This reading was a lot of fun - even if it did kind of start out like a George Jones concert, with the headliner missing in action. Rob Baumann did more than warm up the crowd, he pretty much melted them and sublimated them into a gas. Which it was. He read his brand-new chapbook Robert J. Baumann's A Man About Town, bound with a lovely wood-grain finish. The chapbook contains letter-like texts that are informed by the discursive conventionalities of text messaging and bad sitcoms. They are nasty. And very funny. And he signs every one of the "letters," so it's worth more than $5, but don't tell him that.
Hard act to follow - M. Timmons began by reading from his chapbook Lip Service, which was OK, but pretty rational and socially acceptable after the Baumann episode. But the bit he read (and showed) from his 800-page book Credit was very intriguing indeed. Seems like it's constructed of replicating memes from credit-card solicitations and other usurious come-on's. I don't know that I want to buy the book, since even the author can't afford a full-color copy of it. But I'd definitely buy between 37 and 100 pages of it. Or try to get my local library to buy it.
He (Timmons) closed by doing a blue-streak reading of an excerpt from his forthcoming poetics statement/manifest - which he turned into conceptual poetry by timing the excerpt, and turning what sounded like a fairly reasoned and comprehensive argument into a blur of verbiage. Like a Mexican d.j. reading Eric Auerbach. Which was just the thing to do.
Now what? Well, Mary Oliver is coming in March. I don't hate Mary Oliver the way that some people do (in fact, "Mary Oliver" has become a sort of floating-signifier target, the way that "Robert Pinsky" or "T.S. Eliot" did). But I've read and heard about as much of her as I want to, in one lifetime. She is very good at what she does - whence I have moved on.
So, it may be that the next reading of weird texts will be part of the next Big Tent series in January. But if you know of events in the Heart-o'-darkness-land involving post-avant/experimental/strange writing, please do let me know.
A couple items to archive here - I've listened to neither of these, so am saving for later-- Pam Brown talks about collaborating with me and Maged Zaher (the latter became a Tinfish Press ...
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