I’m a soon-to-be graduate of an M.F.A. program in creative writing. All I have left to do is teach a few classes, defend my thesis, and read a few books. Oh. And I’ve also been tasked to write a report on a poetry reading. This last point is why I’m writing to you now.
Let me backtrack for a moment though to tell you that before I was an M.F.A. student, I was an undergraduate working my way towards a B.A. in creative writing and a B.S. in advertising. Before that, I was a teenager that lived with my father, who was a professor, and my mother, who was an English major. My mother took her major very seriously, and as a result I began reading Poe, Melville, Plath, Tennyson, and other “canonical” writers at a very young age.
In short, I’m no stranger to poetry.
However, after going to the Hoa Nguyen reading at the University of Colorado at Boulder on February 21st, I realized that I don’t really “get” poetry. Or rather, I kind of “get” poetry, as much as it’s possible to be “gotten,” but I don’t “get” poetry readings.
After the reading, I confronted a friend about my dilemma: having to write a piece on something I don’t really understand. He recommended I read the VICE article by Glen Coco titled: “I Don’t ‘Get’ Art.” I ripped off the title, but what choice did I have when Coco said it so well the first time? Coco’s title is modest. It blames no one but Coco himself for his inability to “get” art.
There are others, however, who are more hostile towards poetry and its various, associated artifacts.
With the whole Lena Dunham Girls craze sweeping the nation, I thought I’d watch her film, Tiny Furniture. What particularly stuck out to me about the film was a statement one of the characters made about poetry. It went, “Poetry is a very stupid thing to be good at. Poems are basically like dreams–something that everybody likes to tell other people but nobody actually cares about when it’s not their own. Which is why poetry is a failure of the intellectual community.”
April 26th, 2013 / 12:00 pm
As many are already absolutely aware, beginning on March 6 and ending on March 9 there was a literary conference — sponsored by Bambi Muse and Fox News — of sparkly specialness. That literary conference — the Kmart Belles Lettres Conference — was clamorous, and clamor commands a summary. So here is a summary!
March 6 (Day 1):
Most of the attendees were in a foul mood for the first day. Edie Sedgwick, for one, lost her fur in a cab on the night before and refused to mingle with anyone, even the sharp society poet Edith Sitwell. Sitwell tried to offer Edie a coup of tea, but Edie insisted that no one speak to her about anything unless it was directly related to the recovery of her fur coat.
So, instead Sitwell started a conversation with none other than Baby Adolf, the first Bambi Muse baby. Here’s a snippet of their chat:
I took the Lucky Star bus to Boston with Andrew. A week or so earlier the Fung Wah bus, the bus I’d taken between Boston and New York for five years, had terminated operation by demand of federal government? (Did I read that wrong?) After a long, and delayed, transport, we made it to my parents’ house in Westborough, where we awoke the following morning to what would become 18 inches of snow.
We helped my parents shovel (my father worked the snowblower).
I’d had no intention of paying the registration fee, but things were kind of lax anyways? This is what the inside of the conference looked like.
My teddy bear, Kmart, is named after the place where I purchased him: Kmart (specifically, the one on Broadway).
Well, as it so happened, on Friday night, while Kmart and I were eating vanilla cupcakes, reading books about etiquette, and starting our collaborative biography on the Little Mermaid, Kmart turned to me and said (somewhat grouchily, as Kmart is somewhat grouchy): “I want to hold a literary conference!”
“Oh?” I replied.
“Yes,” confirmed Kmart, “and I want it to be right here in New York City. It can be held at Bergdorf’s. It can also be held at McDonald’s. But we won’t need to inform anybody where it’ll be at any given time because only special creatures will be permitted to attend and special creatures are always aware of where special things are.”
“Well,” I said, as I bit into my 27th cupcake, “will there be panels? will there be guests? will there be food? will there be hotel accommodations?”
