Sunday, December 19, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
What I love about the interlocking circles of Philadelphia poets is their radical contemporaneity, maybe the only thing they... we... hold in common, a fierce passion for the present that I’ve come to share. A passion that finds no contradiction in flaunting an eclectic diversity of styles, in drawing freely from whatever traditions and trends succeed in exciting new work, whatever has the street smarts to survive, to stay awake, eyes wide open--and all the while, stubbornly refusing to turn off the dreams.
How like in their disregard for imagined futures the poems we read at Elfreth’s Alley--those things selected for the ‘time capsule,’ bits and scraps, memoranda and found things--covered with a layer of dirt unlikely to survive the first rain, sealed in a cookie tin a single winter will likely be enough to turn to rust. It didn’t matter. What a perfect setting for that reading, for the magic ceremony of the opening and closing moments--this colonial street, the facsimile Declaration of Independence. Words released into the summer heat. What endures, I heard—is not a fetish of the past or fancied future, but now--and not an eternal unchanging present, but its constant unfolding into this time, this place, this city of poets and the possibilities of love we can create, here and now.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Earthspeak Magazine mentions a chapbook, CUSP, but I've not been able to find it.
Here's a link to the poem on Earthspeak:
What We Used to Call Silence
All around the house
are the kinds of noises
we are not used to;
birds at no real distance
spread wings and extend
to the winds. Limbs
of hemlocks are pronounced
unhurriedly, are shadows
in an exhaling sky.
... the rest HERE
Thursday, July 22, 2010
6:00 PM Elfreth's Alley New Now and Future Philadelphia on the oldest continuously occupied street in the United States.
2:00, 6th & Market, Readings by
also July 31: Chapter & Verse
Hugh Behm-Steinberg and Kim Gek Lin Short, Chapterhouse Cafe, 620 S.9th
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
New Philadelphia Poets
CA Conrad ... and many other Philly poets on Elective Affinites
Thursday, July 1, 2010
This morning I walked to the Italian Market, picked out the eggplant, zucchini, onion peppers and mushrooms for a ratatouille. This evening I spent a wonderful hour cutting and peeling and slicing and tasting raw vegetables. This time I made it in layers rather than as a chunky stew. Sautéed each ingredient in olive oil one at a time, then set them aside in separate dishes. Reduced some red wine in the skillet used for the veggies. Put the veggies in a larger pan: eggplant slices, then garlic and onions (cut in rings), then peppers and squash (nice thick sections), then tomatoes and lots of basil cilantro and parsley from my yard, repeating this layer by layer. Poured the reduced wine over it all when done, covered and let it simmer until the thick piece of eggplant I'd left at the top as a test was tender--but not soggy.
I filled a bowl (using a slotted spoon)... and eating it as I type-- with a glass of red table wine and hunks of crispy crust baguette from Artisan’s Boulangerie down the block.
Would I give this up for 'convenience?' For "saving time?" (what an insane idea--'saving time' What? You put time in Mason Jars? Store it in the freezer? (Just collect the CRAZY nonsensical cliches people use without thought to see how totally INSANE this so-called civilization/EMPIRE we live in is! As though we could 'save' or 'waste' TIME!)
I'll drain the pot in a colander before putting the rest in the fridge, saving the liquid and putting that in another container. When it's cold, I'll skim off the congealed oil at the top, put it aside for bread and toast. So much olive oil, you need to separate it before storing
Oh.. the mushrooms! Clean and dry, cut stem tips, cut in half if large. When dish is almost ready, skim out some of the juice and oil from top into the skillet you used to sauté everything, turn up heat, add mushrooms. After about a minute, add to the pot.
For me a 'recipe' (I don't actually use recipes--it's what you DO that matters, the prep work) is like one of Conrad's Soma(tic) Exercises... and the food is the poem!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The rooftop reading Sunday... and something about William Blake and CA Conrad's (Soma)tic exercises... restless yesterday afternoon. I had an impulse to walk out on the street and start reading poems. Just to do it. ... so I took a few printed pages and sat on a bench on Passyunk Ave.... and read them out loud. No matter who is or isn't there, I thought, I'm going to do this-- and I did.
And any residua of self-consciousness I had vanished with the first sound that came out of my mouth.That residua... the collective JUDGE, the INHIBITOR. It isn't about making a scene in public--not about anything 'out there.' It's about confronting the internalized COLLECTIVE SHAME MACHINE and breaking free.
