Forever

Chaucer, drunk as a chamber pot
     King Edward III gave Chaucer an annuity of 20 marks in 1367, calling him dilectus valettus noster (our beloved valet). By the end of 1368 Chaucer was an Esquire. Six years later, however, Chaucer received his greatest accolades from the king: a pitcher of wine per day for the rest of his life!
       -from Lives of the Poets, pg. 56 (Schmidt)


No Idea What I'm Doing

Francis Bacon has no idea what he's doing.

     "I think that you can make, very much as in abstract painting, involuntary marks on the canvas which may suggest much deeper ways by which you can trap the facts you are obsessed by. If anything ever does work in my case, it works from that moment when consciously I didn't know what I was doing ... It's really a question in my case of being able to set a trap with which one would be able to catch the fact at its most living point."
          - Francis Bacon


Keep Starting

Gorky's Garden in Sochi ... unfinished?

     "When something is finished, that means it's dead, doesn't it? I believe in everlastingness. I never finish a painting - I just stop working on it for a while. I like painting because it's something I never come to the end of ... The thing to do is always to keep starting to paint, never finishing painting."
     - Arshile Gorky.


Why do I think it's not beautiful?

Matisse's much maligned 'Woman with a Hat'

     "The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is 'why do I think it's not beautiful?' And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.
     "If we can conquer that dislike, or begin to like what we did dislike, then the world is more open. That path, of increasing one's enjoyment of life, is the path I think we'd all best take. To use art not as self-expression but as self-alteration. To become more open."
          - John Cage.


The Price of Worthlessness

Here are a couple amusing quotes from intro to Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, written in 1942:

     "It may be said of poets that while their systematic thought is now nearly worthless, their detached insights are priceless."

     "In this first half of the 20th century we have acquired a high regard for commentaries, so busying ourselves with what someone else has to say about a work of art that we have no insight left to look upon the work itself."


Words Pose As Language

What is the meaning of that paisley suit!

     "For years, I've been working toward a situation like the one we find ourselves in now; one where language is purely formal and concrete; like language itself, this essay ["Postlude: I Love Speech" in The Sound of Poetry / The Poetry of Sound (eds. Perloff, Dworkin) is both meaningful and meaningless at the same time. The page is now thick with words posing as language."
     -Kenneth Goldsmith


Is Kim Davis really Yi-Fen Chou?

        Photograph of individual thought to be Yi-Fen Chou (nom de plume of Michael Derrick Hudson, itself the nom de plume of Yi-Fen Chou, itself the nom de plume of Michael Derrick Hudson, itself the nom de plume of ...)


poem koan

Question mark.
     "The koan is neither a riddle nor a witty remark. It has a most definite objective, the arousing of doubt and pushing it to its furthest limits ... Here lies the value of the zen discipline, as it gives birth to the unshakable conviction that there is something indeed going on beyond mere intellection."
     - D.T. Suzuki.
     Can what is said of the koan be said of the poem?



     "Everyday-life is more interesting than forms of celebration, when we become aware of it. That when is when our intentions go down to zero. Then suddenly you notice that the world is magical
     - John Cage.

4' 33"

     leaf blower car passes rain car passes leaf blower car passes car passes leaf blower rain car passes passes passes leaf blower rain car passes laughter leaf blower rain rain rain car passes rain voices car passes laughter rain plane car passes plane car passes rain voices plane jack hammer plane car passes laughter jack hammer car passes cough voices blender car passes laughter jack hammer car passes plane laughter car passes car passes car passes applause


A Single Word or Sentiment

subject/author relationship?
Kenneth Goldsmith's FaceBook post following his Brown University reading:

     The Body of Michael Brown
     In the tradition of my previous book Seven American Deaths and Disasters, I took a publicly available document from an American tragedy that was witnessed first-hand (in this case by the doctor performing the autopsy) and simply read it. Like Seven American Deaths and Disasters, I did not editorialize; I simply read it without commentary or additional editorializing. Many of you have heard me read from Seven American Deaths and Disasters. This reading was identical in tone and intention. This, in fact, could have been the eighth American death and disaster. The document I read from is powerful. My reading of it was powerful. How could it be otherwise? Such is my long-standing practice of conceptual writing: like Seven American Deaths and Disasters, the document speaks for itself in ways that an interpretation cannot. It is a horrific American document, but then again it was a horrific American death.
     I altered the text for poetic effect; I translated into plain English many obscure medical terms that would have stopped the flow of the text; I narrativized it in ways that made the text less didactic and more literary. I indeed stated at the beginning of my reading that this was a poem called “The Body of Michael Brown”; I never stated, “I am going to read the autopsy report of Michael Brown.” But then again, this is what I did in Seven Deaths and Disasters. I always massage dry texts to transform them into literature, for that is what they are when I read them. That said, I didn’t add or alter a single word or sentiment that did not preexist in the original text, for to do so would be go against my nearly three decades’ practice of conceptual writing, one that states that a writer need not write any new texts but rather reframe those that already exist in the world to greater effect than any subjective interpretation could lend. Perhaps people feel uncomfortable with my uncreative writing, but for me, this is the writing that is able to tell the truth in the strongest and clearest way possible.
     Ecce homo. Behold the man.


