Fragmented thoughts on political correctness and appropriation

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I don’t understand the problem that people have with political correctness. I’m on many sides of this issue. I think it stems from a conversation I had with my boyfriend about how people were outraged with Steve Martin’s tweet upon Carrie Fisher’s passing.

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The responses: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-martin-carrie-fisher-tweet_us_58642c36e4b0de3a08f70427

Here’s one from New York Magazine:

I think Steve Martin was speaking from the heart here. People are allowed to be outraged. I personally don’t believe the tweet was in poor taste, but maybe deleting his tweet was. I can see that Martin probably got upset or tired of the responses he was getting. Keeping in mind that Martin is from a different time, I think of what he might have meant, which was probably thoughtfully considered, especially knowing that he knew her personally. Her fans knew her well too, hence the outrage. The public might have gone overboard, but in this place and time, today, if you’re going to engage with the public, you’re engaging with thousands, even millions of people. And they will respond in multitudes in real time. That is the hyper world we live in now.

This all brings me to the controversies in Canadian literature and western literature as well. Here’s the latest: Editor Resigns Over an Article Defending ‘Cultural Appropriation’https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/arts/editor-resigns-over-article-defending-cultural-appropriation.html

Now I’ve spent a good portion of my writing career talking about appropriation. I’ve written about the ethics and colonization aspects of it within the literary establishment. But I want to note that a lot of this conversation, a lot of this backlash is coming from writers of colour. This isn’t about being politically correct, or being too sensitive in this day and age,  or “political correctness” gone haywire. These are legitimate concerns that people of colour have had for ages. We were rarely heard though even though we’ve been shouting it out from the mountains. Why are we not giving more people of colour and the disenfranchised more opportunities to flourish and to be heard?

I like to think I’ve been “woke” since I was a teenager. The Gulf War and the Human Rights Now Tour of the 80s really made a impression on me. Reading the Charter of Rights here in Canada and the Universal Declaration of Rights from the UN, empowered me and made me feel like anything was possible. So when I began writing, I noticed a few things that I was told to brush off. Why weren’t there only a few people of colour at poetry readings, book launches, literary parties, and the like? Why were there so few people of colour as editors to magazines and publishers in the industry? The more I questioned, the more I got consoled.

“It’s not true. We’re trying. It’s all in your head. We’re a community.”

Nevertheless, after a few poetry readings I started to begin my sets by looking around the room and if I didn’t notice anyone like me, or my colour, or diverse like community in Toronto I live in, I would say, “Thank you for inviting me. It is a privilege. It’s great to see people come out for poetry. Looking around the room, we need more people of colour, more people from the community here.” And then I’d start my reading.

It’s a response to gas-lighting. It was a response to truly waking up to reality. I feel it’s a statement that forces attendees and organizers to do something about it. Unfortunately, a lot of that ends up on people of colour’s shoulders. We are asked to solve the problem the privileged have created. We are told to bring solutions to the table. Therefore, instead of us focusing on our craft and our chosen careers, our labour is given to fixing messes or putting up the illusion that something is being done about the establishment’s “diversity” problem.

As soon as that article in Write appeared, I spoke out on twitter and Facebook and quickly retreated. I did speak out a few times on threads trying to point out the ignorance in our literary community, but nonetheless, I had to let it go. I realized how much those debates take out of me on social media. In turn, I also thought about the emotional labour that the indigenous writers who were in that Write issue were about to take on. It’s scary and overwhelming, even full of opportunities because people want to “diversify” their platforms, and hey, you’re there right in the middle of it, so why not?

But it takes up your time and space in your head. It does for me because I feel really passionate about anti-appropriation and for ethical appropriation in poetry and prose. A lot of the fights I feel like taking on, I have to step back and think, “Whose voice is better suited for this?” I can’t speak for the indigenous cause, nor can I speak for the causes of a black person. I can speak from a Latinx (yes I’ve adopted this term because I’ve come to love it and I’ve chosen it), Afro-latin second generation Canadian female perspective. That is who I am and how I was born. I don’t go around saying that is how I identify. That’s just how I try to approach these controversies and debates in the literary and the real world community. At 44, I think it’s a pretty awesome freedom to be able to self-identify nowadays.

What enriches a community is not taking from its members nor imagining what their experiences might be. What enriches literature and art is taking from one’s imagination and evolving that fictional or non-fictional world through a centre of empathy and compassion. We can imagine ourselves and write from another person’s shoes, for freedom of speech is an inherent and fundamental right, but we can not steal and appropriate to our sole benefit. We must acknowledge if we’re taking a scene, a slice of life, or a culture that comes from a place of pain and colonization.

Many would dismiss colonization as real today, but all you have to do is look at your televisions, the books you were taught in school, our world leaders, and the people that hold positions of power in our literary community. I just want most of you to go out there and notice. Keep a keen eye. Open your mind just a tiny bit and see how many people of colour you interact in media and in those literary communities. Who are your professors and who are your publishing editors? Take note of the people around your neighbourhoods. The establishments you visit and the things you promote. Is it truly reflective of the community around you? If good work stands the test of the literary establishment, why is it there are so few people of colour being published or in those positions of power. We are hard working and for the most part, talented, for our stories are rich and interesting. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be appropriated by so many white privileged folk.

The personal is always political. You can’t dismiss injustice or you will get told. Get ready to interact, get ready to truly expand your work by engaging.

I’ve spent the past few years reading people’s written defences for appropriation. That we need to learn to be free to express however we want to become one people instead of a world of races. I’m sorry (not sorry), but we can’t be one people if you fail to acknowledge and listen to why we are complaining and outraged right now. Why be politically correct? I see it this way, if you’re a writer, you try to engage your reader to feel with your character and their lives. Not only that, but you have to bring something new to the table, something that innovates literature, and emboldens it like the writers of the past have. If you keep appropriating and not innovating your own experience, you stagnate and literature becomes dull and droning. Those who have learned to appropriate ethically, who have opened the doors to an empathetic and considerate new world in literature will move on without you. And when you finally wake up to the issues, for it can never be too late (oh can’t tell you how I hold to that thought fast or I’d sink), then you will be offered a seat at the table and we will share freely, full of heart, and full of good work.

Sure, outrage can go all over the place, but really, I’d rather be able to read stuff like Steve Martin wrote about Carrie Fisher, read the outrage, and then discuss. Humanity and our creative output doesn’t evolve by dismissing, but by interacting and listening. Radical empathy, please google it and do the work yourself. : https://this.org/2016/11/08/what-it-means-to-practise-radical-empathy/

 

(P.S. You can write from the imagination and from experiences that are not your own in fiction and poetry. You can learn and appreciate different cultures and be influenced by them in your style and comportment. However, the point of all of this is that people are asking you to think, express, and create from a space of consideration. If you want to share and take part, you have to listen and consider.)

