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The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center hosted “CrossLines: A Culture Lab on Intersectionality” at the Smithsonian’s historic Arts and Industries Building Saturday and Sunday, May 28–29, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Featuring the works of more than 40 artists, scholars and performers, “CrossLines” exhibited array of art installations, live performances and interactive maker spaces.
Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis said, “We had a “poetry listening salon” with an iPad station set up with the video as well as several audio poems–by Juan Felipe Herrera, Arlene Biala, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Brandon Som, and Tarfia Faizullah. Response was great; 12,000 people came through the event, and a lot of people sat in the salon and used the station.”
At the de-installation of the exhibit, Lawrence sent this picture of Clement Hanami and Sojin KIm checking out the video by Arturo Romo-Santillano of a poem of mine, “Hell to Eternity: The Movie Version.”
Clement Hanami and Sojin Kim
2011, Nightboat Books
THE BOOK OF FORGOTTEN BODIES
The reader who opens the Book of Forgotten Bodies finds nothing. There are no horses galloping through deserted villages in search of the men who used to ride them. There are no children crying for their parents who were thrown out of airplanes and into the sea. There are no soldiers who had their arms sliced off for refusing to obliterate innocent bodies. There are no rich men leaning against paradise trees as the drunk bodies of poor men stumble up to their houses to kill them. There are no bodies of hopeless virgins smashes on city streets by Mercedes-Benzes cruising through the gentle drizzle of a foggy day. There are no bodies abandoned on beaches. There are no corpses floating down rivers. There are no bodies hanging in the military barracks on island XYZ off the coast of nation ABC. There are no bodies that pound rock against rock. No bodies that stand on one leg with hoods over their mouths mumbling words we don’t understand. No bodies covered in mud murmuring to the bodies that lie on top of them. There are no bodies that smell of chemicals and rest in puddles in the rain waiting for flowers to fall on their heads. No blind bodies that are painted by artists who value aesthetics over breath. No bodies that imagine their children’s bodies as ghosts and cadavers and skeletons. No bodies that fall from windows as they try to catch a glimpse of the bodies that have fallen before them. There are no bodies discovered by rabid dogs in houses abandoned before they could even be built. No bodies surrounded by barbed wire as countries die in the distance. No bodies whose skin burns in the strange machines that buzz like tropical nights. No bodies that burn in buildings that have been set on fire by bodies with no reason to live. There are no bodies that fry in the sun, that drown in the shadows, that roast on gas, that ooze algae and moss, that are covered in black rags as the lakes and the mountains die. No bodies that hunt or are hunted, that murder out of charity, that are murdered out of charity. No bodies that shutter the windows and hang themselves in libraries of their favorite books. There are no soulless bodies, no frozen bodies, no bodies gnawed to death by insects. There are no practice bodies, no transient bodies, no empty bodies, no blank bodies that twist between forgotten body and dream.
see also http://jacket2.org/commentary/talking-daniel-borzutzky
ONE SIZE FITS ALL
See that immigrant freezing beneath the bridge he needs a blanket.
See that torah scroll from the 16th century: it sprawls on the floor like a deadbeat; the Jews need to wrap it in a schmatte.
The problem, you see, is “exposure.”
Thje poet forgot to shake off his penis and pee dripped on the manuscript that he submitted to the 2007 University of Iowa Poetry prize.
The literary scholar took off his tie and lectured the class on the post-humanoid implications of the virtual cocktail.
He put a pistol on his desk and told the students he was going to kill himself if they didn’t do their homework.
Everything in his “worldview” was exposed.
The data-entry specialist imagined new forms for the senior administrator who was only a temporary carcass, an anti-poem: a budding literary movement that communed with master works by committing suicide while reading them.
The temporary carcass of the bureaucrat, dry as Vietnamese Jerky, called out for “gravy” as it “peppered” the eloquent field of syntax.
Abrupt exposure to ordinary language may result in seriously compromised intelligence, implied the carcass as he lipped the trembling lily which hid the police officer, who said: if you look at me one more time I’m going to zap you with my Taser gun.
I liked the former “Language Poet” for the speech act he attached to the back of my book, which reminded me of Charles Olson on human growth hormones.
The problem, said the critic, remains one of imagination and its insistence on the distinction between thought and action.
