Monday, Nov 05, 2018 7:00 PM
2476 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley CA
Clark Coolidge reads from Poet (Pressed Wafer) and other works.
Author of more than twenty books of poetry, Clark Coolidge has occupied a singular place in American letters since the mid-1960s. An unparalleled influence on the wider avant- garde—the Language Poets, the second and third generation New York School, and whole movements of visual artists, musicians, and linguists, Coolidge is from Providence, Rhode Island. Since 1997 he has lived in Petaluma, California.
"When I was a Poet / I had no doubt / knew the Ins & Outs of / All & Everything"--so wrote David Meltzer in the title poem of his 2011 collection, When I Was a Poet. Clark Coolidge heard this poem many times, in different versions, over the years, often as a result of giving readings with Meltzer. He began to ask himself, What is a poet? Pressed Wafer is proud to present the fruits of Coolidge's ruminations: a 310-page serial poem, the bulk of which was written between 2014 and 2016, titled POET and dedicated to Meltzer. "I give instructions in my poems / you must follow them to the ends of / tura lura independence platform / forget any leaden attempts along the way / this is fortissimo serious / there'll be no popcorn." Luckily for us, "fortissimo serious" means altogether too exuberant to pay bashful court to the muse. These delightful--and frequently hilarious--meditations on the ontologically precarious condition of poethood could only have been written by someone who has spent a lifetime productively writing and reading poems--someone, moreover, who is as uninterested in self-regard as they are in penning a lifeless line. Coolidge follows the direction of the music, keeping his poems just beyond him but within reach. "The poet steps to the beat of his own length." And his pearls of advice are beyond price: "won't get far with a title like / Heaven's Penis." You have been warned!