Julie Kantor and Jesse Nathan

Jesse Nathan and Julie Kantor
Jesse Nathan and Julie Kantor

Dikembe Press authors Julie Kantor and Jesse Nathan recently had a conversation. The contents of said conversation are below. Among other things, they discuss types of landscapes, the need to write, Google, and America. This conversation speaks to what drew us to their work, so we are excited to share it.

Jesse Nathan: How do you not get sad every day?

Julie Kantor: Oh, I’m sad every day. Sad is resting position. It’s probably not good to think that anyone who is happy is faking it. And I think that’s what I might think now that we’re getting down to it.

The People: Episode 41 (Asher Hartman and Chelsea Rector)

The People, with Insert Blanc Editor and Publisher Mathew Timmons and Insert Blanc Artist Ben White, features the voices and ideas of The People that make up the cultural landscape of Los Angeles, the west coast, and beyond on KCHUNG 1630AM every 3rd Sunday at 3pm and podcast on iTunes as The People Radio. The People is me, The People is you, The People is we, and You Can Too! … like a Broken Record magically repaired.

Asher Hartman is a Los Angeles based interdisciplinary artist who primarily works in the context of theater.

Chelsea Rector is a Los Angeles based interdisciplinary poet.

Bay Area Poet? Michael Nicoloff (Episode 5)

Michael Nicoloff is the author of the chapbooks “Punks”, Mixed Grill (Monologue Version), and I Hope You Die, as well as the CD “Punkses” (After Ketjak). With Alli Warren, he wrote Bruised Dick and Eunoia. Formerly a curator of the (New) Reading Series at 21 Grand and Artifact, he presently serves on the board of Small Press Traffic and is an organizer with the Bay Area Public School.

Sofi Thanhauser with Nick Thurston

Nick Thurston and Sofi Thanhauser

The conversation below is the first in a series of interviews with the three members of the editorial collective information as material: Nick Thurston, Craig Dworkin, and Simon Morris. The series will explore the work of each of these three men both inside and outside of that particular collaborative framework. It is meant in part as a an exploration on the nature of collaboration itself, and as a meditation on the relationship between the individual artist and the artist acting collectively. 

I first met Nick Thurston this February in Rochester, New York, where he was giving a talk to a classroom of undergraduate students at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The students had just finished reading Thurston’s recently release book Of the Subcontract.

Sofi Thanhauser: When I heard you present at RIT I was struck in particular by your intonation, by the way you seemed to be stringing a complex argument together using a logic that was partly sung. Later, when I read your piece Status­_Anxieties (Some notes on Of the Subcontract in The Journal of Conceptual Criticism, the little arrows threaded through the first part of the text reminded me of that musicality. It seems to me as though there is a consistent gesture in your work towards extralinguistic content; a harmonic playing under or through the expository prose that acts as an argument against taking meaning to be something hermetically sealed within words or sentences. Am I making too much of the way you talk?

Michael Martin Shea with Matthew Burnside and Alejandro Miguel Justino Crawford

Matthew Burnside and Alejandro Miguel Justino Crawford
Matthew Burnside and Alejandro Miguel Justino Crawford

Best American Experimental Writing is an anthology series focused on dynamic literature from both emerging and established writers. The most recent edition, BAX 2015, was released in January of this year by Wesleyan University Press, and the digital edition includes work from Matthew Burnside and Alejandro Miguel Justino Crawford that falls far outside the lines of what normally constitutes “the literary.” They (virtually) sat down with BAX managing editor Michael Martin Shea to discuss praxis maneuvers, God Mode, emergent gameplay, and what it means to be real.

Michael Martin Shea: Hey y’all! I’m really excited for this conversation. Before we get started, though, since both of your works might seem a bit unusual to your average reader, I was wondering: could you each describe the logic of the piece—where it came from and what the creative process was like?

Philip Metres with Polina Barskova

Philip Metres and Polina Barskova

This interview is part of a series, “Conversations after the Fall: Interviews with Contemporary Russian Poets,” which began as part of Philip Metres’s Thomas J. Watson Fellowship (1992-1993). It has been revived, some 20 years later, with new interviews of Russian and Russian-American poets. The complete archive will be published in book-form.

Philip Metres: If it’s not too boring, let’s begin at the beginning—when did you begin to write poems? Who was influential to you?

Polina Barskova: The question of when and how I started to write poetry still haunts me—like an improper mystery, and it is not clear if it has an answer, or even if it’s necessary. Even now, my publications biography reports that I am a child prodigy; on the eve of my fourth decade, it now sounds like an embarrassing joke. Here the special effect, I believe, is not that I began writing at age eight (since many children write poems, just as many children draw, and often the results of their activities are excellent), but the fact that my poems were published, that they continue to be published, and that I continue to write them.

Trey Moody with Joshua Ware

Joshua Ware - Content Writer
Joshua Ware and Trey Moody

Trey Moody: I know you’ve framed your recent collections, Unwanted Invention / Vargtimmen, as a tête-bêche artifact, but I’m curious: you must have a preference, however slight, for where you’d like your ideal reader to begin, right? On the spine, for instance, you had to make some layout decisions. Plus, knowing this work personally, there’s a clear chronological gap between these two collections (i.e. they weren’t written simultaneously).

