Teaching note

So it’s give or take, who keeps track, the anniversary of this blog, in which honour, here’s from the syllabus to The Art of Compost, the second coming of it.


Compost is a way of thinking about life and death and art and thought and act. Not a better way but a really quite interesting way. Also, there’s no such thing as compost theory, but if there were, here might be some thoughts of it.

Now I am terrified at the earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions.
          – Walt Whitman, “This Compost”

Beginning again and again is a natural thing even when there is a series.
          – Gertrude Stein, “Composition as Explanation”

write carelessly so that nothing that is not green will survive
          – William Carlos Williams, Paterson

Life is natural
          in the evolution
                    of matter

Nothing supra-rock
          about it

          are quicker
                    than rock
          – Lorine Niedecker, “Wintergreen Ridge”

It is only the midden heap, Beauty: shards,
                    scraps of leftover food, rottings,
                    the Dump
where we read history, larvae of all dead things,
                    mixd seeds, waste, off-castings, despised
                    treasure, vegetable putrefactions
          – Robert Duncan, “Nor is the Past Pure”

[You] can go by no track other than the one the poem under hand declares, for itself.
          – Charles Olson, “Projective Verse”

After a long time of light, there began to be eyes, and light began looking with itself.
          – Ronald Johnson, Ark

Poetry is biodegradable thought.
          – Jed Rasula, This Compost

Hey try this out. Where you see “poem” or “poetry,” read “writing.” Does the thought hold?

Sorry for the gap between the posts folks. Rough couple of days in headache land. I have trouble turning off. End of the quarter, all ramped up, grading frenzy, plus madness with the student journal I advise, plus getting prepped for summer compost, and having got it all done, instead of relaxing into a week of sunfull ease – whump.

There I am in line at the Home Depot to pick up my new composter and the sparklies start, migraine’s coming, oh no. (Head, meet composter, headComposter, ha, ha.) Mostly through it now so I can get this bit posted but damn, the body, damn.

Some sympathy let’s for those medievals who reviled it and apotheosized the spirit. Yeah they leave us with a cruddy debit. But just think, boils, cramps, agues, rotten tooth roots, and what did they have to heal yehs? Leaves and leeches.

On disjunction (I)

A good, straight, clear, honest question this morning from one of our company. You keep praising, he said, approximately, work that’s weird, kooky, associative, fragmented, with no clear story or theme or argument to make. But what’s the difference between doing that and just spreading random garbage on the page?

And one came up after with another version of that question. You keep encouraging us, she said, to make big crazy associative leaps, but you wrote on my exercise, What’s the arc, where’s the through line? What gives with that? Which is it you want?

Just the questions I want to stir in them. I hope they know they’re doing great. Not sure how robust my answers in the moment were, so am thinking it through a bit more, here.

Will invite them to, and hope they feel moved to, read on.

A first thought. Three images, or words, or sentence fragments, say, can be at a great distance from each other and still make a pattern. In the same way that three stars, 10s or 1,000,000s of light years apart, can still belong to a constellation. In fact, they can’t not make a pattern—




—a triangle. In other words, even three bits of garbage, set out mindfully, make a shape. Could be slogan to the blog.

The triangle is from one vantage the perfect form. The number of points of contact by which a stool cannot not be steady.

And constellations are, besides, maps of human mind, not stars “in themselves.” Epsilon Pegasi has no sense of being part of a horsey.

An essay contrasting perfections of the circle (singular Platonic transcendental annihilatory) and the triangle (multiple immanent ecological). This from Creeley’s “Numbers,” in Pieces—


This time, this
place, this

As of a stick,
stone, some-

thing so
fixed it has

a head, walks,
talks, leads

a life.

Alongside this—


Here forms have possibility.

The first
triangle, of form,
of people,

sounded a
lonely occasion I

circle begins
here, intangible—
yet a birth.

His priority always the forms the multiple takes. The circle as not singular perfection of the point but rather multiplication to infinitude of the triangle. Creeley as Pythagorean shaman.

But I digress.

Oh yes I do. Not much here yet of use to my students I fear. But must turn to work on a job letter. So, to be continued, and in the continuance, I hope, these.

First words of Tender Buttons. Disjunction as narrative fatigue. As provocation & alarm. As faith in essential wholeness. And probly, cuz I’m going on my nerve, lots I ain’t thought of, yet, now, here.