Sunday, August 24, 2008

I won't admit to feeling optimistic, but I will officially state that I experienced feelings of joy and a distinct reduction in overall alienation.

I've just returned from Vancouver, more or less, and by the last day of the Positions Colloquium I'd used words like "moving," "inspiring" and "happy."

Vancouver is in the midst of some serious post-factory, rust belt gentrification and, more recently, gentrification brought on in part by all the money pouring into the city for the upcoming 2010 winter Olympics. The thing is, it's still a really fabulous city: the public transportation works. There are sidewalks. Not everyone is white. Not every news anchor has hair dyed blond for marketing purposes. It's a city in which a collective poetic and political organization has been able to exist for more than a decade.

My notes from the panels are some combination of doodles and language. I'll post them as soon as I can get to a scanner. For now, here's most of the language, with some descriptions of doodles.


AM: "On Line: Poetics and the Distribution of Meaning" (Darren Wershler-Henry, Brian Kim Stefans, Judy Radul, and Sianne Ngai). Information always comes from somewhere else, someone else. The desire to impose magic on things that aren't inherently magic. How avant-garde techniques are used in commercials. Facebook status updates as auto surveillance. The meat always comes shambling along after you ( I drew a zombie army, which was easy for me since most of my stick figures already look like the undead). Rapture as sublimity (I think I meant as "sublime." As in computer fantasies of transcending the body). Reinventing the page for myself/ourselves. Font de psychology (in response to Brian Kim Stefans' flash font doodling program and exploding poems). Form as distribution (remember mail art?) Sitting at a computer does have a physicality. How to render this? What's embarrassing about each form of technology is interesting(Judy Radu said that).

PM: "The Clifford Irving Show" (Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy with Guests--I remember that Colin Smith & Lisa Robertson were among them). Feminist barf wears bad shoes. I said I was fake but didn't mean it. Ibiza. No one wants to be the mother but a lot of us need mothering and lesbian tensions in mother-daughter relationships that no one talks about. Chickens RCA Cows RCA Pigs RCA but but but. Customs House. Tariq Alvi.

Lunch/Dinner: chicken and mushroom congee at the Congee House on Broadway. Yum. It was raining. I hadn't eaten congee in years, and this was an incredibly satisfying meal. Lisa Robertson recommended Mosses From an Old Manse.

Evening Readings: (Darren Wershler-Henry, Colin Smith, Brian Kim Stefans, Clint Burnham, Robert Fitterman). People are rent. I drew a picture of a baby in a crib saying "kill the fucker" and wrote a note to myself: "the fuwuyuan on the train from Harbin to Shanghai with the angry, haphazard coral red lipstick and Jamie describing it." I'm not sure what part of the reading made me think of that. I also wrote "suburban ennui" and "surprisingly, I have never watched a full episode of Lost. I also drew a picture of two people leaping on a tightly coiled, dangerous looking mattress.

To be more specific, Darren read from Status Update, a new project he did with Bill Kennedy that's rather meticulous and hilarious.

Colin Smith read from 8x8x7, recently out from Krupskaya Books. I'd heard his name before but didn't know his work--I really liked it. It has an energy, intensity, and torque that reminded me a bit of Kevin Killian, but it also seemed brutal and even a bit personal. I'll certainly be writing about his work more after I get a hold of the book (really, I should have brought more money with me to the conference)!

BKS read some recent (I think) poems with some projections of exploding flash poems behind him--WCW, if I remember correctly. I met BKS once back in New York when I'd just started going to readings. I think it was at double happiness, and maybe Abigail Child was reading. I also remember that I was being a bit shy, and also that I drank my first Boddingtons beer. Anyway, it was good to hear him read, and a reminder to look at his work as I continue to noodle around with coding and some of the visual stuff I've been doing. Plus, he's moving to LA soon.

Clint Burnham read a series of procedural homophonic translations of. What? Walter Benjamin? Somehow that detail isn't in my notes. I love sound-based translation--so often we rely on image or denotation for meaning, but sound is important, too, and a homophonic translation highlights this. Obviously, sounds have texture and mouth feel, as well as connotative and denotative meanings, and these meanings etc are also at least in part cultural. Poems that focus on sound, for me at least, always open up meanings and connections that I wouldn't think of otherwise. Plus, they're fun to listen to and write.

Rob Fitterman
read a procedural piece called "Free" made of lines from classifieds. It was funny and rather horrifying--people give away strange things, and other people give other people's things away when people die. What does bacon stretcher look like? Rob also showed a power point presentation in which every slide was a smiling picture of himself. Rob's work continues to examine subjectivity and appropriation in interesting ways.


mark wallace said...

The Clint Burnham piece was a translation of Kant, I believe.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Ah, yes, I thought you would remember--thanks for clarifying that. Also, this morning I noticed a copy of Colin 's 8x8x7 on the coffee table, so I suppose I won't order one : )

donatoma said...

Clint's pieces were Benjamin sonnets. they are homophonic translations of passages of Benjamin.