Stacy Doris and Katie Degentesh at the Bowery Poetry Club, Saturday March 13, 2010
The "Segue Series", sponsored by the Segue Foundation which includes Roof Books, goes back to 1977 at the Ear Inn, making it just 33 years old. Can you believe that Nada Gordon and Gary Sullivan have been curating it for two months every year for 10 years now? Anyway (which was the name of the restaurant a few of us went out to tonight after the reading) Gary and Nada have every reason to be proud, for tonight's offering was totally memorable.
At one point early in her reading, Stacy called for a martini which was soon supplied by publisher James Sherry. Someone shouted out, "now that's a publisher!" Instant applause and well, I had to put my hands together to agree. The mood of elegance was instantly set, but Stacy did not really need this particular detail to supply it. Later, Stacy mentioned that she had promised herself to learn German by the age of 40. Of course she should learn German: she is our poetry Marlene Dietrich , no doubt about that. Stacy could have sat there sipping her drink as the whole show, it wouldn't matter. At this point, we all had an instant lesson in what hipness is, could or should be. Stacy misses New York, and New York completely misses her. By the way, she also read some terrific work. First, a manifesto (strangely, and perhaps one day famously, refused by MOMA), then a guide to psychic nutrition (evidently one of her many talents), but also what she described, jokingly, I think, as a translation of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. There's the German again, but we should say, the European again, for, as we know, France is Stacy's second home, in which language some of her work has been written and published, Greece perhaps her third, San Francisco being her current place of teaching work and family life. The third work, for me, the "Hegelian" one, actually pleasurably reminded me of Bernadette Mayer's masterpiece Studying Hunger. Stacy Doris' "Phenomenology" is just that, taking you tellingly, and secretly inside everyday thought and feeling, but within a rhythmic style of literary syncopation that gently walks the listener/reader through internal experience in a vivid novelistic, cinematic way, reminiscent for me of Antonioni's early trilogy, that included L'Aventura. Stacy Doris as Monica Vitti? Easily, very easily, says I. As Stacy Doris writes in her (2000) book Conference: ""What the movie taught me: Time's an enchantment. Refusal never stops, and memory's its opposite. Memory whisks us away, sweeps us off and beyond. The art of living in time where there is none is memory."
Speaking of Monica Vitti (if some of my readers are too young for that reference) I don't know who to suggest for the next reader Katie Degentesh. Toni suggested Pris in Blade Runner (played by Daryl Hannah in 1982). Oh, where are the film makers in the poetry scene? You missed your big chance tonight, or maybe not. Abigail Child, as far as I know is still in Rome, working on her project for her Prix de Rome. Henry Hills filmed the poetry scene back in the 70's with a film called (Money). Did you ever see Alan Davies, James Sherry and Diane Ward in that one? Well, tonight's offering by these two poets reminded everyone who luckily forced themselves through a movie-sized rain storm (Ann Tardos described it to me as passionate) to see and hear these two show us what the word charisma rmeans. (At dinner, later on, James Sherry pointed out what fine performers Nada Gordon and Gary Sullivan have become on the BPC stage as emcees.)
Katie Degentesh's latest book was called The Anger Scale, a flarf work that combines googling with material taken from a psychology test by the same name ("I feel as if I am being plotted against/and the only real way out of it for me/would be pregnancy"; "I feel there is no other alternative than to/pretend to despise you, yet long for your touch."). However she does it, Katie D is a poetry magician, an alchemist who is able to turn the detritus of everyday life into poetry gold. She explained, after reading a few works from the Anger Scale book, that her current work employs a survey using the question "What do you like about sex?" Katie Degentesh's Sex in the City is not very much like the tv series, which this blogger loved, by the way. KD's answers included a boy that is transformed into an owl or a bat, and a girl who likes sex because she likes to get presents, and someone else who liked sex to keep warm; Katie Degentesh's recent poems are small treasures of metamorphosis; part surrealist, part flarf, but also something all its own that challenges whatever we thought poetry could be and be about, a crucial factor that other flarf poets keep reminding us of. Didn't a poet say, "What does not change/ Is the will to change"? This is what the poetry avant-guard, at its best, has shocked and surprised us with in the past. Real change is possible, and very welcome. As the Segue Series has shown us once again, tonight, at the BPC, and, in this instance, with much charm, elegance and style.
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Tomorrow: My Garden Pets Emilie Clark at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Stenhardt Conservatory Garden Opening Reception: Sunday, March 14, 1-3pm.
Show continues through Monday May 31
"Artist Emilie Clark's exhibition at Brooklyn Botanic Garden was inspired by the 19th century natural scientist Mary Treat, an expert on carnivorous plants and the relationships between plants and insects. Based on the artist's research on Treat in BBG's Rare Book Room and her observations in the Garden, this conceptually-based installation includes paintings, works on paper, archival letters, and plant samples, as well as a mapping of Treat's correspondence with such liminaries as Charles Darwin and Asa Gray, who admired and cited her work."
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Rick Snyder's Escape from Combray