“I let him touch my wooden leg,” she said, “and when I unscrewed it I was stuck legless in the hay.”
Which is to say the detachable penis was and has been compatible with family values.
“He was a seriously hardworking boy with a fetish for glass eyes and wooden legs,” she said, “and I really loved him.”
The poetry era reached its nadir as the housing market plummeted, said the professor, as he repeated for the umpteenth time the anecdote about the boy who met an underwater woman as old as the hills.
“Does Poetry live here,” he asked. “Poetry lives here,” she replied, “but he will chop you up and kill you, and then he will cook you and eat you.”
My ideal reader has neither a name, a body, nor an online profile.
Which is not to say that I am not concerned with customer satisfaction.
Dear Reader, Because we value your input, please take a moment of your busy time to answer the following question, which will greatly assist us in our mission to produce cultural artifacts that will further meet your aesthetic and spiritual needs.
Which of the following statements most accurately reflects your feelings about the writing which you have just read:
a. This is a splendid poem, distinguished by the clarity of its thought, the force of its argument, and the eloquence of its expression.
b. This poem is conceptually vapid, artistically shallow, and contributes nothing to the world of letters. It is little more than a collection of bad sentences and poorly formed ideas.
c. I like this poem, but I wouldn’t spend money to read more poems like it.
d. When I read this poem, I feel frustrated and annoyed.
e. When I read this poem, I feel nothing.
on / with Antena / Antena Los Ángeles
¡El AntenaMóvil ya está instalado! Ven a nuestro evento bilingüe este sábado no solamente para compartir comida rica y conversación rica, sino también para ver/leer/comprar libros de muchas editoriales pequeñas y micros de Latinoamérica y Estados Unidos — incluyendo las maravillas locales Kaya Press, Phoneme Media, Ricochet Editions, Seite Books, y Writ Large Press. El Antenamóvil es un triciclo de carga adaptado, equipado con libros que están a la venta y para leer aquí. La selección se enfoca en obras bilingües y multilingües, textos en traducción y textos innovadores de escritorxs de razas marginadas.
¡The AntenaMóvil is installed! Come to our bilingual event this Saturday not just to share delicious food and delicious conversation, but also to see/read/buy publications from many small and micro presses from Latin America and the U.S. — including local wonders Kaya Press, Phoneme Media, Ricochet Editions, Seite Books, and Writ Large Press. The AntenaMóvil is a retrofitted Mexican cargo trike stocked with books that are for sale and for reading on-site. The selection features bilingual and multilingual works, work in translation, and innovative texts by writers of color.
Justicia laboral alimentaria + Justicia del lenguaje: Un intercambio bilingüe
Food Labor Justice + Language Justice: A Bilingual Exchange
con / with Antena / Antena Los Ángeles, Cocina Abierta & ROC-LA
12 marzo / March 12
12pm – 3pm
Gratis / Free
Se proporcionará comida, pero si deseas, ¡trae una receta o un plato para compartir!
Food will be provided, but if you like, bring a recipe or a dish to shar e!
Por favor RSVP / RSVP Please
(¡pero ven aunque no puedas RSVP! / ¡but come even if you can’t RSVP!)
10899 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90024
The Worker Body / El cuerpo trabajador, Cocina Abierta & ROC-LA, July 2015 / julio de 2015.
Photo/Foto: Heather M. O’Brien
Antena y Antena Los Ángeles, artistas en residencia con el programa de Public Engagement (Participación pública), junto con artistas, organizadorxs y trabajadorxs restauranterxs de la colectiva Cocina Abierta y El Centro de Oportunidades para Trabajadores de Restauranterxs de Los Ángeles (ROC-LA), invitan a lxs visitantes del Hammer a compartir comida, ideas y conversación en un espacio bilingüe. Les invitamos a escuchar las historias de trabajadorxs restauranterxs y posteriormente participar en un diálogo bilingüe durante una comida estilo familiar. Se proporcionará la comida, pero cualquier plato o receta que quieran traer será bienvenido.
¡Colabora compartiendo una receta para nuestro recetario!
Las recetas que logre recolectarse serán utilizadas por Libros Antena Books para crear una pequeña publicación DIY (Do-It-Yourself o hazlo-tú-mismx), que será distribuida a todxs lxs participantes.
