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Man Aarg! Poetry, Essay, Art Practice by David Berridge

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Extract from Man Aarg! Poetry, Essay, Art Practice by David Berridge
To be published by NØ Demand,  X Marks the Bökship, June 2013

A: I went to X Marks the Bökship because I was interested in the convergence of writing and art practice, both its connections to experimental poetry and fiction, but also in what was different about the writing and publications found in such a context.

B: Along with similar spaces including Banner Repeater (London), Motto (Berlin), and Section 7 (Paris), X Marks the Bökship is a venue  for the distribution of this work but also where it is performed, discussed, and, sometimes, also written.

C: Pick up a book, open it, look through it, maybe read a few paragraphs, close it, put book back on the shelf, pick up another.

D: Participation in the whole life cycle of a publication informs the aesthetic of the space: between a gallery and a bookshop, a space adaptable for performances and book launches, a Riso printer by the window, a counter for publications that becomes a bar.

E: Francis Ponge  writes of “an effort against “poetry””; “We are something other than a poet and we have something else to say.” He asks himself: “Is it poetry? I don’t know, and care even less. For me it’s a need, an involvement, a rage, a matter of vanity, and that’s all.”

F: In a dialogue we conduct by email Nikolai Duffy writes:

For me, reading, often, is a balance between glimpses and fades, connections and gaps. Semantic fields slide and frames of reference come and go in much the same way as my moods come and go.

G: I propose a residency to Eleanor Vonne Brown, proprietor of X Marks the Bökship, to visit a day a week, to read through and respond to the material, alone, when the space is closed.

H: On his Blutkitt blog SJ Fowler writes of  when:

genre definitions between avant garde poetry and art die away and the practice of text becomes the join between what has been previously perceived as two wholly different artforms.

I: Reading publications at X Marks the Bökship I find a sociable writing often taking the form of play scripts, with stage directions that make propositions about space, characters and relationships.

J: These texts might be staged on a spectrum between full theatrical production and poetry reading. Sometimes this sociability of writing is intended mostly for its shape on the page and its private reading.

K: People thought Robert Walser wrote in his own private language, on hotel notepaper, cardboard and till receipts. He wasn’t, it was Sütterlin, a particular script taught for handwritten German.

I group together publications  I read on my first day.  A copy of Modern Art in Everyday Life has been annotated by an anonymous author. In Sara MacKillop’s re-publication only those annotations are maintained.

In Nick Thurston’s Reading the Remove of Literature, the design of the University of Nebraska Press English translation of Maurice Blanchot’s The Space of Literature is retained, although each page consists solely of Thurston’s annotations.

In RO1& BRtZ d P1sUR ov d Txt, Nick Davies (Nik DAvEz) offers a translation into textese of Roland Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text, partly, he observes, as a way of exploring the distinction Barthes’ own text proposes between pleasure and bliss.

Davies’ process draws on textese computer programs, which don’t correspond to any individual users vocabulary. Nor do they share Barthes’ vocabulary, so Davies must invent his own textese to complete the project. The opening paragraph of  Barthes text (in its original Richard Miller translation) reads:

THE PLEASURE OF THE TEXT: like Bacon’s stimulator, it can say: never apologize, never explain. It never denies anything: “I shall look away , that will henceforth be my sole negation.”

In RO1& BRtZ d P1sUR ov d Txt this becomes:

D PLSUR OV D TXT: Ike Baconz simul8R, it cn sA: nevr apolojyz, never XplAn. It nevr denyz NEtin: “I shaL L%k awA, dat wiL hNs4th  my s0l neg8shN.”

Legally, Davies suggests he may have produced a “new work,” no longer covered by the original copyright.  Beyond legal criteria, his translation explores the adaptability of Barthes use of many distinct sections or mini-essays. If these equate to units and gestures of thought, is this  evident in essay and text message?

Davies tests the efficiacy and potential of all these formats. Joe Scanlan’s Red Flags arranges source texts by Joseph Schumpeter, Milton Friedman, Edward Said and Thorstein Veblen using a colour code system that indicates sections of the originals which have been added, left intact, moved, altered, and re-written.

In all these examples, the reader- artist gives material form to their acts of reading, confidently altering or deleting the source text.  Other times, as in the score that comprises the cover of Neil Chapman’s Glossolaris,  such procedures are combined with the imaginative reverie of the reader, a sense of  each individuals collaboration with a text in creating its settings and characters.

