Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Alan Loney Live 

I wasn't excited about the idea of jackassing across town at lunchtime for a 1:30 reading, but I was excited to hear Alan Loney at the Kelly Writers House. I'm less familiar with his poems then I am with his essays in the New Zealand zine A Brief Description of the Whole World (from issues 1 & 7). I've actually heard more about his work than the poetry itself. What I'd heard resonated with a sense of what I take from/to writing, so the excitement was as much divining curiosity as it was expectation.

Charles Bernstein remarked in his introduction that the isolation of Loney's New Zealandness transmits via his poems. Nowhere was it more evident in the work he read from than in his collection Nowhere to Go. There is profound struggle, a sense of stop & go & start over that was as dramatic as it is thoughtful.

Loney's collaborative book project w/ Australian visual artist Bruno Letti was the most compelling work he delivered this afternoon. Letti placed two photos (one above the other) on the right pages. A 1.5mm gap seperated the top picture from the bottom one. Loney's poems appeared on the left pages. They don't match up page for page, picture for picture. Instead the poems address the process itself more than the photo content. At some point during its development, Loney says, "The book became about the gap."

How old it is
How new it is
in the immemorial time
where the white line
cuts across everything

(I'm line-breaking by ear, so bear w/ my aural interpretation.)

Gracias to Alan Loney, who's on his first American tour. These 1:30 readings are nothing to be cranky about. I feel more energized this afternoon (back in the office) than I do when I sneak a siesta.

Frank Sherlock

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