Category Archives: Reviews

LINEAGE: Women of Naropa 10th Anniversary Reading, April 11, 2014

By Jaclyn Hawkins

“Close your eyes. Breathe deeply . . . feel her breathe lightly next to you . . . find the porch swing.” These incantatory meditations opened the evening, blooming into Women of Naropa, an annual event that reached its ten year anniversary on Friday, April 11th—coinciding with the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics’ fortieth year anniversary. Lark Fox, organizer of this event and JKS alumna, spoke briefly to this “labor of love,” recognizing those integral to this celebration, to these women of Naropa.

This year’s theme was lineage, a toast to where we have been, where we might go, and to connection and creation. Audience members and readers alike were asked to consider “who/what is your writing lineage . . . and how does it interact with your process / act as your muse / become you / repel you / seduce you / time travel / weave you / poke holes into your page?” I ask you, dear reader, to consider this as well. To trace your writerly lineage, discover your poetic genealogy, expose the haunts lingering between your words.

An unforeseen theme: water. Remnants of the Boulder Flood have not yet receded from the collective psyche, as several readers spoke to the element that tracks geological lineage, oceans rising up to meet us, rising waters, creeks choosing where to flow. Hurricane Sandy made her (re)debut, haunting coasts of the dead in dancing waves of detritus.  We found raindrops of language, female hearts in bodies cut open, the discontinuous rupture of story, heard the voice of our mothers—womanhood is manual labor, and were challenged to read like our ancestors are on FIRE.

We read the words of our predecessors—Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Lyn Hejinian, Bhanu Kapil, Joanne Kyger, Rachel Levitsky, Harryette Mullen, Michelle Naka Pierce, Maureen Owen, Andrea Rexilius, Akilah Oliver, and Anne Waldman—in a spontaneous group poem. Echoes of lineage within the walls of Wulsin Hall.

A congratulations is in order, a toast to the tenth anniversary of Women of Naropa. Thank you to all who make this event possible, and to those, past and present, who lend their voices to poetry.

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Jaclyn Hawkins is an MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University. On the verge of entering her thesis semester, she is seeking to archive decay through documentary poetry and map the genre of Ecopoetics.

It’s Time to Wake Up: Sympsoium on Queer Poetics Reading

By Jennifer van Alstyne

The duo, not_I, was first on stage. Sophia La Fraga started to wrap the rope around Ana Božicevic as she read, crisscrossing it over her body.  “Art sleeps too, bitches. It’s time to wake up.” While there were a couple of technical difficulties with the projector, overall, their reading was a unique blend of audio, visual, and performance.

Teresa Carmody read from a new short story about two girls taking a class on writing short stories. “Becoming a writer seemed as possible as becoming a magician,” she said, the story weaving through the girls personal histories saying, “Change comes slowly, or quickly,” and, “Women are always wanting so much.”

Trace Peterson read from “Trans Figures” saying, “The voice wants to turn itself into a body,” followed by a essay dedication to kari Edwards. “I am the poem,” she said. “This poem isn’t bad for a nightlife.”

Lucas de Lima read from his book, Wetland, about the death of his close friend, Ana Maria. The elegy began, “I inscribe myself into a blood-stained ecology” and ends on, “we are naked.”

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Jennifer van Alstyne is an MFA candidate and fellow at the Jack Kerouac School. She is the poetry editor of Bombay Gin. Her work has appeared in the Eunoia Review, MLM, Poetry Quarterly, The Monmouth Review, The Foundling Review, and Paper Nautilus. She is currently working on a collection about Hurricane Sandy and Asbury Park, NJ.

Queer Poetics Talk with Ana Božicevic and Lucas de Lima

By Jennifer van Alstyne

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I’m not sure if the Writing Chat on Innovative Poetics with Ana Božicevic and Lucas de Lima went exactly as planned, but perhaps that was for the best. While the questions ranged from “would you describe your poetry as avant-garde or experimental?” to getting down to the grittiness of the publishing world within this community, perhaps the most interesting section was a disagreement between the two poets, Trace Peterson and Ana Božicevic. The question was on methods of creating change–combative, or pacifistic, or somewhere in between–especially within the queer poetics community. Ana Božicevic believed that she was passive, that change was about compromise, but Trace felt differently, and, considering his work in New York on queer poetics, a disagreement was understandable. But it got us thinking about things we do, communities we are a part of, the heart of our own politics and how that might or might not play out in our writing. Having the three poets in a frank conversation about their own lyrical (not in the pastoral sense) poetry, their communities and relationships within those communities, had the lovely effect of allowing, especially the graduate students, to rethink the meaning of ‘experiemental.’

