November: What it looked like

We had a great opening season, and here are some pictures to prove it.

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“Laura Goldstein’s poems vibrate with urgency—of bodies, of capital, of language, of all the things that comprise us.”—Megan Kaminski. Laura Goldstein reads from her new book, “Awesome Camera” (Make Now Press, 2014).

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Kelly Christian presents a lecture exploring chronological shifts in the “labor of death.” She speaks to how the corpse was traditionally handled prior to the professionalization / medicalization of death, framing that in opposition to contemporary funerary practices.

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Eric Elshtain reads from his new book, “This Thin Memory A-ha” (Verge Books, 2014) “while we go headlong / to eat the arms of charlatans // rescuing every rickety magician / from salvation.”

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“Elemental and unsparing, quiet and startling, Arnold’s supple syntax is a source of gravity and vertigo. It is an acute expression of a mind’s awareness of the tragedy of effacement: in burning through it, we gain a keener sense of our predicament.” John Palattella, The Nation.

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Patrick Durgin of Kenning Editions organized a reading with Trisha Low and Rodney Koeneke.

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“Like a moth to the flame, Trisha Low is hard not to notice, much less look away. Maybe it’s because she is a futurist-inclined, teenage-girl-defending, performer-cum-writer whose work stretches the boundaries of everything for which women are both shunned and condemned: confession.” — Bookslut

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“Structure is on fire, and tercets are on fire, and process is on fire, and motion is on fire; while the poem has learned to preen and turn, pivot on, and no longer hurts, or points at a world, or even at its status as an internally consistent verbal object, only at the most tiresome conditions of its own production.” Rodney Koeneke, Eutruria (Wave Books, 2014).

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“Why, for instance, the word “woman” holds its own intention. One day on the street I found a fissure. I thought it was my sex. I thought it looked like the sea. An amoeba. I was not afraid to be seen. I was afraid to be dismembered. Do you see?” — Andrea Rexilius

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“When the TV laugh track laughs for me, I feel bad for the TV” — Mathias Svalina read at Sector 2337

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Joel Craig reads from a new poem, transcribed in part on twitter: “I finally joined Facebook / it’s fucking / freaking / me / out/ we are all spatialized / time / paramedics.”

"Everything about Mairead Case is poetic. She is propelled by a desire to expose all the beauty in the world." — Abby Sheaffer reflects on our wonderful recently-relocated-to-Denver reader.

“Everything about Mairead Case is poetic. She is propelled by a desire to expose all the beauty in the world.” — Abby Sheaffer reflects on our wonderful recently-relocated-to-Denver reader.

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JoelFelix talks on the privileges of the lyric field in models of the beloved, the erotic & the holy fool. His book was reviewed here by our own Devin King.

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Daniel Borzutzky organized a reading with Sarah Fox, Justin Petropoulos, & Paul Martinez Pompa.

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“We are separated slightly, towards each other” — Justin Petropoulos. Here is his tumblr page.

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“No matter how much I wash my hands they still smell like hands” — Paul Martinez Pompa

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“One day I woke up rearranged like a sleepwalker misplaced upon a terrain of erotic grenades. Am I a manifesto? Am I cloudless, now?” —Sara Fox, My First Flag (Coffee House Press, 2013).

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“Even sleep and time must release its prisoners” John Tipton reading his translation of Sophocles “Ajax” (Flood Editions).

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“It wasn’t until the second century AD that the sophist Philostratus first argued, in his biography of the mystic Apollonius, that phantasia, or creative imagination, was a more important quality in the artist than mimesis.” — Monica Westin, 3 Quarks Daily. Though Westin read from a different paper at Sector, there were some nice resonant frequencies to 3 Quarks.

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One visual snippet of what happens after our speakers are finished.

and a couple video excerpts from a recent night of performance

North Georgia Gazette in TimeOut Chicago

Originally posted on September 10, 2009 via the now defunct Lantern Daily blog

We got this super awesome review in this week’s TimeOut Chicago which is due out (in print) tomorrow…anyway, I thought I’d share the first paragraph to whet the appetite, so to speak. What follows was written by Jonathan Messinger…. (photos courtesy of Sonnenzimmer)

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Anonymous critics may have found their ultimate playground in the comments sections of countless websites, but cowardly griping is no 21st-century invention. In fact, in 1819, a sailor saw an opportunity to namelessly sound off in a letter to the editor of The North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle, complaining that the theater scene had grown too concerned with putting up new work and had forgotten the old favorites.

