Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz's "Permanent Work: Poems 1981-1992"

Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz's "Permanent Work: Poems 1981-1992" was published in 1993 by the San Diego State University Press. Interestingly, his works were organized by date, to visually demonstrate Munoz's evolution of his writing style to the reader.

I was particularly drawn to the poem “Turbulence” (Muñoz, 28). The vivid imagery feels almost jarring, reminding me somewhat of airplane turbulence, especially starting at the quote “vital signs/Dissolve into the mud”. I could almost hear the squelch of the mud described in the aforementioned quote.

The collection consists of almost all poems in verse, excluding about six or so poems written in prose, demonstrating Muñoz’s range in writing skills. The back-cover of the collection states he was a “key player in the Baja California’s literary Renaissance of the 1980s”, creating context for me as I had never heard of Muñoz’s work before reading this collection.
The diverse spread of poetry provides a portfolio to those who have no or little experience with this poet’s works. 

My major critique is the back cover of the book does have a typo, which is often one of the first things a reader will see. The blurb from Humberto Felix Berumen has a typo: “diversityj”, so perhaps some extra editing would have been necessary preceding the final print of the collection to create more of a sense of professionalism. I also was not particularly drawn to the blander colours on the cover, so I felt the cover could have been altered a bit to be more eye catching. Nonetheless, Muñoz’s poetry transported me to a different place with his vivid imagery. I overall enjoyed the experience of reading Muñoz’s work.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

How queer? We’re the exclusive English publisher of the work of transgressive Brazilian poet Glauco Mattoso | Perversions on Parade: Brazilian Literature of Transgression and Postmodern Anti-Aesthetics in Glauco Mattoso by Steven F. Butterman

Not to massage our own feet, per se, but we’re wondering why more of you theory heads haven’t been reading Perversions on Parade: Brazilian Literature of Transgression and Postmodern Anti-Aesthetics in Glauco Mattoso.

Excuse our Portuguese, and pardon the long title, but there’s a lot packed in these critical 266 pages. Without giving away any spoilers, there’s insight provided by Georges Bataille, a fertile wizard of gory-erotic poetic imagery, into the nature of pseudonyms. For one, Glauco Mattoso is a semantic stage-name of sorts—in Portuguese, it becomes a punk rock play on words roughly translating into “one who has glaucoma.”

Perversions on Parade: Brazilian Literature of Transgression and Postmodern Anti-Aesthetics in Glauco Mattoso by Steven F. Butterman (Author), Rebecca Saraceno (Illustrator)

But the punk rock nature of Mattoso’s work goes further, actually toeing the fetishistic fixations of Quentin Tarantino: namely upon feet. But, we’re not here to be basic, to shock you into reading a book about weirdos who are turned on by toes (shrimping is a term that we highly encourage you “NOT TO GOOGLE”). No, in this serious academic text, Judith Butler shares insight into the pleasure which is derived from the troubling nature of the categorization of the binary gender performative. Mattoso, according to Perversions on Parade, manages to fetishize feet so much that he negates the categorization itself and invokes a genderless subject who is overtaken by the excessive joy of the conceived/perceived “foot.” All in a day’s worship,— sorry, a day’s work.

But don’t let us tease you any further. Pick up a copy of Steven F. Butterman's Perversions on Parade here. It turns us on. Really. And it solves one more predicament. Mattoso remains quite obscure to the English-speaking world. In fact, for those of us who don’t know Portuguese, there’s not much to read about the man, and not much of his work available. For those of us restricted to simple Google searches, few solid English translations of his poems exist. So: if you or anyone you know translates Portuguese and enjoys LGBTQ theory, poetics, performative, etc., get at us. ASAP!

Pictured: Glauco Mattoso

Friday, September 28, 2018


Yes, we’re kind of theory heads here at the SDSU Press — which means we think about how unstable the term semiotics itself is! Why does a sign mean what we think it does? And how could anyone think that a sign really means one thing? Seriously, though, for anyone’s been courted in this lifetime, is it not so trite to wonder after receiving something—a text, a note, a message, a smile—to wonder: Okay, so-and-so just conveyed “this,” but does “this” mean that they “like” me? And, if yes, then what should I do to convey “exactly” what I want them to understand, i.e. a yes or no or maybe or … ???

