Monday, October 31, 2005

Link of the week

Photo from Hickock's website
This week's prize goes to Elizabeth Hickock of San Fransisco for her JELLO scale model of San Fransico. Yes, she made evey building in Jello. Oh, and do check out the little earthquake video that goes with it. Very funny.

Day in the Life of Brooklyn

Too exhausted for words yesterday, and so I went for a walk in my hood and partook of a spiced pumpkin latte from a certain upstart coffee bar known to all. This is part of what I saw....ah, Brooklyn. Gotta love it. Click here for slideshow.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Overheard dialogue of the week

Students discussing a certain Rutgers Poli Sci Professor:

“So, every week we read a little bit more about Kant and then we talk, and she riffs, or she riffs, and we talk. Then she goes back to her Kant reading group in the city which she has been going to for like, years, and then the following week we meet again and discuss more Kant… She’s been reading the ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ for over a decade and you know, she’s still thinking about it. I think she tries out her ideas on us, and we respond. It’s the coolest thing…”

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rousseau's Boat: Lisa Robertson & the Craft of Boat Building

Published last year from Nomados, and the winner of the bp Nichol Chapbook award, Lisa Robertson’s Rousseau’s Boat, is a meditation on solitude and walking. More than any other art form of our time, it seems to me that poetry has something urgent to impart to our production—or at least consumption—obsessed times: how to be alone. How to appreciate the world without owning it; how to walk; how to listen; how to see; how to make appreciation an art form. It would be difficult to assess the relative levels of consciousness or “success” around this question. Suffice to say that some poets are more crafty than others in terms of their ability to impart this wisdom. Possibly this is because some recreate the experience, allow the reader to enter into and see for his or herself what this free floating glory in existence might feel like. Experiential comes to mind, experiencing rather than admonishing.

Lisa Robertson, I would argue, is one of the more successful (Erin Mouré, Tim Lilburn, Anne Carson being a few other great examples). To step into her beautifully crafted sentences is to slip into a boat, alone, and venture out onto a lake on a slightly breezy afternoon—an afternoon with the possibility of a storm lurking, an afternoon not without its chop. It’s this lyric foundation, the “sureness”, the “aloofness” of it, that I find so appealing. The poems are not “about” the lyric, or the I (the music or the self), rather the lyric, or the self, is the boat, that which sustains/contains the poem. The poem is a flight of fancy. Other poets make the poem about the “lyric” and “the I” out in the world observing, enduring, commenting...not so with Robertson.

But more complex than that, too. Reading Robertson is not unlike staring at a Bridget Riley painting: it can be alarmingly three-dimensional. One might, after a lengthy read, have sea legs. From the Nomados website:
The ebb and flow of this water, its ongoing sound swelling with vibration that set adrift my outer senses, rhythmically took the place of the strong emotions my dreaminess had calmed, and I felt in myself so pleasurably and effortlessly the sensation of existing, without troubling to think.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Of course there is a lot of thinking going on in the boat, and a lot of seamless sentences woven to create the kind of buoyancy present in all of Robertson’s work. The sheer beauty of them always astounds me:
Rain buckles into my mouth.
If pressed to account for strangeness and resistance, I can’t.
I’m speaking here for dogs and rusting ducts venting steam/into rain.
(Roberston 21)
These are not unlike the simple declarative sentences of The Weather (which I wrote on for HOW2), though less ecstatic than those of Debbie an Epic. They are somehow sharper, more singular, and as the very thoughtful reviewer in Jacket points out, they amplify the project. Again, I think of Bridget Riley.

Would that I had more time to spend in reverie, or in Robertson, myself…but the more practical duties of grading beckon. Consider this part one. I’m reading Robertson in conjunction with Anne Carson at the moment, and will be posting on Decreation sometime in the next few days, and perhaps I will have a few more coherent thoughts on Robertson by then.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Quote of the day

About Mrs. Dalloway: "The only good thing to say about this "literary" drivel is that the person responsible, Virginia Woolf, has been dead for quite some time now. Let us pray to God she stays that way."

Well, at least the book made it onto the list of Time Magazine’s 100 all time best novels.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

More meat

People have been asking me about the Meat Painter. Does he really exist? Does he really paint meat? Would I lie to you? Aren’t poets morally obligated to tell the truth? Well, yes, yes, and no: yes, the meat painter exists, yes he paints meat, yes, I try to lie as much as I can, and no we are not morally obligated to do much of anything. Mike Geno is in fact the meat guy and here for your perusal is the meat menu. He has since moved on to Sock Monkeys (which do warrant capital letters if you ask me), but I have no poems about the sock monkeys. To read the poem about the meat painter please visit Greenboathouse. And buy a book when you get there!  