Public Engagement artists-in-residence Antena and Antena Los Ángeles, along with artists, organizers and restaurant workers from the Cocina Abierta collective and Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles (ROC-LA), invite Hammer visitors to share food, ideas, and conversation in a bilingual space. Visitors are invited to hear the stories of restaurant workers and afterward engage in bilingual dialogue over a family-style meal. Food will be provided, but feel free to bring a dish or recipe to share.
Participate by contributing a recipe for our recipe book!
The collected recipes will be made into a small DIY publication by Libros Antena Books and distributed to all participants.
Jen also notes, NEWLY AVAILABLE:
In front of a live audience at Book Show on October 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA as part of Vermin on the Mount, an irreverent reading series hosted by Jim Ruland.
an annual anthology of the best new experimental writing
BAX 2015 is the second volume of an annual literary anthology compiling the best experimental writing in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. This year’s volume, guest edited by Douglas Kearney, features seventy-five works by some of the most exciting American poets and writers today, including established authors—like Dodie Bellamy, Anselm Berrigan, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Cathy Park Hong, Bhanu Kapil, Aaron Kunin, Joyelle McSweeney, and Fred Moten—as well as emerging voices. Best American Experimental Writing is also an important literary anthology for classroom settings, as individual selections are intended to provoke lively conversation and debate. The series coeditors are Seth Abramson and Jesse Damiani.
Guest editor DOUGLAS KEARNEY is a poet, performer, and librettist. He is the author of Patter and The Black Automaton. He lives in Los Angeles. SETH ABRAMSON is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and author of five books, including Thievery, winner of the Akron Poetry Prize, and Northerners, winner of the Green Rose Prize. He will be teaching at the University of New Hampshire in the fall. JESSE DAMIANI was the 2013–2014 Halls Emerging Artist Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Fulbright Commission. He also lives in Los Angeles.
here’s a link to the issue’s digital content:
“The permission is on every page here. The best annual experience where space is held for radical experimentation is in this book. Thanks to the editors for really keeping it real.”—CA Conrad, author of Ecodeviance
“Whether oath, tweet, conspiracy simile, or tour of Hummeltopia, this anthology swings with verve and nerve from CM Burroughs’s ‘juncture of almost’ to Roberto Harrison’s ‘contaminate network of paradise.’ The experiment lives! It exists, Lance Olsen writes, ‘the same way, say, future dictionaries exist.’”—Elizabeth Robinson, author of On Ghosts
$19.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7608-8
$40.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7607-1
$15.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7609-5
• Guest Editor’s Introduction, Douglas Kearney
• Series Editors’ Introduction, Seth Abramson and Jesse Damiani
• Will Alexander, To electrify the abyss from The General Scatterings and Comment
• Steven Alvarez, tape 3
• Emily Anderson, from “Three Little Novels”
• Aaron Apps, The Formation of This Grotesque Fatty Figure
• Dodie Bellamy, Cunt Wordsworth from Cunt Norton
• Anselm Berrigan, rectangle 71
• Jeremy Blachman, Rejected Submissions to “The Complete Baby Name Wizard”
• Shane Book, Mack Daddy Manifesto
• CM Burroughs, Body as a Juncture of Almost
• Rachel Cantor, Everyone’s a Poet
• Xavier Cavazos, Sanford, Florida
• Ching-in Chen, bhanu feeds soham a concession
• Cody-Rose Clevidence, [X Y L O]
• Cecilia Corrigan, from Titanic
• Santino Dela, This is How I Will Sell More Poetry Than Any Poet in the History of the Poetry – Twitter Feed (The YOLO Pages)
• Darcie Dennigan, The Ambidextrous
• Steven Dickison, from Liberation Music Orchestra
• Kelly Dulaney, Incisor / Canine
• Andrew Durbin, from You Are My Ducati
• Thomas Sayers Ellis, Conspiracy Smile [A Poet’s Guide to the Assassination of JFK and the Assassination of Poetry]
• Bryce Emley, The Panthera tigris
• Adam Fitzgerald, “Time After Time”
• Sesshu Foster, Movie Version: “Hell to Eternity”
• C. S. Giscombe, 4 and 5 from “Early Evening”
• Renee Gladman, Number Two of the Eleven Calamities
• Maggie Glover and Isaac Pressnell, Email Exchange – Like a Flock of Tiny Birds
• Alexis Pauline Gumbs, “Black Studies” and all its children
• Elizabeth Hall, from “I Have Devoted My Life to the Clitoris: A History of Small Things”
• Brecken Hancock, The Art of Plumbing
• Duriel E. Harris, Simulacra: American Counting Rhyme
• Roberto Harrison, email personas
• Lilly Hoang and Carmen Giménez-Smith, from Hummeltopia
• Cathy Park Hong, Trouble in Mind
• Jill Jichetti, [Jill Writes . . .]
