Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Haptic: Dennis Tedlock, translator, reading from 2000 Years Of Mayan Literature (U.C. Press), Meridian Gallery, for the Poetry Center, San Francisco. 01/29/2010

Easy it is to account someone as a lyric poet. What one most often means by that is that the poem’s words are composed in such a way as to rise and sing as well as share other properties of music. But that description offers little in the way of concrete specifics and their differentiations. It is the same problem when one assumes that folks who make jazz are somehow similar. When what one really wants to hear and register are the ways in which the musicians are different. Similarly, when poets send their poems out into the air, we can listen closely for that; a poem or group of them will give off such different shapes, tones and rhythms, as well as such different senses of color or sometimes the complete absence of such. But more to the point, as a listener, it is to let ones body, ear and eye become unmistakably present. It is to hear the climb and fall of abbreviated or extended lines; the way they thread through resistances to make a tapestry of un-indentured spaces; there where the elements collide, collaborate or just as suddenly disappear; to resolve into a space where the lines or even rhythmic punctuation marks become specific signatures; to follow them across the poem’s field as they expand, multiply and accommodate whatever depth or height. The sensuous acknowledgement of the made space is the haptic one. 

[[My apologies to Hal, to Truck et al that I have not been more prolific here! I got implicated and obligated on another project. However, the entries and attention to writing about my 'haptic' drawing process has personally been quite helpful. I am preparing a book, Poetry Reading Haptics, that will incorporate versions of some of these entries. To be published in about a month. Meanwhile, if have interest in my work, my website remains:]]

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Where Quotes Impact The Hapic

There is an attractive way in which some poets will appropriate and re-incorporate the didactic texts from older, even ancient texts. I am talking here now of language in the  bed-rock of philosophical and/scientific writing, it’s familiarity and clarity even now more stone clear than the original moment of its creation. Take Hume or Spinoza or Plato. The quotes carefully framed and timed emerge in performance with the insistence and solidity of the textures of a cave wall. Such quotes often have the regenerative effect of reforming the power and re-use of a forgotten, and now valuable memory.  The poet Norma Cole for whom, unfortunately I have no haptic drawing, has done this kind of juxtaposition very well. 

Jonathan Skinner, poet & literary ecologist, reading at Green Arcade Bookstore, San Francisco 3.29.2010

In a more contemporary ecology conscious globe, the language can be made to again hear afresh. Familiar  or not, texts of the naturalists, say, Thoreau or Olmstead and/or the words of the late Rachel Carson, that is writers will shape the landscape of the listener. The quotes that emerge, whether lush or stark, are sometimes left as singular as stone, and/or they are juxtaposed against observations taken within the poet’s immediate world. To listen with a haptic ear to a reading in this context becomes a fugue of various dark and light, sometimes large volumes. These can  border on collision or fusion. Within that edgy, often transitional balance, a separate set of rhythmic marks and strokes of line will appear to stab or take flight across the page. The good poem well read – whether sourcing the contemporary or ancient – is in a face-off, a sounding out with what is immediately present and real. The poet reading well blesses this condition.
Jonathan Skinner, reading at Nonsite,San Francisco,  3.13.2010

[Tap cursor on drawing to enlarge]

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Well Read Poem Sheds Against Its Own Voice

Frank Sherlock, poet, reading at NonSite, San Francisco, 9.12.2009 
There are ways in which a well read poem will shed against its own voice. Which is say one is never hearing the poem as a tightly closed, logically constructed narrative. Or, if it is such, the poet reading that poem gives an opportunity with which an audience is soon bored!  Much better and more challenging is a poem with several interior trunks combined with several contrary seeming branches. Even more so  – inhabiting the spaces within and between those solid seeming forms - are the marks of diverse rhythms, both smooth and rugged jags of light and dark whose presence momentarily hovers to claim the air/ear before disappearing.  In that manner the live poet puts us on alert; with those strokes of language so unpredictable and various no longer is the listener secure in an abstract sky-box, but back in this world, an electrified witness, both mind and senses taking and living inside the poem’s measure. 

{Back in 2011, when my work was exhibited in may show, Poetry by Other Means, at the Jack Hanley Gallery in New York, I and the Gallery were really pleased to find most every 'art calendar' publication reproduced this haptic drawing.

[Tap cursor over the drawing to enlarge].

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Poetry as a Form of Investigative Flight

Will Alexander, poet, reading at the San Francisco State University Poetry Center, 3.11.2011

In terms of listening to poets the Haptic is a way to mediate and/or give a spatial view of the way a poem moves, indeed sometimes appears to fly into the world  – or, at least, the acoustic world as it is presented to our mind’s ear. When I hear the work of Will Alexander, the language seems to literally travel back and forth within and through inter-stellar congregations of space(s). The pens travel closely with the poet's voicw through both light and dark meshes of both perception and sound. We are on this world and then not. As a Black American poet, I often sense Alexander’s work is a refusal to be bound down, or up, in the given ropes of white and/or other kinds of repression. The music of Sun Ra, planet to planet, for example is similar in its refusal. The work of the haptic is to go to the felt and immediate life of the poem. The rhetoric of what the poem may or may not be about is given up. The tangible drawing replaces that. Not a window pointing our eyes elsewhere. The drawing equals its own substance.


