Holiday Giving!

Support SMALL PRESS TRAFFIC's 2014 Season!

This holiday/solstice season, give the G I F T
of experimental, thought-provoking poetry,
performance, and genre defying writing!

Why, you ask? Why?

Here's why:

Giving is easy. Click here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/spt-s-40th-anniversary-season

Small Press Traffic owes it all to you for its 40th Anniversary 2014 Season. 

For 40 years, Small Press Traffic has been at the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area innovative writing scene, bringing together readers, writers, and independent presses through an influential reading series, publications, conferences and talks. Our mission is to promote and support local, national and international writers who push the limits of how we speak and think about the world. We aim to engage an audience for independently published literature while cultivating a culturally diverse avant-garde.
Throughout its history SPT has produced ground-breaking work and SPT needs help to produce its upcoming season in which includes:
+Poets Theater THEN&NOW Festival: NOW IN SUMMER!
+Events guest-curated by former SPT Directors Dana Teen Lomax, Elizabeth Treadwell, Jocelyn Saidenberg, Dodie Bellamy and Robert Glück.
+Dialogues program: PEEP SHOW a new reading/talking hybrid where invited authors give us a peep into their new projects and process and we get to talk about it as a group
+The Leslie Scalapino Memorial Lecture in 21st Century Poetics
+Endless Summer, a ridiculously long marathon
+Traffic Report, an online forum for critique and conversation
+Monthly online workshops with writers around the globe
+Experiments in the Archive: an Artist-in-Residence program
+Small Press Traffic's FIRST ANNUAL RETREAT

What We Need & What You Get

  • Through this campaign we are attempting to raise $10,000. This is what we need to  cover the costs associated with providing a forum for innovative literature, including writer's honorarium, insurance, marketing and staffing costs.  To give you  the overall agency budget for the year is $65,000, with an additional 35,000 in in-kind donations. We work hard to cover our costs with public and private grants, memberships and admissions, but this funding will help us ever so much. Everything over our goal lessens the stress on other funding sources.
  • Donating to this campaign at any level will get you shout outs and endless appreciation. Each level has a unique gift package from t-shirts to Kevin Killian's voice on your outgoing phone message , to a specially designed (Soma)tic Poetry Ritual by CA Conrad! 
  • Most importantly though, donating brings us together as a community. It's a magic that we all create together because we all realize the importance and need for it. It's our organization. Let's all be owners of it.

Other Ways You Can Help

You might not be able to contribute $$$, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help:
  • We always welcome in-kind donations and volunteers, advice and feedback. Also, if can: Spread the word. Tell your friends. Participate in the 2014 season. Keep reading experimental literature.


Karen Lepri on Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt and NanGoldin

Last August in Annandale-on-Hudson at Bard College, I heard poet Karen Lepri read a piece on two 2012 exhibits in New York by artists Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt and Nan Goldin. I enjoyed the swerves the writing makes and I asked her to share it with xpoetics, and she has.

Karen Lepri

No Cock Sorry

There are no cocks—sorry—male members—visible in the three pieces from PS 1’s Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt:
Tender Love Among the Junk showcased on the museum’s website, but walking through the exhibition feels like the inverse of Where’s Waldo—he’s/his is everywhere though unlikely to show up had I photographed the work, the rainbow glare of foil in every hue, the dominant tinge of all-over gold, and the almost pointillist fanaticism and fibrous, microscopic details washing out—or shall I say, tenderizing—the hundreds of cut-up black and white male nudes.

My mother always counseled, No one will even notice!, when two shades of black were “off” from each other, or when I was the only girl at First Holy Communion wearing vestment and tights with rubber-soled white sandals (as opposed to white patent leather Mary Janes), but in the photograph with my skewed smile I still notice.



Lollipop Knick Knack (Let's Talk About You). c. 1968-69. Mixed media. 9 x 16 x 5 1/2 inches. Courtesy Pavel Zoubok Gallery. Photo fromMOMA PS1

Lanigan-Schmidt’s work builds a bomb out of the sacristy, out of outer layers, priestly garments, doilies, altars, confession booths, plastic wrappers, lasagna trays, all things used to hide behind, masturbate behind, conjure a dual sense of salvation and condemnation … behind—exploded, exposed, the shards comprise a renovated, effervescent object d’amour, or rather embody out-right worship. 

