“notes from the meat sack [sensorimotor sequence for ban]” by Bhanu Kapil

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Jai Arun Ravine helps Bhanu Kapil offstage after at Vital Forms, Berkeley  Photo: Juliana Spahr

In September calmaplombprombombbalm.com released its first offering of the season: Bhanu Kapil’s “notes from the meat sack [sensorimotor sequence for ban].”

Direct link to the audio (section m13 on the site).

Kapil and Melissa Buzzeo recorded the piece in David Buuck’s kitchen this past spring.  Kapil read from her novel Ban (Nightboat, forthcoming 2014) while Buzzeo performed the knives. The audio was presented at Vital Forms: Healing and the Arts of Crisis in Berkeley and has accompanied other performances. In Berkeley, as this track played over loudspeakers, Kapil bent/twisted/twitched/lay in the red “meat sack” pictured above, pointing to, among other readings, the recumbent position of the novel’s protagonist as well as the work of Ana Mendieta. This publication presents the audio as a complete work in itself and documents one instance of the para-writing that permeates the composition of Ban.

In a Facebook post on September 28, Kapil elaborated:

Ban is real — real enough to reach an end point and then. Be the thing you track — to the dissemination — of its last cells or bits. Flow. Ban is flow. I did not destroy Ban: other forces did that. I think of my work as reconstituting her: terminal but gorgeous flare. What does it mean to be with someone as they are dying? I didn’t think of this before but that was all I used to think about at one time. The practicality of the manuscript is that it has been accepted, but that — I have reduced it to three sentences. And am writing forward again from those. I wanted to repeat and repeat the Ban texts, remixed — at conferences, in magazines, in meat sacks — until — as per today at &NOW — I felt that the repetition had done its work. Of tapping the soil. And releasing an earth memory. And its unguents. Of striking a blow. To something. That was so inert. So never allowed to live. Ban as a figure, as a figure that might appear in a localized culture — 1970s Britain in the time of the riots — pre-riots — is already written over or gone. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that I wanted to destroy the void. I wanted to hallucinate the void.

And in another post a minute later:

I wanted to be the thing that is also. Gone.

Look for more audio, video, and other media this fall from calmaplombprombombbalm.com.


Goldsboro or: How I learned to Love the H-Bomb

LONDON – The US Military said today that the US Air Force detonated two atom bombs over North Carolina that were each 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima.

The announcement affirms that the US created a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina. The bombs fell to earth after a Stealth bomber released them mid-air, and the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: the parachute opened, the trigger mechanisms engaged, and it exploded, wreaking untold carnage.

Each bomb carried a payload of 4 megatons – the equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT explosive. Since detonation, lethal fallout has been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York City – leaving millions of lives in peril.

Though there was previous speculation about who was responsible, the US government has repeatedly publicly acknowledged that its nuclear arsenal facilitated the annihilation of countless Americans. In a newly-published document, a senior military engineer in the Sandia national laboratories responsible for the maintenance of nuclear weapons concludes that “one simple flip of the switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe; We flipped it”.

In a press conference after the accident, military spokesperson Lt. Kevin James declared that the bombs that dropped over North Carolina, just three days after the president’s inaugural address, were freed of their safety controls and that the switches that triggered the disaster were supported by an electrical jolt, leading to nuclear bursts. “It was successful – in spades,” he said.

The US Military entitled their press release “Goldsboro or: How I learned to Love the H-Bomb” – a quip on Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satirical film about nuclear holocaust.

The disaster happened when a Stealth bomber received the order, having embarked from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in Goldsboro for a flight along the East Coast. As it flew, the hydrogen bombs it was carrying were released. One exploded over a field near Faro, North Carolina, its “mushroom cloud” looking more like the branches of a tree; the other blew up over a meadow off Big Daddy’s Road.

James reported that all safety mechanisms designed to prevent detonation were disengaged. When the bombs exploded, a firing signal was sent to the nuclear core of the device, and it was that final, highly precise signal that ensured calamity. “The MK 39 Mod 2 bomb possessed adequate force,” James concludes.

