Saturday, December 09, 2023

Jim Leftwich — Thirteen Books


Jim Leftwich — Thirteen Books

10 books by Jim Leftwich from Luna Bisonte Prods
1 by Jim Leftwich and Steve Dalachinsky from Luna Bisonte Prods
1 by Jim Leftwich from Locofo Chaps
& 1 by Jim Leftwich from mOnocle-Lash

 Luna Bisonte Prods

Jim Leftwich
Public Displays of Affection
June 2023

This unique book, written while the author and his wife have been moving around the Western USA, is full of references to place names, and flora and fauna of California, which reminds one of Californian writing of the 1960's, when poets, beats, and hippies were hanging out in places like Big Sur, Bolinas, Venice, and San Francisco. That resonance brings a level of lyricism to Leftwich’s work. But his writing is very different from those halcyon days, though there is a similarity in the attention paid to common moments and things, a Zen-like attitude. But here, words are often juxtaposed with little apparent semantic relationship, making for phrases and lines that create multiple possibilities of meaning and resonance. In Part One of this book especially, each of Leftwich’s “stanzas” are separate poems/worlds/perceptions/ and each rewards attention. They are not “thought", but mirrors of attention, blank minds open - not like the Californian 1960's at all, where such things were talked about but not manifested so much. Leftwich manifests that kind of mind, as in a classical Japanese Haiku sequence. It requires a kind of open and shifting attention of the reader, an attention that does not include any kind of searching for facile instructions about how to live. It is, rather, documentation of an acceptance and exploration of the relationship between mind and world.

this week the role of shoes / images of hats and nostrils / insomuch as the map pages / are unreadable illegible / desemantized & repetitive
----John M. Bennett

Public Displays of Affection by Jim Leftwich is a grand gathering of poems by innovative poet Jim Leftwich, who is one of poetry’s great explorers. I mean he’s Magellan! Here Leftwich enters the antique form of poetry, you know, lines, stanza, the look on the page. But Jim Leftwich energizes the poem with endless word juxta positioned surprises, like “tooth ringer moose hutch.” Reminds me of Gregory Corso’s list of sellable titles for his Happy Birthday of Death. From which you know comes his, “Fried shoes” and “Pipe butter.” My favorite Leftwichism is: “the furry dirt” I was at the drugstore getting some pills just before I write this and something I read on my pill bottle seems apropos: May cause dizziness.
This is a great book, I’ll be coming back for more, and more. Do overdose.
----Michael Basinski  

Blurb for Jim Leftwich's Public Displays of Affection
Jim Leftwich's Public Displays of Affection come from a several year's-long journey up & down the West Coast of the US that is still going on. It is not descriptive, rather is associative; the first words may be triggered by something, but act as prompt, as catalyst to subsequent chain reactions which demonstrate again & again the poet's exceptional depth, breadth, & an ability to create series of poems that explode geyser-like from a landscape that is enhanced by them.
"Welcome to . . ." & the GoPro kicks in. But instead of video it's words, & the words are much more picturesque that any pixel-packing Cyclops eye. Is diary entry, is travelogue, is stream of consciousness, is catalogue. Is mind-blowing. & we're all along for the ride.
— Mark Young  

