Friday, December 10, 2021

Birth of TLPress at Collab Fest 49 -- 06.16.10

Birth of TLPress
Collab ​Fest 49
​At The Water Heater​
Roanoke, VA, USA
jim leftwich, editor & publisher
tacky little press for tacky little pamphlets

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Useless Writing, by jim leftwich -- publication history

Useless Writing

by jim leftwich

publication history


included in Things Rescued From Eternal Nonexistence, a series of approximately 25 unique booklets I circulated among my friends and associates in the eternal network


Another South, edited by Bill Lavender (printed in the "Contributors / Poetics" section at the end of the book, on page 269).


published/posted by Slobodan Skerovic at Project Rastko, the online presence of Signalism.


I created the Useless Writing Facebook Group on April 7 and posted the essay there.

August 2014

Useless Preface to a Romantasemic Writing, a mash-up by Olchar Lindsann of two manifestos protesting the hegemony of the idea of Utility, written a century and a half apart: Théophile Gautier’s 1835 Preface to Mlle. de Maupin, and Jim Leftwich’s 2001 Useless Writing manifesto.

jim leftwich, fortune cookie slips / bookmarks -- pansemic playhouse 987 -- 08.29.14

Fortune cookie slips / bookmarks with "descriptions" from my Useless Writing facebook page:

​1. write or be written
2. thinking is political
3. don't fuck with history

I abandoned the group / page when I deleted my facebook account in November 2016, but it is still up and running "under new management" in December 2021.

              jim leftwich
     fortune cookie slips / bookmarks
     pansemic playhouse 987

jim leftwich, hand / written -- pansemic playhouse 1066 -- 10.23.14

                       jim leftwich

                       hand / written 

                       pansemic playhouse 1066


I seek for the purple fish. -- Jim Leftwich On Celestine Frost's, "Kalkaino" (1997)

I seek for the purple fish.
Jim Leftwich
On Celestine Frost's, "Kalkaino"
(from I gathered my ear from the green field)


Origins of the lyric in an attempt to express the ineffable. Previous to writing, to speak the unspeakable. With the advent of writing, to write the unspeakable. Then, to write the unwritable.

"I search in the depths of my mind." The purple fish is the motion of thought within the stillness of the mind.

"I ponder deeply." In the depths of the mind an imagined stillness disturbed by the silence of an invisible movement. Thought. Not a thought, but the process of thought, thinking.

It keeps us aligned to the presence of eros, a choice to enter the world as known mind. Information as awareness bled from the ear.

Either not of this or intuits the upper air. The presence of an aporia is a methodology of the unknown. "I don't know" is a hymn of affirmation. The monopoly of not. An erasure of chance is a refusal of the senses. The word waffles though its letters. The surface of the mind inheres in a page of thoughts. Being counter to bundled showing. Distinction is a niche.

We are a lyric which becomes a record of the relict symbols filled with doubt. The dare is the causal breath of the page. You can see the lack between darts. Awareness is a glimpse, need is the rest of mind. A word is an imaginary cross between the real and its interruption. Words enter the discontinuous into the book of things.

The surface of a word is the evidence of its ceremonial song. A lyric is a particular religion, will joined to the sun, I Am. The garden is a flinch of will. Language and wind are the same story to us. In the beginning was the burning coil tilled by thought.

A lyric is the engagement of sound and the urge to abstract play. Gathered blood and wind from the corners of the hand.

The author's note at the end of the book: "This has been an inquiry into the origins of lyric thought." ("It is reasonable to suppose that the first 'lyrical poems' came into existence when human beings discovered the pleasure that arises from combining words in a coherent, meaningful sequence with the almost physical process of uttering rhythmical and tonal sounds to convey feelings. Both the instinctive human tendency to hum or intone as an expression of mood and the socialization of this tendency in primitive cultures by the chanting or singing of nonsense syllables in tribal rites are well-documented. At that remote point in time when the syllables ceased to be nonsense and took on meaning, the first lyric was composed, though in what Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon cave this took place, no one will ever know. ... The earliest recorded evidence of lyric poetry suggests that such compositions emerged from ritual activity accompanying religious ceremonies and were expressive of mystical experience." (James William Johnson, in The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics)

This lyric begins as a narrative. A man and a woman are crossing a street. The woman is carrying a book which says:

"You can look in the garden
and in the land."

It does not say:

You can look in the depths
of the mind.

In a search for origins, you will look in the garden. You will find an apple and a serpent. Knowledge, sex and deception. You will find a narrative about consciousness, epistemology, symbols and language. When you look in the land, you will look at the work that is to be done. This is the same story. After the exile from Eden. "Behold, the man is become as one of us." "To till the ground from which he was taken." The origin of the lyric begins with the story of consciousness. The story of consciousness begins with language. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

"She stood still,
open to the wind."

