Daily Postings
literature : interview

John Reed

by Gee Henry

"The best way to write myself out of the project was to overwrite my own biography. I mean, who is this 'I' anyway?"

John Reed has been writing hard-to-classify books for over a decade, to great acclaim and sometimes greater notoriety. His novel Snowball's Chance was a blistering and controversial sequel of sorts to Orwell's Animal Farm that culminated with a 9/11-like attack on two windmills. Jonathan Ames called it "scary" and "engrossing," as well as a "sustained triumph." Reed's novel The Whole was a satire inspired by his relationship with a certain MTV VJ and was published, bravely, by MTV Books. My favorite is the aptly titled Tales of Woe, a grim collection of tragic accounts from around the globe. Fictionaut said the stories were "without any redeeming character whatsoever—just bleak, bleak, unremitting, and undeserved." In truth, they actually loved the collection.

Reed is a real New York City character—mysterious yet completely accessible, old-school but cutting-edge. A few years ago, he started sharing some newly written sonnets on Facebook. Although they were largely about love, or desire, they weren't really fit for readers looking for happy-ever-after scenarios. Many ended with a narrator seemingly suspended above a great metaphorical chasm, either about to descend into oblivion or ascend to something sublime. Reed collected these sonnets and others in his latest project, Free Boat: Collected Lies and Love Poems, out now from C&R Press. And, since no book of Reed's is written without adding a "remix" (a term often used by reviewers to describe his writing), he added something strange throughout—a semi-autobiographical letter to guide the reader through all the poems. Sometimes this letter is addressed to Reed's current or former wife, sometimes it's addressed to his literary agent, and sometimes it's directed to the reader. In these, he goes from childhood to adulthood, to a decadent period spent in Cuba, then to the present moment. It contains mug shots of multiple "John Reeds" from around the country, as well as pictures of people Reed identifies as family members. This may be the closest thing to a memoir he'll ever produce.

[ Read More ]
literature : review

This Rude World

by Cypress Marrs

Jen George's The Babysitter at Rest tells tales of the absurd expectations of womanhood.

In The Babysitter at Rest (Dorothy, 2016)—a brilliant and surprising debut collection of short fiction—author Jen George subverts conventional narrative form to reckon with socially imposed ideals of womanhood. Each story follows a woman in her twenties or early thirties as she negotiates the cultural expectations made upon her life and body. It's well-trodden ground, but George hurtles us through the landscape of such archetypes with prose crude enough to be refreshing and dark enough to be funny.

[ Read More ]
art : portfolio


by G. William Webb

Infinite Image-generators

A body has a degree of hardness as well as a degree of fluidity, or that it is essentially elastic, the elastic force of bodies being the expression of the active compressive force exerted on matter. When a boat reaches a certain speed a wave becomes as hard as a wall of marble.
—Gilles Deleuze

[ Read More ]
music : portfolio

Field Recording

by Patrick Higgins

I've been working with the concept of remixing my own classical compositions for a number of years. In 2013, I released an album called Glacia, which treated a recording of my "String Quartet No.2" by warping, stretching, layering, and reprocessing audio stems from the original tracks. The idea was to create a new style of musique concrète, wherein the source material was an original musical composition, but distended and transformed into something like an iceberg, or a glacier—monolithic, slow, dense, and apparently static but, in fact, really dynamic, always moving.

[ Read More ]
literature : review

Floating Market

by Caitlin Youngquist

White space speaks volumes in Hoa Nguyen's Violet Energy Ingots.

Something numinous lies in Hoa Nguyen's newest collection of poems, Violet Energy Ingots. Slender and minimalist in appearance—and sheathed in a spare cover of flecked paper like other publications by Wave Books—it contains sixty-one poems, totaling no more than eighty-three pages. In one's hands, it gives the impression of a fast, sprightly read; flipping through, Nguyen's fondness for blank space is easily discerned, with pockets of emptiness carved out between words in nearly every poem. But the book's sparsity of text belies its gravity and nuance, not to mention the time it insists readers spend to really regard the poet's elegiac cadence, beguiling complexity, and evocation.

[ Read More ]
music : interview

John Mills-Cockell

by Robert Beatty

Electronic composer and synth pioneer Mills-Cockell on his genre-defying work with Syrinx and Intersystems—early forays beyond pop and psychedelia.

Over the span of five years and as many records, Canadian composer John Mills-Cockell was involved in two of the most idiosyncratic, unclassifiable, and consciousness-shattering groups to rise out of electronic music obscurity. First as part of the multimedia installation and performance art group Intersystems (1968–69), who were among the first to use a Moog synthesizer in a live setting, and then with the otherworldly synthesizer/saxophone/percussion trio Syrinx (1971–72). There's been a retrospective of Mills-Cockell's work recently, which started with the boxset release of three Intersystems albums (Alga Marghen, 2015) and now continues with Tumblers From the Vault (RVNG Intl, 2016)—a collection of Syrinx's two albums, along with unreleased material.

