A little bit larger than normal, it contains the usual wide variety of work, this time from Judith Skillman, Elisa C. Martínez Salazar, Cecelia Chapman & Jeff Crouch, Paul Siegell, Michael Orr & Texas Fontanella, Peter Yovu, Anna Cates, Sanjeev Sethi, Kyle Hemmings, Riccardo Benzina, Steven Bruce, CL Bledsoe, Texas Fontanella, Alan Catlin, David Miller, Craig Cotter, Ali Zarbali, Sharon H. Frost, Dale Jensen, Eric Hoffman, Lynn Strongin, Karl Kempton, Paul Dickey, Jack Galmitz, Gao An, Stacey Allam & John M. Bennett, John M. Bennett, Ioan Bunus & John M. Bennett, Bob Kotyk, Michael J. Leach, petro c. k., Maria Giesbrecht, Richard Kostelanetz, Demosthenes Agrafiotis, KJ Hannah Greenberg, Grzegorz Wróblewski, Jimmy Crouse, Nathan Anderson, Daniel de Culla, John Geraets, Jennifer Weigel, Judith Roitman, Ivars Balkits, Rob Martelli, Tohm Bakelas, Elaine Woo, Michael Sikkema, Livio Farallo, Diana Magallón, Jim Meirose, Carol Stetser, Eric Lunde, Sheila E. Murphy, dan raphael, Richard Magahiz, Daniel Barbiero, Pawel Markiewicz, Lawrence R. Smith, Mike Callaghan, John Tustin, George Myers Jr., Mark Pirie, James Grabill, Caleb Puckett, Damon Hubbs, Tim Gaze, Marilyn R. Rosenberg & Ann R. Shapiro, Mark Danowsky, Piet Nieuwland, Christopher Barnes, Guy R. Beining, Harvey Huddleston, Sterling Warner, Pete Spence, Julia Vaughan, Lewis LaCook, Dave Read, Susan Gangel & Ken Hay, Benjamin Niespodziany, Jim Leftwich, Joanne Bechtel, Brooks Lampe, Olchar E. Lindsann, John Digby & Bill Wolak, Linda M. Walker, Maximilian Speicher, Lucia Sapienza, LUNE OFFLINE, Samarra Prahlad, Gavin Lucky, Tom Beckett, Jeff Harrison, Bill Wolak, James Yeary, Joshua Martin, Uvia Shcho, Antonio Devicienti, Mark Cunningham, Carla Bertola, Alberto Vitacchio & Carla Bertola, Mercedes Webb-Pullman, Edward Kulemin, Nicholas Alexander Hayes, harry k stammer, Kenneth Rexroth, Jeff Bagato, Nathan Whiting, Catherine Eaton Skinner, Eileen R. Tabios, Mark Yale Harris, Heath Brougher, Natalie Christensen, Vernon Frazer, Bob Lucky, Daniel f Bradley, Heather M. Browne, Marcia Arrieta, Patrick Sweeney, John Levy, Glenn Ingersoll, Michael Ruby, Hrishikesh Srinivas, J.I. Kleinberg, Kit Kennedy, Caleb Fenez, Keith Nunes, Marilyn Stablein, Cecelia Chapman, M.J. Iuppa, Daniel Lehan, Elmedin Kadric, Hubert Kretschmer & Jürgen O. Olbrich, Penelope Weiss, Siân Vate, Elena Zalogina, Jill Jones, Alan Peat & Réka Nyitrai, Réka Nyitrai, hiromi suzuki, Thomas Camus, Barnaby Smith, J. D. Nelson, K. Roberts, Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo, Peter Cherches, Cherie Hunter Day, Keith Higginbotham, Angelo ‘NGE’ Colella, Darrell Petska, David Jalajel, Paul Pfleuger, Jr., & Jim Leftwich & John M. Bennett.
