...even when we believe we have freedom to use whatever words we wish to use, that we have the entire lexicon of English, at least those of us who are Anglophone, at our disposal, and are able to express ourselves in whatever ways we wish to (all of us who live in the so-called liberal democracies, that is), much of the language we work with is already preselected and limited, by fashion, by cultural norms—by systems that shape us such as gender and race—by what’s acceptable. By order, logic, and rationality. (M. NourbeSe Philip, from Zong!)
Harry Mathews came to the University of Pennsylvania to give a performance/talk on February 26, 1997, an event hosted by the “Friends of the Library” group, which is an open-minded organization the library's supporters and external overseers. Ruth and Marvin Sackner (Penn alumni) are close to the staff of the library, and have collaborated from time to time on exhibitions of concrete, visual, and sound poetry and also of artists' books. I attended Mathews's 1997 reading but cannot quite remember how it came about: I'm guessing that Bob Perelman, the Sackners', and very possibly Dan Traister (the brilliant and super-eclectic special collections librarian) were all involved. Someone had the forethought to record the event. The sound isn't perfect, especially during the Q&A. Nonetheless, the newly segmented reading is certainly worth a listen.
Time to say a few words about the new free digital edition of The Fluxus Reader. I think I originally learned about this book through my admiration of Craig Saper, who has an essay in it. Somehow, along the way, I began an email correspondence with Ken Friedman, editor of the book. (I know Ken as a Fluxus guy, but he is also a University Distinguished Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Design at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.)
I'm glad I have my own copy of The Fluxus Reader; it has been out of print for nearly a decade and a half. In the run-up to the 50th anniversary of Fluxus in 2012, Ken has been getting requests for copies, but he doesn't have any, and he doesn't know anyone who does. A recent Amazon search for used copies shows them running from $449 up to $2,500.
Tim Jacobs clarifies a point made by Kaplan Harris is an article we recently published:
In Kaplan Harris's “The Small Press Traffic school of dissimulation,” a statement I made in my 1970s column in the Poetry Flash is mentioned in a favorable light, yet I must take issue with Harris' aside that I filled the column with “snarky comments.” “Snarky comments,” were, if ever, seldom the case — ask Joyce Jenkins, Lewis MacAdams, David Highsmith, or any number of poets who were in the San Francisco scene back then. I tended to do as much reportage on readings and books as I possibly could, in attempting to do justice to a literary culture that was very diverse and growing rapidly.