The press conference was followed by commentary from scholar Earl Schlosen, author of a new book on nuclear arms, Command and Control. Using notes from the conference, he reported that at least 700 “significant” disasters involving 1,250 nuclear weapons had been considered before the Goldsboro decision was made.

“The US government has consistently tried to inform the American people of our intentions and to be clear about our nuclear weapons policy,” he said. “We were told there was possibility of these weapons detonating, and here’s two that did.”



from the forthcoming anthology Blood Orgy: A Reader




Audio Dump: Brian Ang, Amy Berkowitz, and e. spero

Today calmaplombprombombbalm.com and not enough data announce the release of three mp3s from three Bay Area poets.

Each of the published tracks manipulates text written for the page, utilizing recording and editing techniques to create sound poems, or speech-texts, that offer reading experiences unique to listening. The audio can be found in the below links and in the mp3 section of calmaplombprombombbalm.com.


Totality Canto 22 (Brendan Dreaper Pagan Time Remix) by Brian Ang

While writing his 55,000-word The Totality Cantos: An Investigation of Epistemological Totality, Brian Ang has worked with a handful of media artists to expand upon the text written for the page. Recently drummer and multimedia artist Brendan Dreaper recorded Ang reading his “Totality Canto 22” and developed the remix “Totality Canto 22 (Brendan Dreaper Pagan Time Remix)”.  Here Ang’s voice and text are treated with a variety of layerings, amplitudes, and other sound processings. These treatments shift the varied intensities and displacements of Ang’s encyclopedic diction and ruptured, nodal syntax to the forefront of the listening experience. As remixed speech, Ang’s highly structured phrase-clusters exhibit a wide range of styles, evoking news media, lexicon, and lecture. Whereas the following tracks engage head-on with the physical space of writing and recording, here we find an investigation into the thought-space of listening.


The Reasons The Waves by Amy Berkowitz

For this iteration of “Reasons Why I’m Not Your Girlfriend”, Amy Berkowitz went to Land’s End in San Francisco and recited her poem in collaboration with the hissing, crashing, receding waves of the Pacific. Like the above audio, “The Reasons The Waves” treats her text with technical manipulation — here the simple framing of the microphone’s findings between REC and STOP. Unique to this piece are the narrative and listening possibilities offered by staging and recording the poem in this particular site. The listener travels to Lands End with the poet, gazing into the speaker’s pasts and the present of recitation. Admittedly removed from the physical site, the listener’s gaze moves with the poet, across the water to an, at this distance, imaginary Marin Headlands and the coast beyond. The waves act as a geographical locator as well as a percussive accompaniment to the repetition of Berkowitz’s list poem.  In effect, site of this recording adds a kind of cinematic narrative to those narratives already present in the text.


An attempt at getting exhausted in Oscar Grant Plaza with David Buuck at Midnight on Friday, October 20th. It lasted an hour, give or take. by e. spero

Whereas Berkowitz’s audio collaborates with “live” space, e. spero’s recording of “An attempt to get exhausted…” constricts and expands upon the textually documented phenomena spero encountered in the space of one evening hour in Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland. The text was written by taking the prompt of textual/perceptual/geographical exhaustion from Georges Perec’s Tentative d’épuisement d’un lieu parisien (An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris) in which the novelist attempts to document everything passing through his field of vision at Place Saint-Sulpice, Paris in three sittings. spero accompanied David Buuck for his third attempted exhaustion of Oscar Grant Plaza, producing a chapbook-length text. This recording gives voice to the text and constricts that voice by removing spaces, breaths, and breaks between the words. The rolling, nearly-asphyxiated enunciation coupled with the anaphoric repetitions of “Violence is…” and “is” produce a speech-text in which every observation acts both as utterance and rhythmic punctuation.


