reviewed by Tom Hartman

Published in Issue No. 56 ~ January, 2002

Perhaps the single most interesting bit of content in the current edition
of the San Fran-based VeRT is editor
Andrew Felsinger’s brief response (a retraction, really) to the controversy
surrounding “Meatball Curtain,” a poem Felsinger published in VeRT #4 and
credited to John Ashbery, but which has been revealed to be of dubious
authorship. Was it penned by Jacques Debrot, Felsinger asks, the bloke
who not so long ago wrote both sides of an “interview” with Ashbery? Or
is the poem (included below) an artifact that “perhaps Ashbery could have
jotted down, a minor yet worthy work allowed to slip from his desk, a poem
pinned to his corpus, an homage to the intricacies (mysteries) of identity
and art.” Whatever the poem’s real provenance, it’s an intriguing text
to be sure, and Felsinger’s publication of it, and his subsequent retraction
(which winks approvingly at the notion of literary frauds), raises some
interesting questions about art and authorship. Here’s the poem:

“Meatball Curtain”

Literally, they say, “choked.”
But pissing into the snow loosens nothing up.
I mean I; the reason why this remoteness
Haloes the how the day went,
Mathematical probability of the
Sound attached to the Seine’s hypotenuse of ice
And the grafittoed monuments
Experienced as examined pulses, signals
To be precipitated in desire
The way a name gets spelled out magically
In blotto green light the sleet sparkles across.

If the “Meatball Curtain” debate or the lit-crit. (some of it ambitious)
Felsinger serves up fails to spark your interest, there’s much good poetry
in VeRT, like Joanna Sondheim’s “The Fit” (“What without fits, grumpiness,
sick fumbling. Interest lies in/ study, unearthed the lady manages boneless
with both arms/ intact. I stampede, watch for implosions”) and Kirsten

This is my book of links.
My horn lobby. My room of forms.
This is someone’s dojo (mine, again).
Wipe your feet.

VeRT is a notable zine, particularly if you’re interested in avant garde
poetics and/or visual and concrete poetry, the latter of which, a fixture
here, has too few quality outlets on the Web.

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Tom Hartman has been a regular contributor to Pif since 1999. He lives in Philadelphia.