Aleksandr Skidan was born in Leningrad in 1965. He is a poet, critic, essayist, and translator. In 2008 his book Red Shifting was published in USA by Ugly Duckling Presse, tr. Genya Turovskaya. He is the coeditor of the New Literary Observer magazine and lives in Saint Petersburg.
Program One: Skidan reads from Red Shifting (Brooklyn: Ugly Ducking Press, 2008) in Russian as well as reading the English translations by Genya Turovskaya. MP3
Program Two: Skidan discusses his Ugly Duckling Press book, Red Shifting, the changes in the literary climate in Russia after 1989, the contemporary situation for poetry in Russia, and the mysticism of Arkadii Dragomoschenko. MP3
Here I attempt to transcribe my initial impressions after listening once to the full album of Cecil Taylor’s recorded poem, Chinampas,and repeatedly (for perhaps nine or ten hearings) to the penultimate track, #6.56. I was drawn to the editors’ invitation to show the “under the hood” work that precedes a smoothly running piece of writing, their interest in how we deal with poems that exist only as sound texts, and their curiosity about what a first reading/hearing looks like.
As readers, writers, students, teachers, or scholars of poetry, many of us have 'first-encounter' stories — hearing Poet X read for the first time; copying neglected Caedmon LPs in the library basement; borrowing a thrice-dubbed cassette of the Black Box Magazine or New Wilderness Audiographics; exploring the personal collection of a generous friend, poet, or teacher. In the days before the web, one might infer the performativity of David Antin, Jerry Rothenberg, Charles Olson, Anne Waldman, or Amiri Baraka through books like Technicians of the Sacred or Open Poetry or envision the scene of a raucous Beat coffeehouse reading, poet jamming with a jazz quintet — but recordings could be scarce. In place of the pleasurable frustration involved in sounding out a Futurist or Dada poem from its suggestive but underdetermined visual text — the reader seeking to hear a poem in 2015 will search online archives like PennSound or Ubuweb.
Last June I sat looking at this “sampler” by Elizabeth Parker in the textile archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum. I put “sampler” in quotes because I do not think this piece really is one and neither do the curators and archivists. What is this object? What might it say toward a textile poetics? Similarly, the stitched works of Arthur Bispo do Rosário are called “outsider art” yet they were exhibited at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
I do not want to comment on the high art/craft divide or museum and art world ethics/politics—though textiles are often in the middle of those debates. And I have written about Parker’s sampler before.