• Aisha Sasha John, I didn’t want to go so I didn’t go.
• Blair Johnson, The overlap of three translations of Kafka’s “Imperial Message” – I consider writing (a love poem)
• Janine Joseph, Between Chou and the Butterfly
• Bhanu Kapil, Monster Checklist
• Ruth Ellen Kocher, Insomnia Cycle 44
• Aaron Kunin, from “An Essay on Tickling”
• David Lau, In the Lower World’s Tiniest Grains
• Sophia Le Fraga, from I RL, YOU RL
• Sueyeun Juliette Lee, [G calls] from Juliette and the Boys
• Amy Lorraine Long, Product Warning
• Dawn Lundy Martin, Mo[dern] [Frame] or a Philosophical Treatise on What Remains between History and the Living Breathing Black Human Female
• Joyelle McSweeney, “Trial of MUSE” (from Dead Youth, or, The Leaks)
• Holly Melgard, Alienated Labor
• Tyler Mills, H-Bomb
• elena minor, rrs feed
• Nick Montfort, Through the Park
• Fred Moten, harriot + harriott + sound +
• Daniel Nadler, from The “Lacunae”
• Sunny Nagra, The Old Man and the Peach Tree
• Kelly Nelson, Inkling
• Mendi + Keith Obadike, The Wash House
• Lance Olsen, dreamlives of debris: an excerpt
• Kiki Petrosino, Doubloon Oath
• Jessy Randall, Museum Maps – Dominoes
• Jacob Reber, Deep Sea Divers and Whaleboats – Camera and Knife
• J D Scott, Cantica
• Evie Shockley, fukushima blues
• Balthazar Simões, [Dear Emiel]
• giovanni singleton, illustrated equation no. 1
• Brian Kim Stefans, from “Mediation in Steam”
• Nat Sufrin, Now, Now Rahm Emmanuel
• Vincent Toro, MicroGod Schism Song – Binary Fusion Crab Canon
• Rodrigo Toscano, from Explosion Rocks Springfield
• Tom Trudgeon, Part 2/21/6 from Study for 14 Pieces for Charles Curtis
• Sarah Vap, [13 untitled poems]
• Divya Victor, Color: A Sequence of Unbearable Happenings
• Kim Vodicka, U n i s e x O n e – S e a t e r
• Catherine Wagner, Notice
• Tyrone Williams, Coterie Chair
• Ronaldo V. Wilson, Lucy, Finally
• Steven Zultanski, from Bribery
• Aaron Apps, “You are only a part of yourself, collected in tangles”
• Matthew Burnside, In Search of: Sandbox Novel
• Alejandro Miguel Justino Crawford, Egress
• Lawrence Giffin, from Non Facit Saltus
• Tracy Gregory, For Mercy
• Tina Hyland, Google the Future
• Kaie Kellough, creole continuum – d-o-y-o-u-r-e-a-d-m-e
• Joseph Mosconi, from Demon Miso/Fashion in Child
• Dustin Luke Nelson, [Everything That Is Serious Can Have a Filter]
• Jeffrey Pethybridge, Found Poem Including History
for sale at http://www.upne.com/0819576071.html
Blacktop Ecologies: Los Angeles Poetry and Poetics was a one-day symposium of writers active in Los Angeles November 21, 2014. (“Though largely drawn from the interaction of poetry and teaching, the poets range from highly experimental, even “conceptual,” writers of lyric, narrative and political poetry, as well as translation and performance writing. There is no “subject” for the symposium — it is not concerned with Los Angeles or even its poetical history — but a snapshot of poets in Los Angeles today, how they think and make their work. Each poet will make a short presentation of their recent thinking and read selections of their work; each “lane” will be followed by a question and answer (for passenger loading only) period.”)