Robert Beatty I wanted to start with an eye-opening little story about how Syrinx is maybe better known than I'd thought. I was at a wedding reception, seated with strangers, and one turned out to be a music professor at the University of Kentucky, where I live. He asked what I do, so I told him about playing experimental electronic music. The very first thing he said was, "Oh, like Syrinx?" It blew my mind, because I assumed Syrinx was very obscure. But he used to go to shows in Toronto as a teenager and had seen you all perform many times. His first frame of reference for experimental electronic music was not Stockhausen or Cage, it was you guys.

John Mills-Cockell There's an odd irony here because I seem to have this ongoing thing, not an argument exactly, but just a thing with the academic community for electronic music in Canada. We don't quite meet somehow.

[ Read More ]
literature : interview

Carlos Fonseca

by Chloe Aridjis

"How many fragments are needed in order to describe the life of man?"

Carlos Fonseca Suarez is the youngest author to appear on the renowned Spanish publisher Anagrama's list. His first novel, Colonel Lágrimas (now available in English from Restless Books), is indeed astonishing in its wisdom and maturity—the product, one would guess, of decades of deeply engaged reading. Yet its author was a mere twenty-seven when it came out. Written at any age, the work is a true feat of literary ventriloquism and cinematic control, tinged with a humor and melancholy inspired by the human condition. Whether we think of it as a game of masks or as a Cubist portrait, Fonseca's novel reads like an Oulipian puzzle where historical memory can play hide-and-seek.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Katherine Bradford

by Samuel Jablon

"You can't tell if they're about leisure or about horror and drowning."

Katherine Bradford paints people flying, floating, and wading in a range of environments, from outer space to sandy beaches. The paintings in her 2016 exhibition Fear of Waves at CANADA were joyful, sad, gritty, and filled with a fear of what circles under the surface.

Bradford and I sat down in her studio and had a conversation about art and how community is necessary to survive as an artist. We discussed her paintings of swimmers and the need for monsters to become part of the narrative.

[ Read More ]
past events : from the editor
literature : first proof

the rou of alch / el cam del alch

by Pablo Katchadjian

Sudden, recombinant abbreviations and looping queries make up the rou of alch by Buenos Aires-based author Pablo Katchadjian. What follows is an excerpt from this book-length poem, which is the third release from Señal—an ongoing series of contemporary Latin American poetry publications produced collaboratively by BOMB, Libros Antena Books, and Ugly Duckling Presse. Katchadjian—along with authors Florencia Castellano and Luis Felipe Fabre, and translators Stalina Emmanuelle Villarreal, Victoria Cóccaro, Alexis Almeida, John Pluecker, and Rebekah Smith—will be reading at the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU on October 13 and at The Poetry Project on October 14, 2016.

the rou of alch

I don't want them to leave so I give them all I have
the buc and the rou
the inf and the cont

that's to say
concepts and materials

with those two things they could make anything
and would even see their shadows grow

[ Read More ]
film : review

The Villian Is the 20th Century

by William Corwin

With I Had Nowhere to Go, director Douglas Gordon brings the diary of filmmaker and poet Jonas Mekas into contact with our own reveries.

Douglas Gordon's film I Had Nowhere to Go—an adaptation of Jonas Mekas's diaries—is akin to the experience of pulling a sleeping mask over one's eyes on a long-haul flight or train ride. The enforced blackness plunges the viewer into a dream-state and even a nightmare at times, both actually lived by one of the most resilient and enigmatic poets and filmmakers of the last fifty years. I Had Nowhere to Go is chiefly about the word: Mekas's voice is the only constant in this complicated, polynomial equation, and Gordon has accomplished a tremendous feat in generating a riveting work of art on the back of another artist's work without stepping on his toes. While it's definitely a biography, it's a hypnotic work of visual poetry as well—a portrait that could only be effected through the film medium, and with the able editing of Ninot Lotet and sound editing by Frank Kruse.

[ Read More ]
literature : review

How To Suffer Well

by Charlotte Lieberman

On Max Ritvo's Four Reincarnations

The first line of the first poem of Max Ritvo's debut poetry collection Four Reincarnations begins with a loud and threatening announcement: "The bed is on fire," then the speaker asks, "and are you laughing?" Here Ritvo invites us to simultaneously accept horror and humor.