I walked up and down Passyunk, east and west on side streets... thinking about where I might read these poems... and was immediately aware of how the differences one place and another. Public Space is not one thing, but a multiplicity, as multifaceted as the individuals who have created them. It would not do to read outside B2 Cafe. People there were people already involved in their own work: reading, drawing, writing... and I would be an intrusion, invading space others had staked out for themselves. should I begin speaking Other places were more or less welcoming, but in quite different ways. Almost every corner, every doorway, every open space revealed a different character, a different feel to how they would receive uses they were not designed for.
We are each of a city, a world--to be a poet means re-writing that internalized world. Such a perfect title--CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock's book--the City Real and Imagined.
Today I read my scroll poem in the middle of the parking lot on Passyunk. There was no one around to hear. But as I was reading the last few lines a man in a convertible pulled into the lot. Didn't seem to notice me, or didn't let it show--but as I was leaving I saw him looking around--not at me, but at the parking lot, the other cars... as though reassuring himself he was in the right place. Yes, it was still a parking lot... but a parking lot where someone comes to read poetry. I was doing the same thing... re-examining interior spaces to see how they had changed.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Abstract:Thanks to Carlos Ramon Soto for his work on this project! (and Carlos--where is your web page?!)
In Argentina, the poet Alejandro Méndez took on a similar collaboration based on a visual arts project already underway by Roberto Jacoby with Ramona magazine. We take on this task alongside neighboring countries in an effort to chart our own literary map where affinities, differences, and unexpected connections coexist in an ongoing, collective construction.
Photos, poetics, affinites and sampling of poems linked on site for each poet.
Recently added: Kim Gek Lin Short, Samantha Giles, Jason Zusga, Dana Ward
List of poets to date (April 12, 2010)
Julian T. Brolaski
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Thanks to Lillian Dunn for photo. Left to right: Jack Krick Jamie Townsend Jacob Russell CA Conrad... seated back to camera ?
It was two o’clock in mind but the man on the corner of Broad and Walnut with suitcase open for coins and the trumpet playing Stormy Weather had something else in mind, the weather of another day. Something from another time, though we were both there, the trumpet player, myself, the all flowing crowd... each together and single in mind where the clock on City Hall told us it was 1:43, an analog approximation itself arranged from the mechanics of another century.
There were no visible storms (a warning?) but bright sun a few hazy traces of clouds--traces where clouds had been and then moved on. It was two o’clock I was looking forward to, waiting for, moving towards--even as I remained on the corner motionless amid passersby and city traffic. Another illusion, of course, as the earth was spinning, clutching me to the warp of its mass in space that the trumpet player and me and all we could see and hear, busses, cars buildings pigeons countless shoppers Sunday pleasure seekers and the blue air itself—lest all that is less than firmly rooted in the rockbed of earth be hurled into nothingness or the invisible matter and energy out there past the appearance of blue that passes as nothing and around the sun and the rim of the great galactic wheel—time and motion interlocked moving us no matter will or what, moved us (past tense now), all that surrounded me--myself, my single self, and with me—closer to two o’clock and there was Conrad now crossing the street and on we went to the entrance of the parking garage where we would look out on an orange steel crane near ten stories high (think: stories of their toppling, death in the street below) and shy lovers on a rooftop in the spring sun, and four tiny squares far below two filled with dots of apple red and two of orange on the sidewalk in front of a produce store that was in another time when the earth was at another point in the whirligig of space a ShopRite that drew trucks like bees to flowers Conrad told me (but much louder than bees and less bucolic) and the neighbors waken by their predawn buzz (or roar) flexed their political muscle and waved their political wand and transformed Shop to Aide transposed… and then there were three and six and ten of us and two o’clock came and went.
Ten poets reading words from a book that became (what wonder this life when we pause (though we cannot stop) to listen!... became the voice of George Oppen who our pedestrian minds knew and know perfectly well is dead and silent but wasn’t, because we heard him… not as one, but numerous… his words, leaving…leading us with him out of Emerson’s transcendental house ...
