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EVERGREENEVERGREEN: AN EXCHANGE WITH MÁRTON KOPPÁNY

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Márton Koppány, Hungarian Masterpiece Summer 2011

 

I don’t see ANY (qualitative) difference between words, asemicity, silence, leaves, and their falling. As I told you before, when I feel easy they are all the same (invitation).

– Márton Koppány

 

 

A. BOOK OF LEAVES IN GREEN AND BLACK

 

On 14/11/11 as part of an email correspondence discussing a potential collaboration and/or publication to accompany his visit to London in March 2012, Márton Koppány sends David Berridge a jpeg entitled Evergreen.

“I’m not a photoshop user” writes Márton. “What I’m using is a basic image editor from the nineties, it knows relatively few tricks, which is in harmony with my needs.”

 

DAVID: I have been thinking about how nature functions in the visual images you create, also tracing the leaf as it occurs in histories of avant-garde poetry. The leaf as  the basis of a conversation between Charles Reznikoff and Lorine Niedecker,  for example, and how, going back to Goethe, the leaf proposes a morphological space connecting poetry and natural history….

MÁRTON:  It’s good to find coincidences. Leaves are an inspiring topic. Here I send you two more leaf-related pieces of mine, one of them (Cursive for Bob Grumman) was made a few weeks ago, the other one (Fall Leaves) is several years old and related to a project initiated by Dan Waber to write variations on a bpNichol theme.

 

Márton Koppány, Fall Leaves

 

 

I like a lot those “objectivists” whose work is more or less available for a non native speaker with a limited (broken and reduced) English like me. (Zukofsky so far has seemed to be too difficult.) Beside the works I like the characters as well. I read several essays on Oppen by Mike Heller, and found touching Oppen’s life and personality. I don’t know Reznikoff’s and Niedecker’s conversation, but love their poetry.

DAVID: The Reznikoff- Niedecker piece was not an actual conversation, but a going through each of their collected works copying  out and juxtaposing leaf references. So, for example:

 

LN: I’ve been away from poetry
many months

and now I must rake leaves
with nothing blowing

between your house
and mine

CR: The branches about the street-lamp
are so thick with leaves, it shines
only on a flag of pavement;
leaf behind leaf the night rings.

 

 

MÁRTON: It is cold here in more than one sense of the word. Hungarian democracy has been successfully undermined and now the game is apparently over. We’re rather helpless but still hope for the best – or at least for something better.

I’ve been lately too concerned about the situation, and haven’t produced new pieces for a while. BUT the prospect of my trip to London is something that helps me keep going in these days.  My main worry is an autocratic, proto-fascist state – but let’s hope for the best. And let’s talk poetry.

 

VerySmallKitchen invites Márton to  compile a 16 page A5 pamphlet, to be printed in an edition of 20 copies, on the occasion of his visit to London in March 2012. The booklet will be printed on an RZ 370 Risograph, whose available inks are green and black.

 

MÁRTON: Your plan helped me to put together (the first draft of) a small book, spanning thirty years in ten pages (plus notes, our potential exchange, your potential poem/essay etc.).

My idea was to write (quote from myself) a bunch of works that I consider a string of annotations, self-comments. Sometimes the commentary-piece is much older than the one commented  – but that doesn’t make any difference from the reader’s perspective, I guess. It was very helpful that leaf also means page both in English and Hungarian. The whole small thing is about leaving, falling, staying, keeping going.  (At the very same time.)

 

 

Because it is a string of annotations, it starts with a piece which is an annotation in itself: a reflection on a bpNichol theme. I tried to take into consideration the potentialities of the riso print as well when selecting the works. Ellipsis No. 15 is pale blue – but, if my understanding is correct, it will be pale grey in the print, which is perfect for my purposes. The other pieces are black and white or green and white.

 

 

Márton Koppány, Ellipsis No.15

 

 

The working title of the book is Evergreen. I’ve numbered the pages (see the file names) in the order I imagined them in the book:

Fall Leaves
I’m leaving 1-2
Colon (Eroica)
Evergreen
Apassionato
Still
Ellipsis No. 15
Cursive
I’ll Regret It

 

 

B. PUNCTUATION BOTANY

 

DAVID: Central to our proposition for the book and dialogue seems to be the leaf/page connection, how explicit or implied that is….

MÁRTON: The leaf/page connection is similar in Hungarian. The leaf/leaving connection doesn’t exist in Hungarian on the level of the words, it only exists on the level of the ideas.

 

Márton Koppány, Hungarian Vispo No.1

 

DAVID: I was thinking of Thomas A Clark’s chapbook After Marvell which is a series of ‘blank’ pages of different shades of green… and about identification – identifying plant varieties, but also what aspects of the poems become identified/noticed by the reader –

MÁRTON: Evergreen is a ginko. How to (not) remember a question mark and its fruit, the full stop?

