Friday, January 25, 2008

Into the Fringe ...

At the opening performance of the Fringe Arts Festival at the Center last night, Jim Julien's first set featured a documentary look at the careers and collaborations of Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage. It included this wonderful YouTube video of John Cage performing on "I've Got a Secret", (a popular early game show on US TV, for those who weren't then around), in January, 1960. The video was originally made available to the world by WFMU. It's a little over nine minutes long, but, if you're interested in Cage, worth every second.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Night Out ...

In a few minutes I'm headed down to the Center* for the "Night Out with Bob and John" (that'd be Rauschenberg and Cage, respectively). Last year's similar "Night Out with John Cage" sold out quickly; even though I'm a board member, I couldn't get in, and wound up having coffee a few blocks away with old friends who couldn't get in either. This year I'm bartending, so at least I'll get in the door.

The show kicks off the annual Fringe Arts Festival, which always offers delights and surprises. If you're in this part of the woods and looking for something to do this weekend, check it out.


* That would be the awkwardly named Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center, of course - which, despite the place reference in its name, is actually in downtown Asheville, at 56 Broadway.

Bye, now.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snyder: Still "No" to nukes

Gary Snyder's not particularly moved by those who advocate a return to nuclear power in response to global warming:

Keep your eyes peeled for trick arguments trying to lead us back to nuclear power.

Thanks to Paul Gallimore for the link from last May.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wordplay this week: Ed Dorn

Thanks to Donald Allen's 1960 New American Poetry, Ed Dorn is still primarily known as a Black Mountain College poet. After his years at the college, though, he went on to become one of the foremost poets of the American West, in all its dimensions. This week's Wordplay features Dorn reading two works that helped to define that legacy: Idaho Out and Recollections of Gran Apacheria.

The Idaho Out opened a 1962 reading, probably in Albuquerque (Robert Creeley, who'd been his Examiner at Black Mountain, introduces him, and Creeley was then, I believe, still teaching in New Mexico). Dorn followed it with an equally spirited take on "From Gloucester Out", but I decided to save that poem for another show so that I could fit the second reading, from April 19, 1974, in Buffalo, into our hour. This reading was one of the first to which I lugged my trusty Uher reel-to-reel; I set up on Dorn's right, fairly close to the front of the room, and held the single mic in my hand (no mic stands in those days, so I could travel light) for the duration. I also managed to shoot several photos of Dorn as he read; I've posted them over at Facebook (that's the public link), and will probably upload them to Flickr also.

Before he read Recollections that night, he read a few short selections from the later books of Gunslinger, whose conclusion hadn't yet been published. I omitted those from the show in order to include all of Recollections - or all I had; back in those days of reel-to-reels, I always had to keep my fingers crossed that one five inch tape would make it all the way through a reading. That night it didn't, not quite: the end of the tape slipped through the capstan and across the heads just before Dorn spoke the last few words of the final poem. I supplied those for the show.

The readings are both now available online, the 1962 reading at the Slought Foundation, and the 1974 reading at PennSound; I uploaded it a few years ago to The Factory School site, and it somehow made its way to PennSound when the Factory School audio archive closed. Ah, the wonders of the internet. There are links to both archives in the sidebar.

The music I played to open the show was "Apache", by The Shadows; I found it at YouTube. That's also where I found Vaughn Monroe's version of "Ghost Riders in the Sky", which led into the break. Leading into Recollections, and then out of the show, are short sections of two cuts from the Peter Kater/R. Carlos Nakai collaboration Natives, as haunting, and haunted, as the West which they echo.



Photo: Ed Dorn reading in Buffalo, April 19, 1974.

Update: Chunks of Tom Clark's Edward Dorn: A World of Difference are now up at Google Books.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Daemons, and more daemons

When I took my daughter to see The Golden Compass over the holidays, she had the same response to the film I did; as the last action scenes moved toward conclusion and the film once more panned out to reach the story's inevitable pause, she leaned over and whispered "It's almost over, isn't it?" Like me, she'd hoped that it would continue, but realized, given that we'd already been in our seats for over two hours, that it probably wouldn't.


The New York Times currently has a nice feature up, titled "Daemon Logic", which has Bill Westenhofer of Rhythms and Hues discussing the creation of the movie's daemons, a complex process that involved even (gadzooks!) observing real animals.

The movie website is uncommonly good, and has lots of interactive features, including one that lets you discover your own daemon. I was surprised that mine turned out to be Valthera, a lioness.

Check it out, and get your own.

Photo of Eva Green (The Dreamers, Kingdom of Heaven), who plays the witch Serafina Pekkala, with her daemon, from the movie website.

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Slought Foundation: a major audio archive

I'll be adding a permanent link over on the right to the Slought Foundation audio archive. It's a treasure house of readings from the 1960s scenes in Buffalo,Vancouver, and Albuquerque. The readings include dates by Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, John Wieners, George Oppen, Denise Levertov, and others; there's even a reading by Basil Bunting.

Well worth visiting, and digging.

