Mesostic Poem

This mesostic uses my dissertation as its source text. It was generated and formatted for the web and using a Python script that I wrote with the assistance of ChatGPT. You can view and clone the script for your own use in its GitHub repository.

On mobile devices, view this page in "Desktop Mode" for the best experience.

Reading through Sound Off
known as “The Duckworth Chant,” later referred to as “TheJody Call” and “Sound Off,” was invented by Private Willie
What many pEople do not realize is that Private Duckworth was black,
Drawing its titleFrom Duckworth’s cadence, this dissertation occupies a similar intersection between
For decades, the critical discourse around American avant-garde poetry has
In this disseRtation, I intervene in these highly contentious debates by arguing
In ordEr to trawl the depths of the myriad anti-lyric arguments
While I argue that the contemporarYavant-garde in American poetry institutionalizes its whiteness through its oppositional

As such, they are the individuals most likely to kill—andBe killed—on the battlefield. While the many groups across artistic
The military metaphOr is not all-encompassing in structuring the avant-garde, however. Governed
Attempts to theoRize the avant-garde over the twentieth century largely follow the
to theorize the avant-garde as a whole with sweeping pronoUncements about its relation to the competing logics of Big-M-Modernism
The avant-garde aSpopularly understood in contemporary American poetry is the invention of
EZra Pound, rent between American and European currents, retroactively became
In terms of poetic prActice, the Language poets display a three-fold inheritance from Pound’s
in any single theoretical statement—in fact, they almost never invoKe the label themselves. Instead, scholars use “anti-lyric” as an

lyric poems as the expression of a central speaking subJect, which can be read and interpreted sans historical and
ConfEssional poets, meanwhile, responded to the mid-century dominance of New
in poetic discourse, especially since this characterization does not accountFor more recent developments in lyric theory. The twenty-first century
Heavily inFluenced by the apparition of the poststructuralist zeitgeist during the
TheRe are three dimensions to the language games’ overall import
SEcond, Mill’s comparison between poetry and eloquence assumes the existence
Whereas Modernist poetics was overwhelminglYcommitted, at least in theory, to the “natural look,” whether

a “made” or “crafted” thing. Therefore, poetry may in factBe similar to “eloquence” in the sense of the latter’s
Third, the uncritical reprOduction of language’s supposedly “natural” or traditional qualities in lyric
These thRee components of anti-lyric critique—the hermeneutic confluence of the fused-Writer-Reader,
However, theUse of voice as a catch-all term for lyric self-expression
The principle of intelligibility, in lyric poetry, dependSon the phenomenalization of the poetic voice. Our claim to
1990 monograph Poetic License.29 However, by referring to its phenomenaliZation, De Man suggests that voice is not a metaphor
Turning to technology for sound recordingAnd reproduction brings into relief the precarity of these theoretical
Bernstein hedges against rejecting voice later in his career, acKnowledging sound art, cut-ups, and attention to breath as potentially

fetishization of China in the poem’s title and the obJect for which it was named, the work includes stanzaic
It may not bEsurprising, then, that even though the avant-garde includes members with
by white poets is not marked by race, and thereFore considerations of ethnic social location do not apply to
However, as my analysis oFpoems by Cathy Park Hong and Douglas Kearney in Chapters
The entRenched whiteness that defines the contemporary avant-garde serves as an
Both this imagEand the Mongrel Coalition build off of an argument made
bourgeois niceties like voice to alter conditions forged in historY. The avant-garde’s “delusion of whiteness” is the luxurious opinion

Hong notaBly highlights voice and its relationship to the poetic subject
I dOnot wish to dispute the accuracy or urgency of these
It is also impoRtant to differentiate between the threats posed by the whiteness
of color already have attempted to bring these rival groUps together. In her essay, “Poetry and Identity,” Harryette Mullen
The aSsumption remains, however unexamined, that “avant-garde” poetry is not “black”
shows that both Harper’s and London Review of Books publishedZero female writers of color in 2016).51 These numbers suggest
However, one of the mAjor obstacles to reforming the avant-garde is that anti-lyric critique