Literary Insight of the Week

"Oh, she's pretty sarcastic. But think of her situation." So says Atwood of Penelope in the newly published Penelopiade, which I will flex my credit card muscle in purchasing this week and get back to you on. It’s this marketing ploy that’s of interest to me. Books of ideas, theories, history, and now myth have appeared in bite sized portions, designed, I’m guessing to get a new generation of readers interested in the idea of classics, but more importantly the concept of “collecting” and “matching books” on shelves. A lovely decorating idea if nothing else. I’m all for this. Get out the designers, lets make books the size of iPods, and if possible, market lines of hip-hop coloured shelves the shape of CD racks. I’m thinking a little lava lamp and a well chosen font and mama Atwood is going to bring it on home… I can see those dorm rooms transforming as I write this… Kaching.

Sheila Heti

Here’s a quirky little link. Sheila Heti blazed into the spotlight with The Middle Stories, a wonderful collection of fable-like prose pieces a la Lydia Davis, or Diane Williams, or dare-I-say, Sheila Heti-ish, first published by McSweeney’s. She’s a Canadian original, a breathe of fresh air in a land of prose paralyzed by Alice Munro. Nothing against Alice Munro, the reigning Queen of exposition and insight and I adore her and her work, but there’s more to narrative than she has mustered and I’m sure she’d be the first to say so. However, loosening the stranglehold of what passes for prose north of the 49th has been a difficult undertaking. Sheila Heti has helped lubricate those expectations thank you very much. (Nicole Brossard, Daphne Marlatt, Gail Scott and others have been pushing at those boundaries for years, yes, I know, but Heti, and now others such as Alayna Munce for example, are moving in a slightly different direction…)

Who knows what will happen next? The little offering Heti offers up on her own site shows just how edgy she really is. Yes, she has now published a “real” novel with Ticknor—and quite a feat it is—but she is an innovator, and she is a risk taker (Blame it on that theatre training, or Montreal, or both…). Check out Temperance.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Life Hackers

Intriguing piece on multi-tasking and interruptions in the workplace in this weekend’s NY Times Magazine featuring one Professor Gloria Mark and her work on soft technology.
When Mark crunched the data, a picture of 21st-century office work emerged that was, she says, "far worse than I could ever have imagined." Each employee spent only 11 minutes on any given project before being interrupted and whisked off to do something else. What's more, each 11-minute project was itself fragmented into even shorter three-minute tasks, like answering e-mail messages, reading a Web page or working on a spreadsheet. And each time a worker was distracted from a task, it would take, on average, 25 minutes to return to that task. To perform an office job today, it seems, your attention must skip like a stone across water all day long, touching down only periodically.
As a chronic multi-tasker, even pre-hi-tech workplace, I have to say that I share some of the habits researchers found many of the most prolific and nerdiest geeks shared. One, I use my email as a day timer. Anything of import, anything that needs filing, printing, etc., goes there first. And two, I simplify by using only one media program, one music program, and no other repetitive devices such as palm pilots, ipods etc. She who understands bookmarking has a leg up. I try to only do things once. I love multi-tasking, but not “repetitive tasking”.

Having said that, I’ve noticed a certain amount of techno-fatigue since acquiring my new laptop, setting everything up, working out the bugs. Wireless is a real drain. Recently I noticed something I’m calling “lost folds”. Information gets folded into our systems, but inefficient filing and updating, especially when one upgrades systems, leaves one susceptible to whole slices of one’s work/life being lost. As strange as the methods we use to acquire information these days, are the ways we lose it. Strange swaths of information and experience lopped off. Random. Seamless.

Grandmothers arrested outside Army Recruiting Offices

Didn't find this item in the NY Times, but it was the headline story for Canada's Globe and Mail as of 3:40 pm, this fine Tuesday, October 17th. There's something wonderful about grandmothers out there protesting. It almost breaks through the thick shellac of "doesn't matter what we do, they won't stop clear cutting till the old growth is gone, and they won't stop war till their assets are secured...".

Erin Moure and Daniel MacIvor up for GG Awards

Erin Moure nominated for Little Theatres! You can find one of my favourite poems from the collection on an earlier post. It's a fabulous book and a well-deserved nomination.

