Monday, December 21, 2009



Ghost Dance in 33 Movements by Anny Ballardini
(Otoliths, 2008)

Ghost Dance in 33 Movements is a collection of thirty-three poems written from viewings of films archived on the UbuWeb site. Here is the last stanza of the poem "Nam June Paik":
Paik's soundless stillness is stoic even brilliant rhetoric from regret
to a callback of neglect lack of glee tight in its lack of weight
white etched in black stuck in eternal glitch caught
in the net a tent clinging in vortical twirls
blinding glitter blurring lines
a nit without whirr in
nature a twig
in ether a

This lyrical commentary becomes more lyric than commentary as it progresses, yet certain of the recurring sounds refer also to the commentary. Commentary and lyric are sometimes juxtaposed in these poems, as are prose and lines, quotation and creation. There is a varied use of line (content as well as form), often occurring within the same poem. This is the first stanza of "Robert Rauschenberg":
screening the times
blurring boundaries
assemblage, conceptualism, printmaking, fabric collages, sculptures, destructive reductions,
artistic message
massaging masses
Joseph Albers' student at Black Mountain College

After this stanza (the fourth line is "Assemblage... destructive reductions," - in case the blog format breaks it) is a quotation from Tate Modern, followed by the monostich "history shaping itself organically", then a lengthy quotation from Leo Steinberg, and then this stanza (what I read as one stanza; there is a new page after "...personal information".):
Rauschenberg anticipated and set up our mental attitude
towards the internet
the era of information
his works of art the layering of personal information
an action painting through gathering and depicting
his (as
our) personal ways of carving through the ether
from Lévy's enthusiastic approach
to a future of which we are less sure
"as usual" would say Michel Eyquem de Montaigne,
i.e.: "Que sais-je?"

And more follows! One of my favorite poems in this collection is "Jorge Luis Borges", which can be read online:

Here are five lines from the poem "Yoko Ono":
a fly of the 200 flies
on Virginia Lust's naked body
wanted the space effect
(see galactic moons craters hills
wild enchanted forest conundrums)

Ghost Dance in 33 Movements merits a lengthy written study, preferably one that would mirror its poetry and quotation. At the close of the poem "Isidore Isou", Anny Ballardini quotes Jack Kimball (in an interview with Tom Beckett) saying pleasure "is what makes the work poetry." This book provides the pleasure of poetry, and the pleasure of scholarship.


Jeff Harrison reviewed books for the past five issues of Galatea Resurrects. He has publications from Writers Forum, MAG Press, Persistencia Press, and Furniture Press. He has two e-books at xPress(ed), and one at Blazevox. His poetry has appeared in The Hay(na)ku Anthology Vol. II (Meritage Press), An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel Editions), Otoliths, Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics, Xerography, Moria, NOON: journal of the short poem, Dusie, MiPOesias, EXPLORINGfictions, and elsewhere. Some of his poems can be read here and here. You are welcome to visit Antic View.

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