This interview with Hadara Bar-Nadav about Lullaby (with Exit Sign) and The Frame Called Ruin was conducted during the summer of 2013 by five poets: Jim Davis, Dan Fliegel, Adam Lizakowski, Anthony Opal, and C. Russell Price.
Q:Many of the pieces in Lullaby (with Exit Sign) are prose poems. Could you discuss your process regarding prose poems? For instance, do you consciously set out to write a poem without line breaks, or do you take a draft and then "stretch" it into the prose form--or both of these? Furthermore, what do you believe is lost, gained, or changed by writing and/or reading a poem that is in a prose format, specifically with the elimination of the "poetic line"/line break? Finally, many of your prose poems make use of many sentence fragments, such as, for example, in "To Ache Is Human," where your write, among others lines, "The nerve in nervous, in sever and serve." How do you use fragments to affect the rhythm or caesura in your prose poems?
The poems in Lullaby (with Exit Sign) are largely elegiac. I don't know that I initially decided to write a manuscript of prose poems. The weight of grief just leveled me, and leveled the poems in terms of form. Once I started to write a few of the Dickinson-inspired prose poems, I discovered I had a form to lean on, and this helped me as I navigated the writing of these (often difficult) elegies.
I don't think anything is lost in writing prose poems, except for, obviously, the line break. But the line break could be said to be "ghosted" in other ways; pauses become suggested through syntax and sound. The hard syntax and sound of the prose poems in Lullaby would have been too obvious, in my mind, broken into lines with neat end-rhymes. Nothing is neat about grief. It is messy and consuming, coming from all sides at once. The syntax and sound was thereby cast in tension against its form, which was a formal way of creating even more tension.
The way I use fragments is probably specific to each poem--each soundscape that arose as I was writing each poem. But I was very aware that many of these poems would need fragments--language at the breaking (or already broken) point. Many of these poems felt ripped through my teeth. I didn't necessarily want to write them (just as I didn't want my father to be dead). But I also knew I had to write them, for my family, for myself, and most importantly for other people, those readers who have suffered grief and loss. The poems helped me overcome the smothering silences that often surround grief. Ask someone whose family was killed in the Holocaust what silence is--large as an ocean, as the sky.
Poets Interview Poets: Over the course of May and June, interviews will by appearing by various poets discussing their most recent books. These interviews will be conducted by another group of poets including Jim Davis, Dan Fliegel, Adam Lizakowski, Anthony Opal, and C. Russell Price.
A very small, i.e. life sized, study of my hand with a brush (flat, sable, copper, mahogany signpainters' brush) done as a study for the hand in my big Conceiving Metaphor(m)s painting. It will be in the show though as well, near the big painting. The background image suggests this little one is transforming and enlarging into the other one. Oil on canvas about 14 x 15 cm, 6 x 5 in.
Here is one of the paintings in my upcoming Zurich installation. It is of me walking/hiking out of the Black Forest, as well as my dissertation. My shadow, holding two treking poles, only one clearly visible.
It is finally the time! After some years in the making, the room-filling painting-installation based on my PhD dissertation is opening at Jedlitschka Gallery in Zurich. You are cordially invited to the opening, I'd love to see you there.
Mark Staff Brandl
My Metaphor(m), Painting-Installation
28 Feb. - 18 April, 2013
28 Februar, 5 pm - 9 pm
the artist will be present
(as well as on Saturday, 2 March)
Laudatio/Opening Speech: 28 February 7 pm
Dr Philip Ursprung,
Professor Art and Architectur History at the ETH Zürich
Discussion with the Artist:
Friday 22 March, 7 pm
with Dr Gerhard Mack,
Editor and Critic for Art and Architecture at the NZZ am Sonntag
Finissage /Closing Reception:
Thursday, 18 April, 5 pm - 9 pm
The artist will be present.
