Monday, June 16, 2008

Hijinks of the Rreal: Roundup of the VVeek: Monday

One week ago today, Rob Fitterman read with Jen Bervin in a windowless Brooklyn artist's space. The reading was well hydrated, with choice Mexican brew, chilled white wine, lemonade & iced tea among the options. Yes, hydration is important.

The event was in celebration of the release of two books, Bervin's massively extravagant The Desert, along Fitterman's new trilogy from No Press featuring himself & Nayland Blake, a set of works sprung from the undry well of Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Also Rises, My Sun Also Rises, & Blake's Also Also Also Rises the Sun. Underpromoted & certainly not air-conditioned, the crowd nevertheless filled the room, & the readings were short but good.

Reading along with Rob were Nayland Blake & Steve Clay, publisher of Granary Books. They selected short concurrent chapters from each volume, & read each in succession--allowing the reader to elucidate, recall & compare the treatments given to each separate volume. From Rob, a distillation of Hemingway's text to the sentences beginning only with 'I' followed by a skewed autobiographical duplication. Steve read the Hemingway, Rob the Rob, & Nayland the Nayland--his third volume an especially minimal distillation encircling selected parts of speech--a hyperextension of Fitterman's original concept.

Having read the volumes in advance, tho I read them whole, one after another, instead of all three simultaneously, I noticed new structural commonalities beyond the more obvious ones, which made the reading quite pleasant, despite the obvious nuisance of the temperature.

Jen's reading was brief but just as striking. Chances are you are familiar with her Nets, minimal distillations of Shakespeare's Sonnets, since it is in it's fourth printing. Her new project, The Desert, is the application of a similar process, tho rendered on an infinitely larger scale--book & pricewise--Nets was $10, The Desert $4000.

Like her work in Nets, seen below, she does not simply use erasure as a technique to acquire new substance. Instead, she uses it to a voluminous extreme, which delivers incredibly minimal poems--only a handful of words per page. The immense casket of the remainder is always visible: in Nets, rather like a spider's web, in The Desert, more industrial & performative.

A pic of the affordable one:

A selected page of Nets:

Samples of The Desert are visible at the Granary site, linked above.

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