Monday, November 22, 2010

New Blog Feature: Wheelhouse Spotlights

After some consideration, I've decided to add a feature to this blog, bridge it more explicitly with Wheelhouse on the one hand and PRESS on the other (these hands, by the way, are connected to a common body anyhow). Much as I direct you, my fellow wide-eyed readers, to PRESS events, readings, conferences, and online content over at the PRESS Literary Politics Series Blog, I'm going to feature a couple of contributors to Wheelhouse, once every so often--basically when I can and feel like it. (A conjunct claim for all you logic nuts out there.) These features will be shortish blurbs or teasers with the hope that they might direct your attention to things you may have, in your busy lives, missed over at Wheelhouse. Wheelhouse Spotlights.

So, without further ado, and starting with some of the pdf work, which is by nature longer and often more typographically challenging, take a look at...

from MEET ME UNDER THE WAR ANGELS by David Brazil (OMG! Press, 2010). Wheelhouse Magazine, No. 9

David Brazil's excerpt from Meet Me Under the War Angels, a physical chapbook published by Brandon Brown's OMG! is about as much as we could publish at Wheelhouse, but oh did we have a hard time excerpting. Brandon and David graciously allowed us to pluck from this really--in our estimation--stunning, subtle, chapbook. The work is endlessly generative if you have the patience, beautiful if not. I respect not only the way David treats people in person, but likewise, as a true extension of David the subject, here I admire the treatment of friendship (complexly understood via often the simplest, sparest stanza), the sublime in everyday experiences, the subjective inertia of the body experiencing food, sex, poetry (need) amidst a landscape of indescribable ruin (angels speak of earthly horrors but do so in slanted, poetical ways). Where even the ruin is, in its strange converging temporalities and mossy overgrowths, imbued with possibility when met, which is to say resisted on so many different levels and in so many places (the public park a recurring one), including the (non)site of the poem itself. The possibility for ruin here to have, perhaps, even an aura, a tangibility that can be archived if not somehow remediated, speaks to an aesthetic that is contra a lineage of a sort of photographical poetics--one that seeks out the splendor of the wasteland as seen through a machine's (a priori, not quite godlike) eye, ruin seen as "the beautiful" in a more Kantian sense, i.e., as an aesthetic of unpopulated beauty presented in so much late 20th century photography. Contra the closed off, reified lyric--an aesthetic of subject-object confusion and remove, simple dichotomy. Contra that, that reification, Brazil's cycle is deeply populated, ruin implicated in our affairs as much as the quiet touch that is so savagely juxtaposed to what is ostensibly an unspoken backdrop, itself subject and object. And so conversation among friends, recorded into daily notebooks, sears, is interspersed with an incessant wondering-as-written, peopled quotes both alive and dead, in real time too, and a wondering/wandering that is, always at the edges, sad and (almost paradoxically) joyously curious. Each "section," with an "=" indicating "time passes," as Brazil noted before he captivated us with a live reading of the entire work in SF a few months ago, is tightly woven, and it feels as though it can be, maybe should be sung in whisper or spoken with hushed laughter (formatting not entirely retained here):

="It is

the thing inside us that I want to talk about

in the figure"

-Manuel Neri,

caption to a marble sculpture

unaccountably present in this waiting


(We also walk past a cardboard

Kore -- woven out of κορε

packing material I think -- and

very colorful -- which Sara

said is a good omen --

and which makes me think of


the whom whom we may owe for

what we are.)

I splashed water on my face from

the airport bathroom tap

that turns itself off in

five seconds after you wave

The cycle moves in and out of subjective times similarly throughout. Such that two rather famous Augustine quotes, at least for me, come to mind (as does The Confessions Book X as a whole): "Charity is no substitute for justice withheld" and "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." Here the work dips into the concreteness of faucets and buses and sodas and commercials, and, of course, monument of the war dead trapped in silence. Both the trauma and restlessness of subjects forging intimate moments (impossibly) outside neoliberal wreckage, poetry's vocation and the term's use as way of becoming, as pre-literary (to borrow from George Quasha), ask how late it is, and whether this bounded life, at this hour of meeting in intimacy (whose?) is "enough." This book sprawls and turns back on itself, meets charity along the way, of course, and so those who populate it--many of the people treated I know in this life--are left in a kind of suspended animation (emphasis on animation), an animated wondering/wandering. Nomadism informs what it is to "meet" at a destination, none of which are home. And the reaching beyond or under or as resistant to neoliberal self-sameness meets headlong the everyday shit and its beautiful anti-spleandor, hence, beyond creating for an increasingly musical yet frenzied dialectic, what we get is a book that is and reveals a notion of community that isn't at all what one usually gets to the right of the term, definitionally: some mealy mouthed togetherness based in some magical (and of course destructive) notion of unity. By meeting--together witnessing--below the war angels (and so inextricably tied to the war) is how the work takes us from place to place and how it retains a non-linear, restless fit with itself.

I hope that at some point Brazil reads the work again and a full recording emerges, as there is so little daylight between the poet and the poem that to hear one wearing this work is in itself quite magical--and, lest I forget, at times quite funny.

To order this title, and other titles from poets such as Alli Warren, Rodney Koeneke, and Anna Vitale, visit the link to OMG! above.

*Next up, excerpts from Sonja Sekula by Kathrin Schaeppi (book forthcoming in a few weeks from Black Radish Books).


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