Friday, June 30, 2006

I know, I know. I complained about crass promotion and that's all I'm doing lately. Reading reports to come. But tonight there are two to choose from.

Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd. Venice, CA, 7:30pm

Come celebrate the spirit of post moot, including but not limited to all forms of experimental poetic work that are both live and exist as objects. TOM ORANGE has co-curated the in your ear reading series at the District of Columbia Arts Center and edited the website and anthologies since Fall 2000 . CATHERINE DALY is author of DaDaDa, Locket, Secret Kitty, and To Delite and Instruct . MARK WALLACE is author of a number of books of poems, most recently Temporary Worker Rides A Subway . K. LORRAINE GRAHAM is author of two chapbooks, Dear (Blank) I Believe in Other Worlds (Phylum) and Terminal Humming (Slack Buddha


Incendiary Spirals, Words and Music at The Space at Fountain's End
3929 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles CA, 8pm

Will Alexander
Estrella del Valle
Jen Hofer
Anthony Seidman
Alan Semerdjian
Jane Sprague

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Smell Last Sunday of the Month Reading Series

Featuring Aaron Kunin, Stacey
Levine, Matthew Stadler, and Stephen Ratcliffe.

The Smell, 247 S. Main Street, Los Angeles,

Sun, June 25, 6:30 pm, $5, (323) 304-2277.

Aaron Kunin writes poetry, criticism, and novels. Recent work has appeared in Boog City, No: A Journal of the Arts, The Poetry Project Newsletter, The Poker, and elsewhere. His book, Folding Ruler Star, has been published by Fence Books, and his e-chapbook The Mauberly Series can be downloaded from ubu editions. His work is in a minimalist tradition of strictly limited vocabularies and word-counts, and yet simultaneously revisits the themes or structures of classic works by poets like Milton and Pound. Aaron teaches 17th century literature at Pomona College.

Stacey Levine is a Seattle-based author. Her books include My Horse and Other Stories and Dra--, a novel, both published by Sun & Moon Press; her novel Frances Johnson was recently published by Clear Cut Press. She has written for the American Book Review, Bookforum, Nest, The Seattle Times, The Stranger, and more frightening venues. Formerly a creative writing instructor, she is now working on a second collection of short fiction.

Matthew Stadler is a novelist (Allan Stein, The Sex Offender, Landscape: Memory) and a contributor to Artforum, The Organ, Dwell, The Oregonian, Frieze, Domus, and others. He was the literary editor of Nest magazine and is co-founder and editor of Clear Cut Press.

Stephen Ratcliffe's latest books of poetry are Portraits & Repetition (The Post-Apollo Press, 2002) and SOUND/(system) (Green Integer, 2002). Recent poems have appeared in 1913, Chain, Denver Quarterly, P-QUEUE, New American Writing, LIT, Bombay Gin, Common Knowledge, War & Peace, Conjunctions and NO. Listening to Reading, a book of essays on sound/shape and meaning in experimental poetry, was published by SUNY Press in 2000. He has recently completed a 1,000 page book of poems called HUMAN / NATURE (1,000 poems written in 1,000 consecutive days). He lives in Bolinas, California where he publishes Avenue B, and teaches at Mills College in Oakland.

Smell Last Sunday of the Month Reading Series is sponsored by Insert Press, Les Figues Press, Make Now Press, and supported by Poets & Writers, Inc, through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

This is probably old news to the tech-savvy, but my favorite Daily Show Correspondent has a hilarious conceptual song/poem in which he reads 700 hobo names. It's called Hobo Names. It lasts an hour.

Friday, June 16, 2006

May all my rejected essay proposals become blogposts....

Lisa Lapinski, a Los Angeles-based artist, exhibits a marked fascination with esoteric systems of thought and the limits of language in her installation and sculptural work. For her Art Center graduate exhibition “Armstrong Visions Solarian: Regina and Opium Have Dormitive Virtue” (2000) Lapinski investigated the artistic practices of philosophers who also happened to make diagrammatic drawings, such as Charles Sanders Pierce and Jacques Lacan. Lapinski’s monumental new sculpture Night Stand, which was exhibited in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, continues this investigation by limning the boundaries of religious systems of knowledge and the “ecstatic states” of the United Society of Believers, otherwise known as the Shakers. The Shakers’ rational systems of religious knowledge and irrational ecstatic states found their material corollaries in the sober earthiness of their furniture and the wild otherworldliness of their drawings. But what would happen, Lapinski wondered, if Shaker furniture were subject to the same ecstatic production techniques as the Shaker drawings? Night Stand is a testament to this idea, incorporating motifs from various disciplines (architecture, woodwork, painting) and religions (Christianity, Judaism, paganism) to create a critical work of art that masquerades as a devotional object. Night Stand incorporates Art-Deco sculpture, Jewish Stars of David, and impressionistic painting; it takes the form of a large piece of furniture, yet sections of the woodwork remain unfinished and none of the drawers function; if viewed from above, the sculpture’s shape resembles a swastika; if viewed from the side, its skeletal construction is revealed. How do such artifacts and symbols frustrate communication and rational systems of material production?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Google Shakespeare. Search the Bard's compleat works (minus the sonnets).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

