9.22.2014

Rachel Zolf in San Francisco





Yesterday afternoon at ATA on Valencia at 21st in San Francisco, SMALL PRESS TRAFFIC presented RACHEL ZOLF with special guests  SIRAMA BAJO, DAVID BUUCK and ERIKA STAITI.  The afternoon included a film, reading, and polyvocal performance from Janey’s Arcadia (Coach House, 2014), "an aversive, conversive reckoning with the ongoing errors of Canadian settler-colonialism."






Here's how Coach House describes Janey's Arcadia:


Janey's Arcadia restages Canada's colonial appropriations in a carnivalesque cacophony of accented speech, weather, violence, foliage and carnality. Rachel Zolf assembles a pirate score of glitch-ridden settler narratives, primarily from Manitoba. Clashing voices squall across time, flashing pornographic signs that the colonial catastrophe continues with each brutal scrubbing of Indigenous knowledges and settler responsibility. Unsettling the Arcadian promise of a new pure home, this poetry asks whose bodies are consumed as fuel, and whose glitched subjectivities dirty up received narratives of supremacy and vanishing. Subversive, aversive, conversive, Janey's Arcadia propels the reader toward necessary ethical encounter.

In her introduction, Samantha Giles, at Rachel's request, discussed her own background which includes Chickasaw, an ancestry cloaked in silence within the history of Giles' family. This is something a number of us can attest too. My family's Mic'mac ancestry was, until my maternal grandmother's death, a rumored but tabooed subject. I bring this up as Zolf's work engages with questions of erasure, misrecognition, denials and repressions, personal, communal, social, political. How to excavate these histories and in what languages articulated by what subjects are questions at the heart of her project. Janey's Arcadia followed Zolf's work on Neighbor Procedure and her visit to Israel and Palestine.

Erika Staiti and Rachel Zolf


Zolf's event began with her reading from her book, accompanied by David Buuck, who worked the overhead projector, displaying multiple, palimpsested layers from a variety of texts and images, including the one on the book's cover.  This sliding performance of layered images/texts/words accompanied Zolf's resonant, guttural, lyrical, sonically textured languages, which include among others, Cree, French, Gaelic, Scot's English, Red River twang, and the linguistic cacophony created by "errors of recognition" within the Optical Character Recognition software (OCR) Zolf used for obtaining digital copies of historical documents and texts.

Rachel then invited the audience to have a discussion. She shared some of her process, asked us if we felt as if we were settlers and wondered what feelings were evoked by the work. This last question, for me, proved provocative as there was so much to take-in in the rich performance. I found myself sonically pleasured, and I supposed troubled, as well as interested by the contextual resonance of images and text moving on the screen. For example, at one point an image of an 1886 pamphlet entitled "What Women Say of the Canadian Northwest" was juxtaposed/overlaid with a text that included a sentence that read something like, "if any woman should be so audacious...the board....will grind her to dust....!). Where affect is in the midst of so much going on is difficult to pinpoint. There's a great deal to explore here--where affect is in a piece, how it is evoked, mobilized, beyond stock strategies and with complexity, how and when it is experienced (immediately, upon solitary reading, belatedly, etc.,)  by an audience member or reader--these are all engaging questions. What form has to do with all of this is also live. Zolf shared her own earlier engagement with formalism in the tradition of Russian formalism and her current interest in mobilizing affect.

Sirama Bajo and Erika Staiti

This discussion was followed by the showing of a short film Zolf has worked on with a number of collaborators. The film includes footage marked with the Canadian National Film Board's (NFB) watermark and includes the running time log or signature. The footage includes this material because Zolf appropriated it as it was too expensive to purchase the rights. Rachel explained how she likes having these features as part of the film since they markedly declare who owns the gaze. After the film, we moved outside onto the sidewalk on Valencia for a reading which included a polyvocal performance of the poem and the names of indigenous women murdered in Canada. Here Zolf was joined by Erika Staiti, David Buuck, and Sirama Bajo. Passersby stopped to listen, walked through the performance, pulled their BMWs out of the adjacent parking spot. The twilight was lit by the many upscale neon lights to be found on Valencia these days. The performers' voices struggled against the ambient sound of urban night life as the humid day began to unwind. Bajo closed the event with an indigenous song, her beautiful voice rising powerfully above the street sounds around her.  

