Abendroth, Luong and Tremblay-McGaw Reading March 5th

On Tuesday March 5th, 2013, Karen Hannah of Zumbar Press and Nick Sarno of Press Works on Paper hosted an evening of poetry celebrating the publication of  Emily Abendroth's EXCLOSURES, a broadbook (broadside + chapbook): "This 6-page, hand-sewn book is printed in duotone and it dialogues with both worn and damaged type, along with new, never-before-used type, textually exploring a number of different themes through these fonts" (Zumbar). Brian Teare's Albion Books, released EXCLOSURES 1-8 in 2012.  I am a big fan of Emily's work and noted EXCLOSURES 1-8 as one of my 2012 bests on Michael Cross's 2012 Disinhibitions. Abendroth's diction is always juicy and her syntax elastic, tensile. Additionally, she is a fabulous reader of her work.

Francois Luong and I had the opportunity to read with Emily for a lovely and attentive crowd in the very fabulous Press Works on Paper bookstore in the Mission at 3108 24th Street. This bookstore specializes in art, fashion, and poetry classics. Plus they carry pencils to lust after.

Serendipitously, each of us read work that rhymed in terms of concerns, inspiration, and diction. I read some new small poems written to the accompaniment of bird calls from the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds and some of the sections from an ongoing work in progress tentatively called "after oppen and howe," that is in tensile conversation with Of Being Numerous and Howe's work generally, particularly its interest in history.

Francois also read work engaged with Oppen. Of the selections from After Architecture, he says "the entire project was very much written under the influence of Oppen (especially Of Being Numerous and its poem "A Theological Definition"), Celan (mostly Fadensonnen, I think), Royet-Journoud and Esther Tellermann (whom I was translating at the time)."

Emily read from EXCLOSURES and from a prose piece that responded to questions posed by a friend, Tessa. Fabulous!

R  E  A  D   S  O  M  E   O  F   T  H  E   W  O  R  K    H  E  R  E:

photo by Amy Trachtenberg

Emily Abendroth--EXCLOSURE 9, 11, 17

EXCLOSURE 9, 11, 17

Emily and Karen Hannah
photo courtesy of francois luong

Emily Abendroth is a writer and teacher currently residing in Philadelphia. Her print publications include: NOTWITHSTANDING shoring, FLUMMOX (Little Red Leaves), Exclosures 1-8 (Albion Press), Property : None (Taproot Editions), and Toward Eadward Forward (horse less press). An extended excerpt from her piece “Muzzle Blast Dander” can be found in Refuge/Refugee (Chain Links, Vol 3).

Emily Abendroth--Tell Me What is Possible?

****Excerpt from “A Closing Note in Favor of the Improbable”
Emily Abendroth

TESSA: Tell me what is possible.

To which a subsequent hour’s now altered version of oneself surmises:

At this moment, I'm putting every wager on the prospect of constant reinvention while, at the same time, making no claims as to our capacity for scale. I want to acknowledge the craving that such a thing can happen and does happen, even if not always or only very rarely as we imagine it for ourselves. Further, I want to insist that it can happen without the demand for secession from everything and everyone with whom one has lived and invented oneself previously, but rather among them --- even perhaps by, with and under the careful shepherding, husbandry and compañera-ship of their encouragements. That may be going too far, I think, into the arena of wishes, into the impossible. One wish then is that "going too far" is what is possible.

Another wish is the fossil record itself - to cease hording it. Or at least to cease believing that we are its only seasoned or valid specimens.

Francois Luong

from Against Architecture

françois luong

how to build within
        a dissemination

        of cement    each

slab facing

        an opposite direction
    against the notion

         of a millstone
    or the notion
         of a road

arising from the cutting
            of the soil
those trenches that support
                the word

how words crumble 

in time

         the outline of
        a gate

    gradually losing
        its lattice frame
    until all that remains

describes a quarry 

        an outline
        to be used

la nécessité de plier 

print     le livre
          as enclosure

          a unbuilt roads
away from a constant
     space of appearances

between shadow
     and pigment

passing through a silicate
     matrix     not as impurity
but as light

          le mot du mur

au-delà du concret
             du béton
     we keep on building
               on adding

from ghost of notes
          letters as steps

toward an extension of space
     through poles and lines
     placed here
          and there

or as freely          across
          this expanse

a presence stolen by
     the frame of a doorway

under the condition
     not to end

     the book can only turn
into all that is there

     a house of infinite

walls     doors     windows

windows for an f
     function of an invariable
     frame surrounding

silhouettes     against
          the windowpane
in the margins

a succession of indeterminate

photo courtesy of Amy Trachtenberg

Originally from Strasbourg, France, françois luong lives in San Francisco. He has translated the works of Esther Tellermann, François Turcot, and Rémi Froger, as well as other francophone poets from France, Québec and elsewhere. His translations have appeared or are forthcoming in LIT, West Wind Review, Verse, Dandelion (Canada), Aufgabe, and elsewhere.

