Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bacilli and beer

I must apologise for the lack of action on this blog in recent days: I've been forcibly separated from my keyboard by the flu. If I'd had swine flu then perhaps I'd have felt that the dreary old symptoms - the spluttering, the wheezing, the morbid sensitivity to cheerful healthy friends, the equally morbid desire to revisit the dogeared sci fi novels of my youth - had a certain novelty. With swine flu, I might be the member of a vanguard, a group of humans advancing over the frontiers of illness, fearlessly breathing in strange new bacilli, assimilating them, coughing and snorting them out, and somehow helping to steel the rest of the species against its new microscopic adversary. As things stand, I've just been displaying my own vulnerability to the same old foe that forced me spluttering off the soccer pitch when I was twelve. Hasn't my immune system learnt anything, in the intervening decades?

If my voice has returned, and if I've become non-infectious, then I shall be returning to the world of healthy humans tomorrow, by attending the launch of Jen Crawford's new chapbook Napoleon Swings at Fordes Bar from three o'clock onwards. Most writers treat their book launches as opportunities for monologuing: there's the obligatory thankyou speech, which can often morph into an elaborate exercise in autobiography, and then the equally obligatory reading of excerpts from the book. Jen, though, has turned tradition on its head by inviting some of her many friends to read their own work at her launch. It's a characteristically generous gesture from a person who has distinguished herself as a creative writing teacher and a critic of her peers' work. Napoleon Swings is being coaxed through the printers by Michael Steven's Soapbox Press, which seems to be going from strength to strength.

If the bacilli have been vanquished, then I'll be reading tomorrow at Fordes (that's 122 Anzac Avenue, in the city), along with Jack Ross, Sarah Broom, Tony Green, Olivia Macassey, Therese Lloyd, and Lee Posna. After the success of the recent Titus Books event, Fordes is developing into a real redoubt of culture. The beer is remarkably cheap by inner-city standards, too, though I'll probably be mixing my Waikato Draught with Lem Sip.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're infectious.

"People with flu are usually infectious a day before symptoms start and remain infectious for approximately five days after the start of the flu symptoms. Children and people with lowered immune systems may remain infectious for longer. You should therefore try to avoid all unnecessary contact with others during the infectious period."

2:41 pm  
Blogger maps said...

But I've had symptoms for more than five days (they have now mostly abated): wouldn't that mean I'm no longer infectious, according to your schema?

This is a matter of some importance, of course: the other poets lining up Sunday are delicate flowers, and I'd hate to fell them with my gross bacilli...

3:11 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

Maps - you are unlikely to have the flu - unless you had a comparatively high temperature it sounds as if you just had a cold virus (you can feel pretty bad just with a cold - there are so many - they mutate all the time); that your immune system has to adjust sometimes.

Of course colds can sometimes turn into flus - if you are still aching and coughing and so on then stay away but if you are reasonably "coughless" then come.

I decided to go - strangely alhto I am 61 I haven't had cold of flu or anything for some time - I keep warm - this Winter here has been very very cold (I don't believe in Global warming - it is clearly cooling as far as I can see) and take vitamins everyday - that is multi and vitamin B (including the complex of them and B12) also I get plenty of fruit (vit C.) These don't stop the flu but help the body fight it or cold viri.

Also I don't move in a very "wide" social circle and avoid coughing people!

A lot of this Swine flu stuff is hysteria. But it pays to be careful of one's health at all times.

10:34 pm  
Blogger Blaize said...

They aren't bacilli. They're viruses. Sorry. Science teacher parents....

7:55 am  
Blogger maps said...

Oh no Blaize! I'd better chnage the title of this post. I liked the alliteration...

Look forward to seeing you later Richard. The mysterious Mr Geraets is reputed to be making an appearance...

8:50 am  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

Yes Bacilli are rod-shaped bacteria - you will note I have referred above to viri - plural of virus. I once had dreams of being a microbiologist.

If you were to imagine a bacteria to be the size of John Key's head - a virus would be about the size of one of his ears. But the ear, far from being a merely ridiculous or passive listening object, has the power of entering the head of the (theoretical) PM - taking it over and then multiplying!

Re the launch - it is quite evil the way various beings surface or else lie low in the rotting woodlands - in fact I was musing or thinking this very morning of J. Geraets and his mentioning to Jack von Ross of Baudrillard, once, when the latter visited here briefly, and your comment once about J.G. and his "relationship" to Wittgenstein (and of his - or their - strange use of decimalised page numbering - but he didn't know why he used it!) - then I realised that I that hadn't really read that much of Wittgenstein myself - interesting he didn't want his ideas published much while he was alive.