“Off the dome and into it”: Three Tracks by Ronaldo Wilson

Today calmaplombprombombbalm.com releases its second data dump of the season. Last week (see announcement here) we brought you Moving My Vowels by Charlie Morrow. Today we’re ecstatic to present three audio recordings from poet/performance artist Ronaldo Wilson‘s improvised poetry project Off the Dome: Rants, Raps, and Meditations:

“FoodMaxx Parking Lot” by Ronaldo Wilson (6:50, 6.6 MB)

“Hotel Room Emeryville Mountains” by Ronaldo Wilson (6:41, 6.4 MB)

“Imagine a Battle Where…” by Ronaldo Wilson (2:26, 2.3 MB)

These three tracks were recorded in three locations between April and June of 2012. Utilizing the recording capabilities and portability of the iPhone, Wilson hits “Record” and doesn’t “Stop” till he’s completed his sequence. Between these two points we find every word, speech-sound, and environmental sound captured by the mic. This form of performance-recording allows us to engage with Wilson as well as with the physical environment that informs and accompanies his verse. In the first track, we meet Wilson among the rattling shopping carts and humming cars of a FoodMaxx parking lot. The second and third tracks take us to walled, interior spaces. Playing off the contained resonances of the room and the muffled sounds outside, Wilson’s lyrics take us to the windows of his shifting external and internal environments.

In his introduction to “Street Songs”, a 3-track selection from Off the Dome released this month by The Conversant, Wilson describes his process as “entering into a streaming, internal conversation that vocalizes questions around, race, representation, selfhood and place… In each place, I engage in various activities that find their way into my current thinking and play with various forms of totally improvised, “off the dome” poetry, rap-battles, meditations, and songs.” A line from “Imagine a Battle Where…”, published here, adds further insight into Wilson’s internal conversation and environment: “I’m not talking about you directly; I’m moving around you. It’s called location’s indirection” (editor’s transcription). The three tracks released here cover all of the above, meditating specifically on a constellation of topics from the Trayyvon Martin murder to the Oulipo to trash talk at a party to the poet’s own aesthetics to the children’s song “There’s A Hole in My Bucket” to Dionysian violence to references to and celebrations of poets CA Conrad, Duriel E. Harris, Sylvia Plath, and Phillis Wheatley.

Admirers of the Off the Dome project should especially focus on “FoodMaxx Parking Lot” for its explications of some dynamics of the work: “I’m simply going off the dome and into it”; “If you scream off the dome and you walk in flip flops, you think that you’re always a cop, but you’re not because you just got copped”; “Understand it’s off the dome and into it; Respiratory figures” (editor’s transcriptions). In one particular breath, Wilson states, “I’m going off the dome every single day.” If this is true, and let’s hope it is, then there’s an abundance of audio to look forward to from this great poet.

Two more releases of selections from Off the Dome: Rants, Raps, and Meditations will be released by The Conversant next month. Stay tuned for more audio and other media from calmaplombprombombbalm.com this and every week.

Book Release: MOVING MY VOWELS by Charlie Morrow

calmaplombprombombbalm.com kicks off its fall publishing season with sound poet Charlie Morrow‘s poetic improvement of the U.S. national anthem Moving My Vowels (direct link to the PDF version)!

The book contains Morrow’s eight systematic permutations of vowels in The Star Bangled Banner, Francis Scott Key’s poem itself, and part of John Stafford Smith’s British gentleman’s club medley The Anacreontic Song (the music to which Key set his poem). Joining these variants of the US national anthem, the book maps some significant shifts in the song’s history.

Both the print and pdf books are designed as unbound pages to offer greater performance possibility. The print book, an edition of 25, is housed in a choral folder and offers eight easily distributable scores for solo or group performance. Interpreters might sing in unison, as a round, and so on.  The pdf book offers even more possibility given the ease of distribution and production (desktop printers). In this case, stadiums of people could move their vowels together.

Written by Morrow in 1990, Moving My Vowels is published for the first time by calmaplombprombombbalm.com. It was performed by Charlie Morrow, Maija-Leena Remes, Tom Comitta, and attendees at Bowling in Bowlers, an afternoon of sound poetry and lawn bowling held at the Oakland Lawn Bowling Club this past May. If you interpret the book and would like to share, please send documentation to tcomitta@gmail.com. It’s quite possible we’ll share it on this blog.