I haven't seen or read MacIvor's latest play, but he has produced some excellent, innovative theater and House remains a favourite one-man show. In fact we're reading it right now in my playwriting workshop.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I had to go back and see the rest of Candice Breitz's show at Sonnabend this weekend as I had somehow completely missed both Mother and Father. This isn't difficult to do as it's dark in the room and you can't see that there's another room, and then once you're in Mother, it's entirely possible to miss Father, which is in another room off of that room. But I did see it, and I wasn't disappointed, having, as I do, an obsession with mothers and their portrayal in drama and film. Here, Breitz puts popular representations of motherhood to great affect. And she doesn't simply re-portray the roles, she fragments and collages, forcing meaning to emerge in shifting images. It's so disturbing to watchthe women parade through all the usual tropes: victim mother, evil mother, goddess mother, selfless mother--mother as abandoner etc. Streep (Kramer vs. Kramer), Sarandon and Keaton are great, but it's the bookends of Dunaway doing Joan Crawford and Shirley Maclaine doing Shirley Maclaine that nail it.
Here we have Maclaine doing her worst. She really comes off, as does Crawford, as a kind of raging drag queen, at once narcissistic and vengeful. More on this...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Edward Burtynsky & Robert Smithson

Smithson at the Whitney
Everyone is talking about Edward Burtynsky, and for good reason. Not since Robert Smithson has an artist altered our view of the world so dramatically. Burtynsky first came to my attention in Granta a few years back. His large-scale photographs of mine tailings and pods of abandoned, rusted ships along side photos of railway cut lines in the Fraser Canyon mirrored a life long fascination with the interface of heavy equipment and landscape. How roads slice their way through forests revealing so surgically, the medians rippling like the rough edges of skin after stitches. We are so divorced from the impact of these very basic physical intersections. These can seem benign, but as Burtynsky shows us, they are most often not. And particularly in our time, they reveal not only mass wounding, but also the poison of excess.

Burtysnksy seemed to come out of nowhere. Smithson on the other hand, is an artist who seems so fundamentally present to me that I made the mistake of assuming I knew and understood his work by osmosis. I wasn’t prepared to be as surprised and delighted as I was. The Whitney show draws attention to the multi-faceted and wholly instinctive nature of his engagement with the world. A non-academic artist who grew up in New Jersey, Smithson reacted to the space around him, making visible the waste sites and urging others to use them, to reclaim them. It also shows how varied an artist he was, and how important writing was to him. (I can’t wait to get into some of his essays, and there are several collected writings…). Finally, it shows how important he was in terms of shaping, not only the whole earth artist movement, but how we think of our physical surroundings. Coming from a state with the largest number of super fund sites in the US one can see just how urgent his work was/is.

This seems to be what Burtynsky is doing in his work in China. Introducing us to a country growing much more rapidly than even we in the west, with our suburban-drenched notions of development, can imagine. The growth in China promises to dwarf that of industrialized North America—both in quantity and in physical transformation. There are 32 dams being built aside from the
Three Gorges Project, which Burtynsky has been photographing over the years. As he points out, “The roads and highways now being built within its borders could circle the equator seven times.” One wonders what one has always wondered about the impact of China’s population alone, without the impact of this rapid industrialization. Yes, industry continues to arrive in China, but here’s Burtynsky from the Saturday Globe and Mail:
...many of these manufacturing jobs are in industries that have been relocated to China from the West, often for environmental reasons and at great health cost to the Chinese people — such as the waste from the electronics industry. Eighty per cent of North American “e-waste” goes off shore, and 90 per cent of that ends up in China. “Salvaging is a cottage industry,” he says, often done by hand in rural communities, resulting in contamination from cadmium, mercury and lead.
I’ll be seeing Burtynsky at the Brooklyn Museum this month, and folks in Toronto can see his new show on China at the Metivier gallery in Toronto. As for Smithson, the Whitney show really is worth seeing. I especially loved the piece that Andy Warhol once owned: a wedge of seashells from a beach resort in Florida. It consists of three mirrors: one below and two on the sides, fitting snuggly into a corner of the gallery. It is filled with seashells and looks as though it is a mound, although of course it is only a quadrant…the best part is the letter to Warhol on the wall outlining instructions for care. If the mirrors were to break they could be replaced by common mirrors—“they are not precious”, but the shells themselves had to be replenished by a pilgrimage to the beach in Florida where they originated.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Reminder: Reading Tomorrow

Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 12:30 p.m.
Bryant Park, 42nd Street, between 5th & 6th Avenues,
New York, NY
Word for Word Poetry: Kazim Ali, Sophie Cabot Black,
Sina Queyras

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Mairead Byrne: reminder

This is probably not the last post on Mairead Byrne, but I found this audio file that I hadn't known about before when I wrote about her last week. So, here you can have a taste of her reading--a teasing because of course you'll want to come to belladonna Tuesday to hear her in the flesh. But here is the text of The Pillar, and an audio file attached. Pillar is a gorgeous poem. A poem that Alan Sondheim described as a masterpiece, and well, take a listen yourself... This is a poem that actually puts me in mind of Dylan Thomas' The Outing. You can find The Pillar in Nelson and the Hurubird Bird.

Mairead Byrne & Stacy Szymaszek
belladonna Tuesday, October 11, 7PM
@ Dixon Place (258 Bowery, 2nd Floor—Between Houston & Prince)
Admission is $5 at the Door.

Icelandic music

Icelandic music is more than Björk. Not that Björk isn’t enough, but the kind of original sounds coming from that ashen island are addictive. For instance, Mum. If you’re in need of a pick up listen to There is any number of small things. I just love this band. Love, love, love, and Yesterday Was Dramatic-Today is Okay has been one of my favourite albums for a few years now. But there’s more. Samples from the new album are very promising indeed. You can hear samples here and here for Summer Make Good.

Oh, and Emiliana Torrini is also great. She’s an entirely different experience, however, a cross between Björk and, well, maybe Sarah Harmer? Thanks to the Iceland Weather Report for that recommendation.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

At the Poetry Project

At the Poetry Project this Wednesday, October 12 8pmJuliana Spahr & Claudia Rankine

I’ve raved about the Spahr/Rankine book American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language, and now’s your chance to hear the editors in person. Of course you will have to hear me read Monday afternoon in Bryant Park, and then attend belladonna at Dixon Place, on Tuesday night, which should get you warmed up for the Poetry Project Wednesday. Who said living in NY was easy? Juliana Spahr was born in Chillicothe, Ohio but currently lives in Oakland, California. Her books include This Connection of Everyone with Lungs (University of California Press), Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You (Wesleyan University Press), Everybody's Autonomy: Connective Reading and Collective Identity (University of Alabama Press), and Response (Sun & Moon Press). She co-edits the journal Chain with Jena Osman (archive at Temple) and she frequently self-publishes her work (archive here & here). Claudia Rankine is the author of four collections of poetry, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (2004), Nothing in Nature Is Private (1995), The End of the Alphabet (1998), and Plot (2001). She is co-editor, with Juliana Spahr, of American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language. Well known for her experimental multi-genre writing, Rankine fuses the lyric, the essay, and the visual in Don’t Let me Be Lonely, a politically and morally fierce examination of solitude in the rapacious and media-driven assault on selfhood that is contemporary America. She teaches in the writing program at the University of Houston.

The Poetry Project is located at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery131 East 10th Street at Second AvenueNew York City 10003Trains: 6, F, N, R, and L.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The TS Review

The T.S. Review is the latest offering from our London correspondent of culture and all things poetic. A diligent and inexhaustible poet, Swift is the author of three books of poetry, the most recent being rue du regard. Recently he edited a section of Canadian poetry for New American Writing--a great selection by the way, with poets ranging from Lisa Robertson to Nathalie Stephens; Carmine Starnino to Jason Camlot, Christian Bök to Stephanie Bolster. Very exciting work and part of Swift’s ongoing ambassadorial role for Canadian poetry.

You have to admire Swift’s energy and enthusiasm. He is a thoroughly modern, old-school gentleman poet, a romantic, with a streak of the dandy, a streak of Wilde in dress and manner. He likes to publish, be published, and promote poetry. And he achieves this with a steady hand and many projects on the go. Including this blog, which is—as the title suggests—a review, featuring poets (Anne Waldman and yours truly recently) as well as commentary about contemporary cultural events, films, readings, etc. For those of us who only pine for the mossy isle, this is a good way to keep up on events—and perhaps a little more widely represented than some of the more conservative UK publications.

And we do need more varied news of the UK poetry scene. I’m still in shock at the conservative showing in “The New British Poetry”. Really? New??? I’m hoping Swift will lead us to some innovative British sites. I know they’re out there.