 

Márton Koppány, Evergreen

 

DAVID: I’ve been making notes towards a taxonomy of where and how the connection of leaves and poetry becomes apparent. Lots of pairs: leaf/ page is one, but also seeing the analogy on different scales – leaf/ word, leaf/letter-

MÁRTON: We don’t need a rigid system. The scale is different in each case/correspondence.

DAVID: Another set of connections unfold from Goethe’s metamorphosis of the leaf, about how forms – leaf forms, letter forms – emerge and change-

MÁRTON: Leaf growing into a question mark (Evergreen) and leaves growing (multiplying)into an ellipsis (Cursive); punctuation mark botany: leaves in motion. The wind.

Did you notice that in Cursive the “direction” of the leaves is reversed in one instance? I mean the first and the second leaf are connected in a way which is not possible in nature.

Cursive is also the surmounting (or appeasing) of that impossibility. My friend, the dedicatee of the poem, didn’t notice it at first. (But he noticed other things that I hadn’t been conscious of.)

 

Márton Koppány, Cursive – for Bob Grumman

 

 

DAVID: In the William Carlos Williams poem An Alphabet of the Trees the leaves aren’t letters they are hiding letters –

MÁRTON Blank hides “blank” in Ellipsis No 15. Abstract botanics. In Still we only have the faint reflection of some branches in the water. It also looks like a writing (or deletion), I guess.

 

 

Márton Koppány, Still

 

 

DAVID: The leaf now and as a thing to come-

MÁRTON: The leaf is its own past and future. Endless recycling of a torn leaf (page) in I’ll Regret It. Every F is individual (Fall Leaves). There’s only one of “them”.

Colon (Eroica) is a human creature trying to keep open (the opportunity of) a meaning. If he/she collapses, the upper dot falls down and the colon (printed in Arial) disintegrates.

 

 

Márton Koppány, Colon (Eroica)

 

DAVID: Noticing and not noticing, the poet learning to identify plants and/or the poet engaging with natural history as a form of poetics. Language and writing as forms of compost. In The Magpie’s Bagpipe Jonathan Williams says of Charles Olson:

 

Olson knew there was something called “rhododendron” and something called “grass,” and he had trouble even telling those two things apart. One was bigger than the other, but that was about it. He had no eye for nature.

 

 

C.  HUNGARIAN VISPO

 

Throughout December 2011 and January 2012, whilst this correspondence is being conducted, Márton distributes the Hungarian Vispo series as jpegs emailed to his mailing list.

 

DAVID:  Do you know the work of Cia Rinne? There are two distinct aspects to her practice – one a visual/ conceptual poetry side, the other a documentary practice in collaboration with the photographer Joakim Eskildsen. In a project for VerySmallKitchen Cia writes:

 

I think that working with visual poetry and conceptual pieces is often like an escape, a sphere where you can neglect rules, concentrate on such – seen in a wider perspective – ridiculous things as language, meaning, and sound, so maybe they are not explicit. I feel that if I want to say something important I should rather do it in a text; although there are many pieces reflecting my other practice, working with the Roma for instance, I would not want conceptual writing to become a mere means for an agenda. It can feel like mere luxury to be working with such pieces when you have knowledge of what is happening in the world however, so I guess a balance is good and necessary both ways.

 

By focusing on leaf  I assume a certain resonance, that there is something here that is applicable more widely (and politically). I also agree with Rinne that if something needs saying then it is best to say it directly. Which makes poetry and writing a zone of play and escape (where we might understand what the practice of those words involves).

 

Márton Koppány, Hungarian Vispo No.2

 

Given what is happening in Hungary at the moment, this discussion and the poems you sent out, could say something about how you were thinking through all these issues and how/if/ should they be present in our dialogue and book…

MÁRTON:  Lately I’ve gotten interested in topics that have direct political consequences – mostly because it is reaching out for me, almost in a physical sense. But history (my family’s history and through it: anybody’s history) has always been in my head and always influenced my work.

I believe in directness and I don’t believe in it. It brings to my mind Dick Higgins famous bon mot: we can talk about a thing but can’t talk a thing. (Or something similar – I quote it from memory.) And as one of our common favorite writers Kafka says (this is not from memory):

 

The point of view of art and that of life are different even in the artist himself. Art flies around truth, but with the definite intention of not getting burnt. Its capacity lies in finding in the dark void a place where the beam of light can be intensely caught, without this having been perceptible before.

 

“Directness” brings to my mind social realism as well and the good advice in my teens about how to write. On the other hand visual poets are also famous for “going beyond”. Beyond language, beyond the usual forms of reflexivity…

I’m a born sceptic and have always had some reservations. And although I’m suspicious about language (that is why I tried to get rid of lexical poetry in the late seventies) (beside the practical advantage of getting rid of my mother tongue and reaching out) (the two things went together), when some of my friends (whose work I love and admire! that’s a different matter!) optimistically state that asemic is more direct, and closer to….

