St Mark’s on 10th St. NYC has The Poetry Project which has been running over 40 years. It has public readings at least twice a week, and a few workshops series that run thru the year. The next session is run by Douglas Rothchild and a couple others.
It’s a pretty healthy organization from the looks of things, with the night we went having somewhere over 70 people in attendance to hear C.S. Giscombe and Leslie Scalapino read from their works in progress, Prairie Style in the case of Giscombe.
For over 20 years Giscombe has been exploring social, geographic and identity boundaries of place and race and ending, in poetry. He has done a fair bit of exploring of different geographies physically as well. Physically he’s been in north-eastern North America, and is next switching to a position at the University of California at Berkeley. A recent book entitled Into and Out of Dislocation is something of a travel memoir of exploring BC, Canada for traces and stories of a pioneer who shared his family name.
Giscombe’s writing is accessible. He has some spectacular lines as he meditates on the nature of landscapes that form us as we form them through skylines and the cycles that comes out of it. From jottings of lines from his reading that struck me…
[realize] this far inland
it’s only erotic from a distance
juxtaposition is a kind of melodrama
some are descendants of their own property
for others history
is one surprise after another
Samples of his current manuscript in progress cycle through ideas of landscape and love, what we create and how we are created. His current work is an exploration of the regional consciousness of the midwest.
It would make an interesting dialogue to pair what he is discovering with what Tom Montag is finding as he also studies the literature of midwest regional culture in his Vagabond in the Middle Project. Montag seems to be going from the specific instances of local characters saying particular things in order to generalize to the defining overall regional culture and Giscombe seems to be coming from the holistic to get to the particular word.
In Giscombe’s chapbook Inland there’s a piece entitled Prairie Style (2) that illustrates more of his longer flow of how one idea merges into the next in a melodic way. It reads in part,
Male, female. Black men say trim. An outline’s sameness is, finally, a reference. Towns, at a distance, are content and reference both — how they appear at first, a dim cluster, and then from five or six miles off; how they look when you’re only three miles away. In between sightings is the prairie itself to get across: trek, trace, the trick of landscape. Love suffers its wishfulness — it’s an allegorical value and the speaker mimes allegory with descriptions of yearning, like the prairie’s a joke on us (among us),
Cross posted at Humanyms with there having a photo.