Monday, April 30, 2007
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Shostakovich & Altar
Friday night I saw the Trio Con Brio at the Sheldon. It was the final concert of the Lincoln Chamber Music Series for the year & it was pretty extraordinary. The trio was like a fine steel wire tightly wound into a spring, both delicate & full with potential energy. They performed Shostakovich's Piano Trio in e-minor, Op.67 & it was breath-takingly, wrackingly amazing. It starts off with a ghostly melody played on the harmonics of the cello. You can see a trio performing the first movement here, though the Trio Con Brio were ever more exhilarating. Beyond the magesty of the piece & their technical proficiency part of the exhilaration was, of course, the live performance, which is always exciting. The two women in the trio, the cellist & violinist, are sisters. During particularly complex rhythmic moments the two sisters would lock eyes & there was a kind of tangible aesthetic connection & understanding between them.
Harp & Altar is up & at 'em. Some tremendously good poems by Adam Clay that you can hang over your rearview mirror.
To endure calamity’s split, I turn to each bottle
of milk cold in the well and
speak to the shards of noise
under my pillow and the eggs below the bed.
Mmmm. That's how it is done when it is done correctly. You've read his book, The Wash, yes? If the answer was no then there's something wrong with you. Like your nose is all pushed over sideways or something. The only way to cure that ailment is to get a copy of his book & read it until your nose gets all un-pushed-over.
I sang with Man's Last Great Invention last night. It was fun. You might have missed it. If you did I left a little bit of it in your cupboard, right next to the coffee.
And yes. It is true what they say when they say there is too much Matt Damon in the world of men. I watched The Good Shepherd because I like spies but everywhere you look in that film there's more Matt Damon.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
This is why you should come to nebraska some time
Photo by ande
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Octopus Books & Man's Last Coconut
One week left for our open reading period for Octopus Books. I can't wait for these to be processed & made anonymous so we can start digging into them.
I saw Man's Last Great Invention last night. A shimmering, towering, toppling wonder.
The new issue of Coconut is up, featuring amy gerstler, melissa koosmann, rodrigo toscano, sara veglahn, max winter, julia cohen, donald illich, jill alexander essbaum, denise duhamel, kate schapira, ray succre, anne heide, kaya oakes, sandy florian, sandra beasley, nick carbo, becca klaver, pf potvin, dawn pendergast, ken rumble, eddie watkins & amy king.
Be careful, there are some seriously scrappy fighters in that dogpile. You'll bite into a potato & it will extricate a cosmology of shoe and song.
Oh, & speaking of Bronwen Tate, Gabriella Torres & Julia Cohen, I will have the great honor of being their opening act in Boston on May 5 at The So & So Series
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Concerning Continuousness & Contingency
[Freud helps] us overcome particularly intractable cases of [ethical] blindness by letting us see the “peculiar ideality” of events which exemplify, for example, sexual perversion, extreme cruelty, ludicrous obsession, and manic delusion. He let us see each of these as the private poem of the pervert, the sadist, or the lunatic: each as richly textured and “redolent of moral memories” as our own life. He lets us see what moral philosophy describes as extreme, inhuman, and unnatural, as continuous with our own activity. But, and this is the crucial point, he does not do so in the traditional philosophical, reductionist way. He does not tell us that art is really sublimation or philosophical system-building merely paranoia, or religion merely a confused memory of the fierce father. He is not saying that human life is merely a continuous rechanneling of libidinal energy. He is not interested in invoking a reality-appearance distinction, in saying that anything is “merely” or “really” something quite different. He just wants to give us one more vocabulary, one more set of metaphors which he thinks have a chance of being used and thereby literalized.
Contingency of Selfhood
John Yau / Tarpaulin Sky
The person in the mirror is looking past you at the person standing here–reader, dear reader, head full of poisonous thoughts. Why do you say “reader” when you know it is a lovesick reindeer and her name is Esmerelda? In the evening, when the ice cream truck is making its rounds, she comes down to the shore and stamps the ground, waiting for Boris to bow his wide forehead and swoon.
--John Yau, "Lost Love Song of The Ice Cream Truck"
Yau is one of those writers that can work with a completely different palate of poetics in different projects, yet maintains a recognizable way of processing the world. It's the epistemology of his poetry that is at the core of what makes his work his.
Read the entire piece in the new Tarpaulin Sky an issue of writers responding to the awkwardly beautiful art of Nancy Kiefer. Lots of fantastic work there.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Different Music Splintering
Sunday, April 22, 2007
and I thought when you have a swimming party always go alone
do not attend show up by yourself don't show up unless no one is there
swim alone never with a buddy always go in the water by yourself no matter what
they tell you jump off banks even if you know it's shallow below crack your head
open always swim at night jump in when it's COLD and you gasp and can't move
my advice to all is death by water if you have an appointment at dawn a duel
swim to the forest of honor with the moon over your shoulder
The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You
Carrie, Courtney, Nathan, John, Paula & Amanda: you are a flock of knives.
Double-werewolf love to JMW & ZBS. Zebra love to Julie D.
Strange night, I fell asleep early & then woke up unable to sleep from 3am on. I dreamed that I was driving back from somewhere far away, driving back to Lincoln in order to reach campus just in time to get to class & teach. It was going to be close. I don't know where I was coming from or why, but it was the kind of situation that required me to be doing this kind of ridiculous trip.
Suddenly I realized that I had blacked out along the drive. I came to awareness beside a river, no idea where. My shirt was covered in blood. The blood had come out of my mouth. The water was cold, so cold my hands were numb. The shadows hung like wet flesh beneath the canopy of trees.
It was a very psychological dream, pitched inside my head, rather than in the visuals. Those are the scariest kind. The mind seems to be working out some kind of potential strategies.
Monday, April 16, 2007
See Me Read Poems!
I'm heading out tomorrow to read for a few nights with Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson. We'll be meeting up with Carrie Olivia Adams in Chicago (where I was born!) & with Julie Doxsee in Minneapolis.
Tueds. 4-17. Bethel College. North Newton, KS w/ Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Wedns. 4-18. Maryville, MO w/ Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Thurds. 4-19. Quimby's Bookstore. Chicago, IL w/ Carrie Adams, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Frau. 4-20. Imaginary Press Reading Series. Minneapolis, MN w/ Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Slatternly. 4-21. Somewhere in Lincoln--not exactly certain yet. Possibly a house-show reading, possibly not. If you live in Lincoln the you should steel yourself for an email announcing this.
Look who's up & at 'em.
The first issue stars
& David Barber
How could you possibly go wrong with that? Only if you used the journal in some radically, inexplicably inefficient way, like as soup.
Though, to be honest, I bet it makes a decent stew.
Order one before you sell out.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Wrapping up Season Two of The Clean Part
Last night was the final event of the season for The Clean Part Reading Series. We had a great crowd at The Sheldon, who were treated to three incredible readings.
Laura Sims was haunting, mesmerizing & at times Hawley-esque. You should already love her book Practice, Restraint, but you might have yet to fall in love with her new poems. You will. It’s not you, it’s them.
Michael Dumanis read from his hot-off-the-presses My Soviet Union. A Michael Dumanis reading is a drive down the mountain with breaks that don’t work. But you don’t even bother stepping on them to test it.
Hadara Bar-Nadav read from her also-hot-off-the-presses book A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight, a book of lyric beauty, personal authority & the sticky, creepy spaces between the idea & the body.
Here are some pictures from the reading:
Laura hypnotizing the crowd.
Michael hitting his rhythm.
Zach introducing Michael
Hadara being all “yeah this next one is going to knock you out”
Me saying goodnight (I’m not sure how I took this photo of myself)
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Laura Sims, Hadara Bar-Nadav, & Michael Dumanis at The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery: Sat, April 14th, 7pm
The Clean Part Reading Series!
This Saturday you will finally find what you've been missing. Your career in emptiness will be done. You will be full. You will see that the world has not only grass but trees, not only doors but doorknobs. You will look at & listen to three amazing poets. They will look like this:
They will make you feel like an even mixture of these:
Monday, April 09, 2007
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Mary Ruefle's Indeed I Was Pleased with the World
Despite having read so many of her books & being so affected by so many of her poems I'm still not sure I can characterize how a Mary Ruefle poem works. And given that I'm never positive how or to what end I read her poems but I feel consistently & enrichingly puzzled by her poems. Just when I have her wild yet winter-still style pegged she goes in another direction. I found her new book Indeed I Was Pleased with the World a little disappointing at first, but now I can’t stop reading it. The opening third of “Speak, Zero” is pretty classically Ruefle-weird—the surrealism is overt & jumpy & then turns toward the rhetorical in would seem to be an ironic manner, but is not.
There was a morning bowl of cereal
and we sugared it
Then mother took the bowl away
Then mother took the bowl
Years of which I have no time
One by one they reached into the sea
and took the lightkeepers out of the lighthouses
Then they took the lighthouses out to sea
Thus the world falls back on its original plan
This is a kind of poem that enages the world through its leaps in attention & readership, but Ruefle also does a very different, less traditionally surreal poem that leaves me less dazzled but more moved. Take this poem, which was in Fence in '03:
The Great Loneliness
By March the hay bales were ripped open
exposed in the open fields
like bloated gray mice
who died in December.
I came upon them at dusk
and their attar lifted my spine
until I felt like turning over an old leaf.
So I walked on, a walking pitchfork.
From every maple hung a bucket or two
collecting blood to be distributed across America
so people could rise from their breakfast
healthy, hoping to make a go of it again.
Now this is a riddled explanation
but I am a historian of pagan means
and must walk five miles a day
to cover the period I will call
The Great Loneliness
and the name will stick so successfully
that for years afterwards children will complain
at meals and on sunny days and in the autumn and at Easter
that their parents are unnecessarily mute
and their parents will look harshly down
upon the plates and beach towels and leaves and bunnies
and say you don't know what you are talking about
you never lived through The Great Loneliness
and if you had you would never speak.
And the children will turn away
and consider the words, or lack of them,
and how one possible explanation
might be that inside our bodies
skeletons grow at an increasingly secretive rate,
though they never mention it,
even amongst themselves.
That pem is pretty damn affecting yet still involved in an overt play--the emotions might be "emotions" & the melodrama might be a way of speaking about not feeling. In the new book she's moved toward a kind of poem that is more gentle & deceptive in its activity, so simple yet through that simplicity it is even more extending. Check this one out:
You wake up. It seems you went out
for more popcorn during the night.
You can't have missed much,
but just to be sure you lean
to the person next to you and whisper
what happened? She tells you
a horse has just fallen
from the top of the cathedral.
Sorry to have missed it,
but at the same time relieved,
you go into the kitchen
and whip up some eggs.
You are a young man in love with your wife.
You were not made to be so terrible.
There's the surrealism of the opening stutter-starts, which leads to the intensely emotional end, that requires an engaged reader (like me) to wonder why this man is so terrible after all, extending the story into a kind of real world. That's a neat arc, a good arc, it makes a poem that I tend to like. But then a few hours later I begin to wonder why the horse was on top of that cathedral & why it fell. I start to doubt the simplicity of that scene—the scene becomes a diorama. The poem squirms, like a UHF station at the edge of its range. And it is the subtlety of this squirminess that brings me back to Ruefle again & again. But it is also this kind of reading that makes me unsure of what I think of her work—the first time I read one of her books I always think it's my least favorite of hers. And then a week later I think it's brilliant. And then I can’t wait to read her next book. She’s always the first page I turn to when she’s in a journal.
Friday, April 06, 2007
I don't think I've met someone as immediately, disarmingly sweet & intellectually engaged as Cary Holladay. I only spoke with her for about fifteen minutes last night after her reading but I feel like she would let me move into her guest room if I needed to (I don't need to). She gave a truly extraordinary reading at Wesleyan. I'd read & enjoyed her story "Interview" that was on Blackbird, & the story & intro she read last not only expanded my affection for her work.
She's working at a place that mixes up magical realism, southern gothic & community-oriented fiction to the extent that each factor is transformed. But she also has extraordinarily graceful narrative moves that take serious risks & pull them off without being all cocksure about it. And her stories open up a tension of psychological space--each character has a hidden space inside of them that as a reader you want to fill in, while the story doesn't give you the simple answer. In short, she writes a fine story.
I haven't read the whole thing yet, but you should check out her recent collection, The Quick-Change Artist, which is entirely set in Glen Allen, Virginia, which is right outside of Richmond. I love Richmond.
Zach is secretly a robot, slightly dented.
Zach is actually an emo-rocker. This is the cover of his solo record.
Go over to Z's house & harass him for having been born.