Saturday, October 31, 2009

Angela Hume interviews Shannon Tharp

Angela Hume: Why so few words here? What’s the value of (this breed of) asceticism for you, in your time and place? Is this asceticism? If not, what is it?

Shannon Tharp: So few words might have to do with my cutting away at phrases and notes; they might have to do with being quiet; they might have to do with waiting. What I know: the poems’ figurations lend themselves to asceticism, but the poems’ guts do not. What’s to be said is said as plainly as it needs to be said, nothing more. Omission’s at work. And we all know that omissions are not accidents…

AH: Talk about Objectivist poetics (upon reading your poems, I’m thinking, of course, of Niedecker). What can it teach us in the 21st century?

ST: Louis Zukofsky said the poet’s purpose is “to make of his words a new form: to invent, that is, an object consonant with his day.” Objectivist poetics can teach us to look at and listen to words and the world (for a really long time if need be). I don’t know that the concentration required for said looking and listening is any different from the concentration required for many other activities. I’m thinking here of learning how to play an instrument, drive a car, walk. All kinds of things.
Anyway, would Objectivist poetics have us strive for perfectly wrought poems? No. But it would have us pay attention to how we respond to the world, and what we put into the world. You mentioned Niedecker: her “depth of emotion condensed” is something to strive for.

AH: In your poem “The whole scene comes before us,” you write, “there is // responsibility / in vision.” For you, what is this “responsibility”? As a poet who *sees*, what is your re-visionary work?

ST: The responsibility I’m getting at is fidelity to the real. I can only present what’s in front of me—what I think I do or don’t know—as best I can at any given moment. It’s difficult. What Gertrude Stein said in “Composition as Explanation” might help: “Each period of living differs from any other period of living not in the way life is but in the way life is conducted…”

AH: Here, in your chapbook Determined by Aperture, are gorgeously and painfully distilled seeing and hearings of “nature.” What kind of “nature” is this? What does distilled seeing and hearing do for the “natural” world these days?

ST: The nature you’re asking about, as I’ve felt it, is a combination of a) the nature some take for granted and/or assume—the tree, rock, water ilk, and b) the internal—what one sees, hears, feels, thinks, etc.
For me, there’s a lot of anxiety, dis-ease, and restlessness involved in nature. I’ve noticed that when obligations encroach, I read and write poems. It’s my way of closing out whatever’s closing in on me. Location’s a large part of nature, too. I feel at home in Seattle much differently than I feel at home in Gillette, Wyoming. And a city can be disheartening in a much different way than a small town can be disheartening. There’s a tension between urban and rural landscapes that likely affects what I write.

AH: When you’re “closing out whatever's closing in,” what are you doing to the “out,” i.e., to what’s outside? How do you read your own “closing”? Is it actually a “closing”?

ST: I’m ignoring day-to-day activities that take up a lot of my time—planning lessons, reading case studies, responding to e-mails, etc. I'm backing away from clutter. That said, I don’t ignore what’s outside of me. I’d really like to know what’s outside, what it is. Writing allows me to address that uncertainty and respond to it. My closing can’t be a closing if I ask (and want) the outside to come in.

AH: What is your project now? How do your poems look, sound, and feel different from the poems you published as Determined by Aperture? Where is your work going?

ST: I’m in school for library science, and there’s a lot of discussion about what, exactly, functions as information. (There are many answers.) That’s right up my cognitive alley, and not unlike reading a William Bronk poem. All this talk of making sense of things has lent itself nicely to writing as of late. There are longer poems, poems that’ve broken away from the good ol’ left margin, and prose poems at work right now. And I’ve been revising a book of poems, The Cost of Walking, for several years. Where the work is going is hard to say.

Shannon Tharp is the author of Each Real Bird (The Elliott Press, 2006) and Determined by Aperture (Fewer & Further Press, 2008). Her poems have appeared in The Cultural Society, Effing Magazine, The New Ohio Review, and The New Yinzer, among others. She is from Wyoming and lives in Seattle, where she is a teacher and librarian.

Angela Hume lives in Oakland. She holds an MFA in poetry from St. Mary’s College of CA and is working on a PhD in English at UC Davis. Her poems have appeared in cold-drill, The Portland Review, Flyway Literary Journal, and others.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

November 6th!

Check it out--

Shannon Tharp is the author of Each Real Bird (The Elliott Press, 2006) and Determined by Aperture (Fewer & Further Press, 2008). Her poems have appeared in The Cultural Society, Effing Magazine, The New Ohio Review, and The New Yinzer, among others. She is from Wyoming and lives in Seattle, where she is a teacher and librarian.

Widely known as the ‘drummer dude’ in Comets on Fire, Utrillo Kushner’s musical talents range far beyond the drunken-master-style wailing he unleashes on any given night with the Comets. Having tickled the ivories for close to a decade, Kushner assumes command of the keys in Colossal Yes and steps it up as a full-fledged piano man. Two elements that should damn Colossal Yes to lite-rock purgatory - unabashed sincerity and piano-playing - miraculously works to the band's advantage. Somehow, when untainted musicianship meets earnest presentation something happens, and the results are damn good. Maybe it’s just the joy of creation. The true essence of rock, stripped to its essentials by virtue of its vainglorious indulgences, existing forever as the absolute articulation of the form. Think simple melodies and basic structures with lyrical territories such as expired youth, grand betrayals, overdrawn faculties, and dissolving empires. In this regard, Kushner pays respect to songwriters like Robyn Hitchcock, Dan Bejar of Destroyer, and Alex Chilton while also incorporating the honesty of Graham Nash's Songs for Beginners, the romanticism of Nikki Sudden's Waiting on Egypt, and the sonic merriment of Thunderclap Newman's Hollywood Dream. Colossal Yes is the greatest affirmation of them all, bigger than big, and there’s no joke behind the smiling.

