Friday, June 24, 2005

(Skinner in Buffalo, Oct '03)

"Spare Room Reading Series presents . . .

Jonathan Skinner
Reading and Publication Party
Sunday, June 26nd 7:30 pm

*Please note location*
Pacific Switchboard 4637 N. Albina Avenue Portland, OR (just south of Alberta street and just east of the I-5 freeway exit. You can reach us by taking the #4 Fessenden bus.)


Please join us for a reading by Jonathan Skinner to celebrate the publication of his new book, Political Cactus Poems (Palm Press).
Jonathan Skinner edits ecopoetics in Buffalo, NY where he misidentifies birds along the Niagara River.
His work engages the various meanings of life outdoors, in the shape of a changing response to questions posed by the environments the poet physically inhabits. In part, the poetry operates as an instrument of research into a particular natural environment or a geological formation or species. In exchange, it offers forms of life measured to particular places, an invitation to inhabit the evolutionary imagination of the senses and of those places. His first book-length collection, Political Cactus Poems, which stem from the poet's life in the Southwest, challenges the pristine agenda of nature poetry by hybridizing themes from the lives of humans and cacti.

If cactuses could talk, poets be out of work. In the meantime, Jonathan Skinner's *Political Cactus Poems *are primers of attentive engagement; not only its pleasures responsibilities, but also its animations and metamorphoses. It's not just that we read what we see; Skinner imagines that we are read by what sees us. "Matter's clatter" is the echo of unheard songs. In these poems, the saguaro drinks our words and leaves us thirsty for more.
--Charles Bernstein

This is *Very* *Good* (*that's* *WHY* *I* *used* *it* when I taught at Mills, his *Little* *Dictionary* *Of* *Sounds*--I played the *Tape* *Of* *The Sounds* & GAVE THEM THE POEMS *he* *had* *written*!--*I* *didn't* *have* *to * *TEACH*!!) -- *'VOCABULARY'* + *'STUDY'* (somehow) Evidences *THE* *WORLD* *AT* *LARGE* in ManyWritten Poems--BRAVO!!
--Robert Grenier

The fact is, humanity's a drop in the bucket. But only scantily has poetry looked at the rest of the bucket. Jonathan Skinner in *Political Cactus Poems* makes a wonderful stab in that omnidirection. The language lays out its dynamics "as if" human and nature were one. The reader feels connections' displays not so much in terms of grammar as of a great series of metonymic grids, that feel like chemistry. Meanings dance rather than submit to linear equations. On p. 33 one of Skinner's dense but unadorned "tope prisms" ends "spots taking on chronologies of their own expanding in a series of rotational slides not yet confirmed. For the individual, stationary in the blast of current events no true point of balance is ever found." Mostly, they show-don't-tell. These down-to-earth cylinders, pulled from the air, are forwarding explorations in the most important direction poetry can go: out. Yet they're plenty human and fun to read.
A macro-micro delight.
--Jack Collom

Jonathan Skinner with his journal *ecopoetics *has been showing us how it is all connected. all systemic, all wonderful even while at risk. The poems in *Political Cactus Poems *do similar work as they tell the sad stories of contemporary politics (Milosevic and Bush show up at various moments) with the specific stories of various cacti. These poems direct and redirect our attention to the larger ethical issues of political and natural environments. They are tight, luminous poems that illustrate how the world is more complicated than most of us acknowledge.
--Juliana Spahr

Political Cactus Poems Price: $12.00. ISBN 0-9743181-1-6 Perfect-bound. Printed with soy-based ink on recycled paper, 100% post-consumer waste. 120 pages.
To order *Political Cactus Poems*, visit this link at the press website: "

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The Birth of Disco

"No one agrees on what the first disco record was. Shapiro votes for two Motown records from 1972-'73, Eddie Kendricks' "Girl You Need a Change of Mind" and the Temptations' "Law of the Land." Lawrence advocates for "Soul Makossa," by Manu Dibango and Isaac Hayes' "Theme from Shaft." (I'd argue for the much earlier "Band of Gold" by Freda Payne and Marvin Gaye's cover of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine.")

What Shapiro can state for sure is that a distinct sound began to emerge from these clubs that combined the heavy bass of Motown, the percussion of rock, the syncopation of Tin Pan Alley and hi-hat hissing from the new synthetic music machines.

One of the many revelations in this book is Shapiro's insistence of the primacy of 4/4 time. He shows how nearly all disco songs imitate marches, albeit at much faster b.p.m.'s (beats-per-minute).

In a larger context, he shows how New York's woes contributed to the emergence of disco. The city in the '70s was a broken-down mess, with the Bronx burning, the government broke and garbage and crime everywhere.

It was precisely that crucible of crumminess, however, that provided the subtext for a subculture built on hell-bent hedonism and coke-fueled all-night danceathons. "

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(Fly by Robert Hooke)

House or Window Flies

(from John Clare's notebooks)

These little indoor dwellers in cottages and halls, were always entertaining to me, after dancing in the window all day from sun-rise to sun-set they would sip of the tea, drink of the beer, and eat of the sugar, and be welcome all summer long, they look like things of mind or fairries, and seem pleased or dull as the weather permits in many clean cottages, and genteel houses, they are allowed every liberty to creep, fly, or do as they like, and seldom or ever do wrong, in fact they are the small or dwarfish portion of our own family, and so many fairy familiars that we know and treat as one of ourselves

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Bonne St. Jean!

