Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Buck Downs @ St Marx

[begun June 7 07]

Last nite Buck Downs read with David Kirschenbaum @ famed St Marx Church. Kirsch, of Boog City fame, was the first reader. He is a purveyor of a sort of personal verse--he described his recent project as writing a poem at the end of the day about whatever went on that day. He then went back through these pieces, & seizing upon the common thread of references to the tv show The Gilmore Girls, read the makeshift sequence, to frequently hilarious effect. Unashamed of bearing the personal--not just emotion, but habit as well--his poems centering on the aforementioned show were particularly unique & interesting. This was preceded by a horseracing history longpoem that he described was in response to Elizabeth Willis mentioning Seabiscuit in one of her works (at the height of that horse's moviestardom). This poem, though it dipped into the personal, recalling instances & events from years past, worked much differently than the Gilmore Girls work, almost as if it were an ESPN retrospective of the finer nuances of that sport, where people seem to watch the big 3 races almost perfunctorily but rarely seem to really get. Kirsch not only gets it, but was able to convey the feeling & meaning to tv-less, generally horserace-less me, which I qualify as an affirmed success.

Buck was nice enough to meet with me before the reading for about an hour over coffee, talking mostly about the DC scene & his history as publisher of Buck Downs Books, with plenty of advice for my fledgling activities thrown in. Though he has given me several books over the past few months, & added In Memoriam D Thompson to that list before the reading, I went ahead & purchased two I hadn't come across before, including a dual book with Chris Toll called Recreational Vehicle/Be Light & a recent chapbook from Edge, Ladies Love Outlaws . The most notable of these is In Memoriam, as it is a beautiful, apparantly limited edition book (I think Buck said there are 250 copies). The rectangular covers are all white, the only decoration a light circular stamp on the bottom left corner on the front cover, indicating author & title.

From the front matter:

In Memory D Thompson is a series composed of rubbings taken from headstones in Congressional Cemetery, Washington, DC. Each sequence was created by starting from a random point in the cemetery and proceeding, to discover each next word as the site and my ability to perceive it would disclose. It is a kind of erasure operating in reverse upon a text dominated by the names of the dead, pointing to some practical geomancy in which the materials on the earth are always only waiting to be activated.

The book is named for David E. Thompson (1939-1996), aka Davi Det Hompson, whose works in typography, sculpture, performance, etc., alone or with many collaborators, continue to remind me that the prevailing conditions of the area are always compelling reasons to work, and that living there an adequate principle to organize the results

The insides of the book fulfills the promise of the cover & front matter. Averaging about a word per page, the poem, which is actually quite short, is stretched to extreme limits, as if the sentences were being read under a magnifying glass, or some similar mechanism. Each page is presented as a copy of the original rubbing, such as the following:

More examples of the text can be found on fascicle's website.

Buck is an animated & skilled reader. He was introduced by Greg Fuchs, who was nice enough to give me a little palm-sized book he recently put out along with a demo copy of a film he is working on. Much to my pleasure, Buck's accent came out in full force during his reading. Along with the way he held onto & swung the mic stand around like a rockstar, well he pretty much became a rock star for the duration of his set, as he read through several clusters of his patented postcard poems, even dipping into a backup group.

Though I'm more than happy to receive a lot of the great stuff Buck puts out & sends himself, the work he read indicated pretty clearly that he's due for another full-length book given the full treatment by a quality press. Perhaps Edge will deliver thus unto us? His Marijuana Soft Drink was put out in '99. Eight years hence, it's nigh time for another high-profile, far-reaching collection.

Afterwards some poets went out for drinks & invited me along, which allowed for good chat with Buck, Greg, & the poet John McNally, who has a book, Exes for Eyes, on subpress. Apparantly John doesn't make it into town very often so we were lucky to have him among us; & lucky for me he is a collector-type so we had a lot to talk about all night. Even after leaving the bar John & I ambled around the neighborhood for a while. Many thanks to him, & also to Buck & Greg.

..........................power dookie.

the limits of the leash
............and the living
............with the law
..on serial anonymous
replay............another kind
............of independent
in the sweat equity

....sons of the Hill the Fall
..August is the motherfucker
or at least it is
this fiscal year

[from Ladies Love Outlaws]


Elizabeth Willis said...

I think David heard my poem after the movie blather (I remember having an exchange with him about it--I was living in California then and had visited the east coast for a reading), but to get the facts straight, my poem was written in the winter of 1999-2000, before the Seabiscuit book was released and long before the movie version, which nearly ruined the poem for me. My mom had actually made a trip from Wyoming to California to visit Seabiscuit when she was a kid. The poem was not written for, with, around, or about, Seabiscuit's second wave of fame.

Patrick Lovelace said...

oh, that's probably my error for mentioning it that way.

Boog City Events said...

I remember hearing Elizabeth reading at double happiness in the segue series at the height of the Seabiscuit craze. When I approached her afterwards we never discussed when she wrote the piece, I just said to her, after mentioning some stuff I dug about her rdg, that using Seabiscuit was too easy, that she should instead mention a horse like Ruffian, a feminist icon who captured a nation. It was a sorta crazily arrogant thing to say to someone I just met. She simply said that she used the name Seabiscuit because she liked the way the name sounded, the image it evoked. The next morning, as an apology, I sent her a short email ain which i wrote her "Poem for Elizabeth Who in a Bar Mentioned a Horse."