Nan Goldin’s nudes have almost always been house-enough themselves, meaning, one with other surfaces, structures, enough to hold what’s human inside.


Nan Goldin, The nap, Paris (2010). Image via Matthew Marks Gallery.



In Goldin’s retrospective Scopophilia at Matthew Marks last Fall, the photographs of Classical sculptures and Renaissance paintings of female nudes acted as our tour guides to the irreverent or simply luscious moments within a gaze of the total work—here fingers pinch a nipple, hair dangles between breasts, stone returns to painted surface returns to flesh—Medusa’s stare reversed.

Is my attraction a form of penis-phobia (it’s so small—how do I find it?) or does every viewer’s eye lynch onto the protruding form, its muddled shadows, assured epicenter of every male nude photo collaged into one of Lanigan-Schmidt’s pieces? 


My friend tells me how a boy on the playground tells her daughter, You must like princesses because you’re a girl, to which she replies, lying, No I don’t, to which he retorts, scientifically, Then you’re not a girl, to which she rebuts, plainly, and in my opinion unknowingly losing the battle, Some girls play with boys’ things and some boys play with girls’ things.

A key difference between the photograph of the painting detail on the left and the photograph of “real women” on the right in Goldin’s 2010 The Nap is that in the painting detail photo we can’t see the women’s hands, can’t see how they sleep or play.


 “Lesbian bed-death” is where a non-incestuous sexual relationship between two women, or lesbians, transforms into a potentially incestuous non-sexual relationship through meta-physical, not physical, bonds—or so I have heard.

There is nothing to dramatize about the cruelty of ceasing to desire the body of your lover or your sister before it even barely begins to die, meaning the desire, meaning unlike Oedipus and Jocasta or Claudius and Gertrude, Gertrude being not a sister but by marriage, still wrong enough, or simply fast enough, to pulverize Hamlet’s mind.


In The Nap, the paired couples seem joined at the legs, one body with four torsos, four heads, diametrically positioned, the thigh of each bottom figure rising to meet at the juncture of two frames, the left-hand arms peeling away to expose four breasts, the huddled right-hand arms forming an ‘X,’ a literal coat of arms.

After Lanigan-Schmidt, my two friends, boyfriends for five years plus, and I are finishing our “snacks” at the museum restaurant when a waitress drops a glass that shatters everywhere, and Paul, ever a comic, throws a wine bottle to the ground, catching it on the bounce, the embarrassed waitress now smiling, glad to be doubled, her blooper refracted back to her as if to say, Yeah, we noticed, but nobody cares.

November 27, 2012

Karen Lepri is the author of Incidents of Scattering (Noemi, 2013) and the chapbook Fig. I (Horse Less Press, 2012). Lepri received the 2012 Noemi Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in 6x6, Boston Review, Chicago ReviewConjunctions, Lana Turner, Mandorla, and elsewhere. She teaches writing at Queens College.


Fred Moten in the Bay Area Nov 2-3, 2013

F   R   E   D      M   O   T   E   N


As noted previously on this blog, Small Press Traffic's Reading Series this Fall has been curated by SPT Board Members. I curated November 3rd's event, a poetry reading and talk by literary and cultural critic, and poet, Fred Moten, and hosted two reading groups for which we read sections of Moten and Stefano Harney's The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Minor Compositions); one of the reading groups happened in Oakland at the Bay Area Public School and one at the Artists' Television Access in San Francisco. Many thanks to the wonderful participants who made the discussions rich and engaged.

Small Press Traffic collaborated with Steve Dickison at The Poetry Center, and also with the Bay Area Public School to bring Fred to the Bay Area.

On Saturday, November 2nd, Fred spent a couple of hours talking with folks at the Public School. I understand the conversation at this event entailed an exploration of Moten and Harney's work around the university and the undercommons and the work of the Bay Area Public School. Fred said he was interested in learning about what the Public School is up to. Someone estimated that there were about 50 people at this event. After this talk, Fred went with his friend Linda Norton to go see Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave which had just opened in the Bay Area.

On Sunday morning Fred apparently got up and started writing about 12 Years A Slave; he opened his talk with his very recent response to McQueen's film via a tweet that Tavia Nyong'o at NYU had made in response to the film. While the promise of this tweet got me to finally sign up on twitter, the quote itself is a mystery. I can't find it. I think Nyong'o said that this film would change the conversation and he might have made a claim about "black planetary consciousness." Much has been made by many critics of the fact that McQueen is British; many asserting that this film could not be made by Americans. I believe Moten suggested that Nyong'o also made such a claim.

