Archive for Jorie Graham

Agent Angie Sings to us

Posted in art, Guide to What's Good, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

92Y Tribeca Opening

If you read my review of 92nd Street Y’s Jorie Graham and Yusuf Komunyakaa reading last week you know of my hope that the good ole’ Y could become a little more hip. They book the best literary events around, yet manage to put their audience to sleep. Well, it seems my wish has been granted. 92nd Street Y opened their Tribeca location, on Hudson and Canal, last Saturday. I’ve heard that 92Y Tribeca won’t be hosting many readings in the near future, leaving that to their uptown patriarch. Hopefully that changes, because 92Y Tribeca’s space could potentially excel in providing the intimacy that literary readings need to be as satisfying and exciting as possible (yes, readings can be exciting!).

92Y Tribeca has a fabulous line-up of music events scheduled. Check out their site. John Vanderslice kicked off their series, 18 Nights of Inspiration on Saturday, while also celebrating the opening of the Tribeca location. Michael Showalter opened for and introduced Vanderslice with a stand-up routine. He was a little unprepared but otherwise hilarious as usual (remember Wet Hot American Summer?). Most of his routine recapped the current events surrounding the election.

Vanderslice’s performance was what I was excited about. He put on a great show, visibly elated to be performing at 92Y Tribeca and to be introduced by Showalter, whom he’s performed with before. The San Francisco-based singer/songwriter has intrigued me ever since I heard that he produced Spoon’s Gimme Fiction and two recent Mountain Goats’ albums, The Sunset Tree (2005) and Heretic Pride (2007), which also happen to be two of my favorites. One of the most prolific, yet under-the-radar musicians of his generation, Vanderslice was slated to intrigue, delight, and of course, entertain.

Vanderslice’s lyrics remind me a bit of anecdotal, folkloric/nursery rhymes, in particular “Dear Sarah Shu,” which he dedicated to John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats at the show:

Dear Sarah Shu,
I leave for you
All i knew about this job
On microcassette for further review

What it meant to me
How you’ll make it dear, hopefully
It’s dangerous here
Yes it’s dangerous here

Peer round corners with dental mirrors,
Heed the threats, taking cautionary measures,
In the end, it is love
You’ll have to learn to survive
…”

and “Angela”

Angela
Don’t be mad
There’s something i’ve got to tell you dear
Before you come back here

I lost, i lost your bunny
I let him out of the cage
He was eating spring mix on the carpet
He jumped through a window into the haze

And hopped down magnolia boulevard
No way he’ll survive
Maybe those last days of freedom
Were the best of his life
…”

92Y Tribeca picked a great inaugural act! I had a blast.

The space was very well orchestrated. There are gallery spaces displaying the exhibit “Goddess, Mouse, and Man” featuring the etchings of Lauren Weinstein, Tom Hart, and Matthew Thurber. I went to a reading of Weinstein’s fantasy graphic novel Goddess of War (the etchings of which are currently displayed in this show) at the Strand a couple months ago. She is definitely worth checking out.


Expect some exciting things to come from the Y in the coming months. I’m interested to see what happens.

by Angie Venezia

Agent Angie reads to us

Posted in Book with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

This has been quite a week of readings, providing events so diverse, from Opium Magazine’s unorthodox literary death match to 92nd Street Y‘s uptown and kinda uptight Jorie Graham and Yusuf Komunyakaa reading.


And in the middle, Wednesday saw the 85th anniversary reading of Weird Tales Magazine at KGB Bar. The magazine brought three of their favorite authors, Micaela Morrisette, Jeffrey Ford, and Karen Heuler. Morisette started things off with the weirdest of the night, a story about ritualized cannibalism. Her reading of it was disturbing; she described her characters devouring their meals with such a plethora of adjectives and in such a soft and captivated voice, fetishizing the concept. I felt like I was listening to a harlequin romance about craving human beings for dinner. Unsettling? Yes. Not exactly my cup of tea but compelling nonetheless.


My favorite part of the night was when Stephen H. Segal, the editorial and creative director of the magazine, did a reading of Weird Tales’ readers’ submissions of 500 word stories inspired by a spam subject line they found in their inbox. He read three of the honorable mentions throughout the night. They were awesome.

Those were the highlights of the evening. KGB Bar is so far my favorite readings venue. It is surely the most intimate, being so tiny that there were people overflowing into the hallway. Predictably, everything is red, with busts and portraits of Lenin galore. The disappointing beer selection, offering only the usual suspects was a downer for me, but its atmosphere, authenticity, and tininess get it on the GL of NY bars and reading venues.


The next night came 92nd Street Y’s Jorie Graham and Yusuf Komunyakaa reading. Sometimes I wish the Y could loosen itself up a bit. I’ve been to one other reading there, and both times I nodded off at some point during the event. It’s not intimate by any stretch of the imagination (I’ve found that intimacy is best for readings so that one can absorb and thus more easily follow what the writer is reading), the seats are not too comfy, and it’s not a place where I feel relaxed.


Graham read first, and sadly, it was tedious. Her voice was very abrupt and breathy when she read. It was very “poet-like;” the stereotype that inserts pauses in odd places for effect, and pauses at the end of every line. I hate when people read poetry that way. It makes poetry sound foreign, validating the preconceived notions some have about the inaccessibility of poetry. She read solely from Sea Change which didn’t thrill me. I had trouble associating any of the words she was saying together. I felt like I needed to have the book in front of me and follow along to grasp the meaning behind her words.


Yusuf Komunyakaa on the other hand had a beautiful reading voice. It was very soft and deep. He recited Rs with a unique flair and had a bluesy lilt to his voice. My favorite poem of his was called “Requiem,” about New Orleans after Katrina.