May 13, 2009
The Poetry Project is my hub. I heed the darkening pull—Grand Central—Shuttle—Time Square—every morning, a disfigurement of propulsions unfolding, like the city I love, like the dad I’ve become.
“Whoah, unfold like reality, dude.”
“Disease is a feel called love.”
“Those bottled packs of Salinger under my puffed teabags? Sulfuric ganja!”
A smattering of the scattered dollops I heard at the book party last Thursday. The annual small press book party sponsored by The Segue Foundation at Jack Shaiman Gallery. These publishers on the edge, Belladonna, BootStrap, The Figures, Granary, Roof, Talisman, Ugly Duckling, United Artists, and Portable Press at Yo-yo Labs, display the year’s harvest in a celebration for our blessed community, honoring the incredible task of getting brilliant work published…of someone believing enough to invest, support and nurture our work into an object called “book.”
But I wasn’t there!
Told you that Mercury’s retrograde would do me in…I had what I thought was the right address written down. I passed back and forth but couldn’t find the gallery. I left my cell phone home, semi-remembered the gallery name, called information from payphone, they gave me the same address I had, walked by again, was a photography opening. For some reason, the building had disappeared into a fog of recollected openings. I went up and down 2 streets on either side between 9th and 10th Avenue in a workout called “Thursday Night In Chelsea” and instead, cursed fate, chalked it up to chance, and wandered into a handful of art openings.
There was a fabric-stretched installation set within a gallery. Black mesh crumpled and pulled into fishnet squares to create a sort of torture room-within-a-room which contained dubious ‘paintings’ of mal-adjusted loners…against which very tall people wearing matching black, holding free cups of blood would prowl for the newest id.
“And then my dealer Twittered…”
There was an it-gallery drive-by, red-haired blondes and euro-boys on pagers seething in and out of a tiny cultish membrane. Polaroid-looking chaos paintings looking for a pulse. While up a small flight of stairs, artifacts of pasted spoons and welded parts shmeared with chrome and shellacked to repel radium, sat spread-eagled on pedestals, masquerading as sculpturic ganja (where’d I hear that before?).
“Dawn’t let him in jus cuz he got condo!”
There were the concreticized mutant cotton balls, lovingly stabbed by overgrown q-tips into walking slabs of happy-paralysis. Actually, these glazed over mechanisms had a life-affirming awareness much like Elizabeth Murray’s canvases joyously exploding outside their constrictions…with a sloppy kiss by Koons & Oldenberg.
“Dondalista, where’s yer siista”
And how significant to infuse 2D dimension with 3D crit. To see poetry, to hear art, to stand on the outside and witness the mess. In the current issue of Poets & Writers, Anne Lauterbach talks about the many centers that exist in poetry at this moment and the clarity she gets from the edge. Living away from the city for the last year, after being so entrenched in its many centers, I understand the need to breathe that foreign air on the edge, unpolluted maybe…but I miss the smog’s complexity. Although complexity is where it finds you.
Makes me wonder if poetry itself is an edge, of language on the verge of speaking. Of secrets revealed by a walk around the perimeter. Observing each center from a safe distance…but the mess, I miss the mess.
Finally, I heard Jeffrey McDaniel read on Mother’s Day. He’s a poet with a fabulously gallows imagination who teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and was reading upstate in Cold Spring, NY. His little girl and my little boy share the same little dance class. So we went even though my wife and I knew it would test Rubio’s little fight-or-flight meter. It was in a spare, elegant church overlooking the Hudson, he lasted for two poems before his not-so-inner crit took over. Yes, I was one of those parents who hushes and jello-molds his child out of a poetry reading while hearing: Awe we finished awlweady? I wanna plway.