Friday, June 23, 2006

Last Lexiconjury

Well another era has come and gone. There were a few featured readers the other night who admitted that it was their first and last time at the Lexiconjury. It reminds me of when I was a 'featured reader' at my first and last Cafe May reading. When was that, like 1995? I remember I read "Whitman in Black" by Ted Berrigan (which I had to write out myself from memory not having brought a cover text. I think I got it wrong). And for my own poem I read something called "New Year's Poem" which was one of those 'letter poems' I was writing at the time in the style of Berrigan or O'Hara about sitting around my apartment late at night with a head cold. A fun evening, one of my earliest public readings in Toronto, where I met (read witnessed) people like Bill Kennedy, Christian Bok, John Barlow, Nancy Dembowski, Peter McPhee, Alana Wilcox, Matthew Remski, R.M. Vaughn, Michael Holmes, Darren Wershler-Henry, and others (I'm sorry if you were there and your name isn't here).

I've decided that 'endings' are a way to eschew meaningfulness on something that might not necessarily bear the same meaningfulness otherwise. What if the Cafe May reading series was still going on? It would probably be as meaningful as the Art Bar. If Lexiconjury kept going it's fate would be the same. Maybe Lex was the reincarnation of Cafe May, but was disguised by calling it 'Lexiconjury' rather than 'Cafe May' and had certain new technological features such as a listserve to help define/promote it. But let's admit that even if there were some similarities, they were two different series representing two different scenes. Super. Glad we figured that out.

One of the main differences, perhaps, is the varying degree to which entertainment infused the literary cultures the two series represented. A conversation with Margaret at the end of the night caused me to consider the difference between Angela's and Katherine's 'performance' of a Gertrude Stein text and Bill Kennedy's (who was a regular at the Cafe May and hosted that final event too if I remember correctly) 'reading' of Dewdney's "Grid Erectile" and a poem from Williams' Paterson. In the current state of culture, or perhaps it might be considered the 'new' state of culture, the notion of entertainment is a strong one. Gizmos, gadgets, television, the internet, movies, music at every turn. How can we not be entertained? This is not to say that the Cafe May was not entertainment- or pop culture-free. The night I was there I remember Michael Holmes' cover text being the lyrics to a Forgotten Rebels song, and I know that some of the early computer interface (read now as internet poetics, and read internet as pure eye candy) poetry was present there too in the form of Wershler-Henry, who performed his Translating Translating Apollinaire into Klingon translation, and Bok who performed some of his work. And I think there was some spoken word present too, which I have always interpreted as a way of making really uninteresting poems 'sound' entertaining.

Has thought become entertainment? Is poetry entertaining? It is a very curious thing to consider. If I don't want to 'perform' my texts (I know, I know, I know about the idea that all public appearances are 'performed') will I recede into the background? Anyway, this isn't about me. I don't want to go on record saying that the Lexiconjury was totally amazing and I don't want to go on record saying that the Lexiconjury was total crap. I'd rather go on record as saying that it was, as Mark has said, as close to a third place as I've ever found. Whatever it was, good or bad, smart, hip or superficial, the troubling thing is that it did something -- one could join in or react against it both from within or from the outside. It was there. And now it is gone, and I wonder how long it will be before people are telling me that there needs to be somewhere like Lexiconjury again the same way that I kept hearing that there needs to be somewhere like Cafe May again a few years after it had ended. And I wonder what the next third place will be for people to gather around.

One thing's for certain, you could buy some pretty fucking cool books at the Lexiconjury, heh? Isn't it fitting that at the last Lex someone stole Apollinaire's shelves?

1 comment:

  1. i am heartbroken to learn that the groovy shelves were lost. they never reappeared?

    otherwise enjoyed reading your blog.