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Jennifer van Alstyne is an MFA candidate and fellow at the Jack Kerouac School. She is the poetry editor of Bombay Gin. Her work has appeared in the Eunoia Review, MLM, Poetry Quarterly, The Monmouth Review, The Foundling Review, and Paper Nautilus. She is currently working on a collection about Hurricane Sandy and Asbury Park, NJ.

Queer Poetics Talk with Teresa Carmody and Trace Peterson

by Ella Longpre

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

As part of our Queer Poetics Symposium, Trace Peterson and Teresa Carmody sat down with JKS students and faculty in a roundtable chat. Peterson edits EOAGH, and collaborated with TC Tolbert on editing the first ever trans* and genderqueer anthology, Troubling the Line. Carmody is co-founder and editor of Les Figues Press, which published the anthology I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (required reading for anyone writing in the 21st century). Carmody and Peterson discussed writing, as well as their collaborations, anthologies, publishing ventures, and marketing and business strategies, responding to questions from the audience.

For instance, one JKS student asked Carmody and Peterson whether they would consider their work to be community building. Both responded yes. For Peterson, making a community visible is a way to build or foster community. Carmody spoke about innovative writing intersecting with other artists and artistic movements and media. Carmody also unveiled the only five-year business plan she ever developed for Les Figues Press: Beauty, Belief, Bawdry. (Can we imagine building a bawdry community?)

Another question posed by the audience: How, as a publisher and editor, do you reach outside your circle of friends for resources, for content submissions, for marketing?

Carmody responded with the origins of Les Figues — she and Vanessa Place wanted to start a conversation amongst writers who didn’t know how to share their work (or resisted sharing it). “Your friend-circle can grow,” Carmody explained, pointing to Les Figue’s not otherwise specified contest— literature is a way of knowing.

Peterson responded with her experience working on Troubling the Line: “Be as loud as you can about it.”

The two went on to discuss the challenges of developing certain projects. For instance, Carmody reflected on the occasional difficulties of soliciting conceptual writing, because “who considers their work to be conceptual?”

The two writers also posed each other questions. But the final question came from another JKS student, who wondered how each writer approached marketing herself as an artist. Trace Peterson responded that it might be best to hire an agent or campaign manager, because sometimes you just need someone to say “sexy nothings” for you.

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Ella Longpre is an MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School. She is a writer and musician. Her work appears in the ether. You can find her at ellalongpre.tumblr.com

_____gress: JKS Queer Poetics Symposium Opening Panel

 

by Ella Longpre

The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics’ Queer Poetics Symposium began Tuesday, March 18th with a panel featuring symposium guests Ana Božičević, Trace Peterson, Lucas de Lima, and Teresa Carmody.

JKS faculty Bhanu Kapil introduced and moderated the panel, expressing gratitude to our guests who explore a “new way of writing – a way of being in the world.” Kapil presented each guest with a gift (sparkly tights, Christian Dior vintage belt, hematite heart, bag made by Kapil’s mum), and invited JKS student, Jason Burks, to speak. Burks invited the audience of writers: “Give, give, give of yourself. Transgress, regress, whatever –gress.”

Here we should pause to note that the inflatable unicorn head was once again present.

Unsurprisingly, the panel reached no consensus on the definition of queer poetics. But, as Teresa Carmody noted, if nothing else, queer is the “word that brought us together.” The panelists’ varied approaches reaffirmed that queer may be an undefinable term (and, by extension, so then is queer poetics)–but participation in its politics, its issues of representation, its communities, signals an investment in the term’s legacy. Or, uttering the word queer guarantees that the speaker has at least an approximate definition in mind. In fact the etymology of the term may refer to someone other or outside or perverse, but the very act of regulating what authentic experience we can point to when we say queer only repositions the margins that the term cuts into [our] community.