 

Márton Koppány, Hungarian Vispo No.3

 

I politely disagree. I don’t see ANY (qualitative) difference between words, asemicity, silence, leaves, and their falling. As I told you before, when I feel easy they are all the same (invitation). But I believe in directness too because we always try our best to “tell the thing” and “show it”. That’s always the case! Getting (or remaining) “closer” – that’s a different thing, which implies indirectness.

It would be great to say/do the “how” when we say/do the “what”. That would be the utmost concreteness in the right sense of the word. “Concrete” poetry frequently brings to my mind Pascal: “Few men speak humbly of humility, chastely of chastity, few doubtingly of scepticism.” And the Brechtian “alienation effect” is a struggle with/ solution to the same dilemma. And in my youth I had to learn to read between the lines in the press. (As I see those times are coming back now.)

In Hungarian Vispo (I’ve sent you two so far and there’s a third one which I’ve put aside and will show a little bit later) I react to my situation. Hungarian democracy is collapsing and a new (proto) fascist state is in the making. I was depressed for months, left facebook partly because I couldn’t catch up partly because I felt I couldn’t share my new experiences.

 

Márton Koppány, Appassionato

 

We don’t understand it first. It is different from our expectations. It can’t happen today etc. Plus everybody has his/her problem. Life is not easy either in Hungary, the UK or anywhere else. Anyway, I went to the demonstrations and felt less isolated for a moment. (See: directness.) But after a while the whole mess started inspiring me. (So I must be grateful.) I felt more energetic and conceived several projects. (Your invitation certainly had a positive effect too.)

The majority of my fellow citizens are still inert, even applauding, they tolerate or like the new regime – beautiful. Let’s talk “their” language (which is mine!) the language of naivety. Naivety is the new style: we don’t see, don’t hear. We accept their (changing, self-contradictory) arguments. We approve. Of course my poems are meant to be critical, but the direct form of criticism is self-criticism. Naivety is the peak of dialectical thinking.

I wonder how we could relate these matters to our book. Do you have any idea? This hypocrite version of naivety (the contagious illness in my country) is the very opposite of being close to the “thing”, the very opposite of being direct. We could get from one point (the leaf) to the farthest opposite (naivety) (which is very different from alienation as well), and back again. Writes Kafka:

 

Hiding places there are innumerable, escape is only one, but possibilities of escape, again, are as many as hiding places.

 

And as you probably noticed Hungarian Vispo No. 1 paraphrases Gomringer’s famous Silencio.

 

Márton Koppány, Hungarian Vispo No.4 (Curiosity)

 

DAVID:  Yesterday I came across a letter from John Ruskin where he talks about being given a book as a gift and finding a leaf has been placed between two pages. I like to think of that gesture as another bringing together of leaf and book – the book “pressing” the leaf, the book also giving the leaf the feel of a secret. Secrets, though, that possess a directness (there’s a leaf in the book!)

MÁRTON: The idea of inserting the Hungarian Vispo in a small black, white and green book sounds very good to me! It would be just the opposite of the situation that John Ruskin comments on in his letter. I mean: we would insert pages (dealing with political surrealities and abstractions) between leaves (or at least between pages dealing with leaves, with singularities, and with the unique process of leaving).

Yes, perhaps we could emphasize the difference between attention (even if it is only peripheral because it cannot be anything more) (even if it is a failure) and the bad faith of naivety (in the above sense). Attention to the (one) leaf, to the process of leaving etc. on one hand. Turning away from our situation and from the “elements”, on the other hand.

 

One can disintegrate the world by means of very strong light. For weak eyes the world becomes solid, for still weaker eyes it seems to develop fists, for eyes weaker still it becomes shamefaced and smashes anyone who dares to gaze upon it.

 

DAVID: I’m reading Lee Rourke’s book on fables, moving from Aesop to Kafka, Walser, Borges and on to contemporary flash fiction. I realise some sense of “Fable” has been one frame for how I have tried to think about writing and poetry, the cluster of meanings and images in your poems…

MÁRTON: Yes, fables is an interesting cluster. I loved them in my youth – and I’ve already realized that my Hungarian Vispo was a reaching back to them – although it wasn’t conscious. And it also might be a more general pattern that I used earlier as well.

 

 

D. TODAY I HAD A VISION ABOUT IT

 

MÁRTON: Nothing is urgent about the book, but today I had a “vision” about it, which is perhaps more elaborated than the previous ones. The basic idea came from your last message, your reference to the Ruskin letter, and what I wrote in my response, that we could/should change the situation into its opposite, inserting “pages” between “leaves”.

 

Márton Koppány, I’ll Regret It

 

That would be an interesting situation, and in harmony with my recent interest. And our correspondence can be quite well grouped around it! The last impulse came yesterday from my recent piece, Hungarian Passport (From Exile To Emigration), and from realizing how close its structure is to Cursive – for Bob Grumman. And we could count on the different connotations of Exile and how they are related to “falling” and “leaving”.