“Koito” (coitus) — Villari Herrmann — 1971
But we digress… Of course, love is more than mere semiotic matter… And, yes, Semiotics proves an ever-contentious field of thought. But on a more pragmatic note, have you thought about reading one of our contributions to this destabilizing theoretical field? In 1994, we published POETICS AND VISUALITY: a trajectory of contemporary Brazilian poetry by Philadelpho Menezes. While it’s no spring chicken, it is a phenomenal cognitive gateway drug to hyper-specific moments of poetic metamorphoses that occurred in Brazil through the 1960s and ‘70s. The book is worth the read if only to experience one of many contexts for examination of the quixotic and visual poetry of artists like Décio Pignatari and Pedro Xisto and Villari Herrmann, to name a few…
“terra” — Décio Pignatari — 1957
Take note, radical theory heads. In a historical sense, Brazil figured violently into the burgeoning globalized economy. While Menezes’ text remains acutely clinical, tending to gloss over the gory details and analyze the pure “poetics,” it’s worth mentioning: these relatively obscure artworks came into being in light of intense political discord. In 1968, Brazilian political leaders were outright imprisoned, tortured and even killed; the nation was violently seized by dictatorship; “Ferreira Gullar, a Concretist turned Neo-Concretist who then broke with the avant-garde camp to write agitprop poetry,” was exiled along with fellow artists who were revered by the Brazilian people! If you’re curious, LA REVIEW OF BOOKS wrote a fantastic piece about Brazil’s tumultuous history here.

“beba coca cola” — Décio Pignatari — 1956
With Menezes’ tragic death in 2000, the world was deprived of further semiotic investigations. But, fortunately, we were able to press his impressively erudite text, originally written in Portuguese, and translated by SDSU’s very own Harry Polkinhorn. A challenging read, a rewarding read. So enjoy, good readers! Hopefully, as much as we enjoyed bringing it to fruition.

“Epithalâmio III” (“Epithalamium III”) — Pedro Xisto — 1966

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Dick Higgins classic from SDSU Press: MODERNISM SINCE POSTMODERNISM ...

Modernism Since Postmodernism: Essays on Intermedia by Dick Higgins
ISBN 1-879691-43-4 (1997/2014) paper, 252 pp. US $22.95

Modernism Since Postmodernism: Essays on Intermedia completed Dick Higgins' critical trilogy that began with A Dialectic of Centuries: Notes Towards a Theory of the New Arts and continued with his Horizons: The Poetics and Theory of Intermedia. A fluxperson, artist, poet, composer, and scholar of intermedia, Higgins also authored Pattern Poetry: Guide to an Unknown Literature, among numerous other works. He died in October of 1998.

Dick Higgins, from the Foreword to Modernism Since Postmodernism:

"Of course kitsch can be fun. Already 125 years ago, Rimbaud recognized this when, in the second section of A Season in Hell, he speaks of liking dumb paintings, door panels, stage sets, backdrops for acrobats, street signs, old-time literature and such-like. Who doesn't?... 'Kitschspeak' is the term I use...for the fashionable kitsch language about the arts, sometimes delightful for a while, as with
Derrida, for instance, but ultimately locked so closely into fashion and the world of second-rate, derivative art that it is all but impossible to use with major work and thus destined to pass into academia or oblivion once its novelty has passed... There are, of course, many schools of postmodernism--and they are just that, schools--but for a preliminary discussion there is no need to identify all of them. [One sort is] pop-academic, in which the professors cite each other to build up a lattice of assumptions into a polemic that may or may not have any correspondence with the realities of the arts that lie outside what is known in their trade as 'the discussion.' The academic trades are known collectively among participants in such discussions as 'the profession,' much as prostitutes refer to 'the life.'"

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Definitive Critical Work on Kathy Acker by Spencer Dew | A San Diego State University Press Classic

Direct Purchase Link
Hyperbole Books, a San Diego State University Press imprint, heralds the release of a dynamic title focused on the work of a 20th Century American Original: Kathy Acker. Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker by Spencer Dew.