Happy Accident (du mal)

Baudelaire sans les mains.

     "From the very beginning I perceived I was not only far from my mysterious and brilliant model [Gaspard de la Nuit by Aloysius Bertrand], but was, indeed, doing something (if it can be called something) singularly different, an accident which anyone else would glory in, no doubt, but which can only deeply humiliate a mind convinced that the greatest honor for a poet is to succeed in doing exactly what he set out to do."
          - Baudelaire on his prose poems (in the intro to Paris Spleen).


Singing Cement

Dumb, speaking, or singing?
     "Paul Valery divided buildings thus: into those that were dumb, and therefore would be, on my account soulless, dead; those that spoke, and would be, on my account, solid citizens and a worthy norm, provided their speech was clear and honest and unaffected; and those that sang, for those found in themselves their own end, and arose like Shelley's lark, through the heaviest atmosphere."


A Quiet Crackle of Popping Pods

     "Daudet was walking through a field of broom. All around him there was the soft background noise of seed pods exploding. Our lives, he had concluded, amount to no more than this: just a quiet crackle of popping pods."
     -Julian Barnes in intro to Daudet's In the Land of Pain.


Clownery in Poetry

Culturally insensitive white male in clownface.
     Interesting article about artistic license, artistic responsibility, censorship, political correctness, etc. here: Clowns.


What is a What is a What is a train?

DuChamp's Jeune homme triste dans un train 

     "... avant-garde works must remain wild and never neglect an opportunity to attack their trainers; above all, it is the hand that feeds them which must be repeatedly bitten. They have to continue to do what the avant-garde is supposed to do: shatter stereotypes, shake things up, and keep things moving; offer fresh possibilities to a jaded understanding; encourage a new consciousness; revitalize the creative spirit of the medium; and, above all, challenge the skills and ambitions of every practitioner. Such a pure avant-garde must not only emphasize the formal elements of its art (recognizing that these elements are its art); its outside interests must be in very long-term - if not permanent - problems. It may have to say no to Cash, to Flag, to Man, to God, to Being itself. It cannot be satisfied merely to complain of the frivolities of a king's court or to count the crimes of capitalism or to castigate the middle class for its persistent vulgarity. The avant-garde's ultimate purpose is to return the art to itself, not as if the art could be cordoned off from the world and kept uncontaminated, but in order to remind it of its nature (a creator of forms in the profoundest sense) - a nature that should not be allowed to dissolve into what are, after all, measly moments of society."
     -Gass (from "The Vicissitudes of the Avant-Garde")


The Useless Useful

The Soup and the Clouds

     "There are few vocations (like the practice of poetry or the profession of philosophy) that are so uncalled for by the world, so unremunerative by any ordinary standards, so inherently difficult, so undefined, that to choose them suggests that more lies behind the choice than a little encouraging talent and a few romantic ideals.
     "To persevere in such a severe and unrewarding course requires the mobilization of the entire personality - each weakness as well as every strength, each quirk as well as every normality."
          -Gass from "At Death's Door: Wittgenstein"


Murder Your Darlings

King actually threw away his draft of Carrie. His wife found it in the garbage can.
Murder your darlings, yes, but not the truly darling darlings.

     "Try any goddamn thing you like, no matter how boringly normal or outrageous. If it works, fine. If it doesn't, toss it. Toss it even if you love it. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch once said, 'Murder your darlings', and he was right."
          -Stephen King (On Writing)


Issue VII!

Anne Petty, Sara and Her Dog
     PageBoy Magazine Issue VII 15 is now out and features work by Chris Ashby, Amaranth Borsuk, Sarah Erickson, Andy Fitch, Richard Froude, Catherine Karlak, Rauan Klassnik, Ed Skoog, and Jeanine Walker. Artwork by and interview with Anne Petty.


