Another from Books & Portraits
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
530 West 22nd Street
January 17–February 23
A former hairdresser from Los Angeles, Mark Bradford seems to be causing considerable stir. His work resembles much worked over advertising surfaces one finds in subways and in out of the way urban spaces. The kind of space worked over by bored teenagers, smoothing foil from cigarette packages, then thumbing circles, lines, exposing layers of others markings. But there is more to the gesture. From a distance these surfaces resemble "aerial views of contorting, mutating, and decaying cities whose tiny, intricate street grids can no longer maintain their structural integrity against unknown, epic forces (overcrowding, corruption, disease?)."
A little closer....
Making use of materials at hand is always admirable as far as the Hound is concerned. In Bradford's case he takes signage as signs of wonder and turns them back on the communities they come from in deliciously scrambled forms. The idea of scratching the surface, of unearthing heroines--black superheros on this case--is also a powerful force. In his own words Bradford says "I think if Rauschenberg were pulling from the streets now, he and I would be fighting for the billboards."
We're up to our ears in materiality, in text and images...and what can we do with it? How to make sense of the barrage? How to find indeterminate spaces, to poke at the ideology that so quickly moves into advertising bites...to imagery that imposes. Playfulness might be the necessary ingredient of the 21st century.
Bradford is having a lot of fun reinventing images of African American's. There was an artist who used macaroni as hair...and last year Mickaline Thomas took a look at "prime time images" of African American women. But check out the video "Practice" on this NPR site where we see a man trying to play basketball in an antebellum hoop skirt...
Oddly enough Erin Moure sent along a link to a piece in th NY Times about a rather unusual little gallery in Chelsea.
But NYC is full of art, every bit of space...here is a series of photos the Hound took of subway eyes...
Paintings by Mickaline Thomas
More from Thomas here.
And for some reason, Mark Bradford got me thinking about flarf...post on that soon.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Haiku's from the French: Catherine Owen in Geist.
Ditch features Erin Moure, Nathalie Stephens and Jay Millar.
Rod McKuen just won't go away...here's the news circa 1967.
Lisa Moore on Mavis Gallant.
An interview with Canadian playwright Tomson Highway.
(Meanwhile I've noticed quite a lot of grumpiness directed at the Toronto Theatre scene, once vibrant, and now it seems, in need of a shake up or shake down...and even Canadian Stage cutting its play development arm...what is going on?)
And speaking of Toronto: Blog TO on Toronto book stores (via Cancult.ca)
Christian Bok on Dennis Lee over at the Poetry Foundation. Happy to see Lee get some attention for Yes/No. I was shocked at the silence that surrounded UN (an excerpt from that is included in Open Field). But then the Canadian poetry scene is a prickly beast, often preoccupied with its shadow.
Earlier Bok offered a succinct post on aleatory writing that's also worth checking out. Here's a snippet:
Chance fulfills two contradictory duties, since it scatters connected things even as it clusters unrelated things. Where the world disjoins events in order to keep them quarantined from each other, chance serves to force events into a state of mutual collusion, but where the world conjoins events in order to keep them adulterated with each other, chance serves to force events into a state of mutual dispersal. Is chance preserving its power to be intractable by doing both things at once? Is it not fair to say that, wherever a norm prevails, chance seems to intervene on behalf of an anomalous behaviour?I'm on board with aleatory writing and all manner of constraints, oulipian, chance, and well, just about anything that can produce the kind of potent and kinetically charged texts that can arise from this approach. But the whole metaphor of the gaming tables can undermine the game and reminds me of that empty feeling one has when the game has gone too far, or perhaps not far enough. That tepid reach.
And where these games are concerned this poet would like to see them used in concert with other lines of inquiry, not singular in their pursuit, or if singular then singular to the extreme (as Bok does with Eunoia). Otherwise we end up with a series of one note texts good for a laugh and then what? Of course "and then what" is a difficult question to ask of poetry in general...
Ron Silliman on Rachel Blau Duplessis' latest Drafts: poetry as readerly engagement and argument.
Have you read the new Alice Munro in the New Yorker? And am I the only one who missed this extensive interview with Munro in the Virginia Quaterly Review?
Susan Faludi on the 9/11 widows.
Do you dream of Hilary? Or Barak? Now you can share your dreams:
Get ready for the low-tech workstyle...it's coming. Here are some radical ideas:
And with that in mind this blog will whittle itself down to a murmur.