Moten took on Nyong'o and outlined what he sees as 5 unspoken formulations implicit in Nyong'o's response. All of these, I believe, had at their center, shame as a modality. In brief, I can tell you that Moten hated this film. He sees it as portraying the black American worker as incapable of representing herself. The slaves in this film, those born into slavery, are depicted as too degraded to know they are degraded. He said the film works to make Solomon Northup a bourgeois subject like you. Moten also suggested that in the film, if you see degradation, you can't enact or embody it. It must be seen in an other and disavowed.The film constructs Northup's complete degradation in the moment he participates in black music, abandoning his violin and joining in the singing of Roll Jordan Roll. This discussion had implications for the field of Black Studies. But I cannot trust my notes, composed while I tried to focus on the flight of Fred's journey, and serve as my own secretary simultaneously. This link is complex and we'll have to refer to Fred's current and forthcoming work to begin to take it apart.

I hope to read Fred's thinking on 12 Years a Slave somewhere soon.

Bridging his talk on McQueen's film by way of the undercommons, which Moten argues, is not ashamed, Fred then read some poems from his forthcoming The Feel Trio, after Cecil Taylor. He read a bunch of the lyrics that comprise "Black Chapel,"  and then a series of other work, including some from B Jenkins (Duke University Press, 2010)

Here's one Fred read that's been published elsewhere on the Gramsci Monument website for Thomas Hirschhorn's project at Forest Houses, The Bronx in New York:

The Gramsci Monument

if the projects become a project from outside

then the projects been a project forever. held in
the projects we’re the project they stole. we steal
the project back and try to give it back to them.
come on, come get some of this project. we protect
the project with our hands. the architect is in mining
and we dispossess him. we protect the project by handing.
let’s bust the project up. let’s love the project. can the
projects be loved? we love the projects. let’s move
the projects. we project the projects. I’m just
projecting. the project’s mine to give away. I’m not
in mining when I dispossess me. I’m just
a projection. projecting is just us, that’s who we are,
that’s who we be. we always be projecting. that’s all
we have. we project the outside that’s inside us.
we the outside that violates our block. we violate the auction
block experiment. we pirates of ourselves and others. we are
the friend of all. we are the cargo. are you my treasure?
you’re all I need. are you my wish? come be my sunship. I dream the sails
of the project from the eastern shore. plywood sails the city
island past the enclave mirror so the bricks can fly.
at the fugitive bar the food be tasting good. kitchenette’s
my cabin. flesh is burning in the hold. I love the way
you smell. your cry enjoys me. let me taste the way you think.
let’s do this one more time. the project repeats me. I am repleat
with the project. your difference folds me in cadillac arms.
my oracle with sweets, be my confection engine. tell me
how to choose. tell me how to choose the project I have chosen.
are you the projects I choose? you are the project I choose.
FM, 8.14.13

All in all, it was an awesome evening. Here's the intro I delivered, followed by a tribute to Fred by Steve Dickison.

Fred Moten Introduction
for the Small Press Traffic/Poetry Center Nov 3rd , 2013 Event

Robin Tremblay-McGaw

I’m a late-comer to the work of Fred Moten. I discovered his work three or four years ago in the company of poets who teach in the Language and Thinking Program at Bard College. David Buuck, Erica kaufman, Simone White, Emily Abendroth, Tonya Foster, and others. We read and taught some of the poems from Fred’s 2010 book B Jenkins. We read Barbara lee [the poetics of political form], [statement in opposition] and [the unacknowledged legislator].

In August of 2012 Fred gave one of the rostrum lectures at Bard. His talk was called “The Touring Machine: Flesh Thought Inside Out.” You can google it and watch it online at vimeo. As he began his talk, the technicians in the auditorium had some trouble with the sound system. When he returned to the podium, Fred remarked on the productivity of interruptions and invited students to break in and ask questions or make comments. And they did.

I have been moved and my thinking about poetry and black radicalism  enriched and made more complex in reading Fred’s book In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition. This is a powerful book; the reader can’t help but be thrilled as Moten contests Marx’s assertion that the commodity can’t speak. He reminds us that Marx was living during the practice of slavery, during, as Moten writes, “the historical reality of commodities who spoke—of laborers who were commodities before, as it were, the abstraction of labor power from their bodies” (6).

