sourced in public, distributed in private / each having abandoned an other to our own devices / from static mourning
In Pickles & Jams, cris cheek exposes the very membranes that lie between the sensed-real of the culturally dominant and the barely-sensed hyper-real of the culturally emergent.
The flarfy titles of these lush and brazen poems belie the intensity of their love and outrage, their puns tart and savory, acidic and sweet, and the preserving properties of poesie. The minor obstructions and dilemmas of these “pickles” and “jams” contribute to the texture of life in a neoliberal (though rapidly fascistifying) world, so much so that were life easier, “were you to get just what you wanted every time you read me/ as a bolt of white lightning striking a muddy brain repeatedly/… /
Creative mishearings, extemporized speech, pattern/algorithm/procedure, typos (“Your typos / leak wisdom”), phonemic salad, technological fuckery… this is the stuff that cris’ work seems made of to me.
Here is a myriad—cris cheek’s marble-mouthed, sardonic, homages to and parodies of pop and literary cultures. Pickles & Jams offers itself as a cornucopia of whimsy, satire, mimicry and, sandwiched between, moments of lyrical tenderness.
Pickles, as in difficulties. Jams likewise, but also music, a dense, sensual, wild-ass, shredding music.
"Environmental Foam," an excerpt
Launch Reading of Pickles & Jams (BlazeVox 2017)
Introduced by Keith Tuma
From a collection put together over a few days after the result of the EU referendum in late June, 2016. Some of the writing in it directly reflects that result. Some too is still in mourning after the massacre in Orlando.
(2015) Poetics Journal Digital Archive,
edited by Lyn Hejinian, and Barrett Watten
‘ . . . they almost all practically start out with the kid walking up the hill to the house after school. Then it describes their parents or something, often being moralistic either you’ve supplied more connectives or I’ve ceased to need them. Or jokes all things are possible only thru prayer. I don’t mean conjunctions. A good definition of narrative is reading order . . . ’
(2015) Asemic Writing: The New Post-Literate
(2013) Amodern with Nicole Starosielski and Braxton Soderman
Networks have structured our social – and media – development long before the emergence of the “network society.” From the letter-writing networks of the proto-Italian aristocracy to the electrical networks that facilitated industrialization; from the spread of woodcuts, pamphlets, and ballads that supported the Protestant Reformation to the twentieth century emergence of broadcast radio and television networks, media have always been situated in the matrices of networks of circulation and distribution, facilitating historically specific modes of connection.
(2013) Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol. 6, No. 3.
This think piece about past present and emergent means for the exhibition of text works uses embodiment and proximity as its lens. Texts inscribed onto and through and from the body of the humanimal, both in terms of ongoing traditions and immanent capabilities are considered. Body-mind, skin, clothing, paper, architexture and landscape are drawn into play here. I wanted to stir memory and imagination and speculation, to incite ambition and reflection, more than to focus onto a few specific works in detail. In that sense its contribution remains rumination on our contemporary moment in terms of textual production and circulation.
(2012) Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry.
Canterbury: Glyphi, Vol. 4, No. 2.
Bob Cobbing produced and circulated texts as poet and artist and publisher for sixty years. Many of his own texts, and their performances, were collaboratively authored and or collaboratively interpreted. Performances of production and circulation for poetry for him did not at all rest only with the non-reproducible live event, but his understanding of the dynamics of the live increasingly informed and influenced all aspects of poetic production and circulation for him. That is, Cobbing’s extension of performances for the production and circulation of poetry gradually widened through his life to include all acts and aspects of composition and definitions of publication.
(2009) from HOW2 (Vol. 3, No. 2 ed. Sophie Robinson):
an inquiry into modernist and contemporary innovative writing practices by women.
Performance Writing began as an explicitly pedagogical enquiry in 1994 at Dartington College of Arts, initiated by poet John Hall. Its formative departmental Director between 1995 and 2000 was Caroline Bergvall. Performance Writing tried to provide a handle on emergent practices that made work through contesting productive tensions “between” the terms writing and performance. It sought to destabilise oppositions “between” the ephemerality of performance and the fixity of print, often doing so by exploring trans-generic writing in hybrid media and sites. In 2004 Performance Writing, the academic course, ceased to exist.