1877, he recorded himself reciting the opening stanza of SaraJosepha Hale’s poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”56 In the
That bothEdison and Bell would choose to record poems to demonstrate
OFcourse, the invention of sound recording technology also had wide-ranging
In noise can be read the codes oFlife, the relations among men...Everywhere codes analyze, mark, restrain, train,
Given that “eaRly users of sound-reproduction technologies in the United States were
ListEning, both to and for voice, is therefore a discriminatory
PoetrYis no exception when it comes to voice. As Charles

widely anthologized poem, “A Woman Speaks,” reflects on the ill-definedBoundaries circumscribing lyric poetry and the tensions in the figure
The nOtion that one’s identity exceeds the limits of the discriminatory
ChaRles Bernstein provides his own reading of “His Master’s Voice,”
However, the ability to be identified throUgh a recording of one’s voice pushes against the boundaries
ThiSphenomenon thus begs the question: how can a reader identify
statement, lest readers place too much emphasis on the siZe of the dog in her formulation. It does not
Stein’s voltAic reversal returns us to Yu’s claim that the avant-garde
use technology for sound recording and reproduction in their worKso that I may demonstrate in more detail the particularities

While the maJority of the poets discussed in the following pages are
SEcond, the early postwar period spans the time between the
MyFirst chapter, “One Track Mind: Auto Poesy and Alternative Consciousness
Because this introduction already lingers in the Language milieu oFthe 80s and 90s, my second chapter fast-forwards to the
The thiRd chapter, “Ekoustic Poetry: Writing the Masked Sounds of Blackness
In thEcoda, I “hit pause” on the avant-garde by considering two
One Track Mind: Auto PoesYand Alternative Consciousness in Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America:

For many people, the phrase “TheBeat Generation” conjures images of jazz, sex, drugs, cigarettes, and
Ginsberg’s sOnic projects were not solely limited to producing albums, however.
While FallReceived the National Book Award in 1973, auto poesy receives
with Ginsberg’s markedly distinct mid-career poems, they tend to relyUpon critical strategies that are more applicable to Ginsberg’s preoccupations
In thiSchapter, I examine auto poesy within the context of Ginsberg’s
describes it, as if he was “blowing (as per jaZz musician) on subject of image.”7 Retaining an emphasis on
Just before he begAn writing “Howl,” Ginsberg was already using the phrase “The
on the premises of spontaneous composition, which would fulfill whatKerouac called the style’s “Mental State”: “If possible write ‘without

styles reflecting Ezra Pound’s proclivity for collaging text through radicalJuxtaposition alongside the techniques of Charles Olson’s composition by field.
According to Olson, composition by fiEld is a method of writing that strives towards an
the then-lesser-known William Burroughs who would make the most signiFicant impact on Ginsberg’s artistic development during this period. In
Gysin was cutting a mountFor a drawing and sliced through a pile of old
Gysin’s innovation excited BuRroughs, who had been using similar techniques as part of
His cut-upExperiments had led him to conclude that everyone had been
While contemporarYreaders may see the motives and methods of the poststructuralist

Burroughs’s cut-up has roots in the work of Dada writer
Initially, Allen Ginsberg did nOt seem to be concerned with the cut-up. When Burroughs
Up to this point in his life, GinsbeRg viewed his poems as sacred texts in service of
VarioUs basic rules have evolved, as far as my instincts
GinSberg’s belief in the sacral nature of poetry and its
as I can tell outside of anything I could recogniZe as his previous identity. And that somewhat changed my
On the other hAnd, Ginsberg’s crisis also arose from the fact that the
Now the serious technical point that Burroughs was maKing by his cut-ups, which I resisted and resented since

continue as some kind of Ginsberg. I can’t write, exceptJournals and dreams down; as the next step if any
HowEscape rigidification and stasis of consciousness when man’s mind is
shows the ways in which Burroughs’s cut-up threatened Ginsberg’s belieFin the possibility of a Whitmanian Democracy. Ginsberg began to
the early 1960s have been well-documented by scholars, as theyForm the basis for Indian Journals, a volume of selections
On DEcember 15, 1965, Ginsberg traveled to Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin in
new ax for composition,” as he described it to GregorY[Corso]…he sat there and made a number of recordings of

Recognizing the inclusion of amBient ocean noise as substance, as well as the ability
I dictate itOn this Uher tape recorder. Now this Uher microphone has
In oRder to demonstrate Ginsberg’s process, as well as the differences
same world / as every sad Christmas before // sUrrounded // by forests / of stars
Metal columnSwith smoke pouring out of them // cloudward // on
yellow-lamp horiZon
wArplants move, tiny
Meanwhile WorKing Girls sort mail into the red slot

