Your Youtubey goodness for this Friday.
Those crazy dudes at Dover have also come out with about one zillion more clip art books. Who can pass up the giant book of William Morris designs or the image library of Japanese crests? Fah. Soon I will have no money left.
Reading Barbara Guest's "Countess from Minneapolis." I predict more Barbara Guest in my future.
The lastest issues of Elsewhere and Fourquare don't just rhyme audibly, they reflect each other on a visual level, as they are both intimately concerned with the visual aspect of words. Words not just as signifiers, but as art, as visual signals divorced from the meaning connected with the letters that make them up.
The second issue of Gary Sullivan's Elsewhere recreates, in comic book format, a walk up Coney Island Avenue, and the pictures are accompanied by the text of a poem by Nada Gordon, taken from notes on a busride going down Coney Island Avenue in the opposite direction.
What is most noticeable is that even the pictures are words. This recreates for me the greatest impact, the greatest difference I felt when I first moved to New York. The city assaults you with its words. Signage is impossible to escape -- fluid, multilingual, misspelled, constant. What I felt during my first six months in New York was that I was under a continual visual assault -- the words are so overbearing and overwhelming that it is hard to think -- you find yourself merely a conduit through which distant strangers' signage passes, words that aren't your own, personas that aren't your own. It takes a while to develop, if not resistance to the languescape, a hardiness that allows you to maintain your private being, while being open to, even thrilling in the wordbath that is all around you.
Coney Island is probably the place in New York where this sensation is most extreme -- the most and different languages, the strangest signs, the mix of high and low, of respectable and outre commerce. Images of a thousand places, with a thousand glosses -- some intended, some gained. "Mickey Mouse and His Friends" written in Russian, Spanish help wanted signs, "Tofutti!," Arabic calligraphy neck and neck with spraypainted tags, happy teeth advertising dentists, the seven dwarfs carting assault rifles, "Being Muslim is Not a Crime", "Borsalino's Hat Box," the Virgin de Guadalupe, "Only for Ladies!"
Gary has a journalistic eye for place, and his drawings convey all the shuddering weird of Coney Island without departing from reality -- the fact that these things really do exist, that they "are just this way." Nada's poem, incorporating the signage she passes -- "Lounge Bukhara Catering Hall Quinceras Las Mariachis Raja Realty Honey Locksmith Smartbeep Kaloshi Real Estate Adam & Even Unisex -- (A Warrior of Either Sex in the Distances Which are American)--" gives voice to the signs, but also the mind that process them, and which has its own thoughts, its own signs to post. The poet passes through a funhouse, but isn't swallowed.
Foursquare, too, is intimately connected with the visual, although in a different manner. Jessica Smith's background in Vispo is apparent in the format she has chosen for the magazine -- an 8x8 card divided into four equal squares, with each square hosting the work of a different poet. Texts of different length, weight, font, and size nestle side by side on a single field. Italics roost across from huge bolded words, spaced so as to appear as though floating over the page. Thick paragraphs lie diagonally from a wafer thin, delicate verse. Because all four poems are simultaneously visible, the poems do not just work as independent "sense units" -- they work as a unified visual plane on which many different things are happening. The effect on the viewer is similar to that of Futurist and Dadaist texts, which used typography in stunning ways to accomplish the simultaneous ends of conveying a denotative message while opening the viewer to visible connotations -- a wordplay that was physical as well as mental. Foursquare represents a different way of looking at poems, and by extension, reading them.
In "air"-rhyming news, neat things that have arrived of late: Foursquare and Elsewhere. Will try to write about them tonight.
Also, I am the person to hit up for your themed anthology. I have poems on a variety of topics: garden vegetables, spaceships, David Lynch. I also have work on dead kitties, robots, and the discontents of anarch-syndacalism, should anyone be thinking along those lines.
Covers and sleeves for "Villanelles are Retarded" are complete. Now, we just need Shafer's computer to get fixed so we can finalize the poems! I am happy to report that, as of this writing, they are retarded beyond human belief. But who's to say that two great poetic minds, working in concert, couldn't stupid 'em up even more? Nobody, that's who.