 

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On the Defence of Conceptualism

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Viktor Vasnetsov. The Unsmiling Tsarevna (Nesmeyana). 1916-1926. Oil on Canvas http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vasnetsov_Nesmeyana.jpg

(Like many of the posts on my blog, this is a ramble sparked by current events. I apologize if it lacks solidity and editing [I might go back and edit it, I might not] And like most of these posts, it comes from a need to get it out and it will get expounded upon eventually through the rest of my writing in the future. I’ve got nothing to lose.)

It is hard to defend conceptualism nowadays. I have been thinking, speaking, and digesting it for months that I woke up today in a state of agitation. There have been a few controversies with it way before I started using it in my work, but in 2015 things got a little haywire. Regardless of poetry or art’s motivations the enfant terrible of the poetry -isms has pushed beyond its confines and some of us are left to pick up the detritus left in its wake.

Some of us are appropriating it. Some of us are dismissing it and moving on. Some of us are doing both, which includes me. I’m purposely being vague because if I’m going to be talking about appropriation and interpretation in poetry, I have to step surely from a place I know and with consideration of the craft that is under fire.

A few years ago, I yearned to get back into writing. I started this blog in 2010 with the intention of starting up again, even if it was just to express myself in order to communicate better with my children. That same year while at the book store I picked up Update by Bill Kennedy and Darren Wershler and Eunoia by Christian Bök. A Griffin poetry prize winner and a book that utilized social media, an expressive form that revolutionized the way I communicate every day with relish. Reading these texts bent my brain in a good way, blew my mind actually, thus after doing a bit of research I came across Kenneth Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing.

(Now before I continue, some will posit this: influenced by works of white men. Well, I counter that with the fact that William Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe were the first lyrical poets to impact me heavily because they were taught to me school. As the child of immigrant parents from Colombia, I was taught and read to in Spanish at home. It was only until later, in my explorations that I broke out of the white bubble of today’s education system to find poets I identified with not just from expression, but from relatable “minority” backgrounds. You can say the same for conceptualism.)

I gobbled up Uncreative Writing just like the first time I came across a Magritte in person. With Rene Magritte’s L’anniversaire I realized I could paint from dreams. With uncreative writing, the writer’s blocks I often suffered were suddenly alleviated. It was remarkable. Let’s go beyond the Warholian analogies/comparisons and stick to what I feel makes conceptualism work.

Every day we are bombarded with information and a lot of this information takes the form of text. Even when we are presented with images, those images are comprised of an ordered binary text built to present an image before you. When Shakespeare observed the world around him, he saw oral stories and built textual narratives out of these already well-known legends. He appropriated history and his every day to bring you Hamlet and King Lear (Lear being my favourite btw). It is the task of the poet to take the world around her and build her own language to communicate it. When the printing press was invented, the writer saw potential in it. When the typewriter was invented, writers saw potential in it. When the personal computer was invented…wait hold up.

“Uh. How do we use it?” the poet asked.

The personal computer isn’t just a word processor, it’s a text generator and a text manipulator. The poet can copy and paste, rearrange, and create out of the infinite sedimentary material coming from its input and output. It’s mad, I tell you, madness! A poet and writer doesn’t just have to write about the sky, the dying rose, or the way her lover’s face melts in her memory. A poet can now write about the ingredients in her jello pudding and the impact that the words “jello pudding” have post-Bill Cosby. I could take the ingredients of jello pudding and put them through a word processor, copy and paste them and remix them with the word “rape.” The poem generated can read like nonsense for some, but for others, well, it’s a statement. Words have strong meaning regardless of how they’re arranged, they nevertheless mean something.

In Against Expression, an anthology of conceptual writing by Dworkin and Goldsmith, visual artist Claude Closky describes his refrigerator:

My refrigerator

The usable volume of my refrigerator is far superior to conventional capacities, and allows me to store my fresh and frozen produce. The meat compartment with adjustable temperature and the crisper with humidity control assure me a perfect preservation of my food. Furthermore, the fan-cooling unit makes and dispenses my ice to me as well as fresh water. Moreover, my refrigerator is equipped with an anti-bacterial coating that helps me to keep it clean.”

I don’t care if you don’t like it, but this dude just wrote a love letter to his fridge. Who does that? Who even dares to write poetry about the brilliant network of fire and power under the hood of a car? Surely that’s just as complex as the curves of a lover’s body. Why are we still writing about the moon in someone’s eyes? WHAT ABOUT THE DUST *ON* THE MOON? Conceptual writing takes the mundane and places it on the same pedestal as the glory of a rising sun. I know that after a blackout there’s no sound as mellifluous as the buzz of the fridge motor kicking in. When Marjorie Perloff titles her analysis of conceptual poetry as Unoriginal Genius, I think she forgot that there is originality here and it lies in the hands of the artist that appropriates.

Right now, arguments have been getting hung up on the word “appropriation,” and within good reason. Issues of copyright will always be a writer or artist’s concern. For some, the craft of writing is where we can both expressive ourselves and make a living while doing it. We can’t live like Jack Kerouac anymore and we don’t have the financial cushioning of Isabel Allende (an indirect nod to Roberto Bolaño). Writing these days is treated like a hobby and sometimes as a joke career. Therefore, number one rule in appropriation is posting credit where credit is due. While the work, let’s say, remixing a national financial newspaper with a gossip mag, is free, the poet must credit the places they took their material from. It’s not only ethical, but it gives the work context and a means for the reader to relate to the work. Painters paint what they see, writers write what they know, readers and art consumers eventually own your piece of work in the long run. Give them something to chew on.

Now I’ve written a few pieces on the latest controversies appropriating racial bodies, ethics in conceptualism, and such, and for some of these I’m awaiting them going into print. I can’t elaborate on that subject matter without stepping over the publication of that material. For the purposes here, I will stick to “a current defence of conceptualism.” I mean, current because what sparked this post was this:

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This screen cap taken from my the stream on my twitter feed.

The Poetry Foundation piece is this one: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2015/06/kenneth-goldsmith-says-he-is-an-outlaw/

I agree, it was scathing commentary. It’s been a pile on since April 2015. On all sides. It’s cringe worthy for those of us that practice conceptualism to have to defend what we do because a couple of people made some mistakes and stepped over a huge line. Now let me try to elucidate why people are angry with the current tactic and defence of conceptualism.

As someone who has her privileges and in many ways I don’t, I have to say that watching three white men mansplain the world of conceptualism right now is a huge way to get me to dismiss your argument. How is that a defence of the work? In an ideal world, our skin colour, financial status, scholarly background, sexual orientation, and gender shouldn’t matter. We should be free to talk about what we want to talk about. Free speech builds the world up and can revolutionize it when it needs to be.  What do I want to see? I want to see a discussion by people who disagree with each other, who come from different backgrounds who profess their ideologies without blinders on. It’s really hard to defend conceptualism and lyricism right now if you don’t have a phD, are not white, are not currently pitching a novel, or thinks of themselves as the greatest new thing since Picasso. Fuck Picasso. Picasso’s dead, man.

