Three Friends Carousel

1.19.15 PN & JKozerjpgI can’t begin to say how delighted I am that this interview with José Kozer I conducted in 2015 is now available as a book. I so wanted to post as much of this material as possible because it may be the most extensive interview ever conducted with the 2013 Neruda Prize-winning poet, but here it is, available via Ranchos Press out of New Mexico. Thank you José and thank you publisher/translator Amalio Madueño for this beautiful addition to Kozer studies.

kozer_book_coverrevThree Friends Carousel
Tiovivo Tres Amigos
Authored by Paul E Nelson
Authored with Amalio Madueño

Three Friends Carousel (Tiovivo Tres Amigos) is the transcript of an interview conducted with Neruda-prize winning poet José Kozer at his Hallendale Beach home over two days, January 18 and 19, 2015, by Paul Nelson. The wide-ranging conversation delves into Kozer’s main three books translated into English: Stet, Anima and Tokonoma, as well as how he ended up leaving Cuba, his thoughts about the warming of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, the deepening of his work because of his voracious reading and writing practice, how poems come to him quickly in the moment, his use of parenthesis, the ant as a recurring symbol in his work, spirituality, how he was Bob Dylan’s bartender for three months in 1963 in Woodstock, New York, his notions about the seriality of his work and how to curse properly as a Cuban, among other topics. Nelson, a deft interviewer who has conducted over 500 interviews, mostly with poets and authors, displays a keen sense of Kozer’s work and creates an environment in which Kozer is purely his authentic self.

Amalio Madueño adds translations of ten new Kozer poems, published in Spanish and English.

This book is an invaluable contribution to Kozer’s work and life which is horrifically undervalued in the country in which he has lived for many years because of his decision to write only in Spanish. About the author:

JOSÉ KOZER: Born Havana, Cuba (l940) of Jewish parents who emigrated from Poland (father) and Czechoslovakia (mother), left his native land in 1960, lived in New York until 1997, year in which he retired from Queens College as Full Professor, where he taught Spanish and Latin American literatures for thirty-two years. After living for two years in Torrox (Málaga) Spain, he moved twelve years ago to Hallandale, Florida, USA.

His poetry has been partially translated to English, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Hebrew and Greek, has been widely anthologised and has appeared in numerous literary journals from all over the world. There are several master and doctoral dissertations written on his work, as well as full chapters written (and being written) in several MA and PhD dissertations. His work has been studied in many graduate and undergraduate courses. On José Kozer´s poetry there was a Symposium held in 1997 at UCLA (Irvine) which was organized by Prof. Jacobo Sefamí, out of which a full length book was published by UNAM University in Mexico City under the title La voracidad grafómana: José Kozer.

ALDUS (México) published two books of prose by José Kozer: MEZCLA PARA DOS TIEMPOS and UNA HUELLA DESTARTALADA, and ACTA (2010) a book of poems written upon the death of the poet’s mother.

A new reissuing of BAJO ESTE CIEN, originally published by Fondo de Cultura Económica de México (1983) was published in Barcelona by editorial EL BARDO. Fondo de Cultura (México) published his ÁNIMA; Visor (Madrid) his Y DEL ESPARTO LA INVARIABILIDAD and Monte Ávila (Caracas) his TRASVASANDO.

JUNCTION PRESS, NEW YORK, published a bilingual (Spanish/English) anthology of Kozer’s work entitled STET, edited & translated by Mark Weiss. Shearman Editorial (England) published a bilingual edition of ÁNIMA translated into English by Peter Boyle.

In Havana, Cuba, Torre de Letras, an independent small press, just published his latest book SEMOVIENTES.

Kozer Graduated with a B.A. from New York U. in 1965, received his M.A. and PhD from Queens College, CUNY in 1970 and 1983 respectively.

His poetry has been anthologized in the past year (2010) in some of the most important anthologies in the world, Norton, Gallimard (France) and Oxford University Press (England). It has also appeared with Fischer Verlag (Germany) where only fifteen poets of the Latin American 20th Century appeared.

He is the recipient of the Premio de Poesía Iberoamericana Pablo Neruda (Chile) for 2013.

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Jeanne Heuving The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde Poetics

Jeanne Heuving

Jeanne Heuving

On Friday, October 14, 2016, I had the good fortune to interview Jeanne Heuving about her new book: The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde PoeticsThat she was writing about Projective Verse was of great interest to me and reading the book and getting her insights about specific facets of this stance-toward-poem-making was invaluable.

the-transmutation-of-love-and-avant-garde-poeticsIn the first segment she confirmed that the book took over thirteen years to research and write and stated her term for the stance for the transformed method their poetry took, “a projective love and libidinized field poetics.” She discussed the typical love poetry mode “Lover/Beloved” and how each poet covered in the book: Ezra Pound, H.D., Robert Duncan, Kathleen Fraser and Nathaniel Mackey shifted to a deeper and more open process. We discussed how the history of love poetry has been “his love or none at all” and how Donald Trump’s actions discovered during the current presidential campaign are a really negative example of a male-centric sexual continuum. Listen to Part One: 9:35.

