The People: Episode 38 (Catherine Wagley and Dan Suess)

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. In this issue of The Conversant, we feature episode 38 of The People, with Catherine Wagley and Dan Suess

On this episode our guests are Catherine Wagley & Dan Suess. Catherine Wagley writes about art in Los Angeles. She has written for the LA Weekly, CARLA and Art News among other venues. Dan Suess is an Inorganic chemist. He is currently a post-doctoral scholar at UC Davis and he’s looking to start his own lab soon.

This episode in our Notes from The People we’re featuring a piece by the writer Divya Victor. Her book UNSUB is available from Insert Blanc Press and you can find out more about her work at The piece she’ll be reading here, Paper Boats is from her forthcoming book Kith which will be available in 2017 from Fence Books.

And we close out the show with a piece by Los Angeles artist and musician Corey Fogel. You can find more of Corey’s work at This piece was recorded live at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock on May 3rd, 2014 as part of the Terra Firma art show.

Ed Steck and Robert Fitterman

Robert Fitterman and Ed Steck
Robert Fitterman and Ed Steck

Ed Steck: Hello, Robert. Thanks, mate, for agreeing to be interviewed on my new book, Far Rainbow out now on Make Now Books.

Did you read my book? If so, did you like it or hate it? I was told recently that it’s important to voice one’s liking or hatred of an object. Please only indicate whether you liked it or hated it.

Robert Fitterman: Wait a minute… I’m confused… I was supposed to read the book! Hmm, gimme a few days…

OK, I’m back. I like it. Though I totally disagree with the like/dislike importance that you refer to. My reason for liking largely has to do with borrowing: Can I use any of this? How did they do that? Oh, that’s such a good idea! And, then there’s pleasure, which is sort of like liking but sexier.

Pop & Poetics: Phantoming Toward Utopia (Episode 3)

In the final installation of Pop & Poetics featuring Lisa Robertson and Grimes, Christy Davids and Crossley Simmons continue to delight in the unexpected intersectionality of poetry and pop music.This time, they consider the practice of obsolescence, which enables Grimes and Robertson to escape the confines of the expected. Ghosting or phantoming expectation, and emphasizing what Robertson calls “a sensed present,” not only enables one to elude systemic control (misogyny, capitalism, & even genre), but spurs political transformation. This, according to Lisa Robertson, is what utopia really is, and Grimes is a fellow practitioner.

Thom Donovan with David Buuck

Thom Donovan and David Buuck
Thom Donovan and David Buuck

Thom Donovan: From the very first text of SITE CITE CITY, you offer an investigation of time as a category and as a kind of material with which the artist/writer can work in the interest of activating revolutionary change. To perform this investigation, you explore and sometimes invent novel verb tenses and grammars, such as those you deploy in “Buried Treasure Island” in order to invoke a temporality of the “pre-enactment,” that which you would rehearse in anticipation of an era in which it “will have been.” There is something very sci-fi about this book, perhaps in the way Robert Smithson, Samuel Delaney, Octavia Butler, and Frederick Jameson have all shown duration to be a key battle ground for the reappropriation—the liberation, I should say—of bodies and landscapes captured by the forces of modernity. Perhaps we could start by talking a bit about the time-senses of this book, and if you also wish to, any connections you may wish to draw between the Left historically and sci fi as a genre.

Michael Martin Shea with Cecilia Corrigan and Andrew Durbin

Cecilia Corrigan and Andrew Durbin
Cecilia Corrigan and Andrew Durbin

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 included work by poets Andrew Durbin (from “You Are My Ducati”) and Cecilia Corrigan (from Titanic). They (virtually) sat down with BAX managing editor Michael Martin Shea to talk about “fantasyscapes,” collective thinking, and the power of communities.

Kristen Kosmas and Daniel Owen

Kristen Kosmas and Daniel Owen

I was invited to talk with Daniel Owen for The Conversant upon the occasion of his recently published book of poems, Toot Sweet (United Artists Books, 2015). I love talking with Daniel Owen. We met on January 15th at an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen where we talked for an hour and thirty-nine minutes. Following are excerpts from that conversation, which took place on a couch, in an elevator, and on the street. Dan and I had both recently seen Mac Wellman’s new play, The Offending Gesture, as well as the Findlay//Sandsmark piece o’death, which was visiting New York from Norway. We started our conversation by talking about language and nonlanguage in both those pieces.

