Monday, May 25, 2009

New Online Material!

Summary: The Corresponding Society hereby announces the introduction of a new resource on our website, the library page. This section will house downloadable and online texts, including an archive of de-commoditized out of print texts. We have prepared two inaugural releases for this project:

Correspondence Issue 1, digital edition
Read it: downloadable PDF

The Gates Salon (Thursday) drawings by Ray Ray Mitrano
Read it: online table of contents

Long version (Disney is the enemy): We don’t particularly like keeping things to ourselves. Young writers that we are, we find the validity of this whole American capitalistic experiment a little embarrassing. The Corresponding Society has always had a foundational interest in reserving as few rights as possible in the distribution of our work, hoping that a model like the Creative Commons (with the slogan “share, remix, reuse”) supplants the tacky paranoia of intellectual property. We are a nonprofit press and we sell (cheaply priced) copies of our print journal exclusively to support further publication. Because of this, we have discussed the idea of online projects that would help shift the focus, as a publisher, toward distributing more divorced from marketing. Anyway, when we accepted our vocations as poets, we ostensibly took vows of poverty --- so let’s try to figure out small ways to unsubscribe to the nutritionless economics that implicitly inform how we think about making and sharing art. Obviously, the Internet presents a much different mode of distribution than print --- and we publish our journal as a physical object because we want to continue operating, to our small extent, in the established non-digital format of booksellers, but we simultaneously want to expand our vocabulary to be able to use the qualities of the Internet to broaden our engagements (instead of ignoring technology, as the established publishing industry has been trying to). We aren’t suggesting that these are original or untried inclinations since, firstly, many small presses, especially those under the direction of younger writers, are effectually involved in innovative practices --- also, as a Pulitzer winner once sang, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Anyway, here: we built a little library stuck in the notional landscape of the Internet. This came consequent an agreement that, instead of allowing our journal to disappear after being retired from print, we should make issue the first of Correspondence available as a downloadable PDF, no charge and archived on our website. We sold out our print run of no. 1 and put its monies directly into the publication of no. 2 --- its exchange value has played out financially, but it remains a sample of cultural capital we don’t want to horde just because we can’t generate funds with it (considering the extremely low budget we operate with, usually broke even, reprinting or similar options aren’t considerations). So we established an online archive for the journal, which for now (and the foreseeable future, with the difficulties we’re facing distributing the print run of no. 2) features a link to Correspondence 1 in PDF format. We like this idea and want to do other things with it, so we’re pleased to announce plans to develop a collection of online chapbooks and artists’ books --- texts designed expressly for distribution in free digital formats. Our first release is now available through the “library”: The Gates Salon (Thursday), a suite of fourteen portraits in graphite by Ray Ray Mitrano, accompanied by a contextualizing essay. If this interests you, dear reader, or if you have any opinions about or suggestions for this undertaking, please send us a little note (gmail: thecorrespondingsociety) if you like. Oh and, more or less unrelatedly, read this (if you haven’t).

Friday, May 22, 2009

For Immediate Release

Please join us for an evening of kickass and beautiful work by three outstanding poets, who celebrate the release of *Correspondence #2*, a new journal of poetry and critique hailing from Brooklyn. Robert Snyderman, co-editor of *Correspondence*, is in from New York for this one reading only --- don’t miss his hirsute verbiage! Carlos Ramirez, poet and song-spinner with a voice from heaven, ducks in from across the Mission for a rare performance. Richard Loranger, unrepentant squeaky wheel and poet redux, arrives from his new home Across the Great Water (Oakland) to wind you in infinite loops. And once the wonder has worn off (if indeed it does), you can pick up your copy of *Correspondence* and browse the terrific selection at Dog Eared Books.

*Correspondence #2* Release party

a reading by

Robert Snyderman

Carlos Ramirez

and Richard Loranger

Monday, May 25, 2009

8 pm sharp

free of charge

Dog Eared Books

900 Valencia Street

(at the corner of 20th Street)

San Francisco


*Robert Snyderman* was born in Pennsylvania. He is a young poet, who sometimes paints, or sometimes directs dramatic productions, and who has just put together his second book. He is interested in learning how to live in a new way. His memory is in Brooklyn, New York, where brave friends run a small press and journal. They call themselves The Corresponding Society.

*Carlos Ramirez* was born in San Francisco in 1938. Raised there and in El Salvador, where his parents came from. Hated/loved and conformed to the city’s schools where he presently works as a substitute teacher, K-12 grades. Is often called Santa Claus by the children who befriend him.

