a month ago I went with C to Nova Scotia to stay at Elizabeth Bishop’s house for five days before going to Hudson, NY to take a workshop with Dottie Lasky at the Ashbery Home School. in the days leading up to the workshop Dottie asked us to write one letter a day to each of our 3 favorite poets. I wrote letters to Lisa Robertson, Ted Berrigan, and Bernadette Mayer. this is the letter to Ted.

Dear T,

I heard you say, “I wonder what the dead people are doing today?” When the work is happening my attention feels distracted in this way, an ambient question, a basket of pinecones. It’s just what’s on the table. It’s just what gives your pain its luscious contour. Something as locally tightened as jewely lost. The wind giving presence to fragments. I think of you and Alice when C and I fight, when we fought here, at Bishop’s house. “The insufferable Ted Berrigan,” I heard you say. Elizabeth, maybe, would have said the same about herself. “I refuse to love anyone,” I heard her say. Sitting here, the mist in me out of me. Have you read Bishop’s poem “Invitation to Marianne Moore,” the one where she wants to ride broomsticks over the Brooklyn Bridge with Marianne? My favorite lines of hers are in that poem, “We can sit down and weep, we can go shopping.” They’re my favorite I don’t know because I think she was distracted disrupted because I think her attention was always so focused, concentrated, metaphorical. Not planned but distilled. And there, it’s all pulse. Mist. She was bathing in the poem. Not writing one. Speaking with friends behind all these flowers.

I heard you say that you don’t feel like you’re thinking when you write, that you don’t feel like you have thoughts in the work of the poem. Instead, choices. You make choices. I’ve never heard anyone else say this, that they feel blank, that there is never some kind of citadel of feeling to refer to. It’s not emptiness but emergence. Daily emergencies. The casual crisis of becoming your own noise, your own insufferable pulp. The distinction between thinking the poem and making choices in the poem. Between writing the poem and bathing in it. “That was an example of imagination,” I heard you say reading The Sonnets. I heard you say that. I don’t know if I ever heard you say you don’t feel like you’re thinking when you write. That was an example of imagination. I mean, it was real. It was made up. Assembled.

I heard you say, “Dear Berrigan, he died / back to books.” I asked if you read Elizabeth Bishop because maybe it doesn’t seem like you would have given a shit about Elizabeth Bishop, or maybe it seems like how poets talk about poets and style makes you and Elizabeth Bishop too different to care for one another, to feel enough the same. In a poem I heard her say, “Every day, in the sun, / at breakfast time I sit on my balcony / with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee,” and in the margins I wrote “Berrigan.” When I moved to Florida and started listening to your complete reading of The Sonnets, the one you did in California in the early 80s, I started doing this. Writing my friends’ names next to what my life was becoming in writing. It’s not connection, no it’s not connection, it’s presence, it’s room in the room that you room in. When I hear you I hear a faith in boisterous patterns a faith in form as an activity a personal rhythmparty of tender thefts an example of dead people giving us their attention today. Everything turns into writing. Also, into reading. I keep flipping through Bishop’s Collected and finding poems about things we’ve seen since we’ve been here. Distractedly, I go there, gentle, bookish, confetti in my hair.

“We don’t say pain we say fucked-up,” I heard Alice say saying you. She lost you she did not lose you. I look at C. I look at the poems. We don’t say joy we say fucked-up. We don’t say anything we say each other.

Love,

N

a month ago I went with C to Nova Scotia to stay at Elizabeth Bishop’s house for five days before going to Hudson, NY to take a workshop with Dottie Lasky at the Ashbery Home School. in the days leading up to the workshop Dottie asked us to write one letter a day to each of our 3 favorite poets. I wrote letters to Lisa Robertson, Ted Berrigan, and Bernadette Mayer. this is the letter to Bernadette.

Dear B,

 What is a book? Today I walked with C through Mahon Cemetery and against Great Village River and through high-grassed fields with chocolate-cream cows lying in the sun and we were lost we were kind of lost in spite of seeing where we should be we could orient ourselves but there were problems we were kind of lost in spite of ourselves we coalesced around our problems. In Elizabeth Bishop’s yard there are different kinds of purple flowers and a small blue spruce and three apple trees and other small trees that are almost bushes and an overgrown garden with lilies and raspberries where a barn used to stand but that barn was torn down and rebuilt against the back of the house which is directly to my right from where I’m sitting writing this on the porch a green and white porch. Elizabeth Bishop never saw all these trees she saw the water and said so. It wasn’t up to her the trees weren’t up to her. My feet get covered in dew and grass I don’t why because I walk through the grass as far as I can to the fence and look at what isn’t there what isn’t there is what I’ve read about being there and what’s immediately there there around me is very still and I know to think that is absolutely incorrect not wrong but not true. Everything is moving. The sun on me not like anything. Completely on me.