doffed Feedlot Basketball
For the Doomsday
Baffle of the Double Floss
bed foibles Breakfast
defiance of Burstnorm
gruel weeping Equine
rewind Elk Wintry mix
teal Edible Rorschach
yurt Rut Tornado
oil spilling Patch
Our Parched punch inedible
Sun Out Until Lunch
By the Lurch of Trust
yet Rattling Trunk
tEaching them the
Wilding the Load
humiliation jumps the Ladder
Humidity in Quaver
Hunch & Wrench aluminum
siding grunts elation
differs in fur and Fire
so Deep deep without an Ocean
Dawn of another Raw Day
double fungus carpet
diction siphoned Corpuscle
watering the Closet
creeping Red Emptiness
very to very
it is it & it
by the time
both Toes Yearning
yearns the night
night Yearning Light
uNder No DawN
Nor fabricated organelle
optical piñata arribada
Rotunda options normalized
Alfalfa pinto lubricated
Baobab aridity organic
Free Blackjack Very
green like a pool table
green like a cow pasture
Rigged, a rigged game
germane mane and
germs & germs
Dim Foghorns of the
Growling wild and
Dimestore tygers howling
Lunes widely flowing frog
Thorns of the Hand are
Worth two in the birdlime
Since there is
verse documented as
Dogs Fly like pigs
deep in the Face of verity
deep in the Face
Sense & Causality
Very pig of the dogs
To Face-Off against
Real Thoughts are
Real / The True Real
/ The Real Book
—- The time it
took —- to become
And be a book
The Last Vispo Anthology (1998-2008) is here (since April, 21st):
and also here:
INDEX OF POETS:
Andrew Abbott, Fernando Aguiar, Sonja Ahlers, Charles Alexander, Reed Altemus, mIEKAL aND, Bruce Andrews, Dirk Rowntree, Jim Andrews, Hartmut Andryczuk, Marcia Arrieta, Dmitry Babenko, Petra Backonja, Gary Barwin, Michael Basinski, Guy R Beining, Derek Beaulieu, Marc Bell, Jason McLean, C Merhl Bennett, John M Bennett, Carla Bertola, Julien Blaine, Jaap Blonk, Christian Bök, Daniel f. Bradley, Nancy Burr, John Byrum, J. M. Calleja, Mike Cannell, David Baptiste Chirot, Peter Ciccariello, Jo Cook, Judith Copithorne, Holly Crawford, Maria Damon, Klaus Peter Dencker, Brian Dettmer, Fabio Doctorovich, Bill DiMichele, Johanna Drucker, Amanda Earl, Shayne Ehman, endwar, K. S. Ernst, Eva O Ettel, Greg Evason, Oded Ezer, Jesse Ferguson, Cesar Figueirdo, Luc Fierens, Peter Frank, Tim Gaze, Angela Genusa, Marco Giovenale, Jesse Glass, Robert Grenier, Bob Grumman, Ladislao Pablo Györi, Sharon Harris, Scott Helmes, Crag Hill, Bill Howe, Geof Huth, Serkan Isin, Gareth Jenkins, Michael Jacobson, Miguel Jimenez, Karl Jirgens, Alexander Jorgensen, Chris Joseph, Despina Kannaourou, Andreas Kahre, Satu Kaikkonen, Karl Kempton, Joseph Keppler, Roberto Keppler, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Anatol Knotek, Márton Koppány, Richard Kostelanetz, Gyorgy Kostritski, Dirk Krecker, Edward Kulemin, Paul Lambert, Jim Leftwich, The Lions, Joel Lipman, Sveta Litvak, Troy Lloyd, damian lopes, Carlos M Luis, Donato Mancini, Chris Mann, Bill Marsh, Kaz Maslanka, Robert Mittenthal, Gustave Morin, Sheila Murphy, Keiichi Nakamura, Stephen Nelson, Marko Niemi, Rea Nikonova, Juergen O. Olbrich, Christopher Olson, David Ostrem, mARK oWEns, Clemente Padin, Michael Peters, Nick Piombino, Hugo Pontes, Ross Priddle, e. k. rzepka, Marilyn R. Rosenberg, Jenny Sampirisi, Suzan Sari, R Saunders, Michael V. Smith, David Ellingsen, Serge Segay, Spencer Selby, Douglas Spangle, Litsa Spathi, Pete Spence, Matina L. Stamatakis, Carol Stetser, Ficus Strangulensis, W. Mark Sutherland, Thomas Lowe Taylor, Miroljub Todorovic, Andrew Topel, Cecil Touchon, Aysegul Tozeren, e. g. vajda, Nico Vassilakis, John Vieira, Stephen Vincent, Alberto Vitacchio, Cornelis Vleeskens, Derya Vural, Ted Warnell, Irving Weiss, Helen White, Tim Willette, Reid Wood, James Yeary, Karl Young, Mark Young