Brian did the work. Thanks Brian Kim Stefans.
A Parallax View
Jen Hofer: What is “transPacific” in the context of Los Angeles? We share a Pacific (an intraPacific?) with Tijuana. We situate ourselves (or are situated?) in relation to a body (bodies) of water both to the west and to the south of us. We look west and face the east. We stand in the north and speak south. Is it antithetical or perpendicular? You said Antena (www.antenaantena.org) seems “intercontinental (like the name of the hotel where journalists stayed in Managua during the fall of the Somoza regime).” I would like to do an investigation of all the places called “intercontinental” (hotels, cafes, theaters, etc) to track political or skeletal linkages. A parallax view.
Sesshu Foster: Is a north south orientation antithetical to transpacific? Although immigrants’ rights are obviously one big umbrella under which all communities sooner or later shelter?
JH: These are Los Angeles questions: our pacific, our trans. How does the immigrant umbrella (or being in immigrant status—i.e. a state of being where immigrants and immigrants’ rights are the shape of how we move—as a weather) affect what we experience as “transPacific”? Do we need shelter or exposure?
SF: To be literally transPacific, to resist transPacific. In my case, one set of Anglo grandparents originally from Ohio and Illinois met in Los Angeles; my grandfather was supposedly Chief of Police of Long Beach, married my grandmother when she was a teen, sixteen or so playing keyboards with sheet music for the soundtrack for silent movies in theaters on Broadway. They moved to the Bay Area from South Central when it was whites only in the 1920s because L.A. was “too dangerous.” My Japanese grandparents were recruited as peasant farm labor from Hiroshima province (as documented later in Carey McWilliams’ excellent Factories in the Field, 1939), whose marriage was arranged around 1916. They worked the fields of the Central Coast—strawberries, etc.—living in houses they never owned, often without utilities, with outhouses, sometimes with a wooden tub (ofuro) with a tin bottom that my mother’s chore was to fill and heat with a wood fire. My grandfather soaked in the ofuro after working all day. After Executive Order 9066 they were sent to live in horse stalls in Santa Anita racetrack and helped construct the third largest town in Arizona at that time, the internment camp Poston, on the Colorado River Indian Reservation. After the war, when my grandfather was disabled by strokes, they returned to Santa Maria, to live in a room rented beside a church parking lot (churches helped relocate returning Japanese Americans to areas where they weren’t excluded). When she was not taking care of her nine children (two had died in their early twenties of TB in the 1930s) and my ailing grandfather, my grandmother worked in the fields. They ended their lives with nothing to their names—except that they did, indeed, leave a common Japanese American ethic of decency and hard work. I feel pretty much their grandson, in spite of everything.
JH: I write this in a bowl (cuenca) of desert that once was water, knuckled between Death Valley and Sequoia and Inyo National Forests. The wind dunes the dust into particulate ridges. The ocean is a dream away. A parallax view. On my dad’s side I am the child of an immigrant who is the child of an immigrant. I’m here because they made it out. There’s a lot of trans in my history, but not much Pacific, except in flight from perceived danger. My parents, of different strains of Eastern European Jewish heritage, one from the non-Pacific Southern Cone and the other from the non-Pacific Northeast of USAmerica, felt New York—where they met through the intersection of modern dance and Argentinean friends—was “too dangerous” so, like your grandparents, they moved to the Bay Area (neither had ever been west of the Mississippi—or even west of New Jersey, I don’t think) and hence I am a California kid. Though not much of a kid anymore.