Richard Hugo Says Nothing

Large Mouth Bass Bites Large Mouth Poet's Short Stubby Fingers At Colorless Lake
"Say nothing and just make music and you'll find plenty to say."
          -Richard Hugo in The Triggering Town.


The Polite Drivel of Perfectly Predictable Music

Cocteau's vision of Stravinsky composing The Rite.

     "Without artists like Stravinsky who compulsively make everything new, our sense of sound would become increasingly narrow. Music would lose its essential uncertainty. Dopamine would cease to flow. As a result, the feeling would be slowly drained out of the notes, the polite drivel of perfectly predictable music. Works like The Rite of Spring jolt us out of this complacency. They keep us literally open-minded. If not for the difficulty of the avant-garde, we would worship nothing but that which we already know."
          - Jonah Lehrer in Proust Was a Neuroscientist.


Cezanne's admonition for the matriculated student

Cezanne's head, like his paintings, frequently let the bare canvas show.

     "Teachers are all castrated bastards and assholes. They have no guts."
              -Cezanne on his painting instructors.    



Fine art by R. Mutt.
     "I had got it backward all along. Not 'seeing is believing', you ninny, but 'believing is seeing', for Modern Art has become completely literary: the painting and other works exist only to illustrate the text."
     -Tom Wolfe in The Painted Word.
     This is Wolfe's epiphany. He finally figured out why he wasn't "getting" Modern Art ... namely because you have to be familiar with the theory behind the painting first. The painting merely illustrates the theory, and is not necessarily meant to be pleasurable, not meant to be whole. It is not the point, but points to the point.
     The same can be said of a large swath of modern poetry as well, where the reader/listener feels as if he/she's walked into the room at the end of a rather boring theoretical conversation. Uh, okay?
     Here is Wolfe's advice (from the same book, which is a must read) for such encounters, he warns:
     "To be against what is new is not to be modern. Not to be modern is to write yourself out of the scene. Not to be in the scene is to be nowhere. No, in an age of avant-gardism the only possible strategy to counter a new style which you detest is to leapfrog it."



Right brain sandwich left brain sandwich.

     "Rearranging a vertical list of items horizontally makes the relationship of the parts to the whole more difficult to perceive. For example, telephone directories would be nearly impossible to use if the names were arranged across the page. A person scanning vertically can appreciate spatial relationships all at once; horizontal scanning is better for tracking time - one thing after another.
     "Perusing all the elements of a vertical row is primarily a right-brain function; following a horizontal line is primarily a left-brain function."
     - Leonard Shlain in The Alphabet vs. The Goddess.


Contempt for Prettiness

     "The peculiar quality of Chinese and Japanese art that is influenced by Zen is that it is able to suggest what cannot be said, and, by using a bare minimum of form, to awaken us to the formless. Zen painting tells us just enough to alert us to what is not and is nevertheless right there. Zen calligraphy, by its peculiar suppleness, dynamism, abandon, contempt for 'prettiness' and for formal style, reveals to us something of the freedom which is not transcendent in some abstract and intellectual sense, but which employs a minimum of form without being attached to it, and is therefore free from it."
     - Thomas Merton (in Zen and the Birds of Appetite)


Straight is the Gate

El Payaso Porchia

"Following straight lines shortens distances, and also life."
    -Antonio Porchia


Honor the Maggot

action painting
     Honor the maggot,
     supreme catalyst:
he spurs the rate of change:
(all scavengers are honorable: I love them
will scribble hard as I can for them)

          -Ammons (from "Catalyst")


Roethke (pron: 'freaky deaky')

Roethke cracking up.

     A few quotes from Roethke's book On Poetry and Craft (Copper Canyon Press):
     "If a thing fails rhythmically, it's nothing."
     "Art is our defense against hysteria and madness."
     "Inspiration? The important thing in life is to have the right kind of frustration."


Alien Reader

Mandelstam with third eye and elephant ears.

     'Exchanging signals with the planet Mars ... is a task worthy of a lyric poet.'"
          - Osip Mandelstam on who a poet's audience should be.


What Is Progress?

