belated reading report: de la Torre & Moten, Segue 1/16

In her Segue reading on January 16, Mónica de la Torre wrestled with workday alienation with wit and authority.

She read a piece based on a work of Martin Kippenberger that I think was called “The Hot Seat” (although a Google search turns up nothing, so maybe I am mistaken). It began with statements about jobs that implied or mentioned hierarchies. There were interview-type questions that began with “have you,’ and then descriptions of physical positions one takes in office situations, as well as what seemed like job application letters or interview responses.

“My position is sssh””

“My English is not very well”

“My English is not good and it is badly to heard.”

She read aloud typing exercises: this was almost MacLovian.

She read from her color walk project: transcribed signage in particular colors: “makeup, wigs, health food” (red?) “Yellow” had a lot of “free.”

She transcribed her computer searches and accompanying office conversation. Her comment on workaday life: “the relation of distraction & absorption should be examined.”

She referred to “la perruque” (Certeau’s term for “the ways in which workers trick their employers into thinking they are working when they are actually doing personal things using their company’s time and spare materials.”)

She related more of her computer activity, and ended on the line: “This screen is so small: it keeps taking me to the wrong places.”

Fred Moten followed with beautiful & critical lyric. His voice is unremittingly rich and mesmerizing. This was one of those readings I will definitely revisit on Penn Sound. Some of many amazing lines:

essential shtetl of the world stage

uncertainty’s cool relaxing harness

my sklls/ my shit/ the shit

what can’t be said can’t be said, and it can’t be whistled either

the song about desire always wants to disappear

our devious monad ways

having identified the shit, the shit you can’t say shit about

the terror of enjoyment is too damn good

I sail the dark water of the mind by rocket ship

I get preoccupied with the tonal situation

you have to wait for the sound of the theory of sound

His prosodic coup was this line:

“gorillas measured rhythm cloth for Horus” – which he then went on to rhyme with Dolores.

Does it get more fabulous than that?

Today’s ensemble RETURNS


Purpurated habitually: this delicate lunge.

Mellowly dramatic sparrows on my fluffed-up heartbeat.

The forge.

Reality went all glib and masturbatory…like difficult money.

The poetry should TEAR UP the space (as a kind of scrounge). Right?

Ampling into a rough and beautiful future, not ignoring plumes.

Let me hold you as a hypnotized tongue.

Torrent of vibrant nos in the decorative blame arcade.

I couldn’t sleep at all last night: like a fabric swan.

And on that weirdness now I lay my weary curls.


Outfit blogging returns at the request of Jill Bohn, beautiful mother of Gary Sullivan and therefore beautiful mother-in-law to me. Today I am wearing black Docs (so often pictured in this series), super-warm lavender glitter tights, sort-of-Lolita schoolgirl skirt in lime plaid with black tulle underlayer, and purple and black warm items on top. The feline presence in the upper photo is Dante, who is lamentably huge but very very sweet.

"fuck flarf"

Quoting myself in a moment of facebook indignation today:

People say “fuck Flarf” for various reasons, I think: 1) a general snottiness regarding ‘the contemporary’ 2) a resentment of the overall good time we seem to be having and our feel-good kumbaya closed-group identification 3) as an expression of received opinions to try to cement solidarity in united disdains 4) as a way to reify their own “gravity” and “seriousness” and hence “importance” 5) because they genuinely don’t like the work, but they have actually read enough of it to earn the right to say so. Of all of these responses, I respect only the last.

odd people

encountered many odd people today

the young johnny depp-like guy (long hair, good cheekbones & physique)sitting next to me at the Good Stuff Diner who kept moaning to himself and fidgeting…. I saw him take out a pack of cold pills and down one, in addition to drinking THREE ice coffees in the brief time that I sat there. he kept blowing his nose loudly into a napkin and then tossing the napkin, unfolded, on the table… he was so fidgety from all the stimuli, hardly ate his bagel and lox, although he kept spreading the cream cheese around… and then he was on his cell phone, telling someone he would pay back some money

also a tiny Muslim man in the 14th st. station, as much as six inches shorter than me, which would make him 4’5″, in white kameez and wool jacket, with jaunty astrakhan cap on his head

in the same station, possibly homeless? guy in orange jacket who came up to me and asked me if I was an artist because I was holding a giant palette. I said no, I mean yes, I am, but these are tiles… the palette was covered with small glass tiles… showroom samples I found on 15th st. outside the tile store; they must have been discarding old stock… other odd people: a man with an accent that sounded, I don’t know, maybe Greek? and a walking stick kept saying “look at all these beautiful tiles, just look at them! look at this blue! just like water!” and another woman, also picking through the tiles eagerly… of course I got in on the act

and in my eagerness got a giant BLOOD BLISTER on my little finger…

well, this evening was Fellini-esque somehow…

Tooth Fairy

A chapbook came in the mail, just the other day: “Tooth Fairy,” from Brandon Brown. I read it yesterday and today on my miserable little commute: it was just what I needed. I identified. I laughed. I didn’t cry, exactly, except maybe a little, you know, “inside.” Because of the identification-about-workaday-alienation thing, and because there was some leftover crying from the photos in the NY Times of the Haitian immigrant who went to his local representative’s office seeking information about his family in Port-au-Prince. In the first photo he is sitting at a desk, looking rumpled and worried; in the next, he is collapsed on the floor, being given water to drink from a Styrofoam cup, having learned that his wife and three children had died. Oh… unimaginable…

It’s maybe not properly Adorno-ian to say that poetry is a consolation, but isn’t it? What do people who don’t need poetry need instead (I mean, those people who are fortunate enough not to be the victims of disastrous upheavals in poor and crowded cities in developing countries)? How can they not need it?

I have a great need, desperate really, to fall into other people’s rhythmic insights and imaginations. And Bro can WRITE. The poems are robust, snappy, galloping, taking off from O’Hara, sure, but liberally seasoned with wry resentment and amusing obvious Freud-ish equations of feces and money. There is also a lot of corn in this book, literal corn (BB is Midwestern, after all), and also some figurative corn, but it is so hi-quality that it might be better characterized as wit. Other recurring themes: snot, coke, bills, and lack.

There are lots of great lines, but they are better not isolated out of the poems, which, like the posts on BB’s blog, have a wonderful forward-moving energy. If you go to his blog you can order a copy (and for $10 you will get two more chapbooks besides). I recommend that you do.

“And having on one occasion said in her hearing that M. de Charlus has at that moment a warm regard for a certain person, I was astonished to see appear in the Princess’s eyes that momentary change of colour, like the line of a fissure in the pupil, which is due to a thought which our words have unconsciously aroused in the mind of the person to whom we are talking, a secret thought that will not find expression in words but will rise from the depths we have stirred to the surface – altered for an instant – of his gaze.”