The Dik-Diks Solitude: New Selected Works By Anne Tardos

At every level of Anne Tardos's paintings, films, poetry and cross-genre work, the familiar is engaged while acknowledging the violently contested landscape of what we think we know. Connection is the dominant mode of composition. A brand new vernacular emerges when Tardos's unique voice announces itself in her rapid language switches, gleeful humor and rare willingness to blend the personal and political. With new and previously published work as well as an introductory interview with the author and prominent poet Lyn Hejinian, The Dik-dik's Solitude is the first comprehensive collection of work by this significant, avant-garde contemporary artist. The Dik-Diks Solitude: New Selected Works



review of
Anne Tardos's The Dik-dik's Solitude - New & Selected Works
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - March 2, 2016

As is so often the case, my full review is too long for this space. What I then do is put the full review under My Writing (Lop-Lop Dik-dik: ). Typically, I then provide the link, as I've done here, & then just post the beginning of the review in this space. THIS TIME, I'm going to post the end of the review minus its actual end instead for a change..

For me, some of the poetry, rather than being daring wd fit quite comfortably into a British nonsense poetry lineage such as that embodied by Carroll & Lear already mentioned. I LIKE that nonsense lineage. Below's an early example:

A Fancy

When Py-crust first began to reign,
Cheese-parings went to warre,
Red Herrings lookt both blew and wan,
Green Leeks and Puddings jarre.
Blind Hugh went out to see
Two Cripples run a race,
The Ox fought with the Humble Bee,
And claw'd him by the face.

- attributed to Anon,, taken from Sportive Wit: The Muses Merriment (London, 1656), p. 48. - The Origins of English Nonsense by Noel Malcolm, p 231

Obviously, the above poem relies on absurdities of improbabilities of nature & scale: foods become anthropomorphized, a blind man goes out to see, people implied to be unable to walk are racing, & an ox, a large animal, fights w/ a bee, a small insect And claw'd him by the face, an 'impossibility' due to scale. Now let's consider a sample stanza from Lewis Carroll's POETA FIT, NON NASCITUR:

For first you write a sentence,
And then you chop it small;
Then mix the bits, and sort them out
Just as they chance to fall:
The order of the phrases makes
No difference at all.

- p 880, Complete Works

the above stanza being in answer to the opening stanza:

How shall I be a poet?
How shall I write in rhyme:
You told me once 'the very wish
Partook of the sublime.'
Then tell me how! Don't put me off
With your 'another time'!

- p 880, Complete Works

Carroll's parody can be interpreted as both a mocking of poetic pretensions AND of Carroll himself. At the same time Carroll's 1883 (or earlier) poem suggests proto-Dadaist approaches, Tristan Tzara's newspaper cut-ups. The title translates from Latin as A poet is made, not born ( ). Is the title ironic? Finally, a little Lear limerick, since I've referred to him:

There was a Young Lady whose chin
Resembled the point of a pin;
So she had it made sharp,
And purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.

- p 20, A Book of Nonsense

The Lear poem includes a drawing of Lear's illustrating the poem. NOW, Tardos's CAMOUFLAGE SHOE COLLAGE begins & ends w/ this stanza:

Camouflage shoe collage
Window-budget aspiration
Buddha-Bambi escalation
Spiderweb. - pp 36 & 37

& has an intermediate stanza of:

Alternating horror-stricken
Crackle burning crumple cricket - p 37

It seems to me that Tardos's rhyme schemes have a similar liltingness to those of the nonsense poets. Perhaps the main difference between Tardos's work & that of the 3 poets I quoted by way of preface is that Tardos's work is more purely nonsense than its predecessors insofar as it's liberated from having to have any narrative thread. Nonetheless, there're formal elements that provide a sortof continuity thread by using a standard rhyme scheme & by having the opening stanza also be the closing stanza - making a simple conventional closure.

Furthermore, her 3rd stanza has the line Trigger-happy pacifier wch certainly evokes for me the war absurdities of the above-quoted poem by Anonymous. So, it seems that rather than Tardos's work being related to the absurdism of Jarry & the whatever of Sartre it's rather more related to British nonsense. A part of my point being that I like Tardos's poetry despite what I interpret as a somewhat pompous theoretical prefacing, despite all the bullshit, the poetry's fun for me:

Much earlier:

Novro timidi djenprah
Schleich zeuch divinity
sonogram abomination rifkin
sulzkarp gelled carp
idegenek a család
Familiar but very strange. - p 40, from the poem A WEEK IN MAINE

The device of repeating a line or a stanza seems to me to be a fairly conventional device for providing continuity, closure, for 'tying things up'. In 'CAUGHT IN A CAGE IS A CONGO BAR the 1st line is:

Caught in a cage is a Congo bar - p 48

& the 3rd to the last line is the same again:

Caught in a cage is a Congo bar

Active future, passive past.

