The Operating System

POETRY MONTH 30/30/30: Inspiration, Community, Tradition :: Overview and DAY 1: Lynne DeSilva-Johnson on Mina/Traver Pam Dick

Welcome to the first Exit Strata poetry month celebration! As we announced recentlyin our call for participants, what we’re looking for via this exercise is shared brea(d)th: to have this month introduce our community to the universe of poetry that affects and alters ourselves and our colleagues, others with whom we may share a practice but whose influences are vastly different than our own.As we read and write this work, other poets become important to us for a million different reasons, often ones we could never entirely anticipate or explain — in observing our community one quickly notices that each person’s own relationship with poetry has grown in diverse and unexpected ways, with little known, local, foreign, or forgotten poets taking up solid and subtantial residence in the heart, mind, and psyche of each — in turn, altering inestimably our relationship to craft.When we are in school or in workshop, perhaps even more than from the didactic intention we glean from our *community* a richness ofengagement and influence, as density of dialogue provides each of its participants an unending supply of suggestions — names, books, poems, movements, and so on.

An introduction to an entirely new voice that speaks to you, as an adult out of these systems, is a rare and potentially life-altering gift… one that Exit Strata’s international creative network has the chance to offer all of us, as we replicate that atmosphere here in the virtual Commons.
I am *very*, shakingly, jumpingupanddown excited for the brilliant and gorgeous poets we have “playing” with us this month. These people stepped right up to the plate with fervor and love, to bring a range of inspiration to our shared table that will blow your minds.
I’m going to kick us off today by totally drooling all over Mina Pam Dick, who ousted my old friend Paul Goodman from this spot when I saw her read for EAOGH at the chapbook festival the other day. (Goodness do I ever love Goodman though, too! we’ll come back to him and why he changed my life another day.)
This week we’ll be hearing from: Pete Reilly, Bill Considine, Tishon Woolcock, Caits Meissner, Gregory Crosby, and Frank Ortega, with many more to come. BOOMTIME!
Mina/Traver Pam Dick (commence drooling) is, per her boiler-bio-plate, “a writer, artist and philosopher living in New York City. She’s a native New Yorker. She received a BA from Yale and an MFA in Painting as well as an MA in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota. Her writing has appeared inTantalumBOMB and The Brooklyn Rail, and is forthcoming in The Portable Boog Reader 4 and Aufgabe#9; her philosophical work has appeared in a collection published by the International Wittgenstein Symposium (Kirchberg am Wechsel, Austria).”
Reviews of her first book, Delinquent, are smattered with praise like this apropos nugget: “Like a gender-errant Benjamin, Mina Pam Dick constellates recombinant philosophies, aesthetic forgeries, and the intertextual detritus of the big slithering city. The poems and prose that pack Delinquent’s sucker punch are weighted with the freight of excess baggage, which means they are the very work of today” (—Vanessa Place)
Even so, the first words I heard from her were humble, a desire to have been introduced with less pomp and circumstance. Don’t be fooled by the small frame: on stage she was commanding and philsophically, piercingly lucid, with wit to match. I was an immediate goner, a softie as I am for the plumage of understated, organically possessed intelligence — the type that flits easily from theory of any and every discipline through the terrain of interlingual word play, with a wander through the collective consciousness of the european adolescent mind. Oh, you know, that.To hear her is to be disarmed and rearmed with linguistic pleasure — this sort of romp is very of this moment for me, a hyperperceptual, textual interplay of narrative, ontology, experience, and circumstance that acknowledges (then cracks open, explores, and ultimately enjoys) the often awkward densities of this present tense.  Not for nothing, her personal and verbal engagement with the terrain of flexible gendermapping (something often on the tip of my tongue, of late) is also, for me, a sign that she is, indeed, the writer of futurepoems.Play on, Pam Dick. Play On.
Excerpt from Trans Verse, or, Traver’s Tranifesto (on EOAGH)
36   Way of writing = way of seeing/being.  Seeing as is poetic ontology.  It’s no idle speculation; you need to use your hands like this, use words like this, or you can’t breathe.  Apolo makes himself yawn before he starts racing.
37   Verse a line or turning.  Truth qua spontaneity.  It says Rapid Transit on my girl’s medium pink t-shirt with the Plymouth auto on it.  Think pilgrim!
