Our website is now up! The Committee to Save the New York Public Library is online at www.savenypl.org
Now we need your help. Please spread the word about our site and the threat facing the 42nd Street Library: via social media, via twitter, via linking from your blog, via plain old-fashioned word-of-mouth. If you have friends who you think might be concerned about preserving the integrity of the 42nd Street Library, our website is an easy way to introduce them to the issue.
We also some unfortunate, but not unexpected, news. We have received multiple reports that the historic book stacks in the 42nd Street Research Library have now been emptied. Removing the books is a prelude to the proposed demolition of the stacks later this year or early in 2014 as part of the Central Library Plan. The removal process started many months ago.
Construction has not yet started on the additional book storage space that has been promised under Bryant Park. Furthermore, ReCAP, the book storage facility in central New Jersey where NYPL’s offsite books are supposed to be stored, was essentially full as of December 2012, and the new storage modules at ReCAP which are intended to hold the additional books from 42nd Street won’t be finished until mid-summer. Several sources have reported that books from the 42nd Street stacks are being temporarily stored at a Bronx storage facility.
We are planning more leafleting at the 42nd Street Library this coming week and a possible rally the following week. We will have more information shortly!
The Committee to Save the NYPL
For more information on the campaign to save the 42nd Street Library, visit www.savenypl.org
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April 29th, 2013 · Uncategorized
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April 28th, 2013 · Uncategorized
[I too am traveling, so just forwarding this post from Arab Literature (in English):
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April 25th, 2013 · Arab Culture, Translation
Am in Bloomington, Indiana today for talk at Lilly Library & translation seminar. Here the latest debate on related matters from Arab Literature (in English) blog — a debate not unrelated to other publishing, such as poetry, as well:
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April 23rd, 2013 · Criticism, Cultural Studies, Literary Magazines & Reviews, Maghreb, Poetry
Beatriz Leal Riesco reviews Poems for the Millennium, Volume Four: The University of California Book of North African Literature
Edited by Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour (University of California Press, 2013)
For centuries, the achievements of the Arab and Berber Muslim cultures were silenced in the West, and literary traditions and genres greatly in their debt were grafted on to surrogate Greco-Roman or Judeo-Christian genealogies. With the exception of a few novelists and one or two poets, North Africa remains a blind spot for many readers of today, irrespective of its intellectual, cultural, and artistic fecundity. The work of Joris and Tengour serves as redress for the harm this ignorance has done, not only to the authors of the Maghreb, but also to the occidental poetic imagination. The poets here on display, schooled in cultures of chant and verse, skilled employers of dialect and masters in the play of subversion of sonority and rhyme that gives Arabic poetry its specific charm, recover a space that should never have been stripped from them through this lavish paean to their creative vigor.
Rendering homage to the librarians of Alexandria and Al-Andalus, who for centuries safeguarded the wisdom of the Orient and Ancient Greece, Joris and Tengour have worked both as assemblers and interpreters of this mass of texts that took shape organically over the course of more than a quarter-century. Divided into six sections organized chronologically, each with an introduction providing historical background, and interspersed with brief but illuminating commentaries, the text brings together the traditional, the folkloric, and the experimental. The intention in each part is to remain faithful to the spirit of the era, and to dispense with the sort of scholarly hairsplitting that cordons off the creative energies common to the various currents of poetic praxis into academic subspecialties that rob them of their vitality.
As the editors explain in the introduction, for years the book’s working title was Diwan Ifrikiya. In Arabic a diwan is “a gathering, a collection or anthology,” and Ifrikiya is an Arabization of the Latin word Africa, which was itself borrowed from the Egyptians, who used the term Ifri to describe the inhabitants of North Africa. In an opening salvo entitled “A Book of Multiple Beginnings,” the authors recruit such notables as Apuleius, Callimachus, Tertulian, and Saint Augustine, grandees of antiquity whom the occidental tradition divested of their African origins. They are introduced by a creation myth transcribed by the great Africanist Leo Frobenius, symbolically marking the recognition of a literary counter-tradition over which the Western Canon has been overlaid as both obligation and inevitability. [...]
April 21st, 2013 · Uncategorized
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April 20th, 2013 · Cultural Studies, Film
Old friend & collaborator Paul Buck was interviewed by 3.a.m. magazine on his new book on the film Performance. Opening paras below; read the whole piece here.
Paul Buck interviewed by Richard Marshall.
3:AM: You approach the film from a series of angles – the art scene, the London drug scene, the gangster scene, the film scene and so on. This gives the reader a very intense and close up way in to the film. Was that your intention, can you say something about your approach?