You can look through receptivity to the invisible and palpable motion.

The wind is an ancient symbol for the spirit. The invisible which you can touch, which touches you. It moves on the water, it moves across your skin.

"The wind plays on the surface of her mind."

Once away from touch, the tactile enters symbol. Thinking is a way, away from. You can look on the surface of the mind. The ripples are perception as it troubles the imagined stillness of consciousness. Not a stream, a pool. Wind moves across the surface and reminds us of a stream. You can look at the act of looking. Awareness of process is two processes. Thinking about thinking is distance, a stillness stretched between.

Initially intangible theory forms an author in her mind. Nothing is an approximate paradox. An epistemology of sound if an awareness of the notes. The reader is repeated in this proffered singing. Reading occurs in a withdrawal of the eye from the page. Words align as poetry when the mind is a play of heard things. A subtle mentation accompanies the enclosure of representation and disruption.

The written is the origin of the not written. The work of words as poetry is an approach to the shape of silence. The shape of her mind is a corner of the song. Fish like darkened stars lit by the process of a present filled. An imaginal wind blows inside the charted links of the lyric. Gaps answer these thoughts in cusps of doubt.

A narrative of activity accompanies the lyrical amnesia. The garden is the magical book of the depths. The lyric is language becoming a wrought deception.

Excess is an erotic retelling of the mind as art. Reality is a darkened myth.

The lyric moment is an abstract depth inscribed on the surface of the mind. Writing is a refusal to violate the particulars of thought. The wor(l)d moves among recuperative discernments.

That which is appropriated as sound opens opaque against itself. Writing is a risk of flints, a corner of causal thinking. The letters choose the process. The word is a layer of serial presences. Imaginary origins discover the indeterminate abstractions.

Absence. To enter is to erase. The erasure of absence informs as presence. Another point. Graphs within a grid. The stillness stretched relocates and recedes. Emptiness. We fill it with pursuit, seeking, awareness working. An emptiness which is not lessened by being filled. Always an absence stretched taut between thinking and its thought.

"an empty volume in her hand,
an empty reality in her mind"

Empty volume, the book and paradox of awareness. Empty reality the presence of an experiential absence. Absence known. Felt lack. Filled with an emptiness. The unspeakable enters the writing. Origin of the lyric. Writing renders the unspeakable as writing against itself. The written becomes a record of that which is not being thought. That which is not written. The symbols remove the absence. Presence remains, opaque, approaching silence. Filled with its own emptiness, speaking silences.

"and as she thinks of letters
and of writing them, words,
like a school of fish,
darken a corner of her mind
(dart across a corner of her mind)"

Dart. Because thinking darts. Fish dart. Because dart repeats the first three letters of darken, which darken a section of the page. Which lights a corner of the mind. The words are made of letters, like purple fish. You can seek for, in, words. You can look for, in, letters. The darkened which darts is awareness which occludes itself, a glimpse of a process, the process of that glimpse. Which is to say a light. The presence darkens the present, lit by the lack between.

"you choose a daffodil, you don't need the rest
and lay it on the surface of your mind."

Not a thing, its presence, but an idea, its word. A real wind blows across the surface of the ideal. An imagined wind blows across an image of the real. The destabilized present is the origin of the lyric. Inside the interruption is the origin of the lyric. Origins are indeterminate. The links are discontinuous. The gap invents the leap. By leaping you can discover the gaps. You can look in the depths of the gaps.

Words are the tension between death and celestial depths. The origin of the lyric in the gaps between awareness and doubt. Reading is not the page. Thinking is sensitive chance.

Written thought is experienced as the remains of an unspeakable silence. Words are a glimpse of presence in ideas.

Knowledge emerged from mystical deviations. The lyric is a seam of serpents. Consciousness is the shape of openness.

Words explore the excess of absence inside the light of things.

Chance is a spiritual world. The presence of absence is the sheen of agnosia. Difference defines the final response of knowledge. The world of words is a sense of the style of things.

Reading the word removes the absence from its emptiness. The thoughts in words occlude the real. A gap invents the depths of the written.

The ceremony of narrative is an exile from consciousness as the word.

Silence appears as an excess of response to a world of silent lightning.

"I wrote in the abstract answer about things." The writing, answer, is a thing. Its presence is its answer, in that it is a question. Answered by a question which is the absence of an answer. Phrased as a statement, which is the absence of a question.

