As much as this era is defined by division – even in the poetry world – most poets and writers share far more commonalities than differences, even if they are from different regions. Such complex similarities across geographical distance and wandering-bard careers in difference are reunited in Cross-Strokes: Poetry Between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a recent California poetry anthology published by Otis Books/Seismicity Editions. Subtitled, “Poetry between Los Angeles and San Francisco,” the collection is comprised of 35 poets and many more specters of comparison.
The writers in question—Marianne Morris, Luke Roberts, Sophie Robinson, and Josh Stanley; Jonny Liron, Francesca Lisette, Joseph Luna, and Timothy Thornton—start out from the devastations and dispossessions wrought by the neoliberal state, in search of a poetic response to structural violence—their theme is this precarious life that makes the lyric's deliberative care and love seem patently superfluous.
I. Nobby's Jihad. First in a series on Norman O. Brown's The Challenge of Islam.
Dear The Poetry Foundation,
We are applying for the position of President of the Poetry Foundation.
When Ron Silliman began the Alphabet with the truncated half sentence “If the function of writing is to 'express the world,' ” the implication was that poetry could, and, in so doing, be politically affirmative. Through exposing the ideological implications of a previously considered neutral poetic discourse, Language Poetry sought to create a newly utopian realm of creative articulation. Console and Lerner’s innovation is to dwell on the “If” of this sentence, and ultimately to conclude that the purpose of writing is not to “express” but rather to dwell on the time-lag between words written and the meaning they strive to embody. Their project cannot be said to be so baldly political, yet the critical edge of their language tends towards a similar political redemption.