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tearing the rag off the bush again
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Uncensored Songs: A Sam Abrams Tribute, festschrift gathered by John Roche in honor of great rad friend/poet Sam Abrams. Contributors include Amiri Baraka, Tony Weinberger, and many others. We bow before Sam with delight & love.

Adriane Albertowicz, Salty and Haiku, Hawaii: from the author, somehow. One thing the Corpse is very good at, as the techne mega-gorilla keeps marching on, is paying attention to the handwritten, the smudged, the eccentrically set text. Around the mid-90s, manuscripts and books arriving in our offices, started looking mind-numbingly perfect. A nicotine-stained handwritten letter with a prison return-address got our attention a lot quicker than your pristinely spaced mss. produced by computer. The payoff was great: not only were the nonconformist mailings more reasuring (there are still humans in the world!), but the contents were better, too. It's as if the perfect machines also produced perfectly boring texts, and, by extension, turned writers into the perfectly boring people they were always meant to be (by their parents and schools). This process was rapid and we are now in an age when anyone can make a good-looking book and publish it, or, even better, just send herm URL around the world. All this is by way of introduction to two peachy fresh books of poetry written by a poet in her twenties who typed her poems, bound them in cheap cardboard, sewed them by hand, and sent them to me stll smelling of salty ocean from Hawaii. Adriane Albertowicz has an impeccable poetry pedigree, beginning in a chance encounter with the poetry of Jeffrey Miller, and being the daughter of a poet, but she has incorporated her lyric roots and is her own woman.  Salty has a crudely drawn seagull on the cover and Haiku has an acrylic hand-splashed crow on it, but beyond the lovely retro-look, her garage band performs like a master. From Haiku: "Everyday": When I walk home/ I count the crushed/ Green frogs/ Along the way. And from Salty: I dreamed//love meant/catching what goes free/The thought broke,//it frightened me awake. You can say that the verse is as raw as the production, but then you'd have to say the same about the ancient Chinese poets and many great observant Americans. There are love poems here that throb with the sentiments of nature, and one can smell the big waves.

Elisa Albo, Passage to America, march street press, greensboro, 2006, marchstreetpress.com. Cuban-born, American-raised, big heart beating (or fluttering?) over the water between Florida and the Island, this poet makes vivid her bivalval yearnings with precision and delicacy. "if I can't/ go home again to what I have never known/ with my flesh, how can I return to a place that/ lives in the liquid center of my imagination?" (Cuba: a Geobiography).

William Allegrezza, Otoliths. 8 Kennedy St, Rockhampton, QLD 4700, Australia. http://the-otolith.blogspot.com . Even if this poet didn’t use one of my lines to kick off his “otoliths,” I’d find his work as interesting as a jagged mountain range. These “otoliths” are forms with gaps, like sonnets with holes made in them by “the trickle of voices from across a field.” The word-expedition Allegrezza leads into this landscape of silences and questions is marine as well as alpine (“when tides cease/ when hands ask for life”), which is how one goes about the job these days when iffrits with bags full of commas stalk the poet through “a tracing of maps on a steel drum.” It’s good to see the page used well and to public utility.

Kostas Anagnopoulos
, Various Sex Acts,  printed in Brooklyn 2008, in an edition of 500 by the author, twenty-six copies lettered A-Z and signed (we don’t have one of those). Representative of micro-press product, this is a cogent discourse by a poet who’d like to speak Greek, or maybe does or maybe “changing languages mid-sentence/ Without translation or remedy. “ (he does not)

Radu Andriescu
, The Catalan Within, translated from Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin and Radu Andriescu. Fayetteville: Longleaf Press. Andriescu is a poet and carpenter: “I think about happiness/ as if it were a piece of lumber.” We used to think of it as a warm gun, but those days are gone.

j. reuben appelman, make loneliness, Otis Books/ seismicity editions, The Graduate Writing Program, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, 2008 ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ). This mysterious little book sits in its plain black covers like an accordeon packed tight with oedipal explosives. A series of prose texts structured as letters and brief passaged named culled (some actually "culled" from the longer letters) add up to a powerful engine of language with a sound both familiar and unfamiliar to these ears. Here is a letter, in its entirety: "At the kitchen table are corpses, and we hear the piccolos playing. A piccolo is now in fashion and you get one free when you buy a flute. There are people who can play with their lips. I have played a keyboard before and it was like playing fangs. I have tried to tell my children this but they were hanging from the trees. They are urinating. It's day and night with them. Soon I will build my boy a house in the onion patch, and he will forgive me for my dense-starred flag. O my daughter, child of the universe, I command you to awaken from this half-burned barn, this shadow over the limitless and awesome." I don't know what they put in the water at Otis, but all their publications are first-rate work,; the names of the writers are oddly unknown to us, but they impress us as full-grown oracles and inspired language-users.