"Now we are going to talk about the Louisiana
Purchase, the Geneva perch and the Treaty of
...: Cover the oven-proof dish"

Not the things in words, but the words as things. Dish in which we find the fish, the perch, in the depths of the mind, along with the first five letters of "purchase". The middle of "cover" in the beginning of "oven". The sounds as we read silently are the full presence of an absence. Presence is ink on the page. As she thinks of letters.

Perch is where the heights meet the depths. Perch is a horizon, an aphorism in a word. A statement of the question of paradox.

Perch is where the axis of communication intersects the axis of representation. The disruption of the horizontal stream opens to the vertical metaphor.

Purchase is a grip, also a chase. Purchase is to time as perch is to space.

This perch is the purple fish. Interface of inner and outer. Multiplicity of the perch, a school.
"these are the basic states

and they go through (
) to this Ideal.
We have just had a perfect afternoon of questions."

Through the emptiness bracketed by thought. The idea of the real. The answer to the answer is an absent question. The perfect question is a statement concerning things. The real itself is absent. "The wind blows over the surface of her mind." "Life is our chance to respond to anything." Refusal of this choice is a withdrawal of the senses, an early death, euthanasia ("The act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition"). Euthanasia is equated with being etherized, as in Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". Etherized, as in made ethereal, abstracted from the things which life offers for our response. "She floats upon the surface of her mind." Etherealized. Ethereal: 1. Characterized by lightness and insubstantiality; intangible. 3. Not of this world; spiritual. [From Latin aetherius, from Greek aitherios, from aither, upper air]. Upper air as the opposite of the depths of the mind. Nowhere does it say: you can look in the upper air.

The opposite of inner is the present. Writing is the affirmation of difference. The letters are a world of things.

Presence is emptiness speaking. The letter exudes itself. The surface of the lyric is the destabilized thing.

Compositions are consciously expressive of religious failure. The story is the sound of its words.

Truth is an untouchable singing. The reader is always absent from the origin of the words. Each layer of words is a kind of conditioned intuition.

The question is answered by the sound of its statement. Sound is ink on a page of thought. The surface of choice is the practice of entrance. Song is an incurably conditioned love.

The invisible is a paraphrase of the spirit. Mind moves across its thinking as a stream of ripples. The allure of absence is the work of its stillness. Awareness is felt lack.

The origin of the lyric lies in paradox. Aporia. The presence of absence as the present, the lyric moment, non-linear. An epistemology of unknowing, agnosia. Experiential gap between the thing and awareness of the thing, between awareness and awareness of awareness.

"I don't know how you ... No, no. This is not ... No."

The "you" has become the reader. The "I don't know how" is the difference between reading and writing. The repeated "no" is affirmation, the how of knowing in writing. "This is not": not only "not this", but simply "not". The final "no" defines its presence as not this. The writing offers the reader the chance to respond to the things of the page. A refusal of the withdrawal of the senses is a refusal of the ether, an affirmation of the particulars of the page, words and letters.

"Anyway swimming out there is not nice, the water is polluted
& (you have a dirty mind)"

The wind moves on the water, plays on the surface of the mind. Swimming out there, in the world, among the things, out there in the page, among the letters, in the polluted waters of the world, dirtying the mind with the things of the world and with the thinking which accompanies this encounter. Being in the world is not nice ("4. Of good character and reputation; respectable. 6. Showing or requiring great precision or sensitive discernment; subtle: a nice distinction; a nice sense of style. 7. Done with delicacy and skill: a nice bit of craft.").

To write the ineffable mind is an imaginary thought.

Flesh untouched by the turns of paradox. Writing is a series of origins linked by gaps.

Mind is a silence phrased as sequential song. Silence is presence of the real as music.

Receptivity is the surface of entrance. Consciousness is the erasure of seeking by work and paradox.

The experience of work is the advent of mind. The book is a tribal code of syllabic evidence.

The sound of thought is the fact of words. The words of a lyric are an emptiness previous to meaning.

Words are the sound of emptiness as it responds to death.

Process is play on the surface of stillness. Reality is filled with an excess of entrances.

"The words of ( ) in Persian I render, true.
But the fact is it's nice, untouched,
and the thoughts are just as fresh as shrimp."

The words of blank, translated, remain true, untouched. The thoughts, like shrimp, from the depths, are fresh. You can look in the depths of the words. The fact of the translated emptiness is nice: subtle, done with delicacy and skill. The subtlety and the skill lie in leaving it untouched. Truth is the untouched translation of an absence, the origin of the lyric in paradox.