(2007) Critical Documents
“8 walks and 2 visitations walk the talk for 1 hour each over the course of 1 week. This project by cris cheek is a brilliant, light-hearted and stylized record of live transmissions, spoken curcuitries, registered feedback, rewound conversations and overheard snippets, all recorded during daily drifts in a small English city. 13 black-and-white photographs show our man in situ in a really proper suit holding a recorder, which is a black hand-held machine. The recorder turns out to be a live transmitter, it interferes with local taxiphone networks. 14 handwritten map sketches lead nowhere. Location is an insistent point. 1 informal essay on talk texts closes the book. Enjoy it all HERE.”
These are texts driven by engagement and reflection on engagement with location. A body of documents made whilst walking and talking around the environs in central Norwich, East Anglia.
(2003) Assembling Alternatives: Reading Postmodern Poetries Transnationally, ed. Romana Huk, Wesleyan University Press.
When I was 4, my dad read me poems at bedtime. I heard a staple diet of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear for two following years. It was the phonic logics of these poems that repeatedly drew me in; a hovering between song and poem. Their quirky iambic cadences which hinted at conventional meanings, without appearing to deliver them, snared me.
(Winter 2002) Callaloo, Vol. 25, No. 1
with Lisa Samuels, Maria Damon, Jordan Davis, Jorge Guitart,
Rod Smith, Gabrielle Welford
between 1996-9 your author made three small web works. The last of the three “how can this hum be human” exploited streaming audio and explored the glitch was made for a now defunct e-zine edited by Jennifer Ley called Riding the Meridian that is nicely archived on the web at Heelstone. The middle piece was a substantive crowd-sourced web text-image hypertext produced live as an online circadian performance response to hopes and fears generated by the New Labor general election of Tony Blair in the UK on Mayday 1997. The link to that archived work disappeared at some point in the past eighteen months. The earliest piece of these three is the one I’m going to focus on today, residing as it happily does on the Electronic Poetry Center for which it was made.
(Spring 1999) boundary 2, Vol. 26, No. 1, 99 Poets/1999:
An International Poetics Symposium
Distinction – Base, odious. Nation too comfy. How about regional? Keep to the / left, as in English. // (a conversation between Local and Inter-r-e-gional. Local leads) / Too prescriptive. Pursuits, produce ‘results’. One thing is to take notes. / What’s registered? Who’s what, to whom?
(January 1999) PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art,
Vol. 21, No. 1
Instructions for performing (approximate duration of the performance is 3 minutes).
Written to be performed by two people. One taking the left column throughout and the other the right. The columns on each page are to be performed simultaneously. The “play” emerges in those navigations which the performers make through their materials and the concomitant interplay generated for their audience.
(1997) Buffalo, NY
(1986) Sub Voicive
A reading at the White Swan pub in London, 16 December 1986, for the Sub Voicive Poetry series.
(January 1981) L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E
Everyone reading this sentence is familiar with print: its history and something of its present. This is apparent. Present developments are of two means: ‘high tech’ (word processing, computer printout), say a connection to Reuters for information units on selected areas of interest, the markets, in your breast pocket, push-button teleprinters (more time conservative than the boardroom scenario cassettes put out by large banks for the commuter in a car); and ‘low tech’ principally mimeo, small letterpress, offset lithography, photostats, cut blocks, soaks, oils on water, the etcetera variations.
A reading for SubVoicive at the Rainbow Cafe.
(June 1980) L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E
A partial listing of “small press” magazines published in Britain since 1975 and mainly printing poetry. The hope is to provide readers with a chance to see in which ways the British scene is and has been active from 1975-1980.
(October 1979) L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E
with Kirby Malone, Marshall Reese
for the International Festival of Disappearing(s) Art(s)
Writing has never been capitalism’s thing. Capitalism is profoundly illiterate. The death of writing is like the death of God or the death of the father: the thing was settled a long time ago, although the news of the event is slow to reach us, and there survives in us the memory of extinct signs with which we still write.