InfantryJournal, Kanackee
Social REgister, Wichita Star39
Beyond revisions in diction, there are several key diFferences between the original recording and the published poem. First,
captured on tape, indicating that they are not part oFa documentary effort. Ginsberg’s editorial interventions are a significant part
Bayonne TuscaRora
GrEy water tanks in the Grey mist,

towers carrying pastBayonne’s
in white smOg, silver
domes, gReen Chinaworks steaming
Monotone thrUthe truck window
pla parallel black wireSon the grey highway
lines of “Howl” and “Kaddish,” Ginsberg composed auto poesy stanZaically. Stanzas represent discrete portions of Ginsberg’s recordings, with breaks
Auto poesy was an ongoing experiment, and because Ginsberg adapted
Kansas City to Saint Louis” (March 1966)

“Cleveland, the Flats” (June 1966)
“Iron HorsE” (July 22-23, 1966)
“Autumn Gold: New EnglandFall” (October 17, 1966)
between December 18, 1965 and January 10, 1967, meaning thatFor the most part auto poesy was a year-long experiment
Auto poesy, I contend, is not aRadical break in Ginsberg’s poetics, but an evolved method of
This mEdiation is precisely why auto poesy should be considered an
Auto poesY, then, synthesizes the spontaneity and sincerity of Kerouac’s method

GinsBerg wrote Fall between 1965 and 1972, a period that
Beginning with the very first andOnly pre-auto poesy poem in Fall, Ginsberg starts making preliminary
Up hills following tRailer dust clouds, green shotgun shells & beer-bottles on road,
MUd plate of Black Rock Desert passing, Frank Sinatra lamenting
All memory at preSent time returning, vast dry forests afire in California, U.S.
large and a sly dig at the assumption of NietZschean superiority by American citizens during the Cold War, Ginsberg
Ginsberg’s juxtAposition of a comic book character, geographic allusion, idiomatic deconstruction,
an interlocutor to whom he can directly respond. In “Kansas City to Saint Louis,” another auto poesy poem, Ginsberg

Rather thanJuxtapose the speech of Senators with other elements of American
In subsEquent poems, Ginsberg continues to write an almost ekphrastic construction
Vast hoards oFmen Negro’d in the gloom,
Gnashing their teethFor miles
TeaRs in attick’s blackness
Swastikas worshippEd in the White Urb,
of ominous smoke in order to highlight their impact beYond the smokestack. Litter and oil are the products of

In “A Vow,” GinsBerg writes a summation of his many concerns within the
everywhere digesting fOrests & excreting soft pyramids
of newspRint, Redwood and Ponderosa patriarchs
silent in Mediation mUrdered & regurgitated as smoke,
Sawdust, screaming ceilings of Soap Opera,
these aspects of the military-industrial complex in close succession, utiliZing Olson’s kinetics via composition by field to locate his
Given thAt Ginsberg wrote Fall as an epic sequence relying on
measure, but private monopolistic manufacture of money (credit i.e., checKs) by banks, and their use of money to multiply

of Pound’s monetary invectives echoes throughout Fall, especially through theJuxtaposition of monetary interests and natural symbols—a comparison favored by
GivE‘em all the orgasms they want
It’s a gold crisis! Not enuForgasms to go round
“Ever since the world began Gold is the measure oFsolidarity.”
Golden light oveRIowa, silver cloud floor, sky roof blue deep65
ThEorgasm, the sexual release which Ginsberg figures as the necessary
While writing Fall’s poems in 1967, Ginsberg traveled to ItalYwhere he met Pound in person for the first time.

GinsBerg was clearly affected by Pound’s silence to his poem
Average yOung guys have been so heavily conditioned to living in
By attempting to alteRthe consciousness of his readers, Ginsberg adopts Pound’s didactic approach
Following his experiments with aUto poesy, Ginsberg continued to search for ways to alter
I had thiSextraordinary experience chanting OM here in Chicago. On Sunday afternoon—the
electric signals of radio. “Bixby Canyon Ocean Path Word BreeZe,” meanwhile, adopts an emphasis on geographical movement from auto
The evolution of Ginsberg’s poetics between the 1950sAnd early 1970s thus show an intense focus on voice,
norms of the 1960’s in ways that are rarely acKnowledged—particularly in his concern for ongoing abuses against African American

Watten further opines that Hong’s essay is “Replete with proJection and historical inaccuracy; barely at the level of an
WhilEWatten’s comments further highlight the important role “voice” and its
I turn to Hong’s 2007 collection Dance Dance Revolution (hereaFter DDR),4 which was selected by the preeminent poet and
Set in the then-Future year of 2016, most of DDR consists of excerpts
My analysis of DDRapproaches the collection as a testing ground for the arguments
YEt as we have seen, the essential alterity of Asian
The liminalitYparsing Asian American and avant-garde poetries is the product of

Given its aBerrational appearance and sustained usage, Hong’s invented language, Desert Creole,
Desert CreOle adopts the properties of English syntax in its basic
…Many ‘MeRriken dumplings unhinge dim
talk holes y ejacUlate oooh y hot-diggity,
diSis de shee-it…but gut ripping done to erect Polis,
principles of English syntax are clearly present in the stanZa. Words such as “dim,” “dis,” and “dat” are phonetic
Comprehending Desert Creole is complicAted by the inclusion of idiomatic constructions whose euphemistic references
mind to readers via the expressions of a central speaKing subject.