Arguments like Perloff’s above insinuate that those of us that speak against what Goldsmith’s work in April are “not privileged enough to know better.” How do you expect anyone to listen to your argument if you’re telling us, that we must *appreciate* a work that is racist (Note: I do not believe Goldsmith is racist. Not at all. The resulting work at Brown University was racist. The poet, not so much.). There is a fundamental flaw in telling a reader that they have to appreciate something in order to understand it. Excuse me and my place, but you don’t tell me how to appreciate something. If we’re going to sit back and let the work speak for itself, I’m the reader and digester of work much like we all are, thus I have full power here.

What I’m finding in all the arguments against and for conceptualism is vitriol. Blind vitriol and animosity from all sides. It’s a detriment to your arguments. Conceptual writing comes from conceptualism going back to French medieval thinkers and the Jesuits. Talk about colonization. Talk about lyricism and how it helped educate the slave world and eradicate the languages of the New World. All modern literature is racist in a way. However, not all written work is racist. Some of it is rebellious. You can take a white man’s text and make it your own. You can manipulate text to expose its racist meat or you can take a whole education system down by taking the archaic means by which it operates and turn it against itself. You can decolonize using conceptualism and lyricism. You can take the works of William Shakespeare and expose the racism and misogyny within its production. You can take the works of a fascist ruler or corporation and use them to bring them down.

I defend conceptualism from the romantic view that lyricism ingrained in me. There’s an unlimited amount of rebellious potential inside of it. Anyone is free to use conceptualism and to use it well. You don’t need a degree or financial backing to create poetry nowadays. Words belong to the people and the people must use them. It’s a huge responsibility, but that’s the key. Words and their production are a huge responsibility and you must think before you use them and about why you’re using them. How does the poet’s work affect the consumer of it? Sure, we can create work just because we can, but in this day and age, you can not call yourself a poet without progressing the work (even if it is just for yourself). If anything this year has taught me is that words, no matter where they come from, have great power. You can not use that power callously.

Fuck colonization. Fuck all of it. THINK for once about your audience. You’re not convincing anyone in a circle jerk of hate or elitism.

Let’s come at this whole poetry anger from a place where we can revolutionize again. Poetry is freedom. WE NEED TO REVOLUTIONIZE in order to move forward.

In this post http://jacquelinevalencia.com/2013/06/28/uncreative-writing-the-derive-and-your-life/ I said that every book should have a white cover. My white covered books have grey fingerprints and as such, is unique to my shelf.

I want to fuck/conceptualize your white texts up because in the end, I am free to do so. I’m covering all your texts with grey and colour.

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I HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO SAY. The poetry world hasn’t experienced this much upheaval since the 1930s. There’s no possible way I could parse the state I’m in and condense it well and coherently.

I’m just venting here, but hopefully I make sense to someone out there. I gotta go do groceries before a Skype meeting. My kid took my last croissant. I have to put away the books that I took out to write this thing. I only cited one.

I’m not sure if all things poetry agitate me or are exciting to me today. Do I put the books away or do I throw them up in the air?

Be agitated or agitate. Sink or swim.

Salut.

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Thanks to https://twitter.com/fearlessdawn for this photo. ❤

Edited to add: I really enjoyed this long form piece by Kim Calder up at the LA Review of Books.  http://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/the-denunciation-of-vanessa-place 

Do read it if you get the chance.

On the state of poetry.

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Frida Kahlo’s prosthetic leg http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11605809/Frida-Kahlo-fashion-The-artists-clothing-that-will-make-you-love-her.html

I keep wondering how I’m going to start this. Do I rehash everything that has happened in the last few months in poetry or do I just dive in? What can I impart that will illuminate a new thought to someone for a change for the better? I can’t really add much more than what I feel. I am person full emotions. They cloud me sometimes.

For now here are a few pieces I’ve already enjoyed and empathize with:

* Vanessa Place, The Mongrel Coalition and Sector 17: Notes on Poetry, Violence and Community http://jackkerouacispunjabi.blogspot.ca/2015/05/vanessa-place-mongrel-coalition-and.html

* On Being-Hated: Conceptualism, the Mongrel Coalition, the House That Built Me by Trisha Low: 

* On Vanessa Place, Gone With the Wind, and the Limit Point of Certain Conceptual Aesthetics by John K: http://jstheater.blogspot.ca/2015/05/on-vanessa-place-gone-with-wind-and.html

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The first time I wrote about the poetry world was when I had finished reading Kenneth Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing. It prompted me to start my James Joyce projects. A new world had opened up to me in writing. Soon afterward I met Goldsmith and he introduced me to some of my local poetry heroes. I was so taken aback. He introduced me like I was “a very interesting and important poet.” I was overwhelmed with his kindness. Around the same time frame, I met Vanessa Place at an art show here in Toronto that featured conceptual poets and artists. We were both in line for the washroom and she asked me if I was a poet too. She suggested I should visit Los Angeles and take in the poetry scene there. I started reading on her work and it inspired me greatly.

I took on my lyrical and conceptual projects with fervour I hadn’t had since I was a teenager. A combination of writer’s block, a desk job, and then becoming a mother put all my writing on the back burner. It’s still very exciting to me to be in a world where I can produce work for myself and have others critique it, let alone be interested in it. I really haven’t done much, but film and literary criticism help me practice and expand my avenues. I would never have thought of turning my nerdy pursuits into a career. It’s a career I feel very passionate for and drives me. Words mean so much to me and I am very protective of them. Letting them go is cathartic and I’ve since learned it’s important for me to keep writing.

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Then in April this happened: http://jacquelinevalencia.com/2015/03/15/thoughts-on-kenneth-goldsmith-and-michael-brown/

Not only had that happened (I can’t even bring myself to appropriate that child’s name on this post. He’s suffered enough.), but conceptual poetry was to blame for all the problems of the poetry world which included racism, sexism, elitism, and add all the -isms you want here. Conceptual poetry had to be abolished because it was the platform of the rich, white, and privileged. Not only that, but somehow my words ended up in different news media platforms. Some of them had misconstrued and cut up my writing to suit their opinion and agenda, misidentified me as a Goldsmith student (I looked up to him as if he was mentor), or black (I’m mixed Hispanic and I don’t appreciate that a paper took it upon themselves to identify as they saw fit without consulting me first), while entirely dismissing my reasoned defence for conceptualism. I got a lot of support for it, but it didn’t feel right.

The one person that could have answered my confusion ran away because their work was being continually questioned and he was being continually burned. I still wait for an answer. Not that I’m owed one. I may have a lost a friend/mentor in the process.

I have no regrets.