Autobiography of a photon. And you are the photon. - p 50

This is followed on the facing page by a face, the face of Esther van Meesel, Fire Island, 6/10/2001. (p 315) My review note to myself re this foto being: I like the txt but the foto seems irrelevant. Then again, the foto is, presumably, not intended to be illustrative - hence, issues of 'relevance' are irrelevant.

In NOTHING for Ernst Jandl Tardos uses phonetic translation:

Mir fällt jetzt nichts ein (Emir felt jets Nick's ion)


Nothing falls for me in the present ———

Nichts fällt für mich im Geschenk (nights phallus for me in a gay shank) - p 54


Monkey taxi penguin crap ——
Taxi-singe merde de pingouin Taxi singes murder the penguin - p 57

I like this process & did something similar in my own Lost in Translation (1997):

Isabel Allende became Isabel Beyond became Isabel Más allá de.
Clara del Valle became Clear of the Valley became Claro del Valle.
The Netherlands became la Países Bajos became the Low Countries.
Remo Ardosain became Oar Ardosain.
Augusto Roa Bastos became August Gnaws Coarse became Agosto Roe Burdo.
Bustos Domecq became Bust Domecq.
Alejo Carpentier became I Remove Carpentier became Yo Quito Carpentier.
Julio Cortázar became July Cortázar.
Famas (of “Cronopios y Famas”) became Reputations.
Carlos Fuentes became Carlos Sources became Carlos las fuentes.
Marcos Gonzalez became Frameworks Gonzalez.
G. Cabrera Infante became G. Cabrera Infant became G. Cabrera El infante.
Tinieblas became Gloom.
Palomino Molero became Dove Molero.
Vera Martins became Saw Martins became La sierra Martins.

People interested in learning more about this piece are directed to:

ANXIETY FROM ANXIETY: AN APPROXIMATION refers to Ay-O of the Ainu (p 58). Ay-O, an artist associated w/ Fluxus since the 1960s, is from Japan. The Ainu are are an indigenous people of Japan (Hokkaido, and formerly northeastern Honshu) and Russia (Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands). ( ) In his wikipedia entry, Ay-O is referred to as Japanese. Whether he's actually of Ainu descent or not I was unable to determine.

Tardos's poetry seems like a somewhat free-associative admixture of nonsense, multiple languages, semi-random reference, & things of personal relevance. The last 3 lines of the final stanza of MY HAWAIIAN SPINE are about cooking for guests:

Gently poke an ahi poke, add grated ginger, toasted sesame oil,
sesame seeds, soy sauce, and maybe some chopped scallions. If Susan is
coming skip the sesame seeds. - p 60

The reader is to perhaps to conclude from that that Susan is either allergic to sesame seeds, wch might seem to imply that the sesame oil shd also be deleted, or that Susan just doesn't like sesame seeds. I don't see much reason why I shd care one way or the other given that Susan isn't about to be my dinner guest but I do like this as an ending to a poem that begins:

Kumquat kupfernickel kursaal
Abracadabra kilowatt amulaet
Amulet ornament fullerene grace
Grace beloved agreeable favor. - p 60

the other words, the poem veers 'unpredictably' & that keeps me 'entertained'. The Dik-dik's Solitude isn't restricted to any one formal approach of how-one-must-write & that, too, helps keep it lively for me:


For Marjorie Perloff and all those who asked

Our experience on September 11 was rather terrifying as we are about eight blocks from the site and really didn't know what was going to happen. the wind, blowing the other way, spared us the worst of the fallout, but I remember being very upset and pacing up and down a lot during the first couple of days. Jackson was cool as a cucumber. (We celebrated his birthday on the 12th by being grateful for being alive.) But on 9/11 we had no water and I immodestly called the no-water complaint number, not even expecting them to pick up the phone, let alone give us a case number and come by and turn the water back on by the evening. But while there was no water coming up from the faucets I went down to the corner restaurant and brought up buckets full to our sixth floor without an elevator. This physical effort grounded me somehow and I calmed down. - p 68

I 'can't help' but compare the importance of 'the project' of getting water to people after a warring attack to 'the project' of poetry. I've grown to love poetry but its 'importance' is of a completely different nature to the importance of water. A world w/o poetry might be considerably less stimulating for me but people will still be running around fucking & killing each other, as usual. A world w/o water isn't likely to have people running around doing anything. That's a big difference.

