[-empyre-] Poetry and Play

Margaret Rhee mrheeloy at gmail.com
Thu Oct 10 04:45:19 AEDT 2019

Hi everyone,

Writing again to start a new thread for this week on Poetry and Play.
Honored to introduce the following poets to this week who play across
poetry and other artforms; such as the visual art of Truong Tran, textiles
work of Maria Damon, graphic design interventions of Kenji Liu and
experimental films by Lynne Sachs and her new collection YEAR BY YEAR
POEMS just
released by Tender Buttons Poetry.

The artists this week express a range of practices in conversation with
poetry. Building upon this notion of play, and other issues that emerged
such as logics and academic capitalism for example, we’re honored to hear
further from this week’s participants to share about their work and
practices of play in multiple genres and poetics. I placed their bios
below, and the description of the forum. It would be great to hear further
about your poetry practice and as it intersects with other art forms. Thank
you Truong, Lynne, Kenji, and Maria for joining us.


Truong Tran is a poet and visual artist. He received his MFA from San
Francisco State University in 1995 in the field of writing. He is the
author numerous volumes of poetry. He is a self taught visual artist whose
work has been exhibited in venues including the California Historical
Society, California Institute of Integral Studies, SOMArts Gallery,
Telegraph Hill Gallery and The San Francisco International Art Market Art
Fair, Avenue 12 Gallery and The Peninsula Museum of Art. Truong lives in
San Francisco and teaches at Mills College.

Lynne Sachs makes films and writes poems that explore the intricate
relationship between personal observations and broader historical
experiences. Her work embraces hybrid form and combines memoir with
experimental, documentary, and fictional modes. In recent years, she has
expanded her practice to include live performance with moving image. Lynne was
first exposed to poetry by her great aunt as a child in Memphis,
Tennessee.  Soon she was frequenting workshops at the local library and
getting a chance to learn from poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Ethridge
Knight. As an active member of Brown University’s undergraduate poetry
community, she shared her early poems with fellow poet Stacy Doris. Lynne later
discovered her love of filmmaking while living in San Francisco where she
worked with artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, Carolee
Schneeman, and Trinh T. Minh-ha.  Lynne has made thirty-five films which
have screened at the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival,
the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker
Art Center, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Festivals in Buenos Aires,
Beijing and Havana have presented retrospectives of her work. Lynne received
a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in Brooklyn. In October, Tender
Buttons Press, which publishes experimental women's and gender-expansive
poetry, is releasing Lynne's book YEAR BY YEAR POEMS (2019) which is now
available through Small Press Distribution.

Kenji C. Liu is a visual artist and author of *Monsters I Have Been* (Alice
James Books, 2019) and *Map of an Onion*, national winner of the 2015
Hillary Gravendyk Poetry Prize (Inlandia Institute). His poetry is in
numerous journals, anthologies, magazines, and two chapbooks, *Craters: A
Field Guide* (2017) and *You Left Without Your Shoes* (2009). An alumnus of
Kundiman, VONA/Voices, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and the Community
of Writers, he lives in occupied Tongva land, where he lectures in Asian
American Studies at UCLA, Art at Occidental College, and manages creative
place-keeping initiatives in Little Tokyo.

Maria Damon teaches in the Department of Humanities and Media Studies and
in the Department of Writing at the Pratt Institute of Art. She holds a
Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University and a B.A.
from Hampshire College, and taught for many years in the Department of
English at the University of Minnesota.  She is the author of *The Dark End
of the Street: Margins in American Vanguard Poetry*(University of Minnesota
Press, 1994) and *Postliterary America: From Bagel Shop Jazz to
Micropoetries*(University of Iowa Press, 2011), both of which explored the
edges of “poetry” from alternative canons to subcultural imaginative verbal
practices. She co-edited (with Ira Livingston) *Poetry and Cultural
Studies: A Reader*(University of Illinois Press, 2009). She has published a
number of online multi-media/poetry projects with mIEKAL aND, which have
also been published as print books: *Literature Nation*(Potes & Poets),
which was the first full-length hypertext poem online;
*pleasureTEXTpossession*(Xexoxial Editions); and *eros/ion*(Ntamo) –all of
which (and a few more) can be found at http://joglars.org/multidex.html.
She has also collaborated with Adeena Karasick, Alan Sondheim, Michelle
Goldblatt, and Jukka-Pekka Kervinen. Her scholarship has been
published in *American
Literary History*, *SAQ*, *Cultural Studies*, *Cultural Critique*, *Postmodern
Culture*, *Modern Fiction Studies*, *jacket2*, *Xcp: Cross-cultural Poetics*
, *Cybertext Yearbook*, *Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies*, *Electronic
Book Review*, etc., as well as in a number of books of essays on subjects
such as performed poetry, cultural Jewishness, modernist American poetry,
queer beat poetry, diasporic avant-gardes, and individual writers such as
Bob Kaufman, Jack Spicer, Gertrude Stein and (forthcoming) Nathaniel
Mackey. She edited a special section (focused on the work of Bob Kaufman)
for a special issue on jazz poetics of *Callaloo*.

She also has a practice as a textile worker in weaving and counted
cross-stitch, and has produced two chapbooks of “x-stitch vispo”
(cross-stitch visual poetry): *meshwards*(Dusie Kollektiv, 2011 and
http://www.dusie.org/Damon%20Meshwards.pdf) and *XXX*(nous-zot, 2015). Her
work has been exhibited in various visual poetry and/or text/textile shows.

On Practice and Play: Gestures Across Genres

In this month's -empyre- forum, we take up the question of productivity and
and the politics of play, and how playing across genres, mediums, forms,
disciplines, and departments, etc. makes for new kinds of innovative art,
thinking, and community; and in doing so, better intervenes and gestures
toward transformative futures. The current conspiracy-us versus them-
culture perhaps exemplifies the problem of singular thinking and the need
for creative, eclectic, and innovative practices more than ever. We’re
interested in artists, thinkers, and activists with practices that cross
over boundaries and intervene in dichotomous logics. With attention to
justice, we explore how multiple forms of art practices prompt us to
reimagine different kind of worlds, as strategy and survival. Initially
inspired by Tony Conrad's work, his practice spans across film, music,
writing, and sculptures, we playfully ask how play lends itself to more
libratory ways of creation and practice.

We begin with the first week on media and new media art in conversation.
with Tony Conrad's playful work across mediums, we then move into a second
week asking questions on poetry and playing across the visual, cinematic,
and theoretical, the third week is dedicated to the theme of ethnography
across forms such as photography, film, and poetry, the forth week focuses
on the ways artists advocate for decolonial and racial resistance through
playing across genres and forms. While seemingly diverse, we hope the
loosely organized topics will lend itself to connections between the weeks,
and across the genres and themes presented. With attention to questions
such as capital, creativity, institutional critique, and justice, we’re
honored to have the following artists and thinkers join us for this
conversation and reflect on the possibilities of practice, gestures, and

We also invite our -empyre- subscribers, whose own work broadly resonates
with the themes of practice and play, to join the conversation. What are
the ways your practice has played or plays across genres? Have you faced
institutional challenges in crossing disciplinary divides, and if so, how
did you overcome them? Is play and practice productive? We explore this
topic of play through four loose themes. We welcome our guests and all
-empyre- subscribers to actively participate and post this month and share
your practices and experiences of playing across genres and any questions
that arise. We look forward to the conversation.


Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.

College Fellow in Digital Practice (2018 - 2019)
Department of English
Harvard University

Assistant Professor in Media Theory (2019)
Department of Media Study
SUNY Buffalo
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