“Maybe there will be panels, like one panel could be called, ‘Why The Little Mermaid Is More Marvelous Than Everyone.’ But, then again, if I’m feeling grouchy, then there won’t be any panels. And, of course, there will be special guests. Pretty Edna St. Vincent Millay, whom I text with regularly, will come. So will William Carlos Williams, Maya Angelou, Edie Sedgwick, and much more.”
“What about hotel accommodations?”
“The Plaza,” sassed Kmart, “obviously.”
[NB: For complete, comprehensive coverage of the first ever Kmart Belle Lettres Conference read this site - HTML Giant.]
There shouldn’t be an AWP. There should only be one if it would result in me meeting Gina Abelkop. She is the publisher of Birds of Lace, a press that publishes books about girl groups, adventurous twins, and girls who justify murder in high school essays. Most Birds of Lace books fulfill one of the primary attributes of literature: They transmute the reader to magical, mysterious worlds of death, babysitters, and big hair. Gina and I could meet for tea (or vanilla cupcakes). We could discuss trenchant topics, like the veils in Meadham Kirchoff’s Fall 13 collection or Disney princesses. Why, we could even mosey to a Disney store (if there are Disney stores in Boston) and she could purchase an Ariel doll (because she’s a girl) and I could purchase a Buzz Lightyear doll (because I’m a boy). It’d all be rather idyllic. But according to the grapevine Gina won’t be attending this year. So I won’t either, which is fine, since the AWP is as disgusting as gay people, straight people, bisexual people, and Brooklyn.
On their site, the AWP claims to be “the largest literary conference in North America.” But the AWP has little relation to literature. Only around one percent of the attendees make literature. There’s just a tiny fraction who formulate texts that are monstrous and divine – that, like those German boys, possess the grit and glamour to wage war on basically everyone on the globe. As for the rest – the 99 percent of AWP people – they are not poets and they are not composing literature. They are not concerned with epic Emily Bronte or moody Frank O’Hara. They are a product of typical middle class capitalism, or, as Karl Marx says, “the bourgeois.” According to Karl, the bourgeois live off others’ labor. They acquire value through accumulation. As the bourgeois stockpile products their worth increases. This renders them reliable upon the proletariat who must toil night and day with very little rest to keep up with the insatiable, indiscriminate bourgeois.
Collective Memory, a literary evening with Alain Arias-Misson, Jonathan Baumbach, Steve Katz, Rob Stephenson, & Yuriy Tarnawsky
I’d sure go to this if I could.
I just got back from the store and found this on the front door of my apartment building:
Did you know the man shot resides at [my street]?
Did you know three shots were fired in front of [street nearby]?
Did you know two of the three shots hit a parked car on [street nearby]?
Did you know one shot ricocheted off the car and has not been located?
To know more about what the city is doing about our neighborhood crime:
I’m pretty sure I heard it happen, and remember thinking “shots or car backfiring?”
Saturday, December 8th, 2012 from 12PM-6PM
@ Daruma Asset Management
80 West 40th Street, 9th Fl., NY NY 10018
Tickets for sale online!
You’re a writer. We know it. You know it.
Due to Betty Freidan’s pet rooster, or, as Mayor Bloomberg calls it, “Hurricane Sandy,” a lot of things were discombobulated, including The Poetry Brothel.
But now The Poetry Brothel has been rescheduled for this Sunday , 17 Nov. 2012. It will be from 8:00-1:00 at the Backroom on 102 Norfolk Street.
There will still be magic, music, burlesque, tarot cards (which I still don’t believe in), and tons of public and private poetry readings.
Dorothea Lasky and Ariana Reines will be there. So will the Princess of Brattydom, Carina Finn, and the Princess of Spanish Harlem, Jennifer Tamayo. What will happen when these two royal figures collide? Will it turn into a girly, more fashionable version of the exciting Israel-Hamas war?
Also, while I’m on the topic of prostitutes, I want to cite one of the most intriguing prostitutes ever (besides Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8): Vivian Ward, played by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
Vivian’s long curly red hair is really fairy tale. If it would’ve ran for president of the United States of America I maybe would’ve supported it.
