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manifest press

Tonight I went to a collective reading of The Grand Piano by 8 of its 10 authors. The reading was put on by SPT, which fosters some pretty awesome community in the Bay Area poetry world, and my friend/professor David Buuck moderated? facilitated? initiated? a discussion with them before the reading. If you follow my twitter feed (or if you know me at all) you’ll know that I was in an utterly blissful state during/after this event. This was compounded when David introduced me to Samantha Giles (a central figure in the Bay Area poetry scene) afterward and she said “Kate Robinson? I’ve heard so much about you!” Things are happening, people, and I can own my geekiness enough to admit that I’m terribly excited about the path I seem to be headed down.

What follows is what I wrote during the discussion part of the night, some of you who know me/my writing practice may be familiar with this way I have of writing. It’s a mixture of quotation, manipulation, commentary, riffing, and response, none of which is delineated. Sometimes I take these resultant writings and make them into poems. Sometimes that involves editing, sometimes it doesn’t. Plagiarism is an integral part of contemporary poetic practice. If you don’t believe me ask Joan Retallack. This is a poem. This is an essay. This is a list. This is a ______. This is “a composition of thinking rather than trying to prove a point.”

Somebody was filming it, and I’m sure it’ll end up on the internet somewhere, either on SPT’s site or on PennSound. I’ll post the link to it as soon as I know where it is.


again in the work at hand
how those histories are narrated, open up the tent
so I don’t know how we can do it, community
collectivity with no hand raising
overtly the moment now
activism as performance

how people see the tension between this moment and that one in a couple seconds
let’s say
we’re making a political practice of non-representational practice
avoid a specific practice
no internet then, internet now
that in itself is substantial

new possibilities
in some ways one could model, one could think of them as
what is that other
in that present
a possible trope
what we’re doing
look and listen

a sense of time
in recession
possible to live without money
by rejection of the system
it’s the same system now
we didn’t want jobs
an opportunity to focus
in a sense of what time is

not having money
not having healthcare
the ability to live in a somewhat precarious relationship
let no one represent you! -T. Adorno
the aesthetic that mediates
charismatic leaders
so far we haven’t seen
naturally a resistance
a large amount of suspicion towards anyone who might take command

let’s keep inconveniencing them

language centered writing strategy>>not putting forward any narrative>>audience must struggle to understand

without even thinking
lack of demands having such an impact

very strong statements about politics and listening>>exploring a line of thinking>>a composition of thinking rather than trying to prove a point

thinking about demands>>in an environment wherein demands are repeatedly not met not making demands becomes an utterly appropriate tactic

when we began writing
we were in the wake of maximized anomie
heading straight for Reagan
social action as a social collective

elective affinities>>being radically individual

an open horizon vs. a problem of totality
some sense of
some sense of changing everything
as opposed to the gains
as opposed to getting on a bus full of people reading S/Z by Barthes in 1977

consciously collaborative
different functions
different lifespans
different forces
different temporality
the overlay of different times articulated against each other

we’re everywhere else

the ontology of collective
refers away from itself
what kinds of social structures emerge
a blended process
architecture of the module
the matrix filled in non-linearly
a both/and solution
a compromise formation

anti-monolithic.>multilog.>10 individual voices not singing the same song.>this is a lot of stuff.>OR OR OR>>nobody was in a position of representing “the whole”

a certain amount of tension in “we”>>this “we” does not include me

its strengths and its limitations are the same
extend itself as a rhizome in that larger sense
a certain kind of pressure on an individual document
if you don’t do anything except what’s already proper you don’t create alternatives
talking and listening at the same time

human mic>>an age of non-mechanical reproduction>>supporting the saying regardless of agreement or disagreement with what’s being said

the fragility of the gesture
the desire to start over and over and over


Choice quotes from the reading portion:

We cannot shed the light that falls on us.

It is the present moment that wants expanding.

As a poet there’s no limit to what I cannot do.

The way we want to see ourselves is hopelessly entangled with the way we want to show ourselves.


another one of those poems with formatting I can’t translate to a dang blog…TIME COLLAPSE

Entonces, orogeny.

Frank ekstaas,
rectum: hungry.

Codify, psych
unauthorized bowel,
occupy quota.

Capital: listless
peopl, disbelief.

Muffin kidney,
dicknose bird,
sparkle water.



Rock baffle
frosted who
bananas crystalline.

Vermillion addled
nuts. Sure,
elations mediatrix
squall, madness,
spatula psychosis.

Onanism transmission:

crocodile heliotrope,
batarded capture.

Tactile at
terminal tart.
Suspend collarbone,
sheath swoon!

Baseball, freestyle
quackery, trochillidae
grant, nuts.



Hung thingagram,
uh, word.

Proof wont

inhabit fjord,
dumpling pink,

Herald kingdom,
funicular quash,
constant hi
doodle pipeline.

Sandwich jubilee,
recalcitrant tackle.

One stuffed,


Polysemy, damn!

Effervescent idea,
specious, please.

Pill wayward.

Ok _____.

Idiosyncratic reciprocate
rain monad.