"and it's yours, but it's never going to get us home,
it's like suicide ..., like"

The words which the writing offers the reader will never give a reading beyond words. Home is the silent presence of the origin, always absent. You can look in the depths of the words, but you don't get out of words by going deeper. Writing will not provide release from the materials of writing. Each layer is another metaphor. Layers of disjunction. Meanings linked by gaps. To seek in those depths for an exit, a return to origins previous to words, is to seek a kind of suicide, a euthanasia, release from a terminal illness or an incurable condition. The condition of being in language.

"Lord! it's sexy!
(She snorkels in her mind.)"

Awareness is an erotic engagement. It keeps us alive to the things of the world. Tension between this and an urge to absence. Eros enters where absence appears as death. Snorkeling is play and danger. A choice to stay, explore, respond, in the depths of the mind. Response to the world as known in words.

The lyric is the written openness of the mind. The sound of thought is the meaning of the syllables.

Origin is release translated into disjunction. The real is an absence filled with chance. Absence is the imaginary surface of the empty process. The unwritten is the origin of silence. The lyric is silence thinking. Time singing the tonal expression of existence.

Words are the translation of thought into a reading. Writing is a metaphor for being.

The letters are a fictive thinking of the real. Thinking is the way perception informs its work of emptying distance. Unspeakable thought is the process of lyrical inquiry.

The fact of an absence does not provide a language beyond words. The letters are the life of the senses concerning things. The lyric is a rhythmical shining disturbed by thought.

Words dart in a darkened corner of the mind; awareness of this is a lightening.

"don't show me any second-hand information"

the first draft of this was written in my car while waiting in a parking lot in Charlottesville for my wife to get off from work (1997)

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Thursday, December 09, 2021

POEM -- pansemic playhouse 902 -- 06.10.14

                       jim leftwich


                       pansemic playhouse 902


radio stenography poem -- pansemic playhouse 648 -- 11.13.13

                       jim leftwich

                       radio stenography poem 

                       pansemic playhouse 648


stamp test -- pansemic playhouse 1006 -- 09.15.14

                      jim leftwich

                      stamp test

                      pansemic playhouse 1006


Retorico Unentesi, Nothing New Under The Un (Fall 2021)

There are two very different currencies circulating in the world today under the umbrella of the term asemic writing. One is a calligraphic or glyphic art practice, the products of which are quickly and easily identified by anyone who has been paying even scant attention during the past couple of decades. The other is whateverthefuck Jim Leftwich thinks he is writing about. --Retorico Unentesi, Nothing New Under The Un (Fall 2021)

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

jim leftwich, painted trashcan, pansemic playhouse 719 --- 01.13.14

jim leftwich
painted trashcan 
pansemic playhouse 719


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Monday, December 06, 2021

examples of a certain kind of thinking #3

Jim Leftwich: I am looking for examples of a certain kind of thinking about poetry which, if pursued to its logical extremes, would eventually include considerations of asemic and/or desemantized writing.

Charles Olson
Andre Breton
William Wordsworth
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Denise Levertov
Emily Dickinson (Thomas Wentworth Higginson)
Gertrude Stein
Arthur Rimbaud
Hannah Weiner
Jan Arp
Adrienne Rich
John Cage
Marshall McLuhan (& Andy Warhol)
Claes Oldenburg
Sun Ra
Isidore Isou
Antonin Artaud
Hugo Ball
Diane di Prima
​May Swenson
Jack Kerouac
Allen Ginsberg
Mina Loy
Lorine Niedecker
Nicanor Parra
John Wieners
Thomas Meyer
Dmitry Prigov
​Hannah Höch
​​Varvara Stepanova
​d.a.levy, D.R. Wagner and Kent Taylor
Robert Creeley

Charles Olson, "Projective Verse" (1950)

A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it (he will have some several causations), by way of the poem itself to, all the way over to, the reader. Okay. Then the poem itself must, at all points, be a high-energy construct and, at all points, an energy-discharge. So: how is the poet to accomplish same energy, how is he, what is the process by which a poet gets in, at all points energy at least the equivalent of the energy which propelled him in the first place, yet an energy which is peculiar to verse alone and which will be, obviously, also different from the energy which the reader, because he is the third term, will take away?
This is the problem which any poet who departs from closed form is specially confronted by.

Andre Breton, Surrealist Manifesto (1924)

Those who might dispute our right to employ the term SURREALISM in the very special sense that we understand it are being extremely dishonest, for there can be no doubt that this word had no currency before we came along. Therefore, I am defining it once and for all:

Surrealism, n. Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express ― verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner ― the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.

William Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800)

I cannot, however, be insensible to the present outcry against the triviality and meanness, both of thought and language, which some of my contemporaries have occasionally introduced into their metrical compositions; and I acknowledge that this defect, where it exists, is more dishonourable to the Writer’s own character than false refinement or arbitrary innovation, though I should contend at the same time, that it is far less pernicious in the sum of its consequences. From such verses the Poems in these volumes will be found distinguished at least by one mark of difference, that each of them has a worthy purpose. Not that I always began to write with a distinct purpose formerly conceived; but habits of meditation have, I trust, so prompted and regulated my feelings, that my descriptions of such objects as strongly excite those feelings, will be found to carry along with them a purpose. If this opinion be erroneous, I can have little right to the name of a Poet. For all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: and though this be true, Poems to which any value can be attached were never produced on any variety of subjects but by a man who, being possessed of more than usual organic sensibility, had also thought long and deeply.


I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Poet (1842):

The poorest experience is rich enough for all the purposes of expressing thought. Why covet a knowledge of new facts? Day and night, house and garden, a few books, a few actions, serve us as well as would all trades and all spectacles. We are far from having exhausted the significance of the few symbols we use. We can come to use them yet with a terrible simplicity. It does not need that a poem should be long. Every word was once a poem. Every new relation is a new word. Also, we use defects and deformities to a sacred purpose, so expressing our sense that the evils of the world are such only to the evil eye.

Denise Levertov, Some Notes on Organic Form (1965)

Form is never more than a revelation of content.

“The law—one perception must immediately and directly lead to a further perception” (Edward Dahlberg, as quoted by Charles Olson in “Projective Verse,” Selected Writings). I’ve always taken this to mean, “no loading of the rifts with ore,” because there are to be no rifts. Yet alongside this truth is another truth (that I’ve learned from Duncan more than from anyone else)—that there must be a place in the poem for rifts too—(never to be stuffed with imported ore). Great gaps be­tween perception and perception which must be leapt across if they are to be crossed at all.

The X-factor, the magic, is when we come to those rifts and make those leaps. A religious devotion to the truth, to the splendor of the authentic, involves the writer in a process re­warding in itself; but when that devotion brings us to un­dreamed abysses and we find ourselves sailing slowly over them and landing on the other side—that’s ecstasy.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson

April 16, 1862: I took [Emily Dickinson's letter of the previous day] from the post office in Worcester, Mass., where I was then living. It was postmarked "Amherst," and it was in a handwriting so peculiar that it seemed as if the writer might have taken her first lessons by studying the famous fossil bird-tracks in the museum of that college town.

Dickinson envelope circa 1877

Gertrude Stein, In a conversation with John Hyde Preston which appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1935

You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting. Yes, before in a thought, but not in careful thinking. It will come if it is there and if you will let it come, and if you have anything you will get a sudden creative recognition. You won't know how it was, even what it is, but it will be creation if it came out of the pen and out of you and not out of an architectural drawing of the thing you are doing.

Arthur Rimbaud, Letter To Georges Izambard (13 May 1871)

I'll be a worker: that is the idea that holds me back when mad rage drives me toward the battle of Paris where so many workers are still dying while I write to you. As for my working now, never, never; I'm on strike.

Now I am going in for debauch.Why? I want to be a poet, and I am working to make myself a visionary: you won't possibly understand, and I don't know how to explain it to you. To arrive at the unknown through the disordering of all the senses, that's the point. The sufferings will be tremendous, but one must be strong, be born a poet: it is in no way my fault. It is wrong to say: I think. One should say: I am thought.

I is someone else. So much the worse for the wood that discovers it's a violin, and to hell with the heedless who cavil about something they know nothing about!

Arthur Rimbaud, letter to Paul Demeny, Charleville (15 May 1871)

I say one must be a seer, make oneself a seer. The Poet makes himself a seer by a long, gigantic and rational derangement of all the senses. All forms of love, suffering, and madness. He searches himself. He exhausts all poisons in himself and keeps only their quintessences. Unspeakable torture where he needs all his faith, all his super-human strength, where he becomes among all men the great patient, the great criminal, the one accursed– and the supreme Scholar!–Because he reaches the unknown!

Hannah Weiner, "If Workshop", Poetry Project Newsletter, February-March 1990

If you are a poet would you have the three obligations: work on yourself to become more conscious, work in the world to change it free and equal, include ecological survival, and work in poetic forms that themselves alter consciousness.


techniques of disjunctive, non-sequential, non-referential, writing can directly alter consciousness, whether by destroying long habits of rationality, by surprise tactics to which the brain responds differently, or by forcing a change to alpha level by engaging both hemispheres of the brain, choose your science.