8 books by Jim Leftwich from Luna Bisonte Prods
1 by Jim Leftwich and Steve Dalachinsky from Luna Bisonte Prods
1 by Jim Leftwich from Locofo Chaps
& 1 by Jim Leftwich from mOnocle-Lash
Luna Bisonte Prods is at Small Press Distribution
Tres tresss trisss trieesss tril trilssss: Transmutations of César Vallejo
Jim Leftwich’s transmutations (not translations) of the poetry of César Vallejo are nothing short of brilliant. They feel more Vallejo in English than any previous translations ever have . Vallejo is certainly, bar none, among the greatest poets of the 20th century. Human, more than immediately human, tortured, both baroque and surreal, and lyrical beyond compare, his poetry defies translation, so difficult does it appear at times. This is especially the case with his early work Trilce (Tres tresss trisss treesss tril trilssss, as Leftwich’s title has it). Claimed by the surrealists as a master in that genre, Vallejo is that and more than that, opaque as Góngora or bittersweetly acerbic as Lorca, the complexity of his language and imagery find few parallels (the poetry of Dino Campana’s Canti orfici leaps to mind). Leftwich has created a Vallejo more Vallejo than Vallejo at times, and certainly makes for far more interesting and challenging a read than, for example, the deliberately strained translations of Clayton Eshelman. Leftwich, a poet renowned in his own way for complexity and baffling linguistic virtuosity, has certainly found an equal, a compatriot, one might say, in Vallejo. These transmutations have all the speed, energy and enigmatic beauty of the originals on which they are based. The foreword by Retorico Unentesi is also something to be savored for its rich and layered interpretations. -Ivan Arguelles
The Optimism of the Unwilling
I was I was.
I was thinking. At least I think I was thinking.
Is it possible to think about the fact of 4.6 billion years? I don’t think so.
So. Photographs. We have seen a few, maybe a few hundred thousand. We think we know how to think about photographs.
When are you reading this?
Are you reading it 4.6 billion years after it was written? No.
Are you reading it 4.6 million years after it was written? No.
Are you reading it four thousand and six hundred years after it was written? Maybe. Probably not. But at least I can imagine such a thing.
Are you reading it 460 years after it was written? Could be. I would like to think so.
Are you reading it 46 years after it was written? Sure! Why not? I know: megadroughts, 100-year floods, heat domes, forest fires, resource wars, famines… Another world is possible, and in it you could be reading this… If. If only.
Are you reading it four and a half years after it was written? Yes? Thank you. Where you are, it is January, 2027. I know it isn’t much. But that’s how.. one not much after another… there isn’t any other way.
As con pre re SUMES
Assume the weather the flame the feather assume no highways.
Consume the new the rest the time consume no highways.
Presume the nest the next the door presume no highways.
Resume the crest the thirst the name resume no highways.
Assume the sane whether bother assume no highways.
Consume the zest flew tether consume no highways.
Presume the sate the nerve the lather presume no highways.
Resume the boss the curse the seme resume no highways.
Presume the lather resume the seme the preseme the reseme sate no boss no salt asseme the highways are frilled with semic heroes never conseme the nerve of a curse.
Here it comes again, like an avalanche, oceanic, rolling across the desert, every imaginary uprooted route at once, enough to make you think it has a mind of its own, language cannot be trusted to mind its own business, sit down and shut up, work independently without disturbing others.
