July 12, 1995 – Part Two (Sikelianos, Waldman, Carroll)

Continuing from yesterday

This second part of the reading begins with Eleni Sikelianos

Eleni Sikelianos, photo:  Maria Garcia-Teutsch

Max Regan: “Eleni Sikelianos is the author of To Speak While Dreaming, published in 1993 by Salva Editions . She’s also the recipient of a California Arts Council Residency grant in San Francisco where she teaches writing to children and the homeless and at the San Francosco Art Institute. She has work appearing in Japan, has been translated into French, and will be published in France this Fall. She recently recieved the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative American Writing, which will culminate in an anthology being published by Sun and Moon Press. Along with Matt Corey, who runs Rodent Press, she has produced a chapbook, specifically for this event, entitled Poetics of the Exclamation Point. She’s an alumnae of the MFA program in Writing and Poetics at Naropa and this Spring our offices were rocked with the news that Eleni had received a 1995 Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry in the deeply-endangered National Endowment or the Arts. The poet, Anselm Hollo has described her work as “poems which make one (i.e. me) rush off to write something myself” (and that, I think, is the highest compliment any practitioner can pay to another). When I asked a long-time friend and fellow-poet of Eleni’s to describe her work, I was told “She’s in love with it – the poem. She pays attention to the weight of the words”. Please welcome Eleni Sikelianos –

ES: Thank you Max. Hello. I’m very grateful to be here this evening, and with so many people that I’m grateful to in the audience and reading. How are you doing? – Also, very grateful to Matt Corey and Rodent Press for putting this little chapbook out in about two hours – The condensed version [Eleni begins reading] – “Little Pasha,” (Oh, climates found inside God already…”..”illustrious little speck in the cosmos) – “The Wild Beasts,” – (these, by the way, are indebted to Cesar Vallejo‘s last poems, his posthumous poems, and the titles have nothing to do with the poems, or at least they might, but I don’t know yet what that is) – (“Hi, how are you? /I’m totally here in ruins..”..”and the leaves tremble on their already-shaky trees”) _ “The Hungry Man’s Wheel” (“He carries an astonishing heirarchy of tools…”..”..my little chicken-yard angel”) – (You’ve got to watch out for those chicken-yard angels, I don’t know what they look like) – “The Miners,” (“The miners came out of the mine.”..”my prodigious saliva”) (Watch out for prodigious saliva, as well !) – “Ma foi, ma folie” – (“I like the way you touched me last night…”…”for some of the things in this world are beautiful”) – (Thank you. I think I recognized..Peter’s whistle out there) – “Psalm,” (Yay, and so it was..”….from his armpit he doth submit”) – “From my Shoe,” (“From my voice, I will open..”…”corrisive, tumulous” (by the way, “tumulous” is also a grave mound) – “Song of La Piedra Cansada” (“I know in your ear the cartilage is beautiful..”..”all the while whistling to death”) – Sermon de la barbarie” ( “After that I went to work in a sugar factory,”…”you and you and you and you”) – and this is the last in the event-book (and then I’ll move on to something else). This is called “The Emotional Stomach” (which does have something to do with the poem) – (“I see that my mouth has hurt you”..”…It means so much to me”) –

