Friday, January 23, 2009

Spare Room Turns 100

Spare Room turns 100 on Sunday. The independent, unfunded, collaboratively curated grassroots collective has organized 99 readings in Portland since 2002. For their 100th event this Sunday, they’re hosting a marathon reading of 100 poems by 100 poets from the last 100 years. The idea is pure Spare Room: constraint-based, ambitious, and historically informed, but not without a sense of humor about its shambolic, improvisatory approach to a century of experiment and play.

There wouldn’t be an experimental poetry scene to speak of here without Spare Room, which brings to town readers from the same tribe that tends to circulate between the Poetry Project or Segue Series in New York, Small Press Traffic and 21 Grand in San Francisco, Subtext in Seattle, Kootenay in Vancouver, In Your Ear or Ruthless Grip in DC, I.E. in Baltimore, Woodland Pattern in Milwaukie, Myopic in Chicago, or The Smell in L.A., just to name a very few. The fact that that’s only a few—that there’s a network of “Spare Rooms” across the nation—indicates the health, really the lifeblood, of a poetry culture the media and arts funding biz more or less ignore.

While I’d like to see the poets who travel here get paid more, there’s a bliss in that ignorance, too: the fundamentals of the poetry economy Spare Room’s a part of remain sound despite downturns, budget cuts, shifting enrollments, shrinking bequests or bloating windfalls. As Portland collects more arts refugees from the big cities, I hope Spare Room carries on for 100 more.
Gallery Homeland (at the Ford Building)
2505 SE 11th Ave., Portland, OR

From Helen Adam to Louis Zukofsky, from Futurism to Personism, from Hiroshima to Blackhawk Island, from a Polish count to a Peruvian communist, from Dada to MoMA, from prisoners of war to secret agents, from mimeographers to bloggers . . . come hear a small but representative slice of the extraordinary range of poetries practiced in the past century!

Readings should end around 6 or 7 PM; feel free to come in or out at any time.


Providence said...

That's it, I'm moving to Portland! Sent you some goodies today, Rodney. Watch the mail.

rodney k said...

Don't tease me, Patrick (I mean about the moving.) :)

Anonymous said...

I heart Spare Room!

mark wallace said...

Very cool to read about the ongoing success of Spare Room. I think the Portland poetry context is really intriguing right now. Obviously smaller than some key scenes, but with a great group of people. When poetry communities can thrive outside of the main poetry cities, that's something really fantastic.

rodney k said...

Hi Mark,

If you added up the Buffalo folk and ex-DC people here now, you'd have a kind of irrefutable karmic argument for you and Lorraine moving up ASAP. I'll help unload the U-Haul.


mark wallace said...

Wish I could--don't tempt me.

Actually, one of many possible plans for the semester of my sabbatical (hopefully Fall 2010) might be to spend a month or so in Portland, hanging out with people and going to readings. Think we could find a place to rent for a month at a decent location and price?

rodney k said...

Hi Mark,

Barring a revolution that leaves us by Fall 2010 all living like Mad Max, 8-Ball says: Most Likely Yes.