Jean Arp, Dadaland (1948)

In 1915 Sophie Taeuber and I painted, embroidered, and did collages; all these works were drawn from the simplest forms and were probably the first examples of "concrete art." These works are Realities, pure and independent, with no meaning or cerebral intention. We rejected all mimesis and description, giving free rein to the Elementary and the Spontaneous. Since the arrangement of planes and their proportions and colors seemed to hinge solely on chance, I declared that these works were arranged "according to the law of chance," as in the order of nature, chance being for me simply a part of an inexplicable reason, of an inaccessible order.

Jean Arp, Dadaland (1948)

I would meet with Tzara and Serner at the Odéon and in Zurich's Café de la Terrasse to work on a cycle of poems: The Hyperbola of the Crocodile-Hairdresser and the Cane. This kind of verse was subsequently dubbed "Automatic Poetry" by the surrealists. Automatic poetry emerges directly from the poet's guts or any other organ that has stored up reserves. Neither the Postilion of Longjumeau, nor the Alex- andrine, nor grammar, nor aesthetics, nor Buddha, nor the Sixth Commandment could interfere. The poet crows, curses, sighs, stutters, yodels at will. His poems are like nature: they stink, laugh, and rhyme like nature. Trivia, or at least what people call trivia, are as precious to him as sublime rhetoric, for in nature a broken twig is as beautiful and as important as a star, and it is men who arrogate for themselves the right to judge what is beautiful or ugly.

Adrienne Rich, Poetry and Experience (1964)

Today I have to say that what I know I know through making poems. Like the novelist who finds that his characters begin to have a life of their own and to demand certain experiences, I find that I can no longer go to write a poem with a neat handful of materials and express those materials according to a prior plan: the poem itself engenders new sensations, new awareness in me as it progresses. Without for one moment turning my back on conscious choice and selection, I have been increasingly willing to let the unconscious offer its materials, to listen to more than one voice of a single idea. Perhaps a simple way of putting it would be to say that instead of poems about experiences I am getting poems that are experiences, that contribute to my knowledge and my emotional life even while they reflect and assimilate it. In my earlier poems I told you, as precisely and eloquently as I knew how, about something; in the more recent poems something is happening, something has happened to me and, if I have been a good parent to the poem, something will happen to you who read it.

John Cage, in conversation with Wes Nisker (originally published in the Winter 1986 issue of Inquiring Mind)

I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I’m doing.

Statement by Marshall McLuhan famously appropriated by Andy Warhol:

Art is anything you can get away with.
----McLuhan, The Medium Is The Massage (1967)

Claes Oldenburg, I am for an art, from Store Days, Documents from the Store (1961)

I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all, an art given the chance of having a starting point of zero.

​Sun Ra, Words and The Impossible

The elasticity of words
The phonetic-dimension of words
The multi-self of words
Is energy for thought -- If it is a reality.
The idea that words
Can form themselves into the impossible
Then the way to the impossible
Is through the words.


ISIDORE ISOU Shows another way out between WORDS and RENUNCIATION:
LETTERS. He will create emotions against language, for the
pleasure of the tongue.
It consists of teaching that letters have a destination
other than words.
ISOU Will unmake words into their letters.
Each poet will integrate everything into Everything
Everything must be revealed by letters.

Anyone who can not leave words behind can stay back with them!

Antonin Artaud, from Ten Years That Language is Gone, Cahier 285 (April 1947)
Translated by Clayton Eshleman (published in 2004)

I am it seems a writer.
But am I writing?
I make sentences.
Without subject, verb attribute or complement.
I have learned words,
They taught me things.
In my turn I teach them a manner of new behaviour.
May the pommel of your tuve patten
entrumene you a red ani bivilt,
at the lumestin of the utrin cadastre.
This means that maybe the woman’s uterus turns red, when Van Gogh the
mad protester of man dabbles with finding their march for the
heavenly bodies of a too superb destiny.
And it means that its is time for writer to close shop, and to leave the written
letter for the letter”

Hugo Ball, Dada Manifesto (1916)

I let the vowels fool around. I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat miaows... Words emerge, shoulders of words, legs, arms, hands of words. Au, oi, uh. One shouldn't let too many words out. A line of poetry is a chance to get rid of all the filth that clings to this accursed language, as if put there by stockbrokers' hands, hands worn smooth by coins. I want the word where it ends and begins.

Diane di Prima, from November 6, 2013, a conversation with Hilton Obenzinger at Stanford University for a series called “How I Write, published by The Los Angeles Review of Books in January, 2021

And then I took a class with James Waring in composition. He was a choreographer, but I wanted to take his composition class. I was taking dance, and I was doing some performing with him. “Tonight we’re going to talk about form. Everything has a form.” He said nothing else. After about 10 minutes, we all started to go out the door. We were looking at everything. Oh, that has a form. That has a form. What he was telling us was all forms are okay. Leave your mind alone. Don’t mess with everything all the time. And I started to write and tried to follow my mind wherever it went, what [poet] Philip [Whalen] calls the graph of the moving mind. Write exactly what’s happening as closely as you can.