If you aren’t entertaining the possibility of viewing Pretty Woman right this second, then you are like the shop girls in the movie who are rude to Vivian/Julia, which means you are a brickhead.
So… please consider coming to The Poetry Brothel and contributing to a theatrical and glamorous poetry event.
Here’s another picture of The Poetry Brothel’s madam, Stephanie Berger:
Now it snows. Just got word from the best publisher, Siglio Press, that a book signing with Sophie Calle at 192 Books has been rescheduled for this Saturday (11-10) at 6 pm. RSVPs still recommended. If you haven’t gotten Calle’s The Address Book (or the Jess book, Siglio’s other new title; each disappeared swiftly at Printed Matter’s Art Book Fair) this is a chance. If you find yourself at the wonderful 192 Books, be sure to patronize the newly reopened Printed Matter across the street. More on all of this in the next version of this post.
Hurricane Sandy was utterly unpleasant. She caused a lot of deaths, a ton of destruction, and a cancellation of a highly anticipated shopping excursion. There has been speculation that Sandy was once the pet rooster of second-wave feminist Betty Friedan. While these rumors have not been verified, there is no denying that Sandy was an angry animal. What Bertha did to Lord Rochester’s estate, Sandy did to the tri-state area. But you don’t have to descend to Sandy’s savage, dimwitted level. You can take the high road (though not to Brooklyn) by dressing yourself up in dignified outfits that are also appropriate for the ever-changing circumstances that Hurricane Sandy will throw your way.
A Summary of Our Academic Conference, The Unstable and [de] Mutable Boundaries Between Meteorological Atrocities and Human Political Economies with Bodies-as-Subjects Coming Into Being As They Are
The approach of Hurricane Sandy has already altered the entire course of me and my friend’s lives. On Sunday, I was supposed to shop for vintage sweaters and attend a poetry brothel. These would’ve probably been some wonderful moments. But Hurricane Sandy put a stop to all my hypothetically marvelous adventures.
Instead my friends and I were bunkered in our apartment in Alphabet City.
What were we to do?
If we were VIDA, then we could count the number of times a masculine pronoun appeared in this week’s NYT Book Review and then compare it to the number of times that a feminine pronoun appeared in this week’s NYT Book Review and then get really angry about it and channel all of our anger into a neat and tidy chart.
If we were overly anxious New York Jews then we could close down the subway system at 7 PM, hold press conferences using folksy idioms like “up and about,” and dress like men who spend a great deal of time in well-off subdivisions of Connecticut.
Also, if we were male homosexuals, we could have sex nonstop sans condoms.
But my friends and I aren’t any of those things. So, in lieu of that, we chose to hold an academic conference that had an awful lot of relevance to our current predicament. Our conference, which was held last night (28 Oct. 2012), was called The Unstable and [de] Mutable Boundaries Between Meteorological Atrocities and Human Political Economies with Bodies-as-Subjects Coming Into Being As They Are. This conference has already been compared to some of the most vivid and vivacious academic conferences ever held.
Here’s a summary:
On Sunday there will be a Poetry Brothel.
It will be held in The Back Room at 102 Norfolk Street, which is in the Lower East Side.
The Brothel will start at 8 and end at 1.
There will be masks, music, tarot readings (which I don’t believe in, but still), burlesque, magic, and lots of poetry.
All guests may purchase private readings with the poets, which include the splendidly shrill Dorothea Lasky and the plucky Harlem princess Jennier Tamayo. Also available for a private reading is Carina Finn (the East Village princess behind The Bratty Poets), Ariana Reines (if you haven’t read Mercury then you don’t have proper priorities), myself (Ann Romney 2012!), and lots more.
Throughout the evening, each poet will also give a public reading.
Please come and support poetry that is theatrical and fabulous.
Stephanie Berger is the madame of The Brothel. This is what she looks like:
For further information or to purchase tickets in advance please click here.