What is a book? You wrote these books you said you thought of the ideas and then did them. Not projects but activities. Threshold activities I think of them that way as endlessly approaching. Is writing a book the desire to be an impossible object? The object that does not correspond to any one system code principle organization pattern sound love? Is to write a book to be a motion always approaching a threshold you cannot see or smell or touch or hear? If you can’t can you love it? Can you love the book it is impossible to write? You keep insisting on love I see you there coalescing insisting on pleasure on love in your rich direction of sentences so illustriously useless nearly unreadable your book’s love in you made into my problems, proliferating helplessly.

What is a book? Once I wrote a paper about your book Midwinter Day, about the idea of the “expensive sentence” which is a phrase you use in the poem, and I wanted to talk about the coalescent pleasure of your sentences, the rhythmic capacity of the sentence, of prosody. My teacher wrote in the margin, “What do you mean by prosody?” // I mean a giving over to the pattern in a sentence’s willingness to bulge splay digress envelop magnify purr trail shade crumple or knot. I mean a body’s living rhythm as it shares time. “I like to mentally hum like an animal, no words,” you said. Brought into the space of the poem, that hum denies all strict conceptions of line, image, and poem. “The sentence is my greatest love.” Because it proliferates, pulps. There is no “poem,” only language as it becomes an intimate event between bodies. “As a result of language I want to make love so badly.” I keep quoting you, towards the book.

What is a book? You said to be the poet of your block, the poet of your apartment building, that that’s what you mean by local, by what is and is not a utopia. I think of you eating fruit but thinking of taking a picture of the fruit before you eat it and if you did take a picture of it not eating it. I think this is how you get to the book by being curious about your desires by assuming what you “do” every day is not the only option. To approach a book is to approach the threshold of your own pleasure. The book, then, is partly a destruction.

What is a book? Do you remember when you wrote to Bill Berkson and said “I’m afraid I think of my hair as clothing”? Do you remember the table the chair the sounds the voices the food the season the pain the pain the envelope the walk the book? Do you remember the book? Isn’t it exactly the insistence on not distinguishing? Between clothing and hair? Experience and poem? Isn’t love an accumulation? An index of impossible objects? The immediacy of fantasy? I think of you eating fruit.

Your derelict,

N

a month ago I went with C to Nova Scotia to stay at Elizabeth Bishop’s house for five days before going to Hudson, NY to take a workshop with Dottie Lasky at the Ashbery Home School. in the days leading up to the workshop Dottie asked us to write one letter a day to each of our 3 favorite poets. I wrote letters to Lisa Robertson, Ted Berrigan, and Bernadette Mayer. this is the letter to Lisa.

Dear L,

 

I have the habit of cutting my mouth’s roof on your potion. The result of intimate shards moving in a direction together, attentive, changing. Turning towards you I feel inept and recklessly bound. Most likely, a sentence. Closer to intelligence than knowing, the top of my mouth unwinds. It’s a feeling. Where a tiny cathedral is ruined. I meet you there, magenta pulp.

C and I are staying in Elizabeth Bishop’s house in Nova Scotia for the week. In the morning there is mist written over the marshy pastures behind the house, over the softly treed ridge, above the bay. The house is a lived assemblage, once moved from a hill, extended before Elizabeth was born, patched with pieces of barn. It is whole but not total. When I notice that the floorboards of the foyer and kitchen, the part of the house added when it was moved from the hill, are not parallel with the floorboards of the original house, but angled maybe five degrees differently so that the last floorboard of the foyer and kitchen had to be cut back to fit against the original house, I think of your poems. A choice has been made slanting in a certain direction. “And somewhere the mist incorporates the pulse.” Newspaper is pasted to the attic walls as insulation. Language to coat the house’s intimacy. Reading you, I think of this.