Chapman invites the reader to look through their book collections for words or phrases that instinctively connect to the planet Solaris of Stanislav Lem’s science fiction novel. Then, Chapman instructs:

Use the words or phrases to create short scenarios. This is a meditative process. Start with one word or phrase. Stare at it until it gives up an image. Take the time you need.

All of these examples see reading as an engagement with space and time, with writing less  to do with creating new original texts than a foregrounding of that scenography.

Mallarmé’s Un coup de dés is one continued source for a spatial  arrangement of text in white space, which Marcel Broodthaers responded to by rendering each unit of text as a solid black block.

Michalis Pichler’s Un Coup de dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard (sculpture) presents Mallarme’s text as a single prefatory block of text before replacing both the original and Broodthaers’ version with cut out “voids” that shift reading and writing towards both an idea and experience of sculptural form.

L: My initial plan is to write a bibliography – thinking of  Arnaud Desjardin’s the book on books on artist books  where he quotes Simon Ford’s idea (concerning Situationism) of the “bibliographic moment” that arises at a certain point in a “subject’s living death.”

M: Publications produced in tiny editions, without ISBN’s, sometimes without any contact information. If a copy is sold, then  when I go back the next week to read it, the chance has gone.

N: This is not a bibliographic moment.

O: Cid Corman’s The Famous Blue Aerogrammes is a collection of poems scribbled on air mail envelopes, a form more suited to a poetics of breath and occasion than literary journals or paperbacks.

P: A category formed by all the publications at X Marks the Bökship, although that is also a collection of singularities, whose authors may not read each other’s texts, or regard each other as colleagues.

Q: Which is again why the playscript form is a useful model, not as  something staged in a particular sense of a theatrical production but a form for proposing locations, actions, and characters.

R: A space of enquiry akin to Karl Larsson’s stage directions in Consensus (The Room) indicating a room which “may be described as…”, “The building may be described as…” and “The neighborhood may be described as…”

S: Do you have a copy of Forty Faultless Felons?

T: When forms such as notebook or journal seem more appropriate for this essay, it is as something made at the end of a process of writing and re-writing, not improvised at the beginning or during.

U: The sense of quest and search, which Rachel Blau du Plessis  equates to “the psyche bound for glory.” Such structures of apotheosis equate more to sermon than essay, are not practice.

V: Ponge writes:

I resume my maniacal, my voluptuous snail-like wanderings… This snail, alas! leaves no silvery trace… While I am distressed by the bad taste of this last phrase, the clock strikes three a.m…

W: One page each. Send 100 copies of your contribution. Richard Kostelanetz will assemble them together. The title is Assembling.

X: The example of John Berger moving to France (although moving to France is not necessarily what this example is about).

Y: Suddenly aware of the position of my body at the table, the expression on my face, how hungry I am, how heavy is my head.

Z: These questions are those writers in any context negotiate explicitly or indirectly. For myself, I found the questions were much more open and fluid in a space such as X Marks the Bökship because-

I stop myself and begin reading writers whose work explicitly negotiates a position both towards, about, and amongst things, aware of the vast generality of that category, needing such expansiveness, space of/for the obvious:

Friday 26 April 2013, 4 – 5pm, Arnolfini, Bristol
David Berridge and Eleanor Vonne Brown in conversation

A conversation around a selection of publications presented by X Marks the Bökship with David Berridge (VerySmallKitchen) and Eleanor Vonne Brown (X Marks the Bökship).

Written by bökship

April 24, 2013 at 8:57 am

LET Launch – Lagniappe by Nick Santos-Pedro

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Wednesday 26 August
6.30 – 9pm

Launch of LET

LAGNIAPPE by Nick Santos-Pedro
Artwork by Neil Porter

There will be a reading by Nick Santos-Pedro at 7.45pm

LET is a series of ___lets for experimental writing


I treasure your typos, it means

you are human and rush and feel like

everybody needs you and

you try so hard

but spelling is a fucking bore

and people know what you mean

they aren’t that stupid, oftentimes.

Written by bökship

August 23, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Nick Santos Pedro

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Nick Santos Pedro is the current Poet in Resident at the Bökship. He will be performing some of his work as part of a poetry event in the shop on Wednesday 26th August.

