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Odd Words October 15, 2009

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Here is my second (now officially weekly) collection of bits of book and culture gossip from around New Orleans, essentially things that might attract me to attend, buy a book, or do something else interesting and specifically or exclusively about the alcohol, music or food. As I explained last week, this is not a comprehensive list; just the events where I’m likely to show up and some mention of books or whatnot I’m reading or about to read. If you show up at one of these events as well, I’m the old fart in a young man’s hat. Say hello. And buy me a drink.

§ Local poet and impresario Dave Brinks will be a man about town this week, signing or reading from his new poetry collection THE CAVEAT ONUS, starting with a kick off party tonight (Thursday) at 8 pm at 17 Poets, the poetry series he runs every Thursday at the Goldmine Saloon.

Here’s the announcement email: “This event is dedicated to the living memory of jazz flautist ELUARD BURT and poet PAUL CHASSE. The presentation will feature a reading and book signing by Dave Brinks; plus lots of tasty eats, including BROCATO’S famous cannolis. Special guest performances by New Orleans’ musicians include Peter Nu on steel drums (www.poetryprocess.com) and Matthew Shilling on bansuri, Indian bamboo flute (www.matthewschilling.com). Complimentary on-site Massage Therapist/Therapy provided by Spa by the Park. Followed by Open Mic emceed by poet JIMMY ROSS. ”

Brinks will also appear in the coming week at Maple Street Bookstore from 1-2:30 on Oct. 17; at the Maple Street Bar poetry series on Oct. 18 at 3 pm; at Octavia Books Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. and somewhere in Metairie you can find on your own if you must. If you missed the interview in the Oct. 7 Picayune-Item by all means go have a look.

I’ve read the first book of the series; have in fact tried to study it closely. The Onus Opus (um, no don’t do that) is a complex poetry sequence including a unique stanza form based on the hexagrams of the I’Ching and and an over all structure tied to Mayan cosmology, a mix that produces a surrealist experience that does not merely erupt from the unconscious but is,in the context of the structure he has erected, as rational as fractals.

Unpeeling this onion all the way is not for the faint of heart but the lines are frequently taken directly from the streets of New Orleans, as familiar as the cracks and holes you instinctively step over on a street your frequently cross. You can take the poems as a pleasing pack of surrealist postcards from New Orleans, or as a puzzle to spend hours taking apart and marveling at the complexity of, and enjoy the experience in either case. You can find a sample from the first book with the invaluable Notes on the Text here.

§ Stephen Elliott, author of HAPPY BABY, is coming to New Orleans to promote his new book THE ADDERALL DIARIES, which is just out and kicking up a storm. He’ll will read and sign Tuesday, October 20th, at Antenna Gallery in Bywater at 7 pm

Elliott’s writing has been featured in Esquire, The New York Times, GQ, Best American Erotica and Best Sex Writing 2006. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and is a member of the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto. He is the editor of The Rumpus.

So of course I went out this weekend and bought the book (on the recommendation of two people who’s opinions I value who called him out to me). Like any good true crime book it is both disturbing and fascinating, a combination guaranteed to keep you reading to the end. And for someone who spends a good bit of my writing time here as a diarist or memoirist or whatever we can think to call this intersection of writing, my own life and the internet, I find it fascinating. His powerful first person presence in the story challenges the boundary between journalist and diarist in a way I haven’t encountered since Hunter Thompson and Tom Wolfe. This endorsement of the book should not be considered, however, an invitation to pinch my nipples until they bleed. (If this idea disturbs you, I suggest you skip this book, as among the author’s proclivities is sadomasochism. The book is not pornographically explicit, but honest enough to make your skin crawl every now and then.)

§ Another great link courtesy of Ray Shea, “Why Don’t Aspiring Writers Read More Literary Magazines?” from Bookish.Us. This piece shamed me into subscribing to a year of the journal Sentence rather than just ordering a sample copy. And frankly, if they published samples on the web, would I have really ordered a sample copy? Everyone cries Gutenberg is dead but if we don’t buy newspapers and we don’t subscribe to journals or magazines that publish fiction and poetry, can we entirely blame the corporate buccaneers?

§ I no longer remember how I stumbled into a UNO graduate thesis on poetry and the web (the author manages to not include their name), but it is worth the visit just for an interesting list of poetry blogs that nicely compliments the Poems and Poetics list (if you clicked that last link to read some of Caveat Onus. If you didn’t do that I’ll wait here until you’re done).

I disagree with a lot of what the author says about blogs and blogging (may in fact write up a post in response) but the list looks promising from my first pass through, and it led me to Loss Glazier’s DIGITAL POETICS: THE MAKING OF E-POETRIES. This book promises to explore “the relationship between web “pages” and book technology, and the way in which certain kinds of web constructions are in and of themselves a type of writing.” Damn, now I have to buy another book. I may have to start skipping lunch.

§ A reminder: Moose Jackson’s poem/play Loup Garou, which explores the deep interconnectedness between land and culture in Louisiana, continues it’s outdoor run in the abandoned fields of City Park’s old East Golf Course. Showings are Thursdays at sunrise (7am) and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 5pm through October 25.

§ Another late add: Ned Sublett signs his memoir of New Orleans before the Federal Flood in ‘The Year Before the Flood, ‘ Thursday (tonight) , 7:30 p.m., Faubourg Marigny Art and Books.

§ This weekend is the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge, which looks interesting, but I’m not headed up there. There’s just too much else going on, and I’m a little miffed that I submitted a copy of my book for consideration for their panel on self-published authors, and got back not so much as a post-card. You would think these people know how the rejection process works. This is one I’m skipping.

§ Fellow Mid-Citian Barb Johnson will be among those reading at the Louisiana Book Festival, but I plan to catch her at Garden District Books Oct. 21 Check out this excerpt from her novel in progress.

Comments»

1. Barb Johnson - October 15, 2009

Hey, Mark. Thanks for your comments here, especially those concerning our own responsibility to support literary magazines. Even online journals need readers/supporters in order to continue to be able to, in turn, support writers and new writing.

And thanks for the link to my piece in Guernica. It is actually one of the short stories from my short story collection, which goes on sale October 20th.

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