Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bolgarian Pole Vaulters Press

You should only touch poetry books when you have your skeleton gloves on:

I'm back from AWP.

But first, let me just say my roommate is watching the Superbowl right now and Tom Petty is playing live. This is probably the best thing that has ever happened to football.

Now let me back up a bit. I did make it to the Peter Gizzi and Aleksandr Skidan reading last Monday (A & B series). Gizzi read from his last three books(thank you Wesleyan University Press), so it was a varied but totally solid reading. And apparently Skidan is the hot shit of Russian poets. But you know, my Russian is a bit rusty so I wait for Ugly Duckling Presse to translate the wunderkinds of Russia and then, well, buy the books, such as Skidan's Red Shifting, translated by Genya Turovskaya. Blurbs go like this:

"To read a book this fierce, this honest, to disappear into these beautiful, wrecked songs—and to disappear 'more fully' precisely because they question 'the idea of the wrecked song'—is a singular, moving experience. The poems in Red Shifting, translated beautifully by Genya Turovskaya, display a near-physical, wounding intelligence, an intelligence unflinchingly aware of what it means to think history's recklessness."

— Christian Hawkey

"Anyone interested in the vital pulse of contemporary Russian poetry will be richly rewarded by this expertly translated selection of Aleksandr Skidan's work. It is visionary and transgressive, erotic and Corybantic, ancient and immediate, and 'it strikes suddenly/like a crooked needle in the heart.' "

— Michael Palmer

Anyways, it's crazy, for example:

But these dances by the fire fire
incineration swarming
play above the ancestral skirmish
funeral gathering for the idle urn
unicorn pyromaniac mephisto
"the library is essentially a den of vice
even the Alexandrian hetaerae
like bread-and-butter or a book
but they are too in the habit of falling face down
or opening on a piquant place
and in each contemptible letter of the
paternal alphabet our dropsical god lives
and devours that which is tastiest
as the worm devours the spiritual of deep red lips"


1) "dances by the fire fire"
2) "urn / unicorn
3) "in the habit of falling face down"
4) "dropsical"

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = WTF!

That's my review.

You can buy it here:

Look for a review/interview with Skidan in the next issue of The Forward.

I think the highlight of the readings this week was the reading in Greenpoint featuring:

CD Wright
Eleni Sikelianos
Graham Foust
Joyelle McSweeney
Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Julie Doxsee
Max Winter
Adam Clay
Zachary Schomburg
Morgan Lucas Schuldt
Lily Brown
Rauan Klassnik
Cindy Savett
Jon Thompson
Melanie Hubbard

I kind of fell in love with Eleni Sikelianos. She explained the project she was reading from a bit, which I appreciated since there were hand written notes and drawings involved. And she sounded humble but entirely assured.

Eleni, cutting open the rubberball to save the babybird:

Doxsee, turning single chairs into love seats:

Foust, breathing out water to feed the narwhal:

Justin Marks, two-headed and feathered:

And partly what made the reading so special was how many people showed up. On time. And stayed until the final throws of ecstasy. All the way in Greenpoint.
The Masses the Masses!:

Giant-haired poetry fan:

Friday I went to the Bowery and listened to people such as Forrest Gander, Anthony Hawley, Elizabeth Willis, Mei Mei. Oh man, that was killer. Worth the water in my shoes and the rain in my coat pockets that I acquired while walking to this reading through the storm.
Counterpath press (& baby):


Actually, I wrote a lot during this reading. I feel like I might have an idea of where I'm going right now. I spent the last few months feeling too tired/overwhelmed to figure out how some of the notes I've been writing down can actually fit together, build on each other, explode into your face. I think I might be writing a really long poem with shorter lines than how my brain usually thinks. It will involve a lot of "house" and "fever" and "ash" and somehow I need to figure out how to make the "you" not feel like someone other than you but at the same time, I also don't want you to feel like you. I want you to feel like the tree's outline, your brother's glasses, a kidney in a metal pan, between body transplants. The only face in my house is your fever. But right now I think I need to write out the more insular pieces.
I started walking around taking photos of small presses I dig but luckily my camera died before I embarrassed myself further than this:

Diagram/New Michigan Press:

Black Ocean:

The man behind Copper Nickel:

I went back to the same restaurant 2 nights in a row because they have delicious samosas and My Mom Special:

Ok, I did not try the My Mom Special. Next time.

Billy Collins Sighting:

Tomorrow night I'm going to go through the books and journals I picked up. I really didn't come back with that many and now I'm a bit regretful.


Jess said...

I suspect that giant haired poetry fan might be one Andrew Hughes.

Andrew said...

Sorry to disappoint Jess, but I cut my hair. - A

Julia Cohen said...

jess's beard comes off, andrew's hair comes off. poetry is so bald these days. sigh.