Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Death, sleep & the traveler.


Kate Zambreno, Kate Durbin, Bhanu Kapil, Amaranth Borsuk and Johannes Göransson each individually KNOCKED ME OUT. Kate Z read from Heroines and from that sliver it totally engorged my excitement over that book to throbbing proportions; Kate D's whoremoans went audaciously unpardoned; Bhanu lit herself on fire then doused it out with Chanel no. 5 (at least, that is the history that I am waiting to see repeated); Amaranth's reading voice became my favorite extent thing besides Between Page and Screen; Johannes' version of the Lion King is now the only version. This panel was so full of joy and excitement and vigor and beautiful people and while my archivist impulses are really, really not great, I did record the audio. The mic was shy, so the audio is extra not great, and it is in two very lopsided parts (the entire panel proper is in the first file, the q&a populates the second) but it is worth it.

Piss Lisas
Niina Pollari's presentation about Tytti Heikkinen was perfect in all ways: Niina is a beautiful and awesome person and it was intensely delightful to meet her; I would have paid as much as I did for the Lincoln Towncar that dragged my poor, poor body back to San Diego International for the photocopy of "Anal Sex Throughout the Ages" and the Pissis diagram. Action Books is releasing Niina's translation of Heikkinen's Fatty XL poems this coming year and how that is going to be among my favorite favorite books ever I cannot qualify/quantify - I would have to demonstrate and that would involve so many unsightly gestures. On this note I'm glad the heat/the uphill-both-ways quality of la Jolla prevented me from presenting too glamorized a version of myself at &Now. I think I came off like this (that is: alternately floored as if I'd been plugged three times, or adorably senile).

I did not even mention this in my post about why I wanted to go to &Now but reading that Carole Maso was delivering the keynote address was the factor that pushed me over the edge into deciding to go. Her speech was on the first night. I arrived the night before and Kara and I got pho for dinner. The pho was huge, so I wanted to finish it for dinner the next night. After all the panels I was broken and sopping and dragged myself back to the hotel to finish my pho, even knowing how the walk back to campus would amplify how totally rancid I was. I did it. I found the ballroom where the speech was to be given and after the speech and her reading from Mother and Child that I was SO SO thrilled about and could have listened to her read from forever I got to speak to her and told her oh, I came all the way from Pennsylvania to see you here! Here being this once and a lifetime assemblage of brilliant and beautiful writers. But of course this elicited a giggle and knowing shake of the head and she went "oh Kari I live in Rhode Island" which was pretty great. ALSO it was not as if I was expecting that anyone would do this but I was so pleased (am so pleased) to be ready for the question "have you published anything?" with "YES I HAVE" which is better than "" with emphases on the ellipses. The one time I was asked was by Carole Maso. "Yes, I have a chapbook coming out from Dancing Girl," I said, and all at once she congratulated me and validated all my recent decisions (pho, working instead of going to school, the Man Ray monograph, etc, everything was cast in the glow of her).

Oh just everybody. Everybody! Amina Cain and Anna Joy Springer for writing rollicking books and putting &Now together with their bare hands. Roxanne Carter for the shred of Glamorous Freak footage and the incredible/sad story about her diaries magically turning into ramen. Tantra Bensko for being a cheerful and incredible roommate. Joanna Ruocco for the allusion to the Kari Festival (a real thing that happens in Norway) in her very gracious autograph. I swooned all over San Diego getting to see and sometimes speak to so many amazing writers who inspire and overwhelm me. I had the extreme privilege of talking to Amaranth Borsuk a tiny bit outside Atkinson Hall (everyone is fortunate not to have engaged in any more than a tiny bit of talk with me - I would have fallen asleep on them) and I told her that as soon as two years ago maybe I thought all writers were dead or - I don't know - Susan Orlean. Someone totally ensconced in a platinum swank job with an institutional affiliation and there was no visible struggle to me or small fervid ecstatic subculture as I was used to digging in music and art.

New Work
I missed the first panels the first two days being a wreck and needing coffee despite waking up dehydrated. But the last day I was not into that and took a cab to campus and I was so overjoyed that I did because current grad students at Brown were giving a tiny, intimate reading. I was really really hoping to see brand new people (to me) reading brand new work and it was not loud and I was just waking up and it was perfect beyond hyperbole. Especially Mary Wilson's poem made out of Nicki Minaj lyrics.

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