Category Archives: Poetry


⇒ The best political action we can take right now is to work against voter suppression. (Z)

⇒ The roundups of indocumentados are a beginning, and we should pay attention. (Z)

⇒ The use of indocumentados is a form of slavery. Capitalism requires slavery, and slaves must be foreign. (Z)

⇒Racist imperatives fuel the militarization of the border. (Nicky)

⇒Poetry is only a havoc that restores. It dissipates the false pretenses of an ordered world. (Bataille 1943)

Today in culture:

Let’s look at a timeless Vermeer. And another. And more.
An interesting translation magazine: Palabras errantes.
Cinema tropical.

Fifteen Afro-Latin films everyone should see.
I am not your negro is playing now and must be seen.
On Netflix, we must see 13th.
We will see Ixcanul on Netflix as well, and Herzog’s Into the inferno.

Sidney Blumenthal has a smart history of the Trump family in the London Review of Books.
Jonathan Mayhew has good advice on how to learn foreign languages.
Rosie Gray discusses Bannon and the white supremacy movement in The Atlantic.
Nikil Saval writes about Gareth Dale writing about Karl Polanyi, and I would have liked to converse with this man; he is important.


I have heard there is a number you can text to your phone, that will program in the numbers of your senators and representatives. You can do this, too.


I was going to make an announcement about, and a commitment to archiving bibliography in Zotero and/or JabRef, and not an Amazon wishlist or even Evernote. Instead, I simply started.


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“It’s the world committing suicide”

Normalization is not an option. From Tikkun. Worth reading slowly.

Poem by Rachel Zucker. From The Nation. “Meanwhile oil unstoppably pouring into the blue-green.”

Also from The Nation, a fascinating review of A Nation Without Borders–a book which has been widely discussed elsewhere as well, and which should clearly be read.

UPDATE. Someone else said:

What we now have in the US is a takeover by a particularly virulent hybrid: a deeply masculinist, racist, corporo-fascism. For many white liberals the idea that the US is now a corporo-fascist regime was at first unthinkably shocking because it runs counter to deep veins of white exceptionalism– “It can’t really happen here.” The current corporo-fascist regime, with the largest imperial military in the world, the largest national surveillance intelligence apparatus in history, and the will to use both with the utmost brutality and ruthlessness in the interests of the patriarchal corporate 1%, is not national fascism in the sense that Nazi Germany was, or white nationalist South African apartheid was, but is a new, deeply dangerous political mutation, emerging from global neoliberal austerity, taking root in a country gutted by austerity, and now put in place to further gut the state, and gather all economic and political power in the hands of a tiny corporate-military-intelligence male minority. That’s why we could do with less fixating on Trump himself, as the fixation feeds off the US cult of personality and celebrity identification. We need to make visible and name the gathering figures in the shadows for whom Trump is simply the useful Avatar, an Avatar who (it is my bet) they will dispense with quite ruthlessly if he doesn’t toe their line. Which is looking pretty likely right now, given his megalomania. The corporo-fascism will remain, and we need to seek out its soft places of vulnerability, invent new strategies, and not underestimate their will to crush us, nor underestimate our own power to resist.



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Artaud documentaries

The first part, and the second. These are comprised of interview of people who knew him.

Then there is this from Gérard Mordillat, and much more material.


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Sobre la llamada democracia

Cerrar esta tienda y abrir otra, dos calles mas abajo. Pero empezar el negocio sin engañar a nadie, sin joder a otro porque piense distinto a ti, sin que te busquen pretextos para callarte la boca y sin decirte, además, que cuando te cogen el culo lo hacen por tu bien y por el bien de la humanidad, y que ni siquiera tienes derecho a protestar o a decir que te duele, pues no se le deben dar argumentos al enemigo y todas esas justificaciones. Sin chantajes… El problema es que quienes deciden por nosotros decidieron que estaba bien un poco de democracia, pero no tanta … y al final se olvidaron hasta del poco que nos tocaba, y toda aquella cosa tan bonita se convirtió en una comisaría de policías dedicados a proteger el poder. (Paduro)


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Review 48:2 (2015)

I want to read this and I may have figured out how to buy it.