Robin Tremblay-McGaw, from after Oppen & Howe

Robin sweats at Funky Door Yoga in camel and standing-head-to-knee pose, lives in San Francisco, and edits this blog. Her work has appeared in Little Red Leaves, mirage, HOW2, and elsewhere; an article on the work of Joan Retallack is forthcoming in Aufgabe.

photo by Marie Regan


S   A   R   A    W  I  N  T  Z
is curating the Spring season of Small Press Traffic's Reading Series

On February 17th, she brought us: Maya Weeks, Andrew Kenower, Laura Woltag, and Laura Neuman.  The reading was diverse, the audience packed. I liked the work a lot. You can read some for yourself here:

Maya Weeks

Andrew Kenower

Laura Woltag

Laura Neuman

Laura Woltag at Small Press Traffic

from REFERVID VIRGA, from the section did our never sound?
by Laura Woltag 



a distance transgresses me to appear as you. a bundle of sumac reaches into the indecisive melt. when we have to split to speak and rip to hear. I just want it to lift, so I say rip me.

sight might seem then; regenerate loss

warming into what’s falling. the fence then flakes. a poke at a vacant other. until I remember to look up. until I remember what to look up.


a coreless flicker stings me, rescues you. a splint in a splitting sound, falsified by the flight it ravages.

so dictating to lose phenomenon’s all I am.

do you want water?


what filters us inhales. air composed mid-pressure to reassure a circulation. so realms where “we don’t belong” glide above a severely patterned course. individuating devices powered down.

glean anyone for liberty.

touch in itself touches blood. tied up tone. blood fields. scratches then deletes. lands me you.


in gathering, a dispersed person hinges
our feeling floods we need
in the tone—
horizon’s giant hinge
placates quiet
beyond powers to invoke it

the form takes its conduits and marshes them

bundle the stems, suspend


one that might be you slips outside the heat that’s not mine
completely trial
like tagging
yourself’s split


can you hear?
-no, can you hear?

Laura Woltag lives in the East Bay, where she tends to things. Her work has appeared in Try!, OMG! and is forthcoming in Mrs. Maybe and the Manifest Reading Series anthology. She facilitates a listening/sound studies class through the Bay Area Public School.

Andrew Kenower at Small Press Traffic

Democratic Vistas
by Andrew Kenower


The present: lack of actuals with excess fringe. The painting looked better at the office. EBT doesn’t cover unregulated boner pills at the corner store. Art du city trash is over! If you want it. This is the part where I set the scene and talk about my feelings. Who are you window dressing for?


Democratic Vistas


We traded the agents for agency in order to speak from a great height. But our voices diminished because they didn’t solve the food problem or serve as a means of forgetting the food problem. And so we stepped down from the height. No uncertain terms abounded but we could no longer adopt them. Our totalized binaries felt like coin flips for who took care of the dock sex this week – who pretended we took the puppy to the farm. Illustrate the scene with like some dead leaves or something. Oh how we thought that we could lead if we could know!


Democratic Vistas


Appeals to reason lay fallow – it’s power having been subsumed by the mores of long culture. God being unable to communicate in a single language was lost. Heads bowed and remained in that position. The pervasive homeland zeitgeist was still understood in terms of entitled scraps not belonging to or dependent on a whole. Whales continued to sort of exist. But the ambience of our security would destroy their brains.  The cause gets lost in fashion.


Democratic Vistas


The cargo cults are waiting for the GIs to come back with the goods. This would be humorous except for the widely held assumption that our redemption resides in a body beyond our own. That the final leader is waiting in the wings. That this final power could be known and interpreted. That a singular translation could be disseminated by a shared media. That people really want to live forever? In the summer after high school with their parents?

Democratic Vistas


Teenage sass ruled the day and so we went in our corners. Ancillary bright spots caroused in sweaty basements to the tuneless brays of our feeble representatives. To destroy oneself with deafening sheets of noise. To be absorbed by others in this destruction. To stink and to fall and to wail. We had to perform our difference just to seem real. Though our positions were left couched by this performance. That the terms of our discussion could not be articulated without the caveat of our being freaks.

Democratic Vistas


The committee approves the ocean of lemonade, acquisition of new moons. A tremulous affecting light surrounds the decision. In the evenings, quiet reflective dinners with the family. Ciders exfoliating the day. We ameliorate with collective hope. Opposition to the lemonade never existed. Babies clean themselves.


