Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mohammad, Tyc, Wright Read in Portland This Saturday, 12/1

If you're anywhere in the Western states and haven't heard about this yet, please be advised that Kasey and his SOU colleague Craig Wright are coming to town to read with local multitalent Cat Tyc this Saturday. Portland may, just may, be the first to see Breathalyzer. Breathe deep, cross fingers, come.
The Tangent Reading Series presents:

Saturday, December 1st @ 7 p.m.
Clinton Corner Café
2633 SE 21st Ave. (@ Clinton)

K. SILEM MOHAMMAD is the author of Breathalyzer (Edge Books, 2008), A Thousand Devils (Combo Books, 2004), and Deer Head Nation (Tougher Disguises, 2003). He has also co-edited and contributed to two books in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series: The Undead and Philosophy (2006) and Quentin Tarantino and Philosophy (2007). He co-edits the magazine Abraham Lincoln with Anne Boyer, and he maintains the popular poetics blog Lime Tree.

CAT TYC is a writer/video maker living in Portland. She is representing Oregon in The Anthology of Younger Poets that will be published by Outside Voices press in January.

is the Fiction Writer at Southern Oregon University. He studied with James Dickey at the University of South Carolina, where he was the recipient of The South Carolina Academy of Authors Fiction Prize. Redemption Center, his debut collection of stories, was published by Bear Star Press in 2006. He lives in Ashland, OR.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Segue Intro Bonanza

Nada's just put a passel of intros from this year's Segue series (Downing, Friedlander, Fitterman, Gins, Graham, Watten, O'Sullivan) up on her blog. Precision cotillions of function and form. Collect 'em all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Welcome Back

Blew the break learning to play the “Welcome Back, Kotter” theme and reading H.J.C. von Grimmelshausen’s Adventures of a Simpleton. Not your grandma’s Thirty Years' War.

Kotter got a much better song than the show deserved, a not so uncommon phenomenon in T.V.'s silver age. “All in the Family,” “Good Times,” “The Monkees,” “Nanny and the Professor,” “The Jeffersons,” “The Partridge Family,” “Sanford and Son” all glimmered with more luster in the intros than 20 minutes of situation could sustain.

It was that gap between the songs, all compact with bounce and promise, and the leaden plots that followed that sort of hammered me into a poet; I’m still attracted, helplessly and without theory, to situations where form fails to fit function, means all in excess of the ends: a poetry of wastefulness, color, and prodigality, the frame melted down for the sprue.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dept. of Monday

"Let's not function."
—Auden Koeneke

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Raphael & Koeneke Read in Portland Sunday

Portland legend Dan Raphael and I will be reading new work for Portland's Spare Room series this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. The location's been changed from the usual gallery space to the roomier Concordia Coffee House, 2909 NE Alberta (@ 29th).

The evening will include the inaugural performance of the mighty Portland Qawwali Scratch Chorus.
Spare Room presents

Sunday, November 18th, 7:30 pm
Concordia Coffee House
2909 NE Alberta

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dept. of Blogging About Blogging

As if people were a kind of html.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dept. of Monday

Discipline is vapid.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited (Fin)

Faces and noses and color and music imploring relief from plot.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited (2)

Whites moving between decorated vehicles.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Thank You, Nada

Three years ago today, Nada Gordon delivered the introduction below at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC. Introductions are one of the most neglected currencies in po biz, an instant of glory in an art that offers few. Thanks Nada, for mine.
To frame my comments about Rodney Koeneke's work, I'd like to begin with a somewhat extended epigraph from E.W. Lane's An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, published in the early 1830s:

The dancing girls appeared in a cloud of dust and tobacco smoke. The first thing about them that struck me was the brightness of the golden caps upon their tresses. As their heels beat upon the ground, with a tinkle of little bells and anklets, their raised arms quivered in harmony; their hips shook with a voluptuous movement; their form seemed bare under the muslin between the little jacket and the low, loose girdle, like the belt of Venus. They twirled about so quickly that it was hard to distinguish the features of these seductive creatures, whose fingers shook little cymbals, as large as castanets, as they gestured boldly to the primitive strains of the flute and tambourine. Two of them seemed particularly beautiful; they held themselves proudly: their Arab eyes brightened by kohl, their full yet delicate cheeks were lightly painted. But the third, I must admit, betrayed the less gentle sex by a week-old beard; and when I looked into the matter carefully, and the dance being ended, it did not take me long to discover that the dancing girls were, in point of fact, all males.
Omaha native and San Francisco resident Rodney Koeneke is the author of Rouge State, which is the best title ever given to a book of poetry. Rodney, from the perpective of what he calls "the bruised Sargasso of white male sexuality," clearly empathizes with "pussyboys," girliemen, and femi-whatevers everywhere. In Rouge State, he madly liberates the once-vitiated template of the lyric, slotting in his own gorgeous, irreverent prosody, making poems that are not only zippier than pinheads but really the zippiest thing since zippers.