...that the whole progress of humanity proceeds.
     "It is by the steady elimination of everything which is ugly - thoughts and words no less than tangible objects - and by the substitution of things of true and lasting beauty that the whole progress of humanity proceeds."
     - Anna Pavlova


An Imagined Post

Hugo with imagined bourbon on the rocks.
     "...an imagined town is at least as real as an actual town. If it isn't, you may be in the wrong business. Our words come from obsessions we must submit to, whatever the social cost. It can be hard. It can be worse forty years from now if you feel you could have done it and didn't. It is narcissistic, vain, egotistical, unrealistic, selfish, and hateful to assume emotional ownership of a town or a word. It is also essential."
          -Richard Hugo


as best we can

Berryman with windswept beard (looking rather bloated with mutter)

"mutter we all must as well as we can"
     - J.B. (Dream Song 219)


AWP Hangover

AWP (Where's Waldo Wittgenstein?)
     If you're still feeling a bit hungover from AWP, or perhaps that you weren't able to accomplish all your literary/self-promotional goals, it might help to remember Wittgenstein's feelings toward the end of his life (as he regretted not having committed suicide years before):
     "I ought to have become a star in the sky ... but instead I've remained stuck on the earth."
     You see, Wittgenstein too failed at AWP.

     And for those of you who did triumph, congratulations! Lao Tsu says it best:
     "Triumph is not beautiful
     He who thinks triumph is beautiful
     Is one with a will to kill
     Conduct your triumph as a funeral"


Welcome AWP (and AWT)

AWT 2013 (Boston)
     On the eve of AWP, some words of encouragement from Don Marquis:
     "Publishing a book of verse is like dropping a rose petal in the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo."
     Coincidentally, AWT (The Association of Writers with Tourettes) will also be having its annual conference next week. This event is sure to include many of the exciting phenomena AWT has become famous for: coprolalia (spontaneous cursing), echolalia (repeating the words of others), and palilalia (repeating one's own words). There will be a veritable epidemic of readers, all of whom will be mostly talking to themselves surrounded by others also mostly talking to themselves. You may find yourself unknowingly involved in one of their readings, as they will be taking place at innumerable restaurants and bars throughout the city. If you find yourself having a relaxing dinner one minute, only to be surrounded by raving lunatics the next, do not panic! While stopping, dropping, and rolling may be  effective, quietly removing yourself from the situation is probably best. Do not give them money! as this will only encourage their behavior.
     To be sure you won't find yourself in such a situation (or if you are curious to see them in action), we've provided a link to their list of events here: AWT.
     At no point in the history of the human race have there been more writers and writing programs in existence than at present. Enjoy the show!


To jump or to fly?

     "...the author who attempts to organize space while neglecting time is venturing into a field in which materials and the tools - paint, canvas, stone, metal, wood, and camera lens - are more effective than language. He is working in two or three dimensions instead of four and is thus evading what seems to me a more difficult challenge and a greater opportunity for innovation."
     This is Malcom Cowley's (one of Malcom Cowley's) attacks on the avant-garde, and specifically Robbe-Grillet's idea of the "new novel" and Andy Warhol's a in Cowley's essay A Defense of Storytelling.
     It seems to me that he has a point, though a decidedly conservative one - for after all, a writer must be able to write whatever a writer wants to write, right?
     But it's true, one must admit, that one advantage writing has over, say, painting, sculpture, music even, is time. The writer has the ability to lead the reader through maze after maze, the seeing forest and the hearing field, across the street and up the stairs, to open the door, to enter the room, to walk over to the window, to open the window, to step out onto the ledge, to look down, to sigh, and then, perhaps, to go back in or to jump or to fly.


Sacco and Vanzetti and Rexroth

                                          Many men, a long time.


Writing Is Wrought

the proper way to light a pipe
     "I am an artisan. I need to work with my hands. I would like to carve my novel in a piece of wood."
          - Georges Joseph Christian Simenon


Walled In

Thoreau moments after losing his mustache in the woods.

     "It is a ridiculous demand which England and America make, that you shall speak so they can understand you."
          - Thoreau (in Walden) offering a comment on (the intelligence of) his readership.


The Singing Truth

Cuetzpaltzin after having his poems misunderstood by Cortes.

He goes his way singing, offering flowers
And his words ring down
Like jade and quetzal plumes
Is this what pleases the Giver of Life
Is that the only truth on Earth?

          - Ayocuan Cuetzpaltzin (Nahuatl poet, 15th century)
     The tlamatinime people of precolonial Mexico suggested that immutable truth is by its nature beyond human experience. Their philosophers believed that, because we are mortal, we cannot know Truth. If we cannot grasp eternity, then we cannot grasp eternal truth.
     The passage above is a kind of poetics solution to this riddle. We cannot know truth, but we can sing the things around us. And through singing gain access to truth.
     The poet continues:

          From whence come the flowers that enrapture man
          The songs that intoxicate, the lovely songs?
          Only from the innermost part of heaven.

