TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT November 2019

TOP TEN

JULIANA SPAHR

Photo: Molly Matalon

Juliana Spahr is a poet. Her most recent book, Du Bois’s Telegram (Harvard University Press, 2018), is about literature and politics. She lives in Berkeley, California.

  1. BERNADETTE MAYER, “THE WAY TO KEEP GOING IN ANTARCTICA” (1968)

    I often think poetry is bad at comfort. Or at least, I rarely find it comforting. But this poem might be an exception: “Look at very small things with your eyes / & stay warm / Nothing outside can cure you but everything’s outside.”

    *Cover of Bernadette Mayer’s _Poetry_* (Kulchur Foundation, 1976). Cover: Rosemary Mayer. Cover of Bernadette Mayer’s Poetry (Kulchur Foundation, 1976). Cover: Rosemary Mayer.
  2. NANNI BALESTRINI, THE UNSEEN (1987), AND PETER WEISS, THE AESTHETICS OF RESISTANCE, VOLUME 1 (1975)

    Two novels: Both have working-class heroes finding their way through complicated, somewhat revolutionary moments. For The Unseen, it is Italy’s Years of Lead; for The Aesthetics of Resistance, it is 1930s Europe. My obsession with these books is not mitigated by my wish that someone would write a novel with a working-class female hero finding her way through similarly trying and yet exuberant times.

    *Cover of Verso’s 2012 edition of Nanni Balestrini’s _The Unseen_ (1987).* Cover of Verso’s 2012 edition of Nanni Balestrini’s The Unseen (1987).
  3. KACEY MUSGRAVES, “SLOW BURN” (2018)

    Pairs nicely with Joshua Clover’s essay of the same name for the online journal Popula.

    *Kacey Musgraves performing at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, March 14, 2019.* Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock. Kacey Musgraves performing at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, March 14, 2019. Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock.
  4. TRIPWIRE: A JOURNAL OF POETICS

    Edited by David Buuck, Tripwire is a yearly journal of poetry, poetics, and art that is relentlessly international and thoughtful in its political affiliations. It is one of the few magazines left that are in the tradition of the journal transition (a periodical from the 1920s—cofounded by Eugene Jolas, Maria McDonald, and Elliot Paul—that published groundbreaking modernist works from around the world). Each issue of Tripwire can run up to roughly three hundred pages. It usually takes me a year to finish a single copy.

    *Spread from _Tripwire,_ no. 5 (Fall 2001).* Julie Patton. Spread from Tripwire, no. 5 (Fall 2001). Julie Patton.
  5. BOREDOM WEEPS: GRAFFITI, CURSES, INSCRIPTIONS OF MAY 1968 (2018)

    Black Ink, the group that produced this volume (in collaboration with Interference Archive), distributes design-heavy, insistently free content about anarchism and black life and liberation. This particular collection features graffiti and slogans from the uprisings of May 1968 in France. The examples are frequently heartbreaking and funny, such as “Reform = chloroform.”

    * Page from _Boredom Weeps: Graffiti, Curses, Inscriptions of May 1968_* (Black Ink and Interference Archive, 2018). Page from Boredom Weeps: Graffiti, Curses, Inscriptions of May 1968 (Black Ink and Interference Archive, 2018).
  6. THE 2015 BALTIMORE UPRISING: A TEEN EPISTOLARY (2015)

    Shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., we got Gwendolyn Brooks’s Riot (1969). And shortly after the Baltimore riots, we got this book. Basically a collection of tweets, it’s sad, often hilarious, and as troubled as the internet.

    *Spread from _The 2015 Baltimore Uprising: A Teen Epistolary_* (Research and Destroy, 2015). Spread from The 2015 Baltimore Uprising: A Teen Epistolary (Research and Destroy, 2015).
  7. FRIEND MERCH

    Capitalism is terrible and friend merch tries to cover this up. Yet I still love this weird niche of commodity production. One friend makes SAPPHO caps. Another makes T-shirts, pens, and hats on which cheery images of California poppies, for instance, say DEATH TO WHITE SUPREMACY. Yet another outfit, More Female Strength, makes a shirt that has a woman deep in a low bar squat with minotaur heads in place of weights.

    *Product shot for Floss Editions’ “Sappho Hat,” 2019.* Product shot for Floss Editions’ “Sappho Hat,” 2019.
  8. COMMUNIST INTERVENTIONS

    Three anthologies, lovingly assembled by freewheeling collectives of anti-state communists and anarchists, were created to facilitate reading groups focusing, respectively, on the histories of European socialism and communism, black revolutionary thought in the United States, and feminism (you may find these PDFs online by simply googling “communist research cluster”). For a few years, the weekly meetings I attended, at which we discussed these works in small apartments or the basements of social centers, were my postgraduate education.

  9. CONCRETE HORIZON

    This artist, who has a YouTube channel, has been doing these videos that remind me what it is like to be out and about after work and before the sun sets (the best time). Nothing happens in them in a plot sort of way. There is some skateboarding and the occasional train hop. So much art feels like “art.” These works feel like memory and the memorialization of the small moments we should remember. Concrete Horizon also quietly points out that there is still life in San Francisco, despite the current occupation by the tech industry. 

    *Stills from Concrete Horizon’s 2019 YouTube videos _Haze Valley_ (top) and _The Pier._* Stills from Concrete Horizon’s 2019 YouTube videos Haze Valley (top) and The Pier.
  10. AIMÉ CÉSAIRE, CAHIER D’UN RETOUR AU PAYS NATAL (NOTEBOOK OF A RETURN TO THE NATIVE LAND, 1939)

    Let’s end by stating the obvious: This is the best poem ever written.