Friday, December 08, 2006


by Lydia Cortes
























arreug raw arreug shelkatunquashedett

ta ra ta ta ta ra ta ta ra ta ta ra ra pra pamama




raw arreug raw arreug roar erreug erreug

eruk arguka arhg argh ugha eugra eugra








Friday, December 01, 2006


In tonight's classs we'll read Alexei Kruchenykh's "Universal War," written in 1916, during World War I (which began in Sarajevo) and look at Max Andersson and Lars Sjunnesson's Bosnian Flat Dog, a nightmarish comics satire taking place in Sarajevo at the beginning of the Kosovo war.

You can order a copy of Bosnian Flat Dog from the publisher, Fantagraphics, here. (Scroll down.)

You can read Universal War, originally published in Kruchenykh's Suicide Circus: Selected Poems (Green Integer), below:

(Jack Hirschman, Alexander Kohav & Venyamin Tseytlin, trans.)

Universal War (1916) was a hand-made book produced in an edition of 100 copies, each copy varying slightly from the others. A slim volume, it consists primarily of twelve abstract collages combining brightly colored fabrics and translucent papers against a dark blue background. The “text” is limited to a table of contents of sorts: under a general title (“universal war will occur in 1985”), there is a list of titles or captions for each of the collages, many of them followed by a poem of single words printed in a column. Universal War also includes a brief preface in which Kruchenykh suggests that the collages are not mere illustrations, but are of equal importance with the poems, claiming that “they were born of the same impulse as transrational language,” and thus drawing a parallel between zaum poetry [see other side of this sheet] and non-objective painting. –Jack Hirshman

[Note: “typos” below are intentional.]


the universal war will occur in 1985

Page 1—battle between futurian and ocean
kisk clank
took titday
mulligrubs clench

Page 2—battle between mars and scorpio
appetite pegasus

Page 3—explosion of trunk
with the queue full of whips
cuts the stone with vengeance
hil ble faes
och fi ge

Page 4—battle with equator
the shaught of life

Page 5—betrayal
rubbish-hall marseillaise
in a billiard pocket
of the hall
po’ noseless hump of asia

Page 6—destruction of gardens

Page 7—battle between india and europe
the kid
unshoeing the armchair

Page 8—heavy cannon
corkscrew for destiny
onions of alcoven album
a cover of swanny snout
tender smell of victuals
drunkenness via rotten vodka
a hole of joy rose up

Page 9—germany in heat

Page 10—germany in ashes
a truck

Page 11—a request of victory
from a beardo
breaking kiosks
to disembowel chocolates
little bladder

Like Jew for You

by Lydia Cortes

They speak funny. Jew. Like jew for you. (And tea for two? If they can read, they’d probably say te-ah for twoe...) Sank, they’d say sank jew meaning thank you (it is not the keeping an individual of a certain religious affiliation underwater). They say Jell-o for yellow. San Gweebean for Thanksgiving. Did you ever have the pleasure of hearing one of them say to you, “Mery Crihmah to jew?” ‘Tis after all, their seesong to be yoly. And it’s too much the way they manage to get most of our sayings wrong...why can’t they get it right? Like, neber say eber. The other day on the subway, one of the more in your face types says to me, “Gwhy jew loo’ a me all phony, man?” Trying, I’m sure, to say ‘funny’. That happen las’ can guess, no, that he meant the fifth day of the week?

And they talk so damn loud – on the subways, busses, in the street – as if they weren’t out in public, with the rest of if we wanted to hear them. Even if we could understand their corrupted Spanish, I’m sure the topics they pick are who’s screwing who in the telenovelas most of their women are glued to their 46 inch screens (gotten on credit) each night...or else the subject could be who fucked who up (they do love their knives, their pistols) outside the project they live. Oh yeah, quite a bit of violence in those races...but you probably knew that already from just living in this city. You’re lucky if you don’t have to live too near their neighborhoods...they do have a knack for picking the worst ones...though we are slowly but surely taking a lot of them over. Even Bushwick’s turning now. You should’ve seen Williamsburg fifteen years ago.

How about the way they dress – especially when they’re “dressing up”? Especially the older ones. Gaudy shiny shoes, gaudy shiny dresses, gaudy shiny suits – lots of thin polyester, lots of rhinestones and fake patent leather, mucho chiny, man! (chi like in hi, ny like in knee). And did you ever see their little kids going to school for the Christmas party, or the last day before summer break? The little girls in little plastic high heels and over the top lace in strange, lime greens, lemon they’re doing a poor man’s quincenera.

