Got back a few days ago from New York, still jet-lagged, so this is an IOU write a more thoughtful, less exhausted post about the new releases I got my hands on as part of the Belladonna Series new books release party. Had a wonderful time, tho, and yet the stay was too short.
Got in town just in time to read alongside Eleni Stecopolous, Brenda Iijima, and Dottie Lasky. The Belladonna Series graciously hosted this book release party, and Thom Donovan co-curated the event with Rachel Levitsky and Emily Skillings. Was great to hear the work of three of my favorite poets. The new work is stunning: you can find excerpts from the new books--listed in the post below--online, but I suggest treating yrself and buying the books. Good investment! Antiques Roadshow material!
The readings worked extremely well together, with Brenda reading her uniquely jagged and animated poems first, a bit from both books; Eleni reading just before me (this work, Armies of Compassion, I'm most familiar with in relation to the others, and am in love with its tough, catastrophic and compassionate lyric); and Dottie closing us out--reading from among other poems in Black Life, "Tornado," which is so multilayered despite the simple, often declarative (and deeply funny) lines. As I said to Dottie that night, I think I now understand better, or anyway in a more interested way, Plath's work, thus Dottie's interest in Plath. Though the two are miles apart in both form and content (as far as I hear it), there is that directed affinity that models for me ways to read in Plath anxiety on top of an unapologetic feminism that is also, often covertly, funny. Dottie's work often inverts the covert and overt, the work overtly playful and yet covertly eviscerating. In Plath, I feel, now in light of Dottie's reading, that I'd keep missing the humor and also the critique (the politics, so to speak), focusing too much as is often the case on the mode of confession (or apparent mode of confession).
Anyway, I loved the readings. Felt great to be back too.
Had a great time seeing old friends and meeting new people. Good to see Rodrigo Toscano and Laura Elrick, Kristin Prevallet, activist friends from when I was a union organizer, including (now prof. at NYU) Hannah Gurman, who, it turns out, is writing these days on contemporary poetry's use of / working with leaked official military and law enforcement documents, which is what, for 2 of the 4 sections, Occultations is doing. The packed house was really treated to some amazing work, even with me reading way too fast from poetical experiments that might or might not be completely forgettable (how would I know?).
Many thanks to Thom, Rachel, and Emily--to the Belladonna Series for all their hard work on this event. And thanks to Dixon Place and their sound/tech crew, who were nice enough to allow me to work with them last-minute on the multimedia portions of my reading. Nice digs, seriously cool experimental theater, which, by the way, can use all the support you can give it.