The word “unwriting” arrived most recently in my mind’s ear as a misreading of my first thing in the morning no glasses on handscrawled note about “the unwilling”.
What, then, is this unwriting? Is it a rewriting of a misreading? Is it an acknowledgement of misreading as rewriting? Is it the revelation of a parallel text, a parallel universe, another world is possible, the ancient branes of string theory, asemic messages encoded in those astonishing photographs from the James Webb telescope?
I think we know. Life is more than life. Language is more than language. Life is never life and life only. Life is beside itself with joy, beside itself with bewilderment, disbelief, semiosis, mitosis, osmosis, baskets of fish and loaves of bread, the news from far and near, some of which is true, the felt presence of experiential reality.
You can’t step in the same stream walking beside the lake, where the two creeks flow in from the mountains to the west, reading an old book of poems, remembering how it all got started in your tiny little life your tiny little world, what that small patch of the cosmos looked like 5 billion years ago, twice.
That is another reason, if not several, for wandering wide-eyed in the wonder, while the species is surely dying of its own devices, and there is no humanly semiotic future to care for our writings or unwritings, singing, between the two deserts, having driven ourselves softly or brutally insane, such that the human experiment seems to have failed entirely, if we can say so in some sort of poem, what hypothesis exactly was the experiment meant to test?
UNORMA: Universal Norms of Absurdity
Venn Diagrams glean presentiment where never the twains shall melt. Therein the Vesica Piscis, renumerable counterfactuals, munerates aeration of comeuppance, until the bittern fends.
First, it must be logical, the absurd must be predictable. To live out on the lawn / You must be honest.
Second: the absurd must be predictable; it must be a replica of itself. Do as I say to do, not as the duly unsaid, which is your duty. Unruly: an unmeasured quantity; the quality of being unmeasuring; a cup of what else, unfulfilled.
Third: the absurd is local. Lies about the absurd are global.
Fourth: go forth and multiple, multiply tables, The Plicate Cult of Mults, fables breathe froth before us — you are complicated; try to contain your selves!
The absurd is polysemic, is nothing if not. But you (You!) must remember: this is not Your Uncle’s Absurdity. You inherit what you invent.
Don’t make me tell you the whole treacherous tale again.
Asemic Writing Is A Kind Of Poetry
Summer 2022 / Utah
If, at times (if not, in fact, all the time), it must seem as if I have no idea what asemic writing is, I can only defend myself through an appeal to my experience of the theory and the practice: asemic writing came into my life as a continuation and an extension of my practice as a poet.
I wrote textual poetry for a little over twenty years before I started making visual poems. After making visual poems for a few years, I started making what was originally called spirit writing (by John M. Bennett, in his capacity as the editor of Lost and Found Times, a magazine of experimental poetry and related matters).
That was in 1997. The following year, Tim Gaze published a small chapbook of my quasi-calligraphic scribblings entitled Spirit Writing. Maybe I didn’t know what I was doing at the time (the theory and history came later), but I had no reason to think of this new development in my work as anything other than poetry.
These days, and maybe for the past fifteen years or so, it seems that very few theorists or practitioners think of asemic writing as a kind of poetry.
Asemic writing, as a kind of poetry, is all but limitless in its potential. We should take the same sort of approach to it’s study. For example: I have been told that asemic writing is all about linguistics. I have no doubt that the study of linguistics, and the application of that study to an engagement with asemic writing, will add substantially to our understanding of the subject. But, as with all other varieties of poetry, linguistics is only one among very many approaches to the study of asemic writing.
I am never interested in having the last word on any of these matters. Maybe I am interested in having the next word — and then, in having had some of the recent words. The conversation around asemic writing is ongoing and, like all conversations around all varieties of poetry, it seems to have no necessary or inevitable end. I am interested in expanding the spectrum of acceptable discourse concerning the subject of asemic writing. I hope my writings on the subject will function as invitations to others to participate in this process.
Asemic Writing and The Tragedy of the Absurd
Summer 2022 / Utah
When I say absurd, I don’t mean quirky.