38   We don’t know where to go.  We know where to go.  That’s playing in the café I am lying across.  I never heard it before.
39   Nobody at my table.
40   You ran away to the world because you were lonely, afraid of the empty room, wanted to love others, have uninferable experiences.  Tomorrow it could be different.  Any solution transient.
41   I, Traver, traverse my dicktionary.  You could have adventures there, too.  Ski over meanings.
42   I already used snow is white, and mountains, and how the typewriter is from Switzerland, when I was Hildebrand and Mina.  So forget that.  But still there’s skiing across the page like the city or room: expressions roaming.  Watch out for the gates, don’t wipe out and break your head.  But be crazily close to them, take risks to be fastest.
43   Wound in the head a stapled booklet. The others’ suffering bleeds in like through a fontanel. Or is a transdermal.
44   Søren says, As much sorrow as comedy.  He was Scandinavian, probably he wore ski sweaters.
45   No he didn’t.  He wore fancy jackets and cravats, even when simply traveling around his room.
46   Traver says, Yeah, pathos/comedy.  You cross them or they cross at you.  Also awkwardness/artfulness, humility/grandiosity, simplicity/complexity, rigor/looseness, concreteness/abstraction.
47   To transport a new message, communication from one person or God to another.  It could be oblique.  Yet acute.
48   Eloquence, cunning, theft, invention.  The knowledge that’s intuitive, a fleeting perception of the whole.  Cf. some German Romantics.
49   Commerce, or trading together, or trading places.  Interchange of goods i.e. the good, exchange of views, intellectual or spiritual intercourse, union, communion, sexual intercourse.  Fast is slutty.
50   Bastardizations as crushed-out sex with other texts.  Riffs on Ishmael, Isaac, Esau, Esther, Cain, Abel, the Prodigal Son, Jephthah’s Daughter.  Sophocles.  Spinoza, Kant, Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard, Hölderlin, Trakl, Büchner, Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Kafka.
51   Traver’s monotradition, which also includes Robert Walser, the Brothers Grimm, Rimbaud, Novalis, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Beckett, Bernhard, Bachmann, etc.
52   Transcription, commentary, trans lit.  Forgery = transference.
53   But also trans lit could be expanded beyond intertextual adventures.
54   Do trans words here.  O.k., check this out: transact transceiver transcend transcribe transdermal transducer transect transfer transfigure transfinite transfix transform transfuse transgender transgress transience transient transilient transistor transit transition transitive transitory translate transliterate translocate translucent transmigrate transmission transmit transmogrify transmute transparent transpersonal transpire transponder transport transpose transsexual transubstantiate transvalue transverse transvestite.
55   A poem cross-dressed as prose!
56   I put on his book jacket, it was too tight, philosophers are puny.  Dick’s course or method: scrap, fragment, splinter, shred, remark, aphorism, meditation, confession, description of painting, parable, fairy tale, demo, incident, figment, prophecy, wordplay, soundplay.  And list.
57   All linked in a longer form that’s shifty.
For each of our writers, we have invited that they share a poem, perhaps one indicating the influence of the poet they’ve chosen to share.
Many of these poets are already participating in the annual NAPOWRIMO challenge, as I am, as well — what I give you here is, I’m sure, influenced by Pam Dick as well as by the many poets and publishers I had the distinct and glorious pleasure to spend so much time with this week.

you are correct in discerning
that I
want you inside of me
yes – but it is devoid of
that mundanity of low affection,
of fear; for the instantaneous arrest of self loathing
so popular in these words
is alien to this moment
here and now I am possessed of forward consciousness –
excuse the desire to eat you alive, to consume and be consumed
existential greed, writ large:
an evolutionary GO! so loud that
the green light levels up to white
see, the imperative is growth
and all my electrons got all jumpy-like
from first you walked in the room:
recognized yours like an overdue
reunion, refugees
from the countries of
each other
naturally, possessed of awkward skins,
tangled in the many curtains over our windows
the energies we be seek egress, then entry
scouring these pocked surfaces
for holes
it isn’t long before we are
our own children
possessed of new bodies
by that infinite, elemental intelligence
that screamed when we met
at the wrong time
leaving me awkwardly smoothing my skirt
and you fixing your hair
but cells don’t hold truck with boundaries
we’ve always been naked together, you and I –
nonetheless, nostalgia still craves
to be plebian
(at this point, mere formality)

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