We have chosen the meaning... out of the shipwreck of the singular
Of being numerous
and we heard that because we were… not one, but numerous even as each single voice-- preceeding and succeeding another, each of us knowing ourselves to be as we read one of his dialects ... making poetry, leaving, by reading as poetry is meant to be read-- together—reshaping, repairing what was salvaged out of
The absolute singular
The unearthly bonds
Of the singular
Which is the bright light of shipwreck
and somewhere else… back there in two o’clock with the trumpet playing stormy weather (a warning ?) but not on the roof of the garage where poetry remade us out of the shipwreck and thought became as concrete under the massive whine and whir from the organ pipes of the air-conditioner flowing over us, and the machinry of presence, silent no more—back from exile in Mexico, from the silence of death that we too will soon visit, alive in the air we shared with the passing helicopter and the sirens on the street below and the heartbeats one and one and one times ten plus one plus all that breathes or ever breathed or will-- gathered compressed into a single afternoon—eleven poets (you were with us, George—not one of us would deny it for one second no matter what our well-trained knowing smart ass brains have to say about it… this afternoon we were… as we always are in truth…
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
All narratives, including the meta-narratives of philosophy: and narrative itself, has its genesis in myth, with its totalizing cosmic/human maps, locating the human in shifting intersections of nature and culture, implicitly and explicitly privileging the human, if not denying ontological status to the non-human, declaring it unknowable, or reducing it to a construct of mind.
We cannot free ourselves from the gods without leaving the house we have built for them. May philosophy and poetry lead us, hand in hand, out of the haunted house of our childhood to take our place beside, not above, the things of the universe.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Disjunctions located between phrasal units.
Beginning to note and classify disjunctive strategies as I listen to poets read—simply because it’s often so much more difficult to follow at a reading than on the page. Certain features begin to stand out—how is this poet different than that one?
Sarah Dowling's syntactical amputations ( ). Resist internal closures, holding structures open at a grammatical level, inviting reader/audience to complete the interrupted sentence, phrase, ‘idea.’
For CA Conrad, there are parallel disjunctions: associational (the surrealist heritage, with free association primarily on the macro-level, creating structural coherence (his Somatic Exercises)on a second level with breaks in explicit and implied narrative/thought lines—maintained through transformative variations—lines spliced sutured resectioned around suggested ellipses.
Ryan Eckes and Brandon Holquest both draw on conversational disjunction—structures developed as internally evolving generative dialog.
So many forms of this—so many kinds of fault-lines: the disjuncture of qualification (“we don’t misunderstand hours but don’t misunderstand them” (Keven Varrone : Passyunk Lost) , or reversal, or figurative re-assignment: metaphor and simile as layered dissimulation—comparative incommensurates.
I consider the possibility of developing this as a thesis with supporting examples, then quickly dismiss the idea. It’s about fine tuning my ear. Becoming a more attentive and discriminating listener. Theory and thesis seriously stated demand defense, revision, reconfiguration—all of which cling to the same idea. Prefer to trash an idea before it fossilizes. An imprint is wax tossed into the fire to make room for another. Let both poetry and criticism remain uncommital… or rather, committed only to the next poem, the next idea. Prefer to leave the academics to arrange the bones of the dead.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Spring 2010 Lineup!
Friday, March 19 9 pm - Mostly Books Inaugural Reading! Featuring Marion Bell, Bela Shayevich, Leeann Thomas & The Neo-Baroque Variety Hour at Mostly Books (529 Bainbridge St, between 5th and 6th). Free. BYOB.
Saturday, March 27 11:30 am - 5 pm - Poet’s Salon at the Rainbow Book Fair, CUNY Graduate Center, 5th Avenue and 34th Street, NYC. Hosted/Coordinated by Nathaniel Siegel and Regie Cabico. Featuring poetry readings by Debrah Morkun, Ana Bozicevic, Amy King, Bill Kushner, Gregory Laynor, Timothy Liu, Douglas A. Martin, Moonshine Shorey, Emanuel Xavier, Rachel Zolf, and many others.
Sunday, March 28 7 pm - NPP benefit/dinner party/open mic for Molly’s Bookstore at Molly’s Bookstore featuring Joe Roarty from Philadelphia and Luis Humberto Valadez from Chicago. FREE DINNER! $10.00 suggested donation for bookstore renovations. BYOB and poems to share. More details here.
Thursday, April 8 7:30 pm - Debrah Morkun and Brandon Holmquest read at Blend at the Blue Banana Cafe. Further details TBA.
Thursday, April 15 7:00 pm - Come celebrate Poetry Month with a grand poetry party at a warehouse full of books! Readers include: Robert Snyderman, Christopher Sweeney, Gregory Bem, Brandon Holmquest...more TBA. Come to BookSpace (formerly Philadelphia Book Company), 1113 Frankford Avenue in Fishtown!
Friday, April 16 9 pm - Patrick Lucy and Debrah Morkun read at Mostly Books, 529 Bainbridge Street. Further details TBA.
Friday, April 23 NPP Presents readings by Zachary Schomburg, Cynthia Arrieu-King, & Sasha Fletcher + Poem-films by Schomburg. Details TBA.
