Saturday, November 11, 2006

latest trip to Barnes and Noble. a buzzing place. I used to think hail to thee blithe little bookstores, but the romance of them has paled. I would just as soon see a mongo selection than a cat sleeping on the counter. liking cats tho I do. selection, price and coffee, woohoo. there were signs of Christmas, with giftie stuff in plain view. and a major rearrangement had occurred. I couldn't tell at 1st if the piped in music was faceless Christmas music or faceless regular music. I guess it was the latter. I went in with a vague hankering and didn't know where to look. if John Hodgman had a new book out, bingo! but I didn't see such a thing. I made my dutiful trip to the poetry section. came close to getting Creeley's collected from 75 on. the blurbs for it were mostly by dead people, Williams and Olson, for 2. really, it was just that it wasn't the vague thing I came in hankering for that kept me from that purchase. several editions of Howl. Ginsberg's mug showed up in a number of manifestations, on his own writing and as representative Beat in collections and histories. in my dotage I grow more fond of Ginsberg. certes, he's it for pizzazz in the poetry section. it really could be pumped, but I suppose that's a radicalism. it's just so faceless, all these poets who think they've made it because their strophes dedicated to chickadess (wee gaunt challengers of winter's froreness) or Saul Bellow were 1st published in Poetry. I think at the poetry section I encountered a guy on the phone. it was some serious conversation he engaged that I could happily have ignored, but he had no intention in denying me my public right to eavesdrop. I think he said the like of, I'm not the type of person to fuck people over. good on him! he moved on, only to be encountered in the psychology/self help area. which I immediately left. many editions of Walden, collect them all. I guess the big news is that Nicole Richey has a book. a copy was in the window and I saw it in the stacks. beneath the title are the words: a novel a novel a novel. I should do it marquee style: a novel a novel a novel a novel a novel. the point is, for the unwary, that the book is a novel. not a dissertation on eating disorders, nor a tell all about Lionel Richey's wardrobe nor even a discussion of Paris Hilton's contribution to shoe theory. nay, it is a fictionalistical story. of some sort. a ghastly glamour portrait of Nicole graces the cover. she appears to be made of shiny plastic. someday I will collect a few such oddities and um read them. I looked around for Fu Manchu books but found none. not sure where to look. what I took home from this experience is William Gaddis' last novel, a book on the Civil War by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (division leader of the Maine unit that held the flank at Little Round Top and even, sans ammunition, chased Johhny Reb down the hill in a moment of wartime esprit. also a package of little Moleskine notebooks, I like them Moleskines. the Gaddis is his last novel. I wonder if it aint a posthumously patched together item. it's very short. I really loved JR, still haven't read Frolic of their Own. he only wrote 4 novels, by gum. the regular price for this treasure is 25 smackers, which is ridiculous, tho hardcover at least. luckily it was cheaped to the max, thus my readiness to take a swing. I'm not big on posthumous discoveries. I read one by Hemingway, which someone likened to the work of Robert Benchley. negatory on that one. at the time, Benchley was pretty much ne plus ultra for me (sheen's a bit off now but he's still semi god). and Hemingway wasn't within a country mile of Benchley. good lord!!! so psyched enough to have the goods I got. I don't even know what Beth got. Erin I think scored something in the realm of D&D or Magic card. I go thru all this semi-literary stuff but jinkies, the past week Jack Kimball has perspicaciously written up at least 5 poetry readings that he attended. Boston is not entirely empty of sceneness, and I had ought to place my support more boldly. but a trip to B&N is a family thing, which beats rock, paper and scissors, hands down.
2:00 this morning we were awakened by Coyote! Coyote and his pards. they seemed to be right below our window, yapping something fierce. the cat took their presence seriously, wide-eyed with an implicit you sure that window's closed? expression. the dog was elsewhere, I don't know how he felt about the canine influx. I've heard Coyote distantly before but never in a surrounding the cabin sort of send out your kitty and we'll leave you alone way.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Silliman lauds a book by Noah Eli Gordon. I shan't commit a Silliman slicing. to read Ron's commentary usefully, any of it, you must hold in mind his need for taxonomy, hierarchy and relationship. critically speaking, there seems to be a < reddish herring < swimming hereabouts, tho. what activates Silliman in his post is Gordon's particular appropriation, to wit: he wrote the book by collecting together emails he had received. as a tactic, that doesn't sound edgy. appropriation is appropriation, which is currently the talk of the town, isn't it. Silliman cites Ed Friedman's collation of phone calls, so even he recognizes that the there there aint there regarding the newness of method. plenty of variants exist. which is not to say that Gordon's work can't be fresh. it does seem to depend on the reader knowing his tactic, however: Silliman quotes the explanation that Gordon gives for his method that introduces the work. does that info need to be in the foreground? and Silliman doesn't even quite agree with the method, he would like to see Gordon jumble his text. there's a point where methodology and poetry aren't the same thing. method is just a personal way to survive in the poetic.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Listenlight #4 seems to be alive. may still be in twiddle-mode, but it looks good and good to go. visual and textual poems. Jeff Harrison's 3 haiku are skewed koan-ish oddballs. in the good sense. not.....................................................................................

