New Experiments:
Emerging Patterns in Innovative Literature by Authors Born in the 1960s and 1970s, Elucidated by Themselves

New Experiments, which will continue next spring and beyond, aims to map new ways of reading, and to put a new generation on those maps.
Join us for Saturdays this season for a special series, curated by Elizabeth Treadwell Jackson.

In a recent letter to the Poetry Project Newsletter , Boston poet and editor Jim Behrle made a call to innovative writers of the Baby Boomer (and older) generation to "give the kids a chance". Small Press Traffic’s New Experiments series will do just that. New Experiments will explore critical (though not necessarily academic) ways of understanding writing that is being created now by younger experimental poets and prose writers. These critical understandings will be generated by the practitioners themselves in concert with the presentation of new works by themselves and others.
These writers could be referred to as heirs of Language poetry, New Narrative, New York School, and other fairly recently established categories, but our idea is to seek out understandings of how far and wide -- and oddly, randomly, anarchically through bumpy history -- their inheritances truly go and work. We are also interested in exploring the contexts in which this writing is made today, and the contemporary forces that shape it. Small Press Traffic is interested in maintaining our position as an important venue for the latest in writing by helping a diverse group of talented and committed poets and writers under the age of forty-five -- most under thirty-five -- to create new works and to discuss emerging patterns in the literature of their generation.
We are interested in how political and societal concerns and pop- and other cultural influences function in the writing of this new generation, the what and why of their aesthetics, and patterns in same that seem to each of the invited writers to be appearing. New Experiments is devoted to finding out how a diverse group of active writers and cultural workers see things; not in creating new "schools" per se, but in creating new ways of reading and understanding experimental writing that is happening today.
For reports from our Fall 2002 New Experiments Events, please see News & Reports.

Spring 2003 New Experiments Events

Saturday, February 15, 2003 at 3:30 PM
New Experiments:
Jim Behrle Forgets His Heroes
Talk and discussion begins at 3:30, reading at 5:00

Jim Behrle writes: "Around September, 2001 did Human Nature change? How late is it, and what does that mean for the younger generations of poets? Young American poets are the bastard latchkey children of an overwhelming and disparate generation. We are the students, acolytes, and banner-carriers for poets who would like to mold and/or f**k us. Will we remain foot soldiers in the wars of their mentors? What ought new magazines, presses, reading series do to be vital? Ought Creative Writing programs exist? Every aspect of trying to write innovatively in the United States needs to be refreshed. If the succeeding generations of American poets are to be innovative and exciting, they must be in spite of the work and advice of the previous generations.To make it new, it ought to be broken. This discussion centers around the need for new reigning models, which will place future generations of American poetry out from under the shadows of their predecessors."

Behrle's latest chapbook is Recent Sonic News (Please evict us, 2002). He serves as Roving Poet for WBUR's noontime syndicated Public Radio newsmagazine "Here & Now." Behrle lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he also edits the online journal can we have our ball back? and serves as the poetry editor for Pindeldyboz.

Saturday, March 15, 2003 at 3:30 PM
New Experiments:
Carol Mirakove on Anxieties of Information: Intimacy & Appropriation
Talk and discussion begins at 3:30, reading at 5:00

Carol Mirakove writes: What does information mean, anyway? We’ll look at what it meant to Marshall McLuhan, circa 1967, and what it meant to Adilkno, circa 1998. But this is for sure: As the Internet becomes increasingly integral to our daily realities, we encounter overwhelming access to -- and unsolicited feeds of -- information in mass quantities. In contemporary poetry, I see patterns of information engagement through the ostensible use of source texts, and through a heightened consciousness of our pervasive and invasive popular cultures (news media, advertising, art), particularly as they affect our social and political relationships. As agents of information in a hyper-commercialized economy, I find two chronic anxieties: (1) Is genuine intimacy possible?, and (2) How might we serve as accurate witnesses for people who are subject to gross injustice? I will address the presence of these concerns in texts authored by Jackson Mac Low, Amiri Baraka, Joan Retallack, Harryette Mullen, Carolyn Forche, Leslie Scalapino, Sianne Ngai, Rod Smith, Heather Fuller, Elizabeth Treadwell, and Gary Sullivan; I invite the audience to offer others. Additionally, I will touch on patterns of information use as they are variously paralleled in the work of contemporary musicians, such as Australian turntablists The Avalanches, Dutch indie pop group Solex, Canadian rock composers Godspeed You Black Emperor!, and USAmerican audio activists Ultra-red."

Mirakove will read poems from Fuck the Polis (Los Angeles, California: 1999-2001). She is the author of temporary tattoos (BabySelf Press, 2002) and WALL (ixnay press, 1999), and is featured with Laura Elrick and Heather Fuller in the current issue of QUID. She is a founding member of the subpress collective, with whom she published Fractured Humorous by Edwin Torres.