I don’t think absurdity is a variety of comedy.
Finding comedic relief in inconsequential weirdness does not qualify as an experience of the absurd.
Certain styles of comedy monetize a surrealist juxtaposition of clangorous items and/or ideas to elicit Spasms of Guffaw from a naptive audience. As such, they serve a purpose: to disguise the osmotic suffering of those immersed in the petroleus ooze of The Capitalist Ongoing.
The absurd does not organize itself in order to acclimate our minds around any of the currently available varieties of unbearable realities.
The absurd is: a variety of that which is incomprehensible within the human universe.
A mystery is: that which is uplifting because it is experienced as being incomprehensible within the human universe. We celebrate an encounter with mystery.
The absurd is experientially devastating, annihilating, a psychological sparagmos. We may, after a fashion, celebrate the fact that we experienced it and lived to tell the tale.
Asemic writing is capable of embodying, and conveying, the tragedy of the absurd. But only for the those who want that, who want that kind of thing. For those who do not want that kind of thing, asemic writing is also fully capable of being abstract art school dorm room wallpaper and glamping picnic tablecloth design. I know, I am not being very nice, I’m sorry. Did you by chance see Sun Ra and The Arkestra 40 or 50 years ago? They had The Look. Sparkling robes down to the floor, Egyptian Spaceman Hats 3-feet high. Marching around the stage, chanting, gesturing with their instruments towards the ceiling. I saw them with a few hundred other people in 1982 and not a soul was laughing. We’re they absurd? Absolutely. Sublime? Yes.
The Tragedy of the Absurd is experienced as a Magickal Absurdity. Asemic writing is capable of existing along that spectrum of experiences. I learned that in the late 1990’s as part of my introduction to the idea and the execution of asemic writing. I have never been able to want anything else from it.
www.utsanga.it online il numero 32, giugno 2022, con opere di:
Anna Boschi Cermasi, Francesco Aprile, Gianluca Garrapa, Andrea Astolfi, Antonio Francesco Perozzi, Almandrade Andrade, Silvio De Gracia, Alejandro Thornton, Belén Gache, Claudio Mangifesta, Débora Daich, Fabio Doctorovich, Luis Pazos, Norberto José Martínez, Michael Betancourt , Terri Witek, Jim Leftwich, Ilyas Kassam, Ronald Lubega, Hannah Mitchell, Yuri Bruscky, Andrea Alzati, Stefano Lanuzza, Giuseppe Calandriello, San Giorgio Cibernetico, Carlo Bugli, Cecelia Chapman, Francesco Cane Barca, Volodymyr Bilyk, Baiwei, Paolo Allegrezza, Carmine Lubrano, Julia Rende, Mark Young, Richard Kostelanetz, Dawn Nelson Wardrope, Stephen Nelson, Antonio Devicienti, Texas Fontanella, John M. Bennett, Mario José Cervantes Mendoza, Vincenzo Lagalla
Mysticism, whether atheistic or otherwise, has always welcomed a spectrum of experiences valued primarily for their absurdity and futility. The experience of asemic writing, whether one is attempting to write it or attempting to read it, is fundamentally a mystical experience. It is The Face That Is No Face, the Via Negativa.
Let’s say I make a sequence of tangled squiggles, with baggy loops here, jagged-edged bulges there, poncruated with curatorial punctuation marks in the form of randomly tilted ascenders and descenders, moving suggestively from left to right on the foundation of an imaginary baseline. It looks like writing, but we can’t read it, says the entry at Wikipedia. It must be asemic writing, says a contextualized leap of faith.
What if it is, in theory and in practice, experientially, a kind of quasi-calligraphic drawing?
This is not the Via Negativa. It is direct experience of the mystery. Direct Experience of The Mystery. There is no wrong reading, judged and condemned by official authorities on the matter. There are no Official Authorities on the matter. And there is no range of acceptable interpretations of the experience, no spectrum of permitted discourse about the acceptable interpretations.
There is no attempt at reading, not of any variety, and therefore there is no writing, of any variety, asemic or otherwise.