Speaking of innovative British poetry, Caroline Bergvall's new book out from Salt this fall. I can’t wait! She will be at the Kootenay School of Writing in Vancouver this fall, and I hear she’s coming through NY in November?? Hear her here.


For Hacker fans and Francophiles, an interview with Marilyn Hacker & Claire Malroux on the French poetry website Poezibao.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Quote of the day

“I haven’t read Finnegans Wake and I’m not so sure I read all Ulysses. This surprises even me because I wrote a book about Joyce. The reason I haven’t is that I found Joyce too greedy. I have my own life to live.”

Mairead Byrne, from herecomeseverybody

The Hound to read

The Hound to read in Bryant Park for the Academy of American Poets next Tuesday at lunch time…a lunch time reading. And a good thing because next Tuesday is also the night that Mairead Byrne is reading for belladonna—at Dixon Place, their new location. For more information follow the happy link.

Word for Word Poetry: Kazim Ali, Sophie Cabot Black, and Sina Queyras
Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 12:30 p.m.Bryant Park Reading Room, 42nd Street, between 5th & 6th Avenues, New York, NY

More on Candice B

Ah, more on Candice Breitz, who was apparently the “surprise hit” of the Venice Biennale, and my reservations at the tail end of that last post seem a bit premature. This show seems to pull the other work into perspective to reveal a much larger project.
The freshest thing in the international group show in the Italian pavilion was South African artist Candice Breitz's film installations Mother and Father, in which she excerpted clips from mainstream Hollywood films such as Mommie Dearest, Postcards from the Edge, and Kramer vs. Kramer, then spliced them together to form her own script and her own narrative.
Like the conductor of an orchestra, she used actors such as Meryl Streep and Shirley McLaine like musical instruments - or, perhaps, better, as puppets - making them appear to be speaking and reacting to each other's words when, in fact, they were acting in different films. from Telegraph
I can’t wait to see this one

More Chelsea

Photo of Breitz's installation
And finally we have Candice Breitz at Sonnabend. This is an artist who isn’t difficult to like. Her show consisted of about a dozen flat panels, each playing a video of an individual singing and dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. The gallery was full and everyone was laughing and looking just a little nervous about doing so…what would happen? Would the show turn on them in some way? Would they be implicated? I stayed for what seemed like a run through and it didn’t turn, but it kept me interested. Especially when the song ended and they continued to practice their moves, each of them, eager and not so eager. They were all, in their way, compelling.

But is this just fun? I love that Breitz’s critique of consumerism is framed with her own, obvious energy for that which she critiques. She is as adoring a fan, one would guess, as the viewers of and participants in her art must seem. Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t know the words to Thriller?
But there was more. Another room had a wall of screens, each with a person, an Italian head at that, singing a Madonna song. Wonderful. The concept is perhaps deceptively simple. In allowing participants to enter into and become performers themselves, Breitz gives selected/random folks their fifteen minutes of fame, but also recognizes the interdependency of fan to performance. If no one wants to perform your music, you can't become "Queen".

Here’s another image I found on line from Breitz—no wonder I loved her. And even more so when I realize that I saw another of her shows, "Becoming", last spring, also at Sonnabend. I thought that show was strong too, though it didn’t have the impact of this current one. The notion of stripping performance down to its essence was interesting, but perhaps not quite interesting enough. Or perhaps the subjects chosen didn't interest me? Or perhaps because that's theater's job? Or perhaps because I'm just a bit skeptical in general, when artists seem to rely so heavily on that which is already famous?

Chelsea continued

Photo of Epstein's photo
Mitch Epstein is one of the other artists whose work I’ve seen before, and was happy to see again today. There weren’t that many photos in the show, and most of them I had seen before, but still they capture—at least these one’s do—something sublime about the 70s. Foreshadowing the Walls and Crewdsons of our time. Their willingness to go out into the world seems almost touching. But as my earlier post on Crewdson indicates, I’m not a big fan of his work. A picture such as this one seems so manipulative to me, so gratuitous in its drama. Epstein, like Bill Owens, who I wrote about in my last Chelsea post, has a kind of naiveté, or perhaps earnestness, about his work. Not simplistic, but earnest.
Having said that, Epstein’s photos can seem gratuitous in their own way. Why is one looking? What is it one is thinking about the subject? I sense that Epstein is often mocking, and that gets tiring.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Chelsea October 2

Photo of Jungen's installation
This week three artists stood out for me, but I’ll put them up one at a time since this first one, Brian Jungen, will likely take me as long as the other two combined. Jungen, a young west coast artist, has as a show at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. This is an artist whose practice illustrates profoundly, the value of using found materials. Much like the northwest coast Natives found and used the materials around them, shaping them into vessels of convenience—canoes, bent boxes—as into art, decorative, theatrical, and transformative, Jungen uses materials that we are surrounded by every day, and he transforms them.

