Central Ave. has become quite the poetry street, what with the Fuze Box reading down the street last night & tonight's "Yes, Reading!" at the Social Justice Center just up the block. Tonight there were 2 poets from the world of Academe, hosted by Colie Collen.
Natalie Knight is a working towards a PhD at the University at Albany. She read what she described as "2 series of pieces" in which she raided words from poets & song writers. The first & older piece, "Archipelagos," is forthcoming from Punch Press (Buffalo, NY). She described it as a "lyrical science fiction narrative." It went forward to part 8, then from 8 back down to 1, in a fragmentary narrative filled with intellectual ponderings. The second series were newer poems; they seemed to be conversations, or fragments of overheard conversations or arguments, ending with "Nuclear" which you can find on the website.
Christophe Casamassima teaches at Towson University in Maryland & is the editor of Furniture Press. I must say I was put off by his self-deprecatory remarks, such as saying the people in the audience were smarter than he is & claiming he did not know what "serendipity" means, while I thought it was just insincere posing. He began with reading from Ore (twentythreebooks, 2009) which he described as "lines from 450 writers" & said that "this whole book is stolen" because he can't write any more, so he steals (is this any more or less true than his claim that he doesn't know what serendipity means?). He also read from Joys: A Catalogue of Disappointment (BlazeVox, 2008) which uses the lines of James Joyce & Charles Olson, & a brief section from The Proteus (Moria Books, 2008). I found the work to be abstract intellectual exercises, what might be called "wording off." I'd rather hear the work of Joyce & Olson unprocessed, that's why they are so great.
There seems to be a trend/fad/style among young poets from the universities to construct literary works from the lines of others; appropriating texts they call it. Both poets tonight read work that predominately used this technique. Local poet Tom Corrado essentially did the same thing last third Thursday right here at the SJC, but the author's text he was "appropriating" was him own, in a sense re-cycling his lines as he re-created himself in a compendium of his own words. The poets tonight were not as successful, with their work sounding like exercises in intellectual cleverness & often simply impenetrable.
The Yes, Reading! series continues on an irregular schedule, mainly at the SJC. Visit their website for more information.