I’ve been obsessed with.. Those were a response to a long work that was very quiet, and a series of fragments, I really wanted a poem that cold happen on the pag. But then, after I did those, I started with another long series of fragments on the same topic. I seem to be obsessed with sex and love (and I got talked out of reading my catlalog of lovers tonight – I know! – but Lee Anne‘s sufficed). This is a poem from a trilogy of sorts called “The Blue Coat.” (it’s less explicit) and I just took some pieces from two of the different sections, one which is titled “The Blue Coat” and one which is “The Lovers Numbers” (“Pull the blue coat/tight around you..”..”and broke my tongue upon the shore”) – “Sexualis Magica” (which is a title taken from a Norma ColeMichael Palmer reading, they found a book called Sexualis Magica in a library at Royaumont (“Lanced the bone but good..”..”I lie down”) – “Finger the mule teeth de-sex the plum”..”..we can do all of these things) – “Si vis me fiere” starts with a Horace quote, which I don’t know what it means, and I translated it as “If you want to see me flower” (“If you want to see me flower vis a vis your hot diminutive hand..”.. “..then whistle”) – Thank you – (“The he river over me…”…”enter seismic”) – (“Seed this cloud with silver…”,,.”..and I will rain”) – (“Abstract my thigh from the state of your mouth”…”between us, skin”) – (“To begin with the eye”…”mid-heaven station. Shit!”) – (“There is a constellation inside his foot…”…”you have been so near my kidneys” – The other one was more explicit! – (“If your mouth didn’t say it right your fingers might’ve..”…”so afraid of anything so”) – (“said smoulder, lie down..”…”it does you”) – “the one-winged horse-eyed bird..”..”…but what was I saying? – lie down”) – And I’m going to end on a very new poem from another series called “The Flower Suites”, which is very influenced by the children I work with – (“ears on this sight I hear what I accomplish each night…”….”and music comes out of it”)

Anne Waldman

Max Regan: Me again? Are you guys holding up out there? Packed in like sardines in the back… When I asked Anne Waldman what to say about her, she said, “Just say “I’m a woman and I have a job”. Yes. But I think I can do a little better than that. Anne Waldman is the author of over thirty books of poetry, including her most recent, Iovis and Kill or Cure. She has an international reputation as a dynamic performer of her work and she serves as the Director of the Jack Kerouac School, where she is in the midst of her twenty-first Summer Writing Program (so I don’t want to hear you guys complaining, because you’re like in week four). Upcoming projects for Anne include the twentieth-anniversary edition of Fast Speaking Woman, and Iovis II (to be published soon by Coffee House Press). Yesterday I asked Anne which story I was allowed to tell. “Oh Max, she said, “tell the levitating story. They haven’t heard that.” So this one is my favorite. It involves a birthday party that was held in Anne’s house about two years ago. It was late in the evening and the general merriment had reached an all-time high. I was in the kitchen, woking my way towards the door, when a pasty-faced terror-stricken MFA student ran in and grabbed me by the arm. “What happened?’, I said. “It’s..um..Anne” “Yes”, I said calmly. “Well, we were in the backyard and Sean said we should try levitating her..” – “What? Spell it out.” – “We dropped her” “What? you dropped her! You can’t drop her. She’s Anne Waldman, What do you mean?, go pick her up”. Thais is why our office boasts the largest bottle of Advil for Anne’s back and my nerves. All levitations aside, she has passed the last past two decades forging her own work and relentlessly stoking the fire underher students. She inspires, she enrages, she wants to “make the world safe for poetry”, (she’s believes poetry can save the world). She’s the only teacher I’ve ever had for whom I would write a hundred sonnets i a night and/or do push-ups in public. She’s the most interesting person in the world to have lunch with. She embodies the divine in the divine madness of poetry. There is no doubt in my mind that the task of writing our chapter in history will rest on those who believe it fundamentally can be written. Anne Waldman is one of those people. Please welcome Anne Waldman

AW: Thank you, thank you all. I want to thank particularly the incredible staff and faculty that have made this at all possible – [Anne reads from Kill or Cure“Simulacrum (Not a Real Life, Cheap Imitation”)] – “Simulacrum (Not a Real Life, Cheap Imitation” (“Coruscated distress/condition or/contradiction makes/strange of/brutal instances hiss and plague her..”….”what demon speaks in me to say/I want us all to die”) – (Angry poem – I was thinking of Robin (Robin Blaser), so this is an angry poem that I was reading).

