I spent a year as a sword swallower
Moaned your name through the scar tissue
Closed my eyes and imagined the crows
Feet that form around your eyes when you
Smile (Achilles heel turned broken ankle).
I wanted you to tell me more about G***** Read more
(You were impressed that I could find it on a map)
The term “critical irrealism,” though present and well-known in the spheres of literary and arts scholarship, is unfamiliar to most. But then, so is living in the world of 2018. It is also alienating and in constant violent flux. Which means perhaps there is something for this critical irrealism to teach us…
Michael Löwy has written about critical irrealism – along with realism, Surrealism, Situationism, Romanticism and a great many other aesthetic approaches. He is the author of many books on a wide array of topics written from a Marxist perspective, from liberation theology to uneven and combined development, from Che Guevara to Walter Benjamin and Franz Kafka. Read more
Ring around the rosies,
Pocket full o’ posies,
We all fall down!
Most everyone knows this nursery rhyme. Urban legend places its origin in the Great Plague of London in 1665 and 1666 – one of the last major outbreaks of bubonic plague on the European and Asian continents – the beginning of the end of a three hundred year pandemic. Read more
Today’s generation is raised under a dark shadow of intellectual pessimism. To be sure, it is a pessimism entirely justified by the entire experience of the 20th century as well as the 21st century up to now. But the function of a revolutionary in this is to fight, to rekindle the socialist imaginary, not because the outlook is good but because there is no other option. Our choices are to resist or be consumed. Revolt can be a joyous festival, a celebration of a future yet to be birthed. This is what Vladimir Mayakovsky[i] meant when he said, well before he shot himself, that “joy must be ripped from the days yet to come.” Read more
When I heard that The Fall’s frontman (and only consistent band member) Mark E. Smith had died, I didn’t even realize The Fall released a new album in 2017. I consider myself a pretty good fan, I can name a bunch of their albums, know some of their songs inside and out, have read dozens of interviews and articles about the Fall – and yet it totally slipped my radar they had a new album. But to be honest, Smith just got too much for me and after album after album, just got a bit burnt out by how their sound would have that similar weird feel, but just wasn’t as amazing as it could be. Read more
Some things, once said, can't ever be unsaid.
Some spells, once chanted, cannot be unmade,
but spark, leap over silicon barricades,
cast afterimages of brilliant red.
The spell creates the wizard. There lies he, Read more
babe rocked by engines, watched through robot eyes,
his cradle hung from cables to the sky,
lulled fast asleep by steam trains to the sea.
At 9:40pm on October 25th, the forecastle gun of the battleship Aurora fired an ear-shattering round into the air. It was a blank, an empty shell. One-year prior, the Aurora had been contributing to the carnage of World War I, patrolling and bombarding in service to the Russian Empire. Now it was docked in Petrograd and under the control of a revolutionary sailors’ committee, most of whom supported the Bolsheviks. The blank round was, so the story goes, the first shot in the October Revolution, which overthrew the Provisional Government and established the first workers’ state in history. Read more
The opening page of War Primer contains a short, four-line poem:
Like one who dreams the road ahead is steep Read more
I know the way Fate has prescribed for us
That narrow way towards a precipice.
Just follow. I can find it in my sleep.
How in the hell does Jeremy Corbyn become such a sensation at Glastonbury? A sixty-eight-year-old politician propped in front of a crowd of young people gathered to take in Run the Jewels does not on the surface sound at all like the raw material of cultural memory. And yet, when he spoke, the crowd chanted his name (to the tune of the White Stripes no less). They cheered and applauded and shouted themselves hoarse.
There is, ultimately, no reason they shouldn’t have. The leader of the Labour Party who led it to its best showing in twenty years did so by saying that this crowd of young people matters. Read more
Colonial domination, because it is total and tends to over-simplify, very soon manages to disrupt in spectacular fashion the cultural life of a conquered people. This cultural obliteration is made possible by the negation of national reality, by new legal relations introduced by the occupying power, by the banishment of the natives and their customs to outlying districts by colonial society, by expropriation, and by the systematic enslaving of men and women.