Of course, we’re willing to cut “A Looker-On” (as he called himself) a little slack, given the risk of retribution. He was in a more closed community, being one of 92 men stranded just off the Baffin Bay in the winter, waiting out the season on two ships moored to the ice.

Royal Navy vessels Hecla and Gripere made the voyage from England in 1819, attempting to find the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. The ships had been prepped to wait out the winter months: Heavy cloths covered their decks, and they were stocked with fuel, food and provisions to last them through. But Lt. William Edward Parry knew the men would need to keep themselves busy, so he commissioned The Chronicle, designed to report the good news of the camp, and plays to provide entertainment (which stuck in A Looker-On’s craw). The North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle was produced in numerous editions, a historical document that doubles as historical oddity, and brought back to print by Chicago’s Green Lantern Press.

Installation Images View Tenuous by Jane Jerardi

Jane Jerardi, Tenuous, 2014. In progress solo performance. Photo by Clare Britt.

Jane Jerardi, Tenuous, 2014. In progress solo performance. Photo by Clare Britt.

 

Jane Jerardi, Tenuous, 2014. In progress solo performance. Photo by Clare Britt.

Jane Jerardi, Tenuous, 2014. In progress solo performance. Photo by Clare Britt.

 

Jane Jerardi, Tenuous, 2014. In progress solo performance. Photo by Clare Britt.

Jane Jerardi, Tenuous, 2014. In progress solo performance. Photo by Clare Britt.

 

Jane Jerardi, Tenuous, 2014. In progress solo performance. Photo by Clare Britt.

Jane Jerardi, Tenuous, 2014. In progress solo performance. Photo by Clare Britt.

 

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Installation Photographs of The New [New] Corpse

Our October group show, The New [New] Corpse is up until December 11th; below you’ll see the works of Benjamin L. Aman & Marion Auburtin, Joseph Grigely, Young Joon Kwak, Jason Lazarus, Carlos Martiel, Heather Mekkelson, Aay Preston-Myint, Rachel Niffenegger, Xaviera Simmons, Shane Ward, and Shoshanna Weinberger. Come by and see the show in person! We are open Wed-Sat from 2pm-6pm and later on evenings with events.

The New [New] Corpse, Installation View, Sector 2337, 2014. Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz

The New [New] Corpse, Installation View, Sector 2337, 2014. Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz. Left to right: Joseph Grigely, “Songs Without Words (Faust),” 2012. Pigment Print, Edition 2 of 3, 35 x 29.5″;  Joseph Grigely, “Songs Without Words (Sekou Sundiata),” 2012. Pigment Print, Edition 2 of 3, 35 x 29.5″; Shane Ward, “Victory,”2014. Lead, flocking, granite, extruded polystrene, 58″ (h) x 14 x 14”; Carlos Martiel, “Break the Night,” 2014; Heather Mekkelson, “Debris Field: dependent clause,” 2008. Steel, ceramic, tile, gypsum, board; Jason Lazarus, “Untitled (Vienna, Austria),” 2008. Photographic print, 35 x 27″.

Rachel Niffenegger, "Slit Witch (Night) Gown with Insignia," 2014. Steel epoxy, white witch costume, pig foot, acrylic, 70" (h) x 26" (diam).

Rachel Niffenegger, “Slit Witch (Night) Gown with Insignia,” 2014. Steel epoxy, white witch costume, pig foot, acrylic, 70″ (h) x 26″ (diam).

The New [New] Corpse, Installation View, Sector 2337, 2014. Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz

The New [New] Corpse, Installation View, Sector 2337, 2014. Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz. 

The New [New] Corpse, Installation View. Left to right: Carlos Martiel, "Break the Night," 2014. Documentation of a 2014 performance at Art League Houston; photograph by Alex Barber, 16 x 24"; Heather Mekkelson, "Debris Field: told them to look after the younger ones," 2008. Aluminum blinds, handbag receipts; Jason Lazarus, "Untitled, (Vienna, Austria)", 2008. Photographic print, 35 x 27". Photograph by Joseph Rynkiewicz.