Insofar as the utility of the poetic subJect’s inclusion derives from its ability to voice the experience
PErhaps for this reason, Hong blends epic and lyric principles
as the Guide and the Historian arrive in the DesertFrom the airport, with the ellipsis standing it for an
ability to mediate lyric principles, particularly within the context oFwho narrates the poems, suggests the role of the tape
In tapeRecording, “materiality” refers to a length of plastic called a
Signal currEnts to be recorded are passed through a magnetic coil
particles on the surface of the tape are just barelYvisible to the naked eye. Many users of magnetic tapes

since its earliest days. That is, there is a generalBelief in the recording’s ability to continue existing that informs
TherefOre, the poems encourage a reading practice that goes beyond
Hong’sUse of the word “creole” in describing her invented language
Second, Hong notes that French was originally a creole before
execute him as a Communist spy when he suddenly recogniZes the soldiers’ translator as a former schoolmate. When the
You cAn be the best talker but no point if you
speaKthe other man’s tongue. You can’t chisel, con, plead,

a visceral extreme in DDR. New Town, the village adJacent to the Desert, serves as the chief figure for
Hong portrays NEw Town as an oddly familiar but utterly improbable locale.
Hong’s collage oFthe many manifestations of colonial violence constructs an explicit link
Instead oFusing physical manifestations of race as the primary site through
The text’s ellipses, then, take on a new function inRepresenting language. Previously, I claimed that the ellipses denoted gaps
The term decolonization is most commonlYunderstood as a process in which a colonizing nation withdraws

challenge for implementing decolonial strategies is “delinking” from the comBination of epistemic, ontological, and material influences that constitute what
HOng’s representation of the Guide’s experience during the 1980 Kwangju
In DDR, we learn that at the time of the Kwangju
pot-belly war veterans slingUp
WWII carbine rifle gainSt sifa tanks…Coal miners
broadcasts serve a critical function in fomenting resistance by mobiliZing the population towards collective action, which in addition to
But the Guide’s broAdcasts are ultimately for naught. One night, paratroopers storm the
Desert. New Town’s residents have been meeting in secret, worKing with guides who, like the Guide, are themselves exiled

failed attempt at mobilizing overt collective action during the KwangJu Uprising. Effectively, the Guide’s failure in 1980 was the
But it is notEnough to stand on the opposite river bank, shouting questions,
Anzaldúa’s use oFthe riverbank as a metaphor for these schisms—physical, linguistic, and
recorder and the pirate radio broadcasts, a third kind oFsound technology in Dance Dance Revolution emphasizes the stakes of
The thRee types of sound technology that appear in DDR suggest
It is important to rEmember that DDR’s fictional spacio-temporal setting makes the book less
her implicit insistence throughout DDR that race is not onlYan important topic that deserves the rigorous attention of American

the Guide and the Historian are not extensions of Hong’sBiographical self. Hong does not “bear witness” to an “ethnographic
EkOustic Poetry: Writing the Masked Sounds of Blackness in Douglas
“HOW YOU SOUND??” is what weRecent fellows are up to. How we sound; our peculiar
—LeRoi Jones, “How YoUSound??”
Amiri Baraka (then LeRoi JoneS) was the only non-white poet to be included in
in the Greek ἐκ (ek), meaning “out,” and ϕράζειν (phraZsin), “to speak or tell.”3 Originally a rhetorical term for
My emphAsis on ekoustic as a term comes from contemporary poet
is, offering a challenge for something that isn’t strictly eKphrastic. I suspect the greatest poem written thusly would never

is, inside its “secret”—which is then reproduced in the poem.Just as ekphrasis renders new meanings and insights into visual
GivEn the academic tendency that considers poetry written by black
Given the contemporary publishing industry’s ongoing demandFor poetry written by people of color that can be
invites consideration into the ways in which the demands oFthe publishing and education industries constitute a matrix that actively
So while attention to expeRimental practices may be welcome it tends to render that
Hunt’s account is ladEn with visual figures: “surface and opacity,” “lifts the edge
Dialect poetrY, in which poets attempt to represent black vernacular speech