I want to ask you about pleasure as a form of critique, the ways we change what we feel by feeling incommensurably. Not a protest, but a resistance that accumulates in gestures. What is a masculine pleasure that refuses to own, to never only illuminate? I read your books and underline them and they underline a pleasure in me, joining belief. I think to mash together every recorded moment of your laughter from readings, lectures. I think that this would be a way to signify something about what it means to read you. To bare out these terrific globs of joy, these audible, blousy stains. When I think about entering your archive in this way I wonder if the result would be pleasurable or terrifying. A mash-up of wicked chortling and words pitched through laughter’s interruptions. The entrance of the audience’s laughter, the cacophony of it groomed by tiny distances that describe the event of your reading. It might not be what I imagine. It might be terrible gushing. I recognize this fear as exactly the incongruous affect that my fidelity leans toward when intention buckles into the play of the poem, its wild joys. I am thinking your laughter would show me something about joy being horrible in isolation, when it is kept apart. You are showing me how my attention, my joy can resist complicity. You are showing me how to insist. How to be irreducible. In the sun.

Yesterday between Halifax and Truro, C and I passed a billboard for grave monuments on the side of the highway. The large letters of the word MONUMENT take up almost the entire billboard. I want to insist on resisting the poem’s equivalent. The poem that is a billboard announcing itself towards a monument elsewhere. Your poems insist on this. “We hate monuments,” you say. If anything is enshrined in your poems, it is that an us is always possible. Not to be remembered, but to begin. I read your books and my attention becomes a rhythm in the connective pleasure that seems to be the inaugural joy of the “poetic,” the specific, glamorous shock that transforms the natural, “the way it is,” into synthetic, affective potential. Into feeling pulp sound. Into another world in the sun. I imagine writing poems that describe the vernacular of insulation in 19th century farm houses, the rhetorical history of 3-D movies, an utterly exhaustive description, down to the last detail, of Taylor Swift’s Instagram feed. Would this be a way of writing pleasure as critique? Would this be a way of loving my friends in a moneyless way? Reading you, I think of this.

Outside the house I sit in a chair in the grass, my toes racking the wet weave of the blades. When I realize I’m doing this I look down from your book and notice that it isn’t all grass but an amalgam of grasses, broad-leafed weeds, daft bulbs, little shoots. My feet are not in grass, but on “the lawn,” that incongruous “natural” surface of property’s division of space. I look at the lawn and am astonished to not be able to name what is not the grass, the rest of it. I feel like if I could describe it, decorate its variousness, it would cease to be the lawn. It would become the synthetic blanket of peopled time in a particular environment. It would become politics. It would become intimate. “Flawed on the lawn,” writes Elizabeth. Reading you, I think of this.

Looking out, an incredible number of choices have been. I want to fold some attention on those choices, pluck the fatty, illustrious strings of them. It is an intimacy of tone, how I can write the necessity of my distribution, mingling. Cause and effect is always a disaster. More potent emergencies froth here, in the book. The poem gathers and refuses in the lust that results. It is the ongoing surface of attention’s intangible underlining. It is time in a blue pulp, rivered against how I am supposedly singular, identified. The poem purrs against the mow. Invasive intelligence. Skirting likeness in dense, effervescent seduction. One corner of Bishop’s house is held up by a thick beam’s inaccurate murmur. Nevertheless, architecture. To insist on that architecture’s process, collapse and all. In the book, how never to be a tourist among those ruins. Instead, to be their fabric. Beginning to sway.

“The beach hisses like fat,” she says. You would add, “and soft.” Moved, I go to it.

 

Love,

N

ted berrigan & anne waldman at bustins island, maine (1967) // carrie lorig & me at elizabeth bishop’s house in great village, nova scotia (2014) today is LABOR DAY, which is the title of a long poem C and I wrote that follows the ghost of Ted and Anne’s MEMORIAL DAY // http://jacket2.org/commentary/recovering-memorial-day for all the people working adjuncting sleeping archiving writing bargaining resisting fucking carrying a small valise to an impossible border IN THE PLEASURE / IN THE OVERTIME / IN THE STENCH LABOR DAY was published by FORKLIFT, OHIO this summer along with tyler gobble and layne ransom’s COLLECTED FEELINGS in a double chapbook LABOR DAY / COLLECTED FEELINGS is for sale here // http://www.forkliftohio.com/index.php?page=labor-day-collected-feelings

ted berrigan & anne waldman at bustins island, maine (1967) // carrie lorig & me at elizabeth bishop’s house in great village, nova scotia (2014)

today is LABOR DAY, which is the title of a long poem C and I wrote that follows the ghost of Ted and Anne’s MEMORIAL DAY // http://jacket2.org/commentary/recovering-memorial-day

for all the people working adjuncting sleeping archiving writing bargaining resisting fucking carrying a small valise to an impossible border IN THE PLEASURE / IN THE OVERTIME / IN THE STENCH

