Saturday, November 29, 2014

Brooklyn Art

I was really underwhelmed and disappointed by the group show at the Brooklyn Museum showcasing Brooklyn Artists. There was something grim and plain and overly conceptual about most of the pieces. Very few grabbed me. Nothing was luscious and unforgettable. My favorite was the room of sky paintings by Cynthia Daignault, which made me feel momentarily transported to the out of doors and which meticulously studied variations of cloud formations.

Killer Heels

The Brooklyn Museum has a tantalizing show up now on the high heel shoe, Killer Heels. Every single piece I saw was spectacular and a pleasure to look at. Really engaging. Most of the works were very contemporary, from the last five years. I think I had expected a more historical perspective and wasn't prepared for so much current high fashion. It was still interesting. I think the small section on fetish footwear could have been more out there and elaborate, and was disappointed by the small appearance of just one (I think) Fluevog.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Anna Karenina, again

I just watched the Kiera Knightly version of Anna Karenina again. I saw it in the theater when it first came out. I had liked it then, although it left me dry-eyed. This time I liked it just as much, if not more, although again it left me unmoved emotionally.

I love the way the story was set, the tension and beauty created by the device of theatricality. It was stunning, and captivating, and engaging. But Anna Karenina seems to really need to punch you in the gut to be fully successful, and this wondrous version just doesn't take me there. Still, I highly recommend it.


I read Maggie Nelson's astonishing and lovely Bluets in one sitting on the dreary rainy cold Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Bluets is what I give thanks for. A sweet, smart and sorrowful book. It is a true gift.

Deep and precise reflections on the color blue merge with the experience of personal romantic loss and the writing process in a way that comes together as a glimmering memoir and exploration of human experience. Suffering. Desire. Memory. 

Some entries:

"203. I remember, in the eighties, when crack first hit the scene, hearing all kinds of horror stories about how if you smoked it even once, the memory of its unbelievable high would live on in your system forever, and you would thus never again be able to be content without it. I have no idea if this is true, but I will admit that it scared me off the drug. In the years since, I have sometimes found myself wondering if the same principle applies in other realms -- if seeing a particularly astonishing shade of blue, for example, or letting a particularly potent person inside you, could alter you irrevocably, just to have seen or felt it. In which case, how does one know when, or how, to refuse? How to recover?"

"228. My injured friend is now able to write letters via voice-recognition software to keep her friends abreast of changes in her condition, of which there have been many. 'My life can change, does change,' she asserts -- and it has, and does, often in astonishing ways. Nonetheless, near the end of these letters, she includes a short paragraph that acknowledges her ongoing physical pain, and her intense grief for all she has lost, a grief she describes as bottomless. 'If I did not write of the difficulties under which I labor, I would fear to be misrepresenting the grinding reality of quadriplegia and spinal cord injury,' she says. "So here it is, the paragraph that roundly asserts that I continue to suffer.'"

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ani DiFranco at The Town Hall

Tonight I finally saw Ani DiFranco live! I've loved her music for the last 20 years and never had the opportunity to see her perform before.

She was energetic and soulful and very graceful. She sang mostly new songs, all gorgeous and full of funk and raw gentleness. Clearly a seasoned performer. I really liked the new songs, but I sheepishly confess that I wish she had sung some more of her work from the 90s. I'm thinking Not a Pretty Girl, Out of Range, and Dilate. She did end the evening with a beautiful rendition of "32 Flavors", with the entire audience singing with her. All in all a great evening.

Friday, November 14, 2014


Nochita, an amazing novel by Dia Felix, is dizzying in it's poetic language that propels the bittersweet narrative forward. I guess you would call it a "coming of age" story. Nochita's childhood is charmed and idiosyncratic, as she is raised by her mother who is a new age guru. But this doesn't capture the feral magic of the language, so visceral, which makes this child's inner world glimmer. The crackling sensations of being alive and alert and intelligent and alone continue through the narrator's young life. Early on she is orphaned, and this hardens around the girl matter of factly, without sentimentality.