To read Bay Poetics is to once again feel that strange combination of excitement, envy, and caution that may be the condition of the Los Angeles writer. Maybe it’s called ambivalence. Stephanie Young has put together a compelling Bay Area anthology. It’s filled with favorite writers and many new-to-me poets. Youngsters alongside codgers, ellipticists alongside narratologists, dogs alongside cats, et cetera, et cetera. And yet: I already know that the Bay Area has an amazing writer’s culture; it has some of the best reading series in the country, a storied history, Small Press Distribution is based there; from my perch down in Southern California, the Bay Area looks like poet’s paradise; of course it’s going to produce excellent anthologies. It seems so unproblematic. The Southland on the other hand….

Every year, usually around the time of the Festival of Books, the Los Angeles Times publishes an article that attempts to debunk the myth of Los Angeles as an unliterary city. I love myths. They index real-world phenomena. And those perennial articles are a load of crap. Los Angeles isn’t a literary city. Never has been. The Festival of Books is an industry affair, a front for the newspaper book review. We had Zizek at a Santa Monica bookstore and less than twenty people showed up. The guy introducing him didn’t even know how to pronounce his name. I remember going to some of the readings Andrew Maxwell used to put on at Dawson’s Books a few years ago; I was embarrassed at some of the turnouts (as I’m sure Andrew was as well…most of the readings were excellent, and some of the turnouts were great; but you know, how do you apologize to a poet when she's flown in from across the country and only two people show up?)

So Southern California is not really a literary place, but it does have a literary history, and there are a ton of poets here (a few months ago Catherine Daly made a list of Southern California poets on her blog – she has since taken it down – but it numbered over 650). And it’s not as if we don’t have a plethora of reading series and salons and festivals; there’s the Last Sunday of the Month reading series at the Smell, Jen Hofer’s Moving Word film and poetry series, Jane Sprague’s Long Beach Notebook, the High Energy Constructs series, Douglas Messerli’s Green Integer Salons, the yearly experimental writing conferences at the Redcat, the new Middle Monday of the month reading series at the Coffee Fix, Beyond Baroque, the LA Lit podcast…but somehow the Southern California poetry scene does not cohere in the way the Bay Area seems to (maybe the Bay Area just seems coherent from my point-of-view, but I doubt it). (And I see that Bay Poetics was originally meant to be an issue of Jack Kimball's The East Village, following up on the LA/NY issue; of which, the LA section, compared to both the online New York section and the print Bay Area section, is not nearly as expansive and seems somewhat narrow in its selection). Los Angeles is certainly not on the top of the list for traveling readers. “What? So-and-so New York poet is reading in San Francisco? Can’t we get her to come and read in LA?” Well…

Part of the problem may be that Southern Californian poets don’t seem to like publicity, and New York and San Francisco seem to have literary genes built into their DNA; Angelenos live in the shadow of Hollywood; publicity in that context just seems crass, insincere. “After all, we have no coherent literary scene. You have to drive 45 minutes across town just to go to a reading.” There also has never been a really great anthology for the area. (Green Integer recently put out a good anthology, but it was justly criticized for having an average age of 56). And many Los Angeles writers are vehemently anti-provincial; the very mention of a Los Angeles or Southern California anthology makes some shudder. “What would we call it,” said a friend, “Freeway Poetics?” Said another: “I just don’t believe in articulating a poetics based on location, especially this location.” But precisely because a Los Angeles/Southern California poetry anthology would be so problematic may be reason enough to attempt one. I don’t know, maybe not. But I’d like to hear what others think.

Back to Bay Poetics: I love the way it begins, with Brenda Hillman’s brief poem; I love the arrangement, what Stephanie Young calls “the ecology between writers…like overlapping circles with some points and clusters around the edge,” so that Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy are right next to each other, and likewise A Tonalists Laura Moriarty and Brent Cunningham (a fie on alphabetization!); and I love reading work by writers like Dan Fisher, whom I’ve long known but never seen in print.

And oh yeah: the Jack Spicer excerpt on the back of the book is a nice touch; it's a relief to turn the book over and see poetry instead of blurbs.