Friday, July 30, 2010

An Interview

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review of Dear Ra

[Just ran across this mini-review of my novel Dear Ra at the Black Ocean Blog:]

Dear Ra
Johannes Goransson
Starcherone, 2008

The flinches of Dear Ra consist of confessions, cautions, and insincere apologies. "If the ship is sinking don't make love to the rats." Like Burroughs without the slamming boys, it's a constantly-changing party line. It's "a Haiku about Bang-Bang-Ugh." Too many poems these days are really surrealist novels in hiding; it's nice to see one that comes into the clear. [John Cotter]

Monday, July 26, 2010

SPD Books Sale

Mike Kelley

[Received this interesting announcement in my email:]



Major new public art commission launches in Detroit on September 25, 2010

An Artangel Commission
with LUMA Foundation and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)

Where you grew up - that’s your inner world. Mike Kelley

Mobile Homestead is the first instalment of a major new work by Mike Kelley - both a public sculpture and a private, personal architecture - based on the artist’s childhood home on Palmer Road in Westland, a neighbourhood which primarily housed workers for the Big Three auto makers: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.

On Saturday 25 September 2010, Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead makes its maiden voyage from its new home in Midtown Detroit (on the grounds of MOCAD) to return to the "mother ship", the original Kelley home in the suburbs.

On its way down Michigan Avenue, one of Detroit’s main arteries and passageway to the western suburbs, the mobile home passes through some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods such as the old Irish area of Cork Town; Dearborn, the home of the Ford motor company, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (Ford’s personal collection of homes and structures associated with great Americans such as Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers and Rosa Parks); Inkster; Wayne (where Kelley attended Catholic school); and finally Westland where the former Kelley family home still stands.

In a largely disinvested city with many abandoned houses and dilapidated buildings, Mobile Homestead enacts a reversal of the ‘white flight’ that took place in Detroit following the inner city race riots of the 1960s. It does so at a time when the city is exploring new options of renewal by assessing its singular post industrial conditions in an attempt to articulate a new model for American cities.

The sculpture, which almost exactly replicates the vernacular architecture of working class neighbourhoods in the American Midwest, brings the suburbs back into the city, and as it travels - on specific missions - the mobile home performs various kinds of community services, establishing a permanent dialogue with the community that houses it.

Over the past few months, Mike Kelley has been shooting material for a video documentary that focuses on the people and communities who live and work along Michigan Avenue. A ‘trailer’ for the film will be shown at MOCAD as part of the opening events on 25 September 2010.

The project will be fully completed in 2011, when the mobile home will be attached to an altered reconstruction of the Kelley home, to function as a community space.

Mobile Homestead is artist Mike Kelley’s first public art project anywhere and the first major permanent installation of his work in his hometown. This project is also the first commission by Artangel in the United States and has been produced with support from the LUMA Foundation and in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. The work is also the first contemporary artwork especially commissioned for the Midtown Neighborhood of Detroit.

Mike Kelley: "Mobile Homestead covertly makes a distinction between public art and private art, between the notions that art functions for the social good, and that art addresses personal desires and concerns. Mobile Homestead does both: it is simultaneously geared toward community service and anti-social private sub-cultural activities. It has a public side and a secret side..."

James Lingwood, Co-Director of Artangel: "Mobile Homestead exemplifies the long-term projects Artangel on occasion commits to making happen. It’s an ambitious project that needs a specific place, in this case the city of Detroit. As the project evolves, it’s our hope that the place will need the project too."

Luis Croquer, Director and Chief Curator, MOCAD: "We are thrilled to be collaborating with Mike Kelley, one of Detroit’s greatest artists and Artangel, on this ground breaking project for the city of Detroit. Mobile Homestead is a complex multi-layered work that questions notions of history, site, architecture and most of all expanded notions of sculpture."

For further information, interviews and images please contact Janette Scott on or Sarah Davies on or call +44 (0)20 7713 1400.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lee Edelman Dream

Last night I had another nerdy dream; this one about Lee Edelman and teaching.

I was late to my poetry class because I suddenly had to give birth to a child. When I explained this to my class, they all groaned and someone said, "We won't be forced to read Lee Edelman's "No Future" again in this class." I couldn't remember what the reading list was for the class, but I said, "What's wrong with that book? I think that book is very intersting." The classmembers didn't agree.

After class I was walking across the mall with one of the students and she complained about the lack of community at this school (which was a kind of amalgamation of Notre Dame and IUSB). She suggested that her project "The Arc" would help bring the students together. We came upon it. It was an old wrecked ship without masts that had been parked in the middle of the school lawn.

I asked her what it was and she said: "Down in the hull, I keep Wittenberg."
"Who is Wittenburg?" I asked.
"He's a famous theoretician, but he was killed in the earthquake in Haiti."

So I walk down into the ship and once inside it's huge - I walk through all of these wooden corridors without windows (actually now that I think about it, evocative of "The Dinosaur Pirates," a book Sinead likes, where the kids open a door at the museum and end up in this ship full of pirate dinosaurs etc).

It seems endless. I walk and walk and I can't find Wittenberg. But I soon realize that the corridors are teeming with cops who are trying to keep the corridors clean. And then I realize that I am a ghost, floating effortlessly through the corridors.

The Entrance Pageant

I forgot to add the forthcoming (Tarpaulin Sky Press, in early 2011 I believe) book The Entrance Pageant to the list of my books (in the post below).

You can find some excerpts in the last issue of jubilat. Also in recent issues of Columbia Poetry Journal, Saltgrass and Tammy.

