CA Conrad gave a beautiful, direct, and mysterious reading this Saturday wearing a tiger-printed top at Pete's Candy Store over in Williamsburg. In addressing Bush, he projects a sincere, vulnerable bitchiness unlike anything in contemporary poetry: "love is waiting i have a lot of love Mr. President and i just want to press against you sometime to let you get a little of it HEY i'm so serious about this let's go away together this spring just the two of us it's not a big deal don't even tell anybody i mean you're the president after all." I enjoyed meeting CA's friends who had come down from Philly. Talking with them and with Conrad reminded me that it was the drag queens and butch dykes who started this whole ruckus and are continually trampled on in public by log cabin metrosexuals of all varieties even today. Listened to Eddie Berrigan and bought his CD without knowing who he was yet. Also met Amy King, who I liked instantly when she introduced herself with an affectionate kick to the shins.
I'm very pleased to see that Charles Alexander is now a part of the blogosphere. His Chaxblog already promises to be an engaging and insightful read, with a review of Justin Sirois' book Silver Standard as only a bookmaker could see it: book and poem as part of the same praxis of meaning. Charles is a talented writer about writing, and has all the qualities that I think we need more of: an ability to observe closely and inductively, and an ability to see larger patterns that emerge among words and rhetorical gestures over the course of a larger work or a poet's body of work. It's exciting for me to read reading like this, which understands intuitively how to tease out the most engaging aspects of a text, sometimes using humor, without ever veering into the pedantic or the coneheaded. Here's to a negative capability of blogging!
On a lighter note, I attended the wonderful Barbara Guest and Gertrude Stein portions of this event over the past few days. It was especially rare to hear so much of Guest's work in a single evening, read in tribute by so many admirers from Iijima to Tardos to Wayne. The unchronological presentation (in relation to Guest's career) reminded me that there seemed to be two versions of her as a poet: that shift keeps happening between a voiced overlay that sounds like Moore or Bishop-era writing into a later stage which goes deeper into language, wonderfully abstract yet embodied, aware to the heft of words. Thus it made me even more surprised to hear that she was not a fan of postmodernism ("Either you're a modernist, or you're not").
I've also recently been enjoying the wonderfully labrynthine yet improvisatory sentences of Guest's ArtNews Reviews sprinkled throughout the beautiful new Roof book Dürer in the Window. Excitement about the art spills out, overflows into expressive use of grammar and syntax in the effort to describe with accuracy: "Having spent his childhood in a medieval city, Lindner places medieval rooms upon his canvas, closed rooms with low ceilings wherein appear, in Entre-Acte, the King of Bavaria seated on a stool, the artist as a boy in a sailor suit, his aunt in early century dress, two friends inhabiting a space with which they are unfamiliar, yet made at ease by their position within the picture; this, his latest painting, has the strength of intuition brought to its most mature stage." I absolutely love that semicolon. In the context of today, she would have made a good blogger.
My state of origin finds itself in the throes of a significant political makeover, which will probably succeed if the moon doesn't fall from the sky first and the ocean turn to yogurt (both accompanied by the bubbling of bassoons). Spend a couple days hanging out in the Hartford area and you'll see what I'm talking about: Mark and Christina already do. It's somehow appropriate that the first opinionated Democrat to potentially hold office there in recent years would be a millionaire running on his own money. After a while it starts to hurt, keeping your fingers and toes constantly crossed like this.