Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Emailed To My Dear Friend Cia

On twitter I see "progressives" using a rhetoric of dissociation from USA: not my president, not my country,  etc.  I am having the opposite impulse: I am American; I am a citizen of this country.  Well before this day, I've known to a great degree I am embodiment of various major social and/or environmental problems; and today is a concrete suggestion I was really onto something!  I mean the idea that you can neatly align Trump and white supremacist dynamics and then have a leftist intellectual antipode is such total bullshit insofar as it encourages the illusion that white supremacist
dynamics are not fractally embedded in every element of society.  I've probably written this to you before, but maybe not: for the past at-least three years, I have failed to come up with an argument that makes me fail to qualify as white supremacist; yes, I can list ways in which I darn near 24/7 resist/challenge this modality, but that is not the same as truly being exempt!  And for the time being I am far more invested in coming to full consciousness regarding my crud zones rather than
self-servingly emphasizing the good actions.  I think it's best to keep on with the good actions, but not highlight it and basically create a convenient brand for myself.  Interestingly, I would not argue I am male supremacist; I think a strong case can be made that I have and continually do
the work of resisting that.  And I think there's a crucial reason for this: my life, to a greater than lesser degree, de-facto aligns with segregation, whereas my life is not sex segregated.  I don't mean to make a one to one equation here, only suggest that it's very likely a major factor.  It's terrible how my reading and social media lives are not segregated, but my in-person one does not follow suit.
Note: I am not counting teaching--too much hierarchy involved for that interaction to be other than its own category.

Note: the "you" of prior email is intended as grammatical placeholder, not an address to your specific person!

Monday, October 3, 2016


There are times when I am convinced there's no-one dumber than a poet--particularly when the poet is "talking" points that are economic.  I'll take an economist with a love for poetry anyday over a poet who styles themselves an economic theorist.  This, yes, means I have days when it'd be most excellent to swap out my dumb ass for Amartya Sen's stunningly wonderful noggin.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

More On Kunin

"In my view, accusing Place of racism is intellectually irresponsible. The idea behind this accusation seems to be that any writing that uses racist language or imagery is itself racist, and, if the writer is white, white supremacist. By that logic, any representation of racism would be racist. The study of racism would become impossible. At best, the study of racism could proceed only by further inflicting or exploiting the pain of what it studies."

I think there's some food for thought here, but also question the opening sentence.  I question this, too--"At best, the study of racism could proceed only by further inflicting or exploiting the pain of what it studies"--but simultaneously think this is precisely where the fodder for more thinking lies.

"From a position of seeming powerlessness, Place’s accusers leveraged the cancellation of most of her appearances in May, June, and July. I call that power. In fact, I call it an abuse of power."

Without more, I'm not clear on why this would qualify as an "abuse of power."

"To be perfectly clear, I am saying that great poetry might not only use racist language and imagery, but also might express racist attitudes."

This, for me, needs a lot of elaboration.  I would argue that, often, impressive works of art/writing which contain racist/white supremacist language and/or content would often be even stronger without it: Path's Ariel would be a star example: "Nigger-eye berries" are not what makes that poem as strong as it is.  I can see, though, how this could apply to Flannery O'Connor, whose A Good Man Is Hard To Find grandmother is disarmingly (for this contemporary reader) casual in her use of the word nigger, but whose use is not obviously horrifyingly racist: she actually uses the word in a moment of social-consciousness, telling her grand-daughter to be mindful that people shouldn't be judged negatively just because they are economically impoverished.  I think a key difference between MCAG and Kunin may be how they conceive of white supremacy. I suspect MCAG uses my definition--that it's a baseline state of whiteness that can safely be assumed and which whiteness can never be innocent of--whereas I am guessing Kunin sees it as a far less total phenomenon, that he does not view it as a foundational state, but rather one which may pertain to discrete acts.  He does, admitedly, acknowledge early on in his essay that this is a way some do understand the term; but even with this acknowledgment it's not clear he does concord.

"Place’s accusers have miscalculated: By attacking her personal liberty, they have given additional power to her writing." 