Here's my note on the title of the book:

The title is meant to create an equivalence between the word “pageant” and the word “wound,” because not only is this a text about the wound, the performance is also shaped like an entrance wound (there is no exit). I used to call the piece Wound Piece or Entrance to a pageant in which we begin to intricate. As the word “intricate” indicates, it is a performance about going in, not going out. And when you enter a pageant like this one, language itself begins to intricate. Try pronouncing the word “intricate” as a verb, preferably in the dark, with taste of sugar on your lips.

Here's the note on the production:

The main scene should be full of ornaments and crime. The words attributed to the characters do not necessarily have to be spoken; they can be acted out, or played on an archaic tape-player.

The second stage is an abandoned factory in downtown South Bend, IN, where during the entire performance my daughter Sinead dances while changing in and out of various costumes: the Hare Mask, the Cartoon Face, the Red Robe of History, the Reversible Body. She is only once actually seen by the audience, on a video screen streaming live from her dance. Mostly she is hidden because she represents that which is hidden.

The third stage is a mall, where the Natives stand still, watching, interviewing and photographing the Customers. Sometimes I feel a certain tenderness towards the Natives. Other times I want to stab them in their plug-ugly faces.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ezra Pound Dream

[I had this weird dream last night. It seems I am officially a nerd since I dream about Ezra Pound. It's also clearly influenced by Daniel Tiffany's book on Pound, Radio Corpse. But I the whole My Little Pony element of this dream is incomprehensible to me. Anyway, when I woke up I wrote this down:]

Last night I dreamt I had to explain Ezra Pound to my dad.
“Who’s this Ezra Pound,” asked my dad, feigning interest in my studies.
I felt I should explain Pound but I also did not want to because I could tell my dad was not really that interested.
So I told him: “Ezra Pound was a poet. He started out as a dandy and then he became a fascist and then he stopped writing and began working for Mussolini and then he sat in a cage.”
Miraculously we seemed to be walking through a kind of technicolor virtual reality interpretation of The Cantos. The colors were like candy and the shapes were rounded like in cartoons for girls. It was beautiful and nauseating! There were pink horses running through meadows. We were walking along the creek that ran through the woods by the house where we would spend our summers when I was a child.
I gave some brief interpretation of the events unfolding, giving some context for The Cantos. For example, I explained, "this is usury" and pointed to a glowing, Arthurian depiction of usury.
Then I noticed a dead princess in the creek. She looked very placid so I did not mind. But then I saw another and another and soon the entire creek was full of dead princesses piled up and the water was flooding the ground where we walked. We were wading through candy-pink water. It was a good thing we wore rubber boots.
“I can see why he’d want to shut himself in a cage,” said my dad in a lame attempt at a joke.
“He didn’t shut himself in. The Americans did it. They locked him in a cage and made him a contemplative sage. That’s how it works. Lock a fascist in a cage and you get a sage.”
I thought I had said something very smart but it made my dad uncomfortable. Then he said something grotesque about cages and the backyard of the house where we lived in the suburbs when we moved to the US.
This made me uncomfortable.
“Back to Pound,” I said. “The Cantos is an endless poem that is partly autobiography and partly myth and partly history. For example, he would write a poem that’s partly about going on walks with his friends and partly about Italian knights.”
At this point we see a castle.
“Funny, in my memories of childhood I don’t remember that being there,” I said. “It must be new.”
“That’s where he lives,” said my dad.
“Ezra Pound.”
“Why are we going to see Ezra Pound?” I asked.
“I’m not going,” said my dad. “You’re going. But be careful, he’s killed all his wives.” And then he turns and runs away.
At this point I enter a desert scene. The sand is red and covered in bones. There was no castle, no Ezra Pound, just bright sunshine and a red sand like cartoon about the wild west, and the sand was covered with bones. It was the 1950s. The bones were the bones of teenage girls.

[I think my dad's last words suggest that I'm supposed to marry Ezra Pound. The castle also looked exactly like the castle in Breillat's Bluebeard, giving more credence to this interpretation. Now that I think about it, the killing of the wives is of course from that movie. Also, I do watch a lot of children's TV, which may be why everything was very childish. But Sinead doesn't watch My Little Pony type of stuff; she prefers Zabumafoo.]

Friday, July 16, 2010

Kissing Hitler (or Marilyn Monroe)

Interview with Marilyn Monroe:

"For instance, you've read there was some actor that once said that kissing me was like kissing Hitler. Well, I think that's his problem. If I have to do intimate love scenes with somebody who really has these kinds of feelings toward me, then my fantasy can come into play. In other words, out with him, in with my fantasy. He was never there."

"....This industry should behave like a mother whose child has just run out in front of a car. But instead of clasping the child to them, they start punishing the child."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Alissa Nutting

[Here's a new book I hope to read in the near future:]

Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
Alissa Nutting
$18 | paper | 152 pp.
Starcherone Books
ISBN: 9780984213320

Fiction. Winner of the 6th Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction, chosen by Ben Marcus. In this darkly hilarious debut collection, misfit women and girls in every strata of society are investigated through various ill-fated jobs. One is the main course of dinner, another the porn star contracted to copulate in space for a reality TV show. They become futuristic ant farms, get knocked up by the star high school quarterback and have secret abortions, use parakeets to reverse amputations, make love to garden gnomes, go into air conditioning ducts to confront their mother's ghost, and do so in settings that range from Hell to the local white-supremacist bowling alley. "These fine stories, anthropologically thorough in their view of the contemporary person, illuminate how people hide behind their pursuits, concealing what matters most to them while striving, and usually failing, to be loved"—Ben Marcus