Monday, October 5, 2009

Dustin's reading at 554 Ashbury this Saturday!

The Living Room Reading Series

Anhvu Buchanan and Richard Delia
Saturday, October 10, 2009
7:15pm - 10:40pm
554 Ashbury


a night of wonderful poetry,fiction, and playwriting. conversation, food and wine, and amazing art. featuring readings from Mary Burger, Dustin Heron, Daniel Roche, and Aichlee Bushnell.

Aichlee Bushnell is a native of Philadelphia, has spent the past year between Brazil and the Bay. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she is currently pursuing an MFA in Poetry at Mills College.

Daniel Roche - Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Daniel lived a quiet ordinary suburban life, which immediately generated his desire to fantasize. While attending Arizona State University, his surreal play ‘The Meaning of Luben’ received an Honorable Mention from the 2004 Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition and his poems were showcased in magazines such as ‘Branches Quarterly’ ‘Edgar Literary Review,’ and William Patterson University’s ‘Burning Leaf,’ to name a few. Needing a break from the desert, he and his better-half moved to Taichung, Taiwan, where his work was showcased in the productions of ‘Woe-Man Woman’ and ‘The East/West Project.’ Daniel is a current MFA Playwright at San Francisco State University.

Dustin Heron is currently into dragons and sandwiches and dogs and bureaucracies and bus passes and trolls and a three party system and Arrested Development and the San Francisco 49ers. He is one of the hosts of the Velvet Revolution reading series at San Francisco State. His first book, Paradise Stories, is available from Small Desk Press.

Mary Burger 's latest book A Partial Handbook for Navigators is about spending time in different kinds of places (Interbirth Books.) Her catalog essay 'But What If the Object Began to Speak?' studies objects in places in artist Amy Trachtenberg's installation 'Groundwork' (Oro Editions.) She lives in Oakland and works at a landscape architecture firm in San Francisco, focusing on public park water conservation, creek restoration, and related urban/environmental reintegrations.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sarah Fran Wisby Reads at Litquake, Adobe Books, and Makes Critic Swoon

Sarah Fran Wisby, author of Viva Loss (Small Desk Press 2008) will be reading at Dog Eared Books on October 17th as part of this year's Litquake extravaganza. Sarah is also reading at Adobe Books on October 29th with Laura Alpert.

Viva Loss recently received a rave review at the online journal Cherry Bleeds. Wisby's "tiny word boxes, tiny coffins" made critic MK Chavez "swoon," knocking her down -- via an asphyxiating throat hold --, then dusted her off and set her upright, ready to "start all over again."

Sarah recently began teaching a creative writing class out of her apartment, which is going well.

Last July, she read the following piece at the Bang Out Reading Series:

“The Orgasm Museum” by Sarah Fran Wisby

The museum itself is solid enough, built of brick and steel, a former textile mill crouched next to a stream. In the days when cloth was dyed there, the stream ran indigo, or viridian, or blood red, depending on the day’s colorbath. Mostly women worked at the mill, in long mud-colored aprons, and hats like folded paper boats. In those cramped little industrial New England towns everyone was always waiting for something-romance, payday, childbirth, summer-but in the meantime they worked hard, and occasionally perished in fires.

You will want to know what color the stream was on the day of the fire. That detail unfortunately was not recorded. You might want to picture the whole scene in grainy black and white: the flames shooting white from the windows, gray bodies jumping from the flames into the black foliage, the black stream.

Anyway, the reason I tell you all this is because history is invisible-without some plaque on the wall or voiced-over mini-series, you wouldn’t even know it was there, covering itself in layer after layer, like a debt that grows and grows whether you touch it or not.

The curators of the orgasm museum were not unaware of these concerns when they stumbled across the property at the public auction house. Since the mill fire, the building had been an orphanage, a school, and chocolate factory, each incarnation an attempt to bury the last, with children, with geometry lessons, with candy. And now this attempt to elevate the intangible, to display the unseen. It was the late sixties and orgasms were everywhere. The curators went out with silk nets, and chloroform, and spray fixative, and captured and captured and captured.

Once inside the museum, what strikes you first is the discrepancy in the size of the specimens. Some sprawl across whole walls or hang from the ceiling like macrame forests. Some seem to be eating away at the walls like an acid. Others are displayed perched on the head of a pin with a magnifying glass on a string nearby-these smaller specimens tend to be densely packed and symmetrical like cut jewels. Probably chosen for that reason. I mean, you don’t want to peer through a microscope at something too abstract.

The passage of time has been less than kind. Many are delicately falling apart, like lace antimacassars. Who would’ve thought an orgasm could start to look fussy? They can’t be cleaned, either by feather dusters or by sharp bursts of compressed air, so mostly what you see when you look at them are the molecules of dust that have attached to them over the years. Still, in the tattered shapes that inhabit the chambers and corridors of the museum, something remains of their former radiance.