I’d like to read a little bit from , a little chunk from Iovis, that’s in the beautiful Psalm 151, (magazine) edited by our wonderful, brilliant, energetic Laird Hunt, who’s off in Paris, still waiting to finish his MFA. So I want to commend also all the active students who are making the.. these things continue.This is part of Iovis called “Nerves/Terrorist For Language” – ( “What’s the splint in her night”…”What’s the splint in her mouth every night so she won’t grind the world into being – a Hamlet’s Mill. Do the stars above rule destiny, ar we simply points on a synergistic map?…”…”..turmoil to bother her poet’s head beat but sleep – sleep”) –

And now I’d like to call Steven Taylor out on stage. Two little… just a few lines that Steven has put to music. These are versions of Tibetan Amdo Love Songs called lazhes. So these are versions of these charming little love songs (“I can’t say how much I miss my friend/If I could say it would sound hollow/Half my bed is empty/And my flesh and insides are cold/ The way it seems is something like Hell” – “Friend, inside my hut,/After we’ve been together I say,/”Will you be able to go to the end? /If you can’t see it through , then enjoying each other was a waste of time/and your words and love-making bring wicked suffering.” – Thank you Steven.

And we’ll close with a blues. You’ve all heard of kali yuga poetics but have you heard the “Kali Yuga Blues”? (“You know it’s raining poison, it’s coming down/All you’ve got to do is check it out and look around./But you’ve got your ticket, you’ve paid some dues/So why have you got the kali yuga blues?…”)

Jim Carroll

Thank you, Anne Waldman. Jim Carroll has done something that not many poets do. He’s slipped vertically over some line to another level of popularity or fame, acquired some mythic stature. Many of you have probably seen The Basketball Diaries, know that he first published his early book of poetry at the age twenty-one. Living At The Movies is a premonition of The Basketball Diaries. It’s a lot of fun, actually, working at this school with Anne Waldman, Max Regan, writing poetry, teaching poetry, bringing poets here to perform. There are a lot of questions and requests we get, tho’. Some of them make us very sad (like the people who send us in their manuscripts, wanting comments from Jack Kerouac! – can’t do it! – others had heard that Jim Morrison was sighted at Naropa just last month – can’t satisfy that! And then there are those who want to know when Jim Carroll is coming back. Here he is .

JC: Oh, I need a little more light here. Actually,, I think I saw Jim Morrison myself! – This is called I am not Kurt Schwitters.” – (“I am not Kurt Schwitters. I am not a blue rider/Tracking the German cobblestone Streets in snow in the old Part of town, a port nowhere near”….” without me the oceans sleep like glass, the snows do not avalanche, changing continually the shape of the mountain.”) – Jim Carroll reads next “Eight Fragments for Kurt Cobain” (“Genius is not a generous thing/In return it charges more interest that any amount of royalties can cover..”…”That is always the cost.as Frank said,/Of a young artist’s remorseless passion/ Which starts out as a kiss/And follows like a curse

Well, Steven (Taylor)’s going to come out and we’re going to try to do a couple of songs. If we screw up, cut us some slack, man, because he.. This is an early song, “I Want The Angel” (“I want the angel/Whose dreams are fatal/They cause the snake’s milk to run and curdle..”…”.. “God, I just want the angel that never loses”) – [ to Steven Taylor] – Broken string? – Well, just call a roadie, man –

Well, this is a slow version of a song from (my) first album… [“People Who Died“] – (“Teddy sniffing glue, he was twelve years old/Fell from the roof on East two-nine…”,,”Bye-bye) – Thank you, Steven Taylor, thanks a lot, that was great.

If I was in better form I could read one other piece. But I’ll go with tried and true work, from Forced Entries – “A Day At The Races” (“The French call them papillons d’amour, that is “buttterflies of love”, I call them crabs, the tiny parasites of crotch…”…” My god! What a woman, who can turn an ailment into a viable recreation” ) – Thank you – It was really fun – thanks a lot – my pleasure

Thank you Jim Carroll, Anne Waldman, Eleni Siklianos, Lee Anne Brown, Robin Blaser,  Allen Ginsberg, and Steven Taylor, who’s just joined our year-round faculty for this year, and thank you all for coming for a night of poetry. Now we leave and let the disco people in.


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