Active Image Homero Aridjis translated by George McWhirter, Solar Poems, City Lights Books, http://citylights.com/ The publication by City Lights of Homero Aridjis, translated by George McWhirter is an event. This Mexican poet is not well known in English, but his work stands with that of Octavio Paz as one of the great poetries of Mexico. I read it with delight and was going to review it, but Laura took it and fell in love with it. She read it every night, a poem at the time, and said that she’d give to everyone for Christmas. Great, except she kept it with her books, and I didn’t retrieve it until I got the message below from Stacey Lewis at City Lights Books, the publisher:

With the recent announcement that Mexico will dismantle its delegation to UNESCO--the United Nations branch dedicated to preserving cultural heritage and human rights--due to budget shortages, and daily reports of violence plaguing the country’s reputation, Homero Aridjis’s newest collection of poetry, Solar Poems, comes at a vital time.
 An activist, poet, and Mexico’s former Ambassador to UNESCO, Aridjis explores political consciousness as well as the psychological unconscious in Solar Poems, transcending the boundary between life and death as he explores his own past and Mexico's cultural heritage.

“The closure of the offices of Mexico to UNESCO is a regrettable extent, a blow to the Mexican culture and the international leadership role that the country should play in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa,” Aridjis told the Mexican newspaper Reforma. “This affects the country's image, especially at a time when there is a chronic spread of violence.”
 
During his diplomatic tenure, Aridjis and his team added three new sites to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites--including the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which was critical to the survival of the species--and oversaw safeguarding the traditions of the Otomí-Chichimecas people of Tolimán and other indigenous populations. With the closing of Mexico’s UNESCO office, many similar projects will be cancelled. Despite the discontinuation of his post, Aridjis continues his legacy of activism with the publication of Solar Poems, the first English translation of a single volume of his poems. He sees the task of the poet “to tell this planet's stories--and to articulate an ecological cosmology that does not separate nature from humanity.” A poet of worldwide renown, HOMERO ARIDJIS was born in Contepec, Michoacan, Mexico. He is the author of 36 books of poetry, fiction, drama, and children’s stories, many translated into a dozen languages. Aridjis has received two Guggenheim Fellowships and numerous awards, including the Global 500 Award from the United Nations Environment Program in 1987, and the Prix Roger Caillois from France for poetry and fiction in 1997. President Emeritus of International PEN and former Ambassador to the Netherlands and Switzerland, Aridjis was until recently Mexico's Ambassador to UNESCO.


That is all very sad, but the chief reason why we urge you to read this book is because the poems are great and the translation terrific. Publication date is March 2010, so we aren’t that late.

LIGHT’S KNIFE

At the top of the steps
in the metro stop
a lout armed with a steel
switchblade
faced with the death-dealing
flashes from my knife of light
beat a retreat

order here: http://www.citylights.com/book/?GCOI=87286100569170

Louis Armand, editor, hidden agendas: UNREPORTED POETICS, Pargue: Litteraria Pagensia Books, 2010

