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.
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.
Here’s the curriculum for the program!
August 20-26, 2012
Morning sessions facilitated by Adeena Karasick & Jake Marmer will include a combination of lectures, discussions, one-on-one faculty time, and solo writing time.
In the afternoon, poets are invited to attend any of the other courses offered – music, dance and more. Please pay special attention to: Jenny Romaine’s Theater Workshop; Poetry & Music class led by Dan Kahn, Marcelo Moguilevsky & Jake Marmer; Kolya Bordulin’s “Bagegnish mit Yiddisher poezye”, numerous lectures and Yiddish language classes.
Workshops with Adeena and Jake:
Tuesday: What IS a “Jewish Poem”?
This session will focus on what formal qualities or processes play a part in Jewish writing – is it about nomadicism and exile? Is it using overt Jewish thematics? Lexicon? Or is it about the way its written, its structure, form, the way it’s inscribed in nomadicism, exile, perhaps. Is it the humor? The disruptions? The questions? Dialectic? This session will not so much as provide answers but open up the field of the relation of writing to culture.
Wednesday: Poetry of the Talmud / Practice of Darshening
This session will explore various ways that the Talmud is poetry; the intersections between Talmud discourse and poetry, focusing on both form and content and the ways we can use such texts as the Talmud for poetic inspiration. Secondarily, this session will show how cultural ancestry manifests through contemporary semiotic practice.
With Darshening, we will foreground the necessity for continued active interpretation, dwelling on how to be a good writer is to be a good reader and will encourage a continued dialogue with various texts in order to appreciate the infinite possibilities available with every letter, phrase, inscription.
Thursday: Poetry as Prophecy
Through this session, will will focus on various means of prophetic divination through letters. Whether it be looking at Kabbalistic meditations or Gematriatic methodologies, ecstatic writing, automatic writing, or just the profound way texts can become a source of visionary inspiration and cause us to see the world in a new way, through a new lens.
Friday: Defining G-d / Concrete Poetry / Uncreative Writing
This session will look at ways various poets have come to express the Divine; say the unsayable, contain the uncontainable. Thus, through a process of veiling and unveiling, this session will show how a definition is not inscribed in deafening finality, closure but an infinite spiraling of possible expression.
We will also discuss the physicality and materiality of the page. We will explore different forms of expression and investigate ways in which the actual space and material makeup of the letters and other infusions such as collage, graphics, layered or mutated texts not only interrupt but as a means of ever-expansive literary expression.
Finally, we’ll be focus 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”); from that which always already existed.
Hey folks! A bunch of new youtube videos from the publication party gig are here.
Running a poetry fest at the Sixth Street Synagogue in April/May – poets on the list include Charles Bernstein, Alicia Ostriker, CK Williams, Adeena Karasick, Stephen Paul Miller, and Bob Perelman. Should be awesome!
Also, jointly with Adeena Karasick I’ll be running the poetry retreat at KlezKanada this year – more to come on this.
My first collection of poetry is being published by the Sheep Meadow Press! Publication party is on Jan 19th at the Sixth Street Shul – with Frank London, Greg Wall, Eyal Maoz and Uri Sharlin.
The book is already available for order via Sheep Meadow, pre-order on Amazon, and I have copies on me, which I’ll bring to Zorn’s Nittel Benefit gig this Saturday night (I’m sitting in with the Ayn Sof Arkestra). And obviously to the publication party on Jan 19th!
All the info about the book, including blurbs and an intro are here!
Time for another Jazz Talmud gig! I will be performing with a terrific crew of musicians – Frank London (trumpet), Greg Wall (sax), and Alon Nechushtan (keys) at the Sixth Street Synagogue on Dec 8th, at 8.30pm.
Hope to see you there! Here’s the low-down about the Jazz Talmud music-poetry project.
Starting on Monday, Oct 31st I will be teaching a “Writing New Jewish Poetry” workshop at Hadar Beit Midrash on Monday nights, 7.30pm.
The idea is to bring together a hip group of writers-thinkers to not only look at the ‘canon’ of Jewish poetry, but also dig into various promising forms and molds and tropes around Judaism – the noise of the beit midrash, talmudic loophole, radical mis-interpration, dissociation with tradition as tradition – and to write, using these – and many other – forms. I’d like to look at the rhetoric of Talmudic arguments as transposed into works of Louis Zukofsky & Edmond Jabes, but also things like Shiviti/iconology in the context of modernist tradition of graphic poetry. Most importantly, I’d like to brainstorm with all of you about new directions Jewish poetry could go, to hear you read and react to each other.
There will be 7 sessions from Oct 31st through Dec 12th all on Mondays 7.30-9pm at 190 Amsterdam Avenue (b/n 68 and 69th). Although there will be continuity to the series as a whole, each session will be its own deal, i.e. if you can totally join at any point in the game.
There will be arts programming on some of the Mondays afterwards, at 9.15pm. On Monday 31st, great saxophonist Greg Wall is coming to play his superb brew of jazz-klez, and on Nov 14th poet Jerome Rothenberg will read and speak.
The class and gigs are free. More info: http://www.mechonhadar.org/90at190.
Hey all! Best wishes for a sweet New Year – Shana Tova!
Among my newly minted resolutions is getting back into posting on the blog – drafts of poems in progress?
Here’s a Rosh piece I’m working on -
Cause for Celebration
“what does it mean to celebrate
Rosh Hashana if you don’t believe
the world was created on this day
any more than yesterday or tomorrow?”
I ask myself, mouth full
of honey, thankful for our exilic
solar calendar spinning
the first of Tishrei
so that it falls
out on a different day every year
good wishes to all!!
After almost half-year MIA I’m starting to resurface like a gently used submarine. The word is that we became a family of THREE recently, newest addition being Lev Zalman Marmer, a wonderful young man. But it’s good to be back. I’m giving a reading this Sunday July 10th at 7pm at Word Up – pop-up bookstore in Washington Heights, on 176th and Broadway. Hope to see you there!
Tonight, I will be doing a jazz poetry set with superb drummer Haim Peskoff at Yeshivat Hadar on the Upper West Side – starting 9PM sharp. Info: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=176430559052572.
On Saturday night Dec 25th, I’ll will be performing with Ayn Sof Arkestra at the Tzadik Label festival hosted by the Sixth Street Synagogue! More details re the festival to come but the fest will be ground-breaking – intense line-up of some of Tzadik’s most illustrious representatives.
If you happen to be going to Limmud UK, I’ll be there and will read on Mon Dec 27th 3.30pm. Doing a few other sessions there as well.
Lastly, pls mark your calendars for Wed Jan 12th – I will be playing some of the Jazz Talmud material with Frank London and Greg Wall at the Cell Theater.
These might be the last few gigs for a while!