Writing On It All: Governors Island, June 2013

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Alex Chasin, who has been featured a few times as a guest contributor at Big Other, is spearheading a site-specific collaborative writing project at Governors Island called Writing On It All.

It begins this month and it looks unusually good–so sign up for a session, donate, and/or spread the word!

In a series of seven sessions, invited artists and writers, along with interested members of the public, collaborate in writing on the interior of an out-of-use house on Governors Island. Writing On It All enacts the physical as well as social nature of writing, with a materialist twist on contemporary conceptual art practice. Just as writers are embodied, so do we write with concrete tools, in and from particular locations with particular histories and functions. Mindful of this materiality, Writing On It All takes place in an early 20th-Century house that used to serve as senior officer housing when Governors Island was a military base.

Writing On It All puts these ideas and this history into play with a number of poets and visual thinkers, a graffiti artist, and a movement improviser, who will facilitate sessions designed to invite different forms of engagement with the empty old house, from listening to dancing to a range of collaborative writing activities. The project foregrounds process over product, which means that we don’t know quite what to expect, and that our collective focus is on acts of writing rather than on the texts we produce – nevertheless, the house will be available for viewing after each session. Ultimately, the texts themselves are ephemeral; they will be painted over, rinsed or sanded off, and the house restored to its original condition, at the beginning of July.

EVENTS

June 15 – Kundiman Poets – Writing Race & Belonging: A Live Monument
June 16 – Al Diaz – WET PAINT PROJECT 2011-2013
June 22 – Wendy S. Walters – Out of Regiment, a Project in Personal Mapping
June 23 – Carla Gannis and Justin Petropolous – legend / legend
June 23 – Jovanina Pagano and Rachel Levitsky – Against the Wall: Migration / Habitation / Erasing / Tracing
June 29 – Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture
June 30 – Anne Carson, Robert Currie, and Ébauche

Dean Young Poetry Trading Cards from Fact-Simile Editions

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Patterned after a 1978 Topps baseball card design, Dean Young’s poetry trading card features a photo by Laurie Saurborn Young and a new poem titled, “The Life of a Poet”.

I was looking at the latest (May 2013) poetry trading card from Fact-Simile Editions and was reminded of something Dean Young said in The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction (Graywolf Press, 2010): “…It is…worth entertaining the notion that the least important time in any workshop is when your own work is being talked about.  It’s called ‘Poetry Workshop,’ not ‘Me Workshop,’ after all.” This is a quote that I’ve repeated a few times in my own workshops. Last semester when I was going through some student assignments–a required review of any poetry reading on campus–I realized how valuable this sentiment is. The first sentence of a student composition began: “I find it very difficult to relate poetry to my everyday life unless I am the author.” Yes: Poetry Workshop, not Me Workshop.

In Memory of Jayne Cortez (1936-2012)

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                                                             Jelly madness
                                                       in sAndpaper socks
                                                      put Your hair into the earth
                                                      go iNto the dark meat of a crocodile
       spitting across syncopating roachEs into

                                                   buttoCks of vibrating nostrils
                           we can invent new bOnes
                  a village libating like niagaRa falls
                                              an armpiT of inflammable explosives
                                                         hEad units and gyrating limbs parading
                                                           Zoom

[Source text: Coagulations: New and Selected Poems (1984)]

Favorite Poetry of 2012

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John Yau and Albert Mobilio, editors of Hyperallergic Weekend, have released an annotated list of 16 of their favorite poetry books of 2012.  I reviewed one of their picks, Enduring Freedom by Laura Mullen (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions), in early December, but I haven’t yet seen many of the others; I clearly have a lot of good reading to do in 2013.  (As Amber Sparks noted in a recent Big Other post, this year was a great year for literature: “Good writers got great books published.”)

I wanted to also briefly note a handful of poetry books that gave me pleasure in 2012–I wish I could mention more, but 2012 was more of a year of rereading (and writing) for me than reading and encountering new books.

* John Yau’s own Further Adventures in Monochrome (Copper Canyon Press)

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This is bound to be a classic. Besides containing the dazzling title poem–which must be one of the most profound dramatic monologues to be yet penned in the twenty-first century–Further Adventures in Monochrome contains the completed series Genghis Chan: Private Eye, which Yau began to publish in installments in 1987. Seth Abramson from The Huffington Post got it right when he said: “It seems impossible that such a fragment-driven lyricism should again and again accumulate into ridiculously compelling assemblages, but Yau has done such difficult work countless times in the past, and returns to do so once again–and brilliantly–here.” “I wink at you from infinity”–that’s the last line of the book. No spoiler alert needed: there is surely enough surprise in these pages to go around.

Continue reading

Blackbox Manifold No. 9 (2012)

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Blackbox Manifold, “an online forum with a slant towards innovative poetry that has prose, narrative, or sequences in its sights,” is increasingly becoming one of my favorite UK-based poetry journals. Issue 9 is now live.

Here’s a nice, little snippet from the issue:

To harbor the hinge, harry
the quarter moon to its spot—

To listen with your hands cupped
just over your ears?

You have this one mouth.
You’re from tonight.

from “Poem to Tomaž Šalamun,” Joshua Marie Wilkinson