In part two she discussed some of the problematic male stances toward love in the culture and the book, Donald Trump, Bob Dylan, Robert Creeley, Ezra Pound, andand how women are presented as passive beloveds without agency. She related a correspondence between Kathleen Fraser and George Oppen that revealed a similar sexist stance. She talked more directly about what she means by “projective or libidinized field poetics: quick associations in which one perception or language phrase is the basis for the next. She said this tradition is particularly helpful for writers who are not white, male and heterosexual. In the case of Duncan, he was frustrated with that traditional, masculine lover/beloved poetry and is a prime example of how the writing of love in this projective/field way was transformative for him. Listen to Part 2, 8:51.

In segment three, she talked about the concept of language in Pound’s words as a “somnambulistic medium” or as Kathleen Fraser puts it: how to use the page as a “graphically energetic site in which to manifest one’s physical alignment with the arrival of language in the mind.” She spoke from her own experience, saying she was influenced by language poetry but never “fully on board with it” because it did not seem to leave enough room for subjectivity on a more irrational level. She said for her own work that dwelling in eros was energetic at the level of language. It is the extremity of emotion that makes for inspired verse and that erotic states or being in love changes our relationship to language. She said poets of the past writing traditional love poetry likely had the same kind of charge, but they channeled it into the traditional or accepted stance toward love-poem-making, that of the “lover/beloved” dynamic. The poets in the book writing their best work are using language in a way that is “incredibly resonant and mobile.” Listen to Part 3, 7:01.

In the fourth part she responded to a notion that Olson’s suggestion that the composition process be quick from perception to perception, INSTANTER is the word he uses in Projective Verse, by bringing in a term that Kathleen Fraser got from Italian painting, distacco, a slowing down of the process to take stock of how each brush stroke is affecting the whole painting or composition. She also talked about how the credit for the creation of modernism, usually goes to Ezra Pound, but that it owes s debt to H.D. and same-sex love. She goes on to say that without the experience of sexual love, Pound would not have been able to write The Cantos, his masterpiece. Listen to Part 4, 13:32.

In part five a note on Imagism was discussed. Pound’s comment that Imagism: “records the precise instant when a thing outward and objective transforms itself, or darts into a thing inward and subjective.” Similarities to the concept of prehension by Alfred North Whitehead were discussed as well as the word posthuman which is used in the book several times. Listen to Part 5, 5:03.

In the 6th segment, the question about how Robert Duncan fits into this thesis was discussed. She said Duncan’s The H.D. Book was enough to get a good sense of how he discovered and engaged projective love and libidinized field poetics. She said Duncan’s open homosexuality and his extensive writing of eros was important to the argument she makes and that his writing between the poem Medieval Scenes and the book Bending the Bow was enough to get a good sense of how he has used projective love and libidinal field poetics. She also responded to a question about the omission of Denise Levertov from the book, who also had a hand in shaping the field poetics of the late 50s and early 60s in North America. Listen to Part 6, 10:48.

In part sevenHeuving discussed Kathleen Fraser’s early contention that “lust” is the “first virtue” without which poetic transport does not happen, and said that high sex energy creates a “different relationship to language.” She also discussed Fraser’s response to the feminist critique of “patriarchal, heterosexual regimes” and how that figured into her creation of projective love and libidinized field poetics. She discussed Fraser’s decision to eschew identity politics and poetics, and how vicious they have become, but how necessary they were in the 70s. She discussed Nate Mackey’s inclusion in the book and how she might have included Susan Howe and Harryette Mullen had she more time to write and research. Mackey, she says, is “intensely a sexual love poet, that his poems are filled with intensity, sexuality and love. She compared his love poetry with Catullus and Keats. She also discussed Garcia Lorca’s concept of the “duende” which she writes in the book is “enmeshed in eros.”  Listen to Part 7, 13:28.



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Cascadia Poetry Festival

Friend, just 3 weeks until the 4th Cascadia Poetry Festival. I hope you will consider attending. We need your support of this event, which is the most ambitious thing I have ever attempted to do. My thanks to Joe Chiveney, Nadine Maestas, Jared Leising, Peter Munro, Greg Bem, Matt Trease and all the other folks working to make this event happen.


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