Friday, February 13, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 35.2 (Taylor Brady & Rob Halpern)

Brady, Taylor
Halpern, Rob
Snow Sensitive Skin

I was tempted to save this until I get to 'H,' as I don't have anything else by Rob Halpern on my shelf, but as you can see I did not do that. Part of this has to do with it's being such a beautiful object. I couldn't resist taking it off the shelf and fondling the letterpressed cover (props to Michael Cross for making the book!). It's technically a chapbook, but since it has a spine I keep on the shelf with all the other books. I saw Rob read from it when he was in Buffalo last spring for the Oppen conference at UB. You can see a little video of that reading here.

I first met Rob when I read in Taylor's apartment in SF in 2007, so I guess between that and this book the two will be forever linked in my imagination. We had a really nice time during the 24 hours we spent in SF--seeing Taylor and Tanya for the first time in a decade was great, as was seeing old Buffalo chum Brent Cunningham and making new acquaintances like Rob and Lee Azus and Suzanne Stein and Jocelyn Saidenberg (shouting out now to all of them -- hey-ho!).

There's a section of this book called "Stray Horns" that stands out because of the story behind it of a Lebanese musician and artist named Mazen Kerbaj, who recorded himself playing his trumpet on the balcony of his Beirut apartment as the Israeli bombs were exploding all over the city in 2006. There's something achingly sublime about the image of the soloist playing his music against the thunder of war.

Here's the first short section of "Stray Horns":

So here we've come to the end of something that can
Only be called ourselves having already survived their
Deaths erred on each antagonism systematically drained
Of whatever potential to crush the terms that crush it.

So this is what the afterlife must sound like still sweet
Breathing on this rock where our situation foundered
Finding air on the ground and rights to go on producing

                                                  --our own impossibility

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