Jim Leftwich
gratitude Is a multitude 
October 2023

"gratitude Is a multitude" at first glance appears to be a book of fragments, which it is. But it is at the same time a flowing, which is fundamentally coherent. It takes place as a journey, or wandering, through an outside and an inside. It is analogous in some ways to Basho’s "Journey to the Deep North". Jim Leftwich’s poems, however, are not haiku, though they do often have a haiku-like aesthetic, interspersed with longer contextualizing passages.: Is the roadsign / loose oily purse / cannibals scratchy / zinc in curtains Venn diagram index / fact is fiction / fiction is finance / finance is fungible / focus group backdrop / fractal heads shrunken The book is a kind of meditation, focusing on the surrounding world/environment, and on the mind’s movements as part of that world: Thinkable rustling / dancing stories iterated / trampoline sitting Temporarily Guar gum / intentional spine / chaos stocking hat gremlin gestures porous / haberdasher perplexing / glittered horribly i muttering / Mumbling i There is an attention to the tiniest and largest details of place and mind, a phenomenon reinforced by the many photos, mostly involving water: which suggests that the world, and the mind in the world, exist in streams of change. Streams in which words grow out of words, in which thought is a movement of language, in which words exist in interconnected layers: cones Nominal / Comic iconic / macaroni Conical / Monadic Canonical nemesis Bucolic / Xeric Nematode Comedic Full disclosure: this is related to a process in my own work I have called "Transduction", which I only mention because Leftwich refers to it. Transduction involves explicit attention paid to the resonances in individual words and phrases: remnants slant ear / consciousness of / material multiplicity transduction (John M. Bennett) / Roots Grow other roots And rooms growing other / Forms Growing corms and / Cornstalks… This is a book created with extreme attention, and the reader will be deeply rewarded by entering and re-creating that attention. -John M. Bennett

Jim Leftwich
Tres tresss trisss trieesss tril trilssss: Transmutations of César Vallejo
January 2018

Jim Leftwich’s transmutations (not translations) of the poetry of César Vallejo are nothing short of brilliant. They feel more Vallejo in English than any previous translations ever have . Vallejo is certainly, bar none, among the greatest poets of the 20th century. Human, more than immediately human, tortured, both baroque and surreal, and lyrical beyond compare, his poetry defies translation, so difficult does it appear at times. This is especially the case with his early work Trilce (Tres tresss trisss treesss tril trilssss, as Leftwich’s title has it). Claimed by the surrealists as a master in that genre, Vallejo is that and more than that, opaque as Góngora or bittersweetly acerbic as Lorca, the complexity of his language and imagery find few parallels (the poetry of Dino Campana’s Canti orfici leaps to mind). Leftwich has created a Vallejo more Vallejo than Vallejo at times, and certainly makes for far more interesting and challenging a read than, for example, the deliberately strained translations of Clayton Eshelman. Leftwich, a poet renowned in his own way for complexity and baffling linguistic virtuosity, has certainly found an equal, a compatriot, one might say, in Vallejo. These transmutations have all the speed, energy and enigmatic beauty of the originals on which they are based. The foreword by Retorico Unentesi is also something to be savored for its rich and layered interpretations. 

-Ivan Arguelles

Jim Leftwich
rascible & kempt Vols 1 – 3
Vol. 3
March 2017

This 3rd volume of Jim Leftwich’s unique and ground-breaking examination of the explosion of marginal literatures can also be seen, like the first 2, as an example of that literature. It has an enormous variety of approaches to language-based arts that are ignored by the academies, the publishers, and the cliques that make up the dominant worlds of letters today. This exciting art, of which Leftwich is also a practitioner, is what will shape the literary world of the future, and his documentation of it is, and will be, of immense value. He takes on this extraordinary material in extensive real and imagined conversations, exhaustive discussions and contextualizations, detailed analyses, bibliographic documentation, and other approaches difficult to categorize, because the categories for it do not yet exist. These 3 essential books open a portal to a world of major literary creation, a world that is, for the moment, largely invisible. 

-John M. Bennett

rascible & kempt Vol. 2
September 2016

rascible & kempt-vol.2 grapples with the new poetics in ways that are ideal for the subjects addressed. These essays, conversations, collaborative adventures, and reports from the inside explain and celebrate some of the most innovative writing and literary explorations on the scene today. As Olchar Lindsann puts it, “From reading to writing, thought to non-thought, vast macrohistorical analysis to sub-lettral investigations, epistemology to pragmatics, discourses: poetics, linguistics, hermeticism, economics, history, psychology, politics, metaphysics, and more.” Among the writers engaged with are Thomas L. Taylor, César Figueiredo, Steve Dalachinsky, John M. Bennett, Rea Nikonova, Amy Trussel, Lanny Quarles, Mike Basinski, Jake Berry, John High, Scott MacLeod, David Baptiste Chirot, and many others, including a posse of fascinating heteronymic writers. If you are puzzled by the mysteries of this new avant-garde, these volumes will go a long way to illuminate them.

