Monday, January 30, 2006

Steve Evans is writing an astonishing piece about some of the dealings that went on to result in the Lilly payday for Poetry magazine.

..that was just part one. There's more to check in with at that link now and the rest of this week.

'Currency Exchange'

I did a write-up of the Glomski / Katz reading a couple of days ago over here. It's too long for me to feel comfortable cross-posting it in its entirety, but I thought I'd post this excerpt, which focuses in on a single poem, Glomski's great 'Currency Exchange.'

'Currency Exchange' is one of my favorite poems of Glomski's. It's essentially a long inventory, short lines that are mostly nouns or noun clauses:

"Exclamations. The price of life. Peas and carrots."

There are some verbs thrown in, too, from time to time:

"Sun shines. Cobras spit."

Somehow the addition of the verbs makes the piece feel more "filmic"-- more a montage of short clips of non-narrative action than a montage of still shots of objects. To further mix things up, there are things in there that aren't objects or actions but abstractions:

"Illusions of speed and dexterity. Step 2 and Step 3."

and some bits of dialogue (with no identified speaker):

"How long will you have that look on your face?"

Some phrases seem chosen for their rhythmic qualities ("duct tape", for instance, follows "bake sale"), but this doesn't happen often enough to become a pattern. In fact, one of the things I like about this poem is that it's kind of a pattern-disruptor: every time you think you can articulate the formal principle undergirding the inventory, a new item comes in to disrupt that principle. This gives the poem a distinct life and energy.

(The poem is funny, too, with lines like "Attention-seeking noise originates in cat", which I'm always glad to see more of)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Woodland Pattern Marathon 2006

For the time I spent at this weekend's Woodland Pattern Marathon, the most successful five-minute reading was Roberto Harrison's performance of the final sections of his forthcoming book Counter Daemons (due out this summer from Tracy Grinnell's Litmus Press). Nestled into a bracket of poets who used their poetry for mostly snide and insider jokes, Roberto's poems came across as strikingly emotional. The catalogs or lists of prepositional phrases flowed or toppled - one after another - in Roberto's poems, which borrow from his eclectic mix of computer programming, vibrant imagery, and cultural and ethnic encounter (ex., Cabeza de Vaca). Roberto reads in a style of hushed intensity, one that I've come to associate with him alone - as if he stands alone with his poems in a room full of people, earnestly coming to know his own words. I'm looking forward to seeing Counter Daemons and his earlier book Os, due out from Subpress Collective sometime in the spring or summer.

I also enjoyed Chuck Stebelton's stint as banjo player, when he sat humble as Kermit the Frog and plucked out tunes named for recent books of poems like My First Painting Will Be "The Accuser" and Practice, Restraint. Chuck did a noble job hosting the event, and the bookstore's new look was a pleasant shock to everyone. Nicely, nicely done.

What did I miss?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

If I could rive myself in two I would be on the front row mushroom seat tonight at Danny's for the Katz/Glomski reading, but I bought Jeff tickets to things months ago and one of them is tonight.
So/but...Can we all coordinate ourselves into a Milwaukee meet-up for Saturday? In past years I recall it's been: see a chunk of good readings, go out to dinner as a bunch, and then return for the late show.. speckled with feverish book consumption.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A question: can/how much does shared geography trump aesthetic allegiances? I'm positive that what comes into my poetry appreciation radar would be much more narrow if it weren't for the different writers/schools that all of us regard as central reference points. Could it possibly be a disability for cities with larger poetry communities that one's company can become more "specialized"? I was citing an example to Ray last night, I think, how the film Good Night and Good Luck showed Edward R. Murrow interviewing the likes of Liberace in order to have a forum with as wide an audience as it did that was able to be as revelatory as it was in reporting the shenanigans of McCarthy. How much should a poetry community exert itself to engage other factions when it is just darn comfortable to "preach to the choir" and be surrounded by aesthetic kin? Is it worth it? What do we expect in return? Would you describe the circle of writers you fraternize with regularly as homogeneous, variations within the choir or otherwise? What poets would you like to abduct other states/cities/towns/hamlets to add to our Chicago midsts?

photos from last night's Discrete event with readings by Jesse and Michael.

Hey everybody,
After last night's Discrete event, and gabs made long overdue by inclement weather, geography, holidays, I thought we might/could extend the conversation here. What you're reading, other things going on in town, events you've gone to that dazzle your poetry node or no, what our other area institutions are doing in the name of poetry, and how our own projects are shaping along.. all are starting points of discussion I for one enjoy having with yous. And because our poetry community is not just in Wicker Park, Humboldt and Oak Park, IL, but also Milwaukee, New York and Berlin, perhaps this is a virtual Handlebar (/El Cid/Charleston/Whirl-a-Way/Streetside).
I'll do the administration of the site and add all interesteds among yous as members so you can make posts like this one. Drop me an email if you want to get on.