Wednesday, June 11, 2008

performative poetic mortification! the Broadside was appreciated

The broadside I produced for Charles Bernstein's reading was well-received by both him and the attendees. I will soon have it scanned, then post it here, as well as on my website. Though I was excited while at the event, it is always something of a disappointment, as most of my excitement occurs during the procedure, the act of production.  

I am thankful to Blake Butler, William Moor, Walter K. Lew, Dillon Westbrook & J.D. Mitchell-Lumsden for their contributions. I also am thankful for my wife's contribution, which involved acting on behalf of William Moor: using a yellow pencil to circle every word in the poem 150 times. 

Charles Bernstein genuinely expressed appreciation for the piece, both at the reading and in a subsequent email. I felt appreciated. In particular, I was most gratified upon witnessing his own fountain-pen produced typographia: notes, edits, sketches and E.D.-style word alternatives scrawled about the surface of the broadside while in the act of penning his signature. He also personalized a number of them. This was entirely in the spirit of this production, and more than I could have hoped for. He referred to this as his "own final collaboration as cancellation/holograph, fitting both to "Recantorium" and "Every True Religion.""

"Every True Religion is Bound To Fail" is the title of the poem printed in the broadside. "Recantorium" is the title of the poem he read that evening. In the latter poem, he repeatedly and repeatedly recants his poetic waywardness, his socio-poetically sinful swerve toward experimenting with language and context. He plays the straight man, long-faced and too genuine. It gets early and quick laughs. More laughs follow, but as the pattern of recantation, the flogging-like rhythm  of every apologetic synonym compounded, continues, the laughter becomes agitated, less unanimous, more sparse, like the last few kernels of corn surrendering inside the microwave. In the end, looking back on the form as it occurred in our ears, I see that he's guiltier than ever. The audience is left somewhat battered. Again, like having watched a catholic priest enacting corporal mortification, but this is performative poetic mortification enacted by a Jew. 

Getting back to the broadside, his own inscribed additions are also kind(s) of recantation(s), nixing previous lines and words for new ones, changing "fail" to "succeed," or to "win," even emphasizing a rhetorical recant of rhetoric. I'm left thinking that perhaps all apologies is equal to no apologies. It was exciting to hear this poem read aloud. Exciting to be battered this way. I thought about it as a broadside, & I think it would either be impossible or awful. 

Lastly, I've begun compiling a list of possible broadside collaborations & methods. In the meantime, I will take a break from printing. 

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