 

Márton Koppány, Hungarian Passport (From Exile to Emigration)

 

Here I send you the nine jpegs that I’d like to include. We could add the notes, I mean the edited version of our correspondence. I imagine a simple color publication – xerox would be fine with me. The A5 size would be fine, BUT landscape format instead of portrait.

 

Fall Leaves
Evergreen
Hungarian Masterpiece Summer 2011
Hungarian Vispo No.1
Hungarian Vispo No.2
Hungarian Vispo No.3
Curiosity (Hungarian Vispo No.4)
Hungarian Passport (From Exile to Emigration)
Cursive – for Bob Grumann

 

MÁRTON: My basic idea about the Ruskin paraphrase is that by wrapping pages in “leaves” (instead of finding leaves between the pages of a book), I would emphasize that all those “political” messages are informed by my basic (but also unfathomable) experience about the “fall of leaves”, which is a natural process, although humans can spoil it, and add to it unnecessary (extra) suffering.

 

 

MÁRTON:  Maybe Cursive should be left out completely. Cursive has its own irony (the changing “direction” of the leaves, which makes cursive, paradoxically, cursive), but most people would miss that effect (especially if the size of the motif is reduced), and would associate it with a different irony, related to the leaves themselves (framing a book of politically motivated poems), which would be against my wish!

DAVID: I’ve been going through our correspondence putting together a draft of the book.  It seems from our emails that we have a three part structure to what we have been doing:  (1) the original Evergreen draft manuscript; (2)  the debates around poetry unfolding from your Hungarian Vispo series, which also found gestural focus in Ruskin’s act of locating a leaf in the pages of his book; (3) the formulation of a second Evergreen.

Working through this material has led me to conceive of a publication composed solely of our dialogue, without images. There are practical reasons for this, about the ability to reproduce your colour images and how, perhaps, their best mode of distribution is the internet.

Our print publication emerges for me as a response to your question: ”I wonder how we could relate these matters to our book. Do you have any idea?” It tests and models and makes space for the after effects of (your) poems, the space they create when they themselves are not present in their original form, but have become talk, rumour, argument, story, fable…

Such a decision also picks up on the refusal that recurs in the text – your writer’s block in response to  events in Hungary, also the “refusal to write” in response to political situations as we might understand it in the career of George Oppen. It felt right to give space to this condition, not as an absolute, but something variable and ever present within a writing practice.

 

Márton Koppány, Csend (Silence) – for Geof Huth

 

I looked up Norma Cole’s To Be At Music: Essays & Talks, remembering something she wrote about George Oppen’s years of refusing to write. Instead, I found this:

 

That’s not memory it’s a picture as though it is still a possible action shaking like the idea of a leaf.

 

 

//

 

A print edition of this exchange was produced by VerySmallKitchen at X Marks the Bökship as part of Evergreen, March 30th, 2012. Thanks to Eleanor Brown for her assistance, hospitality and printer. See also texts of work from the night by SJ Fowler, seekers of lice, Claire Potter and nick-e melville. A set of “visual translations” by David Kelly is here.

Images in this post were previously published in Otoliths, Eratio, experiment-o, and On Barcelona, as well as in the following collections:

 

To Be Or To Be; the Runaway Spoon Press, 1997
Endgames, Otoliths, 2008
Modulations, Otoliths, 2010
A Motion (e-book), cPress, 2011

 

See a previous VerySmallKitchen exchange with Márton Koppány here.

 

 

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EVERGREENEVERGREEN: VISUAL TRANSLATIONS by DAVID KELLY

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm

 

A. Márton Koppány

 

 

VerySmallKitchen writes: Following last months Evergreen event at X Marks the Bökship, David Kelly AKA “not just another saint” Erkembode began a series of visual translations of the evenings talks and performances. Collected here are the full set of responses, based on the events video archive.

Looking at Erkembode’s images connected to a number of other projects on VerySmallKitchen and elsewhere, including Mary Yacoob’s time-based letter drawings, and Claire Potter’s reading for Maintenant Croatia, itself unfolding from repeated Youtube viewings of another Maintenant reading.

A thinking through of these impulses is interspersed here with Erkembode’s images as a further layer of response, sociality and transposition…

 

 

B. SJ Fowler

 

 

 

This work extends an interest in/with response, expanded notions of reading, translations and continuations between artists, mediums, and occasions. In this relation – and in the act of its own making – such work evidences a deliberate awareness of (a moment in) time, as constraint and form giver…

Work is made conversational. This is a particular take on conceptual writing’s engagement with the appropriation of existing texts. By taking other artists’ work as source – an artist one knows or is in proximity to through a somehow local network of practitioners – there is less sense of an “other” discourse brought into poetry – The New York Times or traffic reports in two of Kenneth Goldsmith’s signature outputs – and more a participation in a shared, self-aware, unfolding process…

If this is evident, say, in the pair form of the Camerade events curated by SJ Fowler, it is also proposed in the textures and strokes of each of Erkembode’s images, in the spoken time codes of Claire Potter’s Maintenant performance, and in Norma Cole’s consideration of Poets’ Theatre, where she writes:

 

The projects of Poets’ Theatre are communal. They accrete and gather momentum, a kind of critical mass, building on local relationships in time. Someone is writing – often the “someone” is a composite, a dyad, the multiple author – writing for known members of the future cast so the future is here and now. So even the primary or originary moment of writing is expansive, interactive, a function of the vitality of ongoing conversations in a community. The boundaries of the community are permeable and shifting, since it consists of singularities, to use Agamben’s term. Individuals express interest in participating. This interest is incorporated. So the dynamics of the participants, a kind of multiple person, or mega-organism live in solution in continuous flux.

