Solid Quarter

Visit Trembling Pillow Press for poetry books, broadsides, chapbooks, and Solid Quarter Magazine.

Visit New Orleans Poetry Fest for the annual 4 day poetry festival directed by Bill Lavender and Megan Burns.

Megan Burns' Poeticsofbone&city project on Tumblr

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Readings: Nicole Peyrafitte and Pierre Joris

Nicole Peyrafitte and Pierre Joris read Thursday, February 23rd at the Gold Mine Saloon as part of the 17 Poets! Literary and Performance Series. 
It was a touching reunion of poet and place as last time both poets were here in New Orleans was in 2005 just months after the storm. Scheduled to read in late August '05 with our series, Nicole and Pierre  instead came in November of '05 to perform and to document and bear witness to the damage caused to the New Orleans community. Along with their son, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte (now an accomplished young film maker) they took to the decimated streets of New Orleans recording and photographing and most importantly talking to people about their experiences in post Katrina New Orleans. They traveled to the "white goods" dump far out in New Orleans east and spoke to workers and captured astonishing video of the mass destruction of a city's appliances. View video here
Their return to Louisiana marks a continuation of their dedication to interviewing, recording, and doing the work of the poet in the form of giving voice and bearing witness to the trauma in the world. They will be spending the rest of their trip traveling through southern Louisiana speaking to residents affected by the Gulf Oil Spill and BP's clean up efforts. Here in New Orleans they began this task by interviewing Buras activist Kindra Arnesen, mother and wife to a commercial fisherman who was one of the first to speak out about BP's insidious way of handling the spill and the community. Even in the wake of her family's sickness and need to be detoxed, including her two young children, she continues to fight and speak out about BP's blatant destruction of the coast, its waters and animals, and its communities. 
As I sat there watching Nicole and Pierre interview Kindra, I remembered the feeling of having someone listen and the urgency of the world outside of our sphere of residents and those affected to be privy to what we knew on the "inside" living as we were in the wake of destruction. This is what poetry does: it is the lifeline that continues to speak up long after the people who fight grow weary. It is the living document that roots itself into consciousness in the wake of seemingly endless lies fueled by corruption and greed. In the end, it thwarts silence and the death of what we seem to be screaming into the abyss. 

Nicole Peyrafitte performing excerpts from her Bi-Continental Chowder at 17 Poets!
This is going to be one hell of a text to engage with, hopefully sooner than later!

Nicole's humor shines through as she creates a sacred song in the long tradition of oral poets who sang the glories of the body and celebrated the mysteries of fertility and life. Peyrafitte creates a stage presence that travels from sandy shores to tramp about in Olson's words to refute Freud and then asks the audience to laugh, to poke fun at in the highest gesture of understanding: that we embrace and get comfortable in our skins, that we understand the deep mystery and the long history that we wade into when we use (& misuse) language. 

Pierre Joris' long poem weaving a line in the sand across continents and amid questions
from war to the inability to decipher the knowledge that is parceled out via the media
to the empathy sprung from embracing the language and the geography of the "other"
and the mirages we struggle against.

I've been deeply intrigued with a new collection of essays about Joris and his poetry and poetics ever since he put the book in my hand. Cartographies of the In-Between is a comprehensive examination of a life in letters from translator to poet to bridge between various schools of poetry emanating in a Nomadic poetics to anthologist and mentor. I've just finished the first section "Filiations" which includes an essay by Jennifer Moxley which takes a close look at Canto Diurno #1 as well as Joris' relationship with "hearth" and "home" in his poetry. I was moved to return his Canto Diurno in its entirety as I have it in his Selected Poems: Poasis. Instead of looking back at the patriarchal influences as this essay does, (and quite thoroughly), I find myself interested in looking forward to how this poem manifests itself in future poems: the idea of capturing a day of poetry as we see in later works like Bernadette Mayer's Midwinter Day or in an expanded length of time such as the experimental diaryesque prose of Lyn Heijinian's My Life. I wonder how we could trace forward a matrilineal line emerging from Joris' "shaking off the fathers." Franca Bellarsi has an informative essay drawing parallels as well as divergent paths in the works of the Beats, some translated by Joris, and Joris' own work and future poetics practice. Christopher Rizzo examines the use of culture in both Olson and Joris' poems ( and to some degree Duncan, as well)  and how Joris' poetics is influenced by, but in many ways not contained by Olson's declarations of projection and "page as field" poetics. Rizzo also examines how his role of translator informs his poetics reinforcing the view of the vernacular and language at any level as the "rhizomatic" force that enters the body and spreads out navigated by experience and place rather than by any steady teleological movement.  Dale Smith looks at Joris' book A Single Minded Bestiary: Common Fox using this text as a springboard to examine Joris' use of the totem animal, the function of translation and self in between countries, the influences of Dorn and Creeley, and Joris' role as a "social imaginary." This first section ends with an interview between Joris and editor Peter Cockelbergh which helps to clarify and ground some of the previous essays. In this form, we get to hear from the poet, some of his thoughts on lineage especially in regards to early influences as well as his emphasis on "breath" and how this informs his use of the term "rhizomatic" in terms of his poetics. 