The rest of this poem, cheekily titled "Living it Up," unfolds with authority through a series of subjunctive utterances that include candid expressions of fantasy ("I wish you would…"), conditional statements about a somehow-certain future ("they will never / be able to hold anyone"), and gauzy descriptions of air as an "other child." At first glance, it may be tempting to dismiss the work as ironic. But how is it that the future and the world of the imagination could be expressed so absolutely? How is it that anyone could laugh amidst the flames?

[ Read More ]
film : review

Foreign Exchange

by Elina Alter

European Cinema at the 54th New York Film Festival

This October, forty-nine years after its first appearance, The Battle of Algiers returns to the New York Film Festival. It's not a difficult film to see these days—it's on Hulu—but back in 2003, several months into the invasion of Iraq, somebody at the Pentagon thought it merited a special screening. Gille Pontecorvo's 1966 documentary-style account of the Algerian struggle for independence offered, according to a flyer advertising the screening, an excellent case study in "how to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas."

Battle's first American screening, at the 1967 NYFF, was the work of not a Pentagonian but of Amos Vogel, the Festival's founding co-director. The teenage Vogel had fled Austria with his family just before the Anschluss, and through a lifetime of film programming in the U.S., he remained dedicated to "a more liberated cinema"—not a hierarchical project, but one of "constant transformation of all forms and systems." The Festival Vogel helped to start is also, at least nominally, not hierarchical—the films are not in competition for prizes. However, for reasons of merit as well as market, its Main Slate is rarely short on European prize-winners, which this year concern themselves less with winning wars of ideas than with surveying the carnage of those wars.

[ Read More ]
art : review

Ry Rocklen's L.A. Relics

by Andrew Berardini

The puzzling pathos of sport, apparel, and the everyday.

Since we were pretty freaked by our own adolescent bods, the locker-room showers at my school went un-splashed after PE class. Empty, they reeked of sadness—the cement floor and clanging locker doors coated with stale sweat, the shower stalls forever moist and mildewy, nozzles and knobs poking out from the uniform grid of tiles on the wall.

[ Read More ]
literature : interview

Alexandra Kleeman & Lincoln Michel

On genre, influence, and getting weird in fiction.

If you were taking the pulse of American short fiction circa now, you might begin with Lincoln Michel’s Upright Beasts (Coffee House Press, 2015) and Alexandra Kleeman’s Intimations (Harper, 2016). The writers, both graduates of Columbia’s MFA program, create stories that are disorienting and alive, winning praise from Margaret Atwood (in Michel’s case) or drawing comparisons to Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon (in Kleeman’s). As one might guess from reading their work, Kleeman and Michel possess voracious appetites for culture; their conversation doubles as a syllabus for The Dozen Great Books You Should Read Right Now.

[ Read More ]
art : review

Karin Schneider's Situational Diagram

by Wendy Vogel

De-radicalizing the monochrome.

For some people, the old end-game of black painting still elicits a thrill. I am one of them. The first time I saw a slide of the Russian Suprematists' all-black Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings 0.10, in a modern art survey course, I was hooked. Here, I thought, was the origin of punk: Art as self-annihilation, as total confrontation, as wiping the slate clean. Of course, artists have deployed black monochromes in the service of various ideas over the years, from political withdrawal to spiritual contemplation, to signifying an evacuation of subjectivity or marginality (many of these themes were explored in Blackness in Abstraction, a group exhibition curated by Adrienne Edwards at Pace Gallery this past summer.) But even the Suprematists' politics weren't without complication. As Russian researchers from the State Tretyakov Gallery discovered last year, Kazimir Malevich's infamous Black Square (1915) contained a racist handwritten inscription under the dark shape: "Battle of negroes in a dark cave." The endless rhetorical permutations of such a "simple" aesthetic gesture as an all-black painting are the stuff that keeps the wheels of art history turning.

[ Read More ]
theater : review

Ieva Misevičiūtė's Tongue PhD

by Amber Power

I slide into the mouth easily, taking my place alongside all the others. We are not crowded because the mouth is large and its moist tissues are elastic. I have never seen a mouth like this before. It's not Jagger's sardonic sex mouth, or Beckett's disembodied Not I mouth, or Bosch's ever-gaping hellmouth… This mouth is silicone-smooth, pinky-beige, and very clean. At the center, a giant tongue lays gently tensing, its long base attached to places unseen––the jaw, the base of the skull, the hyoid bone. I hear water. No, not water… wetness. The sound of wetness is all around us, and though the night outside is unseasonably hot, the black box of this mouth feels cool.

"The mouth is the first theatre," a voice announces.