 

SOURCE: Norma Cole, To Be At Music: Essays & Talks (Omnidawn, 2010), 54.

 

 

 

C. nick-e melville

 

 

 

 

David Kelly writes in an email 19/05/12:

 

My interest in visual translations probably stems from a period of producing what I call speed-paintings, usually giving myself 60 minutes to create 60 paintings – building a momentum, allowing a freedom from prudence – and then to ‘read’ through the finished collection. Of late my attention has been drawn to the spoken performances (manifestations) of concrete/visual poetry and how my own art practice relates and responds.

The process of creating these visual translations is primordially instinctive, in terms of compulsion and the materials put to use – the nearest to hand, not out of laziness but so as not to lose the moment in which makes the process. Often whilst creating visual art I am simultaneously writing, stream of consciousness, memories/fears, and exclamations/interjections. It is from this same place that I wish to produce an entirely visual language.

In listening to the poetry readings from the evergreen event at X Marks the Bökship – these translations are a visual outcome (I was not present at this event; my translations are made from recordings taken of each reading). It is an attempt to join the rhythm of how someone speaks, the rhythm of what they are reading – a digestion of words, the breaking down and rearrangement of grapheme into gestural form and of sounds to pigmentation, colour.

Language is of course not just the written or spoken word. It is, or perhaps can be (amongst so many other things) shapes, colour, impressions of thought. These are just some of the entities I wish to dig up, communicate and read within my process of visual translation.

p.s on this search results page each description for the readings at X Marks the Bökship has a button which asks TRANSLATE. Once clicked however it answers TRANSLATION UNAVAILABLE.

 

 

D. seekers of lice

One of the pleasures of Kelly’s project here- and many others presented/ enacted/ documented on the Erkembode blog – is that alongside this exploratory poetics of compulsion and community, they encourage this viewer to more basic question making. Why this colour, this kind and speed of gesture, mark-making, type of paper? A has become B and it’s worth pretending for a moment it is a straightforward transaction, even if both quickly refract and multiply, maybe don’t even exist so distinctly.

What about a voice and reading necessitates the use of collage for Márton Koppány and seekers of lice, this entry of the photographic into a realm of (scanned) hand and paper? I sense an instinctual process but ponder its more concrete eventualities….  How much is the texture, speed, colour of these images informed by the frame of the video recorder, the faces excluded or gathered around, room and street sounds, the camera passed to another when operator becomes performer…

Erkembode notes how this project of “visual translations” is informed by his own reading and writing practices, making him both anthropologist and informant between overlapping zones of text and image. Likewise, many of the authors here see their writing related to, as part of, and/or in cohorts with, a visual practice.

So I am left with some kind of translation amongst and within, layered, across, that seems close to how Christian Hawkey’s describes his Ventrakl collaboration with George Trakl. Hawkey is formulating his relationship to a poet who died in Krakow in 1914, but these ideas of “ghost” as co-author are usefully fed into notions like Norma Cole’s above, articulations of absence-presence within the textual-social formulations proposed and evidenced here:

 

Books – of the living or the dead – are the truest ghosts among us, the immaterial made material… a collaboration between the living and the dead is the meeting of ghosts because writing is, in the purest sense, an act that sets the fiction of one’s self aside. It is also a form of friendship. Agamben: “Friendship is this desubjectivication at the very heart of the most intimate sensation of the self.” And in taking up multiple procedures of writing and translation – transwriting, transrelating – one aim was to prolong the friendship of our ghosts as long as possible.

 

SOURCE: Christian Hawkey, Ventrakl (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010), 6.

 

E. Claire Potter

 

 

Other frames for these images take them beyond a local network of artists and occasions. The frame for  EVERGREEN was leaves, emergent from discussions with Márton Koppány, picking up on the leaf in his own visual work to explore poets’ relationships to natural history, from Goethe’s studies of leaf metamorphosis to the objectivist leaf of Lorine Niedecker and Charles Reznikoff.

Erkembode’s project also offers a productive way to read around illustration and book design, as discussed by  Matt Jakubowski (in a recent article for Hyperallergic on “Sunandini Banerjee and the Book artist”).

