Sunday, February 1, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 29.1 (Christian Bök)

Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Bök, Christian

Since everyone on Facebook seems to be performing some version of the 25 things task, I'll add my own:

25 Random Memories Associated With Christian Bök

1. I once heard a rumor that in the wake of the critical and commercial success of Eunoia, Christian was making a living by giving readings and talks at conventions of synaesthetes. Supposedly, people suffering from synaesthesia found a kind of sensorial equilibrium when listening to the poem, so they kept paying him to come speak at their conventions. Christian denies this claim.

2. Christian's laugh could be heard over the sound of the laughter of everyone else in the audience at a reading I gave in Toronto, which threw me repeatedly off my game by making me laugh at my own poems.

3. At the height of the dot com boom, Christian told me he had figured out how to invest his money so that within a few years he would no longer have to work and would be able to devote himself entirely to writing. Christian now teaches in Calgary.

4. Christian's library in his former apartment in Toronto consisted exclusively of hardcover first editions of books. It was a very neat library.

5. At a reading we gave together at the Bowery Poetry Club in 2005 I was able to ad-lib Christian's name into one of my poems.

6. The story of actually getting to that reading, which was the first reading I gave after the publication of my first book, To Be Sung. Lori and I had spent three weeks traveling in Guatemala, and had planned to arrive back in Buffalo on at Wednesday night. We would rest on Thursday, drive to New York on Friday, and I would read with C. on Saturday afternoon. When we arrived at the airport in Guatemala City, we discovered that all flights had been canceled due to an air traffic controller strike. We couldn't get a flight out of Guatemala until Friday, so we ended up staying at a swanky hotel in Guatemala City. We both had food poisoning and spent the first day throwing up and shitting. On the second day, we went to a shopping mall and a folk museum and we saw the remake of the "Manchurian Candidate" at a Guatemalan Multiplex. We didn't arrive in Buffalo until late Friday night, so I flew out by myself Saturday morning to arrive in NYC for the reading at 4.

7. I met Monica de la Torre at that reading.

8. Rob Fitterman and Kim Rosenfeld took us to an expensive and delicious French restaurant after the reading.

9. I met Kenny Goldsmith at that reading. At dinner we got to talking about movies, and I recommended the film "Owning Mahoney," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as one of the most realistic portrayals of addiction (gambling) I had ever seen. Kenny wrote to me several months later to say he had seen it and agreed.

10. An image of standing in a doorway outside a reading at cornershop in Buffalo talking to Christian, who was wearing his black leather motorcycle jacket.

11. An image of Christian arriving at a party at the home of Susan Howe and Peter Hare in Buffalo. It was fairly soon after 9-11 and Eunoia had just come out and Christian looked very happy. Everyone was asking Charles Bernstein what it was like in New York after 9-11.

12. Christian reading the Ursonate at cornershop.

13. Christian reading the Ursonate at SUNY Buffalo.

14. Christian reading from Eunoia at Big Orbit Gallery. It was the first reading I ever went to with my then-newly-encountered love of my life, Lori.

15. How when I hear Eunoia read the sound of some of the sentences begins to make me giggle involuntarily and uncontrollably.

16. How this feeling is sometimes caused also by the meaning of the words.

17. My discovery that the same thing happens when I read it to myself.

18. The freakiness of reading Chapter "I". The way the vertical lines of all the repeated i's make the words shimmer on the page. How this makes me feel slightly dizzy.

19. mIEKAL aND's annoyance that the word "eunoia" was not included in the official scrabble dictionary. (He still trounced me).

20. This morning, as I lay in bed half a sleep, my mind kept turning over the phrase, "You annoy a..." as if it were the beginning of a poem.

21. Last year at the AWP I ran into Christian in the lounge of the hotel bar. I asked, are you still in Calgary? He said, yes, Calgary is the hottest place in Canada right now for poetry. I remembered he had told me the exact same thing the last time I had seen him.

22. He was sitting with a group of people in the bar, one of whom was an old friend from my NYC days, Curtis Fox, who I had not seen in a decade, and who was now producing a webcast for the Poetry Foundation. They were setting up a time for Curtis to interview Christian on the show.

23. Christian explained to me that he was now at work on a poetry project having to do with embedding poems into the genetic code of a single-cell organism in order to make that organism produce poetry.

24. How each time I try explaining that to someone else, I feel as if I am explaining it poorly.

25. After I first met Christian and Darren Wershler (-Henry) for the first time, I went home to look up the word "pataphysics" in the dictionary.

Random page from Eunoia:

Folks from Kokomo do lots of shrooms (not snow, not blow--no form of hops ). Folks who long to prolong moods of torpor do Zoloft or nod off on two drops of chloroform. Goofs who goof off go off to poolrooms to jolt down lots of good strong bock from Coors or Stroh. Most tosspots who toss down jolts of Grolsch do so to drown sorrows. Poor sots, blotto on two shots of scotch, go loco for old port or hot grog. Lots of hobos who do odd jobs for food go off to work to work on jobs no boss stoops to do--jog brooms of soot, mop floors of loos. Old coots, known to go to grogshops for snorts of wormwood hooch, go on to mooch dogfood from dogs.

1 comment:

Lemon Hound said...

Nice. I was listening to a reading from an event in Norway and all I could hear was Christian's laugh in the background. Charming as ever.

Love you Mr. Bok.

Thanks Michael