There is trouble here, starting with the title: the lower case monicker, and the upper case subtitle. This is an anthology of essays and surveys of various figures and literary scenes plucked from the multitudes of poets and scenes operating in English in the second half of the 20th century. Subject to the vagaries of writers who actually contributed -- many were asked, but few responded-- this book is nonetheless true to its dubious title and subtitle. Are there purposefully hidden modern/postmodern/linguistic/ conceptual agendas? Hidden from whom? By whom? Why? Certainly not by poets, included or not included. The poets under consideration here have done their best to make their agendas public, or at least to get their work and their names before the public. The works may have been hiding the poets' bad habits or sexual histories from the poets' parents or other kin, but they were not shy in informing the public at large as to just what their agendas were. The best essays in here, for my money, are Louis Armand's preface and Jeremy M. Davies consideration of Gilbert Sorrentino's love/hate problem with writing, writers, and himself. Armand gives voice to the inevitable critical anxiety brought about by the internet. He worries that the internet archives are "unstable," while being so capacious as to absorb everything, including the careful distinctions poets have worked their entire lives to establish and make visible. It's a warranted anxiety these days when "archive" is the second-best known word in the English language, the first being its daddy, Google. This anxiety is felt by everyone in the book under various forms: fears of being forgotten and fears that what one writes will be forgotten no matter how much of it one writes. Most of the poets under scrutiny exhibit these fears themselves, though considerably less than their critics. The critics have subjects (the poets), while the (most interesting) poets had the whole world for a playhouse, and they were hardly worried at their peak about the eventual disposition of their oeuvre. The "most interesting" meaning precisely those poets who cared little about their posterity or their archives. They all cared somewhat, and, if they lived long enough, they did start caring when they got older, if only because some of their letters and manuscripts were occasionally worth some money. Another take on "hidden agendas" would be the reassuring malevolence of an "establishment" that hides literary work from public view on purpose, like the government does with "the truth." There is some validity here, because the government does hide the truth (see Wiki Leaks), and the literary establishments (such as they are, appendages of welfare states mostly) do hide outrages against language and propriety in order to not lose their funding. This latter kind of establishmentarian skin-saving is mostly a thing of the past four decades of the 20th century, when hopes for therapy through art were aided and abetted by audiences fooled (like any audiences, like the idea of audience itself) by the hope of miraculous cures. The poets served snake oil made from powedered alphabets and the witnesses walked away healed, leaving behind a pile of crutches (essays). In the case of the better-known "official" poets, the snake oil was fabricated with the aid of public-language machines already set in place by the "entertainment industry," a collaboration that was met with rightful indignation by practitioners of more honest writing that intended to be both critical, political, and esthetically distinct. The trade-off was that "collaborators" (with the machine, the prize/grant/job pie) were "hidden" by posterity, left to "mainstream critics" (also doomed by that special, discriminating "posterity"), while the practitioner of "poetics" threw their lot in with a critical posterity that is somewhat late in showing up. Some of the poets here (principally the "Language" crowd, exemplified by Bruce Andrews in this book) were aware of this possibility, so they did their best to include as many possible clues to their own work as their esthetics allowed. Others, who are the subject of painful cataloguing and tormented attempts at description of their work in the language known as Critiquese, didn't care so much because they had their own gangs, they were mini-pop stars who had a great time boozing, talking, smoking, staying up all night, and having girlfriends, wives, breakdowns, visions, and arrests, in short, lives. Either way, there are no "hidden agendas," per se; on the contrary, the figures here have self-exposure agendas. Not even the "high" modernists (Joyce, Beckett, Stein) had "hidden" agendas: they set up writing cults and invited everyone to "share" the mysteries, a task that proved way too daunting for non-members of the gang. The "high modern" mysteries were then made compulsory by the lesser gang members who became professors and assigned them. As compulsory reading, the rag was off the bush as quickly as you can say "Fiction 101." The inventors of "hidden" agendas are none others than their keepers, who must proclaim the esotericism and hiddenness of their subjects at the peril of losing tenure. This might sound cynical from the editor of "Exquisite Corpse," a journal that paid attention for many years to the very writers whose "hidden agendas" are discussed here, but the "Corpse" claimed only that it was dead from the very start: "exquisite" yes, like all dead things. Once dead, things can't talk back. That's exquisite, don't you think? One could look then at the "hidden" agenda of Exquisite Corpse as a mausoleum for those choosing to be entombed. The fact that the voluntary entombees were/are some of the liveliest humans around, made the mausoleum a great party pad for decades. We had fun. "Fun" is the chief "hidden agenda" missing from this book of "unreported poetics." I won't even go into the silliness of the notion of "unreported," which smacks of the school and the police. Jeremy M. Davies' esay is interesting because it deals with the paradox of Gil Sorrentino's reputation as a "comic genius," acquired somehow despite the fact that he is a bitter, uncomfortable, judgemental, nasty writer, whose best sentences make you feel like shit. Davies is good enough to distinguish Sorrentino's sociopathic despair from William H. Gass' equally despondent insights, but commits a sleight-of-hand in order to do so: he claims that Gass was affectionate toward the literature, while Sorrentino hated it. The problem is that Gass' "affection" is mostly his personal desire to be loved, hardly a genuine feeling of empathy, while Sorrentino (to his credit) doesn't give a fuck. The problem remains, of course: if he didn't give a fuck, why did he bother? One cannot answer that: he did give a fuck, he had to give a fuck, just like Robert Creeley, in his bitterest "love" lyrics does give a fuck, a lot of fuck (motly about not getting fucked). The weakness of this collection is not the palpable anxiety of its academic collaborators, but the lack of big, generous essays about writers who really matter: Tom Raworth is mentioned but his work is not, Anselm Hollo is mentioned, but his work is not. I learned a lot about the British poetry scene in the Sixties and Seventies, but none of the information is live. The beginning of the 21st century is the site of archival anxiety, and until it subsides there will be no relxed, extended appreciation of just how great the poetry scenes and their best figures were. Let's hope they make some special Xanax for the Humanities divisions before they are completely eliminated, so fine minds like the ones partially visible here, can get down to the work. Such as it is. Meaning that most of the "work" of the last decades of the last century was in its making, and that in talking about it one has to make more, not just translate it like forensic detectives. This is a cheerful prospect, actually, because the internet (since when was "stability" a value of any "poetics," "hidden" or not? allows for social projects with a participatory audience. What's dead, and has been dead since 1916 Zurich Dada, is the passive audience. In calling for an "audience," these critics are invoking "the hidden" as a (feint) lure to the unwary (students), but there hasn't been such a thing for a long time, and it's becoming obvious right now that there will never be.
 
