Nomad Ink

Sunday, December 16, 2007

fin de semestre blues...

sleeping, sleeping, reading silly rock and roll bios, latest was Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, about Phil Spector, who is interesting as a demented diasporoid, and about whom i did a bit of work in a paper on Adeena Karasick...but lots has been going on. First, Renee Gladman and Carla Harryman came to give a reading under the auspices of VG:Voices from the Gaps and the UMN's Institute for Advanced Study. They were terrific; Renee read 2 pieces, one about a woman dying from being hit by a car, losing blood and observing the activity swirling around her in response to the accident, the other a brilliant piece about orientation, disorientation, trying to get from one place to another in a city without using the handdrawn map in her back pocket, just asking strangers and trying to reconcile all the crazy and familiar things people say in response to being asked directions. Carla gave a spirited and equally brilliant reading of 3 of her Adorno's Noise hybrid essays; the first a breakneck speed Acker-esque (in theme if not in style) piece about being fucked/bullied by the President; the second a long piece that ranged over the galaxy system ("McBasin") to a meditation on a fiber-sculpture woman corpse by a woman artist that resonated strongly with Renee's first piece, then...anyway it went all over the place to v impressive effect. The last piece, which was somewhat blurred by a lot of folks needing to leave, was a speedy word-salad pirouette through...can't remember as well. Anyway the house was packed, it was good, and Adam Schrag manned our new camcorder ably. Then the next day Dhana-Marie Branton interviewed Renee really well in the VG basement office and we took her to the VG class where, though she felt it was a bit awkward (she thought she'd be reading from her work), she answered student questions about The Activist, a book that I teach a lot and that Maddy Chakraborty had put on her syllabus at my suggestion (thanks, Maddy). Then we had Ethiopian food and I took her to the Ashbery bridge by the walker art center.
THEN the following night we had our Samuel Beckett 101 Celebration in the English Dept (we missed the centennary and thought 101 sounded better anyway. It was amazing, 23 languages being read (including English), excerpts from Godot, The Unnameable and other yummy Beckett snippets. Here's the playlist:

1. Bulgarian: Stoyan Tchaprazov

2-3. Chinese/Japanese: Leo Chen, Leo's friend Toshi

4. Danish: Ole Gram

5. Dutch: Jenneke Oosterhoff and friends

6. English: Richard Rose
Philip Bratnober
David Bernstein
Kevin Riordan
Richard Rose

7. Finnish: Susan Larsen

8. French: Christophe Wall-Romana, April Knutson and Maria Brewer Pascale Crépon, Amy Kamel, Mira Reinberg

9-10. French/Latin: Robert St Clair, Steve Jackson

11. German: Rembert Heuser

12. Greek: Tom Lewis

13. Hungarian: Maria Bales

14-15. Irish/Korean: Annmarie Lawless, Eunjoo Kim, Jewon Woo

16. Mongolian: Lisa Fink

17. Russian: Masha Zavialova, Sasha Zavialova and Kesh Zavialov

18. Spanish: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Joanna O’Connell

19-20. Swedish/Norwegian: Susan Larsen

21. New Guinea Tokpisin: Steve Winduo

22. Turkish: Ayca Ulken

23. Urdu: Bali Sahota

Ryo Yamaguchi made t-shirts saying "I can't go on, I'll go on," which sold out in minutes (i was wearing mine and sliced it up a bit punkish, and had a great time mc-ing) and we had a cake with the same line, plus a huge thing of Jameson's, a six-pack of Guinness, lots of dried fruit, wine, cheese, challah, nuts, chips, salmon, etc., a really great hospitable spread that kept everyone happy, thanks to our generous dept chair Paula Rabinowitz, whose husband David Bernstein did a mean Krapp, bottle-uncorking sound effects and all. The eerie thing was, when he was doing his Krapp, the video From Silence to Silence, which was playing (silently, of course) on the other side of the room showed a famous Beckettian actor also doing Krapp. The synchrony was fabulous. It was really well-organized thanks to our genius loci, our low-key inhouse genius, terri sutton. It was a really high-energy evening, capped off by a mass reading of the last 2 pages of The Unnameable loud enough to rouse the dead. We were, in fact, honoring our spiritual/literary ancestors, and I think it must have made Sam (if I may) happy. it was, as i told folks in an email later, Beckettastic. There were about 75 people there (Paula counted). It's becoming a tradition (last year it was Howl@50 that started everything). Who will we "do" next year? Dickinson? Stein? Sappho? I'm rooting for a chick, but we'll see what the weather brings.

That was last Friday night. Saturday was a party for the MCBA "winter book," which this year was Vispoeology, an anthology of visual poetry concocted, i mean compiled by Scott Helmes, Tom Cassidy and John Bennett, stalwarts on the scene. mIEKAL and Camille came into town to celebrate and for mIEKAL to perform his masterpiece of spam-generated playwrighting, Neologism Hospital Theatre. I got to play Dr. Grace Butts, and the next day or so got the best pseudo-doctor spam name in history in my in-box: Dr. Whalen Bump. Anyway it was a lot of fun getting to be part of the festivities and then partying at the after-party and going for a big sushi meal beforehand.
Then a few days' lull and then the grand finale, dinner with my graduate seminar chez moi, i cooked all day sunday and monday and tuesday, that was really fun: cream of leak and potato soup with CSA leeks and potatoes, squash soup w/ coconut milk and ground pumpkin seeds, cilantro humus, mesclun salad w/ pears, red onion and feta, good cheeses, 2 kinds of bread pudding with whipped cream and ice cream, coffee, roast free-range chicken: they brought: really good cheese and bread, brownies, walnut cranberry pie, cherry pie, cookies, rotisserie and southern fried deli chicken, wine, and other delicious things. They talked about their final papers and read some sample paragraphs. It was exciting and fun and afterwards I've barely been able to move, sleeping and reading silly rock bios, and continuing to look at iggy pop videos online and draw inspiration from his manic creativity and smart id.


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