02 January 2007

Report from Philly

Poem went to the big MLA convention in Philadelphia just before New Year’s. He was not looking forward to it; conferences of this kind tend to be populated by desperate sessional teachers looking for an interview hoping that one more conference paper on their c.v. will put them over the top. They all dress badly and need more sun. They sneer down their noses at poor jet-lagged Poem.

But! When Poem arrived he flipped through the massive program and (amidst the pablum and drivel) found a panel on Robert Creeley. Not only that, but it was a panel that had Charles Bernstein presenting. The panel was good and afterward, Poem shuffled up to Bernstein and in an awkward, small town gesture shook hands and asked him to come to Prince George to read. He said yes! Poem is not sure if he was serious. . .

Later that day, Poem went to two very different but exciting readings. One was by Nigerian novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o who read from his novel Wizard of the Crow. The second was a massive reading “off site” from the MLA by a whole host of American poets. The reading started at 9:00 PM at the Philadelphia Art Alliance and saw all these writers read for 1 – 2 minutes:

Aaron Kunin
Adam Fieled
Sasha Steensen
Dennis Barone
Aldon Neilsen
Bill Howe
Bob Perelman
Brent Cunningham
Brian Kim Stefans
C. A. Conrad
Camille Martin
Carla Harryman
Caroline Bergvall
Cathy Eisenhower
Christian Bök
Eduardo Espino
Elaine Terranova
Ethel Rackin
Evie Shockley
Frank Sherlock
Hank Lazer
Herman Beavers
Jena Osman
Jenn McCreary
Jennifer Scappetone
Joan Retallack
Johanna Drucker
John Wilkinson
Josh Schuster
Barrett Watten
Kathy Lou Schultz
Lamont Steptoe
Laura Moriarty
Leevi Lehto
Linda Russo
Linh Dinh
Loren Goodman
Mark Wallace
Matthew Cooperman
Michael Tod Edgerton
Michael Davidson
Nat Anderson
Nick Monfort
Norma Cole
Patrick Durgin
Peter Middleton
Prageeta Sharma
Rachel DuPlessis
Ron Silliman
Susan Schultz
Timothy Yu
Tom Devaney
Tom Orange
Tyrone Williams
Walter Lew
Will Esposito
Yunte Huang

Highlights were seeing Santa Claus-like Silliman, Walter Lew diving across a piano, Barrett Watten’s hilarious poke at the MLA, and watching Perelman be a nervous host. Christian Bok was the only Canadian reading. Poem wondered briefly why he wasn’t asked on stage but then realized he had more writing to do. Poem is a good listener.

You can see Silliman’s version of the night here and his audio recording of the event here.


At 9:00 AM, Blogger a.raw said...

Poem might be interested to know that there were two poets who're from Canada and read at the off-site reading... Christian, and Camille Martin (who moved to Toronto from New Orleans a year and a half ago). Her work is fantastic!

At 11:48 AM, Blogger GP Lainsbury said...

zounds! almost too much pote-ry to bear w/out damage to one's instrument of reception


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