Through its difference, Jakubowski’s discussion clarifies how, in the work discussed here, movement between YouTube, blogs, live events and different artists can be understood as repeated acts of publication (and transformation) that de-emphasise the single book object (that may or may not exist at some point in this ongoing cycle). Banerjee also highlights the paradox of making evident a process and a source whilst simultaneously erasing those fidelities:

 

It is not just a question of assembling images. One is reading, remembering, recalling, reinventing, rediscovering, associating — all at once. One is picking up on certain words or motifs and then chasing them down the alleyways of representation to see what they finally look like when you stand face to face. … After it is over, I can never remember how it was that it came to be done.

 

F. David Berridge

 

 

 

 

 

//

 

Two of these “Visual Translations” – by nick-e melville and SJ Fowler –  previously appeared on the Erkembode blog alongside embedded video of the readings/performances. For this new consideration, I wanted to foreground the translations themselves, but each image links to that source reading.

Texts from EVERGREEN are available elsewhere on VerySmallKitchen. See work by SJ Fowler, seekers of lice, Claire Potter and nick-e melville. A dialogue with Márton Koppány is coming soon.

 

 

 

 

VSK EVERGREENEVERGREEN CHAPBOOK: LEAVES by SJ FOWLER

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2012 at 10:41 am

SJ Fowler, Work in progress: The Revenge of Miguel Cotto for the London Sinfonietta Blue Touch Paper scheme (2012)

 

 

 

The latest VSK Chapbook is LEAVES by SJ Fowler. It is available for online consumption and PDF download here. It begins:

 

 

were it not for the spines
would it rather not be fish backwards
is it remarkable how
much pain
the bodies can endures?
the spiny po
               cket puffer grenade
the oligarch, raping his maid
spread, like the kit
they call a test
that happens afterwards a fall

 

 

 

 

 

tap a hole right into the humunc
with
a tap, or knife, or screw
whether it would then pour
or been boiled, to sugary, don’t know
but the men thereon
were making most of water
& stuck when a hole in them
like a tree syrup did leak out
& they died

 

 

 

 

 

to comparison a human hand
laid out all flat
would rather gone at the start
of Alien
on the eve of the release of Prometheus
                               {bam bam bam bam-bam}
I am Theon Greyjoy
regretti
            ng
an easy way to loose a leaf
to drag bird shaped rocks
from coal, as a cloud
& assuming, nothing
will now abstain from filth
& mischief
a lost dog still must ‘strain its greens’
as fingers that remain attached
were not meant to remain
clean

 

 

 

 

//

 

 

LEAVES was written for and first performed at Evergreen, X Marks the Bökship, London on March 30th 2012, part of an evening of readings, performances and soup around the theme of leaves, curated by VerySmallKitchen for the London visit of Márton Koppány.

 

 

 

 

 

//

 

 

 

moving in, as a profession
like marching
& now not to bring sheets
but plenty for the stuffing
the greened
unbroken
& brown flitter, the dropped
water
a mattress made of what isdead
& wonder, as are you a eunuch, of sorts
when they took your cushion
did they remove the pillow cases too?

 

 

 

 

 

if one only
leaves were dry
girls
we would do
better?
to gyms, to learn how to fall?
rather to promote & produce
veins
thick & furious as intestinal
parasites
to be a leafed, with rib
                                   bons
run like android wires
from our temple to our dick

 

 

 

//

 

 

 

Continue reading here. More about SJ Fowler’s work is here.

Other work from EVERGREEN by Claire Potter is here and seekers of lice here.

 

 

 

 

 

EVERGREENEVERGREEN: LEAF/ LEAVES by SEEKERS OF LICE

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Photo: March Gutt

 

 

 

