Wednesday, April 4, 2012

RE: Reading in SF

I was remembering that Super Bowl reading in SF just last Sunday. I was introducing Judy Roitman at a local dive bar reading series in basement. Upstairs the stomping and hoorahing was peaking. KU was wining a b-ball game. We were listening to poetry. Yes indeed. I remember Spencer sort of apologizing for inviting us and we did it anyway. Why not. Were the 49ers in that game?

I just saw a 'call for presentations' for a deal called Poetry of the Eighties being produced at some college back east, maybe Maine. Seemed as though they were asking a lot to participate...a lot of production is what I saw being asked for. Well poetry of the eighties is intresting enough...since we were there...although maybe not where the conference mentioned above is looking. Your right though there were tiers, as always, in SF at the time. Lots going on...slams and open mics all around and then the 'serious' sounding like Langston St. It was a good time indeed and I hope as we put something together in days to come that we can capture a taste.

I've been thinking about some of the publications that spawned out of and in and around that time: i.e. Avec, Witz, Tight, Texture, Smelt Money, Loose Gravel, Mandala, Stiffled Yawn, The Difficulties and others too. Something to be looked at perhaps...something about what came out of Sonoma County and its position as not Berkeley or San Francisco.

Also thinking about David Bromige and Duncan and how you and the rest of us 'entered' into all that. And too my friend and mentor Paul Mariah and his location and his coverage of Jack Spicer with his press Manroot. Which I think is pretty much overlooked. Too.

I re-read the interview you referred to with David. I related to the part where he mentioned having his daughter, Margaret with him when he met with Duncan. I remember her being around at times when with David or his house in Sebastapol. She was a presense for sure.
And is today I would imagine.

Here is a pic from some gathering in Cotati circa 1989??? Maybe???

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Received the following books from Spencer Selby (we swapped a whole bunch, I sent him a bunch and he sent me a bunch), recently: Twist of Address, The Big R, this is visual poetry, Flush Contour, and another by a friend of his, Charles Freeland, Eucalyptus.  I already had Spencer's Malleable Cast and No Island.

Jim, you may recall that Spencer invited you and me down to San Francisco "to read" at the Church building down there someplace.  Must have been either 1989 or 1990.  It was the night of the Super Bowl. It was rainy and chilly.  I remember that Colleen Lookingbill was there that night, too.  I'm sure that I was mostly a bore, myself, as I would only have had about two half-decent spots of poming at the time ("Chanting for Beginners," which, as you know, I'd written in 1986-1987, mostly while working in that Home Improvement store just off Hwy. 12, hence the punning around hardware items and such) and "To begin again" (also 1986, and which you'd helped me develop and which David had quite liked when I showed it to him in the SSU bar/lounge that one shiny afternoon in the same year, blah blah) and of course whatever else I had at the time was surely drivel and doggerel and droplets.

(Of course, both Spencer Selby and Colleen Lookingbill were curators of the Canessa Park Reading Series, also.  Here's a note on that series from Laura Moriarty, one of its founders:

This is the audience of a reading Bob Perleman gave at Canessa Park Gallery in I think 1986. There must have been a co-reader but I am not sure who it was. 1986 was when I stopped running the series and talked Spencer Selby into running it. Jim Hartz, Ben Friedlander and I started it in 1984 to replace the one at the bakery at Cole and Carl that took over from the Grand Piano or at least that is my memory of the lineage. I think an actual physical mailing list was passed from hand to hand. There was a certain symmetry there as I was the last reader at the bakery series along with Stephen Rodefer. Here is an attempt at some of the names:

Back row: Bob Perleman with hands up, Krishna Evans, David Melnick, Ron Silliman also with hands up, Carla Harryman, Ben Friendlander. Middle row: Sandra Meyer (or at least I think that was her name. I do remember that she last ran the series at the bakery) and her partner, a few people I can't remember, Dan Davidson, a woman I can't remember, Thoreau Lovell, Pat Reed. Next row: a man I don't recognize, Jerry Estrin, Leslie Scalapino. Front row: Two women I can almost remember, Beverly Dahlen, Melissa Riley and Alan Bernheimer.

We attended a good number of readings in SF during those years (1986-1989) we were at Sonoma State, Jim. I remember particularly you and I going down for that Valentine's Day poetry reading one of those years and we heard David Melnick reading from his book Men in Aida and how much we laughed and delighted as we listened to and heard the incredible hilarity and punning of that singular text. And I remember how much we dug some kind of collaborative piece that I think Leslie Scalopino and maybe it was Carla Harryman read/performed, but I can't remember what the name of that one was, exactly.  I remember you really, really digging that one.)

I would sure like to get Hank's Original Loose Gravel Press, as well as theenk Books and Black Spring, on Selby's List if possible, also. (But maybe we/I have to be "more regular" about actually making issues happen.

Here's the first poem in Spencer's Twist of Address, which is a BLAST of the kind of Fresh Air one breathes after a nice cool rain storm has knocked the dry old cobwebs out of ones ears:

After Rain Talk

After rain talk
the street is dry

In the act you smile
as obvious as dominance
crushing the backbone
tracing jawline vertigo

So help me dear
I don't know why

(the view is rough
on standards lost
to mass appeal)

I thought I did but
power failed and
specialists left town
with nothing special

On the way back
I told a story
and caught you
staring into space

Absent where you
shouldn't be
Tired when it only
gets symbolic and
produces more of the same

I can't verbalize
what you don't allow
I can't answer what you
suffered long ago

I was thinking
the look good
in a raincoat made of
fabric that's invisible

I was thinking
the weather is bad
with no meaning equal to
a cloud we can't
escape from

I was thinking
words are falling and
we're lucky to survive 

I love this kind of poming.  I could "explicate it" all day long.  Because it's so full of casual sounding but really quite serious, and quite seriusly funny/witty, thought, it opens so much to think about even after "the street is dry" and the talk of rain has long dissipated and I'm all wet from my own abstractions.