David Buuck, Sirama Bajo and Rachel Zolf

If you weren't there, that's too bad. Zolf gave us much to think about and feel; we had the chance to talk together, an opportunity always built on the foundation of provocations and risk, and in this case, exhilaration.

7.23.2014

Videos Now online for 2014 Small Press Traffic White & Victor Scalapino Memorial Lectures




Simone White & Divya Victor




Now you can listen to and watch these two amazing Leslie Scalapino Memorial Lectures online at PennSound:

http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Scalapino.php#6-1-14

http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Cloud-House.php#6-1-14

7.21.2014

Just a Few Reasons Poetry Matters--from my bookshelf



P O E T R Y   M A T T E R S
 
Chris Tysh
Ronaldo Wilson
Emily Dickinson
Lisa Robertson
Simone White
Anne Carson
Fred Moten

photo by Alex Tremblay-McGaw
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Among cries and girly giggles.

Divinaria, D's saga, will be the tale

I trace in the starless subterranean sky

Switching genders as if passing under

 A nightclub's scarlet awning where I steal

A glance at some elfin gypsy with hair

Covered in dew and river marsh"

--from Chris Tysh's  Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic (16)

 

THE BREAKER'S POSE

    I will kneel to him.
              --Caliban

It passes, from head spin
to spun Cotton. Pink, rosacea excess,

the skin waits to glut. Oil.        I whisper
when I choose.

In that hiss: [                                                     ]

Not Caliban, but alley born.     Rotate.
Strike: [      ] Floor work, not shufflin'

                Kick: Cull the skull

 from Ronaldo Wilson's Poems of the Black Object (34)

Ourself behind ourself, concealed--
Should startle most--
from #670 Emily Dickinson

At times the sound of the vocable is
The vocable of the men. It sits, it
Emits, it leaves the solemn limit
Beneath a tent of lilac
I want a simple book too, I want those
Fabulous testimonies in the style
Of toile de jouy, I wnt them to bestir
Themselves
For the duration of a diminutive
To inhabit this voice:

 

The sidewalks in light are the sidewalks of childhood
with the men walking on them past the trees of
childhood also and the sky flattened with light as in
the childhood of the men. Memory stands up in slow
motion and moves in their light. Being the men involves
knowing.

 

I speak to them now in all my categories.

 

 

Men, we are already people.

from Lisa Robertson's The Men (47-48)

 

Before I was a woman and in this place,
I was real. The ages pressed their pattern
on the air I breathed. I was colorless,
bound in one dimension by the idea of mountains,
in another by crude desire; the nearness of my thoughts
(O my thoughts!) moorings to all that was human,
and all the world was flesh and mind.

from Simone White's House Envy of all the World (17).

 

Somehow Geryon made it to adolescence.

                           _______________

Then he met Herakles and the kingdoms of his life all shifted down a few notches.

They were two superior eels

at the bottom of the tank and they recognized each other like italics.

from Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red (39)

 

barbara lee

[The poetics of political form]

Ever since Plato, some poets remain surprised that they don't run shit,
that they ain't even citizens. But black poetry suffers its politics of non-exclusion. Abide with this distress for the deformative and reformative stress, the non-normative benefits, the improper property of the ones who have been owned, who are without interests, who are feared, who disappear in plain, excaped, unfree.

Counterinsurgency only ever offs the possibility completely. A state of race ward has existed with its immense poetry of tread water, worked ground, houses sawed in half. Tht's where the socially off hold on, try to enjoy themselves.

There is a history of the embrace of degraded pleasure. Poetry responds, cantedly, to the slander of motivation. Poetically man dwells, amped, right next to the buried market, at the club underneath teh quay, changing the repeat, thrown like a new thing, planning to refuse until the next jam, at a time to be determined and fled.