Update: the link is now up ->

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A note on space in the work of Ed Dorn ...

by Welsh poet Ian Davidson, found over at the archived Masthead #6 (another fascinating online Aussie ezine), explores the presentation on the page of one of poet Ed Dorn's last major works, Languedoc Variorum. His piece digs more deeply than anything else I've seen:

Languedoc Variorum dislocates the reader at the level of the page. The title itself, a "variorum", is a word used to describe the different versions of a poem and emphasises the instability of the text and the possibility of multiple and diverse versions. Each page is split three ways, with two horizontal lines. The top portion of the page is entitled Jerusalem. The lower part, which is split by a row of crosses, is entitled SUBTEXTS & NAZDAKS. The NAZDAK is both a character in Star Trek and also a slang term for the Nasdaq, a stock exchange dealing in high tech stocks. On each page there is therefore a "main" text at the top, followed by a subtext and then a NAZDAK. The "main" text is about the crusades and the role of Simon de Montfort, written during Dorn's stay in Montpellier a couple of years before his death. The next text down is a commentary (a subtext) in a different font and a smaller size, and the third section is the NAZDAK, written in capital letters in the style of a stock exchange report.

There appear three continuous texts running from page to page, independent yet with intersections. ...

As they say on the big blogs, read the whole thing.

Davidson's perceptive when he characterizes the language of the NAZDAKS as " ticker tape language, running ceaselessly off the machine", if a generation of technology behind. I believe Dorn might well have framed the pages as he did as a satirical analogue to the busy screens of television news channels, like CNN and the repellent Fox, with their breaking news and their ever crawling updates.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Warren Wilson Winter Readings

It's time for the Warren Wilson MFA winter residency, which means lots of readings between now and the 12th. Here's the schedule:

READINGS (8:15 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, behind the College Chapel, unless otherwise indicated)
Jan. 3 (8 p.m., Canon Lounge of Gladfelter Student Center) - Brooks Haxton, Anthony Doerr, Barbara Ras, Dominic Smith.
Jan. 4 - Marianne Boruch, Charles D’Ambrosio, Van Jordan, Michael Martone.
Jan. 5 - C.J. Hribal, Debra Allbery, Debra Spark, Steve Orlen.
Jan. 6 (Canon Lounge) - David Haynes, Betty Adcock, Victor LaValle, Heather McHugh.
Jan. 7 - Wilton Barnhardt, Jennifer Grotz, Maud Casey, Maurice Manning.
Jan. 9 - Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Megan Staffel, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Peter Turchi.
Jan. 10 - Graduating student readings: Amy Cloud, Kira Obolensky, Henry Kearney, Matthew Simmons, Maeve Kinkead.
Jan. 11 - Graduating student readings: Sara Bauer, Kande Culver, J.J. Penna, Tom McHenry, Mark Prudowsky.
Jan. 12 (4:30 p.m., followed by Graduation Ceremony) - Graduating student readings: Allison Paige, Justin Bigos, Sunil Rao, Scott Challener.

LECTURES (9:15 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall unless otherwise indicated)
Jan. 4 (11:15 a.m.) - Maurice Manning, "In Kind: Some Thoughts on Sympathy."
Jan. 9 - Debra Spark, "New Wave Fabulism."
Jan. 10 - Jennifer Grotz, "The Pathetic Fallacy."
Jan. 11 - Debra Allbery, "‘When Light went Forth Looking for the Eye’: A Meditation on the Contemporary Ekphrastic Poem."
Jan. 12 (9:30 a.m.) - Heather McHugh, "Matters of Letters."
Jan. 12 (10:45 a.m.) - C.J. Hribal, "Vision and (Re)vision."

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Into the New Year ...

Behind the scenes ... er, no, I should use a less visual metaphor. How about "off-mic?" As, something that happens in a radio studio that the audience never hears. If you've listened to Wordplay, you know that it's been a half-hour show for that past two and a half seasons. For the last several months, though, I've been gently nudging the powers that be at WPVM, Wordplay's home, to let us go to a longer format, one that would allow us to play more of pre-recorded events, and to entice our live authors into stretching out, telling us more about what they're up to. And now all the off-mic activity is about to be audible indeed.

Beginning Sunday, January 13th, Wordplay will be moving two hours up on the station program schedule, to 2:00 PM, and going to a full hour format. Woohoo!

Sebastian and I have already been recording additional material with some of the guests we've had on the show this fall, and booking new guests who'll fit much more comfortably into the hour format. The show should be a bit more spontaneous, and we plan to enrich and vary its sonic collage more than we've had the simple time to to this point. We believe you'll find the shows even more interesting, more engaging, than the ones we've produced so far.


There have been several requests for a replay of the early November show which featured the work of William Matthews, Sebastian's father and my friend during my last year in Chapel Hill; this week it's available again from the station's archive page as a stream or podcast.

This coming Sunday we'll take a look back at a few of the fine moments from 2007 with a show that features poems by a diverse crew, including Robert Bly, Fred Chappell, Cathy Smith Bowers, Matthews, and Matthew Dickman.

And let me be the thousandth person so far to wish you a Happy New Year. Onward!

Radio image from Travel Talk Radio Network's site.