*Richard Loranger* is a writer, performer, visual artist, all around squeaky wheel, and the most recent *bon vivant* to flee San Francisco for the financially milder climes of the East Bay. He is the author of *Poems for Teeth* (We Press, 2005), as well as *The Orange Book* and eight chapbooks, including *Hello Poems* and *The Day Was Warm and Blue*. Recent work can be found in *Correspondence 1 & 2* and *CLWN WR 42 & 45*, and the upcoming *Uphook Press Anthology #2.* He wants only a calm moment.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Here Come the Consequences

Vacuum Poetics, a comedy
by Lonely Christopher

The poet’s problem is meaning. Poetry doesn’t mean anything. How does poetry happen anyway and what function does the poet serve therefore? The definition of creative writing, the taxonomical poetics determining species of creative writing, is the engine of subterfuge that maintains the myth of significance --- poetry is because of what it is not and means because of what it doesn’t. Anyway, all poetry is acceptable. Most of it is actively directed against engagement with the poet’s problem of meaning. The poetics that allows for the influence of the vacuum is terrifying. Think of Beckett: was he stupefied in retrospect by the absurdity of his project, as he neared death, asking, “What is the word?” And Stein’s last words: “What is the question?” There is nothing but the question, the question of meaning. Meaningless, poetry has no history; it never began and won’t terminate. Buadrillard writes, “There will be no end, because things have always already happened. Neither resolution nor absolution, but inevitable unfolding of the consequences.” Constant determination, all the binarisms enabling such sloppiness as this very misguided theme, obscure the irresolution of every argument with the promise of differentiated architectures of ultimate meaning. Meaning isn’t coming for us, not ever. What is the word? Most people think poetry is about the autumn leaves and the delicacy of love. The page erases the guts out of love and leaves a wordy, husk-shaped signifier. Meaning’s blessing is in never reaching creative writing, no matter how resolute the disbelief foundational to students of the writerly pursuit. Poets & Writers is a sad, false church like, you know, those mutants that worshipped the Bomb in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.” Everything is like that. How does poetry happen anyway and what function does the poet serve therefore?

Poetry is lucky because it has no place in the idiom of mainstream capitalism, as far as this kid can discern. Poetry is bargain bin specials for alcoholic sentimentalists. The great poets don’t matter (so thus with the retards); this must be allowed before they become readable --- this must be a required education in said valueless accomplishments. The creative text we stereotypically most adore, in the canon, Hamlet, is an engine for its own negation --- redeeming nothing, refusing to validate signification or modalities of humanistic connotation, the play chews itself up on the page until there’s just nothing left of it (having become a black hole that ate itself). Creative writing denotes structurally, this is relative, but the honesty of Hamlet is how it realizes the futility of this pageant of textuality (dressed up as objective confidence, or the possibility thereof) and rudely sabotages the formal system supporting its sick game. The great works of art are those with enough awareness to struggle with the vapidity of their formal logic --- or to know well enough to accept it, anyway. Warhol turned everything into surface. He defeated the orotund puffiness of hegemony’s artifice by living there, at its location, like a house, blurting the infuriating slogan, “I don’t know.” Most poetry is but an effigy, assuming poetry doesn’t become until it develops some position on its fundamental unbecoming. What is known as a poetry is more like a symptom of the poetry that has yet to be rendered legible for the subject (reader/writer). An aware poetics dares asking, “What is the word?” and withstands the injurious humiliation of finally getting the universe is a thing of no agency and answers are impossible. Would that were to settle anything! All poetry fails to cease: tough luck.

All this jargon is fake, callow. Institutionalization posits opacity and neologisms qua fucking rampaging Godzilla. A poet is ruined by the wrong education. Since we’re already at the tea party, let’s wallow in absolutes. The most successful artist in history, that we know of, is Henry Darger. When his life’s work was discovered, near his death, he stoically remarked that it didn’t matter what happened to any of it because, “It’s too late.” What does this mean? That’s not the question, sorry. What is the question? The question is what the poet has to work with. Poetry doesn’t mean anything. The poet’s problem is meaning. “There will be no end.” Thus, it’s never too late for it to be too late. There will be poetry as long as there are consequences. Here come the consequences.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Kidz These Days

