Monday, January 7, 2013

St. Marks New Years Day Poetry Marathon

I was wondering why it felt so underpopulated this year. That is until the first host’s intro about Patti Smith not being there for the first time since coming out of retirement. One would suppose that this 7-10 minute-brush-with-the-muse wouldn’t be the deciding factor for attendees at this event but it certainly did appear so. And the usual clusterfuck of people gathered at the Reader’s entrance was pretty thin; no one even got into fights over leg-room. Of course, there was no Philip Glass either. Or Reno. Or Penny Arcade. But the vast majority of the usual suspect did show up, and that should be enough for anyone not interested in just fame and glory.

And for those reasons, perhaps, or some other I know not of, this was also one of the best run marathons in memory. Nobody showboated the number, ran on excessively or missed their mark (almost). It was efficient to the point of embarrassment. So much so that there were two—count ‘em!—two breaks. They used to put in a dinner break around 6pm but that only happened once or twice in my memory, and it still ran behind for an hour. All this would’ve been very nice, if I still smoked. However it did give me a chance to try to repair my scrawls as much as possible to increase the chances that what you’d read here has anything to do with what happened. It also gave me a chance to peek at the Japanese artist next to me doing what I did, but in picture form. Every reader up to Denize Lauture and a few beyond got a quick pen-&-ink sketch; some she’d later color in. Wish I had’ve approached her to add her pictures to my report, but there you are; sitting for hours on end with a desire to get input from some of the best artists of our city, to sum up the year if possible, and yet not wanting to be completely idle. (For the record: close to 110 performances/whatevers from 2pm to just after 11pm. It makes me want to apologize to the last ones and explain that discomfort has to take precedence over enlightenment, sometimes.) As said before, I will look back at these blog entries as historical markers, more for me than anyone else. I was one of many who audited this happening; but only I am equipped to detail exactly what I could remember. And am I looking for a life lesson? Inspiration? A cheap holiday in other people’s mystery? The view from a window on Sunday of Camus’ “The Stranger”?

I come to spend time, waste time, mark time,

Anne Tardos – in wishing the Poetry Project a “Happy Birthday” one wonders what she emant by “entering teenage years” when this is it’s 47th anniversary. Her piece was based on “NIMES”, which is 9 words in 9 lines, I think. Best bit: “tirelessly peddling the endless source of ideas…”
Bob Holman – much hairier than usual…and NO HAT!?! First of the dedicatees of their reading (inspired by trip to the Dogon people in Africa) to Jane (or Jamie?) Cortez, a poet who died in 2012, and who he enjoyed for her “Poets in Bars” series, and is appropriately entitled: “Jane Needs No Plane”
Marcella Durand – “Intelligent Water” (re: Sandy) and used the word “algorithms” twice
Ethan Purey – “Flood Dream”
Simone White – references everything to “Lourdes did ____” to make one wonder if it was her diety, priestess, role model, or “Our Lady of…”
Bob Rosenthal – “Storm Surge in Swamp Marsh” (maybe) was pretty funny too, capturing the guy on the subway train with flashlights for sale for “wundollah wundollah wundollah wundollah” in his vignettes of our darktown Sandy ball to end with a poignant observation of a new view many share of “the waste of all that light/and yet we live”
Martine Bellen – Ded. Jamie (Janie?) Cortez: “Cat”, as in “the cat loves to _____”
Vyt Bakaitis – “More Than That”, “…trying to read between the lines of stars…” and “When Etruscans were around to think like Etruscans thought when they were Etruscans” (trust me: it made more sense in context)
Sarah Sarai – “Miracles” was all over the map, as one might expect from a nightmare during Sandy: Faith and “…emulsified condiments as dishwasher-safe…”, “iceberg lettuce” (recurring visual), to end with “Brother Fork/Sister Spoon/We are loved”
Nathaniel Siegel – “tribute to this sacred room” lead audience in chant-along to Bob Marley’s chorus from “One Love”
David Shapiro & Mohammed Fairuz – this was the first music piece with David at the mike and Mohammed on the piano; seemed to have something to do with Palestinian cause
Peter Milne Greiner – “Pilot Episode” was the most embarrassing of the night as he lost his place reading from his iPhone – GET IT ON PAPER, DUDE!
Lynn Behrendt – “Shirts I’ve Seen” (?) Best bit: this may be the boast of a doll (?) “I’ve eaten more pussy than cervical cancer”
Ralph Ferris – read “Solstice People” by somebody else (who’s name I didn’t get) “the longest and shortest days are the best for love”
Erica Hunt & Marty Ehrlich – the poet is married to the saxophonist so she’d read a line or two and wait for his baritone to answer: pretty fun
Andrew Boston – another one illed with good lines, the only one grabbed being “a Nike commercial that is the entirety of Wagner’s Niebelungen cycle”
Karen Weiser – “for Herman Melville” which may have had some Sandy references amid the Moby Dick angles
Bobby Previte – one of old downtown’s favorite avant jazz/rock drummers does a couple of riffs on a standing cymbal while offering a coming-of-age vignette of triumph and gaff
Steven Zultanski – “Landing pleasures” (?)
Elinor Nauen – in reference to husband’s injury in the flood is “happy to see the end of 2012”, hence: “Home Poem”
Cliff Fyman –leads in to poem about leaving home at 21 but whereas most of us flee TO NYC he was fleeing FROM NYC: “Loosening Ties”
Jennifer Firestone – best bit is coming up with two towheads in tow who cling to skirts like static, reading about changing times “Not gentrification anymore, but beautification”
Mike DeCapite – sharp local vignettation like the guy at the top of the subway exit putting the trash out, and the “creamsicle blue” sky, “even though creamsicle may not be a word”, driving here to end with, “take the Pallisades/and there’s New York/Like it’s always been… We come off the bridge and Gene Clark is playing… I feel that dream of New York before I even got here/Now I can live anywhere/Except inside my skull”
Tom Savage – talking about a traffic accident that has impaired mobility lead into “Boxing Day”
Camille Rankine – “It’s a free world”…”I fix my old grievances to a helium balloon… Seeking companionship/I spend my days before pet shop windows”
Khadijah Queen – very long title that may contain “Analogies to various aspects of the self”