This one’s like a leaf, pulsed around a single vein.

This one is a painting of tigers, on black velvet, the tigers long gone.

This one kept coming, like clowns from a Volkswagen. Then, like knotted kerchiefs, pulled from a painted mouth.

This is the kind of place you come to alone. Couples break up here. “I’ve never had anything like that!” she says, and a seed gets planted. Anyone who walks in can’t help remembering their best orgasm. These memories rarely include husbands or wives, boyfriends or girlfriends, not current ones anyway.

This one has no center, but appears rhizomatic, like ginger root, or like the masses rising in revolution.

This one is a painting of a woman. She looks a bit like your mother. Oh my god, you realize, my mother has orgasms.

This one is a movie, an endless loop. It follows a jangling path. No characters. It’s what you see when you close your eyes. It’s who you are when you are nothing.

There are no placards next to the orgasms. Rather, there are numbers. And if you wish, you can go to the card catalogue and look them up. Each card simply lists a name, date, and place of origin. James, 1967, Brownsville, TX. Annika, 1970, Roanoke, VA. Jorge, 1969, Vacaville, CA. A map lights up in your mind. A whole other country taking shape.

You were spinning, and they took you down. You were vague, imprecise, groaning with blue. They pressed you under their thumbs, and stopped you wandering.

You are the remnant, remembering the whole. Later you will shrink back into yourself. This part is important, if you want to get things done.

There is one room you don’t want to go into, adjoining the main gallery. Small jars line many tiers of shelves. There are no numbers here to cross-reference. These are the orgasms that never were. The ladies that leaped with no hope of landing. There is a gate that swings open, swings shut. These are the birds that misjudged the distance. They flew through the gate at the wrong moment, and were crushed.

From Panama to Chicago, Ali Lawrence Contemplates Belonging and Nakedness

Ali Lawrence, author of Anatomic (Small Desk Press 2008) is presently traveling through Panama, "collecting data," "doing field research," and "writing." Ali is also corresponding with visual artist Susie Fuller in preparation for the collaborative exhibit "Where Do I Belong?," which opens at the Bellavista Gallery in Chicago on October 16th. Ali and Susie's work will address the theme of "city/rural and nowhere."

Last April, Ali read her poetry at Amnesia in San Francisco along with other contributors to the Bang Out Reading Series. The night's topic was "Naked." Here's the piece Ali read:

“I Used to Sleep Naked Beside You” by Ali Lawrence

A transparency of clouds rests against a knot of city buildings. The bridge suspended midday gives the illusion of connectedness, and simultaneously, of space. I feel all of a sudden a sense of cinema. It’s the very moment of the day where architecture is broader than the ocean, making the world a series of unfamiliar shapes. The man next to me in a white car is smoking with all the windows rolled up. I remember how you slid my grandmother’s ring off my finger and found one of your own to wear it on. The man’s fingers are around the cigarette so loosely I think he might eventually catch on fire. I feel hot and the weather has finally gone to winter.

From the shore of another day I watch the lights turn off and on according to the path of the sun. I think about lighting a candle or going to a psychic. I look for clues to you everywhere. I find an old tank top I’ve kept buried in my drawer that is all white thread, no smell, or you, or anything at all. Your torso: muscles, holes, and cotton.

I try pressing my face against a particular technology meant to draw us closer. Flattened into a science, the room empties and leaves you there. There is falling sky behind your eyes and all over your skin. I have never seen that before, I can’t explain, but it’s as though you are the rain, dust, wind, and middle of the night. Not a monster, just without horizon. Your body a hollow full of sound, like an earthquake, a tight weave of bones and ghosts.

I watched the sun set into a jagged west tonight. It lowered over the planet and split in two. It’s reflection in flames against a house made mostly of glass, and here out in space it’s all edges and numbers and birds and sky. The ocean swallowed the temperature, my sunglass lens, and I cannot remember if we were ever the rooftop, or park, or the balcony, or dusk, or the bus stopping, or even the backseat of your father’s car. I cannot remember the shape of your legs and how your hands are now someone else’s altogether. If when it rained I was standing there, some version of a stranger, crafting a lifetime out of skin and habit. That even with the glare in my eyes, I still saw you look away. An entire population of shadows at your back.

And in the bask of fiction and memories, I can no longer recognize facts versus imitations. I reach into the center of all our words and find only the sounds we never made. If not for the seasons you might have been right beside me separated by windows and clothes and then into each morning you came running. I mapped into an atlas the lines on our skin, and then I thought I heard you say that absence makes the heart a supernova and I just knew all over again.

Copyright © 2009, Ali Lawrence