Friday, March 19, 2010

Intro for Brandon Downing, Powell’s Books, 3/14/10

Here’s the intro I gave for Brandon Downing at his Powell’s reading in Portland on Sunday.
Brandon Downing is the author of The Shirt Weapon (“You are a blue rat caught/In a black dog’s jaws”) and Dark Brandon (“Through a discount centre entryway. I come/Into piano spotlight”). He’s also the bricoleur veejay genius splicer behind “Dark Brandon/Eternal Classics,” a DVD which paradoxically convinced cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling “to pay attention to a poetry movement” again.

I don’t think we’ve had the full measure of Brandon’s genius though till now, with the coming of
Lake Antiquity. Lake Antiquity is the first book of poems I’ve seen that thanks Italian flea markets, vampire seductress comics, a famous British archaeologist, and several brands of glue stick. (He credits especially “the durable, glorious Scotch/3M Clear.”) There’s something durable and glorious about Brandon’s creations, too. He sinks a deep shaft into the cultural junk we’ve amassed and sold off, then draws up radiant artifacts from the mulch. Brandon’s “voluptuous assemblage” of text and image reminds me that all the best modern artists were wastemakers at heart, less towering Romantic creators than cheerleaders for things passed over, urging us to see the overlooked with new eyes.

Through Brandon’s, history runs like a film at 30 centuries per second; antiquity’s a Hollywood backlot of mobile exteriors; and modernity becomes an extension of chromolithography, all those thousands of mass-produced lines—poetic and otherwise—cross-hatched into something grandiloquent, personal, hilarious, lyric, novel, ingenious, and strange. I’m learning from the treasures that come up from Brandon’s lake all the time, and I hope you starbound twenty-first century types will, too. Please to welcome
Brandon Downing.

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