     Through art we access grace, or other, or truth. Perhaps this seems obvious, or cliche now. But it strikes me that this was a realization of an early 15th century poet from subtropical north america, one of millions doomed by the fast approach of material Europe.


Poet as Chicken

     "The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life, one day wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken."
          -Bertrand Russel


Issue VI Now Available!

Arreguin's The Bull Got Into the Flower Garden

     Issue VI is now available via this website (see "Buy a Copy" button), with work by Jeff Encke, Annie Chou, Greg Bachar, Nadine Maestas, Fred Sasaki, Rachel Kessler, Greg Bem, Marissa F. Baum, and Simone Sachs. Art by Alfredo Arreguin.
     Please buy a copy! All proceeds go to the next issue of struggling literary magazines based in Seattle that rhyme with 'crazed goy.' You're gonna love it!


Neglection Slip

Ms. Rich
     When Adrienne Rich was editing The Best American Poetry (1996), she chose a couple poets who she could not locate. She mentioned them in her introduction, even though - without their permission -  she had no choice but to leave them out of the anthology. When the book came out, at least one of them wrote back, upset by seeing her name in the introduction, yet not being included in the anthology.
     Rich responded:
     "A poem often becomes a kind of commodity in the competitive literary world of curriculum vitae, though I deplore the fact. I would be very sorry if either this mischance, or your numerous recognitions, were to get between you and the life of poetry, which is an art, not a competition, an art demanding self-discipline and apprenticeship, often through very unencouraging circumstances, for stakes which have nothing to do with the market."


Meaning as Poverty

What Sontag means by having her photograph taken in a doorway is that... what she is trying to say is... Oh! and by wearing her hair down, well that is obviously a nod toward... And the leather jacket! Anyone can see that by rocking the leather jacket she is making a statement about... 
     "Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Even more, it is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of 'meanings'."
     - Sontag (from "Against Interpretation," which is required reading!)



Phoebe Annie Oakley Mozee

     Just thought you'd like to see how happy Annie Oakley could be.


singing and dancing and talking about it too

Rodin's Poet and Critic.
     Here are a few quotes from A.R. Ammons re critics and art making. They are taken from his introduction to The Best American Poetry 1994. The entire introduction is worth reading yes.

     "There is no reason ever in the world for the critic and poet to be at odds, and for the following reason: the primary motion of the poet is to put things together and touch a source that feels like life, at times even more powerful than life. It is a synthesis of analogies and associations that promotes, in the best hands, and even when disjunctive, a sense of renewed vitality. That is what one feels. That is a fact whether noticed by poet or critic. The critic makes another kind of synthesis; his or her synthesis comes as a result of what can be added up after taking things apart. What is added up, as in dissertations and works of critical discourse, is thought to be subtler and finer than the work that gave rise to it. But that cannot be, because the two modes of thought, the creative and the analytical, are not comparable; they are apples and oranges."

     "Thousands of papers may be written about Rodin and many of them may know more about Rodin than Rodin did but they will not resemble sculpture. Rodin made the sculpture. No one else did."

     "We will dance and sing. Sometime later we will talk about singing and dancing, and in that effort, we will need all the help we can get from the critics or anyone else."


Poetry's Dead And Jazz Ain't Cool

Jazz may not be cool, but that pink tie is.
     Here's a link to Nicholas Payton's blog and his poem on why jazz ain't cool: necrophilia. Some of his thoughts can be applied to poetry as well ... right?


Dead Letter Text

     "The logos of a bad writer throws words together in no order at all, perhaps beginning at the point where it should end and wholly ignorant of organic sequence. You can enter this logos at any point and find it saying the same thing. Once it is written down it continues to say that same thing forever over and over within itself, over and over in time. As communication, such a text is a dead letter."
     Anne Carson (in Eros the Bittersweet)


Baudelaire's Doggie Bag

Baudelaire with dog hidden in shirt.
     Here's Baudelaire's "The Dog and the Scent Bottle"

     Come here, my dear, good, beautiful doggie, and smell this excellent perfume from the best perfumer of Paris.
     And the dog, wagging his tail, which I believe is that poor creature's way of laughing and smiling, came up and put his nose to the uncorked bottle. Then, suddenly, backed away in terror, barking at me reproachfully.
     "Ah miserable dog, if I'd offered you a bag of shit you would have sniffed at it with delight and perhaps devoured it. In this you're like the public, which should never be offered delicate perfumes that infuriate them, but only carefully selected garbage."


Lips or roots?

whose lips as fat as roots
     "I love the world of wind and foliage / I can't distinguish lips from roots"