B PDF E-mail
Gabeba Baderoon, The Dream in the Next Body, and A Hundred Silences, Cape Town, South Africa: Kwela Books. www.gabeba.com. This South African poet’s books are winners of the Daimler-Chrysler Award for South African Poetry, which reminds the editor that he too is the winner of the GE Younger Poets Award, and leads us all to wonder something-something. Rolex also puts out a lot of dough for poets. Good. Gabeba is a sensual poet who uses blackbirds, salt, and sea waves.

Tetra Balestri, Cheap Imitations, New York: Green Zone, 66 George Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206. These are cheap imitations of many poets, including Jim Brodey, Anselm Hollo, and Anne Porter.

Gordon Ball, Scenes from East Hill Farm, Seasons with Allen Ginsberg, Coventry, England: Nr. 13 in The Beat Scene, www.beatscene.com. Gordon Ball, a good friend of Allen and eminent photographer of Allen’s circle, spent time in the poet’s putative paradise at East Hill Farm, and writes about it with warmth and humor. “”by midsummer we were surrounded by a burgeoning animal population – African geese, Muscovy ducks, Polish hens and other chickens, a jersey cow, a fast horse, milk goats, two dogs, morning doves, cats.” He was also there when Allen received the tragic call telling him that Jack Kerouac had died. Dark Music, Cityful Press, Longmont, 2006. These prose-poem like flashbacks and meditations are Gordon Ball’s language photographs. They are quick, gripping, true, earnest.

Eric Basso, Decompositions, Essays on Art & Literature, 1973-1989, and Revagations: A Book of Dreams, Volume I, 1966-1974, Raleigh: Asylum Arts, PO Box 90473, Raleigh, NC 27675. The prolific author we have happily published in past Exquisite Corpses, is what the French call an homme-de-lettres, a man of letters, a speciae of rara avis these days when writers specialise strenuously (and tediously). Among Eric Basso's meditations in "Decompositions," a title reminiscent of E.M. Cioran's "Un precis de decomposition," are considerations of Alfred Jarry, Flaubert, and Kafka. "Revagations" is a book of surreal-real dreams collected over time like water in barrels in the Sonora desert.

Ruth Behar, An Island Called Home, Returning to Jewish Cuba, photographs by Humberto Mayol. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. This is a lovely memoir of a search for lost roots in a country that seems at first to have erased that part of its history. Not so. Ruth Behar finds people and places that have stubbornly refused to fade away.