Ray Dennis Steckler, Low-Budget Auteur, Dies at 70


that I’ve
never seen
Rat Pfink a Boo Boo
or Secret File Hollywood or
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopp’d Living and
Became Mixed Up Zombies or, or
any of your films
doesn’t make
it less


Ray Dennis Steckler, Low-Budget Auteur, Dies at 70


There’s a good reason why
“learning to lie” is not
curriculum fodder

for elementary
schools, and we all know this:
that particularly

creative act is a
cinch. Yet… I do doubt if
a day of school you missed!

The Subject

Loosening the grip of
a bohemian fever,
feeding it with pound signs,

wherewithal designed to
separate dreaming from
doing, antiseptic

scourge of romanticism,
now allowing for the most
avant garde: the subject.

Read more work by Nick Santos Pedro

Written by bökship

July 20, 2009 at 10:24 am

Jem Goulding

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Picture 4(2)

Hippies Lie

This heart was safe wrapped up in ice
Until you reached into my sky
And melt it with your zenith
I wish I wanted to break this beautiful curse
Be free of the love you cast out so willingly, like a spell
But every minute in your light is like medicine
Living therapy

I feel like this forest you’ve taken me to
Whose trees would fall without you
Humming through their leaves
Like if you untangle our limbs
You’ll uproot a lifeline and I’ll cease to be

Guitar cradled in both arms
Your blood starts to spill and for a while it’s sacred
Especially when we pretend you only play like this for me
These serenades are threads I want to tug at
Unmask the thespian
But don’t in case they snap altogether
And I’m left alone with only echoes of us

Sometimes I think you hear my heart beat and strum away in time
Then I admit it’s my veins pulsing to your strings
A metaphor for our dynamic
Disguised in your performance

Your peace makes me want war
I want to pull the pin on your golden grenade
See your soul dowse these walls
Hurl your poetry promises across the floor like marbles
Watch them shatter in pain
But they won’t
They’ll bounce out a melody that sounds of last summer
Though you’ve no need for chimes to solstice
These are your picnic days
And it never rains in your realm

Stop with your magic for a minute
Your wizardry makes me mortal
The next time you tell me what I want to hear
I’ll dash a fatal blow to that angel face
Only you’ve already closed your eyes
Falling back through the air
Arms out stretched
Landing on my sheets in that irresistible crucifix

Can’t help but take your photograph
And climb your waist

I want to breathe you in now
Play yin and yang
So I stare past your glistening neck
Fixate with blurred vision on your ceiling
Try to dissolve into the same trance you’re in
Don’t leave me behind
My stars could implode
But I can’t purge the fear of losing you
Even here
I’m petrified with doubt Until the poncho we lay under falls away and I’m lost in your oasis

Even after all the midnights of naked laughter
All the hazy breakfasts and smoke misted noons
There’s a stranger in my bed again
I’m wearing his T-shirt
And I gave up keeping up with your head when I realized
You are not of this earth
My heartbreaking, breathtaking alien.

Tomorrow when we’re out in the world
The masses
They will swarm and fall
And I remember
It’ll always be this way for you
Everyone loves a smiler.

The agony is that I know who I have to be
To keep you
But can’t reverse the supernova
That person got lost behind the moon

The day you danced into my sky.

Written by bökship

June 30, 2009 at 6:56 am

Jem Goulding

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Jem Goulding is the current Poet in Residence at the Bokship

Cloudy Horizons

Pretending to Sleep

It doesn’t matter how shut tight
Your trembling eyelids seem to be,
I know your senses are all right
Because in the dim shadows I can see,
That you are pretending to sleep.

We secret voyeurs insist on this fight
Playing dead on the mattress half-innocently
To spy on each other thus extending the night
And peek through still lashes in sick ecstasy,
For the thrill of pretending to sleep.

Perhaps we’re better as one in this light
Despite the fact it appears that we
Have a strange little game here, and fun oversight
Of the problems that lovers, the he, and the she
Can avoid by pretending to sleep.

Written by bökship

June 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Poetry Might…

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Monday 8th June at 7pm.

Small discussion group for people who want to talk about poetry. Bring along a poem by a poet who you like to read to the rest of the group – we will then talk about these poems and poets.

Written by bökship

June 2, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Kevin Clarke

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Kevin Clarke is the current poet in residence at the Bökship.


You can read more of his poems on his blog…

He will be launching his Death Approaches Zine on Saturday 18 April.


Written by bökship

April 6, 2009 at 9:02 pm