First BREAK!

Patricia Spears-Jones – “Self Portrait as Midnight Storm” which may or may not have been about Sandy, and one for Cortez and other recent dec’d: “May They Rest In Poetry”
Murat Nemet-Nejat – first one seems to be about counting things as “slowly, everything takes the shape of numbers”, and then does a brief reading from a memoir of his youth in Istanbul
Betsy Fagin – dedicates this to C.A. Conrad (who is not dead and in-house) and seems to be accessing some Wizard of Oz analogies...
Denize Lauture – does poems in Haitiian, French and English trans, and does that incredible eerie whistling thing which, given his sonorous tones and rich velvet basso sotto voce, could just as well be calling up zombies, but the 2nd one, in French, really sounds like a version of Tuli Kupferberg’s “Nothing Song” from his Fugs days…
Jennifer Bartlett – charming gal with some sort of palsy or spastic muscle disorder reads “I was born dead”, but was really quite cheery about the whole thing…
Brenda Coultas – “My tree”
Larissa Shmailo – has the audience reorder the lines via random numbering and reads her composed way as well, but either way “Seasick” seems to give a bit of queasiness, and may or may not relate to Sandy
Carol Mirakove – “Love Kills Hate” (something about reconciling Nietzsche’s abyss)
Ricardo Maldonado – “Jason Pirette” (?) and “Layaway”
Katy Lederer –pregnant and proud of it, does “Two Genetic Songs”, one a sort of waltzing rhythm, while “Translocations” is sort of a tattoo
Matthew Pennock – 39 “I’m totally hungover…”

(…ok. Good for you Matt. And a good time for me to check out the facilities…)

