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Monday, June 06, 2005

Catching-up:

4 poets Sunday before last at The Smell, all pissed-off in their respective registers: William Moor, new to me, read from a project on the border of 'poetry' per se and sabotage/intervention -- pleasant-sounding but absurd query emails to various U.S. Representatives, mostly in AZ. Sort of a Lazlo Letters effect; see also his collected Amazon reviews. (From a bra review: "Good price for the product, good times for the couple!") Jane Sprague, recently returning to So. Cal. (Long Beach) from upstate NY, was far more direct. From her chapbook Port of Los Angeles:

we found ourselves perfectly pitched at the edge of globalism

the lip

it seemed like a word too big and better suited for the news

or at least CNN

we were transfixed by the ships rolling in

It made sense to learn that her Palm Press has also published Juliana Spahr's things of each possible relation hashing against each other, and Ammiel Alcalay's talk "Poetry, Politics and Translation: American Isolation & The Middle East," the very one at the center of the CampusWatch (which I refuse to dignify with a link) brouhaha.

Taylor Brady, down from SF, alternated between individual poems from his recent Yesterday's News (Factory School) and at least two sheafs of new work -- there was a sense of careful, but not transparent, organization. I've attended few readings in the Bay Area, but I got the distinct sense that this presentation was the result of involvement in a scene where you might be prevailed upon to defend your work. I hope I'm not mistaken of hearing something of Watten (there's a calm to his line, however socially fraught the content), perhaps also Daniel Davidson and Steve Farmer. (Though there also touches of a more 'pop' voice: "The only good ending would have been if Virgil came back to say, 'Uhhh, dude? You seriously left your keys at my place." I see a bit more of this in the book than in the particular selection he read.) The prose epilogue (not read) makes clear that this project is about trying to find not a defense, but a necessary role for ["abstract"?] lyric in the face of "an expanding series of accumulation crises in the progression from the first Gulf War, though the twelve years of tributary sanctions maintained by a murderous bombing campaign, to the abrupt shift from the tribute system to outright recolonization." (See also his thoughtful, infrequently posted-to inflection point.)

Final, co-series organizer Stan Apps, with whose varied online presence I was more familiar than his poems-qua-poems. Damn. I have to say that this was the evening's work that affected me most strongly, using metaphysical wit and a subtle plain-ness of statement as corrosives against unsustainable world-views. I wish I could quote a new poem about an unnamed legislative body's attempts to draft a proclamation on what objects count as "real" (hamburgers do, apparently). But his new Soft Hands (Ugly Duckling) had the juice as well:

So the reason you are not getting paid very much,
as it turns out, is that the work you are doing
is not really very useful.

["Poem With One Paranoid Sentence"]

(if sexy people were the only form of money,
the sexiest of them would have to live in banks,
reading about debt to foreign sex.)

["J'Adore L'Idee De Vous"]

Didn't resist the book table, as all of the above indicates.

~~~

2 pre-codes, a Creeley tribute at Skylight, and Losey's draggy Eva in the last few days -- and a fascinating history-of-philosophy-of-science colloquium on Hans Reichenbach. Don't know quite what I'll get to describing more fully.

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