The New [New] Corpse, Installation View. Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz. Left to right: Carlos Martiel, “Break the Night,” 2014. Documentation of a 2014 performance at Art League Houston; photograph by Alex Barber, 16 x 24″; Heather Mekkelson, “Debris Field: dependent clause,” 2008. Steel, ceramic, tile, gypsum, board; Jason Lazarus, “Untitled, (Vienna, Austria)”, 2008. Photographic print, 35 x 27″.

Aay Preston-Myint, "Of Their Slaves and Of Their Marriages," 2012. Wood, metal, plaster, plastic laminate, enamel, cake, food coloring, frosting, approx. 49" (h) x 16" (diam).

Aay Preston-Myint, “Of Their Slaves and Of Their Marriages,” 2012. Wood, metal, plaster, plastic laminate, enamel, cake, food coloring, frosting, approx. 49″ (h) x 16″ (diam). Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz.

Shoshanna Weinberger, "Posthumous Pin-Ups," 2014. 15 ink/collage drawings on paper; 11 x 10 ft.

Shoshanna Weinberger, “Posthumous Pin-Ups,” 2014. 15 ink/collage drawings on paper; 11 x 10 ft. Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz.

Benjamin L. Aman and Marion Auburtin, "Loop Island," 2011. Ceramic and modified musical mechanism, dimensions variable. Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz.

Benjamin L. Aman and Marion Auburtin, “Loop Island,” 2011. Ceramic and modified musical mechanism, dimensions variable. Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz.

Young Joon Kwak, "Aggregate Body (Book)," 2014. Edition of 50 + 2 Exhibition copies, 12 x 12  x 1/2".

Young Joon Kwak, “Aggregate Body (Book),” 2014. Edition of 50 + 2 Exhibition copies, 12 x 12 x 1/2″.

The New [New] Corpse, Installation View, Sector 2337, 2014. Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz

The New [New] Corpse, Installation View, Sector 2337, 2014. Photo by Joseph Rynkiewicz. Left to right: Aman and Auburtin, “Loop Island;” Preston-Myint, “Of Their Slaves and Of Thier Marriages;” Aman and Auburtin, “Loop Island;” Ward, “Victory;” Mekkelson, “Debris Field: told them to look after the young ones;” and Xaviera Simmons, “Super Unknown #2,” 2010, 89 x 42″.

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THE CLICHE

by Moshe Zvi Marvit

Originally published by Tramp Quarterly

The literary cliche was born in 1892 in a comparative anatomy textbook. It was not used in the 20th century outside of this comparative anatomy textbook until it was employed to describe a set of motives in the 28th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is not surprising that the term has proliferated so widely in just over a century. Nor is it surprising that the first use of the term was in an anatomy textbook, so long as it was comparative. The surprising thing is that the term did not exist before the turn of the 20th century. Well into the modern era, after Kant and Hegel and Marx, after the Civil War, and after Frege had mapped out the foundations of what was called at the time “common-sense philosophy,” there was still no way to describe the overflowing concept that is the cliche. Of course, this question of what we had before the cliche has now become a cliche, so it will not be investigated here. Instead, the question will remain throughout: what is the cliche? Though we all fill in the blanks of our lives with its easy colors, and though everyone tries to be original in the matters one holds important, very few have stopped to ask what the benefits and uses are of the cliche.

The cliche is perfect, easily communicable, and marks an end. The perfection of the cliche should not be understood primarily in terms of value, but rather in its denotation of completion, or absence of absence. Though its positive connotation is in part intended, this position flows from its neutral quality of perfection. The cliche is as whole as a literary piece can be. Though the incompleteness and ambiguity of language is constantly bemoaned by analytic philosophers and mature seventeen year-olds, the cliche offers an escape. It offers a rare moment of language serving as an exact coincidence and representation of that which it was intended to describe.

