Read Quinn’s new post here.
White Egrets by Derek Walcott.
Sometimes I read for surprise and difficulty. Sometimes I read for comfort. The voice and craft of this book put it in the latter category. Not that all the topics of the book were comforting: aging, losing gifts or talents, losing loved ones and peers, identity, etc. It felt like I should just listen, think, and enjoy. Maybe on a second read I can be more critical.
Versed by Rae Armantrout.
I’m not a fan of current New Yorker poetry, although it’s been a year since I’ve read any. Armantrout seemed to be in every issue when I read regularly and I’ve had the hardest time finding an entrance into her poetry. I decided I’d give a full book a chance. As I was reading I was having the same experience, so I decided to find some interviews online with her just to see how she talked about her poems. In the first interview I watched, she identified herself as a Language poet and as stupid as this sounds, everything clicked into place for me.
Armantrout can be coldly precise or maddeningly abstract and most of her poems leap from line to line. Often her poems are divided into short sections, often only a line, that on the surface seem to have nothing to do with one another—like a series of haiku. Too often I think I tried to find a surface through-line in individual poems, but she is often working against that. I should have picked up on that earlier, but I didn’t. Anyway, I have a new appreciation for her work.
The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955)
I’ll likely write more on this movie later, but I found it an extremely charming cheap-o Corman horror/sci-fi. Does it suffer from a lot of B-movie problems? Sure, but I like it despite its obvious flaws. The beast is an alien that is slowly taking over the consciousness of Earthly life forms. Includes several bird attacks before The Birds. The internal dread of the characters is captured perfectly, maybe accidentally, in the external shots of the countryside and the credit sequence is killer!
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Gorgeous movie. David Lean is now a director I’ve got to eventually sit and deal with. I know little to nothing about him, except that he made beautiful epic films. The title character is a poet and doctor whose work has been loved and reviled throughout the Russian Revolution and Civil War. The frame story involves Zhivago’s half-brother attempting to find the poet’s daughter and his niece, while the main story is a grand romance.
Reza Abdoh Short Films
Reza Abdoh was an Iranian-born director and playwright known for his large-scale, experimental theatrical productions that utilized multimedia elements and violent sexual imagery. Artaud’s “Theater of Cruelty” is often evoked in writing about his work.
I’ve watched the few short films I could find and particularly like “Daddy’s Girl” and “The Weeping Song” both from 1991. I want to see Abdoh’s only feature The Blind Owl (1991). A documentary of the same name has either just come out or is set to soon. I think there are attempts being made to collect the performances, which often included his films.
His work is experimental, non-linear, and at times gruesome. Definitely NSFW and not for everybody.
The Criterion Blu-ray of Videodrome (1983) is fantastic.
One of my favorite records of solo improvisation: Maldoror by Eric Friedlander.
Honestly, not much I can talk about here for now. Hopefully I’ll have some good news to release soon. Meanwhile, I am trying to organize some of my output on the “Words and Music Elsewhere” page above.