Cartographies of the In-Between

Louis Armand, Tony Baker, Franca Bellarsi, Mohammed Bennis, Charles Bernstein, Nicole Brossard, Geert Buelens, Clive Bush, Corina Ciocarlie, Peter Cockelbergh, Clayton Eshleman, Allen Fisher, Christine Hume, Robert Kelly, Abdelwahab Meddeb, Jennifer Moxley, Carrie Noland, Alice Notley, Marjorie Perloff, Nicole Peyrafitte, Jean Portante, Christopher Rizzo, Jerome Rothenberg, Dale Smith, Habib Tengour.

About the editor:
Writer, scholar and translator, Peter Cockelbergh studied at the universities of Antwerp and Leuven (Belgium), at the EHESS in Paris, and is currently working on a Ph.D. at the Technische Universitat Darmstadt (Germany). For a number of years, he has been reading, writing on and translating Pierre Joris's poetry and essays (into Dutch, French & English), and has recently worked on the author's papers and archives. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reading Danielle Vogel’s Narrative & Nest

Reading Danielle Vogel’s Narrative & Nest: Pre-Natal Architectures and Narrative Rituals

I read it in the bathtub. The children are away for the night and my husband is working. The dog sits on the mat next to the tub. The water is scented. I read it in the bathtub, submerged naked body –under waters cloudy.
I read every word from the first page, rights reserved, sculptures by, design and typesetting. I believe the voice talking to me from the page. I have to move from the pictures to the voice. I have to have something to hold on to. The voice as I imagine Danielle’s voice but also not Danielle’s voice as if she were talking to me disembodied as the voice is disembodied, as I am not hearing a sound, but it has the shape of sound. In my head, it has the curve of sound, it has the weight of safety, and it has the feel of a place I trust. I have the need to hear the voice tell me about writing, I have the need and maybe because I know nothing. Do I know nothing? What do I know?

“This is what happen when the book is not yet possible” (Vogel 2).

I hear the voice ask its own questions, did I have the questions or did the voice prepare me to have the questions. I’m thinking about tactile, about fingers, about the edge and the slip. I think about the past. I think about bones, why here it feels like muscles and tendons, like a slippery sinew but in my page, in my voice, it’s all bone. It’s hard. I think I don’t want to hear the voice, I think I don’t want to believe the voice; if the voice can’t be believed, if then... maybe there is too much water. I feel the anxiety of failing. Is it my failure or is language failing?

“that in trauma, the floor is pulled out from under the voice” (Vogel 6)

You think it’s not there, but it’s always there. And in this case, I am in and always in the water.

“the tight, but ductile gloss” (Vogel 7)

I don’t think of birds when I look at the pictures. I think of vomit. I think of something being forced out, the helplessness and the panic. I think of breasts full of milk, so full that the nipple emits a stream high into the air that peaks and then whimpers out. I think about bodies excreting babies and shit and I think about bodies being forced to take in, being filled. I think about openings and what exits and enters. But I don’t think about birds. I read about nests, the voice tells me about nests, about how they are built and sizes and distances. I don’t feel bird-like. I feel robbed of the language on the torn paper, as if they hold a clue, as if they bridge the space between the nest and the body littered with its holes, that can’t be shut up, that complicate…but I can’t piece them together, they’ve been torn out, they’ve been torn from me and then I can’t reach them. They just dangle there. I think about how they feel falling out. I think about pulling.

Pg  8 is a color photograph of a dozen empty vessels, their mouths are empty and ragged. Not smooth like a clay pitcher, they’re pinched like ripped paper, they’re popped open like aliens have emerged, they’re like balloons with the air leaked out and frozen at the moment when the latex bursts under the pressure. I think of wombs.
I put the book down on the seat next to the tub now. I look at those bare, naked vessels with their needy mouths and I think about wombs cut open to let babies out and then sewn back. I think about my body with its scars and how I say when I say I had a C-section, again, and again, and again, how I feel the need to justify it, how I feel somewhere what is that, like shame. But it makes no sense. The body does what it does, and the terrible love pulled out there, it’s complicated. The body eats and eats sorrow, it swallows love in days that flee from me. And then I put the book down because I can’t read anymore.

And then I think, as I’m crying, about the narrative of how I would write what is happening and then language is there to put the boat right, to pull the stopper and to step away. I am thinking about how the voice is narrating and how I am narrating and how this living voice at this moment is narrating its own thoughts and how I inhabit this stopped voice and the distance between us and about mud and clay and the shapes of letters. I think I have never looked for clay. I think I’ve spent many days as a child under bridges near canals. I remember the duck shit but never the nests.  

