November 3, 2011 § 1 Comment
I’ve been listening to the PennSound Archive and analyzing poets’ reading styles. Here’s a response to Creeley reading his poems “The Whip” & “For Love” in 1963 at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.
Robert Creeley famously equivocates. In “The Whip,” he vacillates between a woman in his bed and a woman on the roof, a current lover and a potential or former. Creeley injects his printed poems with vacillation through heavy enjambment: “addressed myself to in / a fit she / returned. That / encompasses it. But now I was / lonely.” He indicates the moment he requires to contemplate his word choice with the line break. Read aloud, these momentary deliberations fragment a straightforward narrative, as if Creeley is a close friend stammering through a confession of his predicament for the first time. His reading of “For Love,” conveys the same feeling, as he tries to dictate a love poem on the spot, but constantly scratches his head and eyes the floor and never knows what to say. “If the moon did not… / no, if you did not / I wouldn’t either, but / what would I not / do.” Creeley speaks candidly, sometimes his voice appears close to tears when he cannot decide, as if he didn’t have a finished poem on a podium to read.
September 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
Saul Williams identifies as a griot, a West African poet/musician/story-teller, able to reach his audience through many mediums, able to combine all mediums, have his message transcend medium. In his book The Dead Emcee Scrolls, Williams professes his deep-seeded love for hip-hop, and how he stumbled into poetry while an NYU graduate student in acting. Scrolls features words Saul has spoken onstage as slam poetry and rapped as lyrics on his album, Amethyst Rock Star. Yet the same words act differently when wrapped in new packaging, when stretched across new mediums initially not their intention. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 8, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The founders of People Herd will read this Saturday night, September 10th, as part of LitCrawlNYC!
Details: Vig Bar, 12 Spring St., 8pm
LitCrawl’s events run all night on the 10th, all around Downtown Manhattan. See LitCrawlNYC’s full schedule.
July 13, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Matthea Harvey holds scissors. She cuts “around the baby beaks waiting for worms” and “the pervert’s shoe peeking out from behind the Chevy” and constructs new universes from the clippings. She cuts creatures down the middle (“Leopards. Horses. Kangaroos”), and bids their halves to stand and walk. In Modern Life, her third collection of poems, she writes from the perspective of cave women and figureheads on the prows of wayward ships and men inside the Trojan Horse, and strikes an uncanny blend of playfulness and pathos. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Juliana Spahr begins with “these things: cells.” They constitute one human being. They constitute all human beings. This connection is basic, implicit, tangible. And although there’s space between us, “space between the hands,” we all share this space, unceasingly breathe in this space, collect essential elements and release them, for use by another. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 5, 2011 § 3 Comments
From poem to poem, Danica Colic’s subjects in “Sufficience” speak in the same voice. They seem to be the same spirit, though sometimes they inhabit different homes, different times, different bodies. Thus, in their symmetry and common tone it is the asymmetries that amplify one another.
The book begins with a sleepy cycle entitled “The Dreamhouse,” which centers on a mother observing both her new suburban home and her young family as each of them grows old. The details are domestic, solitary, sweet, but not saccharine. She watches her children in a “Halo of blue / when they read by flashlight / beneath the chenille.” And throughout she exhibits a sufficiency, mundane, but whole: “An even drip of water in the sink, / the windows shut; not one shadow / unaccounted for, no / casing less than flush.” As the poem goes on, the voice remains calm even as the house begins to settle, ruin— “Rust blooming / on the studs.” She is calm because the family still sleeps in comfort as she listens to them somniloquize into the night, burbling in comfort, normalcy.
April 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In the opening stanza of his non-sequitur opus, “Twenty-One Gun Salute for Ronald Reagan,” Ben Lerner says, “I want the form to enact the numbing it describes,” then rattles off a litany of one-liners clouding the modern consciousness. “America is the A-Team among nations.” “This play is making Hamlet’s mother uncomfortable.” “I can get you a healthy baby for five hundred dollars.” “They slip the surly bonds of earth and touch the face of God. / Is this thing on?” The form is the catchphrase, the Top-40 chorus, the well-turned axiom whetted on commercial stone, billboards and jingles and canned laughter punchlines all stacked like a rickety Jenga tower, rendering us wrought and dry, letting the cacophony ooze, maybe giggle for a second, then ooze again. « Read the rest of this entry »
April 1, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Outside Gabor’s in residential Denver, I smoke with Gabe and this woman, Abby, a Colorado native, and we talk of the Suicide Bridge in Ithaca, New York. It’s a bridge that spans a gorge, connecting the south portion of town to Cornell U., up the hill aways, and enough students couldn’t take the snow and their studies and the bridge got its name. I tell Abby that now the town’s erected fifteen foot high fences on either side of the bridge. We wonder if this has saved lives and conclude no. It simply latticed the view.