Since I spent three days in the Bay Area, I figured I'd write three posts reflecting on the trip, going chronologically (what is time for, really, but the internet?). First full night there Rob Halpern and I gave a reading for David Brazil & Sara Larsen's Life Long Dream Come True Series, which, it turns out, was the final one. Some observations:
Rob, Lee, Elizabeth & I get out of the car & head up the walkway to the house, run into Chris Daniels, who heads up with us. Both of us are still on a high from an evening of reading, discussion & late night talk with David Abel at Evergreen last month, when the two read for the PRESS Series. A relief to see Chris, very happy to see him. When together there's some good silences; much like with Rob, I don't have to say anything sometimes. We're speaking in that way, & his calling all of us "human creatures" I think about often, thought about then, challenge myself to be that human creature he demands of us, himself included. We talked nonetheless thru the night, feel like we've known each other for a hundred years.
We go inside & David & Sara greet us. Get big hugs from both. David's embrace is crushing - nice, and I can't help think about how he could stand similar care about now. Embrace is genuine & happy. David & Sara are so lovely, their house is so inviting--just kind people. Period. More on both in my next installment. Brandon Brown is there too, very kind person--his work has influenced mine, from poetry to (contiguously) pedagogy, thankful for that. Of course I can't put faces to names at all, so don't even know who he is, despite having big lettering "BROWN" on his shirt, which is brown. Owe him an email to say thanks for existing. Same for Bruce Boone, who is also there by the time we get to the house, & who was mythic to me before then, his Century of Clouds crucial to my understanding of poetry, counter-narrative, what Halpern has got me calling the "insurrection" of performed speech (I'd forgotten about that, & am returning to the term's active verb from, "insurrects," as it's spot-on). So, blown away by that, & I think to myself that Bruce Boone is not only a great poet, but he's a good dresser & handsome.
Anyway, soon a bunch of people arrive, house gets packed. Lots of energy--frenetic but also careful, generous in ways I don't remember NYC having been, at least not consistently. Carrie Hunter shows up, part of Black Radish Books, really good to finally meet her, & I'm editing her manuscript right now, which is kick ass. Of course by the time I get my edits back to her it'll be published, & probably for the better. A bunch of us on the long stairway of David & Sara's house leading up to the front door, nice night. Meet Joceyln Saidenberg, whose Negativity (Atelos) is awesome, & find that the title isn't operative as moniker - she herself is decidedly not negative... good, short conversation about Evergreen. No sooner does that conversation end, then Lindsay Boldt (Evergreen grad) and recent grad & designer of Occultations, Kate Robinson, show up. Kate reads with me later on. Lindsay reads the following evening (another post to come about that reading, wow). Two really lovely folks show up - Ted Rees & Brian Ang, both fine poets, good politics. Alli Warren, Dana Ward, Lauren Shufran, & Erika Staiti are among several poets whose work I really love but who I only briefly got to say hello to. Then a cadre of students from the 95 Cent Skool show up, which was really cool, as I got to talk about how that was going--all were excited for the thing to start in a couple days, all really interesting people. By now the stairs and rooms have become packed, David Buuck has shown up--great to see him again, looking forward to seeing him again when school starts up at Bard in a week--and we get down to reading, Rob & I.
My reading, don't know about how it went other than that I really fed off the energy the people there gifted me. It was one of the most pleasurable, familial (or better, communal) feelings I've had reading/performing, which unless done by machines (multi-media) or by machines plus other players (usually the case), I get cranky about, timid, intimidated, anxious, etc. None of that this evening, liked that close proximity to people, the interaction, the lack of mediation between myself and other human creatures.
Rob's reading was terrific, simply uncanny. Intense, funny, coded--as he sits in a chair with Michael Cross's wiener dog w/blanket next to him. Two pieces: first was a short excerpt from his forthcoming Music for Porn (more on that later), & then a longer piece, a very early short story that came out of Dodie Bellamy's workshop back in, I think, 1995, published in full in 98. David Brazil republished the first part of "Trolley's Kind" in the new issue of Try, along with some poems of mine, his, & others affiliated with the events of the weekend, much devoted to commoning. All I can say is READ THIS PIECE. Wish it'd been recorded, as tho Rob read with the intensity he always does, reaching a kind of zone that is simply eviscerating, this piece was his going back, rediscovering older work with some level of comfort about it now, about that time, indeed prose, which surprised me despite his pushing narrative in newer work. The reading allowed us to share in that recovery, which ultimately made for the most intimate of gestures.
The night ended with some after-reading conversation with Taylor Brady and Michael Cross, Elizabeth, David & Sara, Chris, Rob, Lee--a few of us remaining till the end as we wound down. At this point I forget what we were talking about, as I was (I know, this sounds sappy) just completely satiated, actually calm for the first time in a long while. Can't remember last time I was this calm.
POSTSCRIPT (July 30): Rob's Trolley's Kind IS now available as pdf, thanks to Michael Cross (& Rob, of course). Head over to Cross's blog The Disinhibitor to view the uploaded story.