Poetry investigates new ways for people to get together and do stuff in the open, in secret. Poetry enacts and tells the open secret. Getting together and doing stuff is a technical term that means X. Something going one at the sight and sound center of sweet political form.

from Fred Moten's B Jenkins (84)

 

      

           

 

 

 

 

6.22.2014

Leslie Scalapino Memorial Lecture in 21st Century Poetics--Simone White & Divya Victor



On  the glorious afternoon of June 1st, Small Press Traffic hosted the 4th annual Leslie Scalapino Memorial Lecture in 21st Century Poetics at Timken Hall at the California College of the Arts (CCA). This year the lecture included two of the more provocative Scalapino lectures thus far.





Simone White & Divya Victor
photo courtesy of Jocelyn Saidenberg



















Simone White began her talk by noticing that when she received the invitation to deliver one of the two Scalapino lectures, she asked "why me?" suggesting that this question marks her "increasingly thorny engagement with the problematic relations between poetic togetherness, isolation (togetherness' ostensible opposite) and the baseline set of qualities that make writing that is hard to do and hard to read, capable of being read in togetherness or solitude" (1). White's talk asks timely, crucial questions about innovative, oppositional black art--its past, present and future.


Tracing both her own association with Scalapino's work and an original, beautifully speculative and critically powerful reading of Nathaniel Mackey's serial prose project From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate, White keeps in the forefront of her considerations the politics of audience, an attempt to engage a "willingness to lose the floor of subjectivity," to negotiate the "tensions between the desire to work inside a poetics that explores infinitesimal possibility with respect to the subject's relation to its outside and a materially and theoretically separate tradition, a black one, that holds close iconicity, a tradition that implicitly treasures and elevates heroic acts by specific subjects of the past" (5).

Critiquing the longstanding emphasis on black music as the "oppositional technique" that enables a possible "entering into the realm of the free" (6),White argues that "the complexity and importance of the poetic project of theorizing the practices and meanings of black music far surpasses the expressive capacities of contemporary black music" (8).  Turning to Mackey's Broken Bottle, she uncovers how Mackey simultaneously engages the possibilities for black personhood through music-- as the characters in the series of books are members in a band whose relations are embedded in the music, music elevated to a kind of sacred communal practice--and writing--via the several novels comprising From a Broken Bottle and Mackey's construction of word balloons that emanate from the band's music and sometimes from their mouths though they occasionally also appear when the band's records are played.
Simone's talk kept me on my toes and on the edge of my seat. She is graciously sharing that talk here.



After performing a brief joint reading with Simone, Divya Victor began by recounting her first meeting with Michael Cross at SUNY Buffalo some seven years ago, during which she remembered him telling her "'If you want something' he said 'and it is not there in the place you are in: you must make it'” (1). Citing an interview that Michael did with Leslie, which you can read here, Victor noted that three words from Scalapino in Cross's interview--peel, expose, use--would serve as actions she would attempt in her talk. Scalapino claimed that voice was antithetical to the projects of her writing; Victor exposes the constructed, historical, political, and ideological functioning of voice and tongue, the "mouth in transit," that emerges as an "abiding alienation" in the post-colonial situation. Here's an excerpt where Divya sets up this nexus:


In Considering how exaggerated music is, Scalapino describes a dream in which a woman, parenthetically, a speaker, “woke up in bed [obviously she had been dreaming] and said that she had one of them, a cicada, in her mouth so that she was pressing it with her tongue to the roof of her mouth to make the sound come out [saying to him as she woke up ‘I was spitting its innards out’]” The mouth-in-transit, the roving mouth is a cradle for such cicadas. Derrida has called this an ‘abiding alienation’— the hosting of an alien form in your own body so that it becomes “alienation without alienation, [an] in alienable alienation.”



The cicada is pressed against and popped so that its innards trickle into your innards.



The host and the guest— into the colon of the colony. One does not merely clear one’s throat of this. One does, however, ventriloquize. There is a whole chorus of cicadas up in this mother.