The critics have spoken!

"An indispensable entry into the annals of Ackerania, Spencer Dew's "Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker" provides a poetic, personal, political, and, above all, pedagogical take on a critical figure whose contributions to finding and teaching imaginative ways of engaging with reality cannot be overstated. A deeply humane and insightful book, this should be on the shelf of anyone interested in "the ability of artistic work to affect change in the world" and who also seeks to find the blood and guts of what it means to interact morally and ethically with other human beings."

Kathleen Rooney, author of Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object

"So often, academics (myself included) have approached Acker as a punk/plagiarist revolutionary without satisfactorily asking why ultimately is she doing this? Alternatively, Spencer Dew's Learning for Revolution applies the secular concept of the Talmudic (Blanchot) to Acker's work, to propose a compelling answer to that question: Acker's writing aspires to the pedagogical, the instructional... I am not declaring this the end of Acker criticism, but Dew certainly has created an argument that will reverberate throughout Acker scholarship."

Michael Hardin, rogue scholar & author of
Devouring Institutions: The Life Work of Kathy Acker

"Progress is possible; plagiarism implies it. Spencer Dew offers an excellent guide to Kathy Acker as a progressive writer, at odds with exploitation and oppression in all forms. He is a patient reader of Acker as reader, of Blanchot and others, for whom friendship is the key to practicing another kind of life. Not the easiest person to befriend in life, Dew shows Acker on the page to be a writer whose generosity borders the infinite."

McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Definitive Critical Work Focused on John Steinbeck as a Native Californian! HOMER FROM SALINAS from SDSU Press

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From April to May 2007, some of the most celebrated scholars of American Literature, cultural studies, and California history joined with noted artists, performers, and photographers for a unique John Steinbeck celebration at San Diego State University. Homer from Salinas: John Steinbeck's Enduring Voice for California, edited by noted American Studies scholar William Nericcio, collects these lectures, screenings, debates, discussions, and visual artifacts into one volume. An innovative anthology, Homer from Salinas unfolds as a bracing melange of old school conference proceedings, next-generation Web 2.0 journalism, and a John Steinbeck scrapbook. The collection, with an introduction by Nericcio, includes outstanding pieces by Jeffrey Charles, Charles Wollenberg, William Deverell, Francisco X. Alarcon, Hernan Moreno-Hinojosa, Pam Munoz Ryan, Paul Wong, Fred Gardaphe, Arturo J. Aldama, Michael Harper, Joanna Brooks, Arthur Ollman, Louis Hock, and Susan Shillingslaw.
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Saturday, July 14, 2018

San Diego State University Press Was Ahead of the Curve When it Comes to Gender Studies and LBGTQ Cultural Studies Volumes!

Perversions on Parade: Brazilian Literature of Transgression and Postmodern Anti-Aesthetics in Glauco Mattoso by Steven F. Butterman, is the first book-length scholarly treatment in English of the Brazilian poet Glauco Mattoso's work, some of which was written during Brazil's most recent dictatorship (1964-85).

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The author highlights Mattoso's themes of homosexuality, fetishism, and symbolic sadomasochism within a context of a comparative examination of transgressive literature in the Western canon (for example, the French poete maudit, such as Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and Verlaine) with particular emphasis on Luso-Brazilian literature from the Middle Ages to the present.

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Perversions on Parade is a 2005 Hyperbole Books Volume. Christened in 2004 as an imprint of San Diego State University Press, Hyperbole Books is dedicated to publishing cutting-edge, over-the-top experiments in critical theory, literary criticism and graphic narrative. Imagine some odd, bastard child of SEMIOTEXT[e], Taschen, and Fantagraphics Books raised in the dumpster behind Powells, and you begin to wide the wave of Hyperbole Books. Remember, "Buy the Hype."

CRITICAL THEORY | CULTURAL STUDIES | QUEER THEORY | LATIN AMERICAN LITERATURE | Perversions on Parade: Brazilian Literature of Transgression and Postmodern Anti-Aesthetics in Glauco Mattoso by Steven Butterman | SDSU PRESS | 2005 | trade paperback | List Price: $25