Saturday, April 5, 2003 at 3:30 PM
New Experiments:
Camille Martin has Poetry on the Brain
Talk and discussion begins at 3:30, reading at 5:00

Camille Martin writes: "For poets and dreamers - and brain researchers - it's a commonplace that conscious thought is only a tiny island in a vast neural sea. The embodied nature of thought and the inaccessibility of much of it to consciousness has profound implications for poetry and poetics. Furthermore, recent discussions in cognitive science about the construction of self and narrative echo similar concerns in experimental poetry. I will discuss some of these correspondences and propose ways in which recent developments in cognitive science during the "decade of the brain" contribute to a richer understanding of recent experimental poetry."

Martin is a New Orleans poet and translator. Her collections of poetry are sesame kiosk (Potes & Poets, 2001), magnus loop (Chax Press,1999), rogue embryo (Lavender Ink, 1999), and Plastic Heaven (Fell Swoop, 1996). She will read from a new work, codes of public sleep. Martin founded and co-curates the Lit City Poetry Reading Series in New Orleans and is currently completing a dissertation on contemporary experimental poetry and its conjunction with phenomenology and cognitive science.

Fall 2002 New Experiments Events
For reports from our Fall 2002 New Experiments Events, please see News & Reports.

Saturday, September 21, 2002 at 3:30 pm
New Experiments: Marcella Durand on Ecological Poetry
Talk and discussion begins at 3:30, reading at 5:00

Marcella Durand writes: "Ecological poetry is much like ecological living—it recycles materials, functions with an intense awareness of space, seeks an equality of value between all living and unliving things, explores multiple perspectives as an attempt to subvert the dominant paradigms of mono-perception, consumption and hierarchy, and utilizes powers of concentration to increase lucidity and attain a more transparent, less anthropocentric mode of existence." Join us as she speaks about these issues in terms of younger contemporary writers including Lisa Jarnot, Eleni Sikelianos, Lisa Robertson and Lytle Shaw.

Durand is the author of Western Capital Rhapsodies (Faux Press, 2001) and two chapbooks, City of Ports and Lapsus Linguae (Situations Press). A new chapbook, The Geometrics, is forthcoming this year from BeautifulSwimmer Press. She is the poetry editor of (the invisible city), an anthology of art and poetry inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

Saturday, October 5, 2002 at 3:30 pm
New Experiments: K. Silem Mohammad on Lyric Equivalence
Talk and discussion begins at 3:30, reading at 5:00

K. Silem Mohammad writes: "One objective for this investigation is to launch a larger inquiry into the definition of lyric as currently practiced by experimental poets: must voice, for example, or subjectivity, be a part of that definition, and if so, how have those terms changed historically from their application in earlier critical contexts? And what about notions of eloquence and musicality? Must any contemporary engagement with these concepts be limited by postmodern irony, or can they be used in a progressive critical discourse within which they are assimilated to a communal (or at least non-solipsistic) prosodic telos? I will argue for a theory of lyric composition that posits value not in terms of absolute phonic or rhythmic qualities, but in terms of contingent and flexible equivalences: imaginary algebras for the temporary production of pragmatic elegance."

Mohammad is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of British Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His poetry has been published in a variety of small presses and journals, and his 2000 Kenning Press chapbook hovercraft has gone through three printings. He was recently a featured reader in the Diaspora Poetics series at New Langton Arts.

Saturday, November 23, 2002 at 3:30 pm
New Experiments: Arielle Greenberg on the Gurlesque
Talk and discussion begins at 3:30, reading at 5:00

Arielle Greenberg writes: "Theorizing that exposure to the second wave of feminism informed the work of emerging women poets writing today, I invite the audience to consider with me how contemporary women's poetry has transformed, complicated and carried on the legacy of feminist art-making. I call this aesthetic Gurlesque, because of its sensual/sexual liberties, its carnivalesque syntactical chaos, and its punk-rock riot grrl interest in brashness and pop culture. Encouraged and fascinated by what seems to be a zeitgeist that cuts across class, race and regional boundaries, I will talk about what Gurlesque poetry is, why it's happening, and who is doing it. I will also discuss the relationship between feminism and the "innovative imperative," the need to make non-linear, non-narrative work that is nonetheless grounded in real life experience and material culture."

Greenberg's first book of poems, Given, will be published in November 2002 by Verse Press. Recent poems appear in American Letters & Commentary, Chain, Fence, Volt, and Crayon; critical work in Rain Taxi, Electronic Poetry Review and elsewhere. She is on the editorial board of How2, an online journal of innovative women's poetics.

All events are $5-10, sliding scale, unless otherwise noted. Our events are free to SPT members, and CCAC faculty, staff, and students.
Unless otherwise noted, our events are presented in
Timken Lecture Hall
California College of Arts and Crafts
1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco (just off the intersection of 16th & Wisconsin)