Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rachel Zolf Reading Report: Audio File Coming Soon

Rachel Zolf PRESS Report & Tangent Reading

Note: This is really an IOU for a fuller report on 2 back-to-back events: Rachel Zolf reading at Evergreen for PRESS on October 15, and her reading with David Wolach and Portland poet B.T. Shaw for Tangent in Portland the following evening. 

An IOU, as, due to the sudden death in the family, curators David & Elizabeth were unable to attend the reading they'd set up for Rachel in Olympia. So THAT particular reading's report will be written out in full by our emergency co-curators, posted along with the audio file of the reading and discussion. The following are David Wolach's notes based on feedback from the evening's hosts and Rachel Zolf:

I know several were interested in our books that evening, so due to our not having them as promised, feel free to go to SPD and support our small presses by getting your hands on either OccultationsNeighbour Procedure, or both.

For now, many, many thanks to former students Gianna D'Emilio and Megan Bontempo who stepped in as emergency curators and did a fantastic job. They got the reminders out, packed the room, helped Rachel get around town, and, with the lovely help of faculty colleague Steve Niva, provided Rachel with dinner. We're so thankful to Megan and Gianna, both fine poets in their own right--Gianna, now graduated, is one of the chapbook designers for Wheelhouse. Many thanks too to faculty Leonard Schwartz and Arun Chandra (there are probably several others) who helped out with the evening's events. And finally, many thanks to poet Seattle Paige Clifton-Steele and Evergreen student, who opened for Rachel, read from her wonderful manuscript in-progress.  I understand the evening was a huge success, several amazing points of discussions during the Q&A, all of which should be available as free download soon. Finally, thanks much to Rachel for being so patient with us.


One day after Zolf's PRESS reading/discussion, we headed down to Portland to give a reading for the Tangent Reading Series, co-curated by Kaia Sand, Jules Boykoff, and Rodney Koeneke. Joining us was Portland poet and The Oregonian editor B.T Shaw. I debated whether to participate in the reading given how terribly out of it I am, but we decided it'd be good for me, a respite of sorts, to go ahead with it, spend some time with some of the most beautiful souls we know. Kaia, Jules, Rodney, and all who came out, including David Abel, Maryrose Larkin, and other Spare Room Collective folks, Allison Cobb, Jen Coleman, Lionel Lints--the close-knit Portland poetry scene, basically--were so kind and generous. 

Having difficulty knowing whether my reading went well or not, things a strange blur at moment, but I did manage to wrangle fantastic poet James Yeary into doing an interactive piece of it, a distraction zone staging in which he's given earphones and a recording of me reading a re-mix of the Bybee torture memorandum, listens and writes what comes to him, while Elizabeth and I are reading the polyvocal section of Occultations that makes use of this document. James is asked to stop writing when the recording ends, stand, and interrupt our reading with his own. He was an excellent sport about it and did some excellent spot writing. When I ask participants to write in similar fashion, i.e., via distraction and in concert with live reading, the work that results then, by author's choice, either becomes part of the ongoing series / cycle "Your Nerve Center Taxonomy" - or it doesn't. James graciously said that I could do whatever I wanted with his writing, which means I get to share it with you here, and later in print form. Note that he was writing this in real-time while having to listen to not two, but three audio inputs. Not that I think the results are bad writing, not at all. But figured I should let you know that James' work is often quite different, often quite precise and sparser. Anyway, here's what he came up with and read aloud last night:

give as an inattention  Scotland
the inatten wash sweet dash
harom figures individual why keekee
inatten service to shock stereo
complicit stereo varies flame the
subject as a form of down the muscle
is indecent our form as a down
inatten using four distortions
two stresses on the plinth debt
debt throu excerpted inactivity
pharmacalogical debt cooperative
repeat space as a pronounced form
an distress an you would like to
less cooperate predisposed to debt plinth
which is a proximate of sewn [seven]

So, many thanks to James for this. I felt good and cared for all night, got to laugh a bit and, of course, to hear Rachel and Shaw's amazing readings. Rachel's work I know well of course, her work deeply influential a few years back, when I heard her read in NY post-Human Resources. I was like "that's what I want to do," and was propelled, in part, by Rachel's work at that time, to write in any sustained way. So, I got what I wanted: to hear her read again, as thoughNeighbour Procedure is perhaps my favorite book out this year (one of a handful anyhow), it's a different experience hearing her perform the work. Zolf read "Acknowledgment," which I would have requested had she closed out without it. Was just a real kick in the ass hearing the work. And B.T. Shaw's work, which I didn't know very well, having only read individual poems in journals, really drew itself into a complicated conversation with Zolf's work, with Occultations too--each new work responding in some way to the paradoxes and contradictions of art and the "docile body" taken up, used, spent, and otherwise weaponized by neo-liberalism/militarism. Shaw's manuscript in progress, investigating a military officer's murder of his wife, base life, military culture, all of it woven both lyrically and via the found, appropriated, and remixed, the performativity hence situating itself as related to the performativity ofOccultations and Neighbour Procedure. For me a really happy discovery of a work! (Not to mention a lovely human being.)