They go on and on about how they love their kids. A little too much, the way I look at it. All that hugging, all that kissing. All that over protection. You’d think that there was something wrong with our public schools, the way a lot of these parents worry about their kids. I can’t blame teachers. They just do what they do to keep these over emotional kids in control. The parents should happy, anyway. If you want a quality school, send your kids to private school. Most of these people, I’ll bet, didn’t even have schools in their own countries.

Most of these people, I’ll bet don’t even belong here. They’re not legal. The Mexicans, Hondurans, Ecuadorians, the ones from El Salvador...I can’t even remember all those countries where they say they speak Spanish. Some of them actually speak Indian tongues...can you imagine that...they don’t even speak the language of the countries they’ve sneaked out of! Immigration laws...we’ve got to get better ones...get a lot of these people back where they belong.

Heard a bit of a bad news the other day, though...did you know that Puerto Ricans are actually American citizens? I mean US citizens? Yeah...something about a Jones Act passed in the ‘50's? Wow, what a shock...guess we’re stuck with them. Unless someone can come up with a better solution?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Race and Ethnicity

For our November 17 session I passed out copies of Harryette Mullen's poem "Denigration" (read it here and comics by South African comics artist, Joe Dog. (Read about Joe Dog and Bitterkomix, which he co-edits, here and here.

I'm happy to report that Studio Museum Harlem is currently showing an exhibition of original comics artwork from Africa--much of which is highly politicized--including work by Joe Dog. See this for more info and plan to make a visit if you can.

Extra credit: See Borat.

Your assignment is to write a poem or other piece having ethnicity/race and language as a central concern.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Modest – Perhaps Not So A Modest – Proposal to Annihilate All Other Poets

by Lydia Cortes

We are the world, we are the best poets, we are the only ones who count, the only poets. Therefore, I offer my modest? proposal (and should it be not accepted it will, in fact, become a formal decree, a command that must be carried out) that all other poets be annihilated. And it should occur as soon as can possibly be; after all, that is the only just solution to relieve them of their own delusions and us of the insufferable rubbish they put down on paper or go around muttering almost boring us all to death. Forget all other poets – the Beats, the New York poets (languaged or not), the San Francisco poets, the Black Mountaineers, the Umbranese, the Flarfistas and whatever other group they may invent up in their minuscule underdeveloped minds. They think, each group thinks, they’re it. Shit! Can’t they see? The mere fact that they need to divide and further subdivide themselves into so many factions, give themselves ever more ridiculous names to distinguish each own’s group from the other only proves my premise; it proves that instinctively they know absolutely that they are not the ones. Don’t they know just the same, why don’t they just admit it already, that we are the ones? It is we who are on the most cutting edge. We are the most cutting, the most on the edge, the edgiest ones always pushing the envelope; in truth, we are the envelope and all that’s in it too, the inside and out. We are all there is to be. We manage to be on the edge without falling off, never failing with words. Never bereft of, without words never ending, amen. And yet, we have always been both women and men – we are egalitarian in that way – at most. We’ve never excluded merely by gender. We’re way above that, just as we are completely above all the others who have the audacity to call themselves poets or bards. We only exclude by divine right because we are the ones with inner, with inimitable brilliance. All others by comparison are complete idiots. If we were to put it in terms of PI – poets’ quotient (like a type of IQ) – we’d be off the charts; for we truly are our own world, simply the top of the top and they – the rest are only the heap. And you can’t touch that, and neither can they, so why even try? We laugh, sometimes getting the occasional thrill, seeing those who still try to be like us – or worse, those who have the temerity to think they could ever be part of us. It just doesn’t happen like that. You have to be invited to be let in. Membership in our league has to be conferred like a prize – a Mac Arthur or Guggenheim or best yet, the Nobel. So, therefore, as I began this brief, yet truthfully immodest treatise, I propose that all other poets should take a long hike or best yet take the permanent route and commit mass suicide. Why must they insist on taking themselves seriously, the way to certain embarrassment, trying so hard in vain? We certainly don’t give them a serious thought! But we wouldn’t join the complicity in their own homicides and dirty our hands; though they certainly deserve it for being less than second-rate while taking up precious space and air. Let us all finally live in peace and not have to be chagrined and mortified by their lack of grace and poetics. For, I’ll say it again, we, we, we are the chosen –The Chosen – do you all hear? We are the only ones who have the right to be chicly and cheekily understood or even misunderstood yet always with an artistic purpose – being truly uniquely original; by right and God-given to exist in our very own Eden – Paradise (don’t worry that it sort of rhymes with patricide and parasite) Lost to all others who ain’t us...The Almighty Ones.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Modest Proposal for the Abolition of the Institution of Marriage

by Uday Jhunjhunwala

It is with great enthusiasm that I put forth my modest proposal for the abolition of the institution of marriage. As you will see, the institution of marriage has been responsible for many ills of society for far to long, and it’s immediate abolition is not only wise but critical to the future of our modern society.

