Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Review: Magdalena Zurawski's BEING HUMAN IS AN OCCULT PRACTICE



I talk about Magdalena Zurawski's book like some of my friends talk about DMT. "You don't find DMT, when you are ready...DMT finds you," they tell me. This is precisely how I feel about Being Human Is an Occult Practice. This essay, when it finds you, will not enable you to stay the same "thing" you were before you encountered it.

The language direct & thorough. There are an abundance of quotes and asides to delve into with the book being put down to fully explore and enmesh oneself within. Zurawski's own thinking & relationship to these excerpts, quotes & asides is refreshing & clear.

There seems to be a remnant of an aura or tinge of hermetic mystery which remains a positive influence on this work...because I haven't encountered many poets writing books like this in our current era. So I appreciate that there isn't much of a reference point for me here.

With reflection & further reading, I found a Zurawskian diligence in present evaluations of her particular vantage point within this world as a mark of courage. The quotes cited throughout seem to be efficient stones placed on the page not unlike a builder's discernment in placing the precisely needed pieces around a corner stone for fortitude & material endurance of a foundation. 

After all, human beings do have a source of power & inspiration. And finding (or creating) the road maps "to" this source can be a lifelong, arduous journey into & out of the Unknown, Unseen & Unheard. We become grateful for any road markers along the way.

Being Human Is an Occult Practice is a tremendously enjoyable, provoking and soul-nourishing read. That Zurawksi’s vision remains seemingly unwavering, unimpeded by the same suppressive system which she passionately evolves & works towards disturbing and/or disrupting. Being Human is no small miracle.

Through the conscious & unconscious motions/maneuverings of mind, body & spirit through the (known) planes of existence, Being Human Is an Occult Practice is a fair companion, a sort of map to provide a journey that is likely to change the individual who is ready, perhaps by a similar nourishing lifeforce which is seemingly impelled by scholarship of the self, poetry and the world(s) in which we human beings find (and create) meaning between one another.
From Ugly Duckling Presse:
"In the essay Being Human Is an Occult Practice, Zurawski argues that studying and sharing literature can function as a means of enriching the impoverished definition of “human” created by capitalist social relations. Beginning with an analysis of Robert Duncan’s description of the moment in his high school classroom when he finds himself called into a life in poetry, this essay explores the possibilities of the literature classroom at the very moment that it’s being dismantled by the neoliberalization of our university systems.

Zurawski argues that the literary holds a revitalizing potential precisely because of its capacity of exceeding the narrow imaginative aims of life within our contemporary social order."

To order your copies of BEING HUMAN IS AN OCCULT PRACTICE by Magdalena Zurawski, via Ugly Duckling Presse, click here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Checking In 1 | A Forthcoming Poetry Book & DADAKUKU 1

Good news, sports fans! I am pleased to share here that I have a forthcoming poetry book. I'm currently playing around with cover art & design ideas. The manuscript is all new poems, with a few slightly older poems from circa 2017 having gone through the ringer of editing & revising & brain storming. Please keep an eye on this space for further publications of excerpts from RESUSCITATIONS. I am currently aiming to have RESUSCITATIONS released this April 2024.



As the good news train rolls steadily along...we are also celebrating this week the occasion of the first DADAKUKU print anthology!

I am grateful to have a few lines in this brilliant book. Shoutout to petro, who edited DADAKUKU 1 & also keeps a web-based archive, here. As the (back) cover declares: "Life is short & weird, poetry should be too!" Cyran whole-hardheartedly endorses this message. The good news is, copies of DADAKUKU 1 can be purchased for 12$ via Amazon*. Click here to do so.


*With the current affairs & layout of the publishing "game" — it is pretty much "get in where you fit in" season. I don't have an answer to the corporatization of the publishing world. I don't have any idea that is going to "revolutionize" the publishing industry, where independent poets are essentially "given" a "choice" between two corporate vampires, or avenues, to get their books "out there" and to the people. I think it is important to keep this in mind, and I suppose, strive to remember the human beings behind the making of the books, rather than the mega-conglomerate printing the books.

Another aside, dear reader, Happy New Year. This is the third year of this blog, and I'm planning some more publications here with essays & more book reviews later in the year. As well, I am striving to make 2024 the Year of the Redwood. So buckle up, or sit back and relax. Whatever & wherever your groove is, please keep it going. If you made it this far in your reading, wherever & however you are...You are a shining star, no matter who you are. More soon.