In the Break is also a difficult book, one that requires labor, and struggle to keep up with its brilliant asymptotic flight. And when Fred was speaking to new undergraduates at Bard that summer in August, I think we were all going to be challenged to keep up with him. And then students interrupted him and the talk took a social turn, became a conversation, a being with one another.

Somehow Fred pulled off this high wire act keeping the discourse complex but meeting the audience where they were. I left that talk in awe of Fred Moten and gave the first person I saw—who happened to be Eirik Steinhoff—a big hug. I don’t go to church, but I felt like I had been in one. Maybe what I and others experienced in that auditorium was in Moten and Stefano Harney’s words: “a touch, a feel you want more of, which releases you” (Undercommons 99). Call it the church of the break, the John Coltrane, the B Jenkins, the Fred Moten church.

In [the unacknowledged legislator] from Moten’s 2010 book B Jenkins, he writes:

According to Shelley, poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. Let’s say the world is a zone from and within which life is constantly escaping. Poets sing the form of that endless running, that ongoing running on, always busting out of the sentence or cutting being-sentenced; but those broken songs, even in their incessant breaking away, cannot but bear the heavy burden of being-held. At stake, here, is a complex of weighted departure, of flight in seizure, of an emergent statelessness submerged beneath the state of emergency. There’s always a trace on the ones who want to go. Nevertheless, unacknowledged legislators sing diversion out of turn. They instigate small passages. Their envois strive to more than correspond (86).

I read this passage as a description of Fred Moten’s own poetics. The language is seductive and beautiful but it also marks not the historical only, though it does that, but also the ongoing sentencing, breaking, and seizures of many who are poor or black or women or queer or illegal, all of us living in this broken world.

Inviting us to study and plan with one another, Moten points to the embarkation we can make in the here and now, a fugitive run across the territories of self, sound, property, spectacle, politics. On the way we might do some stuff together in common. “Poetry,” Moten writes,  “investigates new ways for people to get together and do stuff in the open, in secret” (86).

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. Let’s welcome Fred Moten.


"Tribute to Fred" by Steve Dickison

“The commons is a ruin, an abbey, with a concert in the middle.” (“code & tone”)

“the phonograph is also a photograph of movement and what it bears” (“b jenkins”)


it’s in the way the running of the Birdhouse got passed on to you from Tip, of Tip’s Tavern, “because all of our families was together. Hamid’s mother, my mother, my aunt, my aunt by marriage, all of us was right in there together” and you renaming it into perpetuity the Velvet Lounge, torn into place against agenda house of the music

“you gotta get to a point where your worst playing can be good” (Fred Anderson)

“most of us can’t afford the diaspora”  (“roebuck pearl”)


 how you and Diedre Murray rolled together, the littler flowering sounds over on top of and all up in the weave of the bigger tones, of the booms, two monsters met up pizzicato at the corner with the ghost of Ronnie Boykins, with the ghost of Wilbur Little, until the bows getting dragged over at the rainbow chorus enter names in the registry at church, pulling down the air out of the air into the room (Fred Hopkins)


                                                where they exercised

            “the hopes and promise


                                                                        of paradise”  (“hughson’s tavern”)


at the juncture where Como, Mississippi Fred “I Do Not Play No Rock ’n ’ Roll” McDowell (Capitol, 1969)

 meets Kingsland, Arkansas Fred “all the house is curved, all the sisters work at sonic, everybody talk like this” Moten (Pressed Wafer, 2000)

in a firehouse

“like someone sanded the box of your voice

like a brass button” (“Cubie and Mt. Tabor,” Arkansas)


Fred “America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future” Douglass feels his way around the drumkit, tightening the heads on the floor-tom, loosening a snare, patting the skin with his palm and leans


one ear in close, there being drummers like to tune the pots to fourths & fifths, Elvin say “to construct unlimited tone combinations, using the dynamic intensity of stroke and whatnot,” or à la Ed Blackwell’s ear, à la Denis Charles’s, who type out little


tunes, e.g., can render “Thelonious” the melody, these alongside those who’d say with Max “I tune them to sound as alive as possible. If all of them sound the same, it’s alright with me, as long as they have life and resonance,” who with Klook “Before


the war it was only called that music they’re playing up at Minton’s” hear Art Blakey

say “I don’t tune them. The Africans don’t tune their drums, and they beat the shit out of them. They sound good, the human being doesn’t care how technical you are.”

