IMAGINARY LANDSCAPES: VANDALISM, ACTION BOOKS, & THE 2ND ANNUAL NEW YORK CITY POETRY FESTIVAL

by on Jul.19, 2012

Before I moved to New York as a Poet (I had lived in New York previously as an Actress, which is like living in an entirely different city) I had this hyper-mythologized idea of what it would be like to live the literary life in what I have always considered to be the only “real” city.

New York City is the most real city because it is the most overtly superficial. When I walk home from work along the East River there is a sign in a window I pass by that says “New York City: Judgmental of your shoes, not your beliefs.” & that is an incredibly (perhaps, dangerously) honest thing to say.

Being a poet in New York is essentially exactly what I thought it would be like except that I don’t ever wear black capri-length cigarette pants.

One time in South Bend before I moved to New York forever but after I had been there for a while and left, I was talking to Joyelle about Montevidayo. I was going to graduate in a few months and she made some comment about how Montevidayo is our ideal imaginary landscape, the invisible city where all who wish to engage in a certain kind of conversation can live among one another, regardless of their physical location.

I believe in nations & I believe in landscapes. & I think it is lovely that one exists, especially one that thrives on constant revolution and argument, one whose governing structure is discord.

The other night I took to the streets of the city with a can of spraypaint and a Sharpie and a glass jar of wheat paste and wrote lines from Plath and Eliot and Minnis on the tiled walls of subway stations and inside of photobooths in bars and signed the sidewalks. It was an incredible rush, to be a vandal; it felt like an act of nation-making.


This weekend The Poetry Society of New York is going to host its 2nd Annual New York City Poetry Festival on Governor’s Island and all the poets in the city will migrate from one island to another and for two days, have a little nation.

(Last night, a poet sat on a couch, drinking red wine, talking about the last night of the Bowery Poetry Club, which happened on Tuesday. She had ripped some signs off the walls and was sitting in front of one. Even if the poetry at TBPC was not always the “best” poetry, and even if it was, it was a location where the poet-identified could congregate; it meant something to a lot of people, and my friend was crying and calling the scene “total anarchy”).

Action Books is going to have a table, which will be staffed by Jiyoon Lee, Seth Oelbaum, and myself. The Bratty Poets are going to hang out there. We are going to make a little nation-state. We would like for you to stop by, if you are in or near the city, and come to the table to buy books and to talk about them and to have real-life conversations about the kinds of things we talk about here. We are going to break open space.

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