Most importantly for me it was a night that allowed me to feel "in my body" for a moment, and so I thank Jules, Kaia, Rodney, B.T., Rachel,  those who came out, and the Open Space Cafe, for a truly necessary (for me) evening. As does Elizabeth who'd been nearly single-handedly taking care of me for the past few days.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rachel Zolf @ Evergreen, October 15, 7pm, Seminar II Building, Room A1105

Mark it on your calendars! I'm really pleased to announce that poet and performer Rachel Zolf will be reading @ Evergreen as part of the PRESS Literary-Politics Series, co-sponsored by Evergreen affiliated programs, Wheelhouse Magazine & Press, and my course Experiments in Text. Zolf will read from, among other work, her new, critically acclaimed book,
Neighbour Procedure (Coach House, 2010). Please visit the PRESS Blog in the coming days for room and other, detailed information.

Rachel Zolf
October 15
The Evergreen State College
Sem II Building, Room TBA
Admission is free

Rachel Zolf’s poetic practice explores interrelated materialist questions concerning memory, history, knowledge, subjectivity and the conceptual limits of language and meaning. She is particularly interested in how ethics founders on the shoals of the political. Her fourth full-length book, Neighbour Procedure, was released by Coach House Books in 2010. Previous collections include Human Resources (Coach House), which won the 2008 Trillium Book Award for Poetry and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, Masque (The Mercury Press), Shoot & Weep (Nomados), from Human Resources (Belladonna books) and Her absence, this wanderer (BuschekBooks). Zolf’s work has been translated into French, Spanish and Portuguese and has appeared in anthologies such as Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women’s Poetry and Poetics (Coach House) and a forthcoming anthology of conceptual writing from Les Figues Press. She was the founding poetry editor for The Walrus magazine and has worked as a documentary film producer and communications consultant. She has received a Chalmers Arts Fellowship and multiple grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. She lives in New York.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Addition: CA Conrad Interview & Reading

New this week under Audio/Visual (and also by pressing on the title of this post above), a student-conducted interview & reading with CA Conrad on his work in (Soma)tics. Recorded live for KAOS Radio Evergreen. Enjoy.

Debrah Morkun Reading Report

Last night was a treat. A small crowd of us got to hear Debrah Morkun perform work from all three manuscripts she's worked on: Projection Machine, published in April by BlazeVox; Ida Pingala (in-progress and nearly done, Morkun tells us); and Hera Calf (also in-progress). Morkun's reading style is a kind of chanting, the output in lockstep with the input, where the input, or performativity of the text, stems from writing while performing particular breathing exercises--the Ida Pingala one of them. Her intonation approached chant as, with manuscript pages lined up on a long table at which she sat, close to us, she would pick up one excerpt from a manuscript, read, and then with nearly no pause, pick up the next, and read, and so forth. Where again, the reading was/is a kind of chanting, where, noted Morkun "the hope is to reach a kind of trance." A few of us, myself included, noted that we "tranced out." I thought it was the meds plus the really studied, brilliant poetry plus the way Morkun's voice sounds--itself calming--but no, this time it was not the meds

Morkun's work concentrates on the long poem, doesn't stray from the long form: "the short poem is outmoded for what I want to do," she told us, emphasizing "what I want to do," not just here but with each question she would respond to after the beautiful reading. Her presence both calming, that is, AND humble: her founding the really productive/important New Philadelphia Poets "is just us sharing in what we love to do" (no: it's a really successful, vital series that has reached out and formed collaborations with the other collectives/series' in Philly); and her work "just comes out" (Morkun, a Naropa poet, and former coordinator at the Bowery Poetry Club spends hours editing work that is driven by carefully choreographed somatic exercises, the latest performed with CA Conrad and now up at Conrad's (Soma)tic Poetry Exercises blog. 

