Saturday, February 07, 2004

Mood of what I can only describe as frenetic vulnerability starting to ease off slightly. Reading last night at Bluestockings, where I had always wanted to read! Thanks, Erica and Rachel, a thousand times.

I read first, off to a jerky start I felt, reading odd short poems and some of the brilliant poems of Talent Hizashi Yamasaki, then a bit of singing, then Whitman, then gender poems, then spam poems, then a little bit more singing as a finale. My edginess of the week translated into an extreme sensitivity to the audience -- a couple of people were looking at some quirky paintings above my head and I turned around wondering if there was something alive, maybe a flying insect, buzzing in back of me -- so jumpy, and I made a comment about it. I warmed up as I went on, I guess, and the audience seemed to come along with me. My edginess -- not so much caring what people think of me, as both Drew and Abby commented later, although there is that, to some degree -- feels chemical -- that stressy nutty feeling of fingernails running down your psyche. I need meds, I suppose, or at least some kind of sunny green field to lie down and stretch out in.

Catherine Daly, blondely feline in a black suit, read next, and was as calm and self-possessed as I was not. She writes lush "absconded love poems," taken from such sources as the "juicy parts of the Greek anthology," some Roman poets, and Venus in Furs(!!). She had us read along on the page of her brand-new Belladonna chapbook, Surplice. She stacks sort-of-synonymous words up vertically -- I assume that she is working with the tendency of the eye (in tandem with the brain) to take in words in "meaning-clusters"-- but when she read aloud we were able to follow her interpretive linear-in-time reading sequences.

Caroline Bergvall (in matching rust-colored jacket and weskit), who looks a little like a cross between Jean Sebourg and James Dean, read last, three very different pieces, one full of mumbles and stutters, hiccups and word-frags -- totally musical (as well as macaronic -- sections of it were in French), moving from theme to theme: "face" and "animals" being the two I remember. It reminded me of hearing old vinyl records, scratchy and looped -- I almost thought at moments I could hear a needle being picked up and put down again. Second piece a Pongeian meditation on "figs" -- written as part of an installation. Her third piece (which is included in her new Belladonna chapbook, GONG)was a sort of a listlike, stichomythic poem almost all of whose lines included a person, most of whom had a name, performing some kind of action. Some random examples of lines:

Alicia wants to pull me up into her bed.
...
Cherry wears a tartan at the opening.
...
Judith Butler and the spectacles of hate speech.
...
The girl laughing ejaculates in my hand.
...
My niece's feet are soft and clear.

This poem was so beautiful, with its intertwining of people from the poets' personal and intellectual lives (which created a kind of formal equivalence) and its inclusion of moments importantly juicy ("The boy on the carpet with the smooth chest and his cock in the evening air.") and juicily important ("The first global march, 15 Feb. 2003.").

Afterwards, a good time was had by many across the street at a bar/restaurant called "Dish." I remember eating a particularly extraordinary fried prawn.

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