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I’d known about the @VanessaPlace twitter account and added it on because I was interested in reactions to it. I was surprised no one had already. I wasn’t offended by it because Gone With The Wind is already so offensive. I also didn’t see it as my place to say anything because as a woman of mixed heritage, I’m still navigating that part of my identity with an awareness of my own privilege. I live in mixed girl limbo and that has it’s own problems that most don’t concern themselves with. No one speaks for me and I don’t speak for everyone. The outrage against Vanessa Place’s piece is right and I understand it. Everyone has the right to react the way they want to against racism or if they feel an injustice. No one wants to hear the art behind it (you can read the art behind in those links above). No one wants to hear what VP or KG were thinking and why they did what they did. They just want to condone and abolish.

That’s well within their rights to condone and call for action. Abolish? I’m not sure of that yet.

I am very grateful for the discourse this has provoked. My eyes were partially closed and now they’re wide open. Decolonize language. Decolonize your soul. But only against conceptualism? Really? So which poets of colour are being taught in school? Are we positive that no lyrical poets have ever been racist, sexist, or elitist? It’s all the same boiling pot of vanilla and we have a giant problem all around with this right now. Poetry has always had their cliques, it still doesn’t make it right. Decolonize all of it. Restructure all of it. No holds barred and no excuses. I demand you decolonize your own worlds for you.

No one prepared me for the onslaught of hate against a creative/uncreative process. For years I’ve been hearing the death of poetry, the death of lyricism, or the death of conceptualism. Pick a side and kill the other. Denounce and silence the brand of poetry that you hate. The “I” of lyricism will fall at the hands of conceptualists and the robots of conceptualism will be beheaded at the hands of the lyricists. Poetry right now is filled with feuding families pointing smug fingers at one another. At first I was amused, now everyone is hurting. Guess what? Poetry is personal again now.

The thing I’ve always loved about poetry is that I get to play with words. I get to experiment despite the colour of my skin or the constraints or traditions I utilize. I want to use both English and Spanish to explore the languages I grew up with and add a new one: Chibcha (the extinct native language of Colombia). Whether that be creatively or un-creatively, I have every right to do what I want.

Is conceptualism stained by racism? Yeah, it is, but so is lyricism. All of it is stained. I grew up speaking Spanish at home and learning English at school. These are two languages brought by conquerors that eradicated my ancestral people and their native tongue along with it. We use English every day on social media. At least most of us do.

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I’m still very confused and hurt by all the things said against all the camps. Seriously, poetry camps and coteries! Not that I matter in all of this any way. But Poetry (with a capital P) matters to me. It’s where all my forms of expression originate. It comes from a mind that aspires to be a poet; one that still has problems saying, “I am a poet,” because to say that means you earned a mastery of words. It’s an audacious claim. I don’t not hold a mastery of words. I’m a writer and deciphering the world with writing poetry and reading poetry is part of my learning process. It fulfills me and delights me. It will continue to do so. But now I’ve got this anger. This angering energy empowers me to make a deep change in how I use lyricism and conceptualism. I mean, look at this awesome work!:

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/ubc-student-writes-52438-word-architecture-dissertation-with-no-punctuation-not-everyone-loved-it

I love the idea of decolonizing language with conceptualism. You can do it lyrically, but the possibilities become limitless in a cut up and paste world. KG and VP have offended and I hope that more poets offend and provoke. I don’t believe in art that’s sole purpose is to offend. I believe in art that opens eyes, changes perspectives, or makes people see things they were once blind to. As it is, these controversies have made me think about the world of criticism, how it must change and how it must start proving its worth. But that’s another world altogether.

You will not repress me because I have a voice. You may judge my methods of expression, but I have a strong voice, and I will use it as I see fit. You may critique me or condone me, but no one will silence me.

I come from people that matter, my parents, my family, my chosen family, my teachers, my mentors, but I follow no one. And I continue to learn. Full heart, clear eyes, and pen at the ready.

Learn to know thyself.

Poetry is freedom. There is freedom in speech. The poet is the world’s unpaid politician.

Thoughts on Kenneth Goldsmith and Michael Brown

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http://animalnewyork.com/2014/mike-brown-rip-mural/

On March 13, 2015, Kenneth Goldsmith read his newest work The Body of Michael Brown at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University (for Interrupt 3). Goldsmith remixed Michael Brown‘s autopsy report and presented it thusly. For what looks to have been an interesting conference, I have found very little documentation of the event (or maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, except for hashtags on twitter –  https://twitter.com/search?q=%23interrupt3&src=tyah), but it was certainly noticed all over twitter and social media threads.

As an experimenter with uncreative writing and conceptual work, my first reaction was how did he use the report? I felt this resonated with my thinking at the moment.

However as the stream of reactive media rolled by, the more concerned I got.: https://twitter.com/search?f=realtime&q=%40kg_ubu&src=typd

https://twitter.com/AgainstGringpo/status/576578056736804864

You can read the rest of Beaulieu’s thoughts here: https://twitter.com/BraydonBeaulieu/status/576817754520571904 which are what resonated with me right after.

It is no secret that reading Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing has been a continual influence in my own work in that it’s provoked experimentation. It’s opened up a new way of thinking and produced work that I’m pretty proud of. Goldsmith is also someone I consider a mentor and a friend. He pushes buttons and I support all of his work. He, in turn, has supported mine as well. I’m not a conceptual artist, nor do I consider myself a conceptual poet. I’m a poet that experiments with words, which is what a poet inherently does. Conceptualism is a subject I render, review, and talk about extensively in Canadian literature and it is, ironically, the birth of my lyrical work as well.

I find that the act of reading Michael Brown’s autopsy report extremely problematic. I believe that as a mixed person, even for me parsing the event is extremely problematic. I wrote a small blurb on twitter about it because I felt I should say something. Goldsmith is right. I wasn’t there. I don’t know the context. I don’t know the reaction of the crowd. I don’t know the discussions that came out of the reading. I want to know these things! I want to know the context and why this reading was a step forward for conceptualism or a step forward to something good for Michael Brown.

If he is just collating the data that is freely available to all of us, rendering it to make us think, well, he’s provoked a meaty discussion from the reactions. We can’t let Michael Brown’s death nor the events at Ferguson be forgotten because they are still happening every day. Is this what we are supposed to gather from a reading of Brown’s autopsy?

Scaling back, I have to think about the poet as a vessel of messages. In this case, Goldsmith is the vessel of the data of the autopsy report. We’re talking in a very clinical, conceptual state, where nothing that was read by Goldsmith was authored by Goldsmith. He is a computer capturing a state in time that we wouldn’t even think of placing ourselves in. From the reactions I gathered after the reading, it is clear that people were made uncomfortable by this idea. Maybe this is the reaction Goldsmith was looking for, if any, I can’t be sure.