----John M. Bennett

rascible & kempt Vol. 1
September 2016

VOLUME 1 (of 2) Rascible & Kempt bears geode-like secrets, exposing the living nerves of a geography where the beating heart of the avant guard glows lava red, while the book itself is a geology of Leftwich’s life-long question to his own calling: How to keep all modes of writing “absolutely as OPEN as possible.” This book is as much a training manual as it is a mechanism to reignite the fires of poetry. 

-Michael Peters, author of Vaast Bin and other language artworks.

About Rascible & Kempt: From reading to writing, thought to non-thought, vast macrohistorical analysis to sub-lettral investigations, epistemology to pragmatics, discourses: poetics, linguistics, hermeticism, economics, history, psychology, politics, metaphysics, and more.

 -Olchar E. Lindsann, author of ARTHUR DIES and other books, editor of mOnocle-Lash Anti-Press

Jim Leftwich  
Containers Projecting Multitudes: Expositions on The Poetry of John M. Bennett
May 2019

Jim Leftwich takes on the enigmatic, complex poetry of John M. Bennett in a series of explorations of Bennett’s books.  Leftwich, a poet, is an authority on Bennett’s ways of writing. His expositions include essay-like discussions, close readings of individual poems and lines, and glosses, hacks, and re-writings of Bennett’s texts.  The re-writings create new poems and are ways in which Leftwich inhabits and/or illuminates the originals.  At each chapter’s end, there is an email exchange between the two, discussing or clarifying aspects of the preceding exposition.  The book is a fascinating journey toward the heart of a unique poet, whose work is generally impossible to approach using standard critical methodologies.  This is a great opportunity to examine not only the mysteries of John M. Bennett’s poetry under the sharp magnification of the mind of Jim Leftwich, but a way to engage with Leftwich’s remarkable work as a poet and thinker about poetry. 

----John M. Bennett

Containers Projecting Multitudes

Lulu blurb by Cathy Bennett (05.27.2019)

This book by Jim Leftwich contains essays on a selection of books by the poet John M. Bennett, combining the poem and the essay into a mix. Leftwich, also a poet, has collaborated with Bennett in many venues over the past few decades and is somewhat of an authority, if one could be named, on Bennett’s genre of writing. Many of these essays were published in Galatea Resurrects 2018 / A Poetry Engagement (a blog edited by Eileen Tabios) and in Otoliths (2018-2019), a print and online journal edited by Mark Young. This compilation is a great opportunity to examine the mysteries of John M. Bennett’s poetry under the unique magnification of the mind of Leftwich, which is delightful mystery to engage with in itself. 

Jim Leftwich
I reMEmber petrOLeum
January 2019

Jim Leftwich’s I REMEMBER PETROLEUM, is a single long poem of 391 cantos or a series of 391 poems, both structures are valid, that can be read or experienced as a vast mirror in which you will see yourself and the world which is your matrix. When you read it again or look again into its pages, you and the world you see will be different. This is not “confessional” poetry, nor cultural critique, nor political posturing, but something quite different: it is an authentic immersion into a self through the medium of written language. And because it is so complete and fearless in that immersion, in its unflinching consciousness and unconsciousness, a self, or all selves, are revealed. This is why you will see your own unique beings and worlds in this book. His skill with written language is such that there seems to be no barrier, no hesitation, between his intention or experience and his writing of it. It is remarkable that this entire book was written in less than three weeks. His is an authentic and powerful human voice speaking thinking mumbling explaining stumbling being blindingly clear.

----John M. Bennett

Jim Leftwich
Bursting Presents
January 2020

Jim Leftwich’s Bursting Presents presents his virtuosity in full flight. It’s many things — 388 short poems that flow & adhere to create a 388 stanza long poem; a journal of a month; at times a commentary on things read or observed in that period of time. It shares with what Jim describes as “expositions” — seemingly syllable by syllable readings of the poems of others — a desire to explore, to expose, the endoskeleton of the work. It plays with words, it plays on words. As an example, “vErbiaGe” transforms to “foLiaGe VeRbaTim” in the space between poems.