(back in time for…)
Tracey McTague – also brings up unconscionably cute child, “Melancholia Formosa”
Church of Betty -
Bill Kushner – recalls his meeting with Robert Frost at the 92nd Street Y..again!
Don Yorty -
Marc Nasdor – dedicated to recently dec’d dog “Personal Hygene” (?), and seems to be big on the plosives and vocalizing, and “The Fog of War Drone”
Judith Malina – tribute to late partner of his epic presence: “When Julian Walked Alone”
Christine Elmo – choreographer has dancers raid audience from side to side, dow the aisle, climbing over chairs
Jennifer Miller – with Chris Cochrane, the Circus Amok performer does improve dance
Rachel Levitsky – reads for Cortez from novel “Rigid Bodies”, with repeating trophe: “Some of us _____”
Nicole Peyrafitte – sings acapella: “The sun has set too fast for today”
Rangi McNeil – does one about a cremated body (?) and one about Bin Laden (?) “Family Reunion”
Steven Taylor – “The Cradle song: words, William Blake; music, Allen Ginsburg
Serena Jost & Dan Machlin – poet accompanied by cellist/guitarist


Steve Earle – details how little of the stuff he’s done qualifies, even the one year he decided to write a haiku every day, and his one per annum is “so that I can justify coming here to breath the air of poets once a year”
Dael Orlandersmith – Dael deals it back to a friend’s memory when she was a hot toddy hot body in the olde town of the ‘20s and ‘30s
Tammy Faye Starlight – channeling Nico, platinum blond only lacks the two-ton teutonic accent AND MANAGES TO ADD COY Factory-era observations and asides before singing
Adeena Karasick – in red dress a splash of color, sings “Southbound on a cloud” but SEEMS to be ref’ing more of the cellphone culture so the “cloud” may be the metaphoric one of infodata…and then THIS arrives handed out to the crowd--
Beth Gill – dances to tape recording of “Observatory Crest” (sort of MOR song by band/person called The Married Monk)
Sue Landers – caught something about “Franklinstein” and seems to be about street names in Philly(?)
Josef Kaplan – first political statement of day, “This is what Justice said” (?) (from “Democracy is not for the people”), uses the Sandy Hook massacre as example of government conspiracy (like “Parallax View” movie, if you buy that) wherein innocent is used as scapegoat so that “…you changed the country in 15 minutes
Charles Bernstein – something else and one for the departed poets or the year, “Fare Thee Well”
Corrine Fitzpatrick – extra-svelte gal claims an affinity with previous two to make up a tryptich (which I didn’t get)
Diana Hamilton – cute girl utterly obsessed with all matters fecal
Maggie Estep – having just come from an all-night after-party from that ex-Dresden Doll frontwoman’s concert (name escapes me) she and pal Jenny were dressed in purple “slut attire” to do a call and response number called “SHUT UP!”
Edgar Oliver – gentle storyteller weaves memories of an organic boyhood outdoors
Tim/Trace Peterson – TG person does “The History of T-Typography”
E. Tracy Grinnell – “Love has a bitter taste” and “Garden of Light”
Julian T. Brolaski – “…some say I am an army of horse people…” (?)
Avram Fefer – sax solo, long and elegiac like Gato in “Taxi Driver”
Edwin Torres – with Steven Taylor on guitar and son on some kind of theremin, does “Occupy Song”
Poez -  “in a monotone” as song, accompanied by self on piano
CA Conrad – a title which might be “For children who will be obvious immortals…is bad for the economy” (think I missed some words in there) and seems to be about our recent wars in the Middle East (+/-), but might include Sandy Ridge, ends with “American fashion is bullet holes”
Bruce Andrews & Sally Silvers – no point in trying to describe either his sound clusters, non-sequitors, neo-axioms and buzzwords or her multiplanar space folding dance imrov
Ed Friedman – “Two Towns” and something about the Spring of 1958, how reading “Lady in the Lake” made him give up on the composition method of cut-up
Nurit Tilles – Scott Joplin rags on piano
Pierre Joris – ode to an Algerian Sufi mystic poet (who’s name I did not get) OR interp of same: “I am Love”; then another Algerian poet who might be Humid Skib(?) “Poem to my Prick”; then a female Moroccan poet/freedom fighter’s poem
Lee Ranaldo – half of Sonic Youth with Steve on cardboard box miked like bongos with Alan Licht and one other musician
Tony Towle – “Semi-Private” reverie on the post-trauma care from a recent accident (“if you’re dressed in white…you could be a Health Care Professional…”)