"It is Ludger Duvernay, a Patriote and the founder of Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste, who was the first to make the event a patriotic one, in 1834. Duvernay wished to unite the "Canadiens" of the day in the celebration of their national pride, in the hopes of bringing on political change and the end of the military British government. He chose the evening of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day to invite about sixty illustrious guests, both French and English-speakers, to a great banquet where the future of the Canadien people was discussed. From that moment on, the old traditional French celebration became the national patriotic Fete of the people of Quebec."

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good article on Cecil Sharp and Olive Dame Campbell collecting songs in the Appalachians--

"Shall I ever forget it. The blazing fire, the young girl on her low stool before it, the soft strange strumming of the banjo - different from anything I had heard before - and then the song. I had been used to singing Barbara Allen as a child, but how far from that gentle tune was this - so strange, so remote, so thrilling. I was lost almost from the first note, and the pleasant room faded from sight; the singer only a voice. I saw again the long road over which we had come, the dark hills, the rocky streams bordered by tall hemlocks and hollies, the lonely cabins distinguishable at night only by the firelight flaring from their chimneys. Then these, too, faded, and I seemed to be borne along into a still more dim and distant past, of which I myself was a part. "

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

was very happy to attend the Bluff Mountain Festival earlier this month. Advice for future attendees: the giant magnolias stageside offer many natural seats, the best barbecue is at the Lion's club tent & half regular and half sweet tea is just right.  Posted by Hello

Wake up! the new Lemon-Red mix series has a free 32 minute mix by DJ/rupture! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

(Bittern by Thomas Bewick)

The Butter Bump (from John Clare's notebooks)

This is a thing that makes a very odd noise morning & evening among the flags & large reed shaws in the fens some describe the noise as something like the bellowing of bulls but I have often heard it & cannot liken it to that sound at all it is difficult to describe what it is like its noise has procurd it the above name by the common people the first part of its noise is an indistinct muttering sort of sound very like the word butter utterd in a hurried manner & bump comes very quick after & bumps a sound on the ear as if eccho had mocked the bump of a gun just as the mutter ceasd nay this is not like I have often thought the putting one's mouth to the bung hole of an empty large cask & uttering the word 'butter bump' sharply woud imitiate the sound exactly after its first call that imitates the word 'butter bump' it repeats the sound bump singly several times in a more determined & louder manner--thus 'butter bum/p bu/m/p b/u/m/p butter bum/p' it strikes people at first as something like the sound of a coopers mallet hitting on empty casks when I was a boy this was one of the fen wonders I usd often to go on a sunday with my mother to see my aunt at peakirk when I often wanderd in the fen with the boys a bird nesting & when I enquird what this strange noise was they desribd it as coming from a bird larger then an ox that coud kill all the cattle in the fen if it choose & destroy the villager likewise but that it was very harmless & all the harm it did was the drinking so much water as to nearly empty the dykes in summer & spoil the rest so that the stock coud scarcly drink what it left this was not only a story among chlidern but their parents believd the same thing such is th power of superstition over ignorant people who have no desire to go beyond hearsay & enquire for themselves but 'the world gets wiser every day' tis not believd now nor heard as wonder any longer--they say that it is a small bird that makes the noise not much unlike the quail tho a deal larger & longer on the legs they say it puts its beak in a reed when it makes the noise that gives it that jarring or hollow sound which is heard so far I have no knowledge of its using the reed but I believe they are right in the bird I have startend such a bird myself out of reed shaws myself were I have heard this noise & afterwards the noise has been silent which convincd me that the one was the bird I never saw but on the wing & it appeard to me larger than a pheasant of a li( ) & not unlike it in either shape or colour but it flew different--there is a great many of these birds on whittlesea mere & their noise is easily heard in the morning on the London road which is some miles distant its noise continues all summer & at the latter end of the year it is silent & hear no more till summer

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Monday, June 20, 2005

"The Future" from Turkey, a site for the paintings of New Westminster artist Don Dingwall.

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Hotel Point--

"Trying to think how to

say what Bobby "Blue" Bland's voice does, mostly in the later recordings, sweet with maybe just a few burrs, a pebble or two for "texture" and out of nowhere a

snarling "Oh Lord" that's like a dog shaking a rabbit. Spooky good. Bob Dylan talks about "the early singers who sang like they were navigating burning ships." Enough

to make one into a connoisseur of voice-styling metaphor. Or Dylan (on Roy Orbison): "He was now singing . . . compositions in three or four octaves that made

you want to drive your car over a cliff. He sang like a professional criminal." What I did, clumb'd up out the gully, is read that Chronicles thing, writ in

Dylan's tetchy voice "fire, brimstone, a little half-crack'd, lying is formidable fun and allows the Saviour reason to reach down and "tetch" you, var. of teachy,

teechy, tetchy, tetchie, tecchy, titchie, tichy. Or dial. titchy, tertchy, tatchy, tachy ( ME. tecche, 16th c. tetche.) Say, short-

tempered; peevish, irritable; testy. Bonkers, touch'd. As Shakespeare saith: "Pretty foole." (Somewhere Dylan points to Pretty Boy Floyd and Al Capone, the latter

technocrat nobody's idea of folk-material, no scuff and devilment to him.) And: "I practiced in public and my whole life was becoming what I practiced." "

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