Now think of Goldsmith again as the vessel of that report. He is not black. He is not from Ferguson. He is not related to Michael Brown. Did he speak to Brown’s relatives? If he didn’t are we to think that Brown’s death, because of that freely available autopsy report, are we to believe that Brown’s body is now freely available to the public? This is a black body that Goldsmith is rendering in his reading. That alone is the reason that concerned me. As a mixed woman with a black father who has had his rights (and life) questioned because of the colour of his skin, we both grew up subtly being told that our bodies belonged for appropriation. My Colombian dad is called negro in his homeland. I am still called negrita there as well. Negro there isn’t just the name of a colour, but it lives on as a derogatory term in Spanish. Slave labour is still alive and well for the blacks in South America. Black men still face great hardships in Colombia. Black suffering isn’t free and readily available to the public. Until the struggle is fought by those who suffer, we as people on the outside of it, must be allies and not silence black voices or speak over them.

Now I’m not saying 100 percent that this is what Goldsmith did, because, again, I wasn’t there. There has yet to be released a video or a transcript of the reading. If I am to defend a work, I would like to know all the details. But until then, I’d like to stand in solidarity with those concerned that Michael Brown might not have wanted this reading. Yes we are taking data of information and going with it, but that’s exactly what a reading like this incurs. As poets we present our work and some of us drop that mic. Some of us are so concerned with dropping it, we end up throwing it. Then we’re surprised when it gets thrown back.

I still think Kenneth Goldsmith is brilliant and one of the biggest champions of experimentation these days. Death threats against him because of this are ridiculous. We need discussions and get togethers where we duke these things and flesh them out. I like to think of Goldsmith’s reading like Madonna and Andy Warhol thought of Basquiat (http://jacquelinevalencia.com/2015/02/06/basquiat/). Basquiat wasn’t just a person or friend to them, he was a figure that came with the complexities and provocation they desired in their own work. They used him, but Basquiat used them as well.

I want to know what was said in Goldsmith’s reading. I want to know the aftermath in that room. I’m concerned that new divisions will be formed because we don’t know. Isn’t the work made more important by the discussion of it?

These are all questions I still have after posting these up:

https://twitter.com/JacqValencia/status/576923172383113216

https://twitter.com/JacqValencia/status/576923815290101760

Goldsmith messaged me and was shocked at my reaction. I was asked if I passed judgment. I would like to ask some questions because in the end I found the event to be viscerally upsetting. If people that were there weren’t as upset as the people that weren’t, why is that? We want to know more. I’ve been looking for information, essays, or reactive tweets besides, “I hate Goldsmith!” or “I love Goldsmith!” What did listeners get out of the reading? I want to know what his reaction is to the outrage considering that I know he would try his best to handle the subject matter with some form of compassion. At least, I still hope he did.

Until now, all we have is his twitter feed: https://twitter.com/kg_ubu

Edit: Or this facebook statement: https://www.facebook.com/kenneth.goldsmith.739/posts/354492771403205

These are just my two cents to personally parse what upset me, to question the artist, not to attack the person. The irony in all of it, is that both the reactions and the idea of the work, made me think.

I don’t believe that there is a “white supremacy, right wing” conspiracy in conceptual work. I practice it, as do many. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t question what I do with conceptualism or how I practice it. I must consider. I must provoke. I must consider. I must provoke. It means that as a woman, as a person of colour, as a person of privilege and disadvantage, that I must help to turn the tide, make the mark, and own my work fully, but most of all, take responsibility for it.

**************************

Edited to add: Goldsmith posted a new statement on his Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kenneth.goldsmith.739/posts/354952974690518?pnref=story

*************************

LINKS I’ve been reading (thanks to the many who are making a conversation. Racism & sexism exists in all poetic coteries. That’s the discussion we should still be having.)

* Response to Race and the Poetic Avant-Garde: http://bostonreview.net/poetry/erica-hunt-forum-response-race-avant-garde

* Race and the Poetric Avant-Garde: http://bostonreview.net/blog/poetry-forum-race-avant-garde

* The Mongrel Coalition Killed Conceptualism: http://gringpo.com/

* Delusions of Whiteness in the Avant-Garde: http://www.lanaturnerjournal.com/print-issue-7-contents/delusions-of-whiteness-in-the-avant-garde

* Goldsmith y el imperio retro-conceptual / Heriberto Yépez: http://venepoetics.blogspot.ca/2013/09/goldsmith-y-el-imperio-retro-conceptual.html

* The Brown Daily Herald: Racial controversy over poem ends conference early: http://www.browndailyherald.com/2015/03/18/racial-controversy-over-poem-ends-conference-early/

********************************************************

Post-event analysis and reports:

http://www.vidaweb.org/why-are-people-so-invested-in-kenneth-goldsmith-or-is-colonialist-poetry-easy/

* http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/03/17/power-and-poetry-in-context-on-kenneth-goldsmith/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/17/kenneth-goldsmith-michael-brown_n_6880996.html

* http://queenmobs.com/2015/03/the-body-of-kenneth-goldsmith/

http://hyperallergic.com/190954/kenneth-goldsmith-remixes-michael-brown-autopsy-report-as-poetry/

http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/24127/1/kenneth-goldsmith-talks-about-reading-mike-browns-autopsy

http://www.inquisitr.com/1928367/death-threat-for-michael-brown-autopsy-poem-kenneth-goldsmith-responds/

http://dagwolf.tumblr.com/post/113734904950/thoughts-on-kenneth-goldsmith-and-michael-brown

http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/blog/finders-keepers-reactions/

THE SHINING script excerpt. Reworked with a woman

http://www.minimalist-approa.ch/great-minimalist-movie-poster-concepts
http://www.minimalist-approa.ch/great-minimalist-movie-poster-concepts

THE SHINING based on a novel by Stephen King. Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson. Reworked with a woman by Jacqueline Valencia

*************************************************************

INT. HOTEL LOUNGE – M.L.S.

BOB, carrying baseball bat, walks away into Lounge. As

he goes, he turns and looks about him – CAMERA TRACKS

after him.

BOB

Jackie…?

He looks about and then moves L-R past table, with his

typewriter on it. He walks L-R behind pillar and appears

again on the other side. CAMERA TRACKS with him.

BOB

Jackie…?

BOB stops and looks about.

CUT TO:

M.L.S. BOB, holding bat, in f.g. He turns and walks away

to JACKIE’s typewriter on table in b.g.

CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle – JACKIE’s typewriter in f.g. BOB moves

forward into shot. He looks down at sheet of paper in

typewriter.

CUT TO:

M.C.S. Sheet of paper in typewriter with repetition of line

on it, reading: “ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACKIE A DULL GIRL.”

108.

Sheet of paper is turned up, showing repetition of line.

Again sheet of paper is turned up showing repetition of line.

CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle – BOB looking down at sheet of paper in

typewriter. He looks cam.R – then moves to cam.R.

CUT TO:

M.S. Sheets of paper, filling cardboard box. CAMERA TRACKS

IN on top sheet, showing repetition of the line “ALL WORK

AND NO PLAY MAKES JACKIE A DULL GIRL.” filling sheet.

CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle BOB looking down at box of paper in f.g.

He holds up top sheet and looks at it – then puts it down

in box.