Marriage, Divorce and Children
Approximately 50% of all marriages end in divorce. This statistic is the clearest evidence that marriage is not working and should be abolished. No marriage, no divorce. In addition, approximately 80% of the 50% of marriages ending in divorce involve households with children. We all know what an unfair psychological and societal burden divorce puts on children, not only over the course of the bitter divorce but long after. Study after study show that children of divorce grow up to be maladjusted members of society. This ultimately leads to higher rates of future divorces, child and spousal abuse, alcoholism, rape, and other violent crime. The picture is grim.

Marriage and Adultery
Adultery is rampant in the United States. Frequently, married men and women become overwhelmed with the commitment of marriage and begin to feel trapped. The psychological impact of this leads to lapses of judgment. Men sleep with their secretaries. Women sleep with their colleagues. Housewives sleep with the postman. House-husbands (another unfortunate phenomenon of marriage) sleep with their neighbors, or sometimes even the postman. The abolition of marriage would alleviate much of the unnatural, heavy psychological burden that is placed on individuals. They would able to lead happier, healthier, and more faithful lives outside the chains of wedlock.

Marriage and Alcoholism
We have heard these stories all too often. They are chronicled in the annals of great literature and Hollywood. Man and woman marry. There are rough patches. Then there is a particularly rough patch. Man and/or woman is driven over the edge and begins to drink. What starts off as one drunken night in the local pub, downing whiskey after whiskey in order to forget his problems and his marriage, ends up in months and years of drinking to numb the pain. Man beats wife. Man beats children. It can only get worse from there. Let us force writers and Hollywood to find inspiration elsewhere! Abolish the institution of marriage!

Marriage, Weddings, and Money
Marriage is costly from the onset. First, the young man must court the young woman with lavish dinners, extraordinary gifts, and exotic vacations. Once the young woman succumbs to the man’s charms (and wallet), the young couple must throw a grand wedding. Grand weddings cost money, lots of money. In addition, the planning of the wedding often results in bitter fights between the two sets of in-laws and other factions, resulting in damaged and often irreparable relationships going forward. The young couple is forced to play negotiator, mediator, and therapist. At the end of the wedding, from the moment the newly married couple drives off in the mini-van, because the limosine was far too costly, they are in debt and have years of therapy ahead of them. What was meant to be the happiest day of their lives has become the beginning of the end, one cruel sentence.

The debt from the wedding, the adjustment of marriage, and the family squabblings put considerable stress on the husband and wife, resulting in extensive marital strain. And we know where this leads. One out of two marriages end in divorce. The other one peters on out of indifference or disdain.

Divorce is no less costly than marriage. There are substantial legal fees and the cost of time spent negotiating the terms of the divorce. After all, time is money. In addition, the disentanglement of the husband and wife’s finances often results in the inefficient sale of investments and real estate, another example of an often overlooked cost of divorce.

Marriage and Bachelor Parties
Perhaps this is a bit redundant as certain aspects have already been covered under “Marriage and Adultery” and “Marriage and Alcoholism,” but I feel that it is necessary to shine some light on this specific issue. Bachelor parties are a well known ritual. It is an opportunity for an engaged man to spend some quality time with his friends, married and unmarried, before he goes into the doom and gloom of marriage and for his friends to show him a “good time.” Although what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, we have all heard lurid stories about drinking, drugs, strippers, prostitutes, and on and on. This ritual not only leads to conflicts between the bachelor and his fiancee, but also between the married attendees and their wives. Their wives have to relive their husband’s original bachelor party again and again. As a result, not only is the pending marriage threatened but so are many other marriages. The abolition of marriage would render the entire ritual of the Bachelor Party moot, since the man would forever remain a bachelor, and thus save many otherwise healthy relationships from disastrous turmoil. Similar issues exist with Hen Parties but being that women tend to be a bit more discrete, the consequences pale in comparison.