Nochita is overflowing with a wild poetry energy. It is surreal, but grounded in sharp edginess. It pulses. As the narrator engages with other characters, explores and questions sexuality, and experiences an array of drugs, she inhabits dense and crunching sensations. The ending hits with tempered expansiveness.

I loved this book and the singular writing and didn't want it to end.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Angelo Micah Olin and David Shapiro at Dia

Tonight I went to a fucking amazing poetry reading at Dia Chelsea. Angelo Micah Olin read unbelievably powerful poems. His work is unique and raw and unprecedented in its turns of phrase and shifts of imagery and emotional nuance. He read from earlier works as well as new poems, and it was great to hear those older ones once again and equally wonderful to hear the recent pieces, which I had read on facebook. His delivery added to the complexity and vulnerability and sincerity of the marvelous lines.

David Shapiro is a true talent. He read funny, lovely, understated, and finely crafted poems that were a delight to here. In addition to the magic of his work, was the magic of his presentation. He gracefully introduced and commented on each poem in way that was truly amusing and generous. I felt privileged to be in the company of two such special talents and forces in the poetry world.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tim Dlugos, Powerless

I just finished Tim Dlugos' Powerless: Selected Poems 1973-1990. These are so lovely, sad, and masterful. His writing throughout is clear as a bell -- precise and gentle. His style is conversational for the most part, a bit meandering at times, but in a wonderfully delightful and sweet way. These poems convey so much. They are filled with nuanced emotions, longings, regrets, insights, and joys.

Most moving are the final series, which chronicles his AIDS years. They are written with great clarity, it seemed to me, and with heartfelt patience and gratitude. These are truly spectacular. They had me in tears.

I couldn't find lines to quote in and of themselves, because the beauty of his writing is more in the totality of each poem.  Here I will share the last stanza from an earlier work, "Day for Paul"

"'s me
five years ago. I am on the verge of a big breakthrough
accompanied by pain. I have not read anything by Proust,
Dostoevsky, Rimbaud, or Frank O'Hara. I have not had sex
with the people I love and need most. I have not yet learned
to identify the people I love and need most. But I have
dreams about people who move like you, who make me feel so
full that waking up becomes a major letdown, and I want to
sleep all day and all night if it will make me feel that good
again, take me to the place inside my body where I can feel
you  living all the time."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca

I saw a wonderful flamenco performance at The Joyce last night. Soledad Barrio and Noche Flemenca are stunning. I have seen them before and they never fail to move me and transport me.

The singing and music come from such a deep, ancient, visceral place. It just cuts right through. The dancing is exact and masterful and, as I think I've commented elsewhere, utterly and beautifully virile.

The first part of the program consisted of excerpts from a longer narrative piece, "Antigona". I was nervous that it would me too... corny... mannered... or something. But instead I was treated to highly elegant and visually arresting artistry. There were so many stark and surreal moments, merging traditional flamenco with modern dance. I was transfixed by the segment when the female dancers performed from chairs, their emotional arms haunting and mesmerizing. I fell in love with those arms.

The second part of the program was three dances that were all amazing and the soloists received hearty and heartfelt applause from the excited and stirred audience.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

sherwood forest

I love Camille Roy's sherwood forest. I read it in one long, pensive sitting, taking in the marvelous and biting phrases, enjoying the ride from poem to poem. She is one of my favorite writers.

sherwood forest is rich and dark. Lines snap at each other. Characters reappear and reemerge, themes of disturbance and crime echo throughout. The books reads wonderfully as a whole. Some standouts for me though are "Diary of 3 Words", "Red Hood", "Crime Story", "Embarrassed Tract", "Lucy in the Sky", "Sing Song" and "My Play".

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mel Elberg at the Zinc Bar

I had a delightful dollop of light in an otherwise dreary weekend: Mel Elberg reading at the Zinc Bar. Her poems are so dynamic and her voice is so direct and assured. Wonderful lines that come together in powerful moments. Some standouts for me were the earthquake poem, the crystal series, and the love poems. Each had it's own crackling energy and together this strong body of work was really dazzling.