|Wednesday, May 21, 2014|
|8:00 pm||to||10:00 pm|
Dodie Bellamy is a novelist, poet, and essayist. Her most recent book is The TV Sutras (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2014). Her Ugly Duckling chapbook Barf Manifesto was named best book of 2009 under 30 pages by Time Out New York. Other books include Cunt Norton, the buddhist, Academonia, Pink Steam,The Letters of Mina Harker, and Cunt-Ups, which won the 2002 Firecracker Alternative Book Award for poetry. Her reflections on the Occupy Oakland movement, “The Beating of Our Hearts,” was published as a chapbook in conjunction with the 2014 Whitney Biennial. With Kevin Killian she is editing for Nightboat Books New Narrative: 1975-1995. When the Sick Rule the World, her third collection of essays, is forthcoming from Semiotext(e). Kevin Killian, one of the original “New Narrative” writers, has written three novels, Shy (1989), Arctic Summer (1997), and Spreadeagle (2012), a book of memoirs , and three books of stories. He has also written two books of poetry, Argento Series (2001), and Action Kylie (2008). A third will appear in February 2014—Tweaky Village, from Wonder Books. With Peter Gizzi he has edited My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (2008)—for Wesleyan University Press. Wesleyan also brought out Killian and Lew Ellingham’s acclaimed biography of Spicer in 1998. Recent projects include The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater 1945-1985, edited with David Brazil; Tagged (2013), Killian’s intimate photographs of poets, artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers and intellectuals; and forthcoming, with Dodie Bellamy, The Nightboat Anthology of New Narrative Writing 1975-1995. He teaches writing to MFA students at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
Sara Jane Stoner is a writer, performer, and teacher who holds an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University and is pursuing a PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center with a focus on performative writing pedagogy and the intersections of feminist and queer thinking, particularly in the context of contemporary experimental writing. She teaches at Brooklyn College and Cooper Union, and her first book, “Experience in the Medium of Destruction”, will be published by Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs in 2014. Amanda Davidson’s chapbook Arcanagrams: A Reckoning is forthcoming on Little Red Leaves’ Textile Series. Her fiction chapbook Apprenticeship (New Herring Press) was a finalist for the 2013 Calvino Prize. She is currently at work on a performance novel about the mystic Swedenborg.
I tried to summarize this moment in Samuel Delany’s 2012 novel Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders but I couldn’t. I find a deep resistance to summary in the essential matter of Delany’s work because all the details seem so important. My effort is more of a sports radio play by play of two pages than a summary.
Eric and Shit are life partners in an open relationship, which is also a narrative structure of interrelated paths in this novel. Shit is intent on trying to withdraw money with his ATM card from a bank far away from home, something he thinks should be illegal because the ATM machines, don’t know him. Shit asks Eric to do the transaction, and confirms his pin. They stop at a Sovereign. What’s that Shit asks. It’s a bank, Eric answers. Shit, in a childlike but philosophical way, illustrates how we could glide through this absurd electronic network of data storage, automation, and money. Shit doesn’t need the money; he just wants to see if it works.
I peered through a steamy window of a Lower East Side gallery last winter, barely able to get in through the door, being in the audience’s non-space. A submissive performer was receiving commands from Marissa Perel’s feather, which moved like an erect wand.
Marissa Perel is always expanding what one might assume queer work to be. She is a defender and an explorer of this word so that it is expanding, untrackable almost. Perel’s instinct is one I trust. I think she is truly up to something. Her performance piece from 2012 Yentl unleashed all the repressed sexploits of Isaac Beshevits Singer and Barbara Streisand’s girl turned yeshiva boy. She has taught me that it’s not what the word queer means but how it is moving presently among us.
Youmna Chlala’s work, which spans book art, video, writing, installation, and performance is invested in what she calls a “simultaneity, which feels like a truly contemporary condition.”
Memories involve the home, and time stretched over distance just as much as it is stretched over years. In this setting comes this warning: “Be careful what you say, it will be recorded, you said, cautious of writers.” Leading us to the question, who is recording and where? Beware the unexpected perspective, Chlala taunts. Empty your pockets in to mine. Can a child be playing back a “recording” many years later? How does a warning echo in the shape of returns? The caution of what you say being the crystallization of the curiosity. Or the script foreshadows the transgression. The recording seems friendly and transgressive. The Paper Camera, as a title, and a means of collecting language, elicits a riff on the most high-tek spry camera, where the technology is now accessible and adaptable to absorption. It is foldable which makes it portable. Chlala is focused on being “at home” with the most intimate view.
The cover to variously, not then shows the slice of a map near Baqubah, Iraq. Criss crossing borders, dots with names of places, and then there is a fold in the map, which counters the red, oil pipeline. The map is only two inches squared and is pasted as a layer, as if what we would see through a peephole, reminding us all maps are an excerpt. The rest of the cover is a dark blue, what I at first mistook for black, with the faint edges of graph paper. Brush strokes for mountain ranges in a deep brown occupy the bottom edge of the front and back.
Gregg Bordowitz writes “Everything is an illusion, even self-reflection.”
Gregg Bordowitz writes “I want to be a poet of decay.”
Gregg Bordowitz writes “Identity is a form of repetition.”
To let a Bordowitz statement, stripped of its prose, ring in the air is similar to how the most pressing issues jut out from the state of the union address and get forced in to a loud pause, encased in clapping support, as an immediate revelation and affirmation. These statements that are the most pressing, venture out from the speech in singular import, teetering on that ledge of brevity that becomes a quotable statement, of which Bordowitz writes an uncanny plenty of. One might argue all writers can be quoted; that the quote is when the writer is gone and it is the reader, or the introducer, who does the quoting. But Bordowitz’s writing is crafted for quoting because of its intrinsic preoccupations with poetry. Bordowitz writes a poetry one arrives at after writing daily. Of always starting over. Of questioning the last question.
The other night I got in to bed, expecting as I usually do, to fall asleep within one to three pages of reading the book in my hands. But I was reading Women, The New York School and Other True Abstractions. Even though it was my third go with this book, I was so awake by the time I finished the introduction that I could not fall asleep. Finally I dreamed about this line: “critical attempts to police [New York School or Language Poetry’s] borders became complicated when one considered them through the lens of gender.”
I played a game that was not hard for me to play with My 1980s, Wayne Koestenbaum’s new book of collected short essays. I pretended like I had never heard of any of the artists, writers and ad hoc celebrities Wayne mentions. I let the names that popped up be coy fictional characters for whom only a few crumbs of information get dispersed about. The text holds in this firm way, it begins to even advocate for doing away with caches of associations. So we go on Wayne’s specific fascination trip as the sole introduction.
I’m so Fine: A list of Famous Men and What I Had On, Khadijah Queen’s recently published e-chapbook from Sibling Rivalry Press, is both friendly and confiding. Queen makes it seem like there are many famous men just waiting to be lured into an exchange with her, and I finished the book wanting all these hes to read her news blast, a variety of years later.
The eye/I of Queen’s work inscribes the movement of a pendulum. On one side, the words swing toward abstract shapes of the unconscious, and at the other, the weight of language swings out over a seething social critique, one we are hungry for. It is breadth mixed with pace.