As I get ready to meet up with Chris Mann, then hear him perform for our second PRESS event of the winter, I'm thinking about how amazing Kaia Sand and Jules Boykoff were last week, and how grateful I am that they're in the region and doing what they are doing: finding new, rather exhilarating ways to intersect and collide oft-thought-of "political" and "aesthetic" spheres.
Jules read first, all work from his new Hegemonic Love Potion (Factory School), which included lines from his cycle "Das Greenspan," such as:
"The kind of guy who's not afraid to bring an inflatable candy cane to
to a trans-national stag party"
and other gems, including one of my favorite poems in this hyper-sonic collection, this auctioneering of warped eternal present faux recollections born of the latest capitalism money can't buy, "Notes from the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment." The poem begins: "I was all jacked up on freedom juice again." And moves on from there, multidirectionally, trying to capture but necessarily failing to capture, one's own--our own--market driven madness.
In contrast to Jules' work, which--besides being often devastating in its critique of itself as necessarily a product of the culture industry (its critique of us)--often feels to me like being jabbed in the ribs by a friend acting out the persona of the joke-teller, Kaia's work is quieter, raging from the inside out, its lyricism being one central point on a literal map that is her new work, Remember to Wave, around which these life-structures in Portland turn. So many habitations are mapped out, their sociopolitical, their social grid lines mapped out not just by Kaia, but by what Kaia's research unearthed as document, as letter form, as well as her tour group's often startling observations. These habitations are often the most occulted in this one area's history, where, for example, Kaia concentrated her reading last week very much on the section of Remember to Wave that charts out the internment of Japanese people at the Portland convention center's storage lockers, the lockers turned into "living quarters," i.e., "prisons." One work from which Kaia read involved giving "voice" to silent archive home movie footage from (I think?) the 1960s, again charting this area of the Portland Convention Center in a different way, this long lyrical poem incredibly captivating, the large screen footage dividing our attention between the seen and the heard in ways not unlike Laura Elrick's work, on which Sand has written recently (see posts below on both Remember to Wave and Laura Elrick's Stalk, which has been fleshed out and lengthened as an essay forthcoming).
The two combined for a deeply engaging contrast, and as the gracious, committed activists they are, offered several plugs for CA Conrad's arrival in March. As, for those of you familiar with Boykoff, Conrad, and Sand, the three are engaged in similar political enactments thru language, and are, as Boykoff spoke about during the discussion after the reading, part of a larger phenomenon of site-specific and sociopolitical spatial practices / concerns at work in contemporary poetry, "witness" post-Oppen, not dissimilar to the site-specific arguments and engagements in visual arts last decade, continuing to evolve currently (and inform poetry & poetics).
I'll try to dig up photos of the event as well as quotes/images from Kaia's Remember to Wave (both, at the moment of this writing, are being circulated among Evergreen students who could not make the reading itself). In the meantime, take a look at some posts below, and go here for a snapshot of Kaia's map-making (from Wheelhouse PRESS Anthology 2009), and head over to Factory School and Tinfish Press website for further ordering information.