Food, Body, Politics: CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock at SPT 9/11

Food is always better than bombs, especially on 9/11.

While I usually keep my food obsessions off xpoetics, since one of the writers I am posting a bit on here is CA Conrad (whose work in (SOMA)tic Midge involves food (and bodies)),I have given myself permission to post some booty from the farmers' market just over the hill from me. Aside: perhaps the two most exotic things here are candy-striped figs (delicious) and bloomsdale spinach (I could eat a whole field). It is all tasty and organic, and way cheaper (particularly later in the day) than at San Francisco's super pricey co-ops,fancy food and big supermarket stores....

I ran to Small Press Traffic Friday night after suffering through/enjoying Bikram Yoga (love you Funky Door Yoga),inhaling a bite of dinner, and post-dog walking. I arrived just in the nick of time. Both Conrad and Frank Sherlock brought what might be a Philly reading style with them--? Each proved to be a master raconteur--setting up and swerving from the poems they read by way of anecdote and story.Each read, I think, for nearly an hour.

CA Conrad was up first and he blew us away. He read a bit from (SOMA)tic Midge. I've stolen a blurb about this amazing book from Small Press Distribution's web site:

The seven poems that make up (SOMA)TIC MIDGE were each written after eating a single color of food for a day, and carrying the color externally. For the RED poem CA Conrad ate only red foods while wearing a red wig, right side straight, left side in curls. The BLUE poem was written while listening to Bobby Vinton's "Blue Velvet" on a loop for a day. Anti war, yet at the same time not taking the magic of renewal for granted, CA Conrad's WHITE poem was written after writing "108" on his forehead with his boyfriend's semen, which of course was white for a little while.

Here's a bit from the introductory note from (Soma)tic Midge :

I cannot stress enough how much this mechanistic world, as it becomes more and more efficient, resulting in ever increasing brutality, has required me to FIND MY BODY to FIND MY PLANET in order to find my poetry. If I am an extension of this world then I am an extension of garbage, shit, pesticides, bombed and smoldering cities, microchips, cyber, astral and biological pollution, BUT ALSO the beauty of a patch of unspoiled sand, all that croaks from the mud, talons on the cliff that take rock and silt so seriously flying over the spectacle for a closer examination is nothing short of necessary. The most idle looking pebble will suddenly match any hunger, any rage. Suddenly, and will be realized at no other speed than suddenly.

Conrad read the White poem from this collection. To find out more about CA Conrad's somatic exercises--a treat in and of themselves, click here. The exercises are fantastic and I mean that quite literally, because, to some extent, one cannot really (can one?) perform some of them. See the White Helium exercise that CA read at the reading followed by the poem composed using this method. As Conrad wrote, "Take notes. Take notes. Take notes..."

CA also read from a number of his other books, including Advanced Elvis Course and The Book of Frank, taking us on a wild ride full of risky affect, social criticism, sheer pleasure, terror and love. I don't think anybody else pushes as many boundaries as CA does. I really loved his work and his reading.

You can read some of the poems from his The Book of Frank which won the Gil Ott award as chosen by Nathaniel Mackey, Myung Mi Kim, Eli Goldblatt, and Charles Alexander here.

Check out CA's blog here. You'll find interviews, reviews of his work and lots of other goodies.

Here's a thought for a CA-like exercise: go to the farmers market and stay until it closes down. Like Agnes Varda, observe what's left over and see what you and others can glean. Talk to the gleaners. Take notes. Take notes. Take notes. Eat some of the leftover food you have gleaned from the market. Eat something that is bruised or nearly rotten. Take notes. Take notes. Leave the market. Look at an image of your favorite painting. Take notes. Take notes. Take lots and lots of notes. Select 3 lines from your notes about the painting and make a poem using these lines interspersed with lines and language that you glean from your farmers' market notes.

Frank Sherlock was the second reader and he tore up the stage with his poems delivered in rapid fire, story interspersed. You can check out Frank's blog here.

Here's a piece from Sherlock's book, Over Here.
The line formatting isn't really holding here, so to read it as you should, click here, and scroll down.

Out there is sunsetted a low-wattage glow to backlight the active to give the theories their shine Stacked books of forever stamps have already blanketed trails Finding the next lost history via these lives will be a wandered conversation beginning w/ the theory that turns on the active A child stands alone w/ a gas can in handBomb belt hula hoop juice box w/ a pull pin Keep the straw squeezed & nobody gets hurt It has almost been covered almost a memory like the time when the bison had space

Here's what Drew Gardner had to say about Frank:

“Frank Sherlock’s poetry uses a poetic composting system, where thoughts and noticings which might evaporate or be discarded from the mind are collected and made into an area of material where perceptions and insights can grow. Like Buck Downs, he uses a kind of poetic witness protection program to relocate micro-social speech rhythms, self-reflective process descriptions and figures of speech” – Drew Gardner’s Blog

You can read more of Frank's work here.

On Saturday these two writers from Philadelphia held a workshop jointly sponsored by Nonsite and Small Press Traffic. I couldn't go, because I had to work. But, I bet it was transformative.

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