Get over yourself. Receiving lots of e-mail doesn't mean you're important. "People who brag about getting a hundred e-mails a day, I think there's something wrong with that," productivity expert Mark Ellwood says.
Turn off your automatic e-mail notification.
Block e-mails on which you are cc'd. "Anything you really need to know finds its way to you," management consultant Ken Siegel says.
Most people don't need the
Internet at their desk all the time. Cut yourself off.
Do less. Do it better.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Featuring over 150 contributors, including poems by Meena Alexander, Ron Padgett and Dennis Nurkse, essays by Cole Swenson, Steven Burt and Okey Ndibe, translations by Marilyn Hacker, Paul Hoover, and Afaa Michael Weaver, translations of Mahmoud Darwish and Yu Jian, photos by Harlan Erskine, web art by Mark Marino, sound by Gordon Monahan, video by David Bernard Ambrose, Laird Hunt's interview with Oliver Rohe, among many, many other works.
Including Drunken Boat's Poetics folio, which includes forty contemporary poets and ten non-poets writing essays on a group of the poems. Drunken Boat's rejoinder to Dana Gioia's "Can Poetry Matter?" cedes some fascinating results, from zeal to apathy to out-and-out animosity.
See also Part one of a Two Part series on Mis/Translation, featuring all variety of straight and vexed translations, from magpie steals to computational recreations, from transinhalations to homophonic construction, including work from Erin Moure, Robert Majzels, Neils Hav, Nathalie Stephens, Sandra Alland and Caroline Bergvall.The second part of this feature will be released in about two months time.
Enjoy the issue and let us know what you think.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I think we here in NYC should have less readings and more meetings, reading groups, meals together, public and radical self-education. I think we spend too much time only with poets. I think we should be organizing for better working conditions for ourselves, and others (we should participate in the union or organize our workplace). We must aggressively challenge being swallowed into academia, and question ourselves when we professionalize and promote ourselves as poets. I want us to begin to collectively name some registers we might consider requisite for resistance and opposition to full-on consumer, capitalist culture. I think we should write letters on paper and keep our worst thoughts in our private journals, not on blogs. I think we should heckle at readings as a form of loud love. I’d like us to reinvest and rethink the scope, shape and import of the local as a political arena--as a place where it is possible somehow to do meaningful work. (Here some poetry examples come to mind, Debunker Mentality, Poetry is News organized by Anne Waldman, Ammiel Alcalay, and Tonya Foster, work with youth done at Bowery Poetry Club and Bushwick School for Social Justice--much more.) As for me, I’d like to get to these things, and I might if I were running around less with poets. I’d like to ask Bloomberg why his very rich city can’t return the Brooklyn Central Library to it’s pre-cut hours, so the kids hanging out waiting for it to open (at 1p.m on a Sunday) could enter. I’d like to be part of campaigns of demand and outrage over the easy sale of our neighborhoods.A big here, here to being "here".
And I would like us to have the time and the conditions to continue and expand our interrogations on Language, Feminism, the reinvention of the Left, what shape the next revolution, or how we can possibly live in the world without one.
In other words, to be present.
Monday, February 11, 2008
On the one hand Jan Zwicky's Wisdom & Metaphor. "By 'metaphor'" says Zwicky, "I mean the linguistic expression of the results of focussed analogical thinking..." (5) but I have asked before, what good is metaphor if it keeps us grounded in a pre-20th century world? Or, a pre-20th century world without 21st century consciousness?
What does it mean to make concrete a poem? Or to make a concrete poem? Is metaphor implied? Can earthworks be considered concrete poems?
Twenty-five years now since Lyn Hejinian published the influential essay Rejection of Closure. Quite a few since she published Continuing Against Closure. How are we feeling about closure these days?
Jan Zwicky again: "Things are what they seem; but it is possibe for them to seem differently." (79)
"A chronicler must gather details as if they were hard candies," Lyn Hejinan in "From The Distance."
Anne Carson upped her avant garde identity with "String Talks," a reading and multi-media performance at NYU last Friday. Having seen the Gertrude Stein opera that ended up being in Decreation I can guess with some confidence that "String Talks," will be odd and a bit stilted in an intellectually edifying way. And of course I would have been there if I could...
Do people still think "heartfelt" means something?