CUT TO:

M.C.S. Sheets of paper filling box. BOB’s hand enters

cam.L.f.g. He flicks through sheets of paper and sees they

are all filled with repetition of line: “ALL WORK AND NO

PLAY MAKES JACKIE A DULL GIRL.”

CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle – BOB flicking through sheets of paper in

box.

CUT TO:

M.S. Pillar. CAMERA TRACKS R-L revealing BOB, back to

camera, looking through sheets of paper in box on table in

M.L.S. JACKIE enters cam.R.f.g.

JACKIE

How do you like it?

BOB SCREAMS and turns round to face JACKIE.

BOB

Jackie!

JACKIE

How do you like it?

JACKIE moves away towards table. BOB walks R-L along table.

CUT TO:

M.S. JACKIE moves forward. CAMERA TRACKS BACK before her.

109.

JACKIE

What are you doing down here?

She stops by chair and puts her hand on back of it.

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat.

BOB

I just eh… wanted…

CUT TO:

M.S. JACKIE – hand on back of chair.

BOB (OFF)

…to talk to you.

JACKIE moves R-L to table. CAMERA TRACKS BACK.

JACKIE

Okay. Let’s talk.

JACKIE flicks through sheets of paper in box – then looks

towards BOB.

JACKIE

What do you want to talk about?

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat.

BOB

I…

CUT TO:

M.S. JACKIE

BOB (OFF)

I can’t really remember.

JACKIE

You can’t remember.

JACKIE moves forward L-R. CAMERA PANS with her.

BOB (OFF)

No, I can’t.

CUT TO:

110.

M.S. BOB, holding bat, moves L-R. CAMERA PANS with him.

CUT TO:

INT. HOTEL – JACKIE’S APARTMENT – M.S.

DANNY sitting at table. CAMERA TRACKS IN on him.

JACKIE (OFF)

Maybe it was about Danny. Maybe it

was about him.

CUT TO:

INT. HOTEL – LOBBY – M.S.

Blood clear from camera lens revealing furniture floating

about on river of blood.

JACKIE (OFF)

I think we should discuss Danny.

CUT TO:

INT. HOTEL – CORRIDOR – M.S.

Low Angle Door with word “MURDER” scrawled in reverse on door.

CUT TO:

INT. HOTEL – LOBBY – M.S.

Furniture floating on river of blood towards camera.

JACKIE (OFF)

I think… we should discuss what

should be done with him.

CUT TO:

INT. HOTEL – LOUNGE – M.S.

JACKIE moves forward.

JACKIE

What should be done with him?

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat gives nervous laugh.

CUT TO:

111.

M.S. JACKIE moves forward R-L – CAMERA PANS & TRACKS BACK with

him.

BOB (OFF)

I don’t know.

JACKIE

I don’t think that’s true. I think

you have some very definite ideas

about what should be done with

Danny… and I’d like to know what

they are.

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat moves back R-L. CAMERA PANS with him.

He weeps.

BOB

Well I… I think maybe he should

be taken to a doctor.

CUT TO:

M.S. JACKIE

JACKIE

You think maybe he should be taken

to a doctor?

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB

BOB

Yes…

CUT TO:

M.S. JACKIE

JACKIE

When do you think maybe he should

be taken to a doctor?

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat.

BOB

As soon as possible?

CUT

112.

M.S. JACKIE

JACKIE

As soon as possible.

BOB (OFF)

Jackie…

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat.

BOB

…please…

CUT TO:

M.S. JACKIE moves forward – CAMERA TRACKS BACK before her.

JACKIE

You believe his health might be at

stake?

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat moves back.

BOB

Ye…yes.

CUT TO:

M.S. JACKIE moves forward. CAMERA TRACKS BACK before her.

JACKIE

And you are concerned about him?

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat moves back.

BOB

Yes.

CUT TO:

M.S. JACKIE points to herself as she moves forward.

JACKIE

And are you concerned about me?

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat moves backwards.

113.

BOB

Of course I am.

JACKIE (OFF)

Of course you are.

CUT TO:

M.S. JACKIE moves forward. CAMERA TRACKS BACK before her. She

points to herself and gestures.

JACKIE

Have you ever thought about my

responsibilities?

BOB (OFF)

Oh Jackie, what are you talking about?

JACKIE

Have you ever had a single moment’s

thought about my responsibilities?

Have you ever thought for a single

solitary moment about my

responsibilities to my employers?

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat moves backwards.

CUT TO:

M.S. JACKIE moves forward – CAMERA TRACKS BACK before her.

JACKIE

Has it ever occurred to you that I

have agreed to look after the

Overlook Hotel until May the first?

Does it matter to you at all that

the owners have placed their

complete confidence and trust in

me, and that I have signed a letter

of agreement, a contract, in which

I have accepted that responsibility?

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat moves backwards L-R to foot of stairs.

CAMERA PANS with her. She moves onto first step.

JACKIE (OFF)

Do you have the slightest idea what

a moral and ethical principal is?

Do you?

CUT TO:

114.

M.S. JACKIE moves forward L-R. CAMERA PANS with her.

JACKIE

Has it ever occurred to you what

would happen to my future, if I

were to fail to live up to my

responsibilities?

CUT TO:

M.S. BOB holding bat backs up stairs.

JACKIE (OFF)

Has it ever occurred to you?

JACKIE moves in cam.R.f.g.

JACKIE

Has it?

BOB swinging bat before him backs up stairs. JACKIE moves

after him. CAMERA TRACKS FORWARD after them.

BOB

Stay away from me!

JACKIE

Why?

BOB

I just want to go back to my room.

JACKIE

Why?

BOB sobs.

BOB

Well… I’m very confused, and I

just need a chance to think things

over.

CUT TO:

M.S. High Angle JACKIE over BOB. She moves forward up stairs.

She backs away. CAMERA TRACKS BACK and UP before them.

JACKIE

You’ve had your whole fucking life

to think things over – what’s good

a few minutes more going to do you

now?

115.

BOB

Jackie… stay away from me… please.

JACKIE reaches up to him.

BOB

Don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me!

JACKIE

I’m not going to hurt you.

BOB swings bat in front of him as he backs up stairs.

BOB

Stay away from me,

JACKIE

Bob!

BOB

Stay away…!

JACKIE

Darling, light of my life, I’m not

going to hurt you. You didn’t let

me finish my sentence. I said ‘I’m

not going to hurt you… I’m just

going to bash your brains in!’ I’m

going to bash them right the fuck in.

BOB waves bat in front of him. JACKIE laughs.

BOB

Stay away from me!

CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle BOB swinging bat in front of him, backs up

stairs. JACKIE follows him – CAMERA TRACKS FORWARD after them.

BOB

Stay away from me!

JACKIE

I’m not going to hurt you.

BOB

Stay away from me!

CUT TO:

M.S. High Angle JACKIE over BOB. He swings bat in front of

her, as he backs away and she follows him.

116.

BOB

Stay away from me! Please…

JACKIE

Stop swinging the bat.