Leslie Scalapino, Poet, Reading at Small Press Traffic, College of Arts, 3.20.2010

Some poets take use into darkness in which there is no sense of flight, but yet a persistent movement through whatever the obstacles. Leslie Scalapino read at Small Press Traffic two weeks – I believe – before she died. She had pancreatic cancer and there was no out from her condition. On stage she was very brave and said nothing about it. Her fidelity was to the language of her work. There was definitely a forboding sense of death within it. The work, as I now remember it, was a boat trip on a very polluted river in China. The fish rose barely through the muck to suck on the air. It was a work that evoked her own struggle to survive, but also the struggle of our globe, human and natural, to breathe. Her words remained intensely focused as they managed to make a weave. The pens followed her tightely focused observations into what here appears to be a combined vertical and horizontal web. The marks offer an insistence of the presence of her voice and thoughts as they seemed to float down this inevitable passage towards death. 


Kaia Sands. poet, reading at Small Press Traffic, 2.06.09

In a reading sometimes the poems flutter around the edges of an evening to slowly build their case. There may be an underlying argument going on. The poet does not want to take anyone for a fool. The work needs to accumulate not only evidence but a legitimate sense of passion. If it is not well done the cats in the audience will take the bird by its throat. On those occasions one can always sense a kind of pervasive silence in whatever the hall. On the other hand, if everything has gathered, the poem finds itself spreading its wings into an intense concatenation of words with which both poet and audience find themselves  risen. The lucidity can be sweet and overwhelming. In making a haptic drawing during a reading by Kaia Sands I watched the marks unfold as such into flight. 

[To be continued. Remember it is possible to tap the cursor on the drawing to enlarge it.}

Friday, September 11, 2015

On Poetry Reading Haptics - Part 3

CA Concread reading at Nonsite (San Francisco), 9.12.2009
  • Goes without saying, some poets are terrific performers. The voices fill the stage to flood and make articulate an intensity with words that rivets an audience. It's as if the poet had been flat dead on the ground, or feared for us all as such. The voice in all of its diverse physical and rhythmic force is a wake up call. Enemies will be conquered, oppressors will be turned around, we the audience will fly and drink at the mountain. The audience is transformed. The voice is an alchemical channel. Well made language, well performed is our friend. With some poets, the ones here, I find myself drawing that.  
Haptic: Judith Goldman, reading at Canessa Park Gallery, San Francisco. 9.20.2008

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Part 2 - The Poetry Reading Haptic

Haptic: Joseph Noble reading at Books & Bookshelves, San Francisco, 11.18.08

One of my first ever poetry readings took place in 1957 at the Gull Bookshop in Point Richmond on the northeast edge of San Francisco Bay. Hand in hand with the media coverage of Beatnik Life in North Beach, paperbacks, including City Lights Pocketbooks were the rage. One Friday night the Gull hosted a two poet reading. One was tall and one was David Meltzer, a young Beat, who is still with us. In my then 17 year-old head, I remember a large gallon bottle of Red Gallo on the floor with a stack of little white paper cups. I don’t remember the poetry much other than a certain lyric pleasure spliced with anger at “The Bomb” as well as “Square People.” I liked the poets’ sense of permission, to be able to say do that. But most of all I remember the tall poet going behind a thin curtain back to a bathroom with no door. For what seemed a long time he pissed with the intensity of a horse. To this very day, almost 60 years later, I remember the fierce, whistling durability of that sound.

Haptic: Beverly Dahlen reading at her "Tribute Celebration", Small Press Traffic, 12.04.2008

Which brings me to a point about the way I listen and make these haptic drawings during readings. Simply put, I listen and let my pens register whatever sound may be occurring in whatever might be in the space including foot-steps, creating chairs, the heating system, etc., as well as the poet’s voice; its rhythms,  the way he or she breathes, or sighs, or laughs or moves their arms and body. When the ‘room moves’, immersed in whatever the vibration(s), the pens move; every thing counts.

Haptic: Roberto Vargas, poet, at San Francisco State University, 40th Anniversary of the Student & Faculty Strike of 1968; 11.29.2008

Yet, there is another level to the work; the drawing becomes much more than a visual improvisation of marks made by this usually unacknowledged artist at the party. I want the drawing to be an implicit part of the entire play of the reading event. But more than that, as this drawing process has evolved over some years now, the pens enter a writer’s spoken work to become a visual manifestation of the shared psychic space and dynamic weave between the  poems and their audience.  
Haptic: Renee Gladman, poet/novelist reading for the San Francisco State Poetry Center, 9.24.2009

The drawing surface is a playground where the pens may “fly or fall." Without any pre-ordained intention, at their best the works become a fabric, if not a forest, of revelatory signs implicating everyone, including this maker.  

