Distribution Automatique

Monday, November 10

Last night, at the Zinc Bar,
Maryann Shaneen and
Nada Gordon "interviewed"
each other. For this
event these two excellent
writers created a new
form for poetry readings
(these sorts of events
could very well use an
innovation and these
two did it!) I
expected more of a
parodic experience, but this
did not happen at all.

After a long, respectful
introduction by Brendan
Lorber, Nada asked
Maryann a question.
"You are no
minimalist, thank
Goddesses ...Whence
this breathlessness,"
Nada asked, "do you
dislike limitation? Is
there any connection
between the
forward rush of your
writing and the
quality of your other
chosen medium, film?"

Maryann began
with a direct answer:
"Do I dislike,
limitation...if there is
one quality that defines
me to myself, it's my
dislike of limitation.
In the writing
it's related to a
everything being
too rich, too resonant
to be able to even get
out of the house in the
morning, it's why I am late
for everything...everything
is so filled with history
ithat it's overwhelming,
it's a mania, perhaps a
kind of autism, a way of
processing an oversensitivity
to stimuli, it's also a stance,
I suppose, in a world
based on homogenization
and depletion of
and species. I want the plethora,
it's an urgency-
writing is a place to contain
mania and to layer and layer...
but I also wanted to slow it
down which is
why I moved away from poetry
to prose... The
breathlessness comes
from the frustration with the
medium itself, having to
write one word at a time,
to read line by line, page
by page, the utter linearity
of writing, I want to disrupt
that but thematically
not formally. I want to introduce
layer upon layer
and superimpose and disturb
things thematically
and conceptually...I'm not
really going to address the
film issue...what I'm not doing
in my prose I try to
do in film...people have called
my writing obsessive...
as in being haunted...or possessed
by an evil spirit...
an insistence beyond reading...
Drew said about poetry and activism...
writing as a form of exorcism...a purging
of the relentlessness
with which information
and ideas assault and bombard
but also
as a light, being overwhelmed
by the
knowledge that I can't know,
read and
say everything and a way of
that urgency...I want to instill
the work with
a similar kind of urgency and
overwhelm and
to reorder it into another
form of chaos or
something that can't be controlled
or tamed
and this is also a stance
an overprocessed, over refined
against the fashionable
over determined
formal or procedural
constraints of
writing...there are multiple
streams of
information...the breathlessness
is a form
of addressing fear...afraid of having
my access to information

Then she read from a
terrific piece called

Douglas Rothschild then
asked Nada
to repeat her question
to Marianne.

Then Marianne asked
Nada a question:
"Your writing I see as
varying between being
unapologetically feminine,
unafraid of lush feminine
vulnerability, sincerity,
and male irony,
defiance and formalism.
I want you to address
that and to
talk about the role
and the need
for the ornate
and opulent in your work
and I see one of the most
and engaging aspects
of your work
as the tension and movement
between its emotionality and its
awareness of formalism. And talk
about the
brilliant term you coined:

False dichotomies:
no simple binaries please,
I rear up at these, taxonomic
nonsense separating out
qualities for fear of identification
with what might be deemed weak:
vulnerability and irony, sincerity,
and defiance, fragility and formalism
not mutually exclusive, intertwined,
interpenetrating, kind of like snails,
and codependent.
with Aphrodite in the center,
she helps
me to smudge the chalk at the
boundaries of the two worlds
and then
what's contained in either
can spill
in and over. Being hermaphrodite
also allows me to objectify women to
the point I can keep my own harem:

Marianne: Am I in it?

Nada: Of course. I'm not sure
but I think this can be a form
of table turning or power grabbing,
revenge for the centuries of oppression
that infect my gender memory. When I
say harem I mean my poems, they
are more seraglio to me
than any kind of usable
or tradable cultural capital.
At once emotional
chattel and dowery,
to me poems are
odalisques, women:
bodacious, inscrutable,
frustrated, querelous,
seductive, languorous,
fragrant, manipulable,
manipulative, hard to
understand, easy to please.
[some laughter and joking
from the audience at this]

Then she read one of her
snappy, thought-provoking,
beautiful poems.

After the break, the performance
was to continue,
but unfortunately
a musical performance
in the
adjoining bar began
so their presentation
had to
stop at that point.
The rapt audience
however, was left
stimulated, excited and
craving more from these two
charismatic poets.

I hope Nada Gordon and Marianne Shaneen
can be convinced to repeat this unique and
exciting performance-work again soon
so that others can enjoy and benefit.