Below is a text celebrating/remembering the bimonthly reading series known as the Gates Salon that ran for four years and fostered the writerly community out of which the Corresponding Society developed. This was written as an introduction to an online chapbook we will be releasing in the next few days: “The Gates Salon,” a suite of illustrations by our friend Ray Ray Mitrano. Some photographs of the final Gates Salon, by Mae Saslaw, have been posted on our website’s picture page. Here:

from the first Gates Salon

The Gates Salon: Some History
by Lonely Christopher

The poet Richard Loranger described it as “a whirligig of hair & teeth & minds” converged for “a magic cry […] here in Foreverland”; he was right. The Gates Salon is dead, but not really. Our final convention was held on May 7, 2009 --- we had been doing this, in different ways, for four years. What began it, maybe, was the urge to yelp our language to each other. We took that want and fashioned a mode. What you should know about us is that we’re kids and, more importantly, poets, artists, musicians. An unreliable historian might trace some of it all back to the meeting of three students who today identify as Lonely Christopher (I, author), Robert Snyderman, and Sweeney. Anyway, we three, subsequent to our introduction, became the ostensible hosts of many events through which this particular community shaped. Numerous of those also involved met studying creative writing at the undergraduate program of the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn; a bunch of us, as first semester freshmen, habituated an establishment in Fort Greene known as Tillie’s, which was a cafĂ© hosting bimonthly open mic readings (always Thursdays). We remember infiltrating those open mics, drunk and still drinking (malt liquor out of paper cups the organizers nervously tolerated), spewing our jejune verse out into an eclectic crowd of hipsters, rappers, and poetasters. A week or so after the final Gates Salon, I visited the Bethesda Angel at Central Park with my erstwhile co-hosts Bob and Sweeney --- we couldn’t remember exactly how we decided to found a public reading series there, four years ago (as second semester freshmen), but it probably was something of a separatist gesture (as we started meeting in the park on dates conflicting with the open mics at Tillie’s), our lack of off-campus housing was a consideration (Sweeney had a tenement apartment, but small and sticky), and, anyway, the angel is the most beautiful spot in Central Park (which, dewy-eyed, we loved back then, even though it was almost an hour’s travel from Clinton Hill, where school was). So thus is was, we began a new ritual: some of us would ride up to Big Nick’s, a pizza joint on 71st, for a pie and cheap draft beer, then slowly a crowd of kids would seep into the park, tumbling out of the shadows from different directions into an eventual dusky fellowship around the Bethesda fountain. We’d bring flashlights and lots of booze. Time was we refused rules and restrictions. The reading would begin sometime after nine, kids would share whatever they wanted in no particular order, and this would continue for as long as it had to (usually violating the curfew withal). This enforced lawlessness sometimes encouraged the less mature of us to torture the audience with marathon readings; occasionally a single reader would recite what felt like libraries of callow scribbling --- hour-long filibusters did happen (and I admit to a few solipsistic, interminable performances myself). The crowd usually included our comrades from Pratt, students from Manhattan schools such as Fordham and Marymount, plus clusters of strangers who chanced upon us and stuck around to check it out. Regulars there from the beginning included our dear friend Greg Afinogenov, Mae Saslaw, Harry Cheadle, MarkKate Chillemi (all writers), plus musician Fareed Sajan, visual artist Fred Henzel, native Manhattanite Cary Hooper, and the photographer Julian Shereda-McKenna; twice or thrice our patron saint Richard Loranger became the emcee extraordinaire. Revisiting the scene of the crime recently with Bob and Sweeney, it struck us as miraculous, given the ostentatious locale, that our rowdy activity, our definite violations of park code and city ordinances, went so long ignored or undetected by the authorities. Of course, the night did come when a tractor full of park police plowed out of the Ramble and caught us in the act, dispensing drinking tickets forthwith. Unfortunately, because of the volume of the ticketed, processing everything became herculean, and the cops presently allowed us to drink all the contraband they had just finished confiscating from underneath the ineffectual drapes we made out of sweaters and manuscript pages (to conceal our criminals bottles, initially) --- the only stipulation in this concession, though, was that we chug all the booze down before they were done running our names through their portable computer. Comically, we all descended upon the line-up of malt liquor 40s, whiskey pints, and giant jugs of sangria; property and ownership became irrelevant and we just drank, desperately and vigorously, and quickly decided to continue the reading as we waited (I still remember delivering a poem to my friends while the lights of a newly arrived police cruiser flickered across the dark landscape). The cops, in that way, were friendly; they even let us piss in the bushes. We tried a few more times to meet at the angel for sober readings, but were never able to convince anyone of prohibition’s necessity. When the three hosts moved into a Bed-Stuy apartment the following semester, my proposal to turn the reading series into a nominal salon to be held indoors, like my idol Stein had done, was accepted. The Gates