Ned Sublette, Composer/Writer, reading from The Year Before The Flood (Katrina) San Francisco State Poetry Center at the Green Arcade Bookstore, 10.29.2009

Stay 'tuned', the truck will be soon loading up with more!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Fanny Howe - from the Poetry Reading Haptic Series

Hello. My name is Stephen Vincent, poet, artist and photographer. Thank you, Halvard Johnson,  for inviting me to be your current September Truck Driver. I suspect I will be all over the map with my ‘goods’. As road deliveries go, I hope they find you well and pleasureful.

First, just to get started, I will unpack a couple of drawings that I call “haptics.” That is a kind of work in which the lines are dicatated by the sound and pulse of the environment. These two pieces were made on December 2008 while I listened to performances by the poet Fanny Howe.  Under the auspices of the San Francisco State University Poetry Center, in the afternoon she gave a poetry reading on campus; in the evening she delivered the annual George Oppen Memorial Lecture. Clipboard and paper in hand, I let the either hard or soft brush point ink pens follow the punctation, shapes and rhythms of her voice. Whatever came forth, melody, argument or whatever the construction of the work,  the pens were there with her as a kind of both witness and instrument, a visual weaver complimenting the mix:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Truck's new driver for September 2015

Truck's driver during the month of September 2015 will be Stephen Vincent.

Many thanks go to Volodymyr Bilyk for spinning us through August.

Truck's drivers/editors past, present and future as of Sept. 1, 2015


Stephen Vincent


Oct. 2015 -- Maxianne Berger
Nov. 2015 -- Alexander Jorgensen
Dec. 2015 -- Jane Joritz-Nakagawa
Jan. 2016 -- Michael Rothenberg
Feb. 2016 -- C. L. Bledsoe
Mar. 2016 -- Paul Sampson
Apr. 2016 -- Lynda Schor
May 2016 -- Allen Bramhall
June 2016 -- Joanna Howard
July 2016 -- Robert Archambeau
Aug. 2016 -- Lori Horvitz
Sept. 2016 -- Tero Hannula
Oct. 2016 -- Laura Young
Nov. 2016 -- Ric Carfagna
Dec. 2016 -- Philip Garrison


Apr. 2011 -- Kate Schapira

May 2011 -- Wendy Battin
June 2011 -- Frank Parker
July 2011 --  Skip Fox
Aug. 2011 -- Ken Wolman
Sept. 2011 -- Michael Tod Edgerton
Oct. 2011 -- Kelly Cherry
Nov. 2011 -- Andrew Burke
Dec. 2011 -- Lewis LaCook

Jan. 2012 --  Larissa Shmailo

Feb. 2012 -- Gerald Schwartz
Mar. 2012 -- Jukka-Pekka Kervinen
Apr. 2012 -- Lynda Schor
May 2012 -- David Graham
June 2012 -- Lars Palm
July 2012 --  Elizabeth Switaj
Aug. 2012 --  rob mclennan
Sept. 2012 -- Georgios Tsangaris
Oct. 2012 -- Douglas Barbour
Nov. 2012 -- Dirk Vekemans 
Dec. 2012 -- Erik Rzepka

Jan. 2013 -- Alan Britt
Feb. 2013 -- Mark Weiss
Mar. 2013-- Mary Kasimor
Apr. 2013-- John M. Bennett
May 2013-- Orchid Tierney
June 2013--Victoria Marinelli
July 2013 -- Volodymyr Bilyk
Aug. 2013 -- David Howard
Sept. 2013 -- Philip Meersman
Oct. 2013 -- Chris Lott
Nov. 2013 -- Alexander Cigale
Dec. 2013 -- Catherine Daly

Jan. 2014 -- Maria Damon
Feb. 2014 -- John Oughton
Mar. 2014 -- Colin Morton and MaryLee Bragg
Apr. 2014 -- Alan Sondheim
May 2014 -- Glenn Bach
June 2014 -- Bill Pearlman
July 2014 -- Edgar Gabriel Silex
Aug. 2014 -- Jerry McGuire
Sept. 2014 -- Karri Kokko
Oct. 2014 -- Márton Koppány
Nov. 2014 -- Anny Ballardini
Dec. 2014 -- Chris Lott

Jan. 2015 -- Marc Vincenz
Feb. 2015 -- mIEKAL aND
Mar. 2015 -- Eileen Tabios
Apr. 2015 -- Crag Hill
May 2015 -- Rudolfo Carrillo
June 2015 -- Gwyn McVay
July 2015 -- Matt Margo
Aug. 2015 -- Volodymyr Bilyk