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I recently had an urge to read Robert E Howard. yes, I 1st read him in high school. the firstest book I got was Conan of Cimmeria. it had the usual Frank Frazetta cover. it showed Conan giving battle against 2 red headed Vikingesque giants, in a frore mountain scene. yo dudes, not the place to wear shorts. the arm of one giant lay on the ground, having been surgically removed by Dr Conan. nearby lay the patented Frazetta wet dream: a scantily clad babe in a bikini. all the human figures, even the giants (I believe they were Frost Giants) were dwarfed by the mountains. it was that, indeed, that caught my eye: the insignificance of those 4 beings amidst the glorious snow clad mountains. the stories are okay, definitely full of momentum. I admire writing that gets where it is going in that way. both Tolkien and Howard offer their share of cleft skulls (in football, that would be called having your bell rung) but Howard made them sound brutal whereas Tolkien made them sound like good innings at cricket. I remember my friend and I talking with someone who was a leedle more into Conan than either of us. my friend pointed out the racism of the stories and the guy was offended plus amazed at the very idea. but of course there is an underlying yuck to the stories, one should keep that in mind, as a handy reminder of the actual inner child. I just read some stories in Wolfhead, non-Conan stories. one story was perfect H P Lovecraft. the protagonist is an obsessed ghost hunter. well I mean, he is hip to all the arcane texts and has to go to Hungary or thereabouts to locate the scene of some horror. which he does. and sees ghostly figures reenact a terrible human sacrifice. Howard was only 18 when he wrote it, which is impressive. there's something puerile about such stories but it bounds along with admirable verve. the cover of that book shows a hunky bodybuilder with sword, entwined in the grip of an anaconda-sized serpent, in a dungeon locale, and a fair, fallen maiden in the background. what might be my only Howard tome currently in ownership, Conan the Usurper, now sits before me. it features an even larger, way much larger, snake. Conan's wrists are bound by chains. he sits astride the snake, which turns to face him. we see the mighty warrior's well-toned lats and dorsals, no one can say he hasn't been pushimg the metal. in the background are demonish creatures, some skeletons, and a pile of skulls. well how's the big Cimmerian gonna get out of that one? (beam me up, Scotty). my favourite Frazetta cover shows Conan on a warhorse, in battle. he looks like he should be riding with 3 other nasty ass horseman, he's pretty intensely into his game. when it comes to zooming action literature, I'll take Fu Manchu. Jeff Harrison informs me that Sax Rohmer was well into alchemy. well well well. I'm sure Dr Fu Manchu has expertise in that arena. Rohmer basically took Sherlock Holmes and added a fantastic aspect. that is to say, Sir Denis Nayland-Smith = Holmes, and Dr Petrie = Dr Watson. Nayland-Smith brings to mind James Bond, but without the imperative to actually save the world. it's enough if he spins his primly but earnestly English wheels. which he does. the mad Dr has all the advantages: brains, evil, arcane skills. thru bumbling and the help of the good English god, plus a certain stalwart respect harboured by Fu Manchu for the English race, things turn out okay for the forces of good. Fu Manchu has a prediliction to locate his hide outs in wet places, dockside, or under the Thames. not that Sir Denis or Petrie think to look there 1st. all these writers, they get the job done. the superfluities are largely banished. okay, the hairs at the nape of Conan's neck will rise up in alarum, and such like, but really, they don't get in the way of the writing. maybe the mostest of errors for poetry makers is the less than adventitious interference of the poet. hi, it's me talking. I don't even know what a poetry of the non-interference would be like. like O'Hara, mebbe, e'en tho first person singular appears often enough. it's not the 'I' but the weight behind it. wait wait wait: what is the source of poetry...???