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More books on Vallejo

I always loved the spirit of Francisco Izquierdo Ríos, andino, and his writing in César Vallejo y su tierra is valuable. He first visited Santiago de Chuco in 1946 and stayed, if I do not misunderstand, in the Santa María family’s Hotel Bolívar. (Lodging in that town is rough now, perhaps it is that it has not changed since then.) He evokes the spirit of the land and says the nature of that countryside matters to Vallejo’s imagery and voices and it is true; you hear and see that part of Peru in all of Vallejo’s work, and this is important. There is a part of the book written after a return voyage in 1971 when Izquierdo Ríos met the dulce y andina Rita, who had twins for Vallejo who died. Vallejo was “alegre,” she said.

Another insufficiently read biographical work on Vallejo is Antenor Orrego’s Mi encuentro con César Vallejo (1989). There are editions available on Amazon but I do not trust the bindings and this library copy is good; I will borrow it again later. It isn’t a biography but it has important information, comments, anecdotes, and a compendium of documents and articles from the period (and testimonies, too, e.g. the 1959 symposium in Córdoba, Argentina). I would like to read this book in peace, not needing to “use” it, but to study it. Its language is dated but its intuitions, sure and its documentary value, great. Vallejo is “American” in that he is from a place, writes from it, but from the ground up, not borrowing techniques from elsewhere (Darío is European, says Orrego). Vallejo is alone and not well understood because he is original.

Vallejo, Moro, and others walked alone and suffered because they walked alone, but knew how.

Espejo Asturrizaga’s César Vallejo. Itinerario del hombre is another book I would like to reread slowly and in peace. It is yellowed and I would like a nicer copy but do not know if any can be found. One important point Espejo makes is that Vallejo was never really poor or desamparado or alone (the book covers his life up to 1923); his poems on sadness and solitude are not about material conditions of his own. His anger at Peru was about how intellectuals were treated and his work not understood; this is a different question.

My paper, when I finally write it, will look at biographies and memoirs and documents, and at Foucault and Agamben (“The author as gesture”).

There is nothing more wonderful than being able to study in a good café in a familiar and beautiful city away from home.

A different kind of book, that I am buying because I can, is Ortega’s 2014 volume in Taurus, La escritura del devenir. This is a book of criticism that has a critical thesis but there is a great deal of and on biography in it, and some documents are reproduced. Ortega says Vallejo has had some good readers, but also “malos testigos.”

I would have liked to be a Vallejo scholar but failed because of the tenure system. At the time, I needed a book in English in a U.S. university press and I could not seem to sell one on a single author, who was furthermore Peruvian and a poet, unless I claimed he were an exponent of postcolonial theory or something like that, and I could not figure out how. But Vallejo is fascinating and if I can cut through the sadness he brings up for me–none of which tiene que ver in any way, none of which is about Vallejo or even about me, the actual me–perhaps I can still do it.


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Textos resgatados de César Vallejo

I think the study of César Vallejo is the only real antidote to the effects of the current election. Our LASA panel on him was rejected–y eso que LASA se realiza esta vez en Lima–surely because it was too poetic and too literary. I was concerned about this possibility and thought the venue could be our salvation, but it was not.

So I am returning to Tulane all the books I had out on him for this presentation, because in the current situation I have two other pieces to finish before I can get back to this. One of them, I am buying since it is a good resource on the texts and it can be bought.

The paper is about biographical criticism of Vallejo, which has been rampant and also underlies much other criticism. What if people did not try to read him as Peruvian (they emphasize his mestizo blood to rescue him for peruanidad, and I think the mestizo background matters but in a much more important way–he has a non-Western or not entirely Western consciousness and perspective, and this matters)?

What if people did not insist that he was sad (remember, sadness is a modernista trope as well) and poor (he is not from a poor background himself, and I don’t think an actually poor person would have sold Georgette’s mother’s apartment to finance a grand tour of Europe)? Wouldn’t it be nice to read his very serious poems as expositions of something other than personal sadness and poverty, and also something more complex than solidarity (although I do realize solidarity is complex)?

Also, given the very conservative state of literary criticism it is strange to me that there are so few close readings of whole poems. Julio Ortega, for instance, is an excellent reader of Vallejo but his writing is so generalizing, as though it were a transcription of a conversation with a friend, and it quotes fragments and then does not sustain the discussion of the text.

I will get further into this and when I am old I will be a great Vallejo critic, it is my future.


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