Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Belated SOON report: Aaron Kiely and Kish Song Bear rocked the proverbial house on Saturday. Aaron's work uses subtle interlacing webs of repetition toward political-poetical ends: he made me think of Stein plus Gandhi, with a little punk rock flavor thrown in. Here's the poem that our own Aaron (who's getting hitched this Saturday!) reproduced on his usual beautiful broadside:
Monday Morning Poem

Oh yeah,

Fuck War.

Fuck War Forever.
Any War.
Forever and Always.
Without exception
til the end of Time,
Fuck War.

Fuck War and Its Defenders
and Rationalizers
and Explainers
til the end of time.

Fuck War and its Zombie Parots forever.
Blunt, simplistic even, yet memorable—he read a longer version that was even better in my opinion, engaging the reader/listener: words to the effect of, "And if you've ever rationalized a war, any war, any just war / Fuck you." This is all conveyed with the sweetest imaginable affect and gentleness, like a precocious child. His partner Kish Song Bear had a slyer faux naif persona: her background's in theater and her poems often have a surreal narrative quality to them. Not what's usually meant by surreal in the American context—the surreal of dreamlike juxtaposition—but rather narratives that startle even as they pull you in through their apparent coherence. I wish I could reproduce here an amazing prose poem she wrote about Oprah and Katie Holmes and Katie Holmes' ass, but maybe more typical is her broadside poem:
The Person I Love Is Distant (Because I Love Someone Else)

How do you say "straightjacket"
in Japanese? Would James Bond?
Dear Octopussy,
I have one glass eye. Meanwhile, I'm a marvel
with a chainsaw and one eye came loose
because it's just a marble. It's easier to crack
two nuts together than each separately.
Dear Dr. No,
what are you going to do with that cold slab
of meat and all them eggs? I take my hardcover
on and off. Dr. Yes, I'm never sure what story
I'm telling. I'm waiting for a filing cabinet.
You know what I'm going to say
to the person at the box office?
She read this and other poems with an air of ironic kittenishness—both readings were very sexy in their different ways, Aaron through a kind of potently straightforward vulnerability, Kish through reflecting on feminine objectivity and the objectification of the feminine. Don't miss a chance to hear them if they come to your town. And don't miss, wherever you happen to be, next month's reading (July 15), which will miraculously feature two of my closest friends in or out of the poetry world: Richard Greenfield and Brian Teare.

Meeting folks report: G.C. Waldrep came through town yesterday and we had an enjoyable long lunch together talking poetry and pastoral and whatnot. I think we have interestingly complementary but not exactly congruent aesthetics. I hear his manuscript Archicembalo has won the PSA's Alice di Fay Castagnola Award, and good for him: it's remarkable work.

Dissertation report: Officially began writing the RJ chapter yesterday. Today not much progress but I am immersed in what little critical writing there is. Rachel Blau Du Plessis' essay in the first issue of Facture (is that magazine still in production?) is particularly brilliant; Eric Selinger's "ARK as a Garden of Revelation" has also been very useful to me.

Weather report: After days of unseasonable grayness and cold, today brilliant sun and just enough clouds.

Extracurricular reading report: Jonathan Raban's Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings. I love a good nautical yarn.

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