Friday, September 19, 2003

the inimitable Wendy Kramer 

(one of the things i want to do is to share as many of her amazing collage poems as possible that are online. whenever you see words highlighted here, please click to view, although a few of the links will be for other things.)

Wendy Kramer had dinner with us where we're house sitting, near Valencia Street. at one point Maggie mentioned my forthcoming book titles, and when i explained that my FRANK book was coming out on the Jargon label, i was prepared to explain Jargon and Jonathan Williams, since so many writers my age and younger seem to be ignorant of the man and his press. Wendy not only knew about him, but had written about him, had visited him, and was as enthusiastic about him and his invaluable love and work for poetry as i was.

that was a rare treat, that shared joy.

after dinner we went to Golden Gate Park to watch the sunset on the ocean. i wish that the sun could set on the New Jersey shore, just once, just to see what it would be like. how difficult is it to get that to happen?

the tension of my anticipation was growing as we drove to her apartment, where we were going to view her poem collages. it's the first time for me, Maggie having seen Wendy perform with her work more than once in NY. i couldn't wait, having heard so much about this woman's work, which had been built to legendary proportions at this point!

from the start i was in awe, her mind having created these beautiful one of a kind object poems. tee shirts, two of them, for two people to wear at a performance, and read off one another. collage of words and images snipped from magazines, books, boxes, wrappers, what else? her love for the work made it all the more exciting, as she pointed to a spray of words swirling in a collection of images. the goal of an art critic would be to point out others in the past, to validate the person they're writing about. i want to pretend Wendy has created this all her own. mainly because, first, who fucking cares who else is doing it, because, second, no matter who else is doing it, THIS IS how she is doing it. and it's all her own, one way or another. i was caught in the spell of these images and words, and wanted to keep looking and looking and looking.

she showed us a plastic pitcher for water or beer, the kind you'd see in bars and restaurants. it was covered in black and white images and words, and i forget exactly what the significance was for them all being black and white, she told us, shit, i hate when i forget important details. anyway, i really liked this a lot, some of the words and images needing to be read through the plastic handle or body of the pitcher, really smart and fun.

she then showed us some of her work which was framed. thick frames, thick in width to house the layered textures of the collages. i want to remember some of the lines and images, but i'm putting links so you can see yourself. we also saw color copies, including one on the back of Boog City.

Magdalena's cat allergies made us leave about an hour after arriving, but it was a very busy hour. we looked at her library shelves, which were so exciting to look at. she had a collection of Jargon titles like few i've seen outside of visiting Jonathan Williams. she had the incredible Alfred Starr Hamilton, who i wish more poets would read. Simon Cutts's Seepages, and Jargon's Collected Niedecker, a very handsome volume. Wendy also had some of Jonathan's photograph collections, like the one with his photograph of David Hockney, and that AMAZING Mina Loy photograph which is so strange and beautiful that it rivals Man Ray's.

it was a great poetry/art visit, i'm happy and lucky to have finally met the amazing Wendy Kramer.


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