BOB

Stay away from me.

JACKIE

Put the bat down, Bob.

BOB

Stop it!

JACKIE

Bob give me the bat.

BOB

Stay… stay away!

JACKIE

Give me the bat.

CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle BOB over JACKIE. CAMERA TRACKS FORWARD as

they come up stairs.

BOB

Stay away from me.

JACKIE

Give me the bat.

BOB

Jackie, stay away from me!

JACKIE

Stop swinging the bat.

BOB

Get down.

CUT TO:

M.S. High Angle JACKIE over BOB. He swings bat in front of

her as they move up stairs. CAMERA TRACKS with them.

JACKIE

Give me the bat.

BOB

Go away from me.

117.

JACKIE

Bob…

BOB

Go away.

JACKIE

Give me the bat.

BOB

Go away.

JACKIE

Give me the bat.

JACKIE reaches up with hand. BOB hits her hand with bat.

SHE SCREAMS. SHE YELLS and grabs her wrist.

CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle BOB over JACKIE.

JACKIE

Goddamn!

BOB hits JACKIE on head with bat.

CUT TO:

M.S. High Angle JACKIE over BOB – he throws up hand and

leans back.

CUT TO:

M.L.S. Low Angle BOB over JACKIE. She falls backwards down

stairs. CAMERA PANS L-R with her as she somersaults down

stairs, stopping face down on half landing.

CUT TO:

M.L.S. High Angle BOB back to camera at top of stairs.

JACKIE lying facedown on half landing.

BOB

Oh…oh!

I have finished retyping Orwell’s 1984 and The Wall Street Journal

You can find the last entry here with a few thoughts on the project: http://thisisroom101.blogspot.ca/

 

 

 

OrwellBurmaPassport

George Orwell in his Burma passport photo. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Orwell

Some thoughts of handwriting Ulysses and now published at no press!

 

James_Joyce_photo_Gisele_Freund
A dashing James Joyce.

On Getting Inside James Joyce’s Head.

James Joyce is a maddening writer to read. If you were to ask me why I love reading him though, part of that love is in the aggravation he causes with his writing.

Typing A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man was one thing, writing Ulysses by hand is quite the other. In A Portrait, I had the pleasure of not having read it, thus being exposed to the work was like being presented with an interesting set of data. The experiment was what that set of data, how it was arranged and collated, would affect me. The early chapters made my creative work suffer. The infantilism and repetitive structure of it at the beginning, handicapped my writing. I couldn’t come up with proper sentences for a while. After young Stephen Dedalus finds the poetic language within himself, I found my own writing took off as well.

When copying from a book to a page (whether that be on a computer or on a piece of paper), I digest the work in a sort of peripheral type of reading. I’m reading the words as visual objects while transferring them over to a new environment. I know the controls: pen, paper, and a somewhat quiet environment. While writing/typing it, I notice little ticks or weird punctuations in the work because I’m focusing on transcribing what’s right before me. Half of my brain is on that, while the other is reading the words and doing what our brains have been trained to do while reading: visualizing the scenes. A Portrait was interesting because in its newness to me, I was absorbed into the pages.

ulysses
On my fairytale wishlist forever: A first edition copy of Ulysses.

I’ve re-read Ulysses several times because there are always new things I’ve found upon the re-read. And I’m known to get a little obsessive with my interests. Ulysses happens to feed something in my head. The first time I read it was back in a third year course on modernism. I was in the middle of mid-term exams and suffering a long bout of insomnia. I had just finished a long exam on Nietszche and Hegel for a philosophy course and headed home on the eastbound train from Islington station. My commute from UofT Erindale College was about two hours (bus and subway to Jane station, then up to Weston Rd. and Eglinton. Torontonians will know this intersection as the giant Monster Donuts stop). I spent that commute reading my course work and I was at Episode 9: Scylla and Charybdis in Ulysses when I fell asleep. I dreamed. In the dream, Stephen Dedalus was watching the sea from a hill with books from the library tucked under his arm. His head was full of every single insight he had gathered in his conversations of the day and the sun shone blindingly in his face. It was still image, but what I remember most was the churn of the water and the tumultuous thoughts coming in and out of Stephen’s head.

When I woke up I was at Christie station, many stops away from where I supposed to get off, but I didn’t get up in a fright. I kind of floated in a euphoric state, on the cusp of an eventual epiphany. And it happened when I hit my head on the window sill of the train. It was like a rush of everything I’d read my whole life was in that book in my lap. The best I can come up with to describe that event would be as if you could smell a rainstorm approaching, hear the thunder and see the lighting for years and then suddenly the sky opens up and it’s raining every truth all around you. I felt truth all around me in that subway car for only a few seconds before it left me as quick as it came. Ever since then, Ulysses has had a special place in my heart and mind. I don’t know whether it’s because I want to relive the epiphany or if its a weird addictive curse born out of a compulsion for a spiritual high again, but either way, Ulysses upon the re-read has never failed to deliver to me many insights on writing, reading, and some pretty wacky perspectives of life. And hell, is Joyce ever wacky. Horny for spirituality and physicality, Joyce masturbates and orgasms his way through an ordinary day in an ordinary life.

I started handwriting Ulysses on December 9, 2013. Today I’m in the first half of Episode 9 and on the second green moleskine journal. The journals I’ve used have taken a beating because I’m a heavy handed writer. When I flip a page, I can feel my pen marks as if I had dug them into the page instead of just writing them. I’ve exhausted four pens in the process, and that’s not counting the ones I’ve lost as well. I began with a few constraints (writing down where I was writing it, or indenting the cited poems/songs), but I’ve decided to just stick with a random flow on each writing session.

IMG_20140508_174024
my heavy handed writing

I’ve found Joyce to be a difficult writer to transcribe. Ulysses is basically pulled together by the inner thoughts of people, some of them very random. Joyce tries to capture a reality that storytellers fail so often at capturing: the humdrum. If Leopold Bloom is thinking about the skirts of his mistress, he will go into detail about the smell and feel of the skirts, the colour of her hair against the light, the scent of her sex, while still making a point to list the errands he has to get to during the day. If it occurs to Mr. Bloom it will get recorded and archived. Beyond the incredibly entertaining conflicts that happen to Leopold or to Stephen, beyond the philosophical psychedelia that is the meat of the book, what glues it all together is this frustratingly mundane minutiae. It’s boring to read and frustrating to write, especially if you have a short attention span like me. Yet life in general is made up of mostly frustrating and mundane stuff. Life can be distracting in its grandness, it can be in the focus of its banality, and vice a versa.

IMG_20140607_001617
Two moleskines and a Joyce.