PDF available for free at calmaplombprombombbalm.com (Direct link to PDF)

Print Book ($20.00), edition of 25, available by emailing tcomitta@gmail.com




To fight aloud is endlessly brave,
to shudder, extraordinary—

-July Westhale, in “Question of Ecstasy”

On July 20th, poet, teacher, and activist Meg Day released DANGEROUS SWEETNESS, “an online collection of poems by queer & trans* poets responding with love & rage to the violence committed against those in their queer & trans* communities.” Day’s introduction to the collection highlights the formation of the collection, stemming from “an up-swell in publicized violence against queer & trans* folks around the country” and the shooting of Mollie Olgin & Mary Kristene Chapa in Portland, Texas on June 24, 2012. What began as poems posted to Facebook in response to the shooting turned into a national email dialogue in which Day “reached out to queer & trans* poets across the country, asking them to join [them] in writing poems responding to the ongoing violence against our queer & trans* kin.” In DANGEROUS SWEETNESS, these exchanges come together in a publication that acts as a site of mourning for the abused and deceased and celebration of queer and trans* identities and communities.

What’s especially laudable about this project is the trajectory of reading, writing, and activism that it proposes. In their introduction, Day encourages a variety of textual, social engagements offered to empower folks in reading the texts and confronting discrimination and violence. Their offerings are considerate and ambitious:

I want to encourage you to read these poems in a place that makes you feel supported & safe. Many of these poems directly mention (some with more detail than others) violent crimes, while others evoke different kinds of force & power. Please do what you need to do to take care of yourself & be sure to offer trigger warnings when reading these poems to others.

I also want to encourage you to read these poems in whatever way feels most empowering for you. Read them alone. Read them with a friend. Read them to your kids at the dinner table. Grieve. Celebrate. Rally. Heal. Share these poems with your students or your teachers or your landlord. Read one into a parent’s voicemail or email one to a sibling. Read them while you hold each other. Read them as a way to hold each other up. Gather friends together to light candles & talk about the violence your community endures as well as the violence your community perpetuates. Talk about partner violence & the violence of misogyny in queer & trans* communities. Talk about police violence in your town or city & the way both the medical industrial complex & the prison industrial complex heft their weight against us. Gather community together to write your own poems & create your own responses in whatever language or medium feels most real to your experience.

Readers are even invited to share their stories and responses to these texts by emailing dangeroussweetness@gmail.com.

Since DANGEROUS SWEETNESS was released eleven days ago, we’ve seen yet another atrocious act committed against a lesbian in Nebraska, the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and this family’s declared abandonment of their lesbian daughter in South Carolina. Writing about, through, or against such acts can prove to be quite a difficult task; the written word can seem frail, even reductive, in the face of such violence. Yet the texts of DANGEROUS SWEETNESS stand strong together and as individual works, enabling a spectra of possibility through their calls and staggering rhythms. Their strength is further supported by the reading suggestions offered in Day’s introduction. Their calls are heart-shattering; their demands are both grand and feasible; their solutions range from simple to ambivalent to process-driven (keeping the flux fluxing) to undecided. If beauty is to be found here, it abandons the Hallmark card and is reclaimed as the possibility of possibility (more on this definition of beauty can be found here). Or, in the words of Monica/Nico Jane Peck, maybe the collection offers to its publics simply a chance to recognize that “some folks have glitter; some folks/ have freckles.” And that’s not just fine; it’s fabulous.

Summer on Nob Hill: Pt. 2

Below you’ll find the second installation of the Summer on Nob Hill text-photo series/data dump. A collection of effaced graffiti found on Nob Hill, each picture frames a collaboration between a graffiti artist and a homeowner, landlord, renter, or worker hired to mask the graffiti. A previous photo series/dump can be found in not enough data‘s introductory blog post.


Summer on Nob Hill

(June 20 – July 12)



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Click on the below photos for full-screen access and L/R browsing.