Bill Berkson, Fugue State, poems, Cambridge, Massachussetts: Zoland Books. Our Friends Will Pass Among You Silently, poems, Woodacre, California: Owl Press, www.theowlpress.com. Sudden Address, Selected Lectures 1981-2006, SPD, Cuneiform Press, www.cuneiformpress.com. What's Your Idea of a Good Time? (with Bernadette Meyer), SPD, Tuumba Press, www.spdbooks.org . This cornucopia of Bill Berkson books came to us thanks to an appearance by the poet himself in New Orleans, thanks to Dave Brinks. Berkson gave a spectacular reading at the Gold Mine Saloon, that demonstrated a number of things: 1. the Gold Mine has created a sophisticated audience that can hear with the best of them at St. Marks' Poetry Project or at Intersection, 2. so well can this audience hear, the usually reticent poet bounced forth for an encore, like other astonished greats this year, Ron Padgett, for example, 3. there is a new way to read Berkson after hearing him. I have been a long-time reader and appreciator of the intelligence, music, care, and humor of Bill Berkson's poetry, but this reading gave me new access to his verse. There was always something of a mythical aura about Berkson, the collaborator of Frank O'Hara and one of the chiefs of the New York School whose friends included painters as well as poets. The cover of Fugue State is by Yvonne Jacquette, that of Sudden Address by Philip Guston. Sudden Address, a selection of essays on poetry and painting is a manual for hearing and seeing the works of Philip Guston, Alex Katz, Yvonne Jacquette, Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, and Kenneth Koch, among many others. Berkson's constellation of friendships led to profound and useful reflections on their work and constitute, in this book and elsewhere in his work, a solid bridge between the two arts and an enlightening guide to the New York School and, in effect, to the modern proposals of these arts in the last half of the 20th century. The delightful What's Your Idea of a Good Time? is a spacious and joyful collaboration with Bernadette Meyer on the title question. In his dedication to me, Bill asks, "Dear André, What's the worst thing you've ever done? (see p 51) Love, Bill." On p. 51, we find a number of the worst things Bill Berkson has ever done, including: "I was incredibly mean to Frank O'Hara one time: I shouted at him for liking the sound of his own voice too much." Now, anyone who's ever been told that by a dear one, has permission to smile, and that smile will get wider as the implications begin to dawn: Frank O'Hara, the poet who was all about voice is being told by his friend to pipe down. How alive is that? And how much more alive does that make Frank O'Hara, dead now four plus decades? It's not the worst thing Bill has ever done (this bit is No.2 of the worst things), but it's one with cosmic reverb. Berkson's own poetry is subtle and demonstratively abstract in the manner of, let's say, DeKooning: it has an imagistic hardness and lushness that sweeps aside whatever you might have been thinking before you got to: "as if pins were/ to be pushed dimly/ inches downward from/ a manila star." And speaking of pins, the name is Andrei, Bill, not Andrè, it's Romanian not French. That's rude, but not the worst thing I've ever done. Berkson is one of our greatest contemporaries, and shouting at him over a lost letter and a misplaced accent makes me feel great. The new way of reading Berkson's poetry that hearing him granted me, was to regain an intimacy with the work. When distance intervenes, years or miles, one tends to lose one's ear. Hearing him was a joy, and the grace of reconnecting to the page a real jolt & gift. In the mail now, The Sweet Singer of Modernism & Other Art Writigs 1985-2003, qua books, 2003, www.quabooks.com. Berkson wrote art criticism most of his adult life, and he is among that select circle of poet-critics, along with Frank O'Hara, Edwin Denby, John Ashbery, and Carter Ratcliff,  who have made contemporary American art both a cause and an occasion. As a cause, it was a tough sell, as the art world developed its own critical languages and the art market kept close watch over them; as an occasion, it was a much better deal, giving poets license to make language-art of their own. In the interesting preface-defense of art-critical writing, Berkson quotes Carter Ratcliff saying, "language in the vicinity of what it's talking about," and this makes reading his essays a matter of reading pleasure. As for the art, the critic ranges widely and freely, quite joyfully t first, when the pieces are about Hans Hoffman, Franz Kline, De Kooning Wayne Thiebaud, Alex Katz, or Ed Ruscha, artists accessible to the eye and generally familiar even to the occasional museum-goer; things get a bit rougher with the conceptualists and minimalists of the Eighties and Nineties, like for instance, David Ireland, to whom Berkson brings a whole philosophical arsenal in order to give him a coherence the artist neither pursues nor recognizes. These occasional pieces are quite brilliant and they shine best when the poet is on the familiar ground of his own artistic and cultural modernist education.

