Thursday, April 3, 2008

New Reading Series = New Fun

I haven't even left San Francisco yet and my literary adventures have begun. Very exciting indeed. K. Silem Mohammad and Lyn Hejinian read at The New Reading Series (yet to be named) hosted by Alli Warren and Brandon Brown at the 21 Grand in Oakland on Sunday. Such a great evening. The lack of provided wine was hardly a problem and everyone was brown-bagging it in style.

Bill Luoma introduced Kasey by way of a great sort of Flarf collage befitting the occasion. Kasey read from his new book Breathalyzer from Edge Books and from an ongoing series of Sonnegrams in which he anagramatizes Shakespeare's sonnets in iambic pentameter according to Elizabethan rhyme scheme leaving any remaining letters to make up the title. My personal favorite line: "Those bitches know that Ivanhoe's the best ho".

He's well known for his involvement in Flarf which described as, ( and I'm crudely paraphrasing) "Poems derived from the results of google searchs + soul." If the internet is an unregulated distillation of culture, then Kasey's Flarf poems act as a further distillation and crystallization of our culture with the added filters of intention, an incredibly keen ear for language and like he said, soul.

David Brazil introduced Lyn with another sort of collage, this time of quotations, indicating her position and interest in a poetic community and that community's relationship to politics or lack there of. I'd met Lyn a few times at SPD when she came to drop off cases Atelos books but this was my first time hearing her read. She has a striking presence of calm and steady purpose that commands respect and attention. The fact that she cracked herself up in the middle of a poem really tickled me too.

After a reception including ambiance provided by ipod DJ Stephanie Young (great idea by the bye) we moved on to Lukas bar. I was in the middle of complaining about my former position as a Medieval Studies professor at Yale before being fired because I was too "real" for them and because the fact that I spoke Middle English made the other professors feel inadequate when David Brazil whipped out a book of Middle English verse that he happened to have with him and handed it to me, effectively taking the joke further than I could trail after. I really shouldn't have been surprised. Then, Kasey Mohammad leaned over and began to read to us from the Middle English, accent and all and translate as he went. It was a strange and beautiful moment in poetry.

Thanks to all for a great evenin. I dub The New Reading Series a huge success and a damn good time in Poetryland. I'm sad that I'll miss the next two readings in this series but I expect all of you who can go will, and will tell me all about it. I want details.

Bye for now. I'm off to Chicago!

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