(Art Taylor, Notes and Tones)


 “having identified the shit, the shit you can’t say shit about, that’s all

I can say about that” (“arthur jafa and greg tate” in b jenkins)


“the history of the music is also the history of

 rum and coca cola. I’m so glad I ran into you.” (“bebop” in hughson’s tavern)

“and the music make every crushed little room a holy place”

(“footbridge (attention span” ibid.)




photo courtesy of Norma Cole

This fall Small Press Traffic board members are curating readings; the enjoyable afternoon of October 6th, 2013 was organized by Camille Roy who introduced Mary Burger and Rachel Levitsky as two women conducting compelling experiments with the  novel. We heard generous portions of Burger's and Levistsky's work.

A number of us were acutely aware of the fact that the audience, interestingly, consisted mostly of women. I think there was one man present. What's up with that?

Rachel read from THE STORY OF MY ACCIDENT IS OURS and since I recently reported on Rachel's reading in New York, I will refer you to that post here on xpoetics.

In this space, we'll now turn our attention to Mary's compelling reading. Here's a thick slice of her latest, in progress:

From Red Dust Tangle (novel in progress)

Mary Burger


Dear heart,

I finally understood the appeal of spiderman.  To take an injury and turn it into your greatest power.   A power that only you had.   A way that you could save anyone.


I grew up in a religion of human sacrifice, though it wasn’t explained that way at the time.  Forgiveness came in a package of spikes and thorns.  Blood ran calmly from the palms of the hands.  We all pantomimed the anguish abstractly and repeatedly.


I saw two street fights that year.  Heads bounced on pavement.

I saw one building turn into flames.

Knotted bedsheets hung from the upper floors. 

How long does it take to pull sheets off a bed and twist a simple rope and tie it to a metal windowframe?  How long to wonder whether this is really happening?   How long to throw a leg over the windowsill (dusty terra cotta, push aside the plants and books)?  How long to test whether the knot will hold?  How long to look into the eyes of your dear heart and decide which one of you goes first?


It was too long.


The Red Cross gave out gendered bags of toiletries on the rescue bus.  Men’s and women’s disposable razors, men’s and women’s deoderant.  The toothpaste I guess was all the same.


Dear heart. 

All the freaks and loving weirdos gathered their bags of drugstore incidentals.  It was almost Weimar Berlin.


We got dry leaves in our ass cracks when we rolled around on the ground, under trees, off the trail.  Twigs poked our soft butts that weren’t used to daylight.  Dear heart, life is not for novices.


I got a pen with a small light at the tip, to write down what I thought about during the night.   No lamplight, dear heart, don’t wake up. 


We could throw a party for all our failed selves, awkward and shy, impulsive or raging, but none would be as bad as we once thought.


He walked his dog with the lump in its side up one alley and down the next, on a leash of rope.  The alleys drained to the middle, no gutters, no curbs. 


I bought trinkets for quarters and gave them away. 


At a small hotel a few blocks away, in the piano bar with dark paneling, we waited out the snow.   On the walk home, only fire trucks pierced the quiet.


Dear heart, who should go first?  Rapelling down a brick wall.  Who yelled out from the other windows, tie knots so you can hold on?  


In the hallways, the giant finger-swipes of the fire fighters’ sooty gloves where they ran their hands along the walls, feeling for doors.  Every door standing open, splintered with an axe.   Inside the doorways, nothing was different.  Or nothing was there.


All her friends offered dishes or towels.  A teapot and a shower curtain. 


In the trackless snow everything looked more the same. 


His dog with the lump in its side examined the base of every dumpster every day, looking for who had been there.   They walked slowly, he with the rope in his hand, but usually slack, they held the same pace side by side.


Grid of the windowpanes, grid of the bricks, grid of the alleyways, grid of these boxes of rooms.  In the closets, more boxes.  In one room, a bloom or a billow.  The end of the grid starts with the lick of the fire, the curl of the smoke.


I thought if we brought down the grid it would mean we could live in blind corners.  In suspense.  To be everywhere at the same time, with everything still possible.

M  A  R  Y     B  U  R  G  E  R  is a writer and visual artist based in Oakland. Her writing is often cross-genre, combining poetry, essay, memoir, and fiction. Her book Then Go On, a collection of prose, was published in 2012 by Litmus Press. Her writing has appeared in various literary journals (most recently The Volta and the Poetic Labor Project) and in landscape and art publications. She teaches in the School of Landscape Architecture at the Academy of Art University


Fred Moten Reading and Reading Groups!

