Edric Mesmer flies under the radar online (by choice, I think) and is omnipresent in Buffalo as a poet, curator, archivist, and kind human. I was flush w/happyness to be part of his chapette series–the Buffalo Ochre Papers. I’d stuck around long enough to be a Buffalo poet. Just in time to leave. Edric brought Moldy Donuts to my going away reading. And that’s part of what the Ochre Papers are–an occasional publication, marking poetry in its place and time. So you got to be somewhere Edric will be and Edric shows up all over the place in Buffalo. Edric, lots of love.
It was a bittersweet night. Allison Cardon and Adam Wilkins gave blisteringly good readings, ethically and poetically alive. Many ppl I respect and lv in the room. And folks doing work I wanted to be able to stick around and watch grow and pitch in when I can. I’d started considering what a local poetics could be, one that took into account the messy intersections of and contradictions in friendships, social presence, and attempts to intervene in and reimagine civic life (insert essay on the landscape of Buffalo i.e. visions of social and economic justice v the authoritarian, racist, river eating vision of Buffalo’s republican oligarchy and neoliberal dem allies). Some of those poems made it into Moldy. Now I’ve moved. Tongo Eisen-Martin’s speaker says, in brackets, “[a stack of money starts talking from four cities away].” Well, a stack of money started talking from eight counties away after the faucet shut off from the university. We’re in Ithaca now. I’ve got a lot of moldy donuts and mixed feelings about being on the move again. Hit me up. What’s going on w/you?
This leg of my readings for Someone’s Utopia is LOBSTER UTOPIA. I’ll be cavorting w/Jake Reber through the Northeast, hoping to hear Jake read as extensively as possible from the gospel of Lobster Genesis.
TOUR LEG: LOBSTER UTOPIA
May 20 | in your ear | 3 PM | DC Arts Center, 2438 18th St NW, Washington, DC | Reading with Jake Reber, Claire Donato, and Ian Hatcher.
May 22 | Unicorn Pizza: Featuring Baltimore and Buffalo Literary Artists|6:30 – 8:30 PM | Roosevelt Park Skate Park | w/Amanda McCormick, Tyler Mendelsohn, Jake Reber, and Baltimore sunset.
May 24 | PITTSBURGH HOUSE PARTY THING, w/Llore & Soft Gondola.
May 25 | White Whale Bookstore | 7-9 PM | 4754 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA | w/Jake Reber, Lauren Russell, and Malcolm Friend.
May 26 @ Big Blue Marble Bookstore | 551 Carpenter Ln, Philadelphia, PA 19119 | Tarpaulin Ocean: Reading with Kim Gek Lin Short and Declan Gould.
Someone’s Utopia, my new book of poems released April 1st. This comes w/relief in finally seeing the end of a ten year long process and deep gratitude for all those in Buffalo and at Black Ocean who helped these poems get to where they could be.
Here’s some upcoming readings. Looking forward to hearing poets new to me and hear new new words from old friends (and Cheryl). Links below. Frolic.
April 9th @ 8 PM | Party Fawn | Liquid State Brewing Company | 620 West Green Street, Ithaca, NY | Reading with Cheryl Quimba, Emily Rosello Mercurio, and Alexandra Chang.
April 12th @ 8 PM | Poets Reading Poems | Allen Street Hardware | 245 Allen St, Buffalo, NY | Reading with Sean Thomas Dougherty and Rachelle Toarmino and music by Hussalonia.
April 21st @ 8 PM | Suelo Tide Cement Book Launch | The Bird’s Next Circus Arts, 64 Filmore Ave, Buffalo, NY | Reading with Christina Vega-Westhoff
April 28 @ 8 PM | LEISURE: THE READING | Rohall’s Corner | 540 Amherst St, Buffalo, NY | Soft Book Launch w/Allison Cardon and Adam Wilkins. Projections by Jake Reber.
May 20 @ 3 PM | in your ear | DC Arts Center, 2438 18th St NW, Washington, DC | Reading with Jake Reber & TBA .
Hey. Hostile Books is gonna be at Whale Prom. With works by Raquel Salas Rivera, Jill Magi, Tyrone Williams, and Veronica Wong.
Some things will be free. Nothing will be for sale.
I haven’t been reading much since the election. Other kinds of action have filled that space. The exceptions have been The Yerbamala Collective’s scalding pamphlets (which I want to slip into the back and front of every textbook). And, yesterday, a handful of poems from Sibling Rivalry Press’ If You Can Hear This: Poems in Protest of an American Inauguration (digital copy here). Some of the poems that kept me up:
from RE Katz’ quickly metamorphosing “A Controlled Fall”: “Do porn or get out alive/do porn to get out alive/do a lively porn to come out/come out alive/come out now/come out national/national come out of poor day.”
from Michael G. Federspiel’s “Here”: “Family is two wolves standing side-by-side / Each with one paw mangled–but touching.”
from Jocelyn Marshall’s “For Them”: “Do not____ this doesn’t include me when / You do not get to _____ you don’t / count, and she / does.”
This is also to say that the election has changed my relationship to poetry. I had a whole stack of books I’ve been meaning to read, and I’ve put that stack aside because those books don’t feel relevant right now. So let me know what you’re reading that meets the urgency of this moment. I’m hungry.
Also, hey why don’t you support the Buffalo #25?
Hoping to get back to semi-regular posting. We’ll see.
I’ve been quiet in terms of publishing individual poems as I finish up my third manuscript for Black Ocean but the Academy of American Poets sent this one out in the spring as the Poem of the Day.
More recently, I had a lively conversation with Al Abanado and Jae Newman about religion and spirituality on poetry on Al’s radio show, Flour City Yawp on WAYO 104.3 FM (Rochester, NY). Most of all I tried to put forward the idea of devotional poetry that isn’t about transcendence, one thats embedded in the local and political. Not that my poetry does that well but thats the sort of relation I’ve been thinking seems most necessary. I also try to put forward some unexpected names as “religious” poets, from the everyday rituals of Yoko Ono to the dharma-punk aspects of C.A. Conrad’s work. And there are many more poets doing the necessary work of queering religion and spiritual practice or reconstituting it through radical feminist and decolonial lenses.
Anyway, here’s the conversation.
After several years of learning how to do scholarship, I’ve finally published an article, and this article recently became available online. It’s title: “Shared Sorrow, Shared Abundance: Water-Waste Flows In Palestinian Literature.” It extends work I did in Jim Holstun’s seminar on the literature of Israel and Palestine and combines it with work I’d also been doing on necropolitics and material studies. I’m acutely aware of the article’s limits but hope its work can contribute in a small way to more sensitive reading and continued discussion of the works of Palestinian authors Anton Shammas, Sahar Khalifeh, and Taha Muhammad Ali as well as the Palestinian literature that continues emerges under Israeli occupation and apartheid. Political action is necessary as well. Here in New York, for intellectual workers, protesting Cuomo’s BDS Blacklist is an urgent matter.