…from Sandra Doller née Miller of 1913 journal’s Small Press Publishing class
Join Drunken Boat as it celebrates its 10th anniversary at the AAWW Page Turner Festival. The Festival will feature Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, Sonny Mehta, Knopf Publisher & Editor-in-Chief and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jhumpa Lahiri, and an entire day of literary proceedings as a prelude to the Asian American Writers Workshop Award Ceremony. Drunken Boat will be featured on Saturday, November 14, 2009 from 1:00 to 2:00 pm at:
37 Main Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Scott Rettberg’s piece on the Electronic Literature in Europe Conference is so thorough and informative that reading it must be very close to attending the conference in person, shedding light on the variety of projects taking place around the world that push the boundaries of literature. (And it was great to have the videos embedded right there in the text so that I could see exactly what he was writing about as I read it.) It also got me thinking about how projects like Christine Wilks’s The Dressmaker’s Daughter, in which “the reader needs to operate ‘digital dressmaking tools’ such as scissors and a sewing machine… the reader then becomes physically active in unfolding the story,” and Robert Coover’s CaveWriting Workshops, “wherein students create literature for an immersive 3-D environment,” are using technology that has mainly been restricted to video games thus far, and taking it in new directions as works of art. I also zeroed in on Christoph Benda’s novel Senghor on the Rocks, of which Rettberg wrote, “As readers follow the protagonists of a road novel, we follow the characters from an overhead birds-eye view on a Google map on the facing page. This work is one example of the ways that authors are utilizing various locational technologies, ranging from Google maps to RFID and Geotagging, to re-conceptualize the role of place and setting in narrative and poetic works.” This reminded me of a novel I recently read, Spook County by William Gibson, set in 2006, in which some of the characters work with locative art–virtual 3-D models that exist in only one place using GPS technology and can only be seen with a special visor. One of the artists uses this to recreate famous death scenes of celebrities. This also made me think of Getting Inside Kerouac’s Head, included in DB10 by Simon Morris, and how an On the Road project similar to his could be combined with GPS technology.
While I am fascinated by the different technologies that can be used to create art, I think the piece I found most moving was Angels, Avatars, and Virtual Ashes by Renée Turner, which emphasized how strangely death is handled online. Turner’s piece features a female voice narrating the comments left on a Youtube video tribute to a murdered teenage girl. As Rettberg writes, “The piece is both surprisingly amusing and demonstrative of how bizarre the distinctly contemporary phenomena of death online is, as the central event itself becomes trivialized, subsumed under a mindless stream of online banter.”
Joseph Pascale’s short fiction has been published in 365 Tomorrows, Tweet the Meat, PicFic, and in three issues of the Prism literary journal of Centenary College where he is currently studying toward his Master of Arts degree in English Literature. He has fiction forthcoming in Thaumatrope, Off The Rocks, and Everyday Weirdness. Please visit his website http://josephpascale.pyraliss.com for additional information.
Galleys of Reetika Vazirani’s posthumous collection Radha Says are now out. Look out for the book, the inaugural title in Drunken Boat Books new list, in January 2010!
His poem, “Halt X,” in our Arts in Asia folio unveiled itself while I was on the phone with my Vietnamese girlfriend. She doesn’t write poetry. Doesn’t read much with the exception of Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks. She asked about Drunken Boat, about what I do there, about how to understand poetry.
I told her that Drunken Boat was like a zoo. That I was an entry-level food prep for the elephant seals. And that poetry is like a tiger at the zoo.
“What?” she said. “Speak English.”
“They are afraid,” I said. “Afraid but intrigued. Tigers are rare. Exotic. Misunderstood. The visitors want to get close but they can’t. It’s dangerous. A voice, like a tiger, bites. Still, people travel from around the world to look and point and listen. They say, ‘Look at that! It’s a tiger!’ They will press their heads against the glass and pause.” Apparently, that wasn’t English enough.
She spoke of being quiet in English class. Her reading of a poem was always so different from the teacher or other students that she thought she was, “wrong.” The result was a silence. A silence that still pervades today. Right now, over the telephone, she is still silent and I am out of ideas so I read Halt X by Jussawalla. Adil Jussawalla – my savior.
I read it like I’ve been reading it my entire life. I evoke the senses of “danger,” of, “disquietude.” I reach deep for “pieces of smoke,” and stretch towards, “drizzling doors.” I am patient. With tender feet, I am, “sliding edgeways through the dawn’s widening slats.” My voice becomes a, “flock of pigeons dissolved in the viscid air.”
“These words are like food,” she said. “I even feel full. Like after having a large meal.”
Now I was silent. Surely, Jussawalla did not intend to have a second generation, Vietnamese dental student as his audience. Yet, “like a piece of mud in a current,” one can never be certain how far downstream a poem will travel, where it might settle down, with whom, or for how long. I’m confident that Jussawalla is aware of this sentiment. When he writes, he writes for the world – for the world will undoubtedly see him when they happen upon him during their visit.
A tiger at the zoo.
The next day, we found ourselves in Chinatown in Philadelphia for lunch. We ordered a locally renowned specialty – roasted pigeon.
By Brett Haymaker, editorial assistant at Drunken Boat.