Sunday, November 20, 2005


Heard Brandon Brown and Brent Cunningham last night. Brandon's "translation" of THE PERSIANS by Aeschylus fascinated me as it made me re-think my idea of people who study classics. Maybe that sounds naive, but where I came from they never seemed so hip to anything after the birth of Christ. And to hear a playful piece that directly addressed the Iraq war, but still held on to pieces of its Hellenic artifice was, well, satisfying. It wasn't didactic, the language was pleasurable syntactically and sonically, and it gave me something to think about.

Brent's new book is beautiful. Ugly Duckling continues to make aesthetically pleasing reading materials. I thought, though, that Brent undermined his own reading. The majority of his work imitates the forms of philosophical or political documents, i.e. oratories etc. The work infuses these form with absurdities as a way of revealing the absurdity of the form itself. At least that's my take on it. My problem with the work, which is often hysterical and very entertaining, is I'm not sure what to make of it after that. Brent spoke a lot about pieces instead of reading them and this often took on a self-mocking stance, and that only seemed to make me question the point of the writing even more. I mean, it's very smart, well-written work, but it made me think, what more do I expect from writing? Is that enough?


poet CAConrad said...

Magdalena, so glad you've written about this reading. These are 2 poets I'd very much like to hear read, but I have to say I'm glad that I've read and liked Cunningham's book before hearing him read from it. Too much discussion of the work bugs me.

Also, I am no fan of poets mocking their poems. I have some friends who do that, and it really loses the audience, because we want some strength, some support that the poet BELIEVES in what he/she is writing and reading to us. Actually, I've seen certain poets mock themselves and it's fine, I guess it's different, and how they mean it, and how it's perceived.

But there's nothing worse than discovering a book through a reading that was bad in one way or another. And by the way, Brent should be nothing but proud of that book, it's fantastic!

And I agree that Ugly Duckling puts out some gorgeous books! Was recently looking at a bunch of their titles at Blue Stockings Bookstore in NY. They had a special table display of just Ugly Duckling titles. Brent's among them of course.


Anonymous said...

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