LABOR DAY was published by FORKLIFT, OHIO this summer along with tyler gobble and layne ransom’s COLLECTED FEELINGS in a double chapbook

LABOR DAY / COLLECTED FEELINGS is for sale here // http://www.forkliftohio.com/index.php?page=labor-day-collected-feelings

afrosonics:

They dream

They dream 

They dream     They dream  only 

                         They dream on we     They dream on we   they dream on we                      

                          They dream only of America      

                                                       They dream only of a miracle  

                                         They dream on, we   

They dream 

They dream

Hymns of St. Bridget by Frank O’Hara and Bill Berkson (Adventures in Poetry, 1974). Stapled with a cover by Larry Rivers, the book is 20 pages long and includes 9 poems written together by O’Hara and Berkson, as the back matter says, “between 1960 and 1962, mostly in New York. Some of them appeared in Evergreen Review and Chicago.” Every poem’s title has something to do with Saint Bridget, like “St. Bridget’s Hymn to William de Kooning” and “In the Summer House (With St. Bridget).” The idea for the collaboration started when Berkson and O’Hara were walking down First Avenue and noticed the bent steeple of St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church. Berkson then wrote a poem in imitation of O’Hara about the steeple, “Hymn to St. Bridget’s Steeple,” which became the first poem in the book. Berkson showed the poem to O’Hara, who responded by suggesting they write a series of St. Bridget poems together. The “limp and ridiculous” steeple, as Berkson describes it, also appears in O’Hara’s well-known poem “Steps,” written on October 18, 1960, the same time he was writing these poems with Berkson: “How funny you are today New York / like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime / and St. Bridget’s steeple leaning a little to the left.”

Wikipedia tells me a lot of good things about Saint Bridget, including that “as a child, she once gave away her mother’s entire store of butter. The butter was then replenished in answer to Brigit’s prayers,” but most importantly for Berkson and O’Hara, Saint Bridget/Brigit was “a woman of poetry, and poets worshipped her, for her sway was very great and very noble.” (This is a terrific use of “sway.”) Also, Bríg, the Celtic version of Bridget, invented keening, a combination weeping and singing, hence the “hymns.”

These poems map out the physical, emotional, and social space of Manhattan for the two poets, as Berkson signals in the first lines by locating St. Bridget’s on “ninth street,” but then quickly turning to “it doesn’t matter, you are my dream / of an actual winter.” The second poem, “St. Bridget’s Neighborhood,” is maybe the best poem in the book, and is written in couplets with small caesuras separating phrases. Instead of describing the poem I’ll just quote two amazing passages. First these lines from about halfway through the poem: “I have a headache / I want to have heartache   (to begin:) // My heart is corresponding oddly and with odd things and I / sometimes wonder if the future holds nothing // but the Surgical-Dental Supply Co. and Disney / the light is getting dim and a softness is settling // over the aluminum appliances and the fire escapes / and a fresh green paint over my royal flush heart.” And these lines, which end the poem: “I rather like these minor attentions when I / am not alone and it is nice for me when you are not alone // An orchestra is never alone   St. Bridget is never alone / although she must feel lonely when we ask her such questions // Is the nest an animal too?”

I was also super stoked that yogurt shows up here, in “Song Heard Around St. Bridget’s,” because O’Hara has some great poems with yogurt in them and it’s important to keep track of those. “When you’re in love the whole world’s Polish / and your heart’s in a gold stripped frame / you only eat cabbage and yogurt / and when you sign you don’t sign your own name.” Yogurt actually comes up again in this poem but I’m not going to overdo it and quote more yogurt lines.

