Monday, June 20, 2011

Beach Ustream


                Jacob Steinberg and Spencer Madsen came together one Sunday night for poetry. Usually Sunday nights are dedicated to football. Poetry is better than football. Fuck football. On June 19th we had the explicit pleasure of witnessing this New York duo read online. Jupiter, Florida was their location, specifically a house roughly six miles away from the beach. To make the occasion even more special Spencer quit his job in a dramatic fashion and high-tailed it down to Steinberg’s house. You know, because poetry ought to be this dramatic, especially on the beach. 

                Beach Poetry could become a possible genre. Spencer Madsen wrote poems on the beach, making them ‘beach poetry’ or, as Frank Hinton put it ‘shoretry’. As Spencer spent a great deal of time in Florida, he overheard children’s conversations. Florida conversations by children tend to be a bit ridiculous. Somehow the mixture of tacky culture alongside a lack of any intellectual rigor (as per Spencer, nobody cares about art in Miami) makes it one of the wealthiest pieces of trash in the entire country if not the world. 

                I like how Spencer and Jacob tore apart Miami artists. That was fantastic. Each one completed the other’s thought about the sheer uselessness of the artists there, particularly one such idiot who wanted to call his gallery “Formalism” as he thought that would be the most radical name for it. Personally I’m amazed artists even live in Miami. Usually I figure artists move to Miami, no actual art originates from that location. How both Spencer and Jacob manage to survive in such a hostile, difficult, and stupid environment is beyond me. At least those mediocre artists paid for this duo’s sushi. So they had some value: transferring money to worthy poets. 

                Spencer read a poem from “Let People Poems”. He welcomed us to his poem. After we had been brought into the poem’s space, he began. I’m a big fan of Let People Poems. Reading about a sad human feels realistic. What I hope is someday Spencer finds ‘true love’. Or at the very least that he gets to ride his bike with someone sweet. 

                “Porn” Jackson Nieuwland’s chapbook received attention. For his poem Jackson focused on the importance of cuddling. Cuddling is a lost art form. As Jackson often focuses on the fantastic-ness of the world this feels like a logical place for him to explore. I’m amazed he managed to send his chapbook all the way to Mr. Steinberg’s address in Florida. Guess porn moves quickly. Jacob read it with his characteristic swag. As a bonus, he read his poems on “NewWaveVomit” as well. That was not all he needed to let out.

                Upon Jacob showing off his pink underwear and one rib, Spencer began reading. They had a ‘relay race’ poetry reading. “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” interested Spencer. As these were small pieces it fit in nicely to the poetry selections. David Foster Wallace wrote this book, a collection of 23 short stories. I miss him and feel a bit strange that “The Pale King” even got published as it is a bit of an ‘incomplete’ book of his. 


                I liked the focus on Julio Cortazar. Jacob translated these poems along with reading them. Apparently no one has bothered to translate his work into English, or precious little of it. Both Jacob Steinberg and Stephen Tully Dierks happen to be huge fans of this writer. Hopefully I can find more of it at some point, it is fantastic. 

                To show they were open to more experimental forms of prose they read “TLC’s” song “Waterfalls”. Or rather, Jacob did not read this, he felt it. I remember where I was when I first heard “Waterfalls”. For me, this song spoke volumes to me. Grade school suddenly became comprehensible with the help of this magnificent group. Suddenly everything in my life gained meaning thanks to TLC and this song in particular. 

                “Thought Catalog” came up. Spencer read his rejected article. “How to want to quit your Job” was the name of his article. In it he described in vivid detail about the dread of facing your job. Each bit mentioned the alarm clock, shower, train, bus, and thinking about the difference between you at home versus you at your workplace. Hearing him mention the tiniest of details convinces me people may be interested in the anguish of a workplace. Somehow I made it through five years with trepidation about such uncomfortable conversations with bosses.  

                Spencer will be coming out with a book. 95% of everything he’s ever written on the internet shall be removed. All of a sudden he’ll restart his brand (known as ‘rebranding’ by Impossible Mike) and become a new internet person. I think this is great idea. The book (entitled ‘A Million Bears’) will bring Spencer Madsen the poetry groupies he’s always wanted. 

                Carolyn DeCarlo had her poem read. This gets extremely explicit. While I’d like to explain what happens in the poem, I don’t want to ruin it. Details help build the scene and contribute to the mood of the poem. Eventually the focus shifts away from the individual’s perspective on pleasure to helping others. 

                “Goldfish” talked about the stupidity of fish. Jacob thought the Goldfish had it easy. They don’t remember anything. Instead of engaging or remembering things they manage to live in the moment, not experiencing pain. Love can copy this fleeting moment. Having these intense emotions means you often forget about the past and hope for the best future. 

                We watched as Spencer and Jacob bore their very souls at the end. Seeing the two of them bond at the end helped me understand how important words can be. These two were brought together by a love of the word. Now I hope to see them do future ustreams as this unstoppable poetic force. Perhaps they might even bring some semblance of intelligence to the most vapid state in the union but that may be asking too much.

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