The Boston Review, on its site today, posts the 10 “best and most read” pieces of the year 2012. Among them is Marjorie Perloff’s “Poetry on the Brink.” But the one-line tag that goes along with the piece on their list says Perloff argues that poetry is “in danger of extinction.” That's not at all what she says. Oh well. So much for close reading.
“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” Mark Twain wrote that. C. A. Conrad’s book of poems (Soma)tic Midge proves that exactly the opposite (opposite in every element) is probably the truth. Eat what you must, and let the food fight it out on the outside. Fortunately for us, the outside is this writing.
The Faux Press of Cambridge, Mass., published Conrad's chapbook, the earliest work in a series he has been writing under the general rubric “somatic poetics.” Poetry of the body, by the body, maybe even for the body — although while the first two effects can be discerned in the writing, the latter of course can only be guessed from it. But I'm guessing this work has felt to the poet to be for the body also. Work that is done to the body.
Before and after the Faux Press publication of the book, Conrad read parts of it at various readings, and PennSound’s Conrad author page features a number of recordings of these sections. See, below, for links to all these — brought together in one linked list.
The artist Zoe Straussspoke for sixteen minutes recently about Bruce Springsteen’s song “Youngstown.” The program notes for the event, and links to video recordings of the individual presentations are available on the Kelly Writers House web calendar. There you have links to 10-minute presentations as follows: Greg Djanikian on “Born in the USA,” Grace Ambrose on “Spirit in the Night,” Dan Sheehan performing “Matamoras Banks,” Max McKenna on “Candy’s Room.” Anthony DeCurtis on “Tunnel of Love,” Matt Chylak performing “Backstreets,” Nate Chinen on “The Promise,” and myself speaking about “Land of Hope and Dreams.” Here again is the link to the Zoe Strauss video: video.
From Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland comes this digital poem, “Sea and Spar Between” — a poetry generator which defines a space of language populated by a number of stanzas comparable to the number of fish in the sea, around 225 trillion. Each stanza is indicated by two coordinates, as with latitude and longitude. They range from 0 : 0 to 14992383 : 14992383. To operate the system, you may:
• move your mouse; • press the spacebar to mark the stanza that is in the center of the screen of that moment, bringing its coordinates into the navigation box at the bottom in order to note them and return to this view; • click your mouse at the right edge of the screen to move right to a new region of texts (to increase the first coordinate); click your mouse at the bottom, left, or top to move similarly in those directions; • tap the arrow keys to move the visible lattice of stanzas up, right, down, or left by a single stanza; • scroll the wheel on your mouse or tap the A and Z keys on the keyboard to zoom in and out; • type a pair of coordinates into the navigation box at the bottom and press enter to move anywhere in the sea of text.
Click here for a description of the process and the sourcetext. Click here to read the poem.