Here are more great lines from other poems: “no more fuzzy fatigue / though we’re still asleep / walking through the gardens of Sceaux / to the frozen dahlia exhibit / lying there like income tax forms” (from “St. Bridget in the Metro”)

"you are attractive and poor   you are a horse" (from "St. Bridget’s Efficacy")

"you are not unlike a blue and pink and bong / de Kooning" and "bravo bravo bravo bravo as usual / because I was not logical I was crying and I flushed / the tears down the drain back to the salt like on / the wharf the pier the pier-ess   Two becomes one often / enough to keep the floodgates closed against art / or any abstraction which might make us one / instead of two singular steeples necessarily / together" (from "St. Bridget’s Hymn to William de Kooning") Obviously here Berkson and O’Hara are describing the act of collaborating that incorporates gender in a really amazing way.

The last poem in the book, “St. Bridget’s Hymn to Philip Guston,” has an epigraph from Gertrude Stein, “Why do you beat Sunday” (can’t find what book it’s from) and is pretty long, 6 pages, and plays with separated columns of lines that can’t be read be horizontally, so it’s like the two columns have to be read by two voices simultaneously a la Ashbery’s “Litany.” The de Kooning and Guston poems are both longer and look, on the page, like O’Hara’s poems from the time with the long lines and spacing of poems like “Ave Maria” and “Having a Coke with You.” The word “eagle-nutted” also appears in this poem.

"Us Looking Up to St. Bridget" includes the lines "St. Bridget may not protect you but she / does keep you alive if that’s your idea of a good time." This line stayed with Berkson for a long time, maybe in a way tied to O’Hara’s death, and later became the title of the collaborative correspondence book assembled between him and Bernadette Mayer, What’s Your Idea of a Good Time? In a letter to Bernadette in response to the question “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?” Bill writes, “I was incredibly mean to Frank O’Hara one time: I shouted at him for liking the sound of his own voice too much. I think now it was out of envy. It’s one of the few things, maybe the only one, I feel a physical hellfire damnation about, partly because he was so vulnerable to the attack, he didn’t retaliate.” Like so many of the other New York school collabs, Hymns of St. Bridget is an incredible record of a friendship of thinking and loving together, a difficult, expansive necessity.

"I am the cushion of your soul your ambition your beauty

and I am glad and that is my hymnal next to the Bowery

that is my bower next to your beautiful Self that’s IT”

carrieabigstick:

The final part of “Much Affection from the Bold Part / of the River / It’s a Crisis / of Movement,” IV. Dreadful Contact, is part of Pinwheel 6. This issue of Pinwheel is full of writers with new work (Natalie Eilbert, Kelin Loe, Sampson Starkweather, Mark Cugini, Amy King) I hope we all take the time to read / discuss / because it’s really lovely and important in here. 

flying-object:

a series of fragments & notes about Chance, Fate, Context & Intention by Dara Wier


image

Emily Dickinson’s collected poems do not include any words that begin with the letter “X”.

When I ran across the phrase making sense of the world (in a book about indexing no less) I wondered if I’d…

blackcakerecords:

ANNOUNCEMENT: Phrasis by Wendy Xu & FLOWERS AND MONEY by Nick Sturm are now live over at Black Cake Records. Dessert first, y’allz.

wendy and I in our summer jams mangled in capital and/or music blackcakerecords:

ANNOUNCEMENT: Phrasis by Wendy Xu & FLOWERS AND MONEY by Nick Sturm are now live over at Black Cake Records. Dessert first, y’allz.

wendy and I in our summer jams mangled in capital and/or music

blackcakerecords:

ANNOUNCEMENT: Phrasis by Wendy Xu & FLOWERS AND MONEY by Nick Sturm are now live over at Black Cake Records. Dessert first, y’allz.

wendy and I in our summer jams mangled in capital and/or music

carrieabigstick:

Gifts from E held up against / Slavoj Zizek in a Landfill / The Green Horse / Sweat Legs

my house isn’t a home, it’s a lair carrieabigstick:

Gifts from E held up against / Slavoj Zizek in a Landfill / The Green Horse / Sweat Legs

my house isn’t a home, it’s a lair carrieabigstick:

Gifts from E held up against / Slavoj Zizek in a Landfill / The Green Horse / Sweat Legs

my house isn’t a home, it’s a lair

carrieabigstick:

