Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Living as Form

In the words of its brochure, "Living as Form" presented "over 100 artists and projects, 25 curators, and 9 new commissions highlighting 20 years of socially engaged art." On Sunday GH and I wandered through the mostly empty Essex Street Market building in which the exhibition was held. The projects were not readily comprehensible, their explanations in densely written booklets, their images played on looped videos. Mitch Corber was there to show the interviews and books of Poetry Thin Air Cable Network, as was Cindy Hochman. Cindy was kind to press on me a copy of her new chapbook The Carcinogenic Bride, but I insisted on paying a poet for her work. The poetry is lively. I particularly like the last poem "Under Anesthesia," in which the disoriented patient addresses the doctor like a lover in a swirl of weird imagery and knowing humor:

Doctor, I am lying on your table with my compliant bones
Doctor, soon you will be under my anonymous skin
Doctor, you have reduced me to my lowest common denominator
Doctor, is that a scalpel in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

After dinner at Nonya, GH went home and I made my way to Bowery Poetry Club, where I was to read for the Carmine Street Metric series, hosted by Eric Norris. It was nice to see familiar faces there, in particular, Wendy Chin-Tanner, John Marcus Powell, Quincy Lehr, Rick Mullin and Robert Gibbons. Rose Bernal was there too. My fellow feature, George Witte, read poems that take on large issues--America's foreign wars, the healthcare system--but see them through their effects on individual lives. The poems are quietly intelligent, with an undercurrent of anger. I read from Seven Studies and was pleased to sell four books, one to a handsome young man with a beard, whose name is Max.

After the reading, a few of us had dinner at a nearby pub. We shot the air, throwing up Auden, Eliot, MacNiece and Nabokov for targets.

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