A few things on the radar. Firstly, I’ve got a gig coming up with NY Klezmer Series, with very awesome crew: Frank London, Greg Wall, Eyal Maoz, and Uri Sharlin, on Tue Feb 25th at 7.30pm at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W. 68th St. All info.
Couple of videos from Hermeneutic Stomp CD release party:
I also wanted to share this article, which I wrote for Tablet magazine on Amiri Baraka’s passing. I’ve got to say that nothing I’ve ever written, or done, has gotten quite as much response.
Also a new-ish poem, “One Year Plan” in the Forward.
The biggest bit of news in my bag: my family has radically expanded to include a precious little person, our daughter Ora.
on my 34th birthday
stayed in the house all day
my son, sick, asleep – held him on the couch
tore myself from the book for a moment
to look at him
“should do THAT more often”
same virus that got him coursing through my system
my wife, asleep next to us, propping
her big pregnant belly on the pillows
-back to the book,
floated in and out of my body, as Ginsberg
had it, “a new kind of Jewish Yoga”
what went wrong with the garbage
disposal? our new sink full, stagnant, ill-smelling
like some domesticated overgrown pond
so we rested
when it ended and Lev went to his crib
I took out my new wrench, stuck it up the insinkerator
shaking stiffly then more vigorously, though still skeptical
I know nothing of objects that surround me
something gave way –
like a little self-imploding tornado the water swirled,
went down with all the gook, soap,
if not cleansing – maybe, emptying –
Massive news! “Hermeneutic Stomp,” my full-length album of poetry-and-music was released from the Blue Thread Records (Jewish Currents) on October 14th. The album features luminaries of avant-jazz-klez Frank London, Greg Wall, Uri Sharlin, and Eyal Maoz.
Combining music, poetry, and improvisation, Hermeneutic Stomp exemplifies Blue Thread’s goal of radical and profound engagement with Jewish heritage. Riffing on Talmudic forms and cadences, chasidic chants, and midrashic innuendos, the CD is also firmly rooted in the American avant-garde tradition.
George Robinson’s review for the Jewish Week here.
See Eyal Reuveni’s AllAboutJazz review here.
And, Matthue Roth’s Jewniverse review here.
To order a copy of the record, see: http://jewishcurrents.org/jake-marmers-hermeneutic-stomp-blue-thread-music-21182.
Check out Mishnah of Loneliness track along with notes on methodology on Jacket2.
And, 3 AM Nigun in the Moment Magazine.
We’re doing it again – North’s America’s first Jewish poetry retreat – a week-long poetry gathering as part of the KlezKanada Festival, Aug 19-25. I’m honored to be collaborating with fabulous Adeena Karasick on this – and KlezKanada is one of hippest music/culture festivals out there, now in its 18th year!
There’re some scholarships available for folks under 35 (or under 35 in spirit) – deadline May 1st.
Here’s all the info –
KlezKanada’s Poetry Retreat (Three Millennia of Poetic subversion)
August 19-25, 2013
Seminars and Master Classes will be led by Minister of Semiotic Turbulence, Canadian poet and professor Adeena Karasick, and Chief of the Discordant Talmudic Crisis, poet and performer Jake Marmer. Sessions will include a combination of lectures, discussions, one-on-one faculty time, and solo writing time. A portion of each morning will focus on creating a polyvocal performance that will be showcased at the end of the week.
Workshops with Adeena and Jake:
Tuesday: Can Poems Be Jewish? Identity, Rituals, Rebellions and Vernaculars
This session will focus on what formal qualities or processes play a part in Jewish writing –Is it using overt Jewish themes? Its lexicon? Or is it about the way its written, its structure, form; its humor? The disruptions? The questions? Dialectics? Its obsessions? Over-thinking? The Music? This session will not so much as provide answers but open up the field of relations between writing and culture. Participants will be urged to write through the sonic environment of KlezKanada; and compose in immediate reaction to the music, viscerally experiencing the direct relationship of music and writing.
Wednesday: Found poetry: Poetics of Klezmer – Remixing your World
Focusing on how Conceptual Writing is a practice not so much of creation but re-formation, formed not ex-nihilo (out of nothing), but yesh m’yesh (“something from something”), we will traverse the campground – and our own minds – collecting scraps of conversations, rhythms, sounds as the landscape of new, circuitous meaning, graphically layered and intralingual text as a means of ever-expansive literary expression. We will practice spontaneous poetics and Jack Kerouac’s technique of “sketching”.
Thursday: Dialog & Rants: Talmudic and Hermeneutic Techniques
Focusing on both form and content, we will look at some of the ways we can use such texts as the Talmud for poetic inspiration. You want arguments? You want multiple people speaking from within a single poem? Laws referring to ethereal matters that have never existed, and loopholes created out of them? It’s all there for you. Secondarily, this session will show how cultural ancestry manifests through contemporary semiotic practice. With Darshening, we will focus on the necessity for continued active interpretation; the glee of compulsive thinking; highlighting that to be a good writer is to be a wild reader; and will encourage a continued dialogue with various texts in order to appreciate the infinite possibilities available with every letter, phrase, textured inscription.