I want to speak with you today about this “abiding alienation”—about this condition of having cicadas in one’s mouth— not just a dream, but a lived reality for some of us. This condition comes out of the post-colonial situation— which produces the mouth in transit, a mouth not at home with itself. And I want to talk about the forms this takes in contemporary poetics, even when the poets or the poetries may not be explicitly post-colonial, and are, rather, intra-imperial or imbricated within American imperial citizenry (2).


Victor's talk develops an argument for the complexity of a poetics of ventriloquism, a poetics that peels, exposes, uses--embodied distance,"a wound sound," abiding alienation.

Divya has also generously agreed to share her talk with us here.

Both of these talks are provocative and demand your attention. Victor and White use Scalapino's writing as a point of departure from which to unfold disparate but somehow related projects invested in thinking anew about the already said.

5.20.2014

Fab Four From Philly: Abendroth, Lee, McCreary, Sherlock


In May, the Bay Area was graced with a visit from the fab four from Philly:  Emily Abendroth, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Jenn McCreary, and Frank Sherlock, all Pew Fellowship Awardees.

I caught their Thursday, May 8th, Poetry Center reading at San Francisco State though they also read on Friday evening at Ruth's Table. It is difficult to make it to Poetry Center readings since they happen on late afternoon week days, but there are particular rewards for heading out into the fog. For one, San Francisco State is such a changed campus compared to what it was like when I arrived there in the mid-1980s. There are new library, arts, and humanities buildings, and probably other recently added spaces as well; the place is a multicultural crossroads brimming with energy. Another reason for attending one of these afternoon Poetry Center gigs is that there's always a question and answer period. Some writers probably dread this, but it is often such a rich way to end a reading.

This particular afternoon flew by as each poet read for about 15 minutes; each included some new work.

Emily read from a new collaborative index/postcard piece and excerpts from
 ]exclosures[, Juliette selections from her forthcoming Solar Maximum and some from Underground NationalJenn from : ab ovo : and work in collaboration with visual artist SJ Hart, and Frank a longer piece with the repeating refrain : "you can feel good."


Four from Philly:
Emily Abendroth, Frank Sherlock, Jenn McCreary, Sueyeun Juliette Lee

 


















During the question and answer period we got the opportunity to hear from these writers how they attend to sound and linguistic registers. Here's what they had to say:

Emily noted that she conducts linguistic and sound research, collecting materials for a robust sound palette with attention to how words work both in the ear and in the mouth. 

These auditory and buccal pleasures characterize Abendroth's poety as here from one of the poems in ]exclosures[:


Despite our trepidations, we were repeatedly duped into believing that the mere spaces between words could wholly preserve their discretion and their order. We relished the crisp columnar indents which supposedly meant that any two nouns or compounds or persons or regions could always remain perfectly self-contained, censored from one another. As if all cross-pollination was a shameful occurrence, its practitioners either bereft or left permanently undiscovered across the zealously governed zones of regulated distance and the lofty stances of enhanced retaining walls (19).

Abendroth's prose is equally pleasing in its kinetic stretch and strain as here in a review of Miranda Mellis' The Spokes.  Abendroth is an amazing writer. You want her book and you can get it here.

Frank spoke of reading things that aren't poetry, keeping an ear open to social media, the streets, drunks.

You can read an excerpt from Sherlock's The City, Real and Imagined: Philadelphia Poems here.

Jen spoke of how we each have our personal clichés which she seeks to get around. Like Emily, she's interested in and uses research. She spoke of how it puts you in a different vernacular. She also relies on readers of her early drafts who "flag the familiar."

You can read her poem ":cleave:" here.

Juliette said she has no regular writing practice other than a diary and Facebook posts. She too, however, finds that she is motivated by a set of interests in her reading. For example, she mentioned recently reading in a variety of subjects and material types, including astrophysics, cryogenics, the environment, government documents. She said, "when I feel full, this writing comes out."

Here's a small section from Underground National:

Isn't that the home we tend
garden of split teeth
the wordy dialects we send underground?