The word “bard”, variously defined as a skilled poet-singer, a story teller, verse-maker, oral historian, & genealogist, springs to mind when I consider Jim’s work. Add to that its spontaneity & lack of hesitation, the rapid transition from idea to idea, & we’re delving into the improvisation of the masters, whether it be the staccato Monk or the ebullient Parker.

Burning Presents enhances the breadth & depth of an already impressive poetic canon. I cannot praise it highly enough. 

–Mark Young, poet and editor of Otoliths

jim leftwich and steve dalachinsky
be/ond seh flinges
January 2020

With some sort of strange anxiety caused by the unknowable elements of the title of the book bugging my brain, I brave myself to go through the table of contents. Poems. OK. They are poems. A relief. Then, my mind gets messy again following the massive endless list of the poem titles. It starts with 1. plums; 2. plopperly slashed; 3. astral viaduct frogret… ends with 128. WOODY BLIN BLEEDING (another casualty of the real). Just to go through all the titles makes me dizzy & unstable. Am I uncomfortable in this “crazy-ness”? Yes, definitely. & “No” at the same time. How strangely fabulous it is to be able to have the oppositional feelings together as if embracing the long lost twin emotions you didn’t know you had! Poems presented here are all like amalgams of Plus/Minus; Black/White; Color(s)/Non-Color(s); Music/Anti-Music; Sanity/Insanity; Fun/Disgust & Joy/Resignation… all gelled into gems. Not just experimenting with the language for the experiments’ sake, but Jim & Steve are playing with the language as musicians play with notes & artists play with their métier & ideas. 

–Yuko Otomo

The Blue Seam – by Jim Leftwich

25 pg. chapbook, full colour on folded 8.5” x 11”. Aug., A.Da. 104 (2020)

mOnocle-Lash Anti-Press

An alchemical text not only in its matter but in its process and effects – an experimental tincture of hermeticism, lettristic and visual and asemic poetry, relics, theory, quotation, correspondence/s, trashpo, & history in putrefaction, by one of the most incessant, indefatigable, and esoteric poetheorists and Seekers of our time. With full colour images and cover. 

–Olchar Lindsann  

Jim Leftwich
Poetry makes things happen: Poems, essays, texts, afterwords, blurbs, notes
December 2020

“For Jim Leftwich, the boundary between poetry and criticism, or more accurately, between poetry and writing about poetry, is extremely porous. This book should make that very clear; in fact, here it is sometimes hard to tell whether a text is ‘original poetry’ or his writing ‘about poetry.’ Which suggests that the distinction may not be all that important. (Another such book is one he wrote focused on my own work, or using my work as a springboard, CONTAINERS PROJECTING MULTITUDES: EXPOSITIONS ON THE POETRY OF JOHN M. BENNETT, 2019.) This is perhaps an outgrowth of his practice of making ‘hacks’ of others’ poetry and texts, which is in itself a means of entering into, and remaking aspects of, another’s work, using a wide variety of processes ranging from the arbitrary and deliberate, to the improvisational and purely intuitive. What this does is to turn the process of writing about poetry on its head. Instead of applying a preordained critical method or theory to a text, Leftwich presents, as it were in ‘real time,’ an account of what it was like, of what happened, when he read the text. We thus have a narration of a real experience of reading. For me, and for many of us in this new literary avant garde, this is vastly more interesting and useful than the use of a text to support or illustrate a particular literary (or other) ideology. Leftwich’s work in this regard is unique, exciting, and represents real progress in the ‘problem’ of ‘how to read poetry,’ and of how to write it as well.”

—John M. Bennett

Jim Leftwich, Improvisations Against Propaganda 
moria press (2017)

Scott MacLeod, in a email to the author, Jan 22, 2021

This is truly astonishing work Jim. The first word I thought of as I read it was “loving”
There is a tenderness about how you are looking at and describing what you are looking at
And much of it is – well you are looking at what you’ve previously done
This connects some of the best aspects of your concrete, abstract, asemic work with your insightful critical voice with some drop dead gorgeous lyricism that I haven’t seen too much of from you in a long time.
My socks have been knocked off.