It was a wonderful and inspiring reading of unique poetry and discussion. My only desire is that next time Morkun read longer--we all, I think, left wanting more. But of course that's often a good sign, and here, a very good sign. Many thanks to Morkun and to the students & faculty who came out for this reading, which unfortunately, landed  on the day that was the 1st day of classes of the new academic year. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

PRESS EVENT: Debrah Morkun Sept 27 2010

On behalf of Wheelhouse Magazine & Press, The Evergreen State College & its affiliated programs, I'm pleased to announce that our PRESS: Text Arts & Radical Politics Series kicks off with a visit and reading by Philadelphia poet, curator, and professor of writing, Debrah Morkun. Debrah's visit will be followed soon after by Rachel Zolf (October). More on Zolf's visit to come.

WHEN: Sept 27, 7pm
WHERE: The Evergreen State College
Building Seminar II
Room B1105

Debrah Morkun’s first book of poem(s), Projection Machine, was released by BlazeVox Books in April 2010. She is a founding member of The New Philadelphia Poets, a group committed to keeping poetry alive in Philadelphia. She is currently at work on two long poem pieces entitled The Ida Pingala and Hera Calf. View some of her work athttp://www.debrahmorkun.com/, and keep up to date with many of her happenings atwww.newphiladelphiapoets.com

For more on Debrah Morkun's work, here's one of her recent, fascinating poems. Enjoy. And see you there.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Zolf, Wolach & Shaw for Tangent, Oct 16

I'll be reading in Portland for the really wonderfulTangent reading series, curated by Jules Boykoff, Kaia Sand, & Rodney Koeneke. I'm honored to be reading alonside Rachel Zolf & B.T. Shaw, two fantastic poets who will give me good cover. October 16. Hold the date. Please join us!

The email announcement, from Tangent:

Tangent is pleased to host an investigative poetry extravaganza on SATURDAY, 16 October at 7 PM. All three writers use poetry as a way of investigating on-the-ground political history. New York-based poet and performer RACHEL ZOLF will be joined by Olympia writer and teacher DAVID WOLACH and local poet, editor, and teacher B.T. SHAW. The event will take place at our usual spot, the Clinton Corner Cafe. Admission is free.  

Clinton Corner Cafe, 2633 SE 21st Ave. (@ Clinton), Portland 
Admission is free. 

B.T. SHAW lives in Portland, where she edits the Poetry column for The Oregonian. Her first collection, This Dirty Little Heart (Eastern Washington University Press, 2008), won the 2007 Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry. She teaches atPortland State University and the Independent Publishing Resource Center (despite her wariness of staplers). 

DAVID WOLACH is editor of Wheelhouse Magazine & Press and an active participant in Nonsite Collective. His most recent books are Occultations (Black Radish Books, 2010), the multi-media transliteration plus chapbook, Prefab EulogiesVolume 1: Nothings Houses (BlazeVox [books], 2010), the full-length Hospitalogy (chapbook forth. from Scantily Clad Press, 2010), and book alter(ed) (Ungovernable Press, 2009). A former union organizer and performing artist, Wolach’s work often begins as site-specific and interactive performance and ends up as shaped, written language. Wolach is professor of text arts, poetics, and aesthetics at The Evergreen State College, and visiting professor in Bard College’s Workshop In Language & Thinking. 

RACHEL ZOLF’s poetic practice explores interrelated materialist questions concerning memory, history, knowledge, subjectivity and the conceptual limits of language and meaning. She is particularly interested in how ethics founders on the shoals of the political. Her fourth full-length book, Neighbour Procedure, was released by Coach House Books in 2010. Previous collections include Human Resources (Coach House), which won the 2008 Trillium Book Award for Poetry, Masque (The Mercury Press), Shoot & Weep (Nomados), from Human Resources (Belladonna books) and Her absence, this wanderer (BuschekBooks). Born in Toronto, Canada, she lives in Brooklyn.

Plus, from the ever-colorful blog of Rodney's, "Modern Americans," here's the lineup (I had to include this despite duplication, if simply for the sheer color of it all...):

Sunday, October 3 ROBERT MITTENTHAL & STANDARD SCHAEFER 7:30 PM, Spare Room, Concordia Coffee House, 2909 NE Alberta St.
Saturday,October 16 RACHEL ZOLF & DAVID WOLACH 7 PM,Tangent, Clinton Corner Cafe, SE 21st Ave. & ClintonStreet