Sunday, January 28, 2024


I'm starting a new label here on the blog for a specific lineage of poems. Please check the UNSELECTED POEMS label below for further action.


what are you looking at in yr night of 1,000 eyes?
in yr flight patterns of daylight & mountains becoming specks
what body would you be? if not for this gray vessel
twitching & fanning in the wind, hope, our lost brother of the unbeaten path—
every time i walk down this road a voice in my mind becomes a flower in my mind
so far the bouquets are numberless all singing the same song all singing
when i turn my face to the sun you are there like a stark reminder of things forgotten long ago
& this is the ledge of memory: present becomes past
no matter that a woman's thigh is momentarily a meadow
or that i embarked upon a transdimensional visionquest out-of-body
the first time a woman revealed to me her legs in lace
that we can momentarily leave the body while still mentally attached to it is no small thing
or that you, pigeon, exist
coding the air around you with song spirit instinct the will to be imbibed inside something within yrself too deep & heavy for words to carry
i’m walking with my dead across the atlantic ocean back to the motherland
i'm dialing back telephone numbers of friends who died in the 90's to say i love you one more time
i'm reciting my song from the mouths of many rivers, enough weed in my lungs to recreate the feeling of my first kiss, first fuck and first high at the same time
i'm saying this poem for her hand to move south as soon as possible
i'm saying a prayer for handshake drug dealers everywhere to get their own marketing departments
i'm saying a prayer for the stick men on every street corner to take up olympic fencing & become experts in growing organic arugula instead
because there isn't enough light in this, any of this
, to truly discern what i come from, what human beings come from
where i'm going, where humanity is going—
pretty soon the rooster's morning job will be out-sourced to a machine
if by the time you're reading this it hasn't already happened
the poet dies with a soul in flight & no money to his name
the poet lives as a wraith to the masses a ghost to deception stalking deceit with true words like a thief in the night patiently awaiting the big score
it is you, pigeon, holding the world together like some kind of drunken atlas seeing double breathing enchanted with the light of all creation
you majestic gleamer you beneficent dream you wildlook uncertain work of art you embody flight you marvel without pause
O you who can look at human chaos & see none of yrself!


there are times when anything can happen—
hear my prayer O rippled cardinal
in the air you are adjacent to what is, what is not sheds from yr carnival of vision
unforeseen in the glacial kingdom of cracked Nazareth
hear our prayer O candlelit agony in strange rivers of sight
fear my fist O sullen sunspots in time
aeons rising walking the plank of my breath
read as a night flying sideways across yr window pane scoreless
plop! into & out of the mind
plop! into & out of the air
with the same leap
with the same breadth
with the same reason
there are places where the heart grows cold
my heart on the tip of my tongue
i'm eating the arctic circle
i'm swallowing forests of night burning inside yr skull
i'm eating water shitting sunlight pissing mountains
trust me, there will be enough room in heaven for the piano player's ash tray
another genius playing to an empty room
another angel consumed with ancient questions landmining the paths to invisible halos
the trauma unit and the bread aisle
biding for angels of logic & reason to focus all eyes upon the air & its walls
midnight moon on the otherside of my mind
two cherry tomatoes in my kitchen which is not yr kitchen
please stay in yr own kitchen and don’t bring me to yr kitchen, poet,
too many unwashed maps in the sink of yr mind
i'm tearing down the nearest nebula the fattest light the furthest tongue
i don't care about yr white china plates or the fat oranges in the juicer
somewhere someone is shaking their fist at something bigger than themselves
if the candle factory doesn't replace the battering ram factory by the time i'm done writing this
there's a good chance all of us are completely and utterly sharked from the gravity of the situation
—to say of the heart & a vast world in the same sentence?
in 2002, i began peeling back the layers of this planet one blade of grass and one bit of Earth at a time
in 2002, i meditated on stalactites for the whole year & fell in love with every woman i saw on 10th St
every day repeating my smile for strange meanings for strange reasons
every word a trojan horse approaching fortresses of silence & stillness
every tongue a flash of thunder briefly thread through kindling of nightfall & the generosity of yer dreams

Note: These poems are included in my debut poetry collection, RESUSCITATIONS. Click here to order a copy of my first book.