The deadline to apply for the Kearny Street Workshop Intergenerational Writers Lab is February 19.
San Francisco’s Kearny Street Workshop (KSW) certainly isn’t the first to offer a space for intergenerational writers. You can find such a group through GuyWriters, Magnet, and the LGBT Center, all of which are also in San Francisco. (The fact that those three organizations are specific to the gay and lesbian community, and that KSW serves the Asian American community, is part coincidence, and part bias for my own background as a gay Asian American). But when you see the words “Intergenerational Writers” in the title of a workshop, conference, or lab, is your immediate reaction one of hesitation? Although you would never say such a thing out loud, do you ask yourself some version of the question, What can I possibly learn from older folks? Yet the very nature of an intergenerational setting is to share a breadth of knowledge across an extensive continuum of experiences that, while those experiences encompass a variety of ages, each respective bit of knowledge is by no means confined to a certain birthday. In effect, age really is nothing but a number. (Thanks to the late, great Aaliyah, who popularized the phrase when she signed her first recording contract at the age of twelve.)
Consider the workshop leaders in KSW’s upcoming 7th annual Intergenerational Writers Lab (IWL). The most recognizable name is that of music journalist Ben Fong-Torres, but his celebrity is only part of his unique experiences as a writer. His visibility shines no brighter than fellow IWL leader Lorna Dee Cervantes, described in a bio as a poet “whose work draws tremendous power from her struggles in the literary and political trenches”. One writer’s career draws primarily from the well of popular media, while another writer casts a socially progressive gaze that looks beyond the tenor of the moment, and the combination of the two results in learning nirvana.
It’s exactly that kind of learning experience that I value. Recently, I found myself sharing drinks with what on the surface was an “older crowd”. Based solely on age, the majority of my companions were folks who even my parents might shy away from hanging out with. But more than just age, the respective statuses of my drinking companions would have also conveyed to my parents, and most people, a sense of intimidation: some in my group were diplomats, another was an attorney, another was a Vietnam veteran, and I also caroused with my own bosses here at Drunken Boat. The point is that even though I was the “young” one in the crowd — I came into the world during the era of Ollie North and Jim Bakker, but just a shade after the Anita Bryant insanity — I was never allowed to feel like an outsider… well, except for maybe when I was questioned about the plausibility of my knowledge about Olivia de Havilland. But that was in jest, and overall, I was regarded as a peer. In all honesty, that kind of treatment is something that I don’t always get from even my own age group.
The rest of that aforementioned evening of drinks ended with the kind of conviviality that I routinely accomplish with my own set of similarly-aged friends, with the difference that I was exposed to tales of knowledge and experience that I don’t normally receive. Outside of a social setting, I’m proud to affiliate myself with friends, colleagues, and mentors of varying backgrounds, not simply in age, but in culture, orientation, even polar socio-political beliefs. Knowledge is about building bridges, and I likely have plenty to learn from the person whose suspicion about the fate of my soul lies in the belief that I, as a guy, am surely damned because someday I want to get married and raise kids with another guy. Ultimately, however, the resulting benefit of intergenerational interaction isn’t so much the acquisition of knowledge or some other ulterior motive — it’s about the richness of the human experience, collaboration as a driving force of art, and the basic foundation that is friendship.
For those of you in the Bay Area, consider applying to the IWL. Elsewhere, seek out relationships beyond normative scopes. No matter where you are, no matter what your art or profession, we each carry a slate that is constantly being appended, edited, and then erased all over again. Never be afraid to admit to yourself, I want to hang around you because I don’t know jack shit about shit.
By Joe Ramelo, Social Media Assistant.
Drunken Boat‘s Founding Editor has been hard at work on a new chapbook of poetry, a sneak peek into his upcoming book.
Ravi Shankar promises to put the shimmy into ekphrasis by shape-shifting and shaking into rhythm. Painter Sonya Sklaroff provides art for the cover and Amy Gerstler and Jim Daniels can vouch for his astral body transporting us to locales both real and imagined, in multisensory surround-sound.
Voluptuous Bristle is now available for pre-order by clicking here.
You know you need to read a poem about a painting that begins “Giddy up pigment!” Ravi Shankar is a postmodern flâneur. He wanders the world’s real and fictional gridded cities (or perhaps his astral body swoops high above them) and reports back. Using x-ray vision, a snappy vocabulary and considerable intelligence he hones in on what’s flaunted and hidden, the understated and the gaudy, the modest and the excessive. Each poem is a tiny stage on which miniature dramas ignite, in all their cunning, vivid, mutating detail. Visual art, music, and politics; the sensual and the ornate all percolate here. Voluptuous Bristle gives voice to a mind readers will be happy to spend time inside.
Ravi Shankar’s Voluptuous Bristle offers up a dizzying array of lush images gracefully tumbling down the pages. These sensual poems capture the spontaneous energy of the brushstroke while taking full advantage of the magic of sound.
Rand Richards Cooper provides the requisite summation of how we have ended up adrift in a sea of foreclosures and lost jobs. Yet his essay in DB11 transcends facts and figures, which we’ve all heard before from the pundits, those talking heads on the cable news channels whose word may not really be their word, just a stream of excuses that constitute a job.