Friday: Transcendence and Transience: Poetry as Spiritual Experience
Many poets – religiously observant or profoundly skeptical or self-proclaimed heretical – will tell you that writing is their chief access to what can loosely be termed as “spiritual experience”. Something about writing, the process itself that engenders the experience; a feeling of trance comes on; words that get unearthed feel as if not belonging to us, but something larger, unnamable. We will explore this experience, and capitalize on it, from various angles, focusing, among other things on various means of prophetic divination through letters, Kabbalistic meditations or Gematriatic methodologies, shamanistic technologies of the sacred, ecstatic writing, automatic writing, Oulippean techniques of seeking new structures and patterns — the profound way texts can become a source of visionary inspiration and cause us to see the world in a new way. Using both ancestral techniques of transposition, recombination, cut-ups and mash-ups intersection and juxtaposition, this session is dedicated to getting ourselves out of our own rutted ways of thinking and re-creating the world through language.
Throughout the week, participants will have the opportunity to engage in both a solo and multi-vocal performance, which we will prepare for during the Festival. Time in each session will be devoted to oral-based performance techniques. Additionally, workshop participants will be able to make their own chapbook from the work created over the week. Supplies will be provided.
Last week I spent two and a half days at the “Asylum: International Jewish Artist Retreat”, which was terrific and enlightening on a number of levels. The retreat was heavily focused on “the business” of being an artist, and as a result of that, my anxieties were ballooning as they have not been in the longest time. And so, in the middle of one of the sessions, I began experimenting with “listening poetry”, a method that came together as a result experiencing Elisabeth Workman‘s work which I was lucky to encounter a few weeks ago – and also, reading and re-reading Kenneth Goldsmith’s tremendous “Uncreative Writing“. In brief, I was plucking words out of the panelists’ conversations in real time, and arranging them according to the rhythm that felt meaningful as the panel rolled on. You could say it was an exercise in spontaneous collaging, meant to aestheticize – and anaesthetize – the experience.
The business aspect of one’s artistic experience is not merely some bête noire, tasteless and tactless question that is directly antithetical to, as it were, art – which, of course, is supposed to be selfless, transcendent, anti-materialistic, non-entrepreneurial - ultimately, whatever that means, pure. A week later, as the dust begun to settle, it became clear to me that I haven’t been particularly forthcoming about the extent to which this actually is one of central concerns surrounding, and penetrating my practice. And, like all concerns that are central, and yet heavily repressed, perhaps even shameful, and contradictory to the spirit, it also offers a rich and still unmined potential – for poetics.
because again and specifically
and also, then
doesn’t have to be
about it –
how far down the road –
shy or not
if you can’t –
same with writing
we found other ways
I would just add that I agree
as someone who helps her
because we’re concentrating
u don’t need –
what’s happening – should never be –
underscored – it’s just one point
my musician friends
you’d be shocked
but I don’t know
we talk about it a lot
and of course it’s curated
I couldn’t agree more
so yeah where
that wasn’t there
complaining about it,
u can feel it
we be attributed
-to have to remind them
longer life, it’s strategic
for sure for sure
we exactly the same
small subsidiary so perfectly
we all competing for audience
long-term doesn’t matter
you have to look for reasons
they don’t need us
that’s not our mission
that can’t always happen
didn’t know about me
are we supposed to be annoying
“New York Experience”
called prototype new forms
all that awesomeness
that’s how I know –
in your face – in a good way –
& also Chamber
it’s a gamble
probably won’t make me
u know Rebecca
and so I ended up stepping away
that way there’s more of you
“I’m an artist I’m an artist I’m an arti…”
at that point
I just wanted
crap artists and thats fun but
she was a director
she loves both
as she can
in sessions & out
you have to be a clerk
you have to be two people
I’ve been working on a series of poems inspired by the practice of Chassidic chanting – trying to recreate the state of being inside a nigun (or nign). There’s about a dozen of pieces already, some more crystallized than others. I’d like to start sending them around, submissions and all, but the issue is that the concept is esoteric. So the question is how to reference the nigun, and yet make it clear and accessible. I really don’t like footnoting in general – smn conceited about that. Or anyway, I don’t think a poet should explain his/her poetry. I asked a few people around and got some great feedback. My favorite bit of thinking came from Jerry Rothenberg. He suggested expanding a footnote into “poetics” – poetic discussion of the methodology. So, something inherently poetic, extension (and reflections) of the practice rather than a dry informational blurb. That feels very exciting – lots to think about there.
A few very different gigs coming up. The first is this Sunday at the Queens Public Library in Jamaica, Queens. They have these open mic series they host, and kindly invited me to be a featured reader. Something of a departure from my usual audience/locale but that’s what’s fun about it. Also, 30 min set without music? I’m also
Also, Dec 10th I’m reading at Stern College. Less of a departure and more like home-coming. Not that it was ever my home. Not that I have a home, educationally or transcendentally speaking anyway.
Finally, Feb 17th there’s a gig/conference on Jewish Poetics at the University of Minnesota that I’ll be part of along with a few great poets, including Adeena Karasick, Joy Ladin, Rachel Tzvia Back, and Erica Kaufman. All great folks.