Saturday, September 20, 2008

Frank Sherlock

Frank Sherlock reading for Just Buffalo's Small Press Poetry Series at Hallwalls Cinema on September 18, 2008.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Logan Ryan Smith

Logan Ryan Smith reading in Just Buffalo's Small Press Poetry Series at Hallwalls Cinema, Buffalo, NY, 9/18/08.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Live On The Joe Milford Poetry Show

If you happen to be online this Saturday, September 20, between 2 and 3:30 p.m., I'll be reading poems and having a conversation with Joe Milford on the Joe Milford Poetry Show over at BlogTalk Radio.

Click here to listen.

It will also be archived at the same link, so you can also come back to listen later if you don't have time to listen live.

"The Joe Milford Poetry Show seeks to record, archive, and present readings from the sharpest minds in poetics today. Every week the Joe Milford Poetry show hosts poets from around the country in a live format via Blogtalk Radio."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

David Foster Wallace

I met David Foster Wallace in Buffalo in, I think, 2000, and had the opportunity to spend the better part of a day with him. I found him to be friendly and curious and almost obsessively ethical. At the time, at least, he did two readings per year, accepted only travel and hotel expenses for payment, refused honoraria, etc. It seemed very important that he follow these rules to the letter -- so much so that he would not allow Just Buffalo even to pay for his meals, as this had not been agreed upon in the contract.

The event itself was about the strangest literary event I have ever been a part of. I think certain members of his audience pick up some some dark undercurrent in his writing that seems to inspire in them both a cult-like devotion and a lack of inhibition (or perhaps a feeling of over-familiarity is a better way to put it) when confronting him in a public arena.

At one point, a twenty-something woman stepped up to the microphone and said, "Can I ask you something?" "Yes," he replied. She then, to my absolute terror, leapt onto the stage (I was a step a way from leaping up after her and tackling her). Stopping about ten feet short of DFW, she start mussing up her long brown hair into a static-charged hive. When she was done she asked him, "Do you like my hair?" Again, "Yes." Laughter from the audience. I guessed afterward this was some sort of near-hysterical allusion to his book, "The Girl With The Curious Hair."

Following that, a man raised his 8-year old son to the microphone. The boy asked, "Why do you dress like a scrub?" DFW laughed, and so did the audience. He then mildly rebuked the child by saying something to the effect of..."People in glass houses, etc.." He manged to do it with a wink to the adults and a phraseology that kept the kid from being humiliated. It was an impressive and thoughtful response.

The only other thing I remember is that when he was asked a question about his own celebrity, he very humbly told the audience that they needed to put that "celebrity" into perspective, saying that literary fame was something altogether different than media "celebrity," and that you could accurately compare his "celebrity" to that of a "middle-market weatherman."

The last thing I recall is that after the event he told me I looked like Greg Kinnear.

I don't know why, but I answered, "Thanks." He looked at me strangely, then paused to think through my response. I could almost see the syllogism churning in his head. Greg Kinnear is a celebrity. Most celebrities are beautiful. Therefore, to be compared to a celebrity is to be told one is beautiful. He said, "Yeah, I guess that IS a compliment." 

Remembering that also made me remember I had written a poem that used this comparison to comic effect. I was kind of surprised in rereading it to discover the reference to Frank O'Hara's death right in the middle of the poem. Maybe I sensed something when I met him that suggested mortality. Who knows? Anyhow, here it is, for what it's worth.


David Foster Wallace
Told me I look like Greg Kinnear.

Greg Kinnear is a movie actor,
Born in Logansport, Indiana in 1963,

Who spent his adolescence
In Athens, Greece. Greece

Is the birthplace of Democracy, Philosophy,
And Tragic Drama. Tragic Drama

Reached its peak in Sophocles'
Oedipus Rex. Oedipus

Was a clever fellow who

Killed his father and fucked his mother.
Mother-fucking and father-killing

Became the cornerstones of a theory
Known as psychoanalysis,

Developed by Sigmund Freud. Freud
Is also the last name of a painter

Who painted many
Fat and grotesque-looking people.

One fat and grotesque-looking person
You might have heard of is Orson Welles.

Orson Welles, before becoming
The fat and grotesque spokesperson

For Ernest and Julio Gallo,
Was a dashingly handsome

And prodigiously talented filmmaker
Who made such classic films as

"A Touch of Evil," "Citizen Kane" and
"The Lady From Shanghai,"

Which co-starred his ex-wife, Lana Turner.
"Lana Turner has collapsed"

Is the first line of a poem by Frank O'Hara.
Frank O'Hara was a poet

Who was hit by a beach buggy on Fire Island
And died a few days later

In a hospital at the age of forty. Forty
Is a little young for dying, I think.

I think I remember thinking
As a child that I would be

Dead or very old by the year 2001.
"2001: A Space Odyssey" is a film

About a computer named H.A.L.,
Directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Stanley Kubrick's final film,
Which he finished right before he died,

Is called "Eyes Wide Shut"
And stars Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise is the star of the Oscar-nominated film,
"Jerry Maguire." Jerry Maguire is a sports agent

Who has a crisis of conscience
Caused by a lack of love in his life

Which he overcomes by falling in and out
And finally back into love

With Renee Zellweger. Renee
Zellweger is the star of another film,

"Nurse Betty," in which she plays a woman
Who develops amnesia

After witnessing the scalping of her husband,
A car dealer, by Morgan Freeman

And Chris Rock, and whose trauma leads her
To believe that she is in love

With a character on a soap opera, played by
Greg Kinnear. Greg Kinnear

Is a movie actor who looks like me,
Or so says David Foster Wallace.