DANSE MACABRE IN A BLUE MOON: THE FIRST MILLENIAL EXQUISITE CORPSE MARATHON READING
"Feral moons flashed the digital lens on the dusty dance floor of the Spanish Moon. The restless corpses all came out to bleed their hearts that evening, as they can only once a millennium. They opened the night like their desiccated bodies: with a primal song. And in the end, they danced."
by Michael Tod Edgerton. Photos by Andrea Garland.
COPYRIGHT © 2002, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS
"I hope the Corpse never, ever dies."
--Jean C. Lee, who describes herself as a "slave to the Corpse" who was "liberated" by it from Normal, IL.
Under the second full moon on the last night of November 2001, the dead came out to play. They held the hands of the living and the hands of the clock. The moon echoed around the tavern. The utterly Other showed its many faces at the Spanish Moon. There were many moons dancing among the ruins of the word. They were unidentifiable. More than one person swore he saw an object of foreign or unknown origin in the air. There was an attempt at crossing over.
* * *
"My name is Andrei Codrescu, and I gave birth to the Corpse eighteen years ago. That, for most human beings, is the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood. But for literary magazines, it is like immortality. None of them really go past four years unless they are supported by various sorts of institutions, and then they are not literary magazines any more, but career-making machines. Not very good.
"The cyber life of the Exquisite Corpse began about four years ago, and tonight is really a celebration of our cyber Corpse. The thing about the Corpse is that it's a journal, it's an idea -- you just can't kill it. I've tried several times."
--From his introduction to the Millennial Reading
* * *
|3am Corpse #1
Under the naked moon
with the stars all thrown like dice
men will dream of us
flying wet with headaches of fire
out from the trees
arched at an angle
that becomes a religion
fierce tongue can pleasure
through a door in the east
drunken wanderings of asteroids
blind to the lowdown
the demand to press
angles of protein
shrinking to nothing
the moment when the stars themselves finally give out
and all their angels and auras flicker
like the end of your last
Most of the lines of this poem can be found in the wonderful work presented by the Corpse and were written by, in alphabetical order: Dave Brinks, Utahna Faith, Skip Fox,
Bill Lavender and Andy Young.
* * *
"Did anyone else see that flying saucer hovering above Baton Rouge? I couldn't believe it."
-- James Nolan, only one of several people to have made such a claim.
* * *
"I think we have to give credit to the most effective poem of the evening: 'How I Like Old Men'; it almost killed that poor guy."
-- Bill Lavender (check out excerpts from his latest collection, Look, The Universe Is Dreaming, forthcoming from Potes & Poets Press.
Read the poem that had them falling off their bar stools and almost gave at least one middle-aged man a heart attack! It's actually titled "Little Miss
Electra," and the femme fatale is Miss Katie Kidder.
No one was actually hurt during the reading of this poem. Although the paramedics rushed onto the scene to assist the young doctor with the soap opera face who had come to the ailing gentleman's aid, said gentleman made a quick recovery and, in the end, refused treatment and walked out of the bar on his own two feet. His thick head apparently was left unscathed by the ordeal.
* * *
There was more joy to be had than that of poetry alone and, believe it or not, there were a few moments of sobriety during the night. Included in the event was some kick-ass art, courtesy of Daniel Finnigan and the Corpse's very own Web Mistress, Andrea Garland. Finnigan's works in oil are eerie testaments of our material existence in all of its sinuosity. The elongated, dissolving limbs, hair, or necks of its almost always feminine, if often biologically ambiguous figures, mirror the serpentine flow of arterial imagery found crawling across many of the canvases. Together, these aspects remind us of the body's delicacy and determination, its mutability and insistence. These works give us the body -- and embodiment -- as a constant state both of decay and of becoming. These almost alien faces, expressionless, bespeak the deeper pleasures and pains coextensive with the transgressions and transformations that constitute human existence.
There were a couple of poets who made mention of recent events, but none had the impact of Andrea Garland's assemblage in response to 09.11. The two 4X3 foot panels, plastered with two weeks of newspapers and cut up photographs reassembled slightly askew, hang side by side. They are connected both by a jagged line of string and a line of text chopped into four segments, jarring the certainty, for a moment, of its syntax. It is a quote from Rabbi Marc Gellman, who spoke at the memorial service at Yankee Stadium: "On that day, 6,000 people did not die. One person died 6,000 times." The photographs are of Manhattan, one of the devastation. The other photograph, the frontispiece of the current Corpse, issue #10, is of the Manhattan skyline before September 11, 2001. Garland took it from the air while flying into New York last year, just as they were descending to land. One of its wings juts like a blade from the right edge of the frameinto the vanishing point of the cityscape's horizon, right into the twin towers. It holds all the power of the absolutely uncanny.
* * *
"When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
And go to your god like a soldier."
--from Rudyard Kipling's "The Young British Soldier," as read by Carl Freedman.
"While we send men and women overseas to track one terrorist, there's a terrorist in our midst giving $30, 000 lectures, eating wonderfully catered dinners at big banquets, and the like. Unfortunately, I can't do Kissinger's accent."
* * *
3am Corpse #2
America got spanked for living the American Dream.
And by god, he turns around, undoes his belt, drops his pants. . .
Stick it in your kiester for Easter, your bonza for Kwanzaa.
Ain't no kinda god paints his baby's face in cancer on your butt.
Never before have a bunch of happy active asses
danced their secret singing bungholes across our screens.
. . . and sticks his flabby old butt in my face.
I am learning to love this stretched flesh.
Dropping them in front of complete strangers who happen by.
Go fist your Budweiser.
In alphabetical order: Sharon Andrews, Anon., Chris Champagne, Jean C. Lee, and Mark Spitzer.
* * *
Feral moons flashed the digital lens on the dusty dance floor of the Spanish Moon. The restless corpses all came out to bleed their hearts that evening, as they can only once a millennium. They opened the night like their desiccated bodies: with a primal song. And in the end, they danced.
* * *
"The Corpse is a Fascist Anteater. It should be killed but won't die."
--Laura Rosenthal (of the whiplashing tongue), former Coroner and current Bride (not to mention a fabulous poet).
* * *
First Millennial Exquisite Corpse Marathon Reading: November 30, 2001 at The Spanish Moon
Andrei Codrescu, Andy Young, Leigh Collins, Carl Freedman, Katie Kidder, Jean C. Lee, Plamen Arnouglestein, Megan Burns, John Verlenden, James Nolan, Bill Lavender, Dave Brinks, Rex Rose, Utahna Faith, Nat Hardy, Dan McNamara, Ina
Pfitzner, Sharon Andrews, Paul Chasse, Michael Tod Edgerton, Robin Becker, Richard Collins, Skip Fox, Lee Meitzen Grue, Andrea Garland, Jeff Smithpeters, Daniel Finnigan, Marc Ellis, Chris Champagne, Mark Spitzer.
Kudos to Assistant Editor Mark Spitzer for doing such an incredible job organizing this event. Check out various excerpts from his Novel, Chum:
Michael Tod Edgerton is on the Board of Directors of the Lit City Poetry Reading Series in New Orleans, which hosts such internationally acclaimed writers as Charles Bernstein, Barrett Watten, Norma Cole, Lisa Jarnot, Peter Gizzi, and Leslie Scalapino. He was a "Waiter-Scholar" at the 2000 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, where he studied with Michael Palmer. His poetry currently appears in Fell Swoop, Sinister Goat, and Mesechabe.