I wonder if Ted Jenner is turning up.

Alan Loney might appear or John Ashbery. Or perhaps Peter Reading - who else? Ian Wedde? Manhire? Colin Munns and / or Bob Orr? T. S . Elliot? Baxter? Curnow or Curnow? Kevin Ireland? Michelle Leggott? Tom Raworth and Ron Silliman? Transtromer?

One waxes...

11:27 am  
Blogger Ross Brighton said...

Man, I wish I was in Auckland. Big fan of Tony and Jack, and what I've read of Olivia Macassey & Therese Lloyd. Not familiar with the others, though I my to Lee Posna's essay in Poetry NZ will be in the Feb 2010 issue of said mag.

4:17 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

Ross - yes Tony is interesting and certainly sparks, although Maps has encountered him in a previous life, shall we say. But he read well with the cylinder with words on he rotates [and that's what makes his work - the performance aspect - he is like a magician of words] and the (I presume "found" words and phrases) are read as he rotates it I don't know if he has a system or rhythm.

I have read with Tony when a few of us used to read at a small bar off High Street here a few years back... there was mix of University people and "experimental" (or whatever) with more 'conventional' poets - that is conventional in terms of the structures of there poems etc

Jack Ross read last to much acclaim: he read an amusing thing about - well Maps will enlighten you no doubt.

He did a poem (it sounded pretty good actually) based on his stunned and tragic reaction to the death of J G Ballard - Jack of course has a massive knowledge of such things and would be able to converse with you for hours about postmodernism, pop culture, HIgh Art versus Low, Deleuze, Barry Crump, Powys, Mervyn Peake, Reading, and J G Ballard and so as well as Ovid, Borges, Derrida, Swift, Masefield, The 1001 Nights, Barthes, and other mutated Beings...etc etc etc etc

Jack is formidable.

There was young American who read some good poems and some others - all were good - Maps will no doubt wax at length on the launch.

Maps has been digging deeply into the deep depths of Smithyman's manuscripts and unpublished works and finding some very wicked and strange stuff - he read one poem that had previously never been read or published before.

He is finding poems whose publication could well cause deep divisions, word wars (if not world wars!), and ruptures and riots to happen in the poetry world...

Jen Crawford writes some deeply disturbing and complex stuff that is equally mysterious...

It is nearly as incomprehensible as my own writing - which I often read to myself in amazement and wonder why I actually bothered to write such nonsense: but there you are, I did...but I'm not surprised
that almost no one bought any of my books...poetry of course is never going to be a big seller as it was in the days of Tennyson etc

7:52 pm  
Blogger jen said...

hey, that's a surprise! cheers Scott, for the kind words and a really interesting reading. A very memorable afternoon. Richard, you've raised the bar for incomprehensibility - I can only aspire.

10:58 am  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

Jen - but you actually understand your own writing - I have no idea what I'm writing about!

Actually I was looking at your first book mostly; and the pennies started to drop -I hadn't been able to read it - I had put it aside - for some reason I wasn't engaging with it - not not understanding as such - but found it hard to even read - but that was me - then I kept putting it back last night on the shelf - getting it out again - reading some Randell Jarrell (I hadn't noticed your quote from him before but I had got interested in him a month or so ago and I now have his complete works here) - putting them back - Googling a word or reference, muttering under my breath - getting the books out again - and I finally read some of my own madness (I was going to renounce poetry forever up to then... especially after [never mind]...) and I found a way in to reading your work ...not that YOUR work is madness ...

I suppose your on your way overseas or whatever but thought I would comment - I'm not against "difficulty" of course...

...but it occurred to me that people reading my work might be similarly in such an existential despair...unless they knew I didn't know what or why I was doing what I was doing, which is basically true...poetry happens to me.

But I think your work is extraordinary and unique - it's great that Titus has published you and Olivia Macassey and Will Christie and that Michael Steven is putting out these very nicely done books.

4:25 pm  
Blogger Ross Brighton said...

Jen- Michael is sending me down a copy if the chap - I'll try and get a review placed somewhere.

