Activities in Poetry (“Laura, my love”) — Workshop with Matt Longabucco

Our visceral realist activities after Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano left: automatic writing, exquisite corpses, solo performances with no spectators, contraintes, two-handed writing, three-handed writing, masturbatory writing (we wrote with the right hand and masturbated with the left, or vice versa if we were left-handed), madrigals, poem-novels, sonnets always ending with the same word, three-word messages written on walls (“This is it”, “Laura, my love,” etc), outrageous diaries, mail-poetry, projective verse, conversational poetry, antipoetry, Brazilian concrete poetry (written in Portuguese cribbed from the dictionary), poems in hard-boiled prose (detective stories told with great economy, the last verse revealing the solution or not), parables, fables, theater of the absurd, pop art, haikus, epigrams…, desperado poetry (Western ballads), Georgian poetry, poetry of experience, beat poetry, apocryphal poems…, lettrist poetry, calligrams, electric poetry …, bloody poetry (three deaths at least), pornographic poetry (heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, with no relation to the poet’s personal preference)… We even put out a magazine… We kept moving… We kept moving… We did what we could… But nothing turned out right.

This description of an ecstatic, desperate, thwarted workshop from Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives always beckons, since it’s when ecstatic, desperate, and thwarted that, in my experience, the best poems come to be. I immediately want to try out all these “activities” even while wondering about that enigmatic missing element this besotted parable insists upon. In our workshop, we’ll try to mark the widest possible number of perceptions and practices as poetry, write fragments and exhaustive inventories, ransack books and rack our brains for assignments (and give them to each other), and also see what happens when we come to the inevitable end of assignments and strategies—what then? We will read some inspiring/unsettling/wild new poetry, and take some time to talk about urgent calls in contemporary poetics to re-interrogate the premises of whatever “activities” we might decide to undertake (recent writings by Cathy Park Hong, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Anne Boyer are a great place to start). Promise to share our antipoems and other necessary creations as we go.

Matt Longabucco

Matt Longabucco is the author of the chapbooks The Sober Day (DoubleCross Press, 2016) and Everybody Suffers: The Selected Poems of Juan García Madero (O’Clock Press, 2014).  Other work has appeared recently in Prelude, Haunt, and The Brooklyn Rail. He is a co-founder of Wendy’s Subway, an independent library and meeting space for writers, artists, and readers.  He teaches at New York University and Bard College, and lives in Brooklyn.