"What is this is not that; indeed this is distinct, must be distinct, from everything else" (Zwicky 53)
"I came back to the meadow. I could not shake the memory of a train." Elizabeth Willis, Meteoric Flowers.
"A real failure does not need an excuse. It is an end in itself ," Gertrude Stein.
When I ask a poet to describe Canadian lyric poetry what I get in return is an essay by Billy Collins.
Between these poles there is real meaning. I'm sure of it. I'm old fashioned after all.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
New Yorker, February 11
A new story by Alice Munro in the current New Yorker had the Hound up part of the night, and just when she had begun to think that Munro couldn't zing her anymore. The twist in plot took her completely by surprise. Cheeky, it is. A smart rewrite of Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find," a story that has troubled more than one fiction writing class, and not only for its absolute darkness of vision (a fact O'Connor argues). It's also a reminder that what Canadians think is a kind of unique brand of Canadian fiction isn't at all.
But the story, yes, the story. We start off in typical Munro land: "At first, people kept phoning, to make sure that Nita was not too depressed, not too lonely, not eating too little or drinking too much..." Quickly we learn that Nita is living in a ramshackle (artfully so) house on the outskirts of town and is recently widowed by her professor husband. Up until this point it's difficult not to think of "The Bear Came Over The Mountain" of course, a kind of flip-side to it, but there is something different about the voice, as the narrator herself says later on: "a crack in it, a rising pitch that made her think of a television comedian doing a rural whine." And that idea of the flip-side becomes important because once we get comfortable with Nita and her loneliness, her grief (we find out she has recently lost the husband/professor that she won, or stole from his first wife, and has just beaten cancer: for now), she discovers a young man at her door, "come to check the fusebox."
Now without giving too much away what follows to my mind in any case, is a brilliant updating of the infamous scene between "the old lady" and the Misfit, the "unconversion" tale if you will, at the heart of "A Good Man." Much is changed, much is updated, and the south we are in is Southern Ontario, but the basic gothic strategy of "telling a story" to save one's life is there. And Munro handles it brilliantly. What a coup. Is it because we weren't expecting another from her that this turn comes as such a surprise? Again, our narrator:
She took a big chance. She said, “I just think you haven’t ever done anything like this before.”There were a few moments when the veneer of the young man wore thin, but on a second read those shortcomings faded into the cabin walls and what emerged was a woman who had become quite comfortable with her narrative and who had suddenly, and with great grace and obvious delight, turned it on its head one last time easily convincing the stranger in her house, and in the process, completely delighting herself, and settling into her status as master.
O Connor's story ends with the chilling:
"Shut up, Bobby Lee," The Misfit said. "It's no real pleasure in life."Munro's:
There followed a kindly stern lecture. Leaving keys in the car. Woman living alone. These days you never know.Never know.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Canadian Ellen Page in the NY Times Magazine.
The Hound has tried not to read or respond to any of the Canadian reviews of Open Field...but perhaps enough time has passed now (or not...maybe it is never appropriate to comment on such things??). In any case, comments like the one this reviewer makes, and which Todd Swift quotes on his blog, are particularly bothersome. First of all, they don't have much to do with Open Field it seems to me, other than to cast some vague shadow of suspicion on the project...and why Americans haven't done an anthology earlier and why this one is...well, not the right one..as if there can only be one, should only be one...(no wonder they didn't do one earlier...). Anyhow this tactic of passive aggressively undermining things seems to have lodged itself as the dominant strand of criticism in Canada in the past seven years this poet has been away...too bad. It leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. And useful? Well, if one wants to perpetuate a bad taste, then yes, to those people it is useful. (And that's the last the Hound will say about the latter.)
On a cheerier note! An autographed first editions of one of the Hound's favourite books is up on the auction block...bet you can't guess...
Interviews are popping up all over the place these day. But what makes a good one? A sense of conversation? Of digging in to an issue? Of catching one's thinking? Detailing a specific process? Here's one between Shawna Lemay and Kimmy Beach. A shout out to Ms. Angela Carr, by the way, she who has done a spate of excellent interviews for Matrix Magazine. I've just dipped into the Matrix Interviews that she edited with R. Allen back in 2000. So much can be learned from the questions.
Other highlights include Gail Scott, Anne Carson, Marie-Claire Blais, Robert Majzels, and Irving Layton himself! Fabulous work Matrix. And again, a shout out to Angela who has done myself, Nathalie Stephens and Lisa Robertson in the last year or so.
