what is any good

Writerly incoherence, be that in locating a fragment or an active inconsistency in reading. And if it works then it’s not just noise.



A Greek word, and I would suppose that it is THE formal goal of art, meaning a suspension of action and belief (not “suspension of disbelief”, as wiki might want us to think). It seems to tie together a few things: dissolution of content (nothing to believe in); the necessity of language (retaining only the energy of writing); an everyday lifeworld; etc..

As to the metaphor of catalysis, I’d speculate that removing the sacrificial catalyst of habit might use up hermeticism (a difficult music with its subjectivity effaced and without authority) so that language no longer reacts and narrative may enact an epoche.


Having undergone 
a strange feature of wrench, 
                lightly I,
very light, return; a stroll.


front page ii

I suppose… I’m thinking that a language of objectivism and projectivism that does not contain them can be paralysed into becoming a meaningful poem



I have had experiences of catharsis to art, both contemporary and historic. Drawing some threads of thought into something coherent, I’d have wondered about the value of ‘tragedy’ as something fearful, rather than monstrous (Aristotle), or pitiful, as what includes the value of both beauty and the sublime. I’m reminded of the dissonant shocks of atonal music, shaking a listener from habitual standards, into a state of engagement – by necessity – with critical theory – just to survive (with ideality as limit of dissolution of . . . self – for not in the world . . . just a strange inversion).

Here’s a picture of Guernica:

The horrible inspiration behind one of Picasso's great works, 'Guernica'

As to the title page of the blog, I guess what gets left out and cannot be up-to-date varies with intent, but I’d probably be happiest forgetting politics in poetry, which is quite monstrous until used up – whatever to do with the rub

Jacket on chair

still there. I will

wear it;

it creaks.


I do mashups now

Joking about Pound’s ‘In a Station of the Metro’ and Zukofsky’s ‘Anew 10’ I got”:

the memory of this song that made no sense –
patterns of strained pretence.

So I edited it using my odd open grotesque intuitive take on distortion:

my memory conveys some song 
that had no sense –
a pattern to love’s pretence.

Fun, if I can run with that.



“If grotesque effectively means that something is generatively distorted” then we might ask what has been distorted and by what sort of thing (and I am objectively meaningless).

The idea of music distorted by narrative may be good, but what does that mean for fragmentation?

An aesthetic judgment, that the poem has the right distance, or amplification, relative to its language, might be one way of deciding when writing (as what matters – makes language necessary and “music”) contains something of the world.

So reading does not find flaws in writing but its tensile strengths, qualities that – even if they don’t reappear – are too consistent, compact, to be prised apart into incoherence: language is paralysed as the world shatters.


We’ve compared seldom
lyric conscious to a mutable
task, to cut a stone,
that the vestibule
sits with, awkward tomb.


‘A Book of Odes’

A small (3×4 inches) chapbook by Alan Baker (whom I know fairly well) on Red Ceiling Press. There’s lots of formal surface appeal to it: a knowing urbanity; sense of language drawing you in; how the short lines add up as if saying nothing further; the clever use of lists/ampersand; a consistently hardworking diction; strong use of environmental science; etc.. Yet I was – so it turned out – non-plussed by the figuration. From the second “ode”, I do just want to “shrug”, which must not be the desired reading:

& sense of purpose
in a world
that wears us
so lightly
a shrug
might shake
us loose
to apprehend lichen
healing the sycamore’s bark

There are six odes, same as Keats, which directly relates the book – in an indeterminate kind of way – to some recent poems of Sheppard. Like Keats, the sixth one is the odd one out; he wrote his in Autumn, this was written listening to music. I dislike the “ode”. If not for that, I might have considered this more successful than the rest of his work I’ve read. I have no formal knowledge of music, so it’s not that I disagree with his descriptions, but lines like the first one (“an echo of an electron”) read as if Baker has lost control of the their sounds, and – I won’t argue for it – I don’t think in a suitable way.


determinate negation

I’ve read a very little bit of Adorno. Usually, I think of his aesthetic theory as primarily involving a consciousness of social whole (capital and culture) and the most progressive forces (techniques) of the art in question – is that fatuous of me? I think the value of art in general cannot be stated without critical theory and ‘determinate negation’. In poetry, the first example I worked out was Olson’s work with ‘breath’: after the prosaic modernism of Pound and Eliot, because prose is speech, due to the lack of lineation, it was necessary to internally negate or advance that tension between poetry and its form: “projective verse”. It left something out, same as so called “objectivism” did, and how language poetry was – I would argue – necessary to miss that double blind. Are expressions, in verse, of statements of this sort a determinate negation? That would involve cookie cutter criticism from me, to say “yes”. Though I just did.


conceptual poetry

I actually like most of the conceptual poetry I have read, and I think that if you take its claims seriously you might believe it, especially in Goldsmith’s unoriginal moment, may have spared us from the excesses of AI poetry, made that an empty zeitgeist, however newsworthy it all is. Grateful, and still hallucinating a post AI uptake on Barthes.



it’s imitation, rather than pastiche/parody, if I say it is.