I was recently discussing this with Tony Burgess at a poetry night we did. He asked about Ulysses and I had had particularly trying session with the page I was writing that day. I said, “I yell at the book sometimes. Fuck off, James! Again with the murmuring and the sighing! Today I wanted to throw you across the room.” That day Mr. Bloom was observing the people around him eating and he was thinking of eating and what others thought of him eating. It was such insular blabber, but it’s what we do every day in our heads. This is the brilliance of what Joyce set out to do. The day in the life of Leopold Bloom is the day in the life of you and me, or rather what he perceived to be the every day person. Upon the reading his approach read with an eerie accuracy.

Many scholars have picked Ulysses apart and will probably continue to for hundreds of years to come. I’m not bringing anything new to the table, I think, but it is in my reading and in my transcribing that I’m finding myself attuned to the unique perspective in the minuscule parts of my day. I know now that I handwrite my “f” in two different ways. My handwriting is also a mixture of cursive and printing. I write sloppier towards the end of the page and neater when it’s in the middle.

This “uncreative writing” project has made me a transcribing machine. I am but a means for those words to end up on a different format. Are they read? That’s not the point. Neither is it the point for me to know more about Joyce through handwriting his work. No. Getting Inside James Joyce’s Head is just a title. For me, this endeavour has me learning that writing is copying what is in your head to make it material in the real world.

Manifesting the prosaic, (whether it be lists, errands, important dates on a calendar, etc.), by common means is an extraordinary endeavour. It is just one of many ways one can be intimate with a novel or a piece of art. People copy paintings and trace drawings to learn how to draw and paint. Writers sometimes retype work (the quotations in an essay are integral part to that essay’s defense). Hunter S Thompson retyped The Great Gatsby just to get the feeling of typing a great novel. Replication of thought and ideas is what Joyce did and it’s what many authors already do. My work with James Joyce’s work is mundane, ordinary, and perplexing to me, but it’s my work. I have infused Ulysses with my own thoughts in the margins and have been physical with its words through a pen that I hold and maneuver. I often think about monks transcribing important literature before the printing press. I am a printing press.

The concept of person as machine is an important one to note today. The objects we utilize (computers, televisions, phones, lights, dishwashers, trains, buses, etc.), were once dreams in somebody’s head and those dreams now conveniently help move the world. If we didn’t have the machines, we’d be spending most of our days in desperate pursuit of the next meal and busy transporting ourselves with our own two feet. Now with all this convenience, the machines have made it possible for us to explore. The machines themselves, ones we built with our brains and hands, are exploring too. 

It’s time to explore past the line of traditional and try new things and new methods of doing those things. I’m constantly reading books (not just Joyce), and usually have two or three on the go. I also find that the best books, inspire new ways of reading (having read a book backward online and remixed another).

Handwriting Ulysses may be the dumbest thing I’ve done, but Joyce was an idiot to write all the thoughts of Leopold Bloom and call it a novel. I really don’t know what I’m doing and I’m not keen on labelling it anything more than uncreative writing at the moment. It’s art in its performance. It’s a concept in my explanation of it. It’s writing in my execution of it. It will be a feat in its completion. It will most likely take me two years to finish.

 

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I am very excited and happy to announce that Derek Beaulieu’s no press has published four pages of my work. ULYSSES by Jacqueline Valencia is now available for purchase. Details at the link:

photo1
photo courtesy of no press.

http://derekbeaulieu.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/new-from-no-press-ulysses-by-jacqueline-valencia/

 

Bauhaus into poetry

Bauhausfaces

 

On Wednesday May 14th 2014, a bunch of authors: Tony Burgess, Jade Wallace, Suzanne Alyssa Andrew, Liisa Ladouceur, Liz Worth, and myself gathered at the Nocturne in Toronto to remix Bauhaus lyrics into poetry.

Here are my remixed poems:

Ecstasy

Nerve ends

crucifixion ecstasy
One eye’s closed

checked in agony
Will it stay shut?

Stigmata bleed

What

if
if

if

Holes in head
Indelicate Nerves.

Delicate Nerves

Indelicate Nerves

Delicate Nerves

Stigmata oh

Stigmata oh

Stigmata oh
Tell tale tongues

weep for me
Brittle spittle
The fabric of dreams
Nerves.

As you feel the twist

pumping heart
Nerves nylon /nerves steel
Nerves nylon/nerves steel
Nerves nylon/nerves steel

Sense of serenity splintered glass.

Look into your crimson orifice
random cutlery cuts

In holy remembrance
Nerves. Nerves.

in your splintered plight
Nerves. Nerves.

Stigmata oh

Stigmata oh

Nerves.
Nerves nylon/nerves steel
Nerves nylon/nerves steel
Nerves nylon/nerves steel

In scarlet bliss

Father, son, and holy ghost

 

In nomine patri et filii et spiriti sanctum
In nomine patri et filii et spiriti sanctum

 

Aleb

Aleb

Aleb

Aleb

 

the man with the xray eyes is alone with everybody

(bauhaus meets bukowski)

 

the flesh covers the bone

shoes that no man would want to wear

and they put a mind
Wipe away the night’s last cold stare

in there and
Red fist curled ’round the house

sometimes a soul
Was away boy Shelly’s shoes
wash

and women break
Chocolate power is so crisp

vases against the walls
The atomic open house is really here

and the men drink too
And we have gone so desperate

too much
Your power knows no bounds

and nobody finds the one

And heavier with time

but keep looking
Are our shoes

crawling in and out
That no man would want to wear

of beds
New tread wipes a wet road so dry

flesh covers
it stings

the bone and the flesh
Into the borrowed course

searches for more than
Under the dreadful birds

flesh
Under the singing soil

there’s no chance at all
And all those guilty clouds

we are all trapped
I have seen too much

by a singular fate
Wipe away my eyes

nobody ever finds one
Too much

the graveyards fill

nothing else fills

 

who killed mr moonlight (bauhaus in haikus)

1. Consider green lakes

broken arrow face wound

smile shot innocence.

 

2. midnight proposals

shot nostalgia in the back

shadow of his smile

 

3. all our dreams melted

are hiding in the bushes

doing dead men stunts

 

4. our burnt stories

we can’t paint any pictures

as the moon had all our brushes

 

5. extracting wasps stings

you who killed mr moonlight

you his shadow smile

 

The Virgin Mary

Virgin mary was tired

So tired

Never would be invited

to the funeral rosegarden

that was hers
She’s tired of listening to gossip
Gossip and complaints

her disappointment runs with her guests
Her guests wreaking havoc

From all sorts of

All sorts of
Untidy whores without agency
Her men are chosen from the rest

They came from next door
And a bewildered stream of chatter

But their choice don’t seem to matter

 

She’s got swollen breasts and lips that putter
And her choice of matter and her screams of chatter
Is just a little parasitic scream of whores
Screaming whores

So tired of listening to gossip
Gossip and complaints is she

 

 

In the rosegarden funeral of sores
Virgin mary was tired

she came from next door
Came from next door

Opened up the gates

Intruder not, Owner

Rosegarden

Garden rose

Rose garden

Garden rose

Rose garden

Garden rose

The Virgin Mary laid down to rest

in her
Rosegarden funeral of sores