Fred Moten Reading his Poetry and Talking about The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, co-authored with Stefano Harney.

Where: California College of the Arts Timken Hall at the San Francisco campus 1111 Eighth Street San Francisco. This event is cosponsored by The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University and Small Press Traffic with the help of the Public School.
When: 5 pm

In advance of Fred Moten's visit, we'll be reading together and talking about The Undercommons!

There will be two reading groups:

**Thursday Oct 17th 7-9 pm at The Bay Area  Public School
For Thursday night please read
chapter: 1: Politics Surrounded and chapter 4: Debt & Study
We'll focus our reading, discussion, and some writing around these two chapters.

**Sunday Oct 27th 5-7pm  at the Artists' Television Access (ATA), 992 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110.
On this afternoon we'll focus on Chapters 5: Planning and Policy and 6: Fantasy in the Hold.

The text of The Undercommons is available for free as a pdf here!

The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study
Stefano Harney and Fred Moten
Introduction by Jack Halberstam

In this series of essays Fred Moten and Stefano Harney draw on the theory and practice of the black radical tradition as it supports, inspires, and extends contemporary social and political thought and aesthetic critique. Today the general wealth of social life finds itself confronted by mutations in the mechanisms of control: the proliferation of capitalist logistics, governance by credit, and the management of pedagogy. Working from and within the social poesis of life in the undercommons Moten and Harney develop and expand an array of concepts: study, debt, surround, planning, and the shipped. On the fugitive path of an historical and global blackness, the essays in this volume unsettle and invite the reader to the self-organised ensembles of social life that are launched every day and every night amid the general antagonism of the undercommons. 


Celebrating Robert Gluck's Elements

cover art by Joe Brainard

In September, while I was in New Hampshire helping my sister Linda get ready for her wedding, Robert Glück and a host of eager readers and friends were celebrating Ithuriel's Spear's republication of Gluck's Elements** (originally published in 1982 as Elements of a Coffee Service). This republication was partly sponsored by many former participants in Bob's long-running writing workshops, once held at Small Press Traffic, and then later in his home.

photo: Francesca Rosa; Bob reading at The Green Arcade

Elements of a Coffee Service, now Elements, was written in the context of the Bay Area writing scene in the 1980s, a scene characterized by lively and contentious debates over literary experiments and their social, political and aesthetic values. During a time when the self, narrative, and representation were considered debased literary tools for innovative writing, Robert Glück and Bruce Boone asserted their potential critical and imaginative value for a socially activist and experimental queer writing. Rather than attempting to describe, from outside, the whole world, New Narrative writers explore specific local communities, blurring textual and social realities, while making offerings to and demands of their readers, who, as a result, become participants in the text while the text extends into the world. New Narrative, then, develops as a performative textuality, calling into being and speaking to and from a community and its future.

New Narrative grows out of a dialogue, a friendship between two gay men who share an interest in Frank O’Hara. Invoking the social or collective implied in narrative in his “Long Note on New Narrative,” Robert Glück explains how New Narrative has an intimate origin in friendship and community; it begins not only as a response to the provocations of Language Writing and the insufficiencies Glück locates there, but takes place in the context of the friendship between Glück and Bruce Boone that began in the 1970s. Glück writes that “to talk about the beginnings of New Narrative, I have to talk about my friendship with Bruce Boone” ("Long Note" 25).

 Located in relation to emerging gay and lesbian identity-based movements in the context of the 1970s, New Narrative responds to movement poetry’s demand for representation and what Boone called “the vigor, energy and accessibility that mark so much of the new Movement writing of gays, women and Third World writers” (“Remarks” 29) and Language Writers’ disparate but new formal experiments intoxicating and agitating the poetry community of the Bay Area.

All of this is on display in Elements' stories--"Sanchez and Day," "When Bruce was 36 (Gossip and Scandal)," "Safety," "Sex Story," "The Dinner Party," "Chaucer," "Night Flight," and "Violence."