Meanwhile, the number of internet users in China is expected to overtake that of the US in a matter of hours...
Oh, Superman...Herbie Mann rock on.
And ya, Obama.
Plus a link to a CBC concert on demand that features many things including Ginsberg's Howl.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
That was civilized.
But what an odd assortment of people. A few of the regular Chelsea sort: the thousand dollar shoes, the Vuitton bags, the Chanel clutch, the many layered hair, the outstanding pink ruffle coat, the fur, the linen, the blue tinted glasses, the yellow tinted glasses, the Burberry, the camel hair, the silky hair, the young with art bags in tow, the stranger in a Red Sox cap (treachery!) with odd collections of celebrity photos flipped here and there to what end one can't imagine... The latter dipping into the other end of the spectrum of attendee: the kind with many bags--some of which seemed to have contained cats at one point or another so clawed they were from the inside out, the kind, in short, who have no more use for art than they do lobster forks. Not that the Hound has any use for lobster forks either, but she is more selective in her baggage.
But the art. Lets not forget the art. There was Johns in the lovely, spacious Matthew Marks, his trademark grays, as above, the numbers, the combination of lines and circles, the playful, the abstract, in ink, charcoal, graphite pencil, watercolor, acrylic, pastel...the combination of said things on paper. The whimsy, the figures that often remind of bpNichol and to some extent bill bisset. This was the last stop in a long day of art, the reporting on which will now move back in time until it melds with the Lower East Side report of Sunday because one can't be too orderly.
Can we say that we were moved by Johns? Impressed by the weight of a career that has had such an impact on abstract art? A simultaneous show at the Met after all? It isn't fair but I wanted to be in a room full of those early grays...
But of course that's not what Chelsea is for, that's what the big galleries are for...and so we see that which slips through now and then, that which might get lost in a giant retrospective. That which might not fit in the grand narrative of an artist's career. And to be frank, there was a lot of gray in other galleries. A lot of abstract work that didn't seem to be adding anything at all to what Johns, Agnes Martin, Mark Rothko (and on and on....) did. So, if one is to compare the energy of the new Johns with the new "Johns-like" work (Charles Cowles for example? What was that all about?) then yes, the Johns moved and satisfied...at least soothed, as in yes, there is sense to this. That along with the stemware and the rather odd and subtle propositions from strangers.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
But over at the Poetry Foundation they're giving Sincerity a sincere once over. Yet again. Can't quite get out of their idea of it--try quoting someone outside the system no? Come on, Gluck and Frost?? The title of Peter Campion's essay is "Sincerity and Its Discontents in American Poetry Now." Note the "now" and note the absolute lack of a "now" in the essay... All I ask is that people look around. Give us a range of people thinking about sincerity!! Or maybe it's just me who wants to be open...hey, maybe I'm just one of those annoying insincere others...
Still ending an essay with the following statement just irks:
But it doesn’t take any of these as a set position. The lesson, in the end, is a formal one. You’ll know the sincere poem from the way it moves.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
The New Museum of Contemporary Art on the Bowery. Makes funky old Dixon Place seem like circa 1979... On the upside, there are plenty of little art galleries springing up... Over the next week I'll talk about four: 31 Grand, Smith-Stewart, Freeze Frame, and The Fruit & Flower Deli. As well, a post on the New Museum, before heading up to Chelsea to see the big guns, the money pot, the mecca of modern art.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
143 Ludlow Street
This is a group show riffing on the idea of the hunter/hunted, the erotics of hunting, and the strangeness I suppose. The work certainly ran the spectrum, and while it was all engaging, it was certainly a stretch to see the connection to the theme at times. The dog in the previous post pictured under the gender challenging photo, seemed puzzled. This Hound was not. The tent in the above photo is from artist Orly Cogan, as is the tapestry below. Cogan is an artist who works with materials--love the coke-snorting lovers on the pillow case. A whole new level of embroidery--a gesture that reminds me of the amazing Canadian artist, Shary Boyle.
The tent was also smart: embroidered with many cats and dogs (raining that is...).