Rather than attempting the impossible question, “What does queer mean?” it might be more productive to ask, “What does queer mean to you?” And this is exactly the question our first panelist, Ana Božičević, posed—to her Facebook friends. Božičević shared the crowd sourcing results (one response: “1990”), before moving on to another question: “Is my work queer if I am?” Božičević also briefly discussed Judith Halberstam’s notion of queer failure, a tension between “abject pride and prideful abjection.” Božičević then noted a failure in the tendency of literary criticism to so often respond to queer poets and their work “with disregard to their poetics.” (Does this contribute to the elusive nature of our symposium topic?)

Following Božičević, Trace Peterson spoke on the “volatile and changing category” of queer, calling on its historically divisive function in the dichotomy, “I say aporia, you say identity.” Peterson introduced other counter-intuitive dichotomies, such as trauma vs. consumer choice, excluded vs. enfranchised. Peterson pondered whether one’s personal narrative is inherently central to one’s poetics—summoning Kari Edwards with the statement, “identity is not my stopping point.” Still, as Božičević mentioned earlier, identity can eclipse poetics in critique: Peterson shared the story of a former “fan” who expressed that he could no longer admire Peterson’s work, now that she does all this “queer stuff.” (Am I eclipsing poetics with identity by sharing this anecdote?) Still, Peterson explained that the marker of queer, in the hands of the poet, “can make visible communities that experience aporia, trauma, exclusion. And have fun with it.”

Lucas de Lima then shifted the panel’s trajectory with the introduction of the feral, in his presentation on a “queer poetics of vengeance.” De Lima explained that feral means to “forget organic bandedness,” or that “the feral impulse is about abjection but perhaps more than that.” It is “earnestly tasteless” and “undoes any private sense of self” that is the “condition for shame.” De Lima named The Marys, an early AIDS-era coalition, forbears in his “queer ancestry” who passed down the drive “to create visceral theater out of death.” Though de Lima suggested that such theater can leave a “bad taste of vengeance” lingering on the tongue of the poet, he also asked whether this bad taste, this ingestion, might be necessary: “What if our only future lies in turning the voice of the corpse into the beat of our pulse?”

Our final panelist, Teresa Carmody, spoke on community. Carmody introduced the term Loser Art to the audience, meaning books that won’t sell. Carmody distinguished between Loser Art and its antonym, bad writing, which she defines as “compulsively conventional.” Carmody read from a work of fiction in progress which expands the notion of books that won’t sell. Two indicators of this genre: (1) does it look like, or is it, poetry, and (2) is it written by someone who has no cultural capital. Carmody, a fiction writer who is best known, currently, for her work as editor and publisher of innovative work, explained that “publishing is the ability to say, ‘this is art and poetry—and here is the non-heteronormative reason…’” And perhaps the enterprise of the queer or innovative artist is to simply “insist something else matters. Make something else.”

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Ella Longpre is an MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School. She is a writer and musician. Her work appears in the ether. You can find her at ellalongpre.tumblr.com

Recuperation: Bombay Gin 40th Anniversary Release Party, March 6, 2014

By Jaclyn Hawkins

The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics is in the midst of a celebration—we have arrived at our 40th year anniversary as an institution for writers, a home comprised of words, a school situated in the flood plains of Boulder that seeks “Recuperation” after September’s gushing rains and have found such within this year’s Bombay Gin.

The release party for the 40th issue of our school’s student-led literary journal was one of thankfulness, recuperation, and remembrance of Naropa’s beloved Anselm Hollo, who passed in January 2013. Angel Dominguez, senior editor of Bombay Gin, opened the evening with a “bundling of photons, the forming of rhizome, the becoming of a community above the chaos,” and a recalling of Anselm’s words in the playing of “Three Letters to the New Century,” a lecture given at Naropa in April of 2001. Few eyes remained dry throughout the room.