The cliche is also supremely communicable, as it means the same thing leaving the speaker’s lips as it does entering the listener’s ears. There is no gap or possibility for miscommunication within the cliche Of course, the application of the cliche is according to the discretion of the speaker and may be as easily misapplied as any other turn of phrase. If a man inserts himself in the middle of a line and then justifies himself to the lady behind him with the following cliche, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” then the cliche is perfectly clear. But he is confused. This understanding that the onus lies in the application rather than within the cliche allows one to see that the cliche is as a weapon. One must choose his weapon carefully, knowing full well that it must be appropriate to the situation and that another weapon may be used against it. The cliche can be countered and contradicted by another cliche. This is, in part, a mark of its perfection. Each cliche is a complete system, wherein no internal elements are antithetical. But when two systems come into contact, they often contradict each other on their own terms. The cliche has a remedy to this tension. It switches the focus from commensurability to comparability. To make commensurate is to be original. It is to recognize complexity and immanent difference and yet seek common enough elements for an ordinal understanding. To compare is to reduce bodies to their most commonly known elements and then hold the objects within view. It is an unfair, but highly useful act. Dust jackets require comparisons to Hemingway and Joyce, though these comparisons belie their efforts. To make the whole world commensurable is the near impossible task of being an artist. The artist places the two editions on the same shelf and understands them beside each other. To make the whole world comparable is to be agreeable, it is the action of an individual on a first date. This man is constantly trying to sell.

The closing is said to be a thrill for the salesman, but it is agony for the artist. The closing, or end, is always a cliche. How could it be otherwise? To finish neatly, where all the elements wrap up nicely, is cheap. To end arbitrarily, and thereby imply that life-real life-does not have quaint endings, has been done before and is no more tender. The ending must then be a cliche of the author’s own choosing. It is why every instance that a novelist has defined the novel, whether Sterne’s Tristam Shandy, Proust’s Remembrance, or Joyce’s Ulysses, the format has been dually declared epitomized and dead. How can one begin a work of genius when the ending must necessarily be recycled? This question has no answer and suggestions will not be attempted here.

In order to avoid the cliche, there must be a sense for the creative impulse. It is indeed a nice thought to picture the author alone in his study creating a text from nowhere. Or perhaps listening to the melodic tones of a muse. But to imagine creation taking this form is to imagine the quaint artist, the eccentric painter, the reclusive genius. These are all personality traits, but not traits of creation. The creative process begins and ends in the interpretation of the world. The way one approaches the world, postures before it, and makes meaning of situations, is the act of creation. Everything else is filtering, reduction to formats-the forms already in place. The act of creation is in interpreting events as original. It is understanding the differences and similarities of a man on his knees in a church and a man on his knees at a porn shop. The subsequent acts of arrangement and connectives are as acts of taxidermy or quilt-making. That is, they are recycling.

But if creation is in original interpretation then the artist is splintered. And once again, the cliche is whole and perfect. In its perfection, it is easily transferable-a fungible good. When it is offered, it is offered as an answer, with all the qualities of finality and endings that answers carry with them. So once again the cliche sneaks to the end; and the end taints the beginning. The investigation again leads back to the practicality of starting something originally while knowing that it will have to end generically.

The central concern of this question cannot be answered here. But a secondary concern of motivations can be teased to some degree. In particular, the question of motivations for this essay will be answered.

Perhaps this essay begs the question: “Why now?” Why question the cliche, which has become nearly ubiquitous, more than one hundred years after it was first used to describe comparative anatomy and sets of motives? The answer will not satisfy, because it is not a cliche. It will not fully answer, again, because it is not a cliche. The answer arises out of circumstances; it is because a new text has been written that can accurately be described as circumscribing the topics of comparative anatomy and motives. It goes beyond inter-special anatomy and encyclopedic intentionality and explores the anatomy of bodies, cities, and language. Its motors are intentionality and motivation, and its governor (if we can extend the mechanical metaphor now in use) is the cliche. The text is God Bless the Squirrel Cage. It is both a plea and a prayer, the title that is. In the text, the cliche becomes a religious matter, whether devil or god, to a devout atheist. Its name is not to be spoken, but its reach is felt constantly. The text explodes the cliche by overworking it, turning it on its head, and eventually understanding its immense benefits and uses. The work that the text does, that we need it to do, ultimately allows this essay to close thusly: Le fin.