31 Grand used to be in Williamsburg and has recently relocated to the ever-hippening LES.
When You See Me Again It Won't Be Me
53 Stanton Street
Was a party, now the aftermath. Black matte square with torn chains and piercings, black tulle-like material hanging, scuff marks, traces of identity. On the floor a fashion magazine spread open and the faces of German artists/NYU graduates Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder with gender marked faces peering back at you. On two walls, blow-ups of those photos, tagged with studs and chains. Yes, there was a performance, humans interacting with a large abstract painting floating on what could be considered the fourth wall. "The artists wanted to be seen as an extension of the painting," one of the gallery representatives told us, "they came out and into the street. No one person was able to see the entire performance."
We saw only the aftermath of the performance and the energy was still there, scuffed and imperfect, an erotics of recent past, of gesturing toward a future now. The portraits are compelling. The idea of the performance, the phasing of the show, seems to be an aspect of the moment. People are allowing shows to build, and perhaps even to fall apart... The only part of this show that didn't work for me was the piercing of the photos themselves. I get it. I just don't think it added anything. If anything it made it less original.
You can see a short film of the performance here.
It was a girl, girl, girl morning on the LES. A kind of gritty, boho, Berlin abstract kind of having fun in an aggressive way. The artists at Thrust Projects, a tiny gallery, technically in Chinatown, ranged in style and polish. There seemed to me a sense of late 80s pink in some of the work--you know that pink, that Madonna pink as opposed to the Talking Heads red and the Laurie Anderson orange?? The Hound's favorite was Carrie Moyer's Sap Green, 2007, (below courtesy of Thrust Projects).
Thinking about abstract art and how it is, or what makes it fresh. This show was billed as a group of young women who "break through" the boundaries of abstraction. Certainly the above painting does. Did they all? I'm not convinced. On the other hand I am convinced that something is happening with women and abstract art, and whatever it is I want to see it go further...much further. There was a show recently at Newzones in Calgary featuring a group of young female abstract painters too, and while on the whole it wasn't as exciting as I hoped, there is a freedom in this work, a playfulness that I want to see complicated--as Moyer does above, and as Joyce Kim does here with "Samurai Lesson." More please. More.
Fruit & Flower Deli
The oracle is in and clearly told our host Rodrigo, a Chilean/Swiss curator who arrived in NYC just over six months ago to take up residence on Stanton Street. The inaugural show was something by a group called International Festival, which had a show up for six weeks and then, as part of the ongoing show, left their mark on the ceiling of the gallery and paid the rent for the year. The show up now is by an artist named David Adamo, and consists of 8 bats in various states of being chewed, or torn apart, leaning (for the most part), upright against the walls of the small space, wood chips all around on the floor. Even before I saw the blanket thrown over a posse of arrows I was thinking of Brian Jungen's bats, but I'm not sure that is what Adamo had in mind. On the small, carpeted stage in the window a lone bow, of the violin variety, lay under a painting of a woman named, Rodrigo informed us, LuLu. All very odd? Yes, and completely genuine. A bag of bows, a twist of narrative, and deconstruction of sport, of violence, of cultural sovereignty? Any or all of the above. The next artist will be Tracy Nakiyama.
"Never open/ always welcome."
You don't need to come to Fruit and Flower Deli, unless you want to of course. You will always be welcome if you decide to come, and if you don’t you will never miss anything, or you just might miss something. Everything in Fruit and Flower Deli is constant, everything there was, was there, and still is. This is because Fruit and Flower Deli is a home, for the arts, and the love for the arts. It is a home also for me, I’m the Keeper, so I have no choice, or I do actually, I choose to stay, I chose to be chosen.If you see Rodrigo there with his laptop, give a tap on the window. Or, if you can, suggest yourself to the oracle and maybe Rodrigo will simply look up. You never know what you'll miss...like attempts to levitate, or the weekly Sunday sermon.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Finally got my hands on Dorothea Lasky's AWE from Wave Books (review to come), another press I could have packed a half dozen titles from. I've blogged about Joshua Beckman's Shake before, it's still a favorite.
Chax, belladonna, Four Way, Future Poem, Nightboat, Fence, Persea, Wesleyan, Pitt, all represented with great titles.
And Canadians in the house! Coach House, ECW and Brick Books all doing much good promotional footwork. Speaking of which: the Hound's long review of contemporary Canadian poetry is out in Gulf Coast Review, and Book Forum has a thorough review of the new bpnichol reader from Coach House. Rumour has it that the Lambda Book Report has a review of Canadian Rachel Zolf with a thorough description of the Lesbian Mafia descending from the north...that would include the Hound, barking, snapping, and tearing...
Now today is art.