Jason Hwang – funny how these things stick with you, almost 20 years ago he was one of two violinists in this band called Hugo Largo, and that’s how I still remember him even though he’s had lots of other claims to fame…but here it was still a violin solo
Suzanne Vega – new acapella song
Nick Hallett – another acapella blast but blazingly funny [gotta insert video here!]
Douglas Dunn – more restrained dance this year; and no costume
Lenny Kaye – tribute to Hank Williams…and then, as a special “guest” Patti shows up (some explanation how she was “supposed to be on vacation right now but the South Korean embassy is holding my passport”) and sings a very moving song dedicated to the children of Sandy Ridge
Jonas Mekas – discursive and non-metric meditation on “light” and especially “the light in churches” of “candlelight”: “…artificial light…something’s missing—the shadows…electricity is not really light, it is something else…I miss the mystery of light”. Amazing thing is this is the kind of thinking you get from really old men who have spend a really long time figuring out what things are worth paying attention to…
Anne Waldman – “MORE POETRY IN SCHOOLS AND LESS GUNS!” but she was actually pretty restrained this year is that the set was short (only with a guitarist and her son on sax) and was more of an ode to John Cage’s centenary
Rodrigo Toscano – various questions about what, exactly, “OCCUPY” occupies in the modern consciousness
Taylor Mead – more frail and still rigid on his erections as his spine can’t be, lamented the fact that he couldn’t bring up his boombox with the Mingus accompaniment cassette, and went on to laugh and digress through a poem “on death”
Yoshiko Chuma – instead of her standard silence, she speaks of her recent travels to Ramallah and Fukushima and Hiroshima and has Anne Waldman read something of a summation of these while she improves in the aisle and apron
John Giorno – “Where were you in 1963 on the day JFK died?” weaves between the personal and apolitical to conspiracy theory and love
Foamola -  the mad caps wear no hats…but sing and play “New Awning”, “Hollow Ice” and “Have a Good Day”
Kristin Prevallet – “…if water has a memory…on the beach, it is making a conncetion…” [which you might connect to Sandy as well]
Secret Orchestra – large ensemble in a sort of aetherized modal mood
Yvonne Meier – “Beware of your Stars” (?) which might be about a neurotic scratching himself to death
Jon Glaser – Adult Swim star of “Delocated” [news to me: haven’t watched it since “12 Ounce Mouse” stopped] comes to lectern with patch over throat and holds up recording on iPhone from doctor explaining how he swallowed a bottle rocket on New Year’s and can’t speak so the doc will read his poem for him…and thence hilarity proceeds from this conceit as he keeps poker face while dr. cuts him to pieces with withering critique—gimmick, yeah, but actually works quite well in this context
Macgregor Card – “The Ambition of my _____” in various premutations
Anselm Berrigan – [no idea what he said]
Callers – is a band “utilizing the poetry of Anne Seton”
David Henderson – one of the few Obama references, i.e.: the current state of governance—“…and now they know/if they never did before/the president doesn’t run the ship”
Eileen Myles – preamble was something about “used poems” [as opposed to new ones] that she’d found, such as the one here “written floating on a boat on a river in India”
Gordon Gano – “I’ll have a happy New Year, Next Year”
Elliott Sharp – plays a lap slide guitar to deliver another searing solo: “Guns nor Money”
Ernie Brooks, Billy Ficca & Peter Zummo – outside of the intro claiming they are from “the outer boroughs” the bass/vocals, drum, and trombone make for a strange-but-interesting combo
Reuben Butchart – pianist/composer accompanies self on song “White Flag”
Edmund Berrigan – “Insecurity Blanket”
Arthur’s Landing – another smaller than usual ensemble, but, as usual, dreamy treatment of the late composer’s music, with flugelhorn to boot
Laura Elrick – “Love Fracture Love’s Factions” and “Arrow Shampoo”, then words and variations on “Riding the Tilt-A-Whirl”
Erica Kaufman, Nicole Eisenman & Matt Longabucco – trio trades off on measures
Elizabeth Devlin – with autoharp, makes you understand how almost anyone with an ancient instrument and angelic pipes could be compared to _____________ [drat! Who is that popular gal from the pop-indiecult?]
LZ Hansen – slut Brit in hip-huggers, Cockney slouch cap, feathers and ‘tats, read from her early NYC memoir of sex and nightclubbing
Douglas Piccinnini – “…inspired by the artists Cynthia Graham…”