On the bus to work this morning, I read Bradley Harrison‘s Diorama of a People, Burning. A chapbook of erasure poems, Diorama is brief enough to be read in one sitting, yet complex enough to leave the reader with many meanings to think about. The chapbook contains original prose poems that, after composition, the poet rewrites as new poems by erasing words from the first. Dedicated to the town in which the author grew up, Diorama reveals more about Colfax, Iowa with less; each erasure is like adding (or pulling away?) a sheer cloth to a pile of words and memories.
Poetry and memory already have a tangled relationship, and reading through Harrison’s erasures I felt as though I was looking more directly at a representation of memory. The act of erasure as both a covering (with white-out) and uncovering (of other meanings) showed the layers of language in all of our acts of writing. I remember thinking to myself that I was learning something about Colfax from each poem. Not less from the erasures, just something else. By the end, the writing made me think about the town I grew up in and my own relationship to it; made me wonder what it would look like if represented to someone else.
Diorama of a People, Burning (Gold Line Press)
Spotlight taillight stoplight flashlight poets write a lot about what light can do cast light shed light headlight harsh light dee lite d'you drop your dive light dim light soft light twilight moonlight warning light engine light aspens shake some light in the half light of the canyon poet spotlight
Thanks to the very talented staff of the Columbia College Literary Review for creating such a beautiful stage for the poems, stories, and art inside volume 2. $10 to the Review for your copy.
I made it to the Hall of Fame. For a few hours anyway.
Thanks to everyone who came out to last night’s Tireside Chat. The US Bicycling Hall of Fame hosts monthly readings by authors who write on bicycling themed topics. Since I was their April (Poetry Month) speaker, I had the chance to read several poems in addition to selections from The Outspokin’ Cyclist.
Thanks to Kelsey Monahan at the Hall of Fame for arranging everything, to Kate Bowen for putting me in touch with the HoF to make this happen, and Nancy Gallman for taking photos.
Visited Robinson Jeffers last week. The docent let me sit for a moment at the desk where he wrote of inhumanism and the indifferent world, bringing out the goofy kid in me. The stone house and tower he built by hand are lovingly kept away from developers by the Tor House Foundation. If you are near Carmel on May 5, stop by their annual garden party.
The polar ice-caps are melting, the mountain glaciers
Drip into rivers; all feed the ocean;
Tides ebb and flow, but every year a little bit higher.
They will drown New York, they will drown London.
And this place, where I have planted trees and built a stone house,
Will be under sea. The poor trees will perish,
And little fish will flicker in and out the windows. I built it well,
Thick walls and Portland cement and gray granite,
The tower at least will hold against the sea’s buffeting; it will become
Geological, fossil and permanent.
What a pleasure it is to mix one’s mind with geological
Time, or with astronomical relax it.
There is nothing like astronomy to pull the stuff out of man.
His stupid dreams and red-rooster importance: let him count the star-swirls.
from The Beginning and The End and other poems, 1954
Next Wednesday, I’m giving a reading of poetry and prose at the US Bicycling Hall of Fame. Admission is free, and if that isn’t enough reason to check out the event, then below the flier I’ll tease you with a photo of one of the funkier bikes they have in their museum collection. Still no response from the organizers about whether I can give the reading while riding the bike around the room.
Phillip Barron (°1976, Tampa, Florida, United States) creates media artworks and films. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, Barron focuses on the idea of ‘public space’ and more specifically on spaces where anyone can do anything at any given moment: the non-private space, the non-privately owned space, space that is economically uninteresting.
His media artworks are often about contact with architecture and basic living elements. Energy (heat, light, water), space and landscape are examined in less obvious ways and sometimes developed in absurd ways. By exploring the concept of landscape in a nostalgic way, his works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.
His works establish a link between the landscape’s reality and that imagined by its conceiver. These works focus on concrete questions that determine our existence. In a search for new methods to ‘read the city’, he investigates the dynamics of landscape, including the manipulation of its effects and the limits of spectacle based on our assumptions of what landscape means to us. Rather than presenting a factual reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of our imagination.
His works demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. Phillip Barron currently lives and works in Davis, California.
In the Winter 2013 issue of M. Scott Douglass’ Main Street Rag, I have a poem titled “unsupposed to rain on Bolaño.” I’ve been reading Main Street Rag since before I left North Carolina; the perfect-bound literary journal publishes out of Charlotte and anchors a vibrant poetry community in the Queen’s city. I’m honored that Douglass selected “unsupposed to rain” — it is a difficult and theoretical poem — for the first issue of the journal’s 18th year of publication. Main Street Rag is a print-only journal, so I encourage you to purchase a copy and support a great literary magazine.
“unsupposed to rain on Bolaño” considers the relationship between language and cartography. It is one of a number of poems through which I am exploring how maps work. More to come.
**And if you are already a reader/subscriber to Main Street Rag, make sure you see Scott’s note in this month’s newsletter about a computer crash the office suffered. He would like readers to get in touch if they did not receive the most recent newsletter; it may be that your email address was lost in the crash.**