Jammed Transmission

Jammed Transmission is Paul Naylor's third full-length book of poetry, following Playing Well With Others (2004) and Arranging Nature (2006). He is also the author of Poetic Investigations: Singing the Holes in History (1999), a study of five contemporary poets, including Susan Howe, Nathaniel Mackey, Lyn Hejinian and Kamau Brathwaite. A recovering academic, Naylor lives in San Diego, where he directs Singing Horse Press.


Jammed Transmission
by Paul Naylor • 2009 • $16
Designed by Sumet (Ben) Viwatmanitsakul


With this volume, Tinfish Press moves from its usual concentration on the Pacific as a cultural and historical space to that of a spiritual trans-historical one. In his preface to the book, Zen priest Norman Fischer writes: “Jammed Transmission is a poetic encounter with a 14th century text of Japanese Soto Zen, Keizan Jokin’s Denkoroku (usually translated as Record of the Transmission of the Light), a spiritual genealogy of the Soto lineage, beginning with the Buddha and ending with Koun Ejo, Keizan’s immediate predecessor in the lineage, fifty-two generations later.”

More from Norman Fischer: “Jammed Transmission is a unique text. It is poetry, but not poetry, philosophy but not philosophy, religion but not religion. It probably refers, wittingly or unwittingly, to ancient writing practices that were considered to be spiritual exercises, shorthand verse-form takes on scripture, composition as devotional exploration. Such forms of writing were commonplace e world at a time when religion – conceived as the process of ultimate encounter with the limits of human thought and being – was not, as it is now, divorced from the literary arts. In fact, in ancient times, long before religion learned how to become effectively repressive and oppressive, there was no distinction whatsoever between these two fields of endeavor. All religion required forms of writing, all writing was sacred writing, and all writers were of necessity religious people, because it was only within monasteries and religious enclaves that the esoteric arts of reading, writing and calligraphy were practiced.”

from Jammed Transmission:


Clear sky
wide against
the horizon.

Time still
to go on –
each instant

the sorcery
of its own

Why this