Monday, March 12, 2007

Outstanding SOON reading this past Saturday with University of Denver alums Robert Strong (Robert was supposed to come last month, but there were seven feet of snow in his way), Karla Kelsey, and Karla's husband Peter Yumi, who for the last part of the reading collaborated with her by performing electronic music (which included in its many voices a riff from Celia Zukofsky's music for "A"-24) to accompany an excerpt from her remarkable new manuscript Iteration Nets, a sequence of sonnets that expand into prose poems in the second section which are then put under erasure in the third. Robert began the reading with his prose poem Brethren: Order of the Seasons, which had for the occasion taken the form of a sensuously beautiful chapbook published by Karla and Peter's Imprint Press. The poem follows the laboring lives of members of an intentional religious community; that plus Robert's having edited an anthology of spiritual poetry (from which he read selections by Emily Dickinson, Alan Dugan, and others) and having written a book of poems titled Puritan Spectacle has caused him to be asked in interviews, "What it's like, what are the challenges, in being a writer of faith?" Which as he wryly remarked, made him wonder what sorts of questions were asked of scholars and poets whose subject matter was drawn from study of the Third Reich. He and Karla complement each other wonderfully as readers: their charisma, which is considerable, comes from opposite valences—Robert comes out to meet you, Karla draws you in. Karla read some new work as well as the selection from Iteration Nets and from her mysterious and luminous meditation on Platonic epistemology, Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary. Hers is a fierce, flickery talent. It was a pleasure to hear them and to host them and to have breakfast with them.

If by chance you'll be in NYC next week on March 22 (my sister's birthday!), you should check out the reading that's being put on in honor of Robert's anthology, Joyful Noise, at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe at 7 PM. Sadly, I will not be there (I'll be spending spring break with family), but it's your chance to hear some of the book's most kick-ass living contributors (Kazim Ali, Frances Richard, Timothy Donnelly, Catherine Barnett, Karla Kelsey, Richard Greenfield, Jennifer Murphy, Joshua Moses, Leonard Gontareck, Danielle Dutton, Tara Moyle, and Nicole Collen) read their work.

And as long as I'm announcing things, Susan Tichy has asked me to spread the word about a course she's teaching through George Mason University, PoetryScotland, which entails writing and studying poetry all over Scotland. I'm tempted to do it myself, especially since a visit to Little Sparta is part of it.

ADDENDUM (3/14): Betsy Wheeler, the editor of Pilot, has alerted me to a Kelsey-Yumi collaboration that can be seen and heard on her site by clicking here.

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