Richard- I'd be really keen to read some of your work. It sounds like you have a somewhat similar ethos to me. Generally I work from intuition to instinct, only later figuring out what the piece is about, or does (so to say). I tend to have breakthroughs when talking about my work, or reading/writing about the work of others - like with those serial fragmentary emails i sent you, scott.

(word verification - femapp - maybe Skyler has a blog-coup in the works?)

11:12 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

Ross

I was going through a kind of "psychic convulse" - yes my poetry is from the "subconsious" - written I found later much as Ashbery writes...

"I look up the answer to my poems after I've written them" ('Cockroach Poem') - that is Cockrach talking to the editor (mythical of course) of the New Yorker...

BTW - Micehele Leggott is reading at the Thirsty Dog tonight - it is on K Road near the motorway overpasss. The place - for Poetry Live starts going at 8 pm Also Open Mike

I have her her read before and she was my lecturer (or one of) in 1992 etc in fact her discussion of Susan Howe and thus Stein were what inspired my poem The Red..and so on...she is a great poet. The book I particularly know and like is DIA. I spent hours reading and re-reading that book (as Maps and his co-conspirators H Dewe (who did study HD!) and Michael Arnold will confirm...) I did something on it - a bit episodic and ragged in his viciously evil (in his pre-political jag stage) but innovative if emphemeral and mysterious journal SALT which came out in anarchic bursts with no dates or ISNN's or anything...however it has become legendary.

Anyway her reading will be a chance to see and hear one of NZ's finest poets - I am not going ! Lol - I am pretty exhausted after a really tough chess game last night! Ad we continue analysing and talking chess (a fascinating but totally useless game rightly banned by the Tali-banners) until 2 am in the evil heart of Auckland...but I drank too much coffee and couldn't sleep for ages...

But she is good - there will be hundreds there (or a lot of people) - I'm not an offcial of Poetry Live or anything and lately only go occasionally - but for Aucklanders it sounds i.e. that it will be good if you are interested in... poetry...

Ross - you probably wont be jumping on a plane to get there!

7:20 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

But I divigate as always... thanks for your interest in my poetry ...I'm not concerned they wont read my poetry but that they will!! (And why they might..) or I WAS concerned yesterday until Muzzlehatch whipped me into line by pointing out that - well "how do you know she doesn't write in similar way to Ashbery/you."

And there is some (stylistic) connection to Ashbery and the Lang poets but also to some of those poets associated withe Grossteste Press etc (such as Roy Fisher - who I was looking at again as I met Jen by chance and she mentioned she was reading a book of his... I did know of him but it had been some time...I wonder if Iain Sinclair is relevant here) -

..but I realised what the problem was - I needed to just READ the poems - just read them -yes work on them so to speak - but read them as if I was reading (hearing) a kind of complex and interesting music...now thing of the way I first reacted to reading John Ashbery when I got back on into writing about 1989 - I had a similar kind of reaction -strange I'm talking of this now as my own work has parallels with that of Jen's - but once I had got passed what Mark Scroggins (talking of Zukofsky) calls the "ontological difficulty" of reading - I suddenly found all her poems started to blaze again for me - and now I cant read them enough - they are bloody incredible!!

How someone so young can write so well I just don know ...I know she has qualifications and has read widely - almost as much as Dr R. - but all the same...

And for months I couldn't read her book(s)
-if you can - get a copy of her previous book "Bad Appendix"

And it's NOT because she is editor of BRIEF!! And it's NOT that there aren't other great writers - they all have different styles. And it's good there are so many different and approaches to writing. I mean e.g. I love Bob Orr's work - I know him quite well BTW ... well, we used to drink together etc

(If we were in South America there would not be seen any problem of political people talking about or reading poetry - here the politicoes are frequently just old tired cynical boozers, drinking their ways toward revolution revelation and enlightenment, who spend their time sniping at other politicoes of various ilks and silks... (but in Venezuela or somewhere they wanted everyone to read Don Quixote and so on)....

re J Crawford's earlier book - key poems include "Hippocampus" and "the longboats"...

7:21 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

That should be Michelle Leggott - reading tonight at the Thirsty Dog - K Road (near the motorway over bridge) Auckland from 8 pm on probably her reading will start about 9.00 to 9.30pm.

(At Poetry Live - open mike)

7:25 pm  
Anonymous buy Cialis said...

I agree with that because the best way to getting away the flu is going to the bar and drinking some beers or tequila because I've had excellent results with that.

6:52 am  

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