Here is another painting from my upcoming installation in Zurich. It is of Eshu, the spirit of the crossroads in Yorùbá. Also known as Èṣù, Legba, Eleggua and identified with St. Anthony of Padua, Saint Michael or Santo Niño de Atocha in Santería. Èṣù is a spirit of Chaos and Trickery, and plays frequently by leading mortals to temptation and possible tribulation in the hopes that the experience will lead ultimately to their maturation. He is both young and old simultaneously. In my PhD dissertation I replaced the metaphoric figure of Oedipus with Eshu in my rewrite (misprision) of Harold Bloom's theory of misprision.
Oil and enamel on canvas.
The question is why these people -how were they chosen? Michelle Grabner is at least understandable, a sturdy if somewhat limited painter, and more notably an art world operator both here and abroad extraordinaire, she has inadvertently demonstrated via her multifaceted ' art career' the de Kooning dictum 'isn't it amazing how much you can do with so little". The problem I have with Michelle -whom I personally like, is, that aside from the fact she has a history here of championing really bad painting with a focus on aping what is internationally 'hot', is what a partisan power broker she has always been, bringing to Chicago via Suburban/ Poor Farm a steady stream of trending international fare -while presenting from here a rather narrow, myopic, self serving polemic as to what has currency, recently from the very painting department she heads. (think Reeder /Zukerman exhibitions at the MCA -which had her fingerprints all over both of them) Unfortunately, the middle brow academic abstraction in various guises she supports -from colorfield bland to dorm art quality histrionics has been played as if it were the only game in town (think Grabner, Ledgerwood, Gerber, Reeder). While coincidentally, (or not !) over the course of almost two decades of this dynamic, of a small circle of people, institutionally supported, holding sway here, interest in Chicago art -painting in particular- has not surprisingly plummeted at the international level. So, now along with ethical considerations of an artist curating her friends into a big show, comes the distinct possibility that the art world is going to experience the tedium of mediocrity, the tepid de-skill that has hung around the neck of the Chicago art world (and everywhere else) like a putrefying albatross for years at the Whitney. In other words, NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS! That there exists the potential of a show featuring some really bad crap may even be, the desired goal given the idiotic/imbecilic art world of today Michelle is such a purveyor of. Still, I am going to hope for the moment she transcends her milieu, and surprises me. Showing first of all more painting, and while rising to the occasion, confounds her friends while delighting her foes in a demonstration of shocking integrity showing not the usual suspects who she has championed in the past, but rather what is actually skilled, particular , original and fierce from here. Anthony Elms, that, is far more problematic, and nothing less than Kafkaesque: the inexorable creep forward of a petty bureaucrat... why this guy, this career mired in mediocrity at every turn? From failed artist to silly projects to reams of mediocre art writing,) going from an entry level position at Gallery 400 to another entry level assignment at the very small Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia. Its difficult to imagine they couldn't have done better. As for the film gentleman, echoing Werner Herzog's sentiments concerning his own participation in the last biennial, why is it other disciplines feel the need to invade the small realm of visual art? Last time I checked there were plenty of venues for any kind or type of effort in that particular medium.
Susan Slaviero's full-length collection of poetry, CYBORGIA, is available from Mayapple Press. Recent chapbooks include A Wicked Apple (Hyacinth Girl Press), Selections from The Murder Book (Winner of Ghost Ocean Magazine's 2011 Chapbook Contest), and Apocrypha (Dancing Girl Press). Her work has appeared in journals Fourteen Hills, Rhino, Oyez Review, Artifice Magazine, PANK and elsewhere. Susan has a BA in English/Professional & Creative Writing from Lewis University. She moonlights as a literary editor for blossombones and as a performer with the Chicago Poetry Bordello.
THE NOIR WIFE
She's smackleg, gunbody brilliant.
She knows how to pin a man with her
tailbone, pen him nitrogen-blind
like a block of dry ice. She's
Lauren Bacall with a cigarette
stuck to her gums, lipstick
smeared on her pretty
cupid's bow. Glasslights
The slogan of Modernism was Ezra Pound's "Make it new." The unspoken slogan of Postmodernism is "Make it clever." I suggest a new slogan for reaching beyond Postmodernism: "Make it yours, make it matter." --- Mark Staff Brandl.