PRESS Background & Lineup

Here's Mr. Wolach again, this time presenting his multi-media piece. I love this. If you can't read it, he's listed various forms of poetry for sale. Okay, so that's Round 1 of photos and commentary and it only covers Day 1. So, chew on that and I'll get some more ready for you. --Snapshot of Prefab Eulogies, from Lidsey Boldt's blog slideshow

With poets Debrah Morkun, then Rachel Zolf to kick off our PRESS Series 2010-11 in fall, I decided it was time to take a trip down memory lane, revisiting our large PRESS Conference, as well as listing the PRESS guest artists/activists who have helped make the series hum over the past 3 years. Here's a thank you to the organizers and guests. It's important to note that beyond some facilitation and minor guidance by Elizabeth Williamson and David Wolach, the PRESS lit conference was entirely student-organized, from panels to logistics to cooking lunches for 300.

First, the conference: in late 2008 300 of us crammed into various buildings on Evergreen's campus, and in a semi-abandoned 4-story structure downtown for the reclamation of public space public readings & performances. It was the first of what we hope to be several such anti-conference conferences over the next X years that explore various intersections between aesthetic and political practices. The 2008 conference was generative, and so hats off to the student organizers, who really made the whole thing go, spending their summer planning the conference instead of doing more sexy things.

Here's Lindsey Boldt's blog slideshow of the conference. Nice write-up, giving one the sense of what we did.
There are several other slideshows online, including a very comprehensive one by Tom Orange on Flickr. You need to log in to see that slideshow.

And here's one of two websites for PRESS, this one for guest info, list of panels, readings, etc. Photos by Shaun Johnson, website by Chris Hoard, now both graduated.

A year later the PRESS: Activism & The Avant-Garde Anthology was published thru Wheelhouse Press (one of the main sponsors of the event). All guest poets/writers contributed work to the anthology, as did many--but not all--of the activists and/or students.

Several nice reviews of both the conference and the anthology appear online and in print, but here is one that was published just recently in the journal Prick of the Spindle (interview and review).

After the conference, we got down to work on continuing the series. And now we're back in the conference planning stages, rethinking it, both in terms of thematics and finances. How will this recession both negatively impact the conference and be a major site of resistance/excavation? Since this is your conference too, feel free to send ideas for workshops, performances, and panels, here as blog comments.

For writeups on most of these events, visit David Wolach's blog HERE

Press Lit Conference 2009, photo by Tom Orange

K. Lorraine Graham, photo by Tom Orange

PRESS Guest Participants (by year):


Debrah Morkun (Sept 17)
Rachel Zolf (Oct 17)
Sarah Mangold (TBA)
Eleni Stecop
oulos (TBA)
David Abel (TBA)
Maryrose Larkin (TBA)
Sam Truitt (TBA)
Catherine Taylor (TBA)
Stephen Cope (TBA)


Rob Halpern (poetry, workshop)
David Buuck (poetry/performance)
Kaia Sand (workshop/reading)
Jules Boykoff (workshop/reading)
Chris Mann (reading/discussion)
CA Conrad (Soma(tic) workshop/public reading)
David Abel (reading/discussion)
Chris Daniels (reading/discussion on translation)

Cara Benson (performance/reading)
Robert Mittenthal (reading/talk)

Link to Robert Mittenthal's PRESS talk, given in 2009


Rodgrio Toscano (poetry/poetics theater/panel discussion)
Kristin Prevallet (poetry)
Lindsey Boldt (poetry/panel discussion)
Mark Wallace (poetry/panel discussion)
Jessica Baron (poetry/panel discussion)
K. Lorraine Graham (poetry/panel discussion)
Holly Melgard (poetry/sound art)
Jules Boykoff (poetry/panel discussion)
Tom Orange (poetry/panel discussion/poetics theater)
Jennifer Bartlett (poetry/panel discussion)
Alice Templeton (poetry/talk)
Jais Brohinsky (Agit-Prop Theater)
Nicholas Hayes (poetry/panel discussion)
Steven Hendricks (prose/book arts workshop)
Zhang Er (poetry)
Leonard Schwartz (poetry)
Kaia Sand (poetry/panel discussion)
Tung Hui-Hu (poetry/panel discussion)
Laura Elrick (poetry/panel discussion)
Sarah Mangold (poetry, talk on Bird Dog Magazine)
Jessica Balsam (TACO founder, installation art)
Bill PortDisaster Suiteser (translator, Chinese poetry)
Erica Lord (installation art)
Zhang Er (poetry, translation)
Julia Zay (film, experimental critical writing)
Jeffrey Silverthorne (photography)

Rob Halpern's Disaster Suites, Palm Press, 2009