Sunday, May 28, 2006
One memory of the old coffin factory is when I was in town visiting my grandmother. Maybe nine, maybe ten, I rode my blue bike up the street to see my aunt Darlene coming from a loading dock with a tiny coffin. "Who is that one for aunt Darlene?" She barked through her German accent, "HEADED FOR OKLAHOMA! SOME YOUNGSTER OUT THERE WHO DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO BEHAVE HIMSELF!" "What was his name?" "NEVER YOU MIND HIS NAME! GIT BACK TO THE HAUS CREEK!" Craig always came out as Creek in that town.
Years later my first boyfriend kissed me for the first time beside a truck parked against the factory wall. We then went to the movies, which neither of us could concentrate on after our kiss. I tried to hold his hand in the dark but he pulled away, always afraid of the Klan (a very real thing to fear out there). The kiss was terrible, but nice, I mean awkward, but he meant it, and so did I. The coffin factory was one of those odd, dark places no one bothered with unless they were working, so it was perfectly safe. My first kiss and the workers inside were fitting satin linings, assembling lids with perfectly fitted hinges. They worked so hard in there, my family and their neighbors. Hinges that didn't squeak like the horror movies, hinges that worked so well you would think they actually needed to work well for long. My first kiss has smells of machine oil and sand belts cutting the nostrils. Nothing wrong with that.
Someone has a Polaroid of me as a boy sitting up in a blue coffin, hands held like claws by my face, mouth in a snarl, trying for the horror movie everyone was so busy oiling out of the hinges. My uncle Russell said I liked the coffin factory too much. He thought I was weird, because I was, because he was right, such a smart guy, he knows a weirdo when he sees one. You weirdo! Yes, hello there. Hehehe! He probably thought I needed a good beating. Everyone thought a good beating was what everyone needed out there. "NOTHIN' FUNNY ABOUT DEATH CREEK! GIT BACK TO THE HAUS!" I liked the sound of everybody's voice when the lid was closed, muffled. And it was soft in there, a satin-lined tongue to rest on while waiting to slide back inside Earth.
The closest I ever got to the same sensation of resting inside one of those perfectly built coffins was inside a sensory deprivation tank. Have you ever experienced one of these tanks? Pounds of salt in the water, and you float with the lid shut, no light, no sound, you float and every single muscle relaxes and I say relaxes like they haven't since being in the womb. It really is the first time since the womb, when you climb inside one of these egg-shaped tanks. What a beautiful sensation, sensory cut off! Every house needs one. How much calmer I believe we would be. Why wait for the coffin to relax?
Came across this photograph and my mind started going back there,
p.s. Matt McGoldrick drove me, Frank Sherlock and Nicole McEwan out there last year. What a strange field trip! Or did I drive? Yes, I drove Matt's car, that's right. The factory closed in 1988, and years later it has recently been made into an old folks home. Seriously. And it was either Frank or Matt who laughed and said, "They're working in reverse now!" Hehehe!
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
In light of Ron Silliman's recent considerations of Charles Olson's Projective Verse, and Adam Fieled's assertion that Olson's wrong, dead & gone, I thought it might be helpful to post a link to the OlsonNow documents page. Many of the documents included were shared or generated from the OlsonNow event at St. Mark's Poetry Project on December 3, 2005.
- Frank Sherlock
Monday, May 22, 2006
Fallon and Rosof's blog is unabashedly local--written by Philadelphia artists for Philadelphia artists--yet the scope of their writing and their coverage go well beyond the limits of the city--much like the PhillySound blog.
Here is the link to my essay SARAH MCENEANEY: RECENT HISTORY on ARTBLOG.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
A little meditation on the Allen Ginsberg photograph by Wyatt Counts as used on the front cover of DEATH & FAME: Last Poems, 1993-1997.
(Sorry I couldn't find an image better than this one. But if you own the book...)
The photograph was taken in 1996, not long before Ginsberg's death.
There's a wire, or clothesline you can see at the right where clothespins dangle above Ginsberg's shoulder at the edge of the photo. The LINE THIS WIRE MAKES just barely touches the top of Ginsberg's head as he stands in the light shining left to right.
That wire (THAT LINE) ends midway in its gentle rise, as it goes behind a wall in the foreground. BUT, if you follow that line with eye or finger, you see it just barely touches the head of Whitman in the photograph of Whitman hanging on the wall within the photograph. It touches Whitman's head THAT LINE just where it touched Ginsberg's.