Asemic writing, in its absolute failure to exist, can function in our lives as a kind of pagan spiritual discipline, one designed to give us greater access to the experience of experience.
To the extent that The Absurd is a characteristic, or even at times a category of the historical avant garde, it can be asserted that asemic writing functions as a continuation of the theory and practice of the avant gardes (plural, at least since the end of WWII) in the form of a self-actualizing multitude of willful absurdities.
If the absurd is the incongruous, as Albert Camus asserted in The Myth of Sisyphus, then the simultaneous presence of the written and the unreadable is a classic example of absurdity, in its most uncontestable, experiential form.
Whereas absurdity under normal conditions requires a clash of juxtaposed items or ideas, asemic writing only requires itself, as a self-contained absurdity.
A self-contained absurdity is a Magickal Absurdity. It offers itself as a reality, of a type that should not exist. It troubles the stability of the psyche, as if for a fleeting moment there is no distinction between Sisyphus and Icarus, as if both are merely variations on the theme of Tantalus.
Desire, as often as not frustrated, thwarted, derailed, detoured, imbricate and futilitarian, anachronistic, impoxximate, inverted — invertebrate — involuntary, and/or joylessly reinsinuated,
at the unsettled center of all considerations concerning the function of absurdity in everyday life.
In the case of asemic writing, we desire for that which is certainly not asemic to nonetheless function in our everyday lives as if it clearly is asemic and nothing else.
Absurdity is a very particular and peculiar variety of desire.
We want the world to be not only other than what it is — we want it to be precisely that which it can never be.
That variety of desire is precisely the allure of asemic writing. It is the distilled quintessence of its magickal absurdity.
That is not only why, but how, the practice of asemic writing reinvents itself, over and over, across centuries and cultures, one generation after another into the present.
For practitioners and theorists of asemic writing, the perceptual deviation known as pareidolia is an acquired taste and a developed skill. We train ourselves to see alphabetical shapes where there are none, and then we celebrate our inability to read them. This phenomenon could occupy an entire chapter in the Magickal Absurdities Training Manual: The Ecstasy of Asemic Reading.
Personal Perception Management (PPM) is but one of a great many Existential Self-Help (ESH) methods reinsinuated transmutably in The Training Manual. It is known colloquially among The Asemic AntiMasters as PPMESH — Personal Perception Mesh. The tradition, or parade of asemic saints, involved in transmigrating this alchemy of perception from prehistory into the present, includes William Blake, Arthur Rimbaud, Emily Dickinson, Aldous Huxley, Diane di Prima and Jim Morrison. Cleanse the doors of perception to Illuminate the arrangement of the senses.
Or the arrangement of the world(s) by the senses.
Let’s say I make a sequence of tangled squiggles…
I sound them aloud, slowly singing their shapes…
Through the processes of transcription, transliteration, and apophenia, I arrive at a deliberate mishearing of a segment from a song sung by Jim Morrison:
meatza pocca hero, Esau funk, awe yeh
The world is a poem. Some of us know that. Know it whether we want to or not. The world snuck up on us when we were young, and planted the cosmic poem-seed at the base of our tender brains.
Asemic writing works as a kind of pagan missionary for The Poem.
Asemic writing is a mutagen.
Pareidolia is one of its tools, one of its schools, a side effect, mutual aid, elective affinities, the ace of hearts up its sleeve, one foot on the other side of the grave still kicking at the pricks, reinsinuated and impoxximate.
We see what we want to see. No. That’s not right. Read what Thou Wilt. We see what we need to see. Some realities are more real than others. Asemic writing is useful, as a kind of anti-linguistic self-medication for the perpetually seeking psyche. Pareidolia is a method of ongoing research. It allows us to discover, investigate and explore provisional realities. The worlds of pareidolia are experientially real, and as such are causal agents — in our thinking, and in our actions as they emerge from that thinking.
As an entanglement with the processes of pareidolia, asemic writing functions for the perennially seeking psyche as a way of practicing reality.