Paul Buck: Performance is an extraordinary film in that it didn’t fit into the known patterns of filmmaking, whether mainstream or art-house or underground or whatever term you want to use. It didn’t fit categories in that respect. Or even genres. Is it a crime film? It’s often pushed into that field. But it isn’t. It blends and jags or Jaggers its way into all manner of fields. Thus the idea that one can write about it in a conventional manner seems a bit misguided. That approach is destined to fail on some levels. I thought the best way would be to unravel the film by taking the main protagonists, in front and behind the camera, and try to explore each and see how they fitted together as a team, or bunch of travellers. Because it seems to me that the film is more the result of a composite of people and trends and the zeitgeist that made that film, and made that film what it was and what it was to become. In that respect that approach also moves away from the old chestnut of was it Cammell’s film, or Roeg’s film. I didn’t want to give too much attention to that dispute, though I acknowledge it. I wanted to try to piece together the kernels, the essentials, essences and interests of the contributors and see where they meshed together, whether in the morning, afternoon, evening or night, how they came to make this enormous psychodrama. Though I didn’t pursue Maya Deren’s film in the book, that first ‘poetic psychodrama’, that I just alluded to, perhaps I could have made some further interesting inroads there too.
The other thing I wanted to do was pursue some parallels with the film. For example, to plant information out of sequence in the reader’s mind, sometimes gradually with respect to an idea, so that when I required the reader to notice the point I could trigger their memory and they’d understand the point on more than one level. This is something the film does. Indeed this idea, and the way it is pursued by Roeg in his subsequent films, is something I’ve taken on board in my own writings over the years, it’s part of my modus operandi let’s say. Thus it had a point here, I was acknowledging one of my key influences. Of course I knew this approach might well go over the heads of some of the readers who might just want the book to tell the story of the film, as I did call it a biography, not specifically an analysis or overview of various interpretations. Effectively I thought the way to talk about the film was to treat it on biographical terms, as least theoretically, because labels are anathema to me and present themselves as ripe for breaking or reconstructing. I was also aware that there could possibly be a wide range of readers, given that Jagger features and the publisher is known for its music output, not that any pressure was exerted to bear that in mind, or to conform in any way.
April 18th, 2013 · Interview, Maghrebi Literature, Poetics, Poetry, Translation, Uncategorized
The excellent BANIPAL magazine has just published a solid interview with Moroccan poet Mohammed Bennis conducted by Camilo Gomez-Rivas. Opening paras below. You can access the whole piece here.
Mohammed Bennis lives for literature, and for poetry in particular. Camilo Gomez-Rivas introduces this influential Moroccan literary figure and poet, with an in-depth interview and translations from two of his most important poetry collections.
The semantic shifts one encounters in a single line of poetry by Mohammed Bennis can be startling. Words one had thought to know well appear dissociated from their common senses, taking on unexpected shades of meaning. Even their shapes on the page are plastic, three dimensional. Freed from the usual points of reference, stripped of worn metaphors, the words appear to act of their own volition, with abilities outside traditional usage or grammatical functions.
Upon first meeting with this soft-spoken poet in Mohammedia – a quiet city on the Atlantic coast of Morocco where Bennis has labored steadily at his craft for the last 35 years – one could be forgiven for imagining his life work as the kind resulting solely from a desire for steady formal experimentation. Poetry written in deliberate seclusion, undisturbed by the hubbub of politics, celebrity, or revolutionary social causes. Longer acquaintance with both the man and his work, however, reveals a poet rather more engaged, and one who sees his work as, although subtle, vital to the society in which he lives.
“Poets are the preservers of meaning,” a function, Bennis says, critical for languages that wish to remain alive and relevant. In his poetry, Bennis has tried to create a language of his own that is engaged with reality in a profoundly critical way, an endeavor that poets everywhere would recognize as universal. The strictly national and personal dimensions of Bennis’s work, however, are the result of a long struggle with the particular kind of intellectual repression that characterized his country in the generations following independence from the French.
“When I was young,” Bennis recalls of life in his native Fez, “I found nothing in Morocco that would open the horizons to a cultural life.” While the old city of Fez provided him with an intimate space where he learned about the mysteries of language and death as a boy, as a young man, the city became increasingly stifling intellectually. This feeling became especially poignant after young Bennis, with a gift of a thousand dirhams from his grandmother, was able to travel through Spain and France up to Paris. The year was 1968.
But it was his later struggles with Morocco’s post-independence institutions that proved to be defining in his experience as a cultural actor in his country.
“I went in desiring to change ideas and create a new vision of cultural activity in Morocco and a free Moroccan culture in Arabic,” he says of his reasons for joining the Moroccan Writers’ Union in 1973. “But what I discovered when I joined was that I was with political, not cultural people. I didn’t understand this at first. I was an enthusiastic young man. But slowly, I began to understand that this institution which said about itself that it was a cultural one, was in fact an institution that existed to thwart culture.”