Each piece is rich with detail, prose that invites us to pause, to take pleasure in the writer's artistry, to laugh, to be astonished, and moved. The first story “Sanchez and Day” uses a first-person narration in the past tense to tell a story of fear and violence as the narrator describes walking his dog, Lily, and encountering four men in a Chevy pickup who start yelling “faggot” and “fucking faggot” and throw a beer can at him. The narrator and his dog run from the men and manage to escape, finding refuge in the location of another “other,” a produce market run by a Thai family. But this short piece does more than recount a straight forward story of a narrowly escaped gay bashing. This four-page story’s ostensible main narrative–the story of the violent homophobic attack by the four men– is interrupted by a number of devices. An interruption occurs through an interpellation of the reader via the construction of a narratee, “You’ll understand my fear because television has trained us to understand the fear of a running man” (12). The encounter with the four men is further suspended by a collection of several memories–of the speaker’s mother’s childhood, an uncle’s funeral, a memory of something the speaker’s mother said when she was nearly sixty as well as memories of homophobic violence inflicted on gay friends. The reader’s attention is called also to songs playing in the background of the produce market run by a Thai family into which the narrator runs. Furthermore, the construction of the text is underscored by the production of a fantasy ending, an ending that is itself dissevered through an analysis of it. Lastly, the reader is left with a closing manifesto: “And what I resolved was this: that I would gear my writing to tell you about incidents like the one at Sanchez and Day, to put them to you as real questions that need answers, and that these questions, along with my understanding and my practice, would grow more energetic and precise” (15).  This manifesto reinforces the story’s social embeddedness, its political dimensions and implications, both for the narrator and his auditors. 

Here's an excerpt from another piece, "Night Flight":
         A ceiling of low clouds domesticates the light, slanting and yellowing it. A promise of rain. That interior light brings distance and near into sharp focus, make the stop sign, telephone pole, the bland pueblo-faced building across the street and the hills beyond--makes them accurate, brings them to a point. Lily jumps on my bed to put herself in the path of some affection, curls into her tail and dozes off. Then the twilight gives it s intensity to the streetlights while my house fills with the sweet metallic artichoke scent--smell rather--the artichoke intact in its steamer suffering a medieval torture.
        Bruce and I spent a strange afternoon. He wanted a black leather jacket. Denise, myself, and other friends approved of his decision and Bruce's ex-lover viewed it a little anxiously, which seemed propitious. Bruce rarely buys anything, fearing that one purchase will lead you to the next and so on--like S/M where you must always raise the ante to achieve the same degree of pleasure until you become a different person and not necessarily  the one you intended (75).

My story begins with light and ends with the body. Bruce tried on one of the jackets and something surprising happened. The jacket was beautifully made. The Mongolian lamb, buttery and yielding, said touch me. 'Tis midnight, but small thoughts have I of sleep: The black looked deep and rich but its statement was power--death if you prefer--saying don't touch me: a mixed message at the heart of glamor. Full seldom may my friend such vigils keep! Certainly Bruce is a handsome man. Tall, slender, fine featured as a lemur. The black lent intention to his grizzled black hair and slate blue eyes. Visit him, gentle Sleep! with wings of healing. It heightened his tan, his good skin. It drew a frame around his handsomeness and advertised its availability. And may this storm be but a mountain birth. The addition of power rerouted the tenderness I already felt for Bruce. Bruce became a sexual object and the new direction was sexual appreciation. May all the stars hang bright above his dwelling. I encouraged him to buy the jacket (90-91).

Still fresh and powerful three decades after its original appearance, this generous collection of investigations deserves new readers, and new readers, you want this book.  You can get it here:

Elements by Robert Gluck   http://www.spdbooks.org/Producte/9780983579144/elements.aspx
30th anniversary edition published by Ithuriels Spear Press http://www.ithuriel.com :  Jim Mitchell Publisher; F.S. Rosa Project Manger

part of the audience
Here are some photos from the book launch at  Green Arcade Bookstore SF  Wed., 9/15/13 Patrick Marks owner  http://thegreenarcade.com

Bob with former workshop participants

Boone, Bruce. “Remarks on Narrative: the Example of Robert Glück’s Poetry.” Afterword.  Family Poems. By Robert Glück. San Francisco: Black Star Series, 1979. 29-32. Print.

Gluck, Robert. “Long Note on New Narrative.”Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative. Ed. Mary   Burger, Robert Gluck, Camille Roy, Gail Scott. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2004. Print.
**About the change in title, Gluck notes: "We dropped of a Coffee Service from the original title of Elements: I got tired of saying it and no one else seemed to remember it.