Thursday, July 23, 2009

The New Thing

The new thing keeps changing. I have always thought about the clothes as well as the lines while at poetry events. The new thing, one of the news things, is that now I share my thoughts. What has become a my fashion project -- or I should say our fashion project – seems not so much trivializing, okay maybe a little, as to address the practical physicalities of being there. Whether it’s dealing with the hour long drive over the bridge, finding a way to get somewhere distant from public transportation when your car is broken or you never had a car, humoring your non poet partner or, worse, your poet partner or figuring out who it is you might be when you show up -- it’s all part of the context.

One of the new things for me is enjoying the context more as a result of being older. People think it’s bad but for me at least it has been mostly good. No kidding. I think it might have something to do with the A Tonalist dictum “that much that seemed forbidden is in fact required.” Lately, because of writing these posts I have felt it my duty to up the ante on what I think of as Mr Outfit. I don’t have the will to document my daily look like Nada, though I enjoy checking in with hers and approve of the skirts -- especially the foofy one. I can’t really believe that she makes many of them. How great is that? Today's cranky outfit is particularly good. At some point I mean to do a whole post on black and white.

Sunday there was an excellent reading at The New Series of Vanessa Place and Peter Culley. When I was chatting with Vanessa before the reading we acknowledged to each other the challenging aspects of conceptualist practice – the part where the audience might feel sad or threatened or bored or, you know, all of the above. But fashion can also be challenging. Lately, I have felt the need to follow my rule of one wrong thing and in doing so have felt a nagging sense of worry – maybe two giant ropes of pearls were a little much for the situation (luckily I had a scarf to cover them) but I was calm, feeling it was my duty to amp it. I think this is what Nada refers to in questioning her boring (but successful with the students) outfit of, well, I forget when. The rule of not scaring people has to be balanced with the rule of not boring yourself to death with the ensemble.

Vanessa chose to wear a suit to read, giving her a very professional air and providing a background for the reading she did of material from her law practice – sexual, visceral, conflicted, strangely speechy and filled with numbers that turned out to be page references. It was very compelling – riveting actually. She read it intensely, working it and working the outfit. You can get a glimpse of her below, played off against fellow conceptualist Suzanne Stein in ultra floof, flawlessly pulled off.

Suzanne Stein & Vanessa Place

Peter Culley read second and was fascinating with a lot of almost cruel rhyme and a use of words that has driven me from the reading to the page. I have The Age of Briggs and Stratton on my desk. How could I not have read him before? His work reminds me a bit of me, not surprising because we are of an age. My photo of him came out dark, but I liked his plaid shirt with a kind of lime green in it and lime green t-shirt under it. Understated but totally worked.

Another Canadian was there, Lisa Robertson, looking chic in a translucent sweater tunic thing with straight-legged jeans rolled up at the cuff. Proof positive that the black and blue thing with cuffs rolled can be new. Of course the jet like hair takes the whole thing to another level. She is below along with Brandon Brown, truly astounding in peach jacket. He is talking to Jacob Eichert who is doing a balanced almost invisibly successful version of basic guy poet – nothing foofy there.

Lisa Robertson

Brandon Brown & Jacob Eichert

Working backwards in time (and this one was the hour on the bridge reading) we have Alli Warren with David Buuck at David Highsmith’s Books and Bookshelves where I hadn’t been since I actually bought a bookshelf there in the 90s. During and after the reading I discovered what I already knew -- that I can’t go around taking a lot of pictures of people. It’s easier when I know them. So we have another of Brandon below. He was looking unusually dashing, if I might say that. Brandon is willing to go the extra mile when it come it to Mr Outfit. Here he is talking with a person I don’t recognize (I really need to get out more.)

Alli was dressed up in her signature nonfoofy way, really bombshelling it. Buuck always dresses with diva level cool so parsing the look is just a matter of noticing the details – in this case the old work boots looking like they might have belonged to Jackson Pollock. They both read great. Alli kicked in with a lot of deeply ironized material that was very talky and direct. There were list poems, the word “dick” was used frequently and with fine feeling. She had the audience in the palm of her hand, as they say. I like it that people are wearing large plastic glasses. David first did a sort of graffiti reading routine that I thought entirely creditable and then settled in to read a long nuclear poem he said he’d written a while ago which I really liked. The readings were worth the hour on the bridge, which is saying a lot.

Alli Warren & David Buuck

Lindsey Boldt & Sunnylyn Thibodeaux

I had a conversation with Lindsey Boldt about blogging and influence. She was doing a modest tweed and knee socks thing that you can do in the summer only in San Francisco. Kevin had on fantastic new shoes of a sort of deep rose which I photographed along with my pink sandaled toes. I think he facebooked about them or maybe blogged. I seem to be electronically over-optioned these days. I am including this shot of myself and Cedar Sigo taken because we were both in pink, gray, yellow and black.

Laura Moriarty & Kevin Killian's shoes

Brandon again

Cedar Sigo & me

BTW, sorry for random sizing of photos.

I don’t promise not to write about fashion any more but some incredible books are piling up that I really need to get to. One is Bhanu Kapil's Humanimal which I blurbed and which, incredibly, is better in person than it was in manuscript. It is entirely the new thing – a documentary poem much felt and yet also somehow science -- a report, a project, a narrative – A Project For Future Children, as the subtitle reveals. More on that.


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