The photograph of Whitman is slightly above Ginsberg, who is standing with his hands posed in mudras, or prayer, or other respectful contemplation. Whitman the father. Ginsberg's humility, his humanity, respect, Love, all here.
LOOK CLOSELY (you need the book in front of you) at Ginsberg's head and face. Amazing seeing the grooves and wrinkles mapping out canals of light. His beautiful canals.
His red shirt a split flesh red. If you LOOK CLOSELY the shirt sends the red center of his mouth forward. What had he just said before this picture was taken? And just after?
Thank you Wyatt Counts for this brilliant portrait!
Sunday, May 14, 2006
I'm reading at the Inverse Reading Series this Tuesday. Hope to see some of you there...
INVERSE Reading Series
Tuesday, May 16th
The Red Room @ Bubble House
3404 Sansom Street
Kate Northrop’s first full-length collection, Back Through Interruption, received the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University Press in 2002. A recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship, Northrop is a contributing editor at The American Poetry Review and an assistant professor of English/Creative Writing at West Chester University. Her new full-length collection, Things Are Disappearing Here, is forthcoming in Spring 2007 from Persea Books. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and The Iowa Writers' Workshop, she lives in Philadelphia.
Jenn McCreary lives and works in Philadelphia where she co-edits ixnay press with Chris McCreary and writes and reads with the PhillySound poets. She is the author of two chapbooks, 'errata stigmata' (Potes & Poets Press, 1999) and 'four o'clock pocket chiming' (BeautifulSwimmer Press, 2000), and 'a doctrine of signatures' (Singing Horse Press, 2002). Recent work has appeared in Tangent and How2.
with special musical guest Irene Molloy
$7 cover includes one drink...come early, seating is limited!
Friday, May 12, 2006
Activist pranksters The Yes Men posed as Halliburton executives touting large inflatable suits that provide corporate managers safety from global warming.
Visit their mock Haliburton website here.
- Frank Sherlock
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Poet/Lungfull!editor/St. Mark's Newsletter editor/Zinc Talk-Reading Series curator/impresario Brendan Lorber originally published this in the Poetry Project Newsletter:
From the Editor-
My inadvertently brave colleague, together we can fight the terrorists. As we wrest poems from atomized moments, publish little-read magazines & strategize how to catapult ourselves from slightly to barely, we are doing more than we know. There may be more productive ways to beat the evildoers, but our secret weapon lies precisely in the gracefully seditious heart of unproductivity.
According to Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch, America is the leading practitioner of state-sponsored terrorism. Along with melting glaciers, it’s our leaders’ most refined form of expression & their renditions get more and more finessed. They aren’t sadists per se — their crimes are motivated less by bloodlust than by an economy that is fundamentally untenable through less savage means. To oppose that economy is to oppose a major source of violence.
The creation of poetry, by virtually all industrial models, contributes less to an economy than any other activity. Less than artistic practices that generate marketable commodities. Less even than sleep which yields efficiency in the office on Monday. But beyond simply not contributing, poetry, regardless of its form & content, actually weakens the economy. It relies on the willful idleness & free time of its operatives, using resources developed to control people in ways counter to their design.
Leaders don’t grant The People sovreignity over national policy without pretty strong assurances that those people will make the right decisions. When we refuse to cooperate, despite cultural indoctrination, corporate seduction & government fearmongering the mellifluous sculptors of imperial notions turn the screws. The increasing efforts of the oval office & the board room to deceive, scatter & crush us are not measures of our defeat but of what’s contained in our awareness, organization & nascent liberation.
Your cultural obscurity & the polite disdain people express when you reveal yourself to be, oh jeez here it comes, a poet, is a sign your thread is pure gold. Marginality is resistance to a system that would prefer people to be infinitely materialistic consumers than manifestations of the infinite in material form. Invisibility & imagination is the wash & wear uniform of the antiterror secret team leader, the unsingable hero whose spirit is pure octane and in whose idle hands rests real security for the world. That’s you pal, whether you like it or not. & now the clouds & everyone under them, we need you to get to (un)work.
posted by FS
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Hi everyone--I am passing this on from Emily Abendroth.
This is an eager invitation for you to please:
Come play for us!!
On Saturday June 10th
at the beautiful Rotunda space in West Philly
where Moles Not Molar will be hosting:
A POETS' THEATRE EXTRAVAGANZA!!
An event for which we need YOUR EMISSIONS!!
Including theatrical exploits, narrative effluences, non-
narrative effulgences, one-creature effloresences, ensemble
euphonies, puppety epics, pixilated etudes, bodily
effusions, and poetic enthusiasms of all kinds!!!
