Doings: Assorted Performance Pieces 1955–2002. Jackson Mac Low. Granary Books. 2005.

Doings: Assorted Performance Pieces 1955–2002.

Granary Books, 2005. Item #GB_129LTD

8 x 10 1/2 in., 248 pp., smyth-sewn in cloth over boards with compact disc and original silkscreen, mylar jacket.

“Jackson Mac Low’s art returns us to something like the stance of an earlier avant-garde (Russian Futurism, Dada, etc.) for which artistic, spiritual & political renewals were all part of a single impulse. In no contemporary does it show through as clearly, movingly, this vision of experimental/language-centered art as social action…Mac Low, who [was] one of our true inventors, create[d] new modes & [brought] us back to the oldest possibilities of sound & language as they enter poetry & music & performance… The more one treats the book not only as a text but as a source & manual—the more one realizes the service of this work, its lasting power. It is in this sense that the book becomes, in Ezra Pound’s words, ‘a ball of light in one’s hands.’”
–Jerome Rothenberg

Termed “America’s most indefatigable experimental poet” by Publishers Weekly, Jackson Mac Low (1922–2004) was recognized internationally as a master innovator for nearly five decades. Doings: Assorted Performance Pieces 1955–2002 presents a comprehensive collection of the poet’s handwritten, drawn, typographic, and musical notations—works composed through non-intentional methods and which operate simultaneously as visual art, literature, and scores for performance. The book includes detailed performance instructions as well as notes on the specific procedures of composition through which the works were created. The curious reader finally has access to some of the most important yet most elusive works within Mac Low’s oeuvre, including many examples of the “Gathas,” “Vocabularies,” “Asymmetries,” “Light Poems” and more. Doings performs the dual task of sourcebook and Baedeker, a looking glass through which to see both where we’ve been and where we’re going as we sift through the radical poetries of the postmodern era looking for renewal, for the inevitable path to the future.

Doings includes an introduction by publisher Steve Clay, five gate-fold pull-outs, and a 60-minute CD of live and studio performance recordings from 1960 onward. Cover design by Ian Tyson. This is from an edition of 1000 copies, of which 38 are hand-bound in printed cloth-covered boards and are accompanied by an original numbered, signed silkscreen print by Tyson. Special edition is out-of-print.


Further reading: 
Goldsmith, Kenneth. "The King of Boredom." Brooklyn Rail, Mar. 2006; collected reviews and press including Joyelle McSweeney in The Constant Critic, Christopher Luna in Rain Taxi, and Ron Silliman's blog.

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