Nathalie Stephens & Steve Farmer

In the Fall, it is so difficult to keep up! Too much happening and thus, I am slow in noting that I attended Nathalie Stephens and Steve Farmer's reading at 21 Grand last Sunday night in Oakland. This reading series is always well attended.

Natalie Stephens, photo by Alan Bernheimer

Due to some sort of Bay Bridge snafu, we arrived after Nathalie Stephens had already started reading. I heard material from Nathalie's We Press Ourselves Plainly published by Nightboat Books. Nathalie's reading was delivered in an even tone and hearing it, I had the sense that the writing was long,continuous, unbroken. And indeed it is. The book is one long 97 page piece. The text is presented in square blocks that fill each page. On these pages are phrasal and clausal units separated by ellipses.

Here are some samples:

...The people look
down   at   their   gods...   Who made the
monotheism... Wanted...  What wanted...I
sample  the offerings... Rose  coloured  or
drawn...The deities masturbate...I encounter
Chernobyl in the body of a girl....A far-off
place...Fancy wanting that...The split cell...
A devotion....Such strange light... (40-41)


...I undress each one and
make the magnitude of history...It is better
this way and understated...You undress me
first and it goes unnoticed...For centuries the
hermaphrodisms...  Even the fictions are
fictions...Contradictions...I kiss it back...It is
cursory and disavowed...The freedoms are
aroused and then settled... (72)

At the end of the book, a note entitled "I WILL GO THEN..."
comments on the book's form and premise:
Architecturally, the text operates a form of confinement, manifest as a continuous block of text from end to end. If one of the active functions of this work is compression, it is the compression not just of a body in a carefully controlled space, but of all the possible spaces pressed into that body, upon which the pressures of historical violence and its attendant catastrophes come to bear. It is this thing which is accountable that detaches from the text, making its own press into surrounding areas.

Spacially the room is finite. But what enters, through the body of the speaking voice, orients thought away from its confines toward an exacerbated awareness of endlessly forming breaches.This is no threshold: it is a reiterated collision that belies the possibility of situation. Sisyphus, outdone.

You can catch more from Nathalie at Small Press Traffic, Saturday night, September 25, 2010. Nathalie will give a talk entitled " Vigilous, Reel: Desire (a)s accusation" at  7:30pm at:

CCA Graduate Writing Studio
195 deHaro Street
San Francisco, CA

Steve Farmer, photo by Alan Bernheimer

Steve Farmer was up next after the break and the long wait in the line for the bathroom. Steve was in front of me in that line and so we chatted ever so briefly about the liveliness of the 21 Grand Readings. Go 21.

One of the pieces Steve read included "Brazilty," written in response to a request from David Brazil and Sara Larsen for their popular magazine Try! I gladly received a copy of said mag from David that night. This issue of Try! includes work by Cidar Sego, Chris Martin, Margaret Tedesco, Jackqueline Frost, Brian Ang, Andrew Joron, Laura Woltag, and Rodney Koeneke.

Here is Steve's "Brazilty"
protectorated by general dread
pole gusher credit allowed breakage
starred for twelve seasons at one time
airlines and military dressing for boys, at another a brood
approaches separation of hill from cloud, mind from city-cloud
barks trigger the spray bot wordless global
to many under the clod by n ow bypassed tenemental deftly
an elite state police unit Raquel fits in somehow softer
people keep your phones shut, your mouths on
also frequented a constant state of no resolution model
host tree set investigate give up to & fend
the brassiere unhooked pre-Trump, McGarretted
as bathed matterhorn summer forever (bullish
you) whether anti- or proto-designate
remoted the sand, he was slavened
Steve also put some work up on a large screen and invited Yedda Morrison and budding dancer Eve, Yedda's daughter, and Taylor Brady, to help parse the fields of possible language on view.

I was sitting in the back and dazzled by all the toddler activity at the reading, and then, swiftly, back over the bridge.

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