“Every nest, like the body and manuscript, has a problem it must move through: functionability “ (Vogel 16). I think about rituals, I’ve been thinking about ritual, public and communal rituals. Going to the river and writing an exquisite corpse and throwing it in the river in the vessel of an empty wine bottle. I thought about writing Danielle a letter, a private confession. But it felt like a trick, in the face of the honesty of the text, in the place of the vulnerability of the text. Where was I failing? Could I be there too?

“the contortion” (Vogel 19)

I get out of the tub after I finish the book and I take pictures of the rituals I have set for myself. To bathe, to rest, to drink hot tea, to be in the hour in language, like a sea you wave out on, who finds you and to where. I always feel like a fraud, like an interloper. I can’t stop coming to language but I think it’s laughing behind my back. I think I could fall better, maybe now in the thread of this, I can unclench.  It means something to me to be in the world with this voice, the voice that makes and takes the time to say these things. It means something to know that there are eyes and hands and bodies in the spaces here, near and far, and they are watching and thinking, dear keepers of the sacred spaces where we lie down and say: this is what I have to offer.


I’ve been investigating the book as an architecture of the body—and the body as an architecture for the book. This collection explores a manuscript, pre-completion. Each ceramic swallow-like nest, pod, and hive performs as a dwelling for excerpts from my manuscripts-in-progress. 
—Danielle Vogel

Order Danielle Vogel's Narrative & Nest

Poets at "The Mardi Gras": A retro"spectacle"

Poet Paul Chasse (who left us too soon) with wife Beth Chasse

Poets Jonathan Kline and Gina Ferrara

Poets Skip Fox and Christian Bök
How'd they get all those beads?

Another Gina Ferrara pic from a later year and Nancy Dixon

Tony Torn and Poet Lee Ann Brown

Poets Ed Sanders and Dave Brinks at Zulu hashing out their plan for coconut success

Poet Bill Myers 
Poet Bill Lavender

Happy Mardi Gras, Ya'll

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Poems via Post & Twitter

The wonderful editors over at Ugly Duckling Presse have sent me some beautiful new letterpress chapbooks including Lev Rubinstein's Thirty Five New Pages, Corina Copp's Pro Magenta and Michael Ford's Where We Expect to See You Soon.

Ugly Duckling Presse not only makes gorgeous chaps, but they have one of the sweetest sites for literary presses on the web. You should check it out, and they are now streaming podcasts of readings. In fact, I'm listening to one now as I type this, which isn't working out so well as I can't concentrate on the poems. I like the idea of poetry just streaming through the brain synapses.

Look for a review of Michael Ford's chapbook in the March Issue (issue 7) of 

Entrepôt. Michael Ford's second collection Olympia Street is available from Trembling Pillow Press. 

Also, Poet Carrie Murphy, a poet I only know through the medium of Twitter, and I are currently writing a collaborative poem via email to celebrate February poetry month. Carrie has a food blog over at Plums in the Icebox and you can follow her on Twitter where she is currently linking a poem a day until March 8th @carriemurph.

When we finish this little experiment, I'll post the fruits of our labors here.

Tonight at 17 Poets! Join us to celebrate the life and legacy of Eluard Burt with performances from Eric Burt, Dave Brinks, Felice Guimont, Cyril and Gayneille Neville, and many others. Show starts shortly after 8.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

17 Poets! Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events At 17 Poets! Literary and Performance Series
Gold Mine Saloon, 701 Dauphine, New Orleans, LA 
Poetry in the French Quarter Since 2003
Every Thursday, 8PM

Poets Dave Brinks and Bill Lavender, Mardi Gras, 2008

February 9: Bill Lavender signs and reads from his new book Memory Wing 
(Black Widow Press, 2011)

Flautist Eluard Burt,  March 2006

February 16th: Musical Performances and Tributes to flautist and mentor Eluard Burt,
with readings and performances by Kichea Burt, Dave Brinks, Lee Meitzen Grue, 
Eric Burt, Cyril Neville, Gayneille Neville, and

 Nicole Peyrafitte, 2005

Pierre Joris, 2005

John Sinclair, 2006

February 23: John Sinclair performs with his Blues Scholars, Performance by
Albany poets Pierre Joris and Nicole Peyrafitte

March 1: Poet Rodger Kamenetz

March 8: Poets Arturo Pfister and Valentine Pierce

March 15th: NYC Poet Bill Zavatsky and  Dr. Jerry Ward, Jr.
March 22: TBA
March 29: Fiction Writer Moira Crone reads and signs her new book from 
UNO Press, The Not Yet

April 5: jazz beat poet ruth weiss

April 12: Bruce Andrews

April 19th: Baton Rouge Poet Chris Shipman reads and signs his new book
 along with poet Vincent Celluci

April 26: Maxine Cassin Tribute

More Dates Coming Soon. All features followed by the open mic. 

All images copyright 17 Poets! Literary and Performance Series and Megan Burns.