No, blocks.

Variable hull:
resilience, onion
proboscis, onomatopoeia.



CERN synecdoche
hoop, calendula,
antithetical modern.

Mirror cake:
contingency toward
disabled yes?

Garbanzo word:
elephant toooon,
oh! Commandment:
obliviate conduit.

Done smile.

Sum banjo:
Kate etude.

Cornholio wide,
cornea finally
epistrophe scythe.

Calendar hobble.

Love deviant.
No rambly
milk determined,
elysian. Mortar
one robot.

Focus snailutations.

Phlogiston bulletproof,
douche cartographic.

Silence juxtapose.

I’m not dead, just busy.

Everything in my life is different. Everything in my life is the same.

It’s almost impossible to retain the formatting of my more visual poetry on this blogging platform, so the best I can do is to upload a pdf…broken cloud






















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































there were

You are mucking it up with your outreach
and vessel teeming with hopeful
and gleaming objects whose refractions
reflected the glint of the wires
stretched tight between her hands.

As she spread them across her face
cupped her face in them
hid her eyes with them
with those who striped their skin
each time an undercurrent pushes
towards the outreach framing the lens for the viewer.

Vastness again.
Seeing the strings of tiny islands
dotting the horizon of her brow.
Oh my, I couldn’t stop staring.

In the end it was fine — the middle
where things simultaneously begin.
This is to say we are at the middle
but just beginning.

In the evening, the neighboring yard
was filled with baggy-jeaned serious talkers.
Topics included:
* the social construction of mental health
* your childhood obsessions
*wineries of the Oregon coast
*easier routes through difficult terrain

That proved to lead nowhere of significance, either.
It would start to come apart when
the day was at its end. Oh – the beginning again –

this begins with a stone
or a reflection
or something fossilized and yet to be found
both trying to be hard.

(written by Shaina Fay, Kate Robinson, Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, Leah Jacobs, Cheena Marie Lo, and Matt Johnson; line/stanza breaks by Kate Robinson)

My writerly friends and I have gotten into the habit of doing exquisite corpses whenever we’re hanging out. for those unfamiliar, an “exquisite corpse” is a Dada group exercise that involves passing a piece of paper around a circle and having each person add to it having only seen a small portion of what the previous person contributed. I have done this with drawing, writing, and some combination therein, but the ones that we have been doing, obviously, have been written. I’ve posted a few of them on my tumblr, but the one we wrote yesterday made me feel like it warranted some more thoughts about the process of it and what’s emerged in our shared language/aesthetic.

The people that I’ve been writing these with have all spent a lot of time together, both socially and in a writerly context. In particular, the three of us that wrote the piece I’m posting here spent practically every single day last school year hanging out in the English graduate lounge/on the lawn outside Mills hall talking shit/shop and reading each others’/our favorite work aloud. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the benefits and limitations of a shared language. How rich communication can be if a group could create a collective way of thinking/expressing! By the same token, how might an insular community create an insular language that communicates outside of itself?

*write using only readily available printed matter (newspapers, magazines, etc.)
*”translate” popular media
*”automatic writing”
*erasure/appropriation of existing books

An acquaintance of mine criticized my use of the word “buddy” today. In my last class at Evergreen a classmate of mine proposed that we create a standard English dictionary (the French have this) that dictates an “official” language usage for the entire country. I don’t understand the idea that some words are not suitable for my use, or that certain dialects are somehow better than others, of course there are exceptions, ie. racial/social slurs, but language for me is compelled by its color, its variance and its ever eluding nuance.

Why would I want to know what every possible shift in language meant without working at it?

At that moment language would lose its wonder.

Anyway, I think that it’s been a really great exercise for us all to do this together, it’s allowing us to listen to each others’ poetry in a way that crawls inside its bends and rhythms. The line/stanza breaks and title are mine, in the original piece the lines went all the way to the margins; I just transcribed it in a large block then imposed my own rhythm upon it. I would like to get my two friends to make their own versions of this, see how they intersect…



When the lamp is on behind your head you look different,
green and bundled, and then one wonders:
where does the word “Caucasian” come from
she said with a cock of her head.
I like that shirt you are wearing – you
must have a thing for paisley.

Is it street charm, or something else
I cannot decipher, obscured by a bright light
bathed in impossible sentences.
This is when you wrap yourself around something that
cannot interlock, but then are locked
inwards toward. And the key?

Open your mouth
and let the grass grow out of it,
let the dirt fall a naked crawl
and of course impending doom in the greenery
of your hesitant smile, your hesitant
smell, your hesitant eyes
every spell.

And you wait patiently, although filled
with anxiety, like a miniature object
on a miniature shelf, and here we are
dispersed like objects in a simple choreographed room.

What happened to me is that I was chilled.
Then out of the barn door into
the misty afternoon and something
has dried up or become euphoric
or still in this after the blast,
a knife of water besieging me,
punished like a rioter,
throwing caution to the wind,
throwing yourself on the pyre.

Is there a precipice somewhere
to make this more abstract?
Though of course everything is an abstraction,
and we can’t change that.