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Archive for August 2011


 For the Ordinary Artist: Short Reviews, Occasional Pieces & More by Bill Berkson

(BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2010)


Weeks after I first read Bill Berkson's For the Ordinary Artist: Short Reviews, Occasional Pieces & More, I kept going back in my mind to something he'd said about Alfonso Ossorio whose works are known to me. Berkson said of (some of) them:

…they bespeak a love of (or anyhow fascination with) “immobility,” a.k.a. Inertia.


I'd never thought of "inertia" before as regards Ossorio's work, undoubtedly because of the riot of color, surfaces and found objects in his works. But, you know, Berkson is right (or, I agree with Berkson). There can be a flatness (and I don't say this negatively) in some of the surfaces/colors of Ossorio's work. There can be a paradoxical stillness within his assemblages, such as in the following image where each part (as can be delineated, say, by individual found objects) remains apart from each other:


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For the Ordinary Artist Short Reviews, Occasional Pieces and More Bill Berkson BlazeVOX [books]

"Opinions are not literature" Gertrude Stein famously admonished Ernest Hemingway. It's a maxim that puts most art critics behind the Eight-Ball. Not Bill Berkson.  His criticism doesn't just deliver an opinion, it embodies an experience, matching the texture and plasticity of visual forms with a vividness and suppleness of language that gives the reader something shapely and immediate to respond to thereby opening path ways in the mind to the image or object being evoked and judged.  His subject is art; his essays and critical prose poems are uncommonly graceful literary artifacts.

—Robert Storr


Barry Schwabsky @ The Nation

Eileen Tabios @ Galatea Resurrects

Born in New York in 1939, Bill Berkson is a poet and critic who now lives in San Francisco. He taught art history and literature from 1984 to 2008 at the San Francisco Art Institute. A corresponding editor for Art in America, he has published reviews and essays in such other magazines as ArtforumApertureModern PaintersARTnews andartcritical.com. He is the author of some twenty books and pamphlets of poetry – most recently, Not an Exit andLady Air -- and was awarded the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s 2008 Goldie for Literature as well as the 2010 Balcones Prize for his collection Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems. His previous books of criticism includeSudden Address: Selected Lectures 1981-2006 and The Sweet Singer of Modernism & Other Art Writings 1985-2003. Jed Perl in The New Republic remarked that The Sweet Singer of Modernism “is animated by an easygoing prose style, an exact feeling for the power of images, a keen respect for the value of an artist’s words, and an abiding fascination with the art world as a social fabric.” 

Book Information:

· Paperback: 294 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-005-7

$16Buy it from Amazon

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Saccade Patterns by Deborah Meadows Reviewed @ The Jivin' Ladybug

 The Jivin' Ladybug
has just posted a review
of Deborah Meadows's Saccade Patterns:
It's online here at 



Book Information:

· Paperback: 100 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-006-4

$16  Buy it here!


Deborah Meadows lives in the Arts District/Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles with Howard Stover. She teaches in the Liberal Studies department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Her Electronic Poetry Center author page is located: http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/meadows/

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Two New Reviews at New Pages

 Big Bright Sun

Poetry by Nate Pritts

BlazeVOX [books], October 2010

ISBN-10: 1609640209

ISBN-13: 978-1-609-64020-0

Paperback: 90pp; $16.00

Review by Dan Magers



When reading the poetry of Nate Pritts, one gets the sense that his drive to write poetry originated from the ecstatic strain of the Beat Generation, namely through the poetry of Philip Whalen and the Ginsberg of “Supermarket in California,” as opposed to the more apocalyptic strain personified by Burroughs and Ginsberg’s “Howl.” This is the strain that has it that all of nature and even some man-made objects are imbued with a holy light and the possibility of transcendence. This is a source of yearning and salvation for Pritts, as he writes in the first poem of his fourth book, Big Bright Sun, “There are literally / hundreds of roses I could pick today // or leave for tomorrow & the evening / of a different year, the purple evening.” In the book, this is especially true of the sun:

What could be wrong? There is right now a big yellow orb

hanging overhead &, no, it won’t fall &, yes,

it is beautiful; everything around you is beautiful. You

is beautiful. You is stunning, shocking the whole world



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Field Work

Notes, Songs, Poems 1997-2010

Poetry by David Hadbawnik

BlazeVOX [books], April 2011

ISBN-10: 1609640101

ISBN-13: 978-1-60964-010-1

Paperback: 138pp; $16.00

Review by Patrick James Dunagan



From the beginning, Hadbawnik's book offers itself as a tale of self-discovery: the precocious journey of a young poet brimming with literary-mindedness working towards further developing into a mature, aware-minded, somewhat older poet dutifully reporting back as his development continues. Unfortunately, rather than further sharpening and developing insights on writing or living, the work loses focus as it progresses and is worse off for it.

Hadbawnik opens with the possibility that by diving into himself via writing, he’ll thereby reveal something beyond his own sense of himself, allowing his person to become a vehicular channel for the song of words:

July 8 [1997]

As soon as I stepped outside the music started inside me, as though it had been waiting for me all along


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Extra Pages

Photos on flickr