And by dialect, to indicate that very thing
both home and foreign
what marks you safe but also alien--

All porous confines confound, perhaps.
A ray of light. A sting   (51).

I particularly loved hearing Juliette's new work and I eagerly await Solar Maximum.


3.24.2014

Celebrating Small Press Traffic's 40th Anniversary: Saidenberg, Murray, Reilly and Gladman in San Francisco



This season Small Press Traffic is celebrating its 40th Anniversary through a series of readings curated by former Small Press Traffic directors. 

The festivities began on Sunday March 10th, curated by Jocelyn Saidenberg (Director of SPT from 1999-2000), who invited us to enjoy the work of three powerful women writers: Beth Murray (via telephone), Evelyn Reilly, and Renee Gladman .



Jocelyn Saidenberg














Somehow, in the midst of the frenzy of end-of-quarter grading, and in the season of awaiting news from College Admissions Departments for my daughter, I've misplaced my notebook with all my notes! So, for this post, I'm flying on the magic carpet of memory only folks!

Beth Murray is living near Yosemite these days. Jocelyn arranged for Beth to read via phone and speaker, but the connection kept breaking up. We heard a tiny slice of some of Cancer Angel, a full length manuscript. Beth has been kind enough to let me post some of it here.  This is a small portion of a section entitled "Vile."


Beth Murray


Fabric


here in the chest who will instruct?

in the branches who will locate motions?

however swift or slow,

several wheels turning trust

brass instruments blowing luck,

strings plucking faith have

inherited terrible violence around which

numbness injects unnoticed—

 

tumors too can be circles,

the path into curiosity, to ask

who are you?

sit quietly for what arises,

when the recesses of mind pop up,

there is a trembling in the bones in these moments

draw attention to this spot so that

other wayfarers know to

stop here, so that other

travelers holding offerings

are moved to give,

light dimming in what has fallen

tumor says,

 

I grow here to make bigger this

 

 

we are traveling

taking the thoughts back

‘the entire planet’ we say in our blessings

but inside the twitching there is no

boundary your gaze catches mine and we fall asleep knowing

until looking too closely

the space becomes difficult to see

the feeling of feeling is not the story of what happened

but the fabric that called you to your birth,

that decided you would meet  and

look with love beyond compromise –

who are you without years of counting?

who are you without breathing in the habitual direction?

waking to check–

the tumors are a voice speaking

the message of their own dissolving

and each message continues until

the waters of the tide fall in on it

under the continuity that cannot be

numbered upon which the bowl

is placed empty and all eat – in that continuity the blessing

that there will be others or there are others

blinking in the sunlight,

through the stillness of the diamond shapes

vibrating past orchestras and the witness of winds –

no more they shall blow you

 


Tightening

 

I first took lamb-soft leave,

my lungs tightening from

these years of interruption tethering

the loss of children,

the passing of my brother,

the leaving of lovers,

releasing the oh well,

to come to we require another—

 

do not let your desires run down,

as the body will clock it

a year or many later reading

the moment of abandoning desire

or accepting obstruction –

the end of the entire hallelujah, not a celebrated slicing

pomegranate, bitter food of winter’s darkness:

I will not carry forward these

dark secrets –

ask yourself where is the space?

the freedom, the light

let yourself into the lit room

find the others who have sought the light

            tumor says,

 

                        I  grow here to make bigger

                        the struggling part

                        when the voice is not big enough

                        grow in the throat to augment

 

before how hiding

want something else and cannot

in my dream house,

barely able to lift my arm

            tumor says,

 

I make bigger your lip

                        to hide the size of your teeth

 

so Olympian

under pressure of expectation

            tumor says,

 

                        when loved ones are troubled

I grow as breast to nurture them

 


 

