recidivist manifesto

“such work is empty”

“each generation requires its own

confession” : herr god, ach mutter : the world

so dramatically different. “the war is the first and only thing” and is of the magnitude to warrant a new “stance towards reality” and thus a new poetics.

the first tenet of the recidivists is to create a master/student dialectic and to develop a pedagogical approach with the hope of poetic standardization. “this inadequacy, however, is merely a disguise for other virtues.” so remember the (1) kinetics of the thing (2) the principle (3) the process and
“[here] is set down a brief list of tenets to which the poets contributing to it mutually agreed. I do not mean that they pledged themselves as to a creed. I mean that they all found themselves in accord upon these simple rules…” “So that:”

the second tenet of the recidivists (dont dare call it recidivism) is that poetic shifts are historically determined – i.e. the war on terror marked the end of language poetry (and its second generation) and understanding that the next great war will end the recidivist project we must act INSTANTER if verse now, 2005, “if it is to go ahead, if it is to be of essential use, must, I take it, catch up and put into itself certain laws and possibilities…”

the third tenet of the recidivists is to adopt a dichotomy. You can either choose from a precedence: pure/impure, practical/holocaustal, receiving/conceiving, projective/non-projective, open/closed, free/organic, imagist/symbolist, objective/subjective, determinate/indeterminate, narrative/non-narrative OR:

(criminal (habitual (reversionist


The NON-recidivist
(or what you and even a french critic
might call the public-soul-at-any-private-wall)

the fourth tenet of the recidivists is to reject something. this works most well after establishing a dichotomy. the rejection of NON-recidivistism “sounds judgmental, which is a little misleading – though only a little…Nevertheless, whatever the pleasures, in a fundamental way [NON-recidivistism] is a fiction – one of the amenities that fantasy or falsehood provides. What then is the fundamental necessity for [recidivistism]? Or, rather, what is there in language itself that compels and implements the rejection of [NON-recidivistism]?”
these questions never cease threatening the world.
[also, we reject symbolism] [and Eliot] [and Levertov’s later work]

the fifth tenet is to define the relationship that poetry has to music, painting, and science [since poetry has “spatial properties as well as temporal properties.”] music is both the “upper limit” and “material for the imagination.” painting shows us what letters are most important in the word: SARDINES. poetry must “prove science” in the same way that science must prove poetry.
similarly, recidivists must define their relationship to nature. d’accord, je suis nature. [and let’s not forget the Chinese, there is much to be misunderstood and learned by studying their characters]

the sixth tenet is to differentiate between poetry and prose. poetry is what we write when we are not writing prose, and vice versa. prose-poetry is the result of not writing either, or both. “and there are / many beautiful arms about us and the things we know.”

the seventh tenet brings us to the important relationship between form and content. this is crucial. “form is never more than an extension of content” is nice, but “form is never more than a revelation of content” is infinitely more interesting. And even though, “a flowering focus on a distinct infinity” is almost impossible to improve upon [although “if you’re going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you” is close] recidivists claim that “form is never more than a revolution of content.”
[the recidivist rejects the capitalist idea of “sufficient interest” – instead that content is “singularly each [poet’s] own business”] [and each poet’s “business is to sing”]

the eighth tenet is “the thing itself.”

the ninth tenet is that there must be a non-violent relationship between the subjective and objective – let them play. [it is the same with abstraction and concretion, there is no need to go in fear of either – don’t make them walk all night through solitary streets because we’ll all be lonely, “dreaming of the lost America of love
past blue automobiles in driveways…” Instead, ask each: “what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?”

the tenth tenet is that nothing is “common sense,” but that a poet must have a sense of communion.

the eleventh tenet is to avoid intellectualism. if you can’t avoid intellectualism, blame it on the “martian” that has transformed you into a radio. if this doesn’t work, tell them to “Give it up, I was a track star for Mineola Prep!” if desperate, tell them that you generated all your poetry and poetics from a computer program – OR – that your only goal as a poet is to write more sonnets than Raymond Queneau.

the twelfth tenet is that everything a recidivist does is implicitly political. the “recidivist text” “by definition, is open to the world and particularly to the reader. It invites participation, rejects the authority of the writer over the reader and thus, by analogy, the authority implicit in other (social, economic, cultural) hierarchies. The writer relinquishes total control and challenges authority as a principle and control as a motive. The ‘[recidivist] text’ often emphasizes or foregrounds process, either the process of the original composition or of subsequent compositions by readers, and thus resists the cultural tendencies that seek to identify and fix material, turn it into a product; that is, it resists reduction.” and thus, by analogy, the recidivist.
despite this, the recidivist must remain an “antibourgeois vigilant outraged” at the “Unites States of Megacapitalism.” [the recidivist guards against “deformed democracy.”]
You may be wondering what this has to do with syntax and grammar and this has a lot to do with syntax and grammar and it has a lot to do with poetry if you know what poetry is you would know it has a lot to do with poetry.
the recidivist may also be wondering: “what will this mean for my writing exactly? I don’t know. I feel a headache clamping down when I wonder, how much more can I disrupt the syntax which is (we know) the dominant Texan megacapitalist culture’s crucial weapon? What have I not yet tried? Somehow I will dobisrobupt sobyntobax to a degree that says No to, and potentially terrifies, all the imperialist controllers…”
all this is important to the recidivist politic and it also has its roots in the Free Speech Movement.

the thirteenth tenet is to abhor both speech and language:
The signified and signifier, “friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatedly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
AMPOPO bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,

Who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.”

the fourteenth tenet is that recidivists must cultivate an urban “comma nature.” and a recidivist must not discriminate against any punctuation mark or part of speech. in a recidivist text, all aspects of writing and speech and language are “allowed to have the play of their separate energies and can be allowed [to keep] their proper confusions.”
To let: [a noun is a noun is a noun is a noun]

the fifteenth tenet is that the LINE is the INSCAPE of the BREATH.
the sixteenth tenet is that the SYLLABLE is the INSTRESS of the EAR

the eighteenth tenet is that the SOURCE of poetry is its CIRCUMFERENCE.
the nineteenth tenet is “Dichten: Condensare”

the twentieth tenet is “To vitalize the Grace.” “[To stand] openmouthed in the temple of life, contemplating [experience].”

the twenty-first tenet is the unwavering belief that “One great step forward would be news every hour of the day and night, in a common language, from one or another of 24 stations working with a common purpose…. [It] is against ‘Babel’, the confusion of many languages. But the refreshing differences to be got from different ways of handling facts in the sound and peculiar expressions of different tongues is not to be overlooked, precisely because they have international worth.”
& “Only craft determines the morality of the poem”
& “Only the most absolute sincerity under heaven can effect any change.”

“These principles are not new. They are the essentials of all great poets, indeed of all great poetics… There is nothing new under the sun, even the word, “renaissance,” means a re-birth not a new birth.”

Clearly, recidivistism is “a very exciting movement which will undoubtedly have lots of adherents…It, like [America?], is on the way.”

“There it is, [citizens], sitting there, for USE.”


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