Take a leaf out of  my book – believe me – I lief would – leaves of grass – leaf thin gold leaf –  leaf mulch  – leafing through something thumbing pages flicked through dog-eared –  turning over a new leaf  – the Manyoshu or Collection of 10,000 Leaves is the first major anthology of Japanese poetry, compiled sometime about 760 AD and containing over 4500 poems – “…your thoughts disheveled like your morning hair” – leaf green is chlorophyll – Indian Yellow was made from the urine of cattle fed on mango leaves, a cruel process finally banned in 1908 – I went into the garden to cut a cabbage leaf – Margaret, are you grieving / Over Goldengrove unleaving? / Leaves, like the things of man, you / With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? – next to humans, leafcutter ants form the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth – they feed on a fungus created from a mixture of the ants’ fluid and freshly cut leaves which exists only in Leafcutters’ nests – each year winged females and males leave their nests en masse and engage in a nuptial flight known as the revoada – each female mates repeatedly to collect the 300 million sperm she needs to set up a colony – to start her own fungus garden, the queen stores bits of the parental fungus garden mycelium in her infrabuccal pocket –  most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only spines, which are highly modified leaves – Clarice Lispector complained that some of the translators of her novels from the original Portuguese removed the prickles from the cactus by translating away her awkwardness –  write carelessly so that nothing that is not green will survive – you who were the smooth bark, roundness and leaf of my words – Daphne escaping from Apollo’s unwanted advances metamorphosing into a tree, fingers turning to leaves – the tears of the Heliades, sisters of Phaethon who drove the Sun God’s chariot too close to the sun, their tears becoming amber as they became poplar trees – in old books when coloured plates were tippped in, a leaf of tissue lay between the text and the plate for protection, so that each illustration was seen first through a veil – leaves can show many different degrees of hairiness for which botany has a very precise vocabulary – leaves can for example be hirsute, bearded, bristly, pubescent, floccose, glabrescent – glabrescent leaves lose hairs with age – leaves as camouflage covering ghillie suits – on location a ghillie suit is customized with twigs and leaves commom to that habitat – these local additions must be changed every few hours as the leaves and green grasses wilt – leaves are carried by the soldiers as Great Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane and Macbeth is vanquished – the trees are coming into leaf like something almost being said – leaf and stick insects camouflage themselves by their uncanny mimesis of particular leaves – Antonio Pigafetta sailing with Ferdinand Magellan’s circum-navigational expedition writes: “In this island are also found certain trees, the leaves of which, when they fall, are animated, and walk. They are like the leaves of the mulberry tree, but not so long; they have the leaf stalk short and pointed, and near the leaf stalk they have on each side two feet. If they are touched they escape, but if crushed they do not give out blood. I kept one for nine days in a box. When I opened it the leaf went round the box. I believe they live upon air” – leaf-like camouflage is used by many different species including frogs and fish – leaf red is erythrophyll – certain bats are leaf-nosed, having a leaflike appendage on the snout – botanically a leaflet is a division of a compound leaf –  commonly it is a small-sized leaf of paper containing printed matter often for free  distribution – airborne leaflet propaganda is a form of psychological warfare in which leaflets or flyers are scattered from the air – there are six different functions of airborne leaflet propaganda which have been used over the past century – in  Isaac Babel’s1920 Diary detailing his time as a war correspondent with the Red Cavalry he describes the great power of Soviet Union leaflets brought to them by defectors from the Polish army – later he finds a Polish leaflet –  “Touching, sad, without the steel of Bolshevik slogans, no promises and words like order, ideals and living in freedom. Victory will be ours!” – but it wasn’t – Duchamp’s wedding present to his sister Suzanne was the instruction for a readymade – she was to hang a geometry book by strings on the balcony of their apartment “so that the wind could go through the book, choose its own problems, turn and tear out the pages” –  wind in the leaves The Unhappy Readymade – disparaging the seriousness of a book full of principles – in its exposure to the weather “the treatise seriously got the facts of life” – a leaf scar is the cicatrix left on the bark by separation of the leaf stalk of a fallen leaf – Duchamp’s concept of the infrathin refers to the invisible yet nevertheless defining qualities of objects or materials which are part of a temporally defined process – Duchamp believed that the infrathin can only be described by examples, such as the difference between a clean shirt and the same shirt worn once – the lingering warmth of a seat when someone has just vacated it – a leaf‘s thickness of difference – the victor wears a crown of laurel leaves – The Laurel, meed of mighty Conquerors / And Poets sage… The Willow worn of forlorn Paramours –  poisonous leavesleaves of three, let them be  –  deadly nightshade or belladonna is one of the most toxic plants in the Western hemisphere –ingestion of a single leaf can be fatal to an adult  –  salad leaves  – skeleton leafleaf print – leaf line leaves on the line, a common cause of train delays –  in the UK a number of rail companies change their timings and publish special “leaf fall timetables” – the French word for leaf is feuille –  millefeuille is a classic French pastry cake popularized by Carême –  it consists of three pieces of puff pastry sandwiched with cream – classic puff pastry correctly made has 729 layers of butter between 730 leaves of pastry so millefeuille has 2190 leaves  –  feuilleton from feuillet / sheet of paper / little leaf is the part of a European newspaper containing reviews and articles of general entertainment –  on the Beaufort wind scale leaves rustle in a light breeze – in a gentle breeze leaves and small twigs are in constant motion – in a moderate breeze dust and leaves are raised up – I found it out, what love is all about / And every day at three, when school lets out / I see my baby, I get weak in the knees / Ain’t nothin’ shakin’ but the leaves on the trees

 
 
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LEAF/ LEAVES was written for and first performed at Evergreen, X Marks the Bökship, London on March 30th 2012, part of an evening of readings, performances and soup around the theme of leaves, curated by VerySmallKitchen for the London visit of Márton Koppány. Other work from the night by Claire Potter is here.

 

More about seekers of lice is here. See also LILMP and CREAMY LANGUAGE.

 
 
 
 

EVERGREENEVERGREEN: TEA LEAVES by CLAIRE POTTER

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2012 at 9:59 am


 
 
 

         It’s true. Bulah and Bill Brown did little more than move from the flats of the their backs to the chairs at the arse-end of the room for years. They’d been packing to go back to Jamaica when she fell down the stairs carrying a box. She had to go in for a double knee operation which took her off her feet and then he wasn’t far behind her with his leg ulcers. After that it was bed to chair, chair to bed, bed to chair, chair to bed. That’s what happens to most of them when they come home; physios attend to people who aren’t about to kick the bucket, it’s just how it is. People end up trapped and they have to carry it. So in place of walking, when they can’t just leave the room, can’t walk away from a situation, they do other things; new skills, routines, new structures – trying to make sense of being stuck.

