Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nude Arrivals

Today's new arrivals consist primarily of two volumes from bookartist Keith Smith, Text in the Book Format & Structure of the Visual Book. I had originally seen these at the Book Art Book Fair but as so many vendors were dealing only in cash, I had to prioritize, especially since these can be ordered very easily from Keith's website. They are hefty, beautiful tomes, even though they are paperbacks. Interestingly, you could also order these as folded & gathered sheets in addition to the Smythe-sewn paperback. I haven't had much time to dive in, but my immediate impression is that these will become indispensable. Part instruction manual, part history lesson, all riveting, it makes me wonder why it took me so long to find Keith Smith, but really I'm just glad now that I have.

Also, aPlod issue 2 made it's way into my hands, along with a couple appropriately selected pogs. This one, edited by Brad Flis, features work from Ray Hsu, Marie Buck & Brad himself along with some truly hot shit from Jon Link. I have met Jon before but didn't know his work very well at all, so was excited to see his inclusion, which delivered in every way. Brad has such a keen sense of design, & handles the task of design so deftly, packing in a maximum of material without ever once approaching discomfort for the recipient. The little booklet is a pleasure to hold in the hands.

Ron Silliman's post about issue 1 of President's Choice reminds me yet again that I have failed to record a great literary event on this blog. For some reason, a few of my favorite nights since coming here in January haven't gotten the treatment, who knows why. The reading at MOMA in March where I met Rob Fitterman, Caroline Bergvall, Kenneth Goldsmith & Kareem Estefan all in one night. The utterly badass Joel Kuszai/Wiston Curnow fully catered event at Saatchi & Saatchi. Back on Nov 3 there was a Prez Choice release party at Bar 169. The lineup was insanely good--definitely the best I'd ever been to in one place, & a perfect combination of deserving friends & bona-fide great poets. Friends such as Lauren Spohrer, Lawrence Giffin & Kareem Estefan read alongside sports heroes such as Rodrigo Toscano, Kim Rosenfield, Rob Fitterman & Brian Kim Stefans, who has a couple interesting books available on lulu right now. All of this MC'd by editor Steve Zultanski, with the perfect number of interludes. A few individual works remain in the fore of my mind, including Kareem's excellent, frantic Instant Message poem & Rob Fitterman's voyage through the nonpoetic asides & sayings of a poetry reading. You know, the shit they say before & between the poems. It was truly hilarious, & it didn't hurt that it was happy hour, which was of the buy-one-get-one variety. At one point, a bartender said to another that Fitterman's reading was unbearable, that he couldn't wait for it to be over. Then, Rob culminated with a sudden, moving, totally normal short pastoral poem, from what source if any I don't know. The effect was quite like Kenny Goldsmith at the end of a reading of Traffic, with Rob's version perhaps the more seamless. Finishing up the evening, bearded, perfect Lawrence Giffin totally won my heart as he does each & every time I engage with one of his works (I haven't figured out exactly how he continually accomplishes this). All these readings culminated with (I think) Vietnamese food & me being something of a beer hero.

* * *

Shed like Swatch

Asimov credits us with eras of concomitance
Happy to resolve the freight of having acted
Out of character, unless one were to budget
Sheer words over a week's length, what would we
Move from Ground Zero to Ground One?

He would have been more assertive in our calling
The injustices of institutions our little ones
So that life might continue

To pillory the sham of inexpugnable rewards.
Sadly enough, it is through these self-same theses
That you and I together, caught in our egg and spoon
Battalion, would hardly be at a loss of words
To describe the health of the economy.

Could it not then be said that a pencil sketch
Approximating the take down of a giraffe
By a pride of hungry lions in the bush, dragging
By its legs the carnivorous which it is feeding
Would be but one way to communicate

Our democratic presentiments?

----Bradley Flis

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bowery Whiskey Reading

The readers for the Single Malt Whiskey Poetry Sampling are:

Mary Jo Bang
Monica de la Torre
Diana Hamilton
Bob Holman
Patrick Lovelace

+ special guests

Sunday, 12/9, 5-7 PM @ Bowery Poetry Club

$20 / 5 whiskies ($15 w/ copy of this email invitation)
$5 without whiskey

Monday, December 3, 2007

Nov. Recap 1: Halpern/Brady

The new Taylor Brady/Rob Halpern title out from Atticus/Finch, Snow Sensitive Skin, billed as a chapbook, is hardly so. Of the wide variety of items I purchased in November, this, at a modest $10, remains the most luscious title inside & out. The book is perfectbound, not stapled, with a nearly-removable, beautiful dustjacket over the paperback, which features thick, unpaginated leaves within. Like the recent Mel Nichols chapbook out from Edge, the slightest negative arises with just how susceptible the cover material is to wear. Within 15 or so minutes (& yes this is my fault) my copy was irrevocably smeared with some sort of table gunk, perhaps syrup. But the nice crusty stain really isn't all that bad, I just have to buy another copy or two. It is that good of a book, wonderfully conceived & delivered by Michael Cross, the 11th in the Atticus/Finch series. Of course the collaboration of Brady & Halpern delivers as well--the book, broken into 7 sections (with titles such as "Theater of Mortal Terror" & "Lines Against The Blades") presents, among other things, strong meditations on world & war status in the Middle East. The book is thus timely but not gaudily so, more "Lebanon" than "Iraq" though never limited to either. Front matter contextualizes the inspirations & sources & directions of the book. Sometimes boxes surround somewhat large pieces of text. Prevalent throughout, small pieces of italicized text break up, comment upon, & extend the discussion presented in the core stanzas.

NOW ALL THAT'S alien to what the time commands
Miming in the breaks, what plays the disruption
Being the continuity of measure, death becoming

..............-- audible, as if for the first time

......................Sonic identity of the mechanized war machine itself --

......................................................................................'Get in line'

The ensemble is elements
Falling out where fallout was
Once a stolen march on time
Lapsed dream of the graceful
Arch, double dutch or this
Step skipped to bridge

............................-- as if a stone

Producing incremental units
............................Shorter intervals
............................Until there's nothing

.......................................-- opposed to what's immeasurable