Poetry Pending Revolution:
A Reading and Discussion with Commune Editions
Jasper Bernes, Joshua Clover, Jasmine Gibson, Juliana Spahr
Reading & Discussion Documentation
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Artists Space Books & Talks
55 Walker Street
Join the editors of Commune Editions and CE author Jasmine Gibson (Drapetomania, Commune Editions, 2015) for a reading and a conversation about poetry and other antagonisms.
Commune Editions began with Bay Area friendships formed in struggle: the occupations in resistance to University of California tuition hikes in 2009-11; the anti-police uprisings after the shooting of Oscar Grant that continued with the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner; and the local version of Occupy, referred to by some as the Oakland Commune. In these moments, the people committed to poetry and the people committed to militant political antagonism came to be more and more entangled, turned out to be the same people. A provisionally new strain of poetry began to emerge from this entanglement with communist and anarchist organizing, theorizing, and struggle.
Because there was no existing venue attuned to these changes, the editors (Jasper Bernes, Joshua Clover, and Juliana Spahr) decided to start one. They committed first their own work to this project, publishing in 2015 work that originated in their shared political experiences since 2008: Red Epic (Clover), We Are Nothing and So Can You (Bernes) and That Winter the Wolf Came (Spahr). They have also published numerous free chapbooks by US writers, as well as translations from the French, Spanish, and Swedish. They continue to seek out poetry explicitly against the given world, always aware that it begins inside that world—and to continue to put this work in dialogue with poetries from other countries and from other historical moments, times and places where the politicization of poetry and the participation of poets in uprisings large and small was and remains a convention.
They are curious about, but not overconfident regarding, the capacities of art. Poems are no replacement for concrete forms of political action. But poetry can be a companion to these activities, as the "Riot Dog" of Athens was a companion in the streets. A dog, too, might start barking when the cops are about to kick down your door. Perhaps that's it, for now, what they're doing, what is to be done, with poetry. Some barking. Some letting you know that the cops are at the door.