Aurora Smith found recuperation in the winding roads of a former lover, a bottle of Malbec on Christmas, and taking the guardrails with us in the search for reconciliation. Heather VandeRiet found recuperation in the reading of her father’s poem, written forty years ago, in which we traveled inner space, burning our hands, and hung up between past and future and the unsureness of where we left our memory. Jennifer Van Alstyne read from her working collection on Hurricane Sandy, seeking recuperation in the blackouts of a city, traveling “Up the Coast,” the hauntingly beautiful coast of the dead, and also, sharks. Brandon Petty found recuperation in his typewriter, the late nights that lend towards poetry of Kentucky homelands and the trajectory to Colorado.

Eric Fischman lent us laughter in the telling of his translation course with Anselm; “I was trying to come up with a word other than slave or servant, but someone you get to do things for you. Anselm exclaims, ‘a pawn! A pawn! It’s a pawn!’” He shares with us a learned secret: “drink your food and eat your water,” and found recuperation in the eating of a pomegranate seed. Jenifer Dorsey offered recuperation in her twelve glimpses throughout the country, uncovering the restlessness in searching for home, finding the land of memories in the rear view mirror. Hannah Kezema taught us waiting, and found recuperation in just wanting to love everyone, in glassy forms of night, and asking, “are we changed?” Janelle Fine didn’t see the self in dresses, found recuperation in dressing up not in a dress, and let things look back in a way that made us want to do the same. Mark DuCharme ended our evening with remembrance of Anselm, asking if the dead need poetry, reminding us that this planet is not a shadow, constructing a story of our futures and leaving out our deaths.

Congratulations to those students and staff whose hard work provided us a collection of recuperative texts and a lovely 40th anniversary issue of Bombay Gin.

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Jaclyn Hawkins is an MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University. On the verge of entering her thesis semester, she is seeking to archive decay through documentary poetry and map the genre of Ecopoetics.

Hundreds of Glass Shards: Marginalia: Jack Kerouac School Community Reading, Friday. February 28, Seattle, WA

By Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey

Holding an excerpt from my current manuscript, I walked into the James Harris Gallery shaking. In agreeing to write this review of Marginalia: Jack Kerouac School Community Reading, an offsite event during the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in Seattle, I did not take into account that by also participating in it, I would be nervous.

Thus, this review is more like a collection of fragments. However, perhaps it is fitting. Immediately entering the gallery, one discovers a solo exhibition by Gary Hill titled “ALOIDIA PIORM.” Interested in language and its relationship to the body, Hill presents hundreds of glass shards that correspond to a name. What is the relationship between text and image? How can we make language visceral, and felt, in the body?

I feel like all of the participating writers–faculty, staff, and current MFA students at Naropa University*–explore these questions in different ways. From Jenifer Dorsey’s exploration of home, a childhood marked by movement (20 houses, 11 cities, 7 states) to Chris Pusateri’s The Liberties, a somatic experiment in which he went to all of the 277 of the tube in London to write under the CCTV surveillance. What does it mean to move in specific surroundings? “No more groundedness,” says Ariella Ruth. “No one wants a metaphor. They want a straight sentence without edges,” says Michelle Naka Pierce.

And yet, the body, the writers’ words, are like Hill’s shattered glass exhibited on the table: sharp, peripheral, and, as Ariella Ruth says later in her work: “all water, all color. cleansing.” It is echoed in Andrea Rexilius’ reading from Half of What They Carried Flew Away. What is the relationship between body and territory?

Anne Waldman’s work took the question further: what does it mean to witness? What is a body surrounded by “non-human architecture?” How do we express what we’ve witnessed? Waldman states, “we struggle for syntax.”

* Participants in the Marginalia reading are as follows:

Anne Waldman

Michelle Naka Pierce

Andrea Rexilius

J’Lyn Chapman

Chris Pusateri

Eric Baus

Ariella Ruth

Kyle Pivarnik

Jenifer Dorsey

Janelle Fine

Joseph Navarro

Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey

Sarah Richards Graba

Aurora Smith

Ashley Waterman

jhg_glassshards

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A jungle crow born in the Philippines, Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey has lived and traveled throughout US, the UK, and Europe. She is a MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University currently working on her thesis, which explores architecture, language, and the immigrant body. Also, she is the founder and co-editor of Unpublished Narratives, a social justice themed investigative poetics journal, and blogs at Space Inside Borderline.