Saturday, July 28, 2007

At Pegasus

Was pleased to be present at a well-attended, intensely A Tonalist reading last night by Andrew Joron -- part of the great series at Pegasus. He read with Noah Eli Gordon, self-described B Tonalist, whose virtuosic performance received wild applause and general approbation. I was slightly disappointed that Andrew didn’t read from the stellar A Cry At Zero but mollified by really enjoying his presentation of older works I have read but not often heard. It should be said that this master of A Tonalism identifies as a Surrealist -- which is okay as A Tonalist is a nonexclusive movement. It was especially amusing when Andrew announced, wide-eyed, that he knew he was not in a dream, as he was so clearly dreaming.

Suzanne Stein gave me a copy of Michael Nicoloff’s “Punks” (actually I received several free books of which more later) the newest chap from her TAXT. “Punks” seems possibly pre or anti Tonal in the sense that it is highly and densely word-aware with a razzle-dazzle NY schoolishness cut with, well let Michael tell it: “I cut it/ with chalk dust and sold it/ to burn-outs, presaging/ the new Bay Area poetics…” It is jokier than the usual A Tonalist screed, inundated as such a work will typically be by a Utopian lyric quality crossed with a dark skepticism that is however not the hard-edged archness apparent in Michael’s more Eastern diction. Nevertheless, reading it through, I found I liked the lines and found also that I intuited an as yet unwritten lyric-anti-lyric (as we say) quality to the work. This perception or prepreception is perhaps beyond my brief as a reviewer and yet I did and do predict it. One of the subject matters of the piece seems to be a vexed sense of identity that is somehow familiar to me as the step-mom of a person born in the 80s. I found its quality of beyond-post-boomer next generation assertiveness intriguing. It begins:

1980 rested on
your mistaken identity
as this layman Buddhist
of the failure movement
we are the weaker
biological universe
mistreating Romans
with a coin-op
thingy, click
to buy this mauve
baby, then crack open
your resident of choice
who you are fizzled
due to boredom, nothing
but genitals, finally,
dirorama’d in the
kitten basket

And it goes on like this in two nicely stacked columns per page. A highly recommended read.

Suffice it to say, last night and yesterday were replete with readings and meetings. I think I had at least a 20-poet day in terms of actual conversations. I was sorry to have missed Taylor Brady and Thom Donovan last Wednesday in the inaugural reading event of the Non-site Collective. I heard from Norma Cole it was great. I was happy when Thom and Rob Halpern stopped by SPD so I could meet Thom. He is giving a talk today (but where?) but I am officially on vacation and must begin to recreate. There is also a poetry marathon tonight and a Yipes reading Sunday by Stephanie Young (who was also present in person last night)and Tao Lin. The scene rages on.


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