Gifts from E held up against / Slavoj Zizek in a Landfill / The Green Horse / Sweat Legs

my house isn’t a home, it’s a lair

Bolinas Journal by Joe Brainard (Big Sky, 1971). Printed in a run of 300 copies, the book is 45 pages of undated journalistic entries with drawings throughout, including excerpts of a comic made will Bill Berkson with a Pop-Eye dick and Nancy vagina, versions of posters for readings given during his month in northern California, drawings of friends (a great one of Berkson), a map of Bolinas, a portrait of Joe by Philip Whalen (with “Joe knits up a careful tennis shoe white thread” written underneath), a little poem written by Ted in his hand, and handwritten introductions for Joanne Kyger and Bobbie Creeley by Joe for a reading in San Francisco (the poems read by Bobbie were her Fifteen Poems, republished by Belladonna* in 2012). The cover is a reproduction of the classic black and white Mead notebooks. It was the first book published by Berkson’s Big Sky Books.

Brainard wrote Bolinas Journal from May-July 1971 while on an extended visit to Bolinas, CA from NYC to spend time with friends, including Bill Berkson, Lewis Warsh, Philip Whalen, Joanne Kyger, Robert Creeley, Bobbie Creeley (now Bobbie Hawkins), Diane di Prima, Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley (Ted and Alice visited around the same time as Joe), Tom Clark, Lewis MacAdams, and Donald Allen. Anne Waldman and Kenward Elmslie are also mentioned (via mail and phone calls). He stayed with the Creeleys and then lived in a house shared with Whalen (one page is a drawing Joe made of two notes Whalen left him in the kitchen). I’m pretty sure Ron Padgett mentions in his memoir about Brainard, Joe, that Bolinas Journal was planned to be published all along, which makes sense. Not that the writing is premeditated, it’s the same sort of frank, self-conscious, funny, sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes totally glowing prose as I Remember, but reading Bolinas Journal as a project is interesting, and with as much as Brainard obsessed and flamed his own anxieties about “work,” Bolinas Journal is a prismatic example of pleasure-as-work, and vice versa, or what it means to produce work as an artist traveling, or what a community of artists is or does (especially since Bolinas is often referred to as the west coast hub of the New York school).

Regardless, it’s a really good book. In a review of Brainard’s Collected Writings Marjorie Perloff describes Bolinas Journal as “boring,” saying about his journalistic writings and interviews in general that they are “not profound” and that “there is something missing here.” About the Collected as a whole she says, “300+ pages of such material may be too much.” I wonder what Perloff means by “boring” — as in nothing happens, or that it’s tedious? She probably means trite or shallow or inconsequential, i.e. “not profound.” The tired critic’s contradictory tropes of excess, both “too much” and "something missing," betray the hollowness behind Perloff’s aesthetic devaluing, that Brainard’s particular and astoundingly unique dismissal of genre (both in his visual art and writing) doesn’t conform to received (or even progressive?) notions of literary purpose or beauty. Overall, she seems to find little value in Brainard’s writing other than that it is occasionally "amusing." Leaving aside the critic’s larger political-aesthetic project, it seems to me difficult to read Bolinas Journal and not be equally delighted and decimated. If anything, this book has a kind of frayed elegance. And I mean frayed in the most permissible, potentially terrifying (for the writer) way, that it exposes the effects of a strain, the strain of being openly gay in the mostly heterosexual community of Bolinas and the strain of being an artist with deep anxieties about the quality and process of his own work. Brainard picks at these strains throughout:

"Being queer isn’t an easy habit to break. And usually, I have no desire to….And I do think that being ‘queer’ is an unnecessarily limiting as being ‘straight.’”; “How I can be so shy and insecure, and such a conceited ass at the same time, is beyond me.”; “As for me - I was a bit embarrassed by my New York City diaries. (So melodramatic) And I wonder about my being somewhat ‘primitive,’ and knowing it. And taking advantage of it.”; “The funniest things are hard to admit. Pills. That’s a hard thing to admit. That I take them. No, that’s not hard to admit. What’s hard to admit is that I need them. (Sometimes) Thank God I’m vain enough not to let myself get carried away tho. And I take them only for work.”