You can distinctly hear the echoes of the footsteps of the ghost of Théophile Gautier, in his trademark yellow waistcoat, walking his lobster through the grand opera of these poems. They are deeply dandified "hostile melodic situations," as "brazen as mariachis" and "fecunder than succotash." They are "delicate lorgnettes" that can see all of history happening at once, and "mentholated curlicues" full of "pterodactyl dactyls" and "hot pink verbs."

The figure of the dandy, of course, most lately born into the media as the overcommodified metrosexual, represents the perfect union of the masculine and feminine principles, and is most often clothed in fine fabrics of oriental origin. Indeed, the attars of the mysterious "east" soak into every crevice of Rodney's poetry but laced with pungent irony and historical awareness, so that the story of an odalisque is also the story of how our own tabula rasa get written all over with learned desires:

We spill in the world into genders,
fall out like dirty turpentine
from an upset coffee cup --
at first abductees of the harem
refusing silk pillows and gold-tipped cigarettes
then gradually learning to simper and sprawl...

By example, his writing answers the rhetorical question that one of the poems poses: "How to negotiate the mare incognita of preconscious verbal data without pissing off the vagina dentata its excretions will have to pass through?"

Although replete with bagatelles and monkeyshines like "Got Rilke?" and "the jewel is in the logo/ the jew/ is in the Logos," they also drip with a kind of comic lament at the extreme trivialities and decadence of our time, its "dry transnational orcs" and " glitzy manufacturies of consent." To paraphrase Donovan:

Histories of ages past
unenlightened shadows cast
down through Rodney Koeneke
the crying of a manatee

down through Rodney Koeneke
the crying of a man.....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Morse/Cox/Lomax in Portland, 10/20/07

Jesse Morse kicked off his reading for Tangent a couple weekends back by magnanimously reading well-wishing emails from friends who couldn’t be there, funny ass-slapping encouragements that created a sense of occasion by wryly trying to deflate it. He followed with a cross-section of work from his vegan cookbook project which, probably like the recipes inside, tastes much better than you'd think. Morse mined the exotic, sometimes arcane vocabulary of vegan cookery for metaphors that folded relationships, consumption, and desire into one sensual interface with the world. He also read some pieces from his occasional magazine, Pop Seance, that I described in my notes as “full-throated eco-lyricism” and have no idea now what I meant, except something good. Aliveness I guess to natural beauty, openness to love.

Sarah Anne Cox
put chronology to work by reading in succession from Arrival (written before 9/11), Parcel (2003), and a new manuscript-in-progress called Truancy: a micro-history of the 21st century so far. The political concerns—and even the title—of Arrival read as anticipatory now, “dependence on the undecided” carrying over into Parcel’s “Why, I can’t even say ‘democra …’. Cox’s mix of imagery from the contemporary and Old Testamental Holy Lands (“the burning bush with bullet-hold signage”) exposed the struts and chassis of conflict, decrying no particular occupation but rather “a condition of occupied” that gives the lie to history as bringer of ‘closure’:

“there is forward and backward
there is forward and backward
there is forward and backward
there is forward and backward
there is forward and backward
movements of a peope.”

assembled astringent odes to resistance out of snatches of schoolyard experience, the primal site of power and control, archetype maybe of all the others: “What we do here in school is certainly.” The state at the point where it intrudes on the family is the state at its most naked, and where you most want a son "with a touch of fuck-you-itis."

Dana Teen Lomax
opened with work from Curren¢y, all of whose titles are taken from words on the dollar bill. The writing centers loosely on the experience of raising a young daughter, and takes on questions about labor (particularly the kinds that don't convert easily into currency), class, and value in a witty, emotionally direct way. ("Intifada, yadda yadda ... I've got art to make.") What struck me most about the poems was their insistent political dimension, as Lomax assays the social, economic, and imperial circumstances of the world she's bringing her daughter up in, along with her hopes for its future: "skywriting a new generation,/conditions such as they are."

She followed with "super-new work" from Shh, which she described as "all mothering poems," but not of the "these are my breasts, here is my baby" variety. Instead, the poems point to the home (oikos) as a locus of the orders that radiate out into the polis: "Dear one, this is for certain/We work out matters on each other."

Tangent holds its readings in bars and cafes with those partially off-the-street audiences that have no idea what they're in for. Some pass by the window quizzically, peering in while pretending not to. Others come in, listen for a little, then sit down or pour back into the street. At the Press Club, a sleek wine bar with an espresso machine flanked by racks of art mags, the portion of the audience ambushed by the poetry took it in stride, even clapped once spontaneously for Jesse, and scooped up the writing from the table with a respectable vigor, as the respectable band unpacked its accordians, saws, and upright bass to play into the night.