Salon began then. (We named it thus considering our address on Gates Avenue, between Franklin and Classon --- our quarters were given the name the Gates Platform by Fareed Sajan.) To commemorate this initiation, the mutation of our poetic revelries, we commissioned artist Fred Henzel to turn our new apartment into a tremendous and sculptural installation. Henzel wrapped the surfaces of our living room with garish blue tarp and floor-to-ceiling pink wallpaper, decorating the place like an unhinged birthday cake (bathroom visitors discovered the tub in use as a ball pit). The Salon, though it lapsed into unmanageability here and there, was more formal than what we had been doing outside; the lack of any hierarchical reading list kept, but an unspoken and nebulous inclination of certain procedures grew slowly codified. The regulars came to be known as the faithful --- terminology from Proust, who wrote of a different kind of salon (nevertheless held Thursdays). The faithful sat attentive and close to the reader, while a clutter of less-interested kids gathered in the back --- they became known as the groundlings (and were a sometime problem). We knew when something was going wrong and needed fixing. After a string of unpleasant readings, where minds and mouths loudly wandered and we worried control was collapsing totally, the three hosts called a meeting to discuss solutions. We decided to sacrificially preserve our sobriety next time and that subsequent reading began when I delivered a speech, jotted on note cards, which we had communally authored. We kept the cards: “This series is unique because we strive to focus not on the ego of the individual, but on the strength of the community […] We are here living in arguably the literary capital of the planet during a very exciting time for Brooklyn in which writers and artists have the opportunity to form lasting & profound relationships within a thriving youth community […] This convergence of friends is not about forcing a specific idea or style upon anyone --- we are not coming together strictly because of any similarities and we do not wish to make anyone conform to one set of aesthetics or some particular manifesto or philosophy --- we are about dif. artists coming together from dif. places to not only share our work but absorb the work of others and, most importantly, to grow in our own ways as a result of meeting and operating as a group.” That fledgling rhetoric would develop and become foundational to our articulations of value re the Corresponding Society, a small press that came from this community. The faithful upstairs (and then downstairs, when our landlord moved us to the building’s basement after two years of complaints from our neighbors) included writers Mandy Richichi, Dave Swensen, Allie Viall, Gabe Sorell, Jody Buchman, Max Briton, Adrian Shirk, Jenny Stohlmann, Gray Hurlburt, Carrie Gormely, Stephanie Willis, Rachel Bennet-Pelz, Chanelle Bergeron, Scott Tomford, Katie Przybylski, Phillipe Arman, Amber Stewart, Lucy Blodgett, Maxim Smyrnyi, Knina Skrikheartz, Ellen Kennedy, Zach German, Jen Hyde, Matthew Daniel, and Joshua Furst (to name a few), and well as photographer Kendal Mills, designer David Bernstein, musician Keenan Mitchell, and illustrators Sophie Johnson and Ray Ray Mitrano. A quality of the salon as it aged was the unpredictability of its audience makeup. The faithful came regularly, but the general crowd was eccentrically unpredictable: one week would be intimate and between friends, the next week would resemble a rent party populated by a bunch of strangers from everywhere --- there was a boy named Horatio, transplanted from China, who read wonderfully tortured poems about his social anxiety (in glorious lines of broken English); there were those who came because it was the thing to do on a Thursday night; there were string trios and guitarists (and amateur guitarists) who could easily close the reading by turning it into a dance party. The idea was simple, egalitarian as we could make it, and unpretentious --- we all just wanted to share. Side effects included excessive drunkenness, an entire student population chronically hungover for Friday morning classes, and, only naturally, getting laid here and there. The extent to which everything aforementioned was predicated on the Pratt Institute became clear when those involved in this fellowship who were students at that particular school grew of age to graduate. Fundamentally, the three hosts, having experienced friendly and intellectual cohabitation for most of our undergraduate careers, are now separating geographically; the Gates Platform is disbanding. Many of the faithful, the same age, are entering periods of change, re-situation. The end is never the end, obviously; we will turn into something and thus rise phoenix-like from the grave --- but it’ll never be like this again. That’s not negative --- and we posit the operations of the Corresponding Society as evidence that this community of writers, made of those whose determination occurred in the crucible of these few bygone years, is alive and vital. The death of the Gates Salon signals a paradigmatic shift… fun. This has been a text to celebrate what has happened --- how we loved to, as Richard Loranger put it, “traverse light as a matter of kind, arching archly toward the metamorph[.]” What misadventure! Walking away from the park, from Bethesda, with my pals Bob and Sweeney (following our posthumous and sentimental pilgrimage to the angelic vortex), I remembered the past this way: “We thought we were invincible --- and half the time we were right.” Sweeney snickered slyly and corrected me: “If you really want to be honest about it, we were right way more than half the time.” The, uh, end [?]

from the last Gates Salon