And one of the things that came out of that was Calculus of Variations. One of the things I learned from Jimmy’s class was taking a structure and then hanging absolute freedom on the structure.

​May Swenson

Poetry is based in a craving to get through the curtains of things as they appear, to things as they are, and then into the larger, wilder space of things as they are becoming. This ambition involves a paradox: an instinctive belief in the senses as exquisite tools for this investigation and, at the same time, a suspicion about their crudeness.


1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time

Jack Kerouac, Mexico City Blues, 118th Chorus (1959)

Music is noise, Poetry dirt.

Allen Ginsberg, from MIND WRITING SLOGANS (1994)

Surprise Mind — A. G.
Ordinary Mind includes eternal perceptions. — A. G.
Notice what you notice. — A. G.
Catch yourself thinking. — A. G.

Mina Loy, from Aphorisms on Futurism (1914)

IN pressing the material to derive its essence, matter becomes deformed.
AND form hurtling against itself is thrown beyond the synopsis of vision.

THE mind is a magician bound by assimilations; let him loose and the smallest idea conceived in freedom will suffice to negate the wisdom of all forefathers.

CONSCIOUSNESS cannot spontaneously accept or reject new forms, as offered by creative genius; it is the new form, for however great a period of time it may remain a mere irritant—that molds consciousness to the necessary amplitude for holding it.
CONSCIOUSNESS has no climax.

LET the Universe flow into your consciousness, there is no limit to its capacity, nothing that it shall not re-create.

Lorine Niedecker, The Poetry of Louis Zukofsky (1956)

Technically, a recurring thing, for all but the apathetic student, is never the same -- though the idea of recurrence is useful to establish relationships, to reveal kinship.


Poet’s work

advised me:
learn a trade

I learned
to sit at desk
and condense

No layoff
from this


Young poets
Say whatever you want
Pick your own style
Too much blood has gone under the bridge
To still believe -I believe-
That there's only one way to cross the road:
You can do anything in poetry.

John Wieners, from The Journal of John Wieners is to be Called 707 Scott Street for Billie Holiday 1959

I must forget how to write. I must unlearn what has been taught me.


I must learn how not to write. I must watch with my 5 senses


All I am interested in is charting the progress of my own soul. And my poetics consist of marking down how each action unrolls. Without my will. It moves. So that each man has his own poetic.


Thomas Meyer, from ISIS' MEMORY (Caterpillar 5/6, 1970)

The most astonishing fact on which poetry thrives is that every sentence (or projected unit of utterance) CAN stop, not complete itself & begin again as a new sentence related or unrelated to its own initial impulse or sound. No where else in the cosmos is this aspect of will & magic so clearly & precisely manifest.

Dmitry Prigov, from an interview with Philip Metres (1996)

You know, the thing is that no great myth exists now in which a hero could appear. I have written other discourses-the liberal-democratic, the national-patriotic, the contemporary homosexual, the mass metaphysical—these are big discourses—but it’s not necessary to write about heroes. One could just describe a kind of writing. Then there’s the very complex problem of self-presentation-as poet not existing in quantity of poems but as “manipulator.” I have a big project which is about images—I have to write 2,000 poems per year, 24,000 poems overall. It’s also a project that is a type of poetic conduct, more than anything. So I don’t have any problem finding material—some people just don’t understand the structure of this work.

(In 2005, Prigov estimated that he had written 35,000 poems. He died of a heart attack in 2007.)

​Hannah Höch

There are millions and millions of other justifiable points of view besides yours and mine. I would like to blur the firm borders that we human beings, cocksure as we are, are inclined to erect around everything that is accessible to us.

I would like to show the world today as an ant sees it and tomorrow as the moon sees it.

​​Varvara Stepanova (1919)

I connect the new movement of non-objective poetry as sound and letter with painterly perception, and this imbues the sound of poetry with a new and vital visual impression. By blowing up the deadly monotony of fused printed letters by means of painterly graphics, I am approaching a new type of creativity. On the other hand, by using painterly graphics to reproduce the non-objective poetry of the two books Zigra ar and Riny chomle, I am introducing the graphics of sound as a new quality into painting, thereby augmenting its quantitative possibilities.