Sesshu: A transPacific fusion (transfusion?) occurs of course in my parents’ volatile and finally ruptured union. My parents met when my mother was a UCSB art student, mid-50s. Like my father, who’d served in the army signal corps during World War II, my mother was a Navy vet. They married in a Zen Buddhist ceremony, followed by a car caravan of bohemians to the reception party in the Santa Barbara hills. My father, born in 1922, the same year as Jack Kerouac, never liked Kerouac’s self-conscious romanticism and as a thorough-going individualist would reject any such marketing label like “the Beat Generation,” nevertheless embraced the study of Zen Buddhism, abstract expressionist art, and other wine-drenched cross-cultural practices on the bohemian 1950s West Coast. For a time (everything was short-lived for them) while dad studied painting with Clifford Still, Richard Diebenkorn, and Mark Rothko at the San Francisco Art Institute, he attended lectures on Zen and art by Saburo Hasegawa—also attended by poet Gary Snyder and radio commentator Alan Watts—and drank red wine provided at poetry readings by Allen Ginsberg and others active in the San Francisco Renaissance, fomented by Kenneth Rexroth. Rexroth’s translations from Chinese and Japanese poetry are seminal landmarks in cross-cultural fertilization, and literary birthmarks of that transPacific influence can still be seen in the Chinese calligraphy used in Copper Canyon Press’s logo, in the (1999) selected and (2007) collected poems of Philip Whalen (abbot of the S.F. Hartford Street Zen Center) and in Bill Porter’s translations from the Chinese (as Red Pine, 1983 to the present) in Port Townsend, WA. There was, I feel, an important moment of transPacific cultural exchange going on. Not just Asian labor recruited to California fields, but a real open, active interest in world views countercultural to the Judeo-Christian. My dad was one of those white people reading D. T. Suzuki, Chuang Tzu, in the translations of Arthur Waley and others. In part, due to Saburo Hasegawa’s love for the work of Sesshu, fifteenth-century Japanese Zen painter, my father named me Sesshu, and later, named my younger brother Sabro. From birth, like an ancient Chinese or Japanese painting is stamped with the artist’s stamp, I was stamped with a transPacific stamp in that moment.
My parents met and married less than ten years after the 1948 repeal of California’s racist anti-miscegenation laws under which their marriage would have been null. Pressures to assimilate on Japanese Americans were immense, ranging from legalized detention, internment, “relocation,” prohibition of “aliens” from “outmarriage” with whites or Asians from citizenship or owning land in Calif., to confiscation or theft of their property and violence against their persons. My father’s brother also married a Japanese American woman—and her sister married an African American, so I discovered in 2013 when I interviewed and spoke with the writer Luis Rodriguez at L.A.’s Last Bookstore, and by chance met my 85 year old aunt’s sister Eiko Fukamaki Koyama, when she showed up with her daughter and grandson (Peter Woods, who worked at the bookstore), two generations of part-Japanese African American relatives who previously had gone unmentioned in family circles. Japanese Americans are reported to have the highest rate of outmarriage among all ethnic groups, partly in response to a history of dispossession and violence against their communities, such that many of their communities such as Crystal Cove or Terminal Island Furusato were dispersed and erased, the properties “legally” confiscated by whites, with organizations such as the Western Growers Protective Association engaging in an active campaign of “ethnic cleansing” and expropriation. The “transpacific” curiously braids histories of arrogance and naiveté, wishful thinking and hopefulness, atomic bombs and farm labor, dispossession and erasure. Part of my identity as “transpacific” is looking back at histories of forced displacement, denial and erasure.
JH: The injection or intervention of a new substance, originating elsewhere, belonging to a foreign body. “Transfusion” suggests that this kind of mixing is crucial to our health, to our circulation—and it is. Which is not to say that it’s simple or simply salutary. But it seems to me that any notion of “purity” (geographic, racial, social, moral) is a total fantasy, which then must be scaffolded with more and more baroque (perhaps medieval? perhaps inquisitional?) structures to maintain the rigidity of the fantasy. To protect it from the “dangers” from which one might flee to the safety of the Bay Area.
SF: The stereotypical critique of Californians and of people in Los Angeles in particular focuses on East Coast white people Anglocentrally critiquing local whites for their supposed superficiality, their lack of historical and cultural vitality and complexity, their lack of engagement with the ideologies and ideological conflicts of Europe. Overlooked in the East-West national banter about L.A.-la La Land and California as the land of sunshine, cults, and airheads is the Faulknerian density of local history. Maybe it doesn’t matter that the bohemia of the Barbary Coast, the San Francisco Renaissance, the People’s Republic of Berkeley, of the Back to the Land movement, and communes like Black Bear Ranch in Northern California or Sunburst by Santa Barbara, or Ken Kern (Oakhurst CA author of a dozen self-published how-to books like The Owner-Built Homestead) are gone or forgotten, and twenty-first century Californians may view such locavore small scale proposals as quixotic, if not quaint. Mention hippies to kids these days and they laugh, if they recognize the word. The transPacific for me relates these overlooked or erased mostly Anglo bohemian countercultures to an Asian American history going back to Japanese immigrant Kuninosuke Masamizu, himself the survivor of a failed gold country agrarian commune, who married Carrie Wilson, the daughter of a freed slave in 1877. Their African American descendants in Sacramento reportedly thought their great grandfather was “some kind of Indian.” TransPacific relates an Asian American history of the West that is an open secret, erased or denied or merely forgotten—say, a black and white Library of Congress photograph from 1934 titled, “Chinese Store (ruins), Coloma, El Dorado Co., CA” or the evicted and erased communities of Terminal Island Furusato or Crystal Cove or Lover’s Point (site of a burnt out chinatown) in Pacific Grove—to the living, on-going dialogue.