Vile

 

my only hope Adriamyacin they said -

syringe of vile, red liquid in

sealed manila envelope with doctor’s orders, the nurse

opens in front of me, she will be paid a few dollars to sit on my bedside and

place her thumb on the syringe, slowly press, she says

“you should not see it move”

faster would strip my veins,

she explains they call this “pushing”

she will be paid a few dollars to sit slowly pushing

he will be paid $15,000 for signing the vile red liquid order,

starts every woman with breast tumors as large as mine on vile red liquid,

it takes much longer for her gloved hand to

patiently hold the syringe

the first time I’m curious, watch the syringe,

feel for some change in my blood

is it cold, metallic?

fifteen minutes later syringe empties, she tosses it in toxic waste bin

I get up to pee, wheeling my IV stand with me

pee is red – it’s gone in –

the next day pee stings

knows corroding, knows killing cells

this will kill only the fast growing ones they say

so stomach lining, so hair, so tumor –

within a month hair is falling

each morning black strands on the pillow

satin pillows my femme friend says

satin pulls hair the least

my mother sends two satin pillowcases

Devatara shows me satin magnetized blanket

with bright yellow Buddha toward which to direct

cancer pulled from my breast out fingers send to Buddha

Buddha-magnets will absorb, neutralize

blanket costs $150, it’s the

size of a crib blanket for a toddler who will not suckle here

satin pillows from mom are free

 

after first chemo cannot eat for days

wait for the day I can get into the water

swim in fishy, toxic bay to clear my head

fingers slip into the water with each stroke

send cancer out my arm into the water

Devatara says you must only use blanket to absorb it

I think, “the sea is big enough”

sea will neutralize –

next time sight of red syringe turns my stomach

I cannot look, belly reels with fatigue and dying cells

red syringe flashes—

 
I look forward to more of Beth's work.

Evelyn Reilly,
photo courtesy of Kevin Killian


Next up Evelyn Reilly read excerpts from Styrofoam and Apocalypso, both from Roof Books. Reilly's reading was lively, and in particular, I was struck by how much her writing is studded with language of our moment though it is also intertwined with a diction attached to the past such as in her references to Browning's "Childe Harold to the Dark Tower Came." Reilly's work is interested in the environmental, technology, the internet, science; she revels in linguistic play. Here's an excerpt from "Styrofoam," pulled from her website here.










 
from Styrofoam


Answer:  Styrofoam deathlessness
Question:  How long does it take?
 
& all the time singing in my throat 
little dead Greek lady
in your eternity.saddle
 
[hat: 59% Acrylic 41% Modacrylic
[ornamental trim: 24% Polyvinyl 76% Polyamide
 
holding a vial           
            enwrapped
 
Enter:  8,9,13,14,17-ethynyl-13-methyl-
7,8,9,11,12,14,15,16-octahydro-cyclopenta-diol
 
(aka environmental sources of hormonal activity
(side effects include tenderness, dizziness
 
                  and aberrations of the vision
            
                                 (oh please just pass the passout juice now!) 
 
Answer:  It is a misconception that materials
biodegrade in a meaningful timeframe
 
Answer:  Thought to be composters landfills
are actually vast mummifiers
 
                        of waste
 
                                                and waste’s companions                                          
                                               
                                    lo stunning all-color
 
heap-like & manifold.of 
 
foam 1 : a mass of fine bubbles on the surface of a liquid 
2 : a light cellular material resulting from the introduction
of gas during manufacture 3 : frothy saliva  4 : the SEA 
 
(lit.)
 
which can be molded into almost anything 
 
& cousin to.thingsartistic:
  
Kristen J
A low oven and a watchful eye turns bits
of used plastic meat trays into keychain ornaments.
 
Monica T
Soft and satisfying for infant teething if you first freeze.
posted 10/11/2007 at thriftyfun.com
 
hosted by FPPG the Foodservice Plastic Packaging Group
 
All this.formation
anddeformation
            
            & barely able to see sea
 
for the full poem visit Evelyn's website. 


