Friday, April 02, 2010

Fuck Death Revisited (@Harriet)


I remember seeing Conrad read for the first time in spring of 2007. Conrad’s best friend, the Philadelphia-based poet Frank Sherlock, had just recovered from a life-threatening illness, a meningitis which he contracted in Philadelphia, and nearly died from. It was Easter weekend at SEGUE series and Conrad said he did not believe in the resurrected Jesus, but that he did believe in the resurrected Sherlock. Conrad’s comment, interjected between readings of poems generated using his (Soma)tic Exercises, was powerful to me for the ways it deflated Easter’s otherworldly promises of salvation and transcendence.

During the poetry reading, Conrad also read a poem in which he intoned “fuck death,” a statement which I took to mean “forget death,” but also that one should have sex with death, that death undergirds life comingling life’s forces with its own. The confluence of living and dying, for Conrad, as for many gay men who grew up in the 80s and 90s, is an unforgettable, if not unforgiveable, reality. An unmistakable melancholy touches many of Conrad’s poems, and especially those poems collected in Deviant Propulsion and The Book of Frank in which people and things that have disappeared are often underscored through their absence—longed for, mourned. In many of Conrad’s poems the inanimate often becomes animated by a spirit of mourning—a longing for ex-lovers, as well as for the victims of sex and gender based crimes. Grief forms the conditions of possibility for action, communication, life loving. Animism grounds impossible return.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Belladonna Book Launch and Two Blurbs (@ Harriet)


For those in NYC a week from Tuesday, please come out to hear what I hope will be a wonderful gathering for four of my very favorite contemporary poets.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010; 7:30 pm
Closing Event for Belladonna’s
Year of New Releases

Dorothea Lasky (Black Life)
Brenda Iijima (revv. you’ll—ution &
If Not Metamorphic)
Eleni Stecopoulos (Armies of Compassion)
David Wolach (Occultations )
Dixon Place
161 Christie Street; New York City

Ekphrasis Again (@ Harriet)


"The poem may become a site for varying degrees of ‘naive’ experience, seeing the art object or engaging with it through any number of different filters, veils—at such a distance from anything one might call the ‘thing in itself.’ The poem also can act pre-critically or post-critically—as a kind of processor for ‘understanding.’ What we ‘see’ in the work of art; the way the art sees us through the lens of social processes, cultural antagonism, the institutional situations wherein it appears (whether magazine, museum, gallery, site, classroom, film, internet, etc.).

The poem, for me, composes ideas, percepts, and thoughts while they are still in process. It is a learning machine or a vision machine engaged with what the art object might reveal as culturally meaningful or, on the other hand, as a withdrawal from cultural meaning—legibility, visibility, exchangeability. It is a bachelor machine inasmuch as it is bounded, prosthetic, and artificial."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guy Ben-Ner's Second Nature at Postmasters

April 2 - May 8, 2010GUY BEN-NER Second Nature
Employing animals, animal trainers and an on-camera film crew all speaking in rhyme Second Nature restages Aesop's fable The Fox and the Crow combined with Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

Can you tell a fable today? Is it not too arrogant to believe you can educate someone? On the other hand, if I believed art could not deliver any kind of lesson or critique of the world, I would stop making it. (Guy Ben-Ner)

In Second Nature Ben-Ner has created a video that emerges from Aesop's fable The Fox and the Crow. It is a video in three parts that blurs the boundaries between ' fact and fiction'. One part of the video is shot as a documentary about specialist animal trainers training a fox and a crow to re-enact the fable, but develops into a fictional re-telling of the fable itself by the animals, interjected with a re-enactment of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot by the animal trainers. The dialogue between human and animal is crucial, exploring subtle modifications in behaviour made through the interaction between the two, where one can never truly control the other.

In the repetitive and questionably futile action of trainee and trainer, Ben-Ner's video owes much to the plays of Beckett - the trainer trains the animals to re-enact the fable; Ben-Ner trains the trainer to act In the documentary and the play; and the animals train each other within the tale itself. He uses the same setting, a lonely tree, to tell two different stories - one a fable and one a play. Ben-Ner reveals the function of fables - the use of animals to tell human stories and instruct our own moral behaviour - and mimics their strategies to manipulate the animal trainers as the fable unfolds. Essentially the action is the same, repeated again and again. (Kyla McDonald - catalog for the Liverpool Biennial 2008.)

GUY BEN-NER Second Nature, 2008
Single channel video, color with sound,10:10 min
Animals Supplied by: Birds and Aminals UK
Fox Trainer: Guillaume Grange
Crow Trainer: Gwen Griffith
Fox: Bambi and Briar
Crow: Oreo and Nabisco
Film Production: Roger Appleton
Sound Recording: Alan Watson
Editing Facillities: CCA, Tel Aviv
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial International 08

Postmasters Gallery
459 west 19th street
New York, NY 10011

The Poetic Front Vol. 3

Thanks to Stephen Collis for his excellent editorial and design work on the most recent issue of The Poetic Front, a journal of criticism, essay, and poetics based in Vancouver, BC.

Reviews & Essays

Andrea Actis

New tactics in Poetic Activism: Reg Johanson's Escratches
Robert Budde

“The Lore of Four” is a “Copious Leaping”: Transnational Translation and the Visceral Vernacular, Oana Avasilichioaei and Erín Moure’s Expeditions of a Chimæra
Cris Costa

Potential Form and Hank Lazer's Portions
Stephen Collis

Three Reviews
Susan M Schultz

“Inquiring into the symbolic dildo I strap on every day”: A Review of Rob Budde’s Declining America
Reg Johanson

“How many constants should there be?”: Rae Armantrout’s Quasi-Scientific Methodology
Robert Stanton

“...More Careful Zones and Strata”: Charles Olson’s Parallax Poetics in The Maximus Poems
Jason Starnes

Wound Response, Tacit Knowledge and Residual Reading: Dissecting Matrices of Information in J.H. Prynne’s Late-Modernist Poetry
Matthew Hall

Special Features
Hic Rhodus, Hic Salta!
Roger Farr

Postscript: Poetry and Anti-Politics
Roger Farr

The Barricades Project, the Life Long Poem, and the Politics of Form
Stephen Collis

Doing the Twist: Modern American poetry and vitalism
Thom Donovan

From Wit to Plunder in a Time of War
Gregory Betts

Becoming Unmoored: Rob Halpern's Disaster Suites
Richard Owens, Andrew Rippeon

Rob Halpern

Conditions of Poetic Production and Reception Part 4. “New Resistant Subjects (Bot to Bot)”
Rodrigo Toscano, Natalie Knight