Florin Bican, Cantice Marlanesti, Humanitas Educational, 2007. If one read these poems in Romanian, the language they were intended to be read in, one might think them untranslateable; they rhyme, they are full of local reality and slang, and they are funny-tragic. The poet is, however, a consummate writer of English, as evidenced by his Ballad of Arabella, that we published in both languages. We hope he writes a book in American English, as musical and potent as these "uncouth songs."

Debra Di Blasi,
The Jiri Chronicles and Other Fictions, FC2, University of Alabama Press. This is a multi-faceted collection of totally fun and sexy stories and art from a fertile and wild imagination. From choruses to collages, the story of Jiri resonates like a new Good Soldier Sweik.

Gunnar Björling, Du Gar de örd, translated from Swedish by Fredrik Hertzberg, Action Books, www.actionbooks.com. This Finland-Swedish modernist is a musical poet whose words look great in the original on the left-hand page, and work well with the English on the right. The term finlandsvensk is a politically charged description of the language and movement of Modernist Finns who wrote in Swedish after the first World War.

Roberto Bolano, Night in Chile, Amulet, Nazi Literature in the Americas, The Savage Detectives, Last Evenings on Earth, New York: New Directions. www.ndpublishing.com. This great Chilean novelist wrote six amazing novels before dying young. He has taken us past the lovely seduction of magical-realism into a new writerly freedom that mixes the breezy elegance of the New York School of poetry with the poetry-steeped souls of Chile and Mexico City. Buy the stuff, it gets you high.

Marlena Braester
, oublier en avant/ uitarea dinainte, Bucharest: Editura Vinea, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . This is a bi-lingual (French & Romanian) book of an Israeli-French-Romanian poet whose specialty is listening to silence and discerning its nuances and depths. “în inima pietrii/ cea mai densã obscuritate/ au coeur de la pierre/ la plus dense obscurité.” (At the heart of stone/ the thickest darkness.) Vinea is Romania’s foremost publisher of avantgarde and contemporary poetry. The editor, Nicolae Tzone, is himself a poet, and he takes extraordinary care with his books, which are always a visual treat.

Joe Brainard,
Active Image The Nancy Book by Joe Brainard, Los Angeles, Siglio Press, 2008
If... by Joe Brainard, Los Angeles, Siglio Press, 2008
www.sigliopress.com

Joe Brainard was both a great artist and a great writer, a rara avis, in the best of times. His epic I Remember, is one of the literary accomplishments of the late 20th century, a long poem in which every line begins with the words “I remember,” and then goes on to recall everything that Joe Brainard’s memory was able to recall, from his earliest childhood to the moment of writing. The swift and witty practice of memory in I Remember is an exercise in truth and accuracy, a manual of American culture, pop and not, and a psychoanalytical tour-de-force directed not just at specific and personal neuroses, but at the incurable and painfully amusing maladies of a whole society. Joe Brainard, like his New York School friends and contemporaries, Kenward Elmslie, John Ashbery, Bill Berkson, Ron Padgett, and Ted Berrigan among them, managed to ride with verve the zeitgeist of an age rich in creative stimulation and ready-made for revolution. Joe was a Pop artist, in the sense that his art, like his writing, blew out the frames of genre and the conventions of the medium, and partook with pleasure and energy from the demotic. “The Nancy Book” chronicles the adventures of the comic-book character Nancy in Joe’s own world, in collaboration with Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Robert Creeley, Frank Lima, Frank O’Hara, Ron Padgett and James Schuyler. This beautifully produced edition comes also with essays by Ann Lauterbach and Ron Padgett. “If...” is a series of postcards presenting Nancy in a variety of “if” situations (see below). The reprinting of these extremely rare works by Joe Brainard is an event for at least two reasons: 1. “The Nancy Book” is a masterwork of collaboration from the age of collaboration between artists and writers, a practice of instantly communicable delight that occured only twice in the 20th century: the dada-surrealist age, 1915-1935, and the New York School, 1957-1973, and 2. while comix have become “acceptable” for both “high” art and commercial translation (into movies), they have never attained the freshness and impertinence of being recast for the first time with such vigurous insouciance. Joe Brainard was a genius who had the good luck of living at the right time and having genius friends. Snap up these books, people, you never know when another epoch of public misery and artistic glory will sweep us away. When it does, you’ll have guides.

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