Gillian Conoley’s most recent collection is THE PLOT GENIE with Omnidawn Publishing (fall 2009). The author of six collections of poetry, her work has appeared in over 20 national and international anthologies, including W.W. Norton’s American Hybrid, Counterpath’s Postmodern Lyricisms, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Nuova Poesia Americana, and Best American Poetry. She has received the Jerome J. Shestack Award from The American Poetry Review, several Pushcart Prizes, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and a Fund for Poetry Award. Editor and founder of Volt magazine, she teaches in the Program for Writers and Poets at Sonoma State University.

doors at 7
readings at 730, sharps

365 45th st

donation for entry & beverage

Monday, October 19, 2009

Also at the Studio on Nov. 6th

Studio One • Presentation on the History of Temescal • November 6, 2009

In celebration of Studio One’s 60th anniversary, community artist and neighborhood historian, Jeff Norman, will present a talk and slide show on the history of Studio One as part of the art center’s First Friday event on November 6, 2009. Jeff’s presentation will cover the history of the 115-year-old building that Studio One occupies, as well as the philosophy, vision, and leadership that established the city-run program in North Oakland. Jeff's recent book, Temescal Legacies, includes a chapter on Studio's One's unique history. Jeff will be available to sign copies of his book following the program.

For thirty years, artist Jeff Norman has been using images and text to address how we experience our everyday environments. Since 1996, his community art projects specifically have explored a wide range of physical and social changes that have occurred in the Temescal district and surrounding neighborhoods of North Oakland.

His projects include: Beyond the Pussycat: Nine Lives of a Neighborhood Landmark, installed in 2000 on the former theater site at Telegraph and 51st St.; and History Walk, a tile photo/text walkway commissioned by the City of Oakland for the Station 8 firehouse on 51st St.

Through Shared Ground, an organization he founded in 1998, Jeff also has produced in collaboration with others the local history book, Temescal Album; the video, Where We Live: Stories from Temescal; and PostMark Temescal, a community interpretive site on Shattuck Ave. outside the North Oakland Post Office. For more information on these and others of Jeff’s projects, visit

Starts at 7:00 pm in the theatre room

Friday, October 16, 2009

i like this

and thought you might too.

Annie Vought . com

check it out at her site which lets you enlarge the pieces and poke around more.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

D. Scott Miller interviews giovanni singleton

giovanni singleton and Brenda Hillman are reading tonight at Studio One Arts Center 7:30pm

D. Scott Miller: In what ways does truth - however you define it - enter into your work?

giovanni singleton: Not sure if truth of my own making/definition enters into my work. Such has proven to be a rather nasty stumbling block in previous writing endeavors. The work, I feel, brings a certain truth along with it. And it isn't always pleasant, reasonable, recognizable, or even coherent to me. Honesty and trust are perhaps more my domain.

DSM:Reading your work, particularly ascension, I'm struck by the dream-like nature of your imagery. How do dreams play within your work? How do you capture the ethereal quality of a dream or translate it into something accessible to the reader?

gs: Those are good questions. Tough. I often find playing in the back of my mind the lyrics of Row, Row, Row Your Boat, the last line of which is "Life is but a dream." What I am interested in are ways in which it might be possible to give "dream" and "reality" equal weight and measure. Neither is elevated above the other. I'd like to see/think of them as being both plausible and implausible. I am reminded of the Lankavatara Sutra's words "Things are not as they seem nor or they otherwise." This then dismantles the dualistic relationship between dream and reality. I like that open field. Dreams can be useful when not appended to Hope and Fear which again makes for a field that's open. I think an ethereal quality is somewhat necessary in order to deal with struggle and with its cessation. Impermanence as well as a connection/recognition of something greater than the "I" is also in the language of dream or the ethereal. No real in unreal. No real in real either.

DSM: Boundaries (between artist and subject, reader and writer, subject and object, object and other) sometimes seem to disappear in your larger pieces. Is this intentional or just a by-product of your process?

gs: In most instances in a life, good boundaries are important. Mind the fence. However, it is a big relief when the veil drops away and reveals the interconnectedness that holds the universe together. I wasn't aware that working on larger/longer pieces allowed for this to happen but I suppose it does. It's the removal of excess. Spaciousness is amazing canvas, I think. Erasable too.

D. Scot Miller is a Bay Area writer, visual artist , teacher, curator. He sits on the board of directors of nocturnes (re)view, and is a regular contributor to The East Bay Express, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Popmatters, and Mosaic Magazine. He is completing a book of poems, his Afro-surreal novel, Knot Frum Hear, and has recently published his old fashioned manifesto simply titled: AfroSurreal.

giovanni singleton, a native of Richmond, VA and former debutant, is founding editor of nocturnes (re)view, a journal dedicated to innovative and experimental work of the African Diaspora and other contested spaces. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including Aufgabe, Callaloo,, Alehouse, Beyond the Frontier: African American Poets for the Millennium, the Best of Fence: An Anthology, and is forthcoming in What I Say: Innovative Poetries by Black Artists in America and Writing Self and Community: African American Poetry After the Civil Rights Movement. Work from her AMERICAN LETTERS series was selected for San Francisco’s 1st Visual Poetry & Performance Festival. Her recently completed manuscript ascension is informed by the music and life of Alice Coltrane. She collects bookmarks and enjoys figs and greek style yogurt.