DO: Because it was so bright and big and the way the space kept changing as newer things entered into it, and your vision, your sightlines were totally obscured and then other things became more noticeable and then other light, ’cause the light was so significant all the time that other shadows would all of a sudden develop, and everything kept changing and the way the leaves were moving would be different, and the sound, and it was pretty loud most of the time, I don’t know if it got much louder at the end because it was so loud throughout, but there’s the sense of it being louder, even if it wasn’t actually, just because it was denser.

Douglas Kearney with Michael Martin Shea

9780819576088Best American Experimental Writing i​s an anthology series focused on dynamic literature from both emerging and established writers. Selections come from work published in journals the previous year, unpublished solicitations, and a blind submission pool, and the anthology is collaboratively edited by the series editors (Seth Abramson and Jesse Damiani) and a yearly guest editor. This year, the guest editor of B​est American Experimental Writing w​as the poet, performer, and librettist Douglas Kearney, who spoke with BAX managing editor Michael Martin Shea about the selection process and what experimental art can mean today.

Michael Martin Shea: Hi Douglas! Thanks for taking the time to chat about BAX. I want to start off talking about the editing experience itself. Did the process of curating this anthology lead you to question or expand your own notion of “experimental writing?”

Douglas Kearney: One of the submission guidelines stated—I’ll paraphrase it—that “experimental” could simply mean experimental for the writer in question. Of course, to s​olicit a​nd then select writing of this character requires some knowledge of the writer’s more tried approaches. Even so, I find the idea of experimentation as a potentially idiosyncratic act to be consonant with the idea that experimental is, first, a process and not an aesthetic—a notion I found resonant before Seth invited me to serve as guest editor. On the other hand, working on B​AX 2015 ​led me to consider how what might not seem legibly experimental to some readers might be clearly experimental in the context of the tradition from which the writer works. I’d love to explore that more now as a reader than selector.

Pop And Poetics: Demystifying the Pastoral with Lisa Robertson & Grimes (Episode 2)

Robertson and Grimes, it seems, are just two pastoral phantoms singing to each other across a manufactured landscape. In the second installation of Pop & Poetics, Christy Davids and Crossley Simmons continue to delight in the unexpected intersectionality of Lisa Robertson’s writing and Claire Boucher’s (Grimes) music.

Christy Davids is a poet who often listens to the Beach Boys and thinks about great big trees. She recently completed her MFA at Temple University where she also teaches. Christy is an assistant editor at The Conversant, curates the Philadelphia-based reading series Charmed Instruments, and collects recordings at poetry//SOUNDS. Her chapbook Alphabet, Ontology was a finalist In Ahsahta’s 2015 chapbook contest; she has been published in VOLT, Open House, and A Few Lines magazine among others.

Crossley Simmons has a M.F.A. in Poetry from Temple University, and squats over 300 pounds. Her essay “be//headed” was awarded the Joseph Beam Prize for an essay or literary work “whose subject matter would be of interest and importance to sexual minorities.” Crossley is the last name of her Great Grandmother, Baba, who turned 97 this year in Memphis.

Lara Mimosa Montes with Gerard Malanga

Lara Mimosa Montes and Gerard Malanga. Lara Mimosa Montes, 2012. Photo © Gerard Malanga. Gerard Malanga and Xena, 2013. Photo © Asako Kitaori/Gerard Malanga Collection.

The first book of Gerard Malanga’s I ever owned was 100 Years Have Passed (Little Caesar, 1978). What initially drew me to it was the stark cover image, a photograph that reminded me of Man Ray’s disquieting photographs of mannequins. Whatever this had to do with poetry, I felt it was my job to find out because even though I didn’t know the first thing about Gerard, the small press life, or Dennis Cooper’s Little Caesar Press, I recognized that this enigmatic little book was authored by someone I needed to know. When Gerard and I finally met a month later, our encounter proved to be just as strange as my finding his book because even though I knew next-to-nothing about him, his days at The Factory, or the fact that he had been born in the Bronx (like me), it was as if I already knew him, he was that familiar to me. The following is a conversation between Gerard and I that follows up on some of the things we’d discussed the weekend we first met in February, 2012: the Bronx, Gerard’s life in the New York poetry scene, Marie Menken. This conversation took place via e-mail over the week of January 7th, 2016 to January 14th, 2016.