Democratic Vistas


There were tortured glances across a flat gray field of the undeservingly proud. We made eyes for the words refused to come. And when they did, it was mostly as a whispered, “I know.” Dancing was encouraged but we struggled (the boys would jump together or go too fast). Our bodies had never been trained in cooperative aesthetics, rather those beyond the realm of sport. Our bodies about math and faking it and lifting and dodgeball; our bodies about skin crème and oxy pads.


Democratic Vistas


Unfinished developments of the late oughties bereft of teenage bong smoke, finger sandwiches, hidden condoms, and hair dye. Suburban ruins as monuments to themselves. That this crushing is not endlessly reproducible. Sacramento is in remission and the pavement’s already warping. Torn Tyvek festooning the battlements. No saving grace but a reason to say it. Proof that even though the dream turns to your ex making out with your dad, you still get to wake up and it was all just.


Democratic Vistas


After we learned to dance it was kinda scary. Like, no one could keep their shirts on and we never ran out of booze. All that mojo that never got out of our early 20s filling the room like vinegar stink. Like getting whipped in the face by a sweat soaked Jerry curl. You didn’t know why but that question was hella irrelevant by the time you asked. Sometimes jealousy and better sense happened so we had to cut that shit out. But we got a commune in the end.


Poet Andrew Kenower curates the online audio archive A Voice Box and is co-curator of the Woolsey Heights Reading Series. He is the principle designer for Trafficker Press.

Laura Neuman at Small Press Traffic

by Laura Neuman

While I am drawing a line in notebooks
leaf getting redder
2 figs for Muybridge’s horse
the bust, wobbling   meg knocked into it
room’s big though
the Xerox in poor condition, the ink not really
uneven, just evidence of an unreasonable request
that carefully regulated breath, two decades of it
men leaning into a century under lamps
specimens shipped in rotting crates cross multiple 
seas: materials can’t make a clean escape to be thought through.
this is greg’s piece but it’s the same dancers sara and k. use
I said the problem was proximity
I was trying to be close to them   their work
writing is obedience   in the notebook   I was pretty
sure, you can look at the wrong things too long and
burn out your receptors  so what is left for our friends?
The horse is telling two stories about time.
One is familiar to us, involves flowers in the desert
the car, natalie and nick sneaking into tents, there are
three of us then two. The other story is the wrong story
but much more compelling.
You can get stuck using the wrong
medium, long for a car chase instead of a surface, you are
a kind of adventure story from the “wrong” kind of space
bypassing the culture for the jugular breath
the day we make laughter from musculature only  
but have to make up a way of being present in another city to do it
then all the cities    Thinking you are writing drafts
no you are  rehearsing for an activity    that is or may be called
“writing” maybe you have to give your notes to someone else to
write it (thanks eddie) or wanting to step to the other side of a diagram
 “I stabbed afacing and came to relation it”
This is textual    this is having a textual body inside other ones
we change clothes to meet, a new sweater, articulate a space
 in which to be someone who can be near     they are doing this now, but how to keep it straight, whose rehearsal is this?  oh, greg’s –it’s easy to tell    
It is always okay to violate our terms, now
for instance, kinesthetic vs. kinetic
a panther/line or notebook is soup for what is outside you singing you
Whatever is outside you is singing you always.
K. used Busby Berkeley videos to make an anthem so the person
watching could be Busby’s camera or eye, we are arranged around that or maybe the surface of our body is one side of the glass platform, real and virtual movements from diving girls sliding along us, but you have to leave room for the audience to fail at watching, it is a glorious thing to walk into the crowded
theater in the afternoon, wrappers crackling
hits New England again and again, I’m not
despair saved for friends in letters on surrounding continents
all the leaves in their exact copper scoured are
safe now   we’re practiced to keep
all these months in the line
 coming out of the movie theater in the afternoon
the sun falling onto a used diagram
who is falling, who is privileged to be a falling body
we can have a falling body together
whatever it is you have gazed at too long, goes first
I will go out into the world and think of you, I said
again and again, I will go    then bearing gifts: a hat of the finest
 blues, a dressing room mirror, some kind of tea   but I
don’t   I don’t think of you, I think of what we had made
or scoured, of things on tables lit by lamps.  I think
we practice for years to get to a place we will be
 by definition, contingent
I was pretty sure I could.

Laura Neuman is a poet and sometime performing artist living in Seattle. She/xe is the author of a chapbook, The Busy Life (Gazing Grain Press, 2012).  Some of hir poems can be found in The Brooklyn Rail, EOAGH, Fact-Simile, & OmniVerse, and are included in the forthcoming anthology, Troubling the Line (Nightboat & EOAGH).  In a former life in a very different city from the one she lives in now, she was a co-conspirator & performer with The Workshop for Potential Movement (www.potentiallymoving.org).