Three years ago at our first congress I showed that, in the colonial situation, dynamism is replaced fairly quickly by a substantification of the attitudes of the colonizing power. The area of culture is then marked off by fences and signposts. These are in fact so many defense mechanisms of the most elementary type, comparable for more than one good reason to the simple instinct for preservation. Read more
black on black on Black on Read more
an interruption – no,
a reminder to the Columbus-ing ass fuckboys
(and girls) that
The question “what can a poem (actually) do?” has been a part of the philosophical debate about art for a long time. It is impossible to know when it was first asked, but I’m willing to bet that it had something to do with the onset of the Industrial Age, and the coming of age of Capitalism. That the lack of a definitive answer, or any recognizable material profit tied to its production hasn’t stopped people from either writing or reading it, is probably answer enough, but in the Fall of 1977, I moved from Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies to Winnipeg, Manitoba – the MidWest of Canada. My step-father was working with the Canadian government and so, we were migrating. Read more
Here we are. Inauguration Day for Donald Trump. We are through the dystopian looking glass. And now “resistance” isn’t just something that would be nice if it happened. It is a necessity. From working people, from students, from community members, and yes, from artists. By any means necessary.
Trump took the White House for two reasons. 1) The failure of the Democratic Party. And 2) The mobilization of bigotry. America’s “political center,” in the form of the Democratic Party, was unable and unwilling to explain the crises of neoliberal austerity, to mobilize people on the basis of social class and solidarity. This political failure is also a cultural one – of avant-garde and popular culture alike. Read more
“To defend our beloved Cuba.” The closing line of this poem from the great Chilean communist and surrealist writer Pablo Neruda rather sums up how working and oppressed people – in Latin America and around the world – are feeling in the wake of Fidel Castro's death. There is a lot to say about Castro the man, but it is far less important than the Cuban Revolution he helped lead, build and maintain for more than fifty years against the outside pressures of American empire. Read more
Written she lapsed my eyelids curse Read more
Never subjugated to her thoughts worse
Dreaming of twinkled themes her subconscious works
Works night and day because her lips she tamed
Her words released could leave bodies slain
Quiet in spite of riveting details
Still her mouth only inhales
Their thoughts she thunk perhaps prematurely
In 2015 it became clear that Viktor Shklovsky’s imperative to “make the stone stony” is a much simpler task than “making the corpse corpsely.” I am thinking of the use of autopsy transcript as poem, Kenneth Goldsmith’s appropriation of the shooting death of Michael Brown.  While this particular text was said to be uniquely parasitical and vampiric, likely as much for its arrogance as its form, it should be understood as the logical product of an aberration in American documentary poetics that has recently adopted the brand name “Conceptualism.” Goldsmith’s personal framing of Conceptualism holds that all that must be written has been written and must merely be re-packaged Read more
Can America ever truly face its racism – both past and present – for what it truly is? Or is the history of forced migration, bondage and slave labor, legal apartheid, incarceration and horrific state violence too much for it to survive such a revelation? Can it endure the psychic shock and endeavor in some kind of pursuit of truth or reconciliation? Or will it simply implode, come apart at the seams and make way for something new? Something which, hopefully, would not have genocide running through its veins? Langston Hughes tells of a man urging us to “let America be America again,” but Hughes is not so sure such an America ever existed. Neither should anyone today. Read more
we've charted the flaming arch Read more
of nitroglycerine stars
dreams that explode against reality
seen dragons emerge from clouds of tear gas
and men in shades of midnight run away
the Street muscle down skyscrapers
in cities perspiring chaos
I came upon a stinking field of muck
and saw, within its depths, a golden cup.
Nothing for it. I hitched my trousers up
and waded in, heartsick when my feet stuck.
It took three hours for me to pull them out. Read more
By then I'd learned to coast upon the slime.
This is the newly-designed cover for Red Wedge No. 2, “Art Against Global Apartheid.” We are incredibly excited to send it and the rest of the issue to the printers – which we’ll be doing in a matter of weeks now.
A roundtable with Robin D.G. Kelley, Walidah Imarisha and Jonathan Horstmann from BLXPLTN; essays on the meaning of art and interracial solidarity; poetry from Prerna Bakshi, Anthony Squiers and Demetrius Noble that runs the gamut from the humorous to the heartbroken and outraged to the ethereal and mysterious; a look at what a recently founded collective of anti-capitalist artists is up to. This is material worth getting excited over. Read more