Saturday, May 1 NPP Presents Sueyeun Juliette Lee & Erica Kaufman. Details TBA.
Saturday, May 8 NPP Presents Eric Ekstrand, Hannah Gamble & Sean Bishop. Details TBA.
Sunday, May 23 NPP Presents Jamie Townsend, Catherine Theis, Jared Stanley, and Lauren Levin. Details TBA.
Tuesday, June 15 NPP Presents Andrew Schelling ,Tyler Doherty and Sarah Heady. Details TBA.
Plus, there's more in the works--check our events page for the most up-to-date information!
New Philadelphia Poets
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I’m not going to summarize. If you're interested, I recommend you read the article. What Alpaugh shares with the more pessimistic and deprecating commentators is an implied assumption that poets are helpless ninnies quite unable to sort matters out and define our proper literary role without the aid of our Betters, who can be almost anyone as long as they are not themselves afflicted with the lamentable condition of being poets.
The broadest category of fixers are all those people who don’t read poetry… or read at all (you see, I wasn't exaggerating... any and everyone). If only, the argument goes, if only you poets would write stuff that anybody could understand and enjoy—you would be saved! Poetry would be saved! As though people who don't like to read aren't swamped with opportunities for entertainment. How raising a few poets to Rock Star celebrity status is going to save anyone, I have no idea. Celebrity sure hasn't helped Britney Spears be a better singer—or Lindsey Lohan an actor, or saved either drama or the musical arts by opening a pipeline from artists to the masses.
The other, only marginally more sophisticated complaint (though favored by the relatively well educated) is the Lost Gatekeeper Lament. What you poets need are Cotton Mather critics—to sort out the wheat from the chaff (god knows, poets can’t tell trash from treasure!), to chastise the wastrels, drive the sinners from the fold—till only the Pure and Righteous Laborers in the Hallowed Fields of Litrashur are left to lay the Golden Eggs of Everlasting Poetic Merit. As religion masks for class, so too the Gatekeepers, who, claiming their sole concern is aesthetics, ignore how closely their tastes define class fault lines.
Then there’s those damn MFA programs churning out poets like … I don't know, metaphors fail me.I can work up my share of indignation on this one, for different reasons--but I won't. Cause that's not where I see the real action. Alpaugh has quite a bit to say on this in his essay, The Professionalization of Poetry.
Here in Philly I view this from a different perspective. There are a lot of poets in Philly—but ya know what? Most aren't MFA grads. Many weren't even English majors, and those who were—the best of them—the ones who are serious—not about being poets—but writing poetry, hang out at the same readings with poets who found their way to poetry from anyplace but academia—and it doesn’t matter. Where you came from, I mean. Where or whether you have a degree or a teaching position. There are overlapping circles of poets in Philly—it would take a multi-ringed Venn diagram to map them all out. In the last year alone I’ve heard more than 40 poets at readings (not counting the 56 who read at the MLA Offsite event)—I can name dozens off the top of my head, and not one has ever mentioned how worried they are about this really scary lack of gatekeepers, or how lost they are without Cotton Mather Critics to show them who counts and who don’t.
What do we do? We listen to one another. In public readings and private gatherings. We read poetry, search out our contemporaries, search for voices and critical ideas that excite us to write, that challenge us to emulate the best, to go beyond what we were doing last year and the year before. There is a process here of self-winnowing that the Woeful Lamentors don’t see, don’t get. Isn't this what poets have always done—judged themselves, sometimes alone, often together, where the one goal that matters most everyone holds in common, no matter how diverse our voices and styles: where is the next poem coming from? What have we done lately and where are we going, and how can we help each other to get there? Yes, there’s competition—but there’s no point system, no measure but the needle of that internal compass that each poet must read alone.
Maybe years from now people will talk about a Philadelphia School, or movement—a Philly Renaissance—who knows. If so, it will likely be defined by a select few of the many poets who are part of this moment, and the Gatekeepers of the dead will hold them up and ask—why oh why aren’t there real poets like that now! What we need, they’ll cry, are ideals, standards, rules to cut the bad poets from the heard! But the living poets will know better. They will listen. They will read. They will challenge and inspire one another—and if there are more poets than can ever be published or rise to fame—so be it!
You say, (counting and counting), what are we to do? There are too many poets!
I say, with William Blake: Bring out number, weight and measure in a year of dearth.
In the year 2010, in the City of William Penn and Ben Franklin and Louis Kahn and Thomas Eakins and Philly Jo Jones and CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock and Rachel Blau DuPlessis and… and…and… and… and… and …
Ain’t no fucking dearth in sight!