The conclusion that this scenario grants additional power to the writing in question strikes me as rather pat/to work from a warrant which needs explicit acknowledgment and, more importantly, questioning.  I'm also not wholly on board with the "personal liberty" bit.  By invoking this concept, Kunin seems to be working with the assumption that Place's project is indeed art--and yet it's not clear he thinks this is the case.  As Place acknowledges, and as Kunin seems to agree, she in fact is not within the domain of personal liberty with her project: it violates "fair use"; she supposedly wants her endeavor to be sued, etc.  But more than this, I don't think it's sufficient to seemingly unquestioningly take a stance that personal liberty trumps darn near all other stances.  It is an important concept--yes, I am not disputing that/this--but it's worth thinking about its limits, and the limits already built into its legal definitions/contours.    

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Comment that may or may not end up posted here-- This essay impresses me; and in some ways reminds me very much of Harold Bloom except he often elides the work of carefully explaining his reasoning.  It is nice to read a fully developed argument, not merely a series of declarations.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Homage Julie Carr, Lisa Robertson, Susan Tichy

Grows in gutter.  Grows gutter.  Grosses where one can
Flip page.  Sometimes forgotten.  Called spine.

This is to be totally.  Separate but so closely.  Soil from
Margin blown here.  Tug of utter.  Crocus gut.

Spine aligns runoff.  Offal mottles frontispiece dug
Out fosse gender flowers.  Unprovable taxonomy.

Economy axes.  Sparks fly.  Land.  Discipline.  And rescinds
When conjunction gluts.  Centrifugal convexly mirrored.

Stated again as styptic.  Poise.  Porous.  Lapse bells its
Broken law.  Haw firth howks.  Talons volts blanch.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I don't get, given the context of the primary point made, the logic of the "particularly white male privilege bit" of this Tweet- Jan 25 We need to make young people aware of white, particularly white male privilege, way early on. Take it to the outdoor ice rinks.

Here's my argument/response-sketch (which is not at Twitter):

A compelling argument can be made that when it comes to White Supremacist dynamics, that white women and men do get to share this shit-show equitably. I totes agree that it's good to get little male nippers aware of the privileges maleness often carries--but as far as whiteness being racially clueless, the maleness bit strikes me as more than less a red herring/mistaking female identity for a totality which because it often entails disenfranchisement can therefore not be maximally part of white supremacist dynamics, which is ultra questionable--though has obvious white feminist appeal.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dear Adam strauss, 

Thank you for participating in the 2015 Les Figues Press NOS Contest. We are pleased to announce the winner as chosen by contest guest judge lê thi diem thúy: 

irradiated cities 
by Mariko Nagai 

We are also pleased to announce that the editors have selected The Getty Fiend by Ken White as the NOS editors' selection. 

We specifically would like to congratulate you, Adam, as your work was picked as a finalist among a phenomenal collection of works including: 

Tree Talks: Southern Arizona | Wendy Burk 
GALL | E.G. Cunningham 
Assumptions We Might Make About the Postworld | Katharine Haake 
Reading Nana | Sharon Kivland 
Field Poetics | Kristen Kreider 
It Was Human | Jenn Marie Nunes 
Ifenne | Jill Okpalugo-Nwajiaku 
Braided Sand Country | Adam Strauss 
kochanie i bought bread | Uljana Wolf, translated by Greg Nissan 

We will be making the official announcement tomorrow. 

By now, you should have received your Les Figues Press title of choice. If you chose 100 Chinese Silences, please allow another three weeks for delivery. If otherwise you have not received your book, please contact us at 

Again, thank you for entrusting us with your exceptional writing. 

Teresa Carmody 
Les Figues Press
Here's my response to this in many ways terrific review:

Adam Strauss 19 January 2016 at 9:54 PM #
I enjoy this review. A question I have is this: I’m unclear on the relationship between gay and queer in this piece; are they synonyms? They largely seem to be, but then it’s gay men not queers who are cited as annoyed–suggesting differentiation. Based on this review, JF is seeming, to me, quite queer, but not gay. Everything quoted strikes me as consonant queerness. (I do see the two terms as signifying quite different topos). Once again–thank you for this…I love how it doesn’t merely revel in LOLing/dissing JF, but doesn’t shy away from cutting words.
OH, one more bit: I agree (though don’t remotely believe) that it’s a truism that sexuality is fluid, but this doesn’t seem to gel with the gay male anger refrain, which seems to be marking a clear, more stable than not subject position; can fluidity articulate anger, and have a moniker?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Livre Sucre

I like the way in the start of this trailer the scene had me thinking prepping cocaine for freebase, and then it turns out apricots are being cooked: