Friday, March 31, 2006

Paula Vogel on Virginia Woolf & Beckett

Very interesting piece on Beckett in the Times this weekend, with various playwrights discussing Beckett's influence. Here is Paula Vogel:
"I wonder what would've happened had Beckett existed as a colleague, or a contemporary, or even as a forerunner to Virginia Woolf," Ms. Vogel said. "What would've happened if she had seen the ability to dramatize stasis, where drama was no longer about the conflict of men in action, but was instead a conflict of perspectives? I think Virginia Woolf would've become a playwright."
And further:
"The huge gift that Beckett gave to theater, to women playwrights in particular, is our notion of dramaturgy: a non-Aristotelian, nonapocalyptic sense of time, sheer chronicity that stretches to eternity," she continued. "In the 1960's, women experimental writers were criticized for being static, but they actually would have stayed away from drama without Beckett's model, because quite frankly it wasn't a form that appealed to their different notion of dramatic time."
I won't argue there, though of course he wasn't the only one. A major one, not the only one. And it's true what John Guare says about people riffing on Beckett: the work falls flat. Why? Any number of reasons I suppose, but one thing I notice when I teach Beckett in writing classes (and I do whenever possible...), is that people tend to see the play's surface, not its depth, not the depths of the characters. They don't see the mean streak, the anger, the hostility. They go for the conceptual gloss, and it's beautiful stuff, but it's not empty!!

Anyhow, can't miss a chance to post on Beckett. And Vogel's How I Learned to Drive is a damn fine play too. Structurally it's much more brilliant than it seems.

Ah, Beckett, Stein, Woolf: it doesn't get any better for this Hound.

Oh, and planning on seeing Wallace Shawn's new translation of Brecht's Three Penny Opera next month! Woohoo!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jason Camlot

I'm reading Attention all Typewriters at the moment, which is a pleasing read, and by that I mean, a pleasure. That there is so much pleasure and so little struggle may cause suspicion in some circles, and occasionally the one I am standing in too, though not today, not this book, and not because I'm giddy with spring air and the planting of my bathtub (the pride of any Brooklyn gardener), no, because this book is great fun, and smart too. In lieu of a review (forthcoming, but there is a line at present, and gardens too), I offer the first poem in this amicable text.

Bewildered Alexandrines

Dazed speechless baffled flabbergasted mazed misled
Dumbfounded struck rebounded rattled in the head

Blind muddled hit befuddled knocked floored blown-breathless
Strewn puzzled flipped bedazzled into nothingness

Agape bamboozled battered wrecked confused lost
Addled shook confounded fazed hazy horror-tossed

Dismayed forlorn spun whirling ruffled to the core
Thrown flustered "off" bothered perplexed looking for more

Shamed crushed embarrassed burnt cut reeling fucked
Staggering awed astounded woozy wonderstruck

Disgraced aghast disturbed astonished supefied
Afraid left in the dark bewildered but alive

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Virginia Quarterly Review loves Open Field (with notes)

And we love the Virginia Quarterly Review. Really. What a smart journal. Great taste in poetry, and diverse readings. An essay by David Quamman, a portfolio on Adrienne Rich. Who are these people and where have they been hiding? Yes, the poetry selection is conservative, that's a flaw (people, read outside of your own perspective!!), but there is some interesting work here aside from Rich (who is, even if you don't find her work as urgent as it once was, an important figure). In particular Joshua Poteat, whom I've never heard of, but there is space in his work. It isn't all jammed together with the seamless, hyper-polished quality of much of the tightly spun quatrains or couplets we see in most of these journals. "Illustrating how to catch and manufacture ghosts" is a great title, and the poem itself was engaging:
"Tonight there is no wind, even the heat

is on its knees, and the moths laying eggs"
Now, I'm suspicious of these "ah, moments" in poetry. So much of what is being published seems designed to illicit such repsonses. Shouldn't the fact that Oprah has all but copyrighted such responses tell us something about the manufactured nature of such responses??? (I have witnessed some of the nations powerhouse editors go weak at the knees at lines such as this...)

But Poteat makes fresh this desire, it seems to me, as the poem continues:
"on the side door are not being honest
with themselves. Though their enterprise

is beauty, the eggs will not last through

the rains, and so it goes."
The blog does not seem to allow me to indent, which changes the visual of the poem slightly, though not, it seems essentially. But even as I trace the poems movement here, what seemed pleasing at first glance becomes less so: we again learn how failed hope is, and though we are not left here, on the safe confines of a front porch, chardonnay in hand, we are left with the impotence of desire, our vain delusions...perhaps a more pungeant "awe moment" than many of the poems of this variety? (Is it such a terrible stance to be open and wondering about poems instead of militant and slotting? This school here, this school there, dig, dig the trenches?).

While perusing the magazine rack I also noted a new issue of Noon, one of the more under-rated journals, which looks as delicious as ever, and Jubilat, another one I've come to enjoy.

Union Square was hopping, and a friend caught up on some of the AWP tales--aside from everything being big and Texasish the event was not without controversy. One Kate Braverman, whom I posted on just a few days ago, apparently accused her publisher of censorship and walked off the stage...wow. Okay, when I said I liked the directness of her attitude in the Brooklyn Rail interview, this isn't quite what I had in mind...

Wow, I say again. Intense. Who knew?

But really, the title of this post is Virginia Quarterly Review loves Open Field (maybe even its publisher, who finally updated their website last month, likes it! Thank you Persea.). I'm telling you, if you don't have it, you're missing out.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

On this day in 1941

Virginia Woolf committed suicide on this day in 1941. Her walking stick, found on the banks of the River Ouse, was sold at auction in 2002, and is now part of the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library. The spot where she left it when she jumped is included on the literary tours of Rodmell, Sussex.
But eleven years earlier on this day in 1930 she was full into writing The Waves:
I had a day of intoxication...felt the pressure of the form--the splendour & the greatness--as--perhaps, I have never felt them.
A tantalizing spring day ending with tea with Nessa & Angelica and the following observations:
People fight & struggle. Knocking each other off the pavement. Old bareheaded men; a motor car accident: &c. To walk alone in London is the greatest rest.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Brooklyn Rail interview

The Brooklyn Rail is great. This issue has an interview with Kate Braverman that made me want to buy her book, which I shall, and report back... But the interview I can recommend nonetheless. She's wonderfully candid, and a poet turned fiction writer which is always intriguing. Here she discusses the lack of audience, something I suppose poets aren't supposed to discuss...
Braverman: My readers are primarily MFA students. My short fictions are in most university anthologies. My audience has been limited because of my failure to understand the marketplace, which used to follow rather then dictate. I am responsible for the lack of audience I have. The neo-Romanticism of the sixties and isolation of Los Angeles combined with a pathological inability to engage the Establishment on its terms was a major problem. I was told in 1988, when Palm Latitudes was published, that I needed to find someone like Didion or Janet Malcolm or Sontag, say, to explain why my work mattered, to frame it, make it intelligible to the many. If anyone had done that, bothered to do it, say, in the New York Times Book Review, the reader would have been introduced to me as they are to complex, typically male and foreign writers. I continued to think I could create an origami so exquisite, it would filter through. I was wrong.

Gone to print!

As I write this, Lemon Hound has gone to print! Coach House has done an amazing job! Launch details to come.

The woman question: uplifting, or pinning down

At a dinner party scene on the L Word, Max shares an anecdote about lobsters: how it’s only male lobsters you have to worry about leaping out of the pot when you’re trying to cook them. The males, sensing danger, make a ladder so that they can help each other climb out of the pot. Female lobsters, on the other hand, hold each other back.

The idea of mentorship and support among women comes up often in conversations—particularly in conversations between poets and artists. There is a lot of complaining about a lack of female role models, a lack of support—and if I recall that is why Annie Finch started Wom-Po, the women’s poetry listserv. Wom-Po is a great resource, but apart from gender, that project seems to be concerned with discussion of formal poetry and less open to innovative and experimental work.

I’m not sure whether there is any veracity in the lobster tale, but the number of conversations I’ve had about this subject over the last half decade or so indicates that there must be. Reading series like belladonna—which I am very pleased to be part of—go a long way in creating positive experiences for innovative women writers and readers. But what about other forms of support? What about reviews, for example??

Friday, March 24, 2006

Oh, Max, what a dick!

Is the gentle Moira to be seen no more? Oh, testosterone! Oh, Max! Is that what you guys have to contend with on a daily basis? Will she not only become the man, but be of the man? What would Gertrude say about all this strutting? Has she simply become Tim? Is everyone on the L Word someone else? Can an assemblage of writing that bad be found anywhere else?

Stacy Szymaszek, outside the Bowery Poetry Club

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Stacy Szymaszek, Emptied of all Ships

I am so behind in the reviews and posts, and here this book is, bobbing like a sail on the horizon of my room where it has been sitting next to Leslie Bumstead's Cipher/Civilian, which I also intended to talk about. Both of these are first books. Bumstead's was discussed at some length in a recent issue of Poet's & Writers, and Syzmazek's was featured in The Boston Review. I had the pleasure of reading with Bumstead at the Poetry Project in December, where Szymaszek is Program Coordinator. Is there anything to the fact that Emptied of all Ships somehow mirrors Stacy Szymaszek? I think so. But first, Leslie Bumstead.

Listening to Bumstead's work made me wonder about the usefulness of diary or journal entries. Particularly when these have a prose line. Consider the following, from "Dear Jean,"
"The bugs here really are incredible. And traffic, soldiers, mildew. Then the business city & her men in suits. Children breathing fire at stoplights..." The unexpected "business city" is a nice surprise, so is the image of children breathing fire at stoplights, but the language doesn't have the tang that seems essential to a poetic line. At least in this incarnation. And the "Cipher" section of her book is largely that.

The "Civilian" section on the other hand, is more spare, and to my mind, much more effective. Particularly when you factor in the political aspect of the book. There is a sense of the prose line being more pointed, but the sparse couplets in the second half glint a more powerful message:

distinguished enemy
in chosen rooms saber-

rattling a chord
unnumbered drum

The final section, "Abidjan Notebooks," blends the two forms: spare lines on top, journal entries on the bottom. This tactic appeals to me enormously. I appreciate the play of trying to account for something while seeing in that sharp, poet's way. The tension can be erotic, and troubling. But that's a tall order. "Lyric communiques," Forche says on the book's cover, "from regions unknown to most." Perhaps that is why I wanted some sharper communication? A fine first book, very thoughtful, not hurried. I will be interested to see where Bumstead goes from here.

Like Bumstead, Szymaszek's first book arrives with an impressive air of solidity. If it were a "craft" it would be of the handmade variety, the kind mulled over for long hours over much conversation, much looking at it in various lights, and with a variety of varnishes. It would be seaworthy. Unsinkable. Here the resonance of form deepens the content. Luscious word play lingers on the page, the poem a kind of chute (the water metaphors will not be kept in check...) down which it is an absolute pleasure to tumble. I never got tired of the movement, never craved another sort of motion, my eye just tumbled, and tumbled:
tree
an oar
origin

joints ruptured
soak in
deep ink

*

wallpaper
remnant
flower
float

chandelier
You can see why one never tires. Just when you might, Szymaszek throws in a word that stops you. both in terms of its' meaning/image, as much as its sound.

I was a bit resistant to the text. Resistant because I find the positioning of poems in the center of the page throws me off. Margin, margin, I want to be safely hugging (but that's my problem). There is a kind of settling in the middle. We are in a chute, and descending through the central narrative (well isn't it?) of the book. We might at any moment bump into one end or another, hips might be bruised, a splash in they eye, but we descend:

brief case
hundred words
logged

erode
my
Arabic
I kept thinking of a depth sonar. I kept imagining underwater reverberations. A hurricane of words, I thought, the reader is in the eye, a constantly snapping lens.
weight
of oyster
in gloved
hand he
shucks

dented pewter

*

assonance
her aspect

relocated
Later the play intensifies; line breaks too: "one sketch/of the stormy/petrel" a visual and oral punning, the recurring ink, the puff of words, the ting--ting-ting-ting, Language, I dashed across page 33 is a conveyor belt, the poet sorting, the poet conducting...

There is much more to say about this book. Some questions too. When the page opens up for the last third or so of the book I felt less grounded. No less happy to be in the hands of this poet, but less sure of myself, and the experience of reading. Do I have a right to suggest a level of comfort in a poem? Probably not. But I want it nonetheless. If it isn't form that holds me, then it must be some other hard substance/decision. But this is likely not a valid quibble, and even looking down now I see on page 85 a poem zig-zagging in front of me as if to say, who are you to complain of my essence? Here:

sea is censer
approaching shore
smell of myrrh
aspect of mouth river of
lampreys

that seems solid enough. So does this book. It's a good one.

**I note that I was unable to replicate the spacing of the lines above...a sad aspect of blogging. but they do move across the page, each one spaced a little more to the right margin as if a staircase...or is there a way to do this that I'm missing? Let me know.

Sheila Heti in the House

Trampoline Hall

Tonight at The Slipper Room
167 Orchard St.
Doors at 7:30, show at 8:00 sharp
Admission $8


Because life really is a box of chocolates...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Jordan Davis!

Another blog I love! Check him out here. Spring is here. Tiny little leaves on my oregano! Spring! Spring!


Sunday, March 19, 2006

If it bends, it's funny

Gabriel Gudding on Jennifer L Knox's "Chicken Bucket," from A Gringo Like Me...

Well, this hit on something I've been thinking about for a while now. This whole persona poem, the whole aesthetic of shock or shlock, the trailer park trolling. Is "Chicken Bucket" making fun of poor folk? I think of Shannon Bramer's excellent poem "Our Prosthesis," which won the Short Grain contest a while back. I give it to you here:

On Saturday night I hid his prosthetic arm. He was drunk, it was easy, when he tried to run after me he stumbled, fell, hit his head on the corner of the coffee table. I was drunk too, sad, acting stupidly. Earlier that night he had been flirting with my sister and I felt neglected and negligible next to her in her pink sweater. I didn’t like the way he kept touching her with his false limb; I didn’t like the way she kept giggling at the strange feel of the plastic. I had paid for his prosthesis, after all, so perhaps this explains my possessiveness. When we got home we kept drinking. Before bed I started undressing him: his socks, his pants, his underwear, his sweater, his shirt, his arm. He came after me and fell. His forehead bled all over the carpet. I hid his arm in the basement. Dressed his wound. Put him to bed. Showered. Made tea. I read The Idiot until deep into the night. My sister doesn’t even know who Dostoyevsky is.

I love this poem, published in Bramer's The Refrigerator Memory from Coach House Books. It's unpredictable, has those well chosen details, and that killer ending that comes out of nowhere. This is the kind of poem that mines the class trenches. Thinking too of the Sudden Service, the new book of poetry by Elizabeth Bachinsky, due out from Nightwood next month. Here's a sample from Sez Jenni:

Truth is, when his hands were on me, I was fire.
Straight through to my gut, I felt my heart beat
in my body like heavy metal…that oh
baby kind of get-your-hard-on-over-here-
loving I’d only heard of at lunch in the smoke pit
at school—tough girls running off their mouths
so hard you’re sure they must be lying: cock this
and fuck that: it’s all so unbelievable, isn’t it—
the things girls say?....

Both of these poems all dive into the uncanny of the quotidian. Certainly a fetish in narrative poetry for the past several decades. As for the Knox poem, like Gudding there is something about the tone that suggests a slightly different motive. I've long been a fan of Knox's work--mostly because she has a way of throwing a curve ball that gets me in the gut, but also of course, because she's funny. Direct and clear and funny.

In any case, I think that Bramer's poem is funny, but not quite satire. Bachinsky's poem isn't satire either. And as for Knox's poem, if it is satire, what is it that's so funny? We in the 20th century don't seem to quite get satire. Shouldn't there be a kind of bite to it? A spur of recognition? Or am I just a little sensitive to the current fashion of trolling for material in "other worlds?" Maybe it's the fact that I did spend a good portion of my childhood in such venues that if I get a whiff of judgement under the satire it stings.

As Alan Alda said in Crimes & Misdemeanors, "if it bends it's funny, if it breaks..." Where is the line?? I guess that's the question. Gudding's treatise on satire makes sense, but like he says, either way we have to accept that we've engaged in a kind of voyeurism. A kind of peeking down a dark alley without having to put ourselves at any kind of risk. Is that any different from the kind of mainstream poetry aesthetic that sets the poet up on his or her front porch observing the world through the clear lens of a cool chardonnay? I'm not sure.

Look out for Bachinsky's book: she kicks form in the ass with her knocked up girls and sexy b&e boys. There is a whiff of voyeurism here too, it's so gritty the print seems inked on sandpaper.

Site of the week

I'm loving Kate Greenstreet's blog "every other day" and looking forward to her new book. She has a great visual sense, her collage poems are fabulous. Check her out.

Quote of the week

"Laughter lets through the unacceptable...it makes room for it."
Caroline Bergvall

Found in this wonderful interview between Marjorie Perloff and Caroline Bergvall.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Robert Rauschenberg, Combines

Image from Met
The Rauschenberg show is awesome. The sheer number of pieces is impressive--67--as well as the range. It reminded me of the first time I saw a Van Gogh up close--suddenly aware of the brush strokes. Here of course, what you see up close is the tacked on bits of 1 x 2, or burlap, or the swipe of paint or spackle on a bit of material torn, it might seem, from a passerby; here you see the strange taxidermy of eagle, rooster, ram, mixed with found and personal objects. Rust, drips, gobs are the less subtle mechanics of these Combines, what Rauschenberg called his mixed-media work. This is a kind of multi-dimensional collage sometimes veering toward sculpture (the free-standing pieces in any case). An extension of the canvas outward. And one does get the sense that the art might at any second, descend from the canvas and enter into your little personal space. Changeable as you must realize that space is now, after seeing this show.

The idea of mixed-media painting is hardly shocking now, but of course this is the source, and as is the case with the source, it is often the "ugliest," others having the foresight to build on the newly formed tradition. There are those who now hide the seams, and there are those who make them even more apparent: Jessica Stockholder for instance, now at PS1, and to me she accentuates the seam even more than Rauschenberg.

The seam being that newly exposed hinge of art--newly exposed in the late 50s early 60s when this work was done, and like Allen Ginsberg, taken in context one can see how much this work pisses in the face of convention. How it reveals, glories in, exposing the flimsiness of what holds art together. I was moved by the rough shape of a 1x2 in one of Rauschenberg's earlier combnies. Not by the makeshift quality of it, but because I understood its presence there as pure love of the materiality, the witness of such a non-descript object passing through our daily life. Hard to throw out even the most haphazard bit of building material: it all has the potential to become something else.

Hurry. They're only up until April 2nd.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Because misogyny is everywhere!

Bat Barbie, ready to pounce!

Patrolling the outer reaches of language...

Bat Barbie has threatened to join the Poetics Listserv. She feels strongly that the power of humour and satire is really the way to go, but is inclined to bust some balls if she must...parody? Such a succulent maneuver. Meanwhile wings! Swoop! Metaphor!

Thinking of home in The Met

Photo by Bob
Thinking of the Georgia viaduct, pictured here in front of "Storyteller", the now famous photograph/transparency by Jeff Wall, hanging in The Met where I went today to see the Rauschenbergs (post to come). The photograph is as powerful to me now as it was seeing in the Vancouver Art Gallery some dozen years ago. But why? This time I was struck by how trampled the ground looked. How "ungreen" it is, and grey. How much like an oil painting, how grand the composition, and how familiar those faces are...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

belladonna Tuesday: Melissa Buzzeo, Laura Elrick and Myung Mi Kim

Amazing reading last night at Dixon Place. Not a seat left in the house when the readings started. Melissa Buzzeo's body/language text, a polyvocal performance piece by Laura Elrick, and Myung Mi Kim's aerated text--all of the poets sharp and precise. Chapbooks available.

More Meat, this time in Brooklyn

Mike Geno, John Wolfer, Josh Goldstein
At The Gallery/Gallery The
an UN-profitable Internet/window gallery
the windows are located @
343 Smith Street Brooklyn, NY
open 24/7/365

Friday, March 10, 2006

Shift & Switch Part 1

Another two anthologies of Canadian poetry launched in the past few months. I have one on my desk here that I've been excited about and meaning to talk about for a while now. Having edited an anthology recently, I have a few thoughts on the usefulness of such endeavours. I confess most anthologies make me shake my head. Why, I wonder? What is the purpose of this text? Is it a roll-call for one's poetic community? Is it a promotional or educational tool? What is its function? Anthologies, it seems to me, can play an important role when they have a clear purpose.

So, when I look at Shift & Switch, the brainchild of A. Rawlings, Derek Beaulieu, and Jason Christie, I wonder what is its purpose. The introductions--one per editor--reveal a variety of intentions and reflections on the position of editors and anthologies in the Canadian canon, attempting to dodge a claim to national poetics (though the anthology does lay claim to a national identity in the title). I found Beaulieu's introduction the most useful, particularly when he described the writing itself, though I really wanted one of these poets to trace the development of avant garde poetry in Canada; I really wanted to see how a country with such a small population and such geographic hurdles, could in so few "literary" years, have developed such a wealth of innovative writers? And though I know that Charles Bernstein has had a huge impact in certain circles of Canadian poetry, I really wanted to hear about the Canadian poets whose work has made the poetry in this anthology possible, because though I understand that lineage (like trade routes) tends to run in all directions, and most logically north/south, and though I understand that poetry is fluid, and further, that the more avant garde the writer the less borders contain them, I do know that there is a particular Canadian poetic and it's a powerful, conflicted, complex set of influences. Where else in the world, I wonder, could such a text have been published?

I read Ron Silliman's post/review of the text in early January with interest, because it exposes, to my mind, one of the big differences between poetry in Canada and the US, and that is a sense of daring, the ability to completely leave the map at home, a sense of complete abandon. I just don't see the kind of risk-taking that happens in Canadian poetry going on to the same degree elsewhere. (Tell me where?) As for the particular poets gathered here, I agree with Silliman that not all of this work is of equal quality, and some of it seems in need of context, but I disagree that it makes avant garde poetry in Canada seem weaker than it is. Lacking a historical context yes, but weak, no.

But anthologies, and discussions of them, are problematic, and again, beg the question of purpose. What is the purpose of the book? Can I use it to teach? Does it caputre something of a movement or moment? If you're going to introduce a poetic, or a community of poetry, or way of thinking or approaching poetry, then you need to do the actual work of introducing. I'm not asking for a text book, I'm asking for context. I'm asking for adequate selections, enough to get a clear sense of the poet's project, for instance. Interestingly, unlike Silliman I found much of the concrete work in this anthology to be the clearest, most useful and best selected. I look forward to introducing that work to students as well as fellow poets who may not be familiar with visual poetry. Poets such as Matthew Hollett, Jamie Hilder, Gustave Morin--Hugh Thomas' "Tamari Lattice" is hilarious--and much of Frances Kruk.
Rob Read's Hieroglyphs, which reminded me of the artist Brian Jungen's work, will provoke an interesting discussion, but the Daily Treated Spam, would have benefited from context. (Yes, I understand what he's doing, but parameters?)

There is a lot to like here.
Jason Christie's selection was very strong, coherent, and funny too:
Basket

My gardenerbot is my gardenerbot because my little dog robot knows her.
Gregory Betts' "The Sonnets" was a wonderful discovery, and I look forward to more of Sharon Harris. The excerpt from Fun with Pataphysics would work well in a classroom.
Many selections--Jon Paul Fiorentino, A. Rawlings, Nathalie Stephens, Jordan Scott--make me want to read more, and in general the anthology makes me excited about language. On the downside, many other selections seem too abbreviated--not necessarily a reflection on the work, but rather the anthologist's desire to include many. This is often the price: quantity over quality. This book is bristling with new energy. It's an exciting publication, visually stimulating and so much more innovative than much of what I encounter between the covers. It's purpose, it seems to me, is to introduce us to the vast, impressive vein of innovative work to readers and writers of poetry in canada and abroad. I think it's safe to say that the editors have achieved that goal.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's that time again

Birds hitting tall building they apparently confuse for "starlight." It's astounding, but I guess we humans don't want to give up our sparkling skylines for the sake of some ruby-throated hummingbirds? The Globe and Mail reports that Toronto volunteers spend early mornings picking up fallen birds.
Speaking of birds--this was one of a half dozen cardinals bunched up in one tree in the Ramble. It was freezing in Central Park on Saturday, but the birds were out...
This one in the reservoir. I have no idea who this guy is, but he was a great diver and had a very bad haircut...


Brokeback marriages


Didn't Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville West make faux marriage seem like jet-setting? Oh, right, they were actually both gay, not just one of them... The New York Times looks at the pitfalls of marrying a gay man.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Overheard Dialogue of the Week

Why are some wars good?

Because they're for the right reasons. That one was for the right reasons. This one isn't.

What is this one for?

This one is because our president is a moron.

Oh.

(pause)

What about the president who cut down the cherry tree, was he a moron, too?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

People are talking about Jonathan Ames

This post achieves several things at once. First it establishes me as a member of the paparazzi, and second it acknowledges that Jonathan Ames and I share the same neighbourhood coffee shop...as for the sense of humor? I'm working on it.

The Madness of Kenny G.

Oh, there's all kinds of craziness going on over in Silliland. (Did I just type that?) I love the consistency of Silliman's blog. The daily rigor of it is just impressive as hell. I have to admit that the comments terrify me, however. It's sort of like haunting an undergraduate dormitory...and damn it, I haven't seen the Open Letter issue on Goldsmith yet! Sorry guys, my check is in the mail.
But Kenny, who can not love Kenny Goldsmith? This may be a kind of litmus test for me.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Yale Review on Open Field: 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets

I'm not one to preen, but today's news prompts such a post. Apparently the Yale Review is calling Open Field the most important anthology of the year... I'm just a little chuffed by this news. Find out why. If you haven't cracked its spine yet, you can get it at bookstores near you, or if you live in a cave, through amazon. Those Canadian poets, I'm telling you, they're inspiring.

Rachel Whiteread at Luhring Augustine

Why is Rachel Whiteread so compelling? Is it the purity of vision? The clean lines? Is it the way she physicalizes negative space? How she sees the potential of nothing? Her new show, at the Luhring Augustine gallery in Chelsea had a Pottery Barn feel to it: shelves of simple two tone objects. Another feature, seams. A reminder of Erin Moure's attention to this in her poetry. How things are folded in, folded over, tucked, so much of what holds space together is so flimsy. The title of this new show is "Bibliography", and in this sense is about containment and containers. Open boxes on chairs, under tables, always as Whiteread does, taking our eye to the place we're trained not to go. The way Whitread physicalizes the negative has a morbid feel. The funereal plaster molds, solid, sereneness.
The folds of cardboard above, on the other hand, felt to me like elegies for our time. But perhaps this has more to do with my ongoing fascination with impermanence, my childhood of boxing and unboxing. In any case, Whiteread has put her finger on a pulse here and I've been fascinated by her ever since the Sensation Show at the Brooklyn Museum. Nothing has quite had the impact of "Untitled
(One-Hundred Spaces)" (1995), the resin castings of the spaces underneath 100 chairs, which seemed a kind of towering monument to domesticity, to me, it seemed so female. The full-sized house she did a few years back--I think it was at The Whitney? And then last fall, the chess pieces I posted on here.

Chelsea is archival this winter. Another show, gorgeous paintings of documents and folios. Again, clean lines and startling crimson book binding. This by a Chinese artist now living in Philadelphia. More on those later this week.

Listening to

Stacked wood, Bar Kili, Bond Street
Jamie Lidell Multiply
Cold Cut Sound Mirrors
Boards of CanadaThe Campfire Headphase
Richard Ashcroft Keys of the World
And the acoustic open mic at Bar Kili down the street. Fireplace and aquamarine guitar most welcome on such a cold night...thank God for music.