exceeds my scope here, the early contours of these deBates reflect several of its key premises. In his 1926
The NegrOin the United States has achieved or been placed in
the blend of the visual and sonic in this descRiption, whereby dialect’s sounds conjure a “picture” in the imagination.
These early twentieth centUry debates over the use of dialect in poetry focus
Given theSynesthetic blending of color and sonic apprehension necessitated by the
the Civil Rights Movement). Noise ordinances included the development ofZoning laws that racially segregated residents through economic differences priced
Approaching the sound of blackness in its reception among listeners
psychoacoustic concepts for perceptual coding were the theories of masKing and critical bands. Masking proposed that a louder sound

unseen and directly contradictory emotional states for its speaker. TheJuxtaposition of these oppositional affects depicts the abject status of
ThEreception of performed blackness by white audiences is only indirectly
Auditory masking is theFunction of two physical aspects of sound—frequency and volume. Louder
Douglas Kearney’s attempts to write an ekphrasis oFsound can describe a number of his poems, particularly those
One of the most appaRent ways that Kearney breaks through the noise with his
“ThEBlack Automaton in What It Is #2: Hypertension in Effizect”
Given that “heY, you: what’s that sound?” is the only line disconnected

Kearney’s vocal performance of “TheBlack Automaton in What It Is #2: Hypertension in Effizzect”
Hip hop’s methods, aesthetics, and foRmal properties are the site where the seemingly disparate threads
Kearney engages with the process of aUditory masking and its attendant relationship to the sound of
Additionally, the line circumScribing the top and right portions of the poem bridges
Between these two stanZas are a series of sampled lyrics associated through their
The “secret” thAt animates Kearney’s ekoustic interpretation of hip hop, then, extends
is meant to redefine the role of authenticity in blacKexpression by shifting discourse away from the phonetic mimesis of

a realist sense…Kearney produces a poem different from the maJority of African American historical poems, which seek-quite understandably and
In othEr words, rather than attempt to give voice to the
Such an approach calls upon the neurologicalFunction of anticipation in the act of listening. Listening differs
that ekoustic poetry aims to get inside the “secret” oFsounds by depicting auditory complexities and their social powers in
Coda: Hitting Pause on the Avant-GaRde
ThEInternational Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization
idea that the pause icon originates in poetic customs maYbe neither surprising nor revelatory. As I demonstrate throughout this

This dissertation is an interruption of sorts. SituatedBetween the opposing poles of an ongoing debate perhaps best
It’s time tOinterrupt the totemic power of the poetry anthology. In 2011,
In heRreview for The New York Times Review of Books, Helen
Kenneth Goldsmith, the first MoMA Poet LaUreate and unofficial spokesperson for conceptual poetry, mercurially describes the
ASmy description of three of his works makes apparent, Goldsmith
license to incorporate subjective experience and emotional material without fetishiZing the lyric ego, the personal “I”—in effect, they permit
When reducing theAuthorial influence of a poem to the point where the
year after Vendler and Perloff assailed Dove’s anthology, Evie ShocKley addressed the “mutual disdain”24 expressed by critics who are

a motivation for returning to news reports made during maJor American tragedies. As he began his project, he found
ThEslick curtain of media was torn, revealing acrobatic linguistic improvisations.
to Goldsmith, the role mass media plays in narrativizing tragedyFor audiences is the concept that is “better thought about”
not to say that reading conceptual texts requires one toFall back on authorial considerations to the exclusion of other
The mixtape, whichRevels in echoes resonating between the new and the familiar,
On March 13, 2015, KEnneth Goldsmith become the subject of a major controversy for
an attempt to participate in anti-racist discourse, the piece ultimatelYenacts more harm than critique. By reading the text of

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled programming toBring you this exclusive offer. Sick of porcelain poetry anthologies
• Divya VictOr’s “Migrant Forms.”33 This moving gif displays a new word
• Mei-Mei BeRssenbrugge’s “Permanent Home.”34 A paratactic series of individual sentences in
• Nathaniel Mackey’s “Lone Coast AnacrUsis.”35 With frequent ellipses producing vocal caesuras, the text of
• Rodrigo ToScano’s “Affekt Funereal / Affekt Jamboree.”36 Mixing academic frustration with
her account’s cover photo was an illustration of a minstreliZed “Mammy” character cropped from the cover for the sheet
Her project rApidly drew widespread condemnation and was described as a form
race rather than ignore it. But to accomplish this tasKthey must turn inward by taking active steps to respond