​d.a.levy, D.R. Wagner and Kent Taylor, from Para-Concrete Manifesto

Our concrete poems are Shit
each poem a tiny spat of diarrrrhea
growing into infinite globules of cement excrement
our concrete poems
are beyond concrete poems
Where DaDaism failed, preaching Anti-Art
but creating art & the NaDaists failed by creating an art of nothing-
ness when they proclaimed NOTHING - the cleveland cement fuckers will
succeed in giving the Public SHIT. . .
each poem - a new death of WORDS AS ART.

d.a.levy, from Suburban Monastery Death Poem (1968)

its so easy to convince poets
what poetry is
and what it isnt
& everyone knows
sleeping with the muse
is only for young poets
after you've been kept impotent
by style & form & words like "art"
after being published by the RIGHT publishers
and having all the right answers
after youve earned the right to call yrself
a poet yr dead
& lying on yr back
drinking ceremonial wine, while
the muse, who is always a young girl
with old eyes into the universe
suddenly remembers necrophilia
is an experience shes had before
& shes not interrested
in straddling corpses anymore

Robert Creeley, from Pieces (1969)

The pen,
the lines it
leaves, forms
divine -- nor
laugh nor giggle.
This prescription
is true.
Truth is a scrawl,
all told
in all.

Each moment constitutes reality,
or rather may constitute
reality, or may have done
so, or perhaps will.

So that's what you do:
ask the same question
and keep answering.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

jim leftwich, stencilwork pansemic playhouse 744-01.28.14

                        stencilwork pansemic playhouse 744-01.28.14

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jim leftwich, stencilwork pansemic playhouse 747-01.28.14

                stencilwork pansemic playhouse 747-01.28.14

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Asemic Writing: Precepts -- jim leftwich -- september 1, 2019

Asemic Writing: Precepts
jim leftwich
september 1, 2019

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​​Jim Leftwich, ​from an email to Peter Schwenger, dated Nov 20, 2017:
The wheel of asemic writing has been invented several times, but only once did it lead to what is currently known as the asemic movement. When Tim Gaze and I (re)invented asemic writing in 1997-98 both of us were coming directly from a textual poetic practice. There are readily available examples of​ ​our work from those years in John M. Bennett's Lost and Found Times and in my Juxta/Electronic.

​​Jim Leftwich, from a letter to Tim Gaze, dated Jan 27, 1998:
A seme is a unit of meaning, or the smallest unit of meaning (also known as a sememe, analogous with phoneme). An asemic text, then, might be involved with units of language for reasons other than that of producing meaning. As such, the asemic text would seem to be an ideal, an impossibility, but possibly worth pursuing for just that reason.

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The first thing to know about asemic writing is this: it is a kind of​ ​writing. When I use the word "writing" I am not attempting to use the word​ ​"art" and failing miserably in my attempt.

The second thing to know about asemic writing is this: strictly speaking, there is no such thing as asemic writing. In the vast spectrum of human experience there is no such thing as asemic anything. Human experience is always everywhere the experience of an excess of meaning.

The third thing to know about asemic writing is this: the prefix 'a' is not synonymous with the prefix 'poly'. When I write the word "asemic" I am not attempting to write the word "polysemic" and failing miserably in my​ ​attempt.

The fourth thing to know about asemic writing is this: the practice of asemic writing is an aspirational practice. To make quasi-calligraphic drawings and call them asemic writing, or to make letteral and gestural marks and call them asemic writing, is to set for oneself an unattainable goal. The struggle to attain that unattainable goal will leave as its trace a variety of works which would not have come into existence in any other way.

The fifth thing to know about asemic writing is this: asemic writing has nothing whatsoever to do with aesthetics.

The sixth thing to know about asemic writing is this: there is no asemic writing in nature. Only if we accept the notion of asemic writing as simply a descriptive term used to identify a specific variety of quasi-calligraphic drawing, or gestural and letteral mark-making, are we able to locate in the natural world things that are more or less closely analogous to asemic writing. There is an odd kind of pareidolia at work in that mental process, similar to seeing the faces of religious figures in greasy frying pans.

The seventh thing to know about asemic writing is this: the practice of​ ​asemic writing can be compared to a spiritual discipline, like zerufe otiot (also transliterated as tzeruf otiyot, tzeruf otiot, and Tzeruf ha-Otiyyot). The practice of asemic writing is one way among very many ways of ​​conducting experiments in the laboratory of the self. A practitioner should be prepared to make many thousands of asemic works, over the course of many thousands of hours. Imagine someone after sitting zazen for thirty minutes asking a zen monk: is that all there is to it? The zen monk might reply: that is all there is to thirty minutes of it. The same is true for the practice of asemic writing. Do it for two hours and you might be forgiven for thinking it is not worth doing at all. Do it for two decades and you will have a very different opinion.