Page 76 has A Note on the Notes:

At first, when I considered these notes to be aseparate piece, I called them How Memory Deepens: Analytical Footnotes to Four Plus One K. Here, for the first time, I place the notes below the stanzas they refer to. They are poems derived from the stanzas and, because they took the form of annotations, they became annotations.

That interests me, I like elaborating processes, they provide depth:

Female executive
Long-faced Britannica
Budgeting ecstasy
Bungee mark water stain


When we purchased the online version of Britannica, we experienced a budgeting ecstasy.

A bungee is a long and strong rubberband capable of holding up a human being. A bungee mark water stain is the stain caused by the enormous splash resulting from the unplanned impact of the jumper. - p 78

Tardos has a sense of humor, thank the holy ceiling light. P 121 provides a picture of a Road runner, a daily visitor at Jill Krosesen's hotel, Lido Palsm Hotel, in Desert Hot Springs, California, 5/9/2001. (p 316) Having seen many a road runner cartoon I always think of them as much larger. What a beaut.

Poodle viceroy salad dressing
Nympholeptic sitzbath
Mummified cadenza friction


Poodle viceroy salad refers to a poodle who not only made it to viceroyhood, but who has since developed a taste for salad dressing. - p 136

Who say Tardos isn't a nonsense poet? I challenge you to a dual! Embrace yr inner nonsense poet! The poem that the above is excerpted from, Ginkgo Knuckle Nubia has each poem end with a word beginning w/ whatever the latter of the alphabet has been reached. Therefore, the above poem is the 5th poem in the series, as indicated by the ending of Erotica. The last poem:



We're all in this together.



Zoom. - p 152

I enjoy that, even tho I don't attach great importance to it. On the other hand, the scores, whether they're for music or sound poetry, don't do much for me, they're (IMO) too unproductive of anything unusual sounding (from the POV of this esp knowledgeable &/or jaded person's perspective). Compositions #1-4 (2001) have text boxes contain[ing] fragments of words from the first few strophes of the preceding poem, Ginkgo Knuckle Nubia. I suggest two or more performers so they can engage in a dialogue, using the word fragments. They can do this at any speed, pronouncing the word fragments in any order and in any way they choose. (p 153) Then the 1st 4 word fragments are Gink, gin, pen, & brou. This is so not-cutting-edge that it's lower on the sharp-witted end of things than using a butter knife for brain surgery. It's not even brain-sugary. Having already personally done something like this waaaayyy back in 1977 or before, at least 24 eons earlier, I am not impressed. For more info on my thingamawoosiewob go to: or witness the 2011 're-enactment' thereof here: .

Is the following a spoiler?:

Tenacious turmoil promptitude
Agglutination turpitude
Stylized a tutu
Climbed under a choo-choo
Took in the dik-dik's solitude

A dik-dik is a small, solitary deer not much bigger than a cat.
My cellphone is not much bigger than a waterbug. - p 167

Tardos definitely has a sense of humor & that's one of the things that made this bk enjoyable for me. She even quotes Isaac Bashevis Singer twice: We have to believe in free will. We simply have no choice. - p 186 & p 255

Andrew Bolotowsky's also mentioned twice: 1st in a dedication for Music After Considerations & 2nd in a dedication for Music After Uxodo. That might not mean much to many people but I publish tapes by Beth Anderson & Franz Kamin & Bolotowsky appears on both of them. That makes hima prominent man-around-town in my bk.

As stated earlier, I don't find the music very interesting, but at least it adds to the diversity.

I AM tickled by words Tardos puts in an image of Mac Low in a cartoonish sequence: Better a bad peace than a good war. (p 229) Wd that the world shd be so lucky.

