Friday, February 12, 2010

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 27 (Benjamin Friedlander)


Time Rations
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Friedlander, Benjamin
Time Rations


I think this was purchased at a reading Ben gave for Just Buffalo back in the day. Probably around 1998.

It's inscribed:

"For Mike,

Above the trudge of snow,
below the shining clouds."

The inscription isn't dated.

I remember the reading because it was the first time I had ever heard of Joe Brainard's book, "I Remember." Ben read his own "I Remember" poem (which I think I mentioned previously in one of my posts on Brainard.) I went right out and bought the Penguin edition of the book after the reading.

I can't recall who Ben read with. It was on a Sunday afternoon at Hallwalls old space in the Tri-Main Building. The reading took place in the Paul Sharits theater. I always found that theater a strange space for a reading, with it black walls and theater seats on risers and the bleak gray carpets on the floors. We always used an enormously oversized sound system for the room, which required us having a tech set up beforehand or be on hand at the reading.

There was a huge ritual in doing the readings there, as Hallwalls was usually closed on Sundays. After keying into the door, I had to tap in an alarm code, which I can't remember except that it made an "L" shape on the touchpad. Then I had to walk through the darkened hallway to the offices in the back of the space and turn on the breakers for the lights. After that, to another room to turn on the heating or air-conditioning system. Sometimes a tech would set everything up and all I'd have to do was turn on the sound board. Something nearly always went wrong for me, and I almost always had to call someone to fix the problem.

Just Buffalo had a radio program back then, hosted by Mary Van Voorst, who would often sit in the front row with a recording device. Most of these readings were poorly attended because they were on Sunday afternoons, especially during football season. I think I moved the readings away from Sundays as quickly as I could, but it took a long time before we actually did any of our readings on a regular night each month. Eventually, I cleaned up and painted a room attached to Just Buffalo and did most of our readings up there.

I remember Ben and his partner, Carla, arrived about ten minutes late, I think because of car trouble (but maybe for some other reason). Just Buffalo's then-new director got a bit miffed about this. I tried to explain that in "poetry time" 10 minutes late was actually 20-50 minutes early, but to no avail. He was unhappy and we were off on the wrong foot, or so it seemed to me at the time.

from Time Rations

The mind won't hold certain facts,
not willingly,

& all my life I've tracked their disappearance,
swept out of view in folded waves

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