I read a lot of good stuff this year, but Pittsburgh-based poet Laura Warman's book is the only one I read TWICE!
How Much does It Cost? nestles in the murky terrain between Spam email and memoir, and has the alarming directness of address of some wrong number phone calls. (Is this for me??)
Laura generously listed some of her best things and moments of 2013 below.
SOME TOP THINGS OF 2013 BY LAURA A WARMAN
ZEE by Kurt Hentschlager
I have never felt all the cliches of Art Experience until I witnessed ZEE at the Wood Street Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA, an installation piece taking up a large room. Before entering the artwork I was warned multiple times that I shouldn’t enter if I was afraid, I shouldn’t enter if I had epilepsy, and I shouldn’t enter if I was pregnant. When I entered the piece, with a group of ten individuals, I was shocked. The piece was about 15 minutes long and for the entirety I wasn’t sure if I was dying/living, seeing/blinded, hearing/ deaf. It was a complete sensory experience. We were allowed to wander around the room but I was so afraid I could only hold onto a rope and go in circles around the perimeter of the piece. I saw light in new ways, I heard sound/ absence of sound. Each individual I talked to who saw the piece felt alone, like the experience was defined by how they alone processed light. Many felt like they were dying. It is hard for me to imagine how the piece was even created. There was heavy strobe, fog, and a soundtrack, but I couldn’t see anything. (It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.) Sadly, after three seizures occurred in the piece in three days, the City of Pittsburgh shut the artwork down. I hope ZEE can occur in other cities because it is something I will NEVER FORGET. It is every cliche.
BEST BOOK OF POETRY I READ
Rachel Zucker “Museum of Accidents”
It wasn’t published this year. But, this is the year I bought it. I remember sitting at a coffee shop in Squirrel Hill with the intention of chugging my coffee and continuing on with my day. I picked up this book and didn’t leave the coffee shop til the sun set and was faint with hunger. I cried and laughed at the same time, my nose filling with enough snot to drip down onto the page. Once I reached the middle of the book I found the poem Welcome to the Blighted Ovum Support Group. It so perfectly mixes the trauma of a miscarriage with the dis/connectedness of internet message boards. IT’S A BOOK OF POETRY THAT’S A PAGE TURNER.
BEST PROFESSIONAL POETRY READING
I may think this because it happened recently. I may think this because it was snowing, lightly. I may think this because I was wearing my fur coat, sipping black tea, and eating cut fruit off a platter when I had ten dollars in my bank account. The best professional poetry reading I saw was not Anne Carson at AWP (but you need to know I was there) the best poetry reading I saw was Patricia Smith!!!!!! She instantly warmed up the room. She read many poems from memory and read one of my favorite poems from her beautiful book, “Blood Dazzler”, titled ETHEL’S SESTINA. As she read the last lines, “I can't wait, Herbert. Lawd knows I can't wait. /Don't cry, boy, I ain't in that chair no more.” I felt my emotions leave my body and float a little towards Ethel. (I’m trying to say I cried.)
BEST POETRY DRAMA
“KILL LIST” by Josef Kaplan. Did you make the list? Did you feel threatened? Were you part of a joke? Was this a hoax? Did Kaplan make money? WHO REALLY KNOWS?
BEST JOLLY RANCHER FLAVOR