Monday, June 13, 2005

Reading yesterday came off reasonably well, I think -- non-shameful attendance, mostly from Jen's list plus a couple people who I didn't know previously but saw it here. I might have had a little too much wine myself to do a good job now of saying anything about the poems, so all I'll say is that the immediate hits were a piece of Jen's that seemed to center around the phrase "poison box," starting as fragments and swiftly ramping up to longer chains of thought, and Joshua's poem to "Peoria, Capital of the Nineteeth Century." Also have to register JC's "covers" -- "The Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton," made strange for me by his entirely different cadence, and a couple of sections of "Fresh Air" with poets' names updated: "Is Ponge of our time?" (I swear on my honor that not a week ago I had been thinking, isn't it about time someone writes "Fresh Air" again? Likely a result of reading too many po-blogs.) Bookended by Lee Ann's films (I had suggested alternation, but there were some problems with noisy projector cool-down); I don't know if anyone else did, but I liked the contrast between the relatively direct address of the films -- narrative vignette over blurred, out-the-window images of Vegas; mediation on construction in and around a wash near which, unless I caught the frame wrong, the filmmaker grew up -- with the (differently) abstract character of these particular poets' work. "Abstract" is sloppy there -- like I said, wine.

Oh yes -- there was some background noise from someone practicing blues guitar elsewhere in the building, coming up the atrium. Dispersed, but still annoying. A sort of theme of L.A. readings (probably not much different than any other urb) -- the jukebox from the bar the Smell shares a wall with; the buses that would pass by the first place Andrew held Germ readings every 6 minutes or so, Division Day above Paul V. a couple weeks ago. How tolerable this is always depends on the work -- still, why such difficulty in "finding a space for poetry," even in the most practical sense?

Thanks to everyone, esp. the poets and Kristi for the space. I forgot to collect the $4 from anyone, but then, no one got paid, except in prawns.


But it happens to musicians too: The first time the Toomey band played "Only A Monster" (voice/piano/cello only) live, we were directly above another SXSW showcase feat. metal bands. Utterly disorienting onstage, though I kind of appreciated the (non-rhythmic) mashup effect.


Most of what I thought to post re Clark Coolidge has been superseded in the last few days. That said: I'm not going to go around saying that anyone 'must' read him, but I will say that, if one is going to make any presumption of saying anything about him, esp. the early not-so-referential work [Mayhew's comment of 6.8 is accurate], even in the guise of personal preference, one might do well to first read his 1977 talk "Arrangement". (Orig. from one of the Talking Poetics volumes; I didn't know it was online until I looked just now.) Note:

1) Obvious and non-disingenuous humility of the manner he talks about his own work. Not at all perscriptive about whether what he's got to say will be useful for all poets (Ginsberg and Larry Fagin are in the audience and ask questions toward the end).

2) The surprising mix of paths that he cites as leading to what he was doing at the time: Lewis Padgett's story "Mimsy Were the Borogroves," fossils and crystals, Guston, Whalen, Aram Saroyan's one-word poems ("I don't think there is one word"), Parker and Cage. Lovecraft. Drumming is there, but not overwhelmingly -- he doesn't mention that "trilobite trilobites" sounds like a rudiment until someone points it out. And explicitly denies that the smaller poems that he spends the most time on here are rich enough to have anything to do with bop.

3) Concreteness, practicality; I remember liking how several of the talks in those Naropa books (Berrigan's and Padgett's esp.) had this roll-up-our-sleeves-quality. (You know me, the more mythtastic stuff doesn't get me.)

4) Non-combative character of the questions from people who don't get this work. (This may just be that certain battle lines had not been clearly drawn in 1977; or that CC has always stood off to the side of the way he's used by langpos. Interesting that even Bernstein's 1978 piece on Space asks itself, e.g. "Why insist on distance? On being enigmatic? Obscure? Alien? Unknowable?")

5) I had stone forgotten that he quotes La Chinoise!

In sum: About that about which one could with ease read something brief, lucid, engaging, and enlightening but has not, one must remain silent.

Most or all parties with any interest in the preceding will be aware that Space is pdf'd (along with much else) here, but there's the link, for the curious.


All bears on something I've been working on off and on (typed "on on and on" first), but this isn't that kind of blog. Today.


Other than Sun. reading and connected socializing, last week was a frustrating week of exhausting myself getting small things (revision, response, organization) done during the day and failing to get to more exciting things I intended to -- in succession, wound up too tired, dispirited, something to make it to John Doe, Sleater Kinney, and the reading connected w/ that UCLA conference Fri. Possibly, typing here that I will go see Keren Ann tomorrow will make me do so instead of staying up much too late dithering tonight and being bleary until late morning, then stressed/slightly behind by the time I ought to get out of the house to the show.

Liking the Maximo Park album 'enough.' Read Kimberly Lyon's Saline, Brian Evenson's Dark Property and The Wavering Knife, Sybille Bedford's A Compass Error ("It's always up to the suitor to present an acceptable brief"). May have a line on an Evanston apt.

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