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 Occultations, Neighbour 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
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.