Marriage and Politics
I need not remind you that our once great country is bitterly divided. There is no issue more divisive than the notion that the institution of marriage should be extended to include relationships between the same sex. Why gays and lesbians should want to be a part of this institution is obviously unclear to me. I had judged them to be wiser and more evolved than that. But their demands are clear – the right to marry. By abolishing marriage all together, we would end the controversy, preempt further enmity and instead bring peace and harmony to our citizenry. No need for red and blue states. Purple will be the new color of American politics. What a victory for democracy!

Marriage and Single Friends
This is an often overlooked consequence of marriage. The marriage of a friend leads to the alienation of non-married friends. We’ve all heard of the once lively and social single guy or gal, who, once married, stops associating with his or her single friends, the excuse being that he or she has to go to a couples’ dinner party, or has to take ballroom dance classes with other couples, or is going away on holiday with another married couple. The single friends are left feeling abandoned, neglected, and alienated, and depending on the moral disposition of the married man or woman, he or she is left bearing deep guilt. What cruel and unusual punishment marriage inflicts.

In Conclusion
I hope that I have clearly made the points that support my modest proposal. Rest assured that this is not an exhaustive list of factors in support of the abolition of the institution of marriage, but merely a tasting. I hope that you will consider this matter seriously and render the only possible verdict – the immediate abolition of marriage – and that we may position ourselves for an era of unprecedented personal and societal growth.

Who Am I?

by Uday Jhunjhunwala

I was a man, a very important man,
perhaps the most important man,
because I had a purpose, a very
significant purpose, perhaps the
single most significant purpose.

My single most significant purpose
was to spend my life in search of the
meaning of life, of all of life, perhaps
of all life from forever until forever.

In the search of the meaning of all
life from forever until forever, I came
came across hurdles, very big hurdles,
perhaps the very biggest hurdles that
have every existed.

When I came across the very biggest
hurdles that have ever existed, I asked
questions, many questions, perhaps an
infinite number of questions.

And when I asked an infinite number
of questions, I came to the conclusion
that I knew little, very little, perhaps
absolutely nothing at all.

As I came to the conclusion that I knew
absolutely nothing at all, I started to
think that my purpose was insignificant,
very insignificant, perhaps completely

When I started to think that my purpose
was completely insignificant, I realized
that I may be unimportant, very unimportant,
perhaps the least important person in the

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


This week we will read descriptions, mostly by amateurs, of world cinema with a satirical edge. Click on the titles below to read the descriptions:

International Gorillay, Pakistan, 1990.

Golden Chicken, Hong Kong, 2002.

Guimba the Tyrant, Mali, 1995.

Amar Akbar Anthony, India, 1977.

Visitor Q, Japan, 2001.

The assignment will be to imagine your own satirical film and write a one-page synopsis of it. Or, try to get inside one of the films above as much as you can and write a poem out of that experience. Watch the film if you can get a copy of it. Google the title and read more about it.

Since we will not be meeting on November 3, the assignment will be due in two weeks, on November 10.

I will likely be screening Guimba the Tyrant on Tuesday evening, November 7, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at my apartment in Brooklyn. That's purely optional, but if enough people want to, we'll hold a screening, and I'll see some of you there! (Directions will be given in the workshop, or e-mailed.)

Monday, October 23, 2006


by Barry Denny

Random Chance
Blessings fallen from the Lord . . . . How in Krishna’s name does one find what’s made him what . . . who did what to whom . . . and where did it happen?

Get a life, Max.
If thought were shit
you’d be on the toilet
until the retina of eternity
winked at your smoldering ashes.
The revolution’s now!

Always the actor, Ada.
Never the acted on.

Mystic, so smart. he,
thinks nobody knows anything,
because what is truth.

Socialist with all the answers.


Yoo hoo matzoh girl.
Sit quiet a minute.
Listen, Ada: Detectives pistol shoot
at beer can in lake
in Korean movie.
The old zen master,
barely looking,skims
a rock along the surface
ripples—hitting the mark
the detectives can not find.

So Max: Sitting on a cushion
near New Orleans,
the hermit in the bayou
contemplates the hole in the
navel of the firmament—
Siddhartha wannabe
mimicking the night watch
while the Superdome stinks
sweat, puke and excrement
and somewhere in Darfur
someone cries for someone
who starves to death.

Max removes a statue of
Ganesh the elephant of God,
Ganesh the remover of obstacles,
from his WWII knapsack—
the one he’s enshrined for sixty years.
Ada is ninety years old.
She lifts her newly washed
“I oppose the Bush agenda”
tee shirt from her still-feeling body.
The couple positions themselves for business.