The People: Episode 40 (Margaret Wappler and David P. Earle)

The People, with Insert Blanc Editor and Publisher Mathew Timmons and Insert Blanc Artist Ben White, features the voices and ideas of The People that make up the cultural landscape of Los Angeles, the west coast, and beyond on KCHUNG 1630AM every 3rd Sunday at 3pm and podcast on iTunes as The People Radio. The People is me, The People is you, The People is we, and You Can Too! … like a Broken Record magically repaired.

Margaret Wappler lives in Los Angeles and has written about the arts and pop culture for the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Elle, The Believer, The Village Voice and several other publications. Her work has appeared in Black Clock, Public Fiction and The Anthology Joyland Retro. Her first novel, Neon Green, is coming out from Unnamed Press in July 2016.

David P. Earle is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He also is a co-director of Elephant Art Space here in Glassell Park, Los Angeles. www.davidpearle.com

To close out the show, we have music from Chris Cohen, the title track from his new album As If Apart, released May 6, 2016 on the Captured Tracks label.

Caleb Beckwith with Gabriel Ojeda-Sague

Gabriel Ojeda-Sague
Gabriel Ojeda-Sague

Caleb Beckwith: First of all, congratulations. Your first full-length poetry collection, Oil and Candle (Timeless Infinite Light 2016), has gotten a significant amount of attention lately. I truthfully can’t remember the last time I was able to talk to a young writer about their first book with so much of the foundational critical apparatus already in place. Thanks to places like Entropy, Adroit Journal, and Apiary, we can cut right to the chase.

In another recent spotlight from Philly Mag, you describe writing Oil and Candle “during and after the climax of controversies around race in poetry in late 2014 and throughout 2015 . . . These debates were about white poets who were using the bodies of people of color, especially black people, for their art and poetry in violent and racist ways.” I think we all know to which controversies you’re referring, but could you unpack your involvement in a bit more detail? How did these controversies affected you as a QPOC attending a university in many ways at the epicenter of these controversies? And how do they continue to inform your creative practice?

Gabriel Ojeda-Sague: Well, let’s name them. We’ve got: Kenny Goldsmith’s performance and edit of the autopsy of Michael Brown, Vanessa Place’s Gone With the Wind twitter, Marjorie Perloff’s defense of KG, Ron Silliman’s defense of VP. More recently you’ve got those two poets making Mexican jokes and a Fence editor projecting the n-word at a reading. The list obviously goes on but that’s what I can remember right now. You are right that the University of Pennsylvania was sort of an unspoken hub for these controversies and debates. KG is a professor there, several of the Language poets (Ron included) are professors there. And a lot of those Language poets there were professors of mine. Some I’d even be willing to admit are the reasons I became committed to poetry. So yeah it was an awful time. Awful because what I saw then were people that I respected and even admired vehemently defending each other’s racist practices and performances. And then also many of my colleagues and current or former students of those teachers defending them by saying “Oh! But they’re such amazing teachers! I learned so much from them!” And I guess you could say the book starts from the realization that those things aren’t mutually exclusive, that the different mentor systems, support systems, and more generally poetic networks can also be toxic, discriminatory, racist, violent, elitist, etc.

Christy Davids with Maged Zaher

Maged Zaher and Christy Davids
Maged Zaher and Christy Davids

In this conversation we explore the way capitalism crafts the forms we write through, how capital shapes embodiment and the matter of who we love / how we love them. Zaher’s sixth book, The Consequences of My Body (Nightboat Books), lyrically examines the postmodern condition and lays its flaws bare, open.

Christy Davids: You write: “I am a descendant of ‘Udhri:’ Arab love poets; these are the ones I read as a teenager. More problematic than their poems are their stories, their myth about love without consummation. This idea entrenches the body – soul duality beyond repair.” I’d love it if you could speak to the relationship you are establishing between yourself and the Udhri love poem tradition, specifically what declaring and practicing that linkage means for The Consequences of My Body.

Bay Area Poet: Manifest Reading Series (Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, Cheena Marie Lo, and Kate Robinson)

Brittany Billmeyer-Finn is a poet and playwright living in Oakland, CA. She is the author of the full length title, the meshes from Black Radish Books. During her 2015 residency at SAFEhouse Arts in SF she directed her first play, the meshes an iteration in 2 acts. Her work has been published locally in Where Eagles Dare, Elderly, in the anthology; It is Night in San Francisco but It’s Sunny in Oakland, 580 Split, Hold: A Journal & her chapbook geraniums is published by Mondo Bummer. She has a forthcoming chapbook, Slabs coming out with the Tract Series from Timeless Infinite Light. More of her work can be found online at The Poetic Labor Project & Dusie #15.

Born in Manapla, Philippines, Cheena Marie Lo is a genderqueer poet based in Oakland, CA. They coordinate a youth art program at California College of the Arts, and co-edit the literary journal HOLD. A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters is just out from Commune Editions.

Kate Robinson is a writer and book artist living in Oakland, CA.