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

hey, Google can do other things than supply text for post-modern poetic avant gardiness!!! which is to say I did due diligence (or I did do diligence) and looked up Ric Royer. this search brought me here, thence to The Performance Thanatology Research Group, here. worth poking around all the links. I like this line from the thanafesto for PTRS: "The Performance Thanatology Research Society is a group of scholars dedicated to the advancement of a higher histrionics brought on by imminent finalities". higher histrionics, ah hah! see, I'm wavery about performativity. but I'm antsy about the enclosure of just standing there reading as well. Royer's piece was more theatre than poetry in the sense that it depended on the story that he (partly, mysteriously) unraveled, and his tonal shifts and nearing and distancing factors (how he inhabits the character space, and how he steps back). so like well anyway, he presented himself something as a lecturer, but, let us say, sans rostrum (he did have a table to sit at, but it wasn't raised. he made eye contact at times (pretty intimate room). his tie (which had an exquisite line drawing on it) was conspicuously loose, the ends nowhere near matching. I wear ties rarely, but when I do, I get the ends to match in length, which means it takes me half an hour to get it right. but the point is, out of the frumpy ordinariness (and it must be a shock for anyone to receive the charge of frumpy, I realize I wield a powerful word), he draws underbrush aside and reveals a revel. the flarfistas are well-documented in their dramatic exploits, keyed up humour: the works want it. histrionics depends on the specific work. I would avoid grave intonations except used ironically (and I took KSM's test, and know I know nothing about irony--maybe it is just the quality of being like iron). drama is hyper, or often enough. I don't want to sell or buy the poem, but join it. one of the best reading's I ever saw was by Michael Gizzi, whose delivery was crisp and dry, just perfect to the work. me, I have a stubborn inbred taciturnity to deal with. interestingly, after the reading I mentioned to Ric a book I've been reading, Trickster Makes the World by Lewis Hyde, and he said oh yeah. nice coinkydink. the book relate the Trickster figure (Coyote, Loki, Hermes, etc) to the art world, Ginsberg and Duchamps his particular exemplars. that idea of art as transgressive, alternative, subversive is a rich one.

Monday, November 06, 2006

saw James Cook and Ric Royer read at Demolicious. for open mike, Joel Sloman read a non-translation of Baudelaire, and 2 others whose names I didn't retain read. then Cook read, a long work that centered on maps and mapping. it touched the local and history and let's say cosmology. these are Olson issues of course, but I wouldn't want to limit the poem or my own interest in such by leaning on that too much. Cook read with a wide-eyed nervous energy. indeed, he apologized for having a conflict such that he and his brood dashed out the door to elsewhere just about as he finished. Ric Royer followed. he's currently from Baltimore, having done penance in Buffalo, and I'm not sure where else. I knew this would be a multimedia performance but that's all I knew. he started by showing a slide. it was a comparison shot of 2 pairs of girls celebrating a high school basketball win. both pictures were near identical, same pose, same braid, and the girls looked the same. Royer purported that these pictures were of Bloomfield wins a couple years apart. he also said that no one knows where the pictures came from. he then went into a long story about the Museum of Doubles, which collects unusual twinships and doublings. I was probably the last one in the room to suspect that he might be making stuff up. he treated us to a long consideration of the relationship (love) between the proprietors of the museum. I can give but a bare jot of what the piece was like. the story took tangents and weaved about. I thought of Flann O'Brien and other fantastical fictions. a mysterious gothic romanticism overhung the story. his delivery was great, erudite yet um distracted. distracted by some gleam, that is. he sat at a table as he performed, had a laptop with the text in front of him, which he consulted but mostly he spoke seemingly ad lib to the audience. he showed occasional slides, and had a few objects, like a 2-headed nickel. that nickel, he admitted later, was from a magic shop, not the Treasury as he had earlier purported. (yes, there was a lot of purporting going on). the performance was funny, offbeat, philosophical, sly and engaging. a cd and book are due out soon. he said the idea is to read and listen simultaneously, as small differences exist between the 2. near the end he spoke a passage into a small tape recorder, then backed the tape up and did the same passage in tandem. Jack Kimball attended, so I hope he can give a better description of what Royer did. next month Stein scholar Ulla Dybo reads. I believe she will read something she prepared specifically for the event. I look forward to that.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I took the dog out around 6:30 this morn (en Francais, il est un chien!!!). echoing nearby was a siren. then an amplified voice. and I really thought for a moment, it was some SWAT action. as if. someone's alarm had gone off. maybe a quarter mile away as crow flies. 1st the police siren, then the voice would come in:

you are trespassing in an area
protected by a security system

with exhortations to absquatulate post haste. the voice was firm, yet with an underlying franticness. I can imagine this guy huddled in his safe room (or under his bed), speaking into the microphone: go away now or we, all ten, I mean fifteen, of us will deal with you before the police get here. right guys? um we're all black belts, too, by the way. we moseyed on for 15 or so minutes then saw two police cars leave the station area speeding towards the alarm. less than 5 minutes later, they drove back to their half eaten doughnuts, and the alarm continued warning. we wandered out of hearing but it must've been 1/2 an hour of that warning before it was curtailed. Lew Welch writes in a letter I think of being on a winery tour when the guide shouted a warning to someone who was close to falling into a vat. and Welch says he would like that same dire immediacy in his writing. when alarms go off, we get an adrenalin jolt. but as they persist, it's just noise. I get what Welch means, it's the imperative that he seeks. when the word quality, its issuance (can I use that word?), is undeniable. not the message, but the word so alive in its wordness. if a miscreant or culprit actually broke into the building, the first vocal warning would dismay. the repetitions only provide guidance that little time remains to do pronto whatever made b & e worth attempting.