One of the things I've liked about Tardos's work from the get-go is her use of multiple languages in the same txt. For me, it enables a sortof meta-reading, a reading where one experiences the presence of the multiple languages as ONE language & interprets the etymology & grammar on the fly. As Tardos says: Why do I mix languages? Why shouldn't I? (p 255) That sd, I don't always find the accompanying footnotes to add to the experience:

Tovább1 the butter davaj2
Le monkey the wave
Die Welle3 die Schwester4 the miracle whip
The goiter the laughter Sardinia kiván5
Ambulance walking remember me now
Donatello on Sunday


1 TOW-vahn [Hung.: further]
2 duh-VAYIE [Russ.: let's go! (also Hung: vaj=butter)
3 DEE VELLer [Ger.: the wave]
4 DEE SHVUS-ter [Ger.: the sister]
5 KEY-vahn [Hung.: he/she/it desires] - p 254

Does knowing that the stanza translates into:

Further the butter let's go!
le monkey the wave
The wave the sister the miracle whip
The goiter the laughter Sardinia he/she/it desires
Ambulance walking remember me now
Donatello on Sunday

really enhance its meaning for me? Not to this reviewer. Does doing the footnotes eyeball dance enhance it? Nttr.

David Tudor pays close attention.
John said to pay attention in a much nicer way than any of my school-teachers or parents ever did. - p 261

Given that I like the work of David Tudor & John Cage very much, this passage pleases me. For more of my takes on such subjects see my reviews of:

the Larry Austin and Douglas Kahn edited
Source - Music of the Avant-Garde, 1966-1973
full review entitled Re: Source:

Benjamin Piekut's Experimentalism Otherwise
- The New York Avant-Garde and Its Limits

full review: Experimental, Ism; Other, Wise:

In the introductory notes to Cellular Dialogue Tardos tells us that: Jackson and I premiered this performance piece in 1994 at the Anthology FIlm Archives, during the NyMax fluxus festival organized by Nam June Paik. (p 265) Since I like Fluxus & Nam June Paik, I might as well add some details to this:

From October 8 to November 6, 1994, Anthology Film Archives will present SeOUL-NYmAX: A Celebration of Arts Without Borders, which will bring together over seventy artists and critics working with dance, music, performance, electronic arts, film, and video. On the first afternoon the celebration will be at the Judson Memorial Church and Washington Square Park; thereafter all programs will be at Anthology Film Archives on the Lower East Side. During SeOUL-NYmAX there will be sixty in-person performances, forty filrn screenings, twenty electronic arts installations, four receptions, and panel discussions dealing with arts that bridge different disciplines and cultures - arts that are not concerned with aesthetic or national borders. The artworks on view in this Celebration are often multimedia, and in many cases embody the aspiration for freedom of expression. Broadly, these artworks can be grouped as

* the arts of Korea, especially modern dance, film, the electronic arts of video, computers, and interactive installations;
* classic and new multimedia, ranging from a 1960s piece by Takehisa Kosugi to interactive 1990s computer art;
* an international Fluxus reunion (20 artists in person, 5 in absentia).

All three floors of Anthology will be used to house this extraordinary gathering with guests from Lithuania (Vytautas Landsbergis, a Fluxus artist who was his country's first president), Austria (Hermann Nitsch), Korea, Japan, and the United States (including Susan Sontag and Nam June Paik). This project is sponsored by the Korean Cultural Service and the Korea Society, with support from Nam June Paik, Film/Video Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. -

Tardos goes on to explain that: We improvised a dialogue around previously agreed-upon topics printed on small cards. Aside from text to be spoken or discussed, we also prepared actions to perform. It would not be wrong to refer to this type of performance as structured improvisation. (p 265) One of the conversation starters was: Why did the crocodile cross the river? & I reckon the answer to that one's pretty simple: 'to eat the chicken crossing the road wondering if it came 1st or the egg'. ANYWAY, this is my favorite of the performance pieces.

Perhaps my 2nd favorite is the one described thusly: Among Men is a performance piece that began with simple research—I was curious to see the proportion of entries for female versus male artists and composers in two reference works—and ended with a radio production of the piece (p 272)

The four composers whose music I excerpted, cut up, removed keys and signatures from, in some cases turned upside down, and superimposed over the artworks, are Jeanne Demessieux, Vivian Fine, Ruth Crawford, and Dame Ethel Smyth.

The eleven artists whose paintings and sculptures were superimposed over the scores are Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, Helen Frankenthaler, Eva Hesse, Frida Kahlo, Marisol, Georgia O'Keefe, Merte Oppenheim, Bridget Riley, Suzanna Valadon, and Elisabeth Vigé-Lebrun.

Among Men was premiered by the Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble, conducted by Petr Kotik, in February 1994, In New York. the readers were myself and Jackson Mac Low. - pp 274-275 188712361X 818.6 T183d 2003 188712361X