If you’ve ever stared long into a softwood fire—cedar to be precise—you may have, as I have, recognized the core of west coast Native art in the long, thick veins of the wood. All is found there: the wide eyes of the masks, the outlines of whales and ravens, the framing of the allegorical totems and sculptures, all in the deep reds and blacks of the embers. The shapes, their roundness, are unmistakable. But most of us are not staring into fires, most of us are staring into screens: computers, tvs, train schedules… And what do we see? A lot of us see Nike, for one thing.

Having gone to high school in northern British Columbia, and played basketball with Nisga'a and Haida high school teams (from New Aiyansh and Masset, on the Queen Charlotte Islands), I know full well how important basketball is to those communities. And how good they are. I could go into a history of basketball and how it came to be…but suffice to say that Jungen has “seen” basketball in an entirely new way. And after seeing this show, I doubt any of you will look at basketball or its accoutrements the same way again either.

I had seen photographs of some of the pieces (perhaps in Border Crossings?) but even so I was unprepared for the power of them. The tongues and heels of those objects considered sacred to legions of 13 year old boys worldwide, transformed into masks, and displayed as if they are anthropological finds is, well, moving. Particularly for someone who grew up in an with this art. They work incredibly well. There is also an igloo (small scale), made of shoeboxes, and talking sticks made from baseball bats.

Jungen is a powerful artist, a complete original, with a message so crystal clear and sharp that it pierces. And it’s a message that’s both timely and resonates beyond its beautiful simplicity. His first solo show here in New York featured a basketball court transformed into sweatshop tables inverting the story of the totemic sports gear to the viewer: elegant, minimal, and intensely realized. I did not have the experience of walking into the room, but having seen this show today I can imagine the effect. Photos of the basketball court and all other pieces are available on the Catriona Jeffries website, though really, this is work that needs to be seen.

There were also two dinosaurs, large and believable in their structure, shape, and scale. But these two are made of out those ubiquitous (and uncomfortable), white deck chairs. You know the kind, 5.99 at Walmart? Who knew they could prove so useful a tool. Must see.
Photo, inside the dinosaur

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Mairead Byrne

Mairead Byrne, one of my favourite contemporary poets (and human beings), has a piece up on UBU web (UBU is back, rescued from the brink!). Some differences is a fabulous, funny poem/essay/talk on the difference between stand up and poetry:
One difference is: Poets get to stand-up; stand-ups get to stand up & walk
around: You see Bill Cosby come on stage, what does he do: he sits
down. Actually Bill Cosby is not a good example. Stand-ups sort of run
on stage. They claim the space. They relate to the audience. They pace
back & forth like caged lions. Poets just stand there. And they don’t have
a stage. They have a shelf. Or a ledge. Stand-ups perform in theatres or
TV studios or night clubs. Poets read in coffee-shops—or on panels.
Poets don’t have stages: they have saucers. They don’t have sets or
sound effects: they have espresso machines. Poets don’t have curtains.
And curtains are one of the best things stand-ups have. TV cameras &
microphones are 2 others.—Mairead Byrne
Byrne is funny (very, very funny) and smart. Funny and smart and very warm-hearted: a sort of golden trinity of qualities in a poet. Add on the fact that she has a killer Irish accent and well, just move out of the way… Nelson & the Huruburu Bird was published in 2003 by Wild Honey Press. Recent and upcoming publications include two chapbooks, An Educated Heart (Palm Press 2005) and Vivas (Wild Honey Press 2005).

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her read, and in fact, reading with her, and I warn you, she’s a tough act to follow. In fact, don’t follow Byrne if you can avoid it, but warming up for her would be fun. I first heard her read this a few months ago now, at Zinc Bar. And, I just realized that she is still blogging I’m not sure why I thought she stopped and am glad she hasn’t. So check out her blog. And if you want, you can see Byrne in the flesh in about ten days when she comes to read for belladonna on October 11th. I will be introducing her, which will be my pleasure. Why? Well, for one thing, I won’t have to follow her.

Oh, and the Zinc Bar reading series starts up again this week.