Cooper’s lifestyle might mirror my own goals. I have always had a conflict between goals and priorities similar to the conflict between wants and needs — conflicts, by the way, that could be characterized as direct consequences of capitalism, consumerism, and every other negative construct of the western world. I have a goal of publishing a sellable book. Why? Assuming that the book nets a decent paycheck, what do I want to use the money for? A new computer? This iBook G4 is barely passing muster.
Perhaps I’m publishing neither to tell a story nor for the paycheck. I’m winging it. Perhaps our “contraction” is a correction from a collective mistake we made while winging it. So what do I, as an individual, really want? Back to the parallel with Cooper’s lifestyle: are my wants and needs downscale in comparison to the circumstances that led to the contraction, or have they always been authentically modest? Am I just another enabler of the spree? I’m 27 years old, so I’ve had some time to think about these things. It turns out that all I want is a house with no more than two bedrooms, and that house should have decent plumbing and protection against the elements. One car will do for errands and outings; I’m good with public transit. I’d really love to live in the city, but San Francisco is extraordinarily prohibitive. I’ll probably be a lifelong renter. Finally, I’ll need a husband. In the western world, that’s a challenge as seemingly insurmountable as economic woe. But it’s not very good fodder for a cable talk show.
By Joe Ramelo, DB Social Media Assistant.
Drunken Boat contributor Ed Vespucciano meditates on using Second Life to virtualize the art gallery experience.
My first passion was writing poetry, and it still is, but, over the years, as I became a photographer, film maker, musician, video artist, and web programmer, I have always been looking for ways to combine the non-semantic elements of poetry into some wider form of sense experience. I toyed with the “Concrete Poetry” of the 1970s and tried painting poems, even going so far as casting a large Lucite block in which colored words were to float in three dimensions adding to their meaning and effect as the reader moved around them in space. Unfortunately, the toxic Lucite brew dissolved all my ink, leaving me with only a conceptual piece: a clear block of plastic – The Poem that Might Have Been.
So now, in the digital age, my dreams have finally come true! Under the influence of Jonathan Lethem’s excellent novel Chronic City, I investigated the virtual online world of Second Life (SL). I was immediately drawn into the community of artists, poets and musicians who are building the do-it-yourself universe. Poetry readings and musical performances are common in SL; walking into the room as an avatar, listening to artists, also embodied, on a stage, and chatting with other audience members after the show is an experience, if not as good as real, at least several cuts above listening to recordings or ordinary broadcast events.
The possibilities for creation in SL are exciting. Although one can work with real tools like Photoshop, Gimp, Maya, Poser, Blender, etc., and then upload the work into SL, everyone has access to the tools built into the avatars to build complicated 3D objects, take pictures of anything there with a flexible mobile camera view, programming scripts to give movement and life to objects and communicate with other avatars (i.e. people). There is audio – voice chat and streaming music capability – and a limited function to show small videos. The community of artists in SL is growing and everyone there is eager to meet the challenge of building things that an audience can see, hear, walk around, fly around, merge into, interact with, and generally experience without the usual limitations of chemistry, biology or physics. It is free to sign up and log on and the economics of art in SL come close to the digital version of Jean Cocteau’s famous dictum for cinema: “Film will become an art form when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper.”
Second Life claims to have millions of registered users and as many as 80,000 people logged on at any given time. I have met people from Hawaii, Uruguay, Equatorial Guinea, Australia, France, Louisiana, Kentucky, Texas, Germany and Japan and communicated with them via my chat translator. In my first few months “in-world”, as they say, I have been able to mount a show of Visual Poetry at Araminta Kroitshov’s Vividblack Gallery, that could never have existed before. I am grateful to the visionaries at Drunken Boat who have championed high quality digital web art and, indeed, for publishing my work. I hope to see their vision extending into the three-dimensional metaverse soon. There is a vast audience of sensitive, intelligent people in Second Life, looking for art.
Click here for details about Sex With Typos, Ed’s art exhibition on Second Life.
SEX WITH TYPOS
February 1- March 12 2010
Drunken Boat contributor Ed Vespucciano invites you to his exhibition of Visual Poetry, SEX WITH TYPOS, at the Vividblack Gallery, in “Second Life”, (near the Hotel Chelsea) February 1 – March 12, 2010.
SEX WITH TYPOS was created for the Second Life world using only the tools and materials available in SL: avatar created pictures and chat texts, the currency of life and vitality there. All the photographs were taken with the SL avatar camera (or perv-cam) and the text layers were created using IBM Word-Cloud Generator software to process actual local chats or instant message (IM) conversations.
“These scenes are sometimes real encounters, sometimes a combination of texts and pictures from different SL sources, but they all represent the heart of experience I have drawn from real people in Second Life. However cyborgian we may get in the virtual world, we are all still thinking with minds of meat.”
No avatars were harmed during the creation of these works of art.
Reception – Saturday, February 6th 2010 at 3pm SLT (6pm EST) at Vividblack Gallery. Party at 7 – drinks & dancing.