Does Brainard calling his own homosexuality a “habit” point to anything less than a crisis? And I don’t mean that in a dramatic sense of personal disaster, but that referring to being queer as a habitual burden and then immediately observing that dichotomous sexuality is socially constructed, a deft turn to say the least, is exactly that frayed elegance Perloff misses, where the crisis is the writing’s own irresolvable position. That Brainard does this so simply (I want to say “does this with a surface that is also a depth,” but a surface that never trusts the stability of itself as a surface is probably better) shows how full and charged (over-full, glamorous, exuberant) the choices are in this writing. Also, how are these not two of the best sentences you’ve ever read?

"Another thing nobody likes around here is the postmistress Rose."

"A little girl wants a quarter. Giving her a nickel she mumbles ‘mother-fucker’ and walks away."

There’s also this brief story about Joe losing a very old and expensive baroque pearl and emerald pendant on the beach during a 4th of July party, which is accompanied by a drawing of the lost pendant on the page next to it. The baroque pearl reminded me of the recent conversation about the baroque as aesthetic sparked by Stephen Burt’s essay about the “Nearly Baroque,” where the contemporary baroque (overwrought, visceral, decadent, excessive) is founded on a kind of deficiency (Perloff’s “something missing”). Joe’s reaction to losing the “imperfect” baroque pearl is compelling, and it seems, if you wanted to, that you could lay these sentences right on top of the Perloff/Burt argument, as if Brainard’s “loss,” which he experiences in a positive way as surprisingly casual affirmation of value, is exactly where critics might respond negatively to a lack of profundity:

"Funny tho, instead of reacting to the loss, I somehow got outside of myself, waiting and watching to see how I would react. Which I didn’t. I mean - I just more or less said to myself ‘Well, it’s gone.’ Let me tell you that it really was a beautiful pearl. Very valuable too. And my most favorite thing."

There’s a lot more to say about Bolinas Journal, how it deals with friendship and gossip, how it confronts sexuality and gender (and how it may be complicit with traditional values at times), how it refuses overused tropes about the New York school, how it performs the concept of illustration, how it works as a collaborative book, and so on. Copies of the original Bolinas Journal are rare (this one is ILLed from Arizona State), but it’s worth getting Brainard’s Collected, where it’s reproduced in full, if only to see the drawings. The last line of the book is:

"My idea of how to leave a place gracefully is to ‘disappear.’"

"Andy Warhol interviewed by teenage David Ehrenstein at the Factory on March 3, 1965. It’s a real trip. Special appearances by, Gerard Malanga, Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, a Rolling Stones LP, calls from Bob Brown and Nancy Fish.”

Description is from http://www.teenagefilm.com/archives/dear-diary/andy-warhol-interviewed-by-a-teenager/ who reblogged it from Dennis Cooper who originally posted it on his blog in 2007 via Ehrenstein.

This recording was made the day that Warhol did a screen test of Berrigan, a still of which appears on the back cover of Nice To See You. Some googling led me to this after reading Reva Wolf’s Andy Warhol, Poetry, and Gossip in the 1960s where she quotes a transcript of the interview. I’m writing an essay about Berrigan’s novel Clear the Range, part of which is about Berrigan’s relationship to Warhol and Pop Art, so hearing them talking together here is amazing. I’d love to see the actual screen test, too. Warhol also did screen tests of Ashbery and Ginsberg. A lot of this is a combination of background noise, music playing,  whitenoise, phone calls about parties and money, inaudible voices, an on-and-off interview, and normal chatter in keeping with Factory-era audio recordings. The entire thing is pretty incredible. The description says Brainard is here but I can’t pick out his voice.

An excerpt starting at 9:17:

Ehrenstein: What about Screen Test?

Malanga: Uhhh, no comment.

Ehrenstein: No comment. Could we ask him about the movie?

Malanga: Oh yeah. (in background) Ted Berrigan, what about the movie you just did?

Berrigan: What about it? (laughter)

Ehrenstein: Did you like what you did?

Berrigan: Uh sure, it was wonderful.

Ehrenstein: You said tears were coming into your eyes.

Berrigan: I was looking at the light, to see what it looked like, and (mic cuts out) …It was all really wonderful. I loved myself every second. (laughs) I looked at the camera and it looked like, the light made it look like a big blue flower and so I looked at it each time until the flower effect wore off and then I looked at the light for a few more minutes until it came on again.

I WAS LOOKING AT THE LIGHT, TO SEE WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE

blackcakerecords:

COMING SOON: Wendy Xu, Nick Sturm, & the stuff they found on their nature walk.