Monday, May 02, 2005

I am sitting in the kitchen of what may be the most remarkable house I'ver ever spent the night in: the house of Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop in Providence, Rhode Island. Friday I drove from Ithaca to Boston to see some old college friends (including upyernoz) who live there and most especially to see Eric Brenner, a onetime member of the Vassar College chorus who now sings as part of the world-famous a capella group Chanticleer. What a thrill to see an old friend live his dream: they gave a stunning performance at Boston's Jordan Hall. Saturday we hung out, saw a matinee of the serviceable adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and played Cheapass Games. Sunday I drove down to Providence to meet the man behind Spineless Books, William Gillespie.

It's been quite a ride. William is currently housesitting for the Waldrops, which is to say he's watching over one of the most astonishing libraries of modernist and avant-garde literature that I've ever seen. EVERY WALL is covered with books or the paintings and collages of Keith. The poetry room makes a strong man weep for the rare and remarkable books it's casually crammed with. I've finally read Ron Silliman's Nox, which has a quadrant schema similar to that of Fourier Series. I read part of Edward Dorn's The North Atlantic Turbine. There's a first edition of Some Trees, a beautiful oversized hardcover of Olson's poems titled Archaeologist of Morning, everything Robert Duncan every published, the original paperback of Creeley's Pieces... I could go on and on. And that's not even to mention the fiction room in the basement where I'm bunking, or the stacks of French and German books on the second floor. Plus of course the house is headquarters for Burning Deck and everything they've ever published is in the basement, along with an old-fashioned letterpress that looks like it was made in the eighteenth century. What a privilege just to poke around inside, let alone stay here. And then there's the privilege of hanging out with my kind and erudite host and his girlfriend Lorian. After a delicious dinner and doing some recording of parts of Fourier Series we headed over to the Brown campus to do William's radio show, Eclectic Seizure. Pretty soon there should be an archive of the show available online where you can hear us spinning discs and reading poetry: in addition to a large chunk of my own work we read stuff by Joseph Ceravolo (a stunning performance by William, with sound effects), Veronica Forrest-Thomson, Robert Herrick, Bernadette Mayer (courtesy of Lorian), and others. A very late night. I'm staying on another day to hang out in Providence (a much more attractive city than the one I remember from my visits in the early nineties), poke around the book collection, chat with William, read a little, and go to a Brown MFA reading tonight. Tomorrow morning the copies of Fourier Series are supposed to arrive from the printer and I'll take a box of 'em home with me. If you've ordered a copy, it will be on its way to you pretty soon. If you haven't ordered a copy, the time to act is now!

What with all this activity I haven't yet had a chance to meditate properly on the comments of Reginald Shepherd, below, or Jordan's impassioned response to them. The question of author vs. work, culture vs. context, dancer vs. dance is very much on Williams' mind too, and we've been having some interesting conversation about it. More on this topic when me and my fifty copies of FS are safe in Ithaca.

1 comment:

shanna said...


Popular Posts