JH: And that dialogue takes place in this L.A. Pacific/transPacific space in active, cacophonous, disorderly ebullience under a great and transtemporal and non-unifying and ungeneralizable and anti-universal immigrant weather system. Here is the beginning of a list of L.A. spaces/instances/phenomena I would like to study as “transPacific” and collaborative:
Chuco’s Justice Center
Tuesday night reading series
Writ Large Press
Would it have been better to structure this piece through visits to all these spaces (and/or the books-as-spaces they instigate)? Perhaps. But instead perhaps you will add to this list and it will remain part of the eternal to-do, to be done or undone as time allows, or doesn’t.
Sesshu: That sounds like the next phase, the next step.
The Community and World Literary Series Presents:
Thursday, November 5, 7 p.m.
Markstein Hall 104
California State University, San Marcos
Sesshu Foster has taught composition and literature in East L.A. for 30 years. He’s also taught writing at the University of Iowa, the California Institute for the Arts, Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and the University of California, Santa Cruz. His work has been published in The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry, Language for a New Century: Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond, and State of the Union: 50 Political Poems. Winner of two American Book Awards, his most recent books are the novel Atomik Aztex and the hybrid World Ball Notebook.
The Community and World Literary Series
Literature and Writing Studies
California State University, San Marcos
333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd.
San Marcos, CA 92096-0001
Camus, I want to know, does the cold knife of wind plunge
noiselessly into the soul, finally
Camus, I want to know, does the seated death wing as sud-
den, swifter than leaden Fascist bullets …
Camus, sand-faced rebel from Olympus, brain lit, shining
cleanly, on far historical peaks …
Camus, I want to know, does the jagged fender resemble
Franco, standing spiked at Madrid’s Goyaesque
Camus, I want to know, the dull aesthetics, rubbery thump of
exploding wheels, the tick-pock of dust on steel
Camus, I want to know, does it clackety clack like that destiny
Train, shrieking to the Finland station
Camus, I want to know, does the sorrowful cry of unwilling
companions console the dying air …
Camus, I want to know, does the cry of protested death sing
like binding vow of lovers’ nod
Camus, I want to know, does the bitter taste of jagged glass
sweeten the ripped tongue, dried
Camus, I want to know, does the sour taste of
promise flee the dying mouth and eyes and lip
Camus, I want to know, does the liberated blood bubble
to the soil, microscopic Red Seas
Camus, I want to know, does the cyclop headlight illuminate
nerve-lined pits of final desires
Camus, I want to know, does the secret hoard of unanswered
queries scream for ultimate solutions
Camus, I want to know, does the eye of time blink in antic-
pation of recaptured seasons enriched
Camus, I want to know, does the sliver of quartz sensoulize
the clash of flesh on chrome and bone
Camus, I want to know, does the piercing spear of death
imitate denied desire, internal crucifixion
Camus, I want to know, does the spiritual juice flee as slowly,
as the Saharablood of prophets’ sons
Camus, I want to know, does it mirror the Arab virgin, her
sex impaled on some soldier’s wine bottle
Camus, I shall follow you over itching floors of black deserts,
across roofs of burning palms …
Camus, I shall crawl on sandpaper knees on oasis bottoms of
secret Bedouin wells, cursing …
Camus, I shall reach the hot sky, my brown mouth filled with
fragile telephones, sans rings…
Camus, I shall mumble long-cherished gibberish through
layers of protesting heat demanding …
Camus, I shall scream but one awesome question, does death exist?
Camus, I want to know. . .