My Favorite Things:
A reading at Canessa in early 2010 given by Dana Ward, Stephanie Young and Alli Warren (which inspired Steve and I to publish Dana's "Typing 'Wild Speech'" which is also one of my favorite things of 2010.
Nicki Minaj's verse on "Monster" by Kanye West -- KILLS ME. Nicki has flow like the best of 'em, sass and wit like Missy Elliot and the divine slop and scrap of ODB. "Monster" is a battle cry for the freak artist and she's leading the the pack wearing wooly chaps, a boustier, a viking helmet and Braveheart style face paint. SO GOOD.
"Louie", a TV show written, directed and starring the comedian Louis C.K. -- Some of the smartest writing of any kind all year in TV or Film. C.K. walks you through his own psychic valleys and helps you take a look around. And it's fucking hilarious.
"I Got Plenty Money" by Plies -- This song makes me so happy.
Gucci Mane "The State vs. Radric Davis" -- This album got me into hip hop for real this year. I was already there but didn't know it, then I found myself listening to this album on repeat in The Post Apollo Press office and knew it was over.
"Shutterbug" by Big Boi - Buh buh buh buh buh buh BUH BUH. This song makes me hike my shoulders above my head, pop my elbows out and boogie. So satisfying.
"Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z -- The theme song for my trip to New York with Steve where we met up with Brandon, Alli, Dana, Sara, David and the New York poets. If you weren't psyched on New York already, this song will do it for you. We need a bay area jam like this.
"Well Meaning White Girl" by Alli Warren -- Yeah, Alli Warren. I always love Alli's work because it's sensually so fun and I feel challenged by it. I'm always amazed by the weird shit she pulls together into something artful and arresting. Food + money + office buildings + sex. Maybe those things are not that weird in themselves, but she does something to make them feel both alien and deeply desirable. This book is my favorite of hers so far.
Henry James (for the first time) -- Why didn't anyone tell me how crazy amazing this guy's writing is? I know, he's super basic, English 101 stuff but really? I nearly had a panic attack after finishing "The Turn of the Screw". His is such a beautiful description of the bizarre uniqueness of a single subjectivity and the isolation that creates. Bah!
David Wolach and Rob Halpern's reading at Sara and David's house -- Um, I had to pee so badly throughout this entire reading that I thought my bladder might implode but I couldn't bare to tear myself away from it until maybe the last 5 minutes in which I rushed off to save my body parts. Still, I know I missed something amazing in those 2 minutes. Dangit.
Condensary Reading Series -- Yes! I love a house reading series and this is our beacon for Bay Area happenings. If you want to know what Bay Area poets are up to, right now, in your neighborhood, sitting next to you, Condensary reading knows what's up. Was that an advertisement?
"Try! Magazine" -- Big Love 4-EVA
Brandon Brown, Alli Warren and Dana Ward's reading at Space Space/Poetry Time in NY -- Holy mother. This was probably the best reading I've seen all year. It was a game changer for me in that it made me go home and work really hard, knowing that the quality of the work and the quality of those readings would now be the bar with which I measure a reading experience from now on.
Brandon Brown's Mixtapes -- First off, I'm so happy Brandon made the "mixtapes" this year. Poets should publish their own work. It's the punk rock thing to do and then to combine that with the aesthetics of the rapper's mixtape is just extra fun and complicated. These poems are so dirty, reading them feels like chewing on a leather strap that you probably used to smack someone's ass with. And by that I mean, salty and really satisfying.
Brandon Brown's posts on the SFMOMA blog, Openspace -- especially the one about Conrad Ruiz and Kanye West. Poets should write about art. IT's the New York School thing to do and it worked for them for a reason. Keep 'em coming BB!
Paintings by Conrad Ruiz -- Um, no one can deny the power of a giant water color painting of a) Barack Obama riding a Corgy and shooting kitties and bunnies out of his palm b) WWF Wrestlers c) Tracy Morgan riding the centaur from "The Never Ending Story". I'm sorry, but these paintings will make you feel stupid for ever thinking you knew what was cool or interesting in art.
Ron Palmer's reading at Sara and David's house -- No one can write about the murderous doings of a serial killer and make it feel somehow tender and sublimely beautiful, except for Ron. When this book is finished, it is going to blow minds.
Dodie Bellamy's prose workshop featuring: Ted Rees, Mari Collins, Anne Mcguire, Ron Palmer, Matt Gordon, Maizie Gilbert, Drew Cushing, Pam Martin, Anne Walsh and Kevin Killian -- Good LORD. If you haven't attempted to scratch your fingers to bloody stumps in an attempt to break down Dodie and Kevin's door so that you can kneel on their carpet and beg to be in this workshop you should DO THAT, although you could just ask nicely too. (I realize that I keep writing advertisements, but honestly, this is more of a public service announcement). If you would like to write prose and/or you want to see first hand what the possibilities of prose writing are, take this workshop and definitely try to read something by everyone I listed above.
Konrad Steiner's 6 part video collaboration with Leslie Scalapino -- Stunningly beautiful.
Michael Nicoloff's recordings of Jen Manzano talking in her sleep -- I don't think you have to love these two people already to enjoy this, I think it is in fact hilarious and moving by nature, but I might be biased.
The Labor Convocation organized by Suzanne, Brandon, Sara, Alli and David -- I was so thankful for this conference. At a time when my generation is struggling to reconcile the promises and assurances of our parents generation with the financial realities and disillusionment of this year's economic failures, the organizers of the labor convocation recognized a need for discussion within our artistic community. There's so much to say about this event, but more important to say is that these kinds of events and discussions need to keep happening.
Dodie Bellamy's reading at Jason Morris' house back in April or so which ditto as above, inspired us to publish "Whistle While You Dixie", another favorite.
The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom by Leslie Scalapino -- So much has been said about this book and about Leslie's life and work, so I would just say that this is a book, I think, that will provide for us for a long time.
"The Shakers" by Kevin Killian and Wayne Smith -- Ha Ha. A melodrama set in a celibate Shaker Village, featuring an amnesiac Emily Dickinson. Perfect.
* I also want to say that I missed so many good readings this year and so many great books this year.