Been on the road for readings for nearly a week, thus no posts. Old friend Bill Sherman had sent me a review of the two Dorn reviews plus his own takes on the Dorn, which he graciously gave me permission to repost here on Nomadics — which I’ll do, as I catch my breath & sort out next week (which will culminate in an Occitan poetry & music performance on Sunday 21st at 3 p.m. at the Bowery poetry Club. More on that later in the week.) Here’s Bill’s take from his Marama:OmooPart5 blog:
Wikipedia notes that Aklavik wasn’t incorporated into a hamlet until 1974. Dorn’s lead-off poem in “The North Atlantic Turbine” – quite rightly called a “great poem” by Iain Sinclair in his review of the new Collected (LRB, 11 April, “Collected Poems” by Edward Dorn) was written prophetically prior to that, since Turbine was published in 1967 by Fulcrum Press.Sinclair also writes of a time and place, when Compendium Books was still there in the now swarmed over Camden Town. Mike Hart, a mutual friend, is mentioned, and the shadow of Nick Kimberly. And the world of poets publishing poets in Limited Editions.Peter Riley’s two-part article in his “Fortnightly Review” overview of Dorn’s work, correctly, in my opinion, notes that “Recollections of Gran Apacheria” is the apex of Dorn’s achievement, another truly great poem, although personally I also love some of the early lyrics like “The Air of June Sings” and “The Rick of Green Wood” and “Like A Message On Sunday” and “Vaquero”…. However, Riley goes on to denigrate Turbine (the title poem in particular) as if Dorn had no right to criticize things English, and he finds Dorn’s forays into world politics to be a wrong turning foreshadowing misanthropy. But then Riley has never lived in “the belly of the beast”.In both articles, Iain’s much stronger in his praise of Dorn, it is argued that “Gunslinger” set out be be comedic. I believe this is not so. That tone became prevalent more in “The Winterbook”, and then after, when cocaine sets in. True, the talking horse (no doubt inspired by the smoke and the old American TV series “Ed, The Talking Horse”), and the Canterbury-like group assembling prepare one for mock-epic, but the tone is post-Zizekian if you will; back then when first published, I found it totally de-familiarizing. It is not only serious, despite its mixed tone, it is the first poem I know to have made discourse shifts, an insistent epistomological and cosmological changing of gears, sometimes within the line itself and the contiguous words, an integral part of a “spiritual address”, which Dorn said ”The North Atlantic Turbine” (a crucial book) had freed him up for. It is in Turbine that his Gunslinger makes his first appearance:“This is for your sadly missing heart….it is the girl you leftin Juarez, the blankpolitical days press her nowin the narrow alleysor in the confines of the river townher dress is tornby the misadventure ofher gothic search———-my mare lathers with tediumher hooves are dryLook they are covered with the alkaliof the enormous spacebetween here and formerly.———-And why do you have a female horseGunslinger? I asked. Don’t movehe repliedthe sun sits deliberatelyon the rim of the sierra”It reminds one of early Godard (Band of Outsiders), and it was, to use Ralph Maud’s term “archaic postmodern” referring to Olson. It was a new mode of poetic composition in a way, but “The Winterbook” begins its descent into satire from a loftier plane into the comic mode Riley and Sinclair say was its original intent. I think the aim was higher. He wanted to be “a classical poet” he had said, not “neo-classic” – though Byron too loved the eighteenth century poets, and attacked Keats for his dissing of them (“they swayed back and forth upon a rocking horse / and called it Pegasus”). As Tom Clark, in his biography of Dorn, “A World Of Difference” perceptively writes of “The Cycle” interrupting what was becoming of the epic turned mock:“Dorn extends the range of his symbolism into an area very close to moral allegory. The extension is consistent with his working principles in the poem, which differs from his previous efforts in the multivalent density of the referential field it activates….” (p. 113).
And here is the opening of Book 2:“This tapestry movesas the morning lights up.And they who are in it moveand love its movingfrom sleep to Ideaborn on the breathingof a distant harmonium, To Seeis their desireas they wander estranged”
In the later work: the sardonic aphorisms of “Abhorrences” and the under-rated “Languedoc Variorum” and the final poems of “Chemo Sabe” “spectacular rewards” as Sinclair writes, “are offered…as the strategic shifts and heretical inspirations of the poet’s long career are revealed. First, his courage. Then his persistence….Dorn refined his ability to articulate a precise report from wherever he stood. He mastered a ‘terrific actualism’.”Yes, he has moved from some beautiful early poems (almost Frostian at times), to original authentic voice, innovative and enduring, a lasting achievement.
(Bill Sherman, April 6th/7th 2013)