Lastly, Evelyn read from Apocalypso, a book that continues her linguistic revelries, cast in shadow and humor, as in this piece, briefly excerpted here:

Apocalypso: A Comedy


And I became the Alpha
and the Omega

and my little dog too






Come and I'll show you what once
shall have taken place after this

forever and ever and ever, etc.

at which I took my glue gun
from its hipster holster

and twenty-four elders
began to sing:

Eight swimming creatures covered with eyes (state of the oceans, check)
Sixteen birds with sinister wings (state of the flyways, checkers)

But even the end of evolve, luv?        (I was down with the animals)

Then the twenty-four fell down:
clad in white garments
and wearing golden crowns


(this is the revised standard
sedition edition chapter four
verses one through ten

in which enumeration equals

a technique of calm


                            3 2 1 we are calm





So many pretty revels
in these devastation pictures

head as mollusk shell
whale with insect tail

and a twig become
a tiny musician
fingering a stringy box

(see Fall of the Rebel Angels
by Pieter Bruegel)

as I scan
my es-cat-a-logue

covering that part of language
concerned with reckoning
and the density destiny
of survivor species

For he poured his bowls of wrath on the earth
and a great star fell onto the rivers


For more, check out Evelyn's book:




















Next up was Renee Gladman. In her intro, Jocelyn referenced the SPT African American experimental literature conference she, Renee, and Giovanni Singleton worked on in the spring of 2000, citing it as her first conference ever and one of her seminal experiences while at Small Press Traffic.


Renee and Kevin Killian at ATA
photo by Aja Duncan

















Renee read from the third book in her The Ravickians series--Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge, newly out from the Dorothy Project, and then later from a manuscript in progress, a book of essays, called Calamities, because, Renee said, they fail.

I confess not having yet read the previous Ravickian books. Event Factory, The Ravickians, and now, Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge, are among many books awaiting time and space. I promise to clear the decks for them this summer as I was simply blown away by Renee's reading. I found her language to be roomy, roamy, expansive, deeply satisfying in its careful attention to thinking and thinking about thinking and living in writing, and doing it in a way that feels deeply important, weighty, enigmatic.  Examples will make clear what I as of yet cannot:

from Ana Patova:



I wrote this book in a circular home a hill, overlooking the city, which roams while we are sleeping; I wrote it in a café with my friends; I wrote it as I looked for hidden streets, while sitting in desolate and lush spaces. I wanted to say language leaves a trace, makes a simultaneous trail, of us and of the crisis. My walking leaves a trace, also my saying I have walked. And, this is important, because, though these marks do not render precisely the picture of our crisis, they do show where there are still people. The day fills up with monuments, and the book attempts to erect a fence around them. The book wishes to end a crisis by sheer fact of existing. But, rather than a History, the book becomes an index. It shuffles our bewilderment. It does not tell our story. It cannot do that. Nevertheless, it opens toward you. Tij.

                                       --Ana Patova
                                       Ravicka



Meanwhile, the eye witnesses the story
of what we were when we happened,
when the last person left and the first
person returned as if the same moment,
as if the inhale began in the exhale, that
first person leaving, who belonged to all
of us, and what we became in his
leaving: our reaching for our cups. We
were holding space and making space
through stillness, looking for structures
to reflect what we were seeing, which
was nothing. I wrote about buildings,
and for the first part of the crisis this
kept me occupied. I was holed up in my
home. I slept on the books I wrote, which
I'd glued between board and given
unassuming titles, like Slow and Tired, but
these books were my life's work; I knew
once I'd finished them I would never
write again; rather, I would not need to
write or live or sleep, it felt like. When I
changed my mind about this, when I
changed my mind--but, it was me and it
was L and it was Z. and B., and we were
all high on coffee and sometimes pills,
waiting for some storm to come, some
document from abroad.

I am eager for Gladman to publish Calamities. They too were thrilling and deeply satisfying. Visit Floor to read an excerpt. Gladman gave a talk "The Sentence as a Space for Living:Prose Architecture" as part of the University of California's Holloway Reading Series on March 13th that I did not learn about until after the fact. This is regrettable as I have a feeling I might have swooned. Hopefully, the Holloway Series folks will post a link on youtube soon! I can't wait.