[ Read More ]
literature : first proof

Four Poems

by Aimee Herman

on an island of love poems

he plays with her side ponytail, as though
he is playing with himself—
with knees spread apart
lips swollen and fingertips dipped in bee stings

she watches skinny, tattooed legs pass her by,
attached to a woman wearing two partially shaved
heads,  curls down the middle

she wants to tell him she’s remembered she’s gay
never forgot, exactly—
she just really dug the way he dug into her
until    until    it just wasn’t enough

[ Read More ]
music : review

All Is but Circuitry

by Steve Dalachinsky

On the 50th anniversary of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, an intergenerational concert series celebrates the technological innovations of the 1960s New York avant-garde. Times have changed.

The nine concerts of 9 Evenings + 50 —which ran earlier this September at Fridman Gallery on Spring Street—were an homage occasioned by the 50th anniversary of 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering which took place at New York’s 69th Regiment Armory in 1966 at the incredible price of $3 per ticket. The fundamental idea of the original series was to bring art and science together to see how various musical and non-musical components, i.e. radios and TV monitors, could literally be taken apart—“deconstructed” as the Fridman catalogue states—and put back together to create new means for artists to create “sound.” Some of the original participants were David Tudor and John Cage (both represented at Fridman with performances of their work), as well as Robert Whitman, Robert Rauschenberg, Yvonne Rainer, and Lucinda Childs. Billy Klüver, an electrical engineer at Bell Labs, developed the 1966 concerts and invited the artists to perform.

[ Read More ]
literature : interview

Lewis Freedman

by Judah Rubin

"We experience the content of ourself emerging by making shapes around it."

Lewis Freedman is the author of Residual Synonyms for the Names of God (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016) and a writer whose investigation of what might be called biblio-cognitive aporetic states is perched somewhere on the ledge of Mallarméan-cum-Jabesian trickster engagements with the very fundament of language. Freedman's works—which include a DIY program for the autopoesis of solitaire, Solitude: The Complete Games (with Kevin Ryberg, Troll Thread, 2013); a notebook on notebooking, Hold the Blue Orb, Baby (Well Greased Press, 2013); and a record of loss in language, Pretend to Think—all bend the ear of thought, constantly seeking that place just beyond the act of naming. I spent an afternoon with Lewis discussing divination, food science, taxidermy, rabbinic literature, and the act of discussion itself on the banks of Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin.

Judah Rubin Last night I was reading your Residual Synonyms for the Name of God, where you write: "Great wealth passively corrects its crime by making pubic hair iridescently visible through cloth as a metaphor for the negation of the said." Can you maybe speak to that? What is the divine character of iridescently visible pubic hair?

Lewis Freedman Let me not pretend to know precisely what I've made, but just jump off from it instead…

[ Read More ]
literature : first proof


by Kenward Elmslie

I felt something bosomy pressing against me. I opened my eyes, and craned around. It was Mummers. His lips were moving rapidly. He squatted down beside me. I took the wads of cotton out of my ears.

"…to share whatever it is you're experiencing… not a stickler for everyday reality so-called… ha!… see by your eyes you're onto something… layers… not forcing… trust… mutual trust… wouldn't force anything… privacy… particulars… not forcing you."

I said no.

A diatribe followed, difficult for me to make much sense of—an attack on everyday reality, "Satanic" trick, any logical system that can be laid out can be controlled by viewer, dangerous, imposed on other viewers who become feeder stations to original viewer, vision widened with auxiliary antennae—distance between center and perimeter so immense, visions become garbled—weird statistics become law—misplaced zeros—cow is elected President of Meat Board (regulation to implement democratic process)—enforced Daily Poet Celebrations (regulation to implement anarchy necessary to weeding out of outworn regulations)—newsflash: Venice has sunk—all cities try to figure out how to sink (regulation to—to—layers—fragments—)

[ Read More ]
past events : from the editor
literature : review

Sit, Scroll, and Fume

by Sarah Jean Grimm

Tommy Pico's IRL searches the catacombs of history and hashtags of today to create what can't be salvaged.

Tommy Pico's debut book, IRL (Birds LLC, 2016), is an origin story rooted in epic tradition and a long-form poem that unfurls as a hyperconfessional scroll. Confronting legacies of colonial trauma, it inscribes an identity in "a post-apocalyptic America / that started 1492." Pico's speaker, Teebs, is an alter à la Sasha Fierce, navigating his experience as a queer Kumeyaay Indian alienated from his ancestral language, religion, and history. The personal is always political, but rarely is it treated with such deft humor. Sharp, successive pratfalls land us firmly in tragicomic moments, so that even as Teebs mourns a cultural inheritance marred by loss, there is play—or rather play is employed to access that mourning. Despite its precision and proliferation of wit, it would be a mistake to frame IRL as light.

[ Read More ]
past events : from the editor