Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Attention Span 2011 | Sara Wintz

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Richard Cándida-Smith | Utopia and Dissent: Art, Poetry, And Politics in California | California | 1996
Jack Spicer | The House That Jack Built: The Selected Lectures of Jack Spicer | Wesleyan | 1998
Josephine Miles | “What We Compose” | College Composition and Communication, Vol. 14, No.3 | 1963
Carl Maas | The Penguin Guide to California | Penguin | 1947
David Zwirner Gallery | Primary Atmospheres: Works from California 1960-1970

At some point I became super interested in California. Well, actually I was always interested in California but this year I read a lot about it. Utopia and Dissent is a book that I found on a shelf at the library at Mills College: where I went to undergrad. I started reading it beginning with the introduction because I couldn’t understand California art. Why did it all look different than what I saw as a teenager growing up in New York? The Introduction to Utopia and Dissent was/is a good introduction. Cándida-Smith touches on some of the origins of California art: that it developed in isolation from much of the United States, that the art that people made was created for each other—as opposed to being shown in galleries—and the difficulties of bringing a canvas across country in a wagon. This year I read the rest of the book. The chapters on Joan Brown+Jay Defeo, Wallace Berman, and Kenneth Rexroth I particularly loved.

Joan Didion | Where I Was From | Vintage | 2004
Eileen Myles | Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) | OR | 2010

I read Where I Was From and started crying on the airplane from San Diego to Newark coming home from family vacation. My mom was sitting next to me. I’m surprised that she didn’t say anything but I’m sure that I concealed it fairly well. I’ve had conversations with two different women this year about the relationship between geography and identity and Where I Was From came up both times. (Though one time it was [#oops] invoked by me.) Didion’s a powerhouse—I always use her essay “In Bed” (from The White Album) as an example—that she can write an essay about being stuck in bed with a migraine and still make it interesting. Justin Taylor told me to read Inferno after I had a tough time at a poetry reading. I borrowed his copy and read it on my way to work at Pratt on the G train at the beginning of summer. It ruled.

George Oppen | Of Being Numerous | Complete Reading Broadcast by KPFA | August 22, 1968

George Oppen is another one that I got into in undergrad. I read Of Being Numerous while sitting outside of the music building at Mills. I think I pretty much read it in one sitting and when I finished I thought, “This is my favorite book.” It’s still one of my favorites. Oppen was invoked a lot last summer at Bard—I think that he was on a lot of people’s minds. I love that phrase “the crystal fact.” I wonder why I keep hearing about him. I guess that this happens with lots of writers sometimes. I rode the bus from New York to Boston to crash a wedding with Andrew Kenower in the spring of this year and listened to this recording of Oppen reading Of Being Numerous while staring out the window and when I arrived in Boston Andrew was reading Oppen too.

Steve Dixon | Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation | MIT | 2007
Sally Banes | Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance | Wesleyan | 1987
Sue-Ellen Case | Performing Science and the Virtual | Routledge | 2006
Cecilia Corrigan | Selected YouTube Videos | Philadelphia | —

I became interested in performance. Partly because of my job this past year writing about performance for Peak Performances @Montclair’s outreach blog and partly by my own volition. The Steve Dixon book I’m still working my way through. I’ve been highlighting it like a textbook. Cecilia Corrigan came to read for me and Thom Donovan at Segue last winter and totally rocked the house. Her YouTube videos are smart and poignant: I love em. Her too.


Sara Wintz is the author of WALKING ACROSS A FIELD WE ARE FOCUSED ON AT THIS TIME NOW (forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse). Her work has been published in Jacket, 6×6, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Try!, Openned, HTML Giant, and on Ceptuetics (with Kareem Estefan). She lives in Berkeley.

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