14 July 2006

The lake has water

I can't go to the Eileen Myles reading tonight at This Ain't the Rosedale Library, but you should if you can. I think it's at 7.

This morning I found myself in the Beaches, and there was the lake. I sat myself down on a bench and did a little work. God, now I understand why Kev and Gil banish themselves to the ends of the earth. They get a lake. It was beautiful. It made me weepy. Does everyone who lives in the Beaches just weep all day? Poor folks.

Bumped into Gil, who was taking her cat to get a nose thing fixed.

Last night was Toronto Wordstage at Cervejeria. I went, but there was no lake. Readings by Sandra Kasturi, who read some poems she did in my workshops, among other good things; Robert Priest, who was being shot by the Heart of the Poet people (I declined to sign the audience release when I went in); and Beatriz Hausner, who offered up a very sonorous reading backed by some excellent live music by bill bissett's friend Jordan. Beatriz is so cool. Read her poems in my anthology Surreal Estate! Sorry, I don't have the ISBN handy.

Oh yeah, I don't want to get into any cross-blogging battles, but there was something in Greg Betts' blog I want to talk about a moment, because I think I am among the "some people" he mentions and because what he wrote has been eating at me. After the final Lexiconjury reading in June, he blogged, "Some people have suggested over the years that Lex was an intimidating environment, but, from my perspective, this could only be true for those who write without being interested in the tools of their art." I wrote Greg and told him I thought this was harsh and unfair. It might have been an intimidating environment for someone who is shy; some lacking confidence; or someone who was new to the scene, and didn't know anyone in a room filled with people who seem to know each other. In fact, I know at least a couple of people who were invited to read at the Lex who found it intimidating. (I read there, had a great time, and was not intimidated.) So to say it "could only be true for those who write without being interested in the tools of their art" is crap. I'm surprised, because Greg seems to otherwise be a very thoughtful, open person.

OK, that's off my chest. I wonder what will happen to all the positive energy that the Lex triggered and gathered. The Scream probably absorbed it for a while. Mark Truscott's excellent Test Reading Series will nurture it to an extent. When Nick Power and I disbanded our year-old Meet the Presses series in 1985 — a monthly mini-small-press-fair-and-reading series — we hoped someone else would take up the banner and continue it, or create something like it. Never did happen.

In a related note, Kate and I met up yesterday to scheme this fall's Fictitious Reading Series. We're going to take the summer off, regroup, and concentrate on finding the fiction audience for our series. We've got a great Wish List Lineup. More on that subject here in the future.

Over and out.


At July 14, 2006 9:12 pm , Blogger functional nomad said...

Hi Stuart,

I don't remember getting that email; but, of course, my email woes have become fairly legendary of late -- not to mention the fact that I've had to stand in puddles of water in my flooded basement to access internet for the past while. When it rains, it pours -- and when it pours it floods. And that's when the hawks from Rogers show up. Ah well: bolt the door and get a mop.

I understand the exception you take to my aggrandizement, but most of your examples are of people who are already intimidated (shy, etc), so it wouldn't be fair to say that Lex, specifically, was the source of the intimidation in those cases. But more to the bigger point of your post, I didn't mean to suggest that only illigitimate writers didn't like the Lex and there are probably countless possible reasons why one could potentially be intimidated in any social environment. That the idea of a series grounded in experimentation could be intimidating was more my point, and it was, admittedly, intended to be more than not a straw-man bit of rhetoric to usher in my tsunami of praise for the series.

As a matter of fact, I was one of those lonely, intimidated souls in a room full of strangers that you speak of. I arrived from BC knowing nobody in the Toronto lit scene, and went to a Lex on a whim. I revelled in the night (readers with masks, chanting, recitation of Gertrude Stein, and a rambling host that people heckled) and even met a few people. I did my first featured reading at the Lex, and I've never been so warmly welcomed as at that night. I have nothing but praise for the series and look forward to the possibility of spin offs and new events to keep the vibe alive.

Take care,

At July 15, 2006 1:41 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i get intimidated everytime i see the word "jury", especially when it's adjacent "con", but don't read too much into that flippant observation because i don't know what a lexi is...unless it's plural for lexus.

At July 15, 2006 1:38 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm sorry but the (male) arrogance of the bk crowd, combined with its antithesis in the cliqueish cartoon stereotype of the "open michelle" is pretty intimidating.
- name withheld

At July 17, 2006 2:07 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you all have a point. I had a lousy time the night I read at the Lex, a long time ago, but it was largely due to three or four people in the crowd, the fact I read like crap, that the guy who invited me was genuinely trying to include me and I still read like crap, plus I had that general feeling a writer gets that I was not getting through to people, there or otherwise, which was probably true at the time, and which I was tempted blame on others. All series become cliquish after a while, but it feels to me that the what we're discussing was really several series, several cliques, real and imagined, over the years. I appreciated the chance to read, and understand the basic discomfort of a new writer walking into a situation where everyone else seems to understand the inside jokes except you.

All of this, of course, can and is taken too seriously on a regular basis.

At July 18, 2006 2:39 pm , Blogger a.rawlings said...

after consulting several writers pre-series, we agreed with steve venright that his neologism 'lexiconjury' would bring equal parts word-obsession and magic to the series. from venright's torpor vigil dictionary:

"lexiconjury: A magical linguistic art, the practice of which enables the adept to materialize words out of thin air. The surprising results of this process — which is revealed only by direct initiation or accident — can be used for oracular, incantatory, conversational, or poetic purposes. William Shakespeare, James Joyce, and Lewis Carroll are exemplars of sophisticated lexiconjury in the Western world. Speaking-in-tongues is a laudable art brut style of lexiconjury. Terence McKenna, an inspired lexiconjuror himself, says this: ‘I don’t believe that the world is made of quarks and electromagnetic waves, or stars, or planets, or any of these things. I believe the world is made of language.’"

At July 19, 2006 3:15 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

love the reference, a.raw. those eyes are almost too blue...and who can argue with steve venright? only, the word seems "intimidating" (that doesn't mean i want to date tim). any word in which "con" is in the middle...interesting. i'm on mushrooms and my keyboard just grew higher, terrance. oh no, there goes lebanon. what's a mother to do? another tsunami bites the dust. something's in my eye again. is it tv or a new strain of eye disease. i love cameron house. always have. perfekt. lexusconjewelry. carry on. dot con. please forgive me. i'm far left of less than serious.


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