Send an abstract, blueprint, description etc. (keep your
props and stilts to yourself for the time being), preferably
as an attachment, to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
And send them by MAY 20th!
Running time for individual pieces should be fifteen minutes
They can, of course, be excerpts from longer works.
We will be selecting a diversity of approaches from amongst
the received entries to present that evening.
Everyone! Just read this fantastic conversation between Stacy Szymaszek and Kate Greenstreet about Stacy's first book. Click HERE immediately!
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
108 S. 13th Street Philly
Sunday May 7 @ 4pm.
Chris McCreary is the author of two books of poems, Dismembers and The Effacements, and is co-editor of ixnay press. He writes reviews for venues such as Rain Taxi, Review of Contemporary Literature, and New Review of Literature and is a card-carrying member of The Adjunct Nation.
PRAISE FOR DISMEMBERS
"To a degree I haven’t heard since Duncan, McCreary lends his ear lucid sense." - Ron Silliman
"This is an amazing book!!!"- CAConrad
SIMON PETTET is an English-born poet, long-time resident of New York's Lower East Side. His new book (just out!) is called More Winnowed Fragments (Talisman Books). He'll be reading from it and signing copies. His Selected Poems is also still available from the same publisher. He is also the author of two classic collaborations with photographer-filmaker, Rudy Burckhardt, Conversations About Everything and Talking Pictures. "Like Beethoven's Bagatelles", John Ashbery wrote, "Simon Pettet's short poems have a great deal to say, and their seemingly modest dimensions help rather than hinder his saying it...."
PRAISE FOR MORE WINNOWED FRAGMENTS
Pettet has crafted a book of radical simplicity to meet an increasingly complex world.(Publishers Weekly)"a master of his craft,.
MORE WINNOWED FRAGMENTS, Pettet's first book in a decade, is among the most important books of poetry of our time. (SPD)
Pettet's winnowing fan leaves him and us with short poems that are all wheat, no chaff.(Jacket)
MORE WINNOWED FRAGMENTS shows in each of its 36 poems Simon Pettet's careful, caring forms of attention - to words, to fellow human beings, to all particulars. (Jacket)
"Ah, romance, the hint of mystery,/perfect quirky interludes" (Joanne Kyger)
"Magical, revivifying, masterful - how many adjectives can dance on the tip of a pin? Entrez, brothers and sisters, entrez!" (Anselm Hollo)
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Unfortunately, this event clashes w/ our Chris's release. Alas.
Perhaps some of you can make it for the very last limb of the reading.
"You can't talk about globalized capital and exporting jobs and not talk about global human and labor rights for immigrant workers." - Jesse Jackson
For stories about the largest day of protest in American history, check out:
New York City
The Philadelphia painter Sarah McEneaney has a show at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York City, on view through June 2.
I wrote the preface essay for Sarah's catalogue. One curious detail I didn't discuss concerns the image included here: "My Lucky Garden," 2006 (egg tempera on wood). Between this past January and March I visited Sarah several times at her house and studio. Each visit her painting "My Lucky Garden" was closer and closer to being completed, and each time the construction around her house (noted in the painting), being built by an Asian contractor for Asian residents of Chinatown called: My Lucky Garden, was nearer and nearer to being completed as well.
Here is the first paragraph of my essay on Sarah's work.
SARAH MCENEANEY: RECENT HISTORY
By Tom Devaney
You don’t so much control as work with your materials, which inevitably include yourself, whatever may be your most intimate facts. —Bill Berkson from “Working with Joe”
Looking at the paintings of Sarah McEneaney, one is struck by the intimacy of her panoramic views. Taking McEneaney’s everyday surroundings as her subject matter is one thing. But these are remarkable figurative paintings, a convincing and nuanced marriage of a person and paint. Yes, there are the accumulated moments and charted events of Sarah’s recent history: her cancer; the death of her dog Birdy; her work in the studio; the construction and build-up of Tresletown, her industrial neighborhood in Philadelphia’s Chinatown north. But it is the painterly attention she pays to her subject matter and her singular treatment of it that is most captivating. The interplay of subject matter, scale, and exacting egg tempera paint is simply marvelous. In the painting RB Fisher (2005), your eyes address a tiny figure (Sarah) working in a spare, seemingly white, studio; they drift up to the large window opening out onto the summertime trees, then rise even further to the sloping pink and white wood ceiling and return to the wide-angled green floor area, only to encounter five or six miniature paintings in progress on the studio walls, along with a dog, a table, and a few other chairs scattered just so throughout the space.