July 10th, 2008


Hot Ottawa Voice, Tree reading

It takes a composed mind to make a composed image and since we were reading the feature set as Hot Ottawa Voices (as upcoming poets without a trade collection), nerves meant I wasn't taking any photos.

This week Mike Blouin read from his intriguing new series on the life of Johnny Cash and two other fellas, not including the ghosts, which practical country folks who don't broker nonsense, believe in. Jim Larwill sang some poets and had his new chapbooks on hand. Claudia Coutu Radmore shared more of her revisioning of Christ in modern context, in one case in black boots, black gloves and riding the subway. Marcus McCann read 2 from his chapbook, which still has a few copies left if you act soon. Don Office, Rod Pederson, and at least one other lady (whose name will come back to me any minute now) were also in the open mic on Tuesday's Tree.

We each had 10-15 minutes to read, a fairly long chunk of time to think about in advance but it went quickly. Amanda read from the last half of her chapbook The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman, getting laughs peppered thruout the litany of lovers for her comic pivots and timing. I read from a mixture of various manuscripts, (tangentially) trains and fur and a sestina that had as end rhymes (very slant) regret and duodenum and a few from the chapbook from last year (Better Ways to go than by Aspartame). Roland read dramatically from his Metafizz, Whack of Clouds and treated us to some new stuff in the works for a new chapbook.

People were really encouraging. It's such a warm community of friendly people. The new venue is an airy cafe seating room, pin-drop quiet (bring pins, conversations usually well-stocked) and with a concession stand of snacks and drinks in room.

It was a good night, as Tree tends to be. (The next one in two week, a mid-summer's tree falling a little later than usual, all open-mic night.)

Lit links: The poet/translator with the pen name Red Pine

konkrete & seeds

Quote: "The constellation, the word-group, replaces the verse. Instead of syntax it is sufficient to allow two, three or more words to achieve their full effect. They seem on the surface without interrelation and sprinkled at random by careless hand, but looked at more closely, they become the center of a field of force and define a certain scope. In finding, selecting and putting down these words (the poet) creates “thought-objects” and leave the task of association to the reader, who becomes a collaborator and, in a sense, the completer of the poem."
– Eugen Gomringer, 1951, via Kinetext, dynamic typography, p. 20-25

Happy squee. I got 2 more books in the mail:

1) konkrete poesie anthogie by eugen gomringer, (reprinted by philipp reclam's universal-bibliothek, 1980, from the 1950s and 1960s)

Such lovely poems. So many fresh ways with text, such as this by Heinz Gappmeyr

w ↑ e ↑ i ↑ s ↑ s

Don't know if his poem is about winter weather or race relations; I first mistranslated with "my german" as meaning,

w ← e ← s ← t

Also in the anthology with gomringer (ooh, lovely stuff), helmut heiBenbüttel, ernst janl (who particularly piqued too), friedrich achleitner, max bense who wrote


beautiful simplicity and suggestion of ode to the star, kingly, the river of milky way, the golden stars, the black river of night, the cycle of music of the cosmos.

Claus bremer, reinhard döhl, kurt marti, hansjörg mayer (nummy negative space), franz mon, diter rot, gerhard rühm (sweet sound transformations), konrad balder schäuffelen, andré thomkins, timm ulrichs and wolf wezel (minimal butes),

So much makes me laugh aloud in surprise and what constellations arise.

2) Incessant Seeds (Pavement press, 2005) by Sheila E. Murphy which are these continual rolling sentences, 14 syllables per line, 14 lines per page, each hooking forward to rest and each almost self contained, each line, each page. To carve out a sample, cuts the ties in either direction but here's a taste,

Threads of reflex conversation, meanwhile clay birds are shot
From stressed-appearing trees taut with lines pointing away
Streetlamps part of the mood, part of the art acquiring
Context for itself de facto static underpinned by
Cortex that includes baked bread, say it with me, say it now...
Outcomes reverse-revere, thus we succumb to permanence
Before it has to matter, the most fun receptors quake
With what they have received, prosperity induces reading
Poverty does not, war induces bleeding, peace does not
In general the party line is lined with principles
[...]By being what we were in contexts that now seem benign
And out of synch and perfectly imaginary falls
From grace, of realismo propped up by religious voice

Love the pivots and sharp specifics, the way things are cinched inside lines and then widened more by enjambments to embrace next line. Leaves one rather breathless if going too fast. Is the book not worth reading for Outcomes reverse-revere, thus we succumb to permanence? That line alone slays me still. The cortex that includes baked bread. These sensory things that don't even register consciously but influence, such as the scent of vanilla, or yeast, some timbre in tone that resonates way back in the brain fixing the new data to be more liked or less based on nothing in the here and now and logical.

Our brain stems are parasites that hijack higher functions and actions and the way we narrate ourselves into a context for incidentals of the built environment, imploding and projecting significances, "outcomes reverse-revere", retroactively overwriting how it must have been all along.

All this and still basking, taking slow as I can Cometology by Stephen Brockwell. It has an incessant pulling forward line to line to poem to poem. Some feel private, a delicate sharing, like it would be uncouth to repeat. Each section is so distinct but to pick? From where I am, Compulsive in the Public Library, 6, p. 56,

The Minister of Compulsion
hold two steel ornaments ––
jetliners --   from the hood of what old car?
       flies over the pages
                  matching an image of a woman
                              to a photograph from film
flips through Kubrick, reduced to a black and white
                  removes a loose page

I am still in Among These Waters by Mary O'Donoghue from County Clare,

From the latter, p. 34, Ruckus of the flamenco dancer

Her lips are rioja colour,
a savage foliage.
Then their meanderous
ping-twang strumming
picks up, chases itself
to a frenzy, and her elbows
propel her into their smell:
drink-spill, wet patches tacked
to their shirts by stiff nipples.
Her back shawl is flock
of crows, darting, flitting
disappearing in the birl

And still in Dead Cars in Managua by Stuart Ross, Sample from p. 40 in 14. Rock and Roll

When Barry McGuire
says "Coagulatin',"
my blood coagulates.
I tell the doctor this.
He looks at me.
and I'm mist on the mirror.

Discipline is hard when it means pausing.