‘Come!
Yu nah ‘ear meh, mi seh, ‘Come!’’

         I was warned from the outset she was a bit of a nightmare, Bulah, something to be reckoned with as one manager put it. After the operation some years before I’d met her, she started to develop what the plan called as a keen sensibility for order: a neurosis. In practice this meant the placement of things and sequence of events were keys to her mood. If you happened to follow the protocol, you were treated warmly, you’d come fi see Nana, but out of line at all and you were nothing but a damn maid.

         ‘Ok, so once you’ve logged in with the phone let her finish with her papers or whatever she’s doing, then it’s phone-on-bed, table-down-the-bottom and then get the Stand Aid. Don’t bring the Stand Aid in first, she’ll think you’re rushing and she doesn’t like people rushing. And word to the wise, put the harness on from the back – you’ll only catch her with the Velcro.’

‘Ooooweh!
Looord av manna!
Yeh try tek mi eye owt!
Bill! She try fi tek mi eye out!
Damn foolishness! Owt! Yu nah know wha-fi do – Owt!’

         Each slip added new scare stories to her legacy and she knew it. I could see it in her sly side glances. Crafty like a lawyer, she could make use of anything to prove her point, any point, so it was with awe and watchful caution that I began taking tea with Bulah. Bill however, I took to Bill like my granddad, he did the same quick winks. It wasn’t a useful association as it happens.

         For a while I was telling myself it was the fourteenth the last time she looked into my leaves. I liked the sort of anxiety it gave me – the date being the same number as their house – but in fact we had tea on other days after that, I just can’t remember them. Tea on the fourteenth has eclipsed all other teas. It was the reading on that day that brought us the weasel blocking the seal – someone untrustworthy in the home, two figures carrying baskets, and the worst and most sickening of all the symbols in the tea leaves, the sign that eventually sent me under, a rock and a motor in conjunction with a wavy line.

         ‘Just forget about the remote control – don’t keep picking at it. He could have waited, the daughter was coming back at eleven, you know he could have waited. Just try to remember that. No one saw this coming, it’s nobody’s fault.’

         What the seer reads is in accordance with the muscular action of the arm as controlled by the brain of whomever consults the leaves. I looked that up the day I heard the news. It means that the symbols Bulah read in the tea leaves were of me, like a trace of myself in the cup. But not like a footprint, it wasn’t an impression of me, an outline, and not containing either, not like flaked dead skin, but somehow behind things. At base, that’s what I couldn’t shake, this behindness, the code of it, what happened when the symbols were combined and how I fitted into that. A symbol of a tree means a tree, it means one tree, but two symbols of trees, three symbols of trees – well that’s something else isn’t it, that’s a place. Somehow an unlocatable woods is created through combination of two symbols of a tree. That’s what did me in the end. This thinking. I just couldn’t distance myself from the structures, from all the associations; things just kept on unpacking.

         The rock, motor and wavy lines being in conjunction warned of some forthcoming alarm in connection with a motor expedition, but the episode would be in the distance, would be remote.

         ‘Twigs and stems! Woman yu likea chil – look-fi pichas in thee fyah!’

         Bill wasn’t keen on it, there was no good in it. He told me to go on about my business, come change his catheter bag, go make him a chocolate. Bulah encouraged my interest she always called it a natural curiosity, but it’s what she said to me that day that’s inscribed the date on me like this, that gave it all more weight. She said it was my doing, the message, and she made it sound so plausible; the mind moves the arm that writes the leaf.

         ‘Right, so you’ve got her in bed and she’s comfortable, now it’s table-up-the-side, teeth-top-right, put the glucose tablets on the near right and the phone to the front in case of emergencies. She does wear a Life Line button round her neck – which she’s got a better chance of reaching if anything does happen – but she just feels better with the phone there.’

         Before Bill died, Bulah read my leaves. She didn’t do it once he’d gone. He had pressed for the backrest to go all the way up, going for the telly button I had wrongly placed just out of reach, and he had fallen, out of the bed, down the gap between the unit and the chest of draws. His asthma attack brought on his heart attack and so he died: trying and reaching. I see him doubled, with legs in the air, stuffed down fleshy into the corner, Bulah crying out and pulling at the cord, grasping at the receiver as he had done for the remote.
 
 
 
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TEA LEAVES was written for and first performed at Evergreen, X Marks the Bökship, London on March 30th 2012, part of an evening of readings, performances and soup around the theme of leaves, curated by VerySmallKitchen for the London visit of Márton Koppány.
 
 
 
 
 
More about Claire Potter’s work is here.