This evening we are here to experience the work of Jason Francisco. Jason is an associate professor in the department of film and media studies at Emory University, and is the founder of FestivALT, a program of radical and experimental Jewish art based in Krakow, Poland. Francisco works in a wide array of discourses and mediums, including photography, poetry, essay, curation, and translation, seeking to explore the impact of trauma across cultures, landscapes, and history. His ongoing long project A ChinaTown Document engages with the faces, buildings, and moments of San Francisco’s Chinatown, a place still struggling to define its place in the American landscape in the wake of a history of discrimination toward Chinese immigrants, and a multitude of imagined images of the place distributed by photographs. Working in a different medium, and covering a different people and timeframe, Francisco’s essay “Diasporic Investigations” asks “what would it be to make a work that responds sedulously to the discontinuities and fractures that yield ‘the jewish’ in the passing jewish century?”
Despite the disparity between these two examples we can see common threads — one, the desire to explore the way trauma is inherited between people and generations, and two, the understanding that history is not a fixed object upon which art and opinions can be enacted, that despite the enormity of facts we know about events like the Holocaust, we lack the language and meaning to express their true weight. As the poet Paul Celan wrote, “reality is not simply there, it does not simply exist: it must be sought out and won.” Simply knowing the existence of an event like the Holocaust is not enough to define its impact upon the communities and cultures it effected — though its meaning, weight, and horror may be ineffable, its impact upon the Jewish culture is inescapable.
His photographs often utilize a space of “fracture” — aware that suffering and complicated cultural memories are too complex to reduce to a handful of photographs, he instead uses his work to demonstrate the complications in cultural memory, the array of perspectives that can be generated. They engage with what Roland Barthes called the punctum — “that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me.)” We see faces, some chanting slogans of revolution in Ukraine, many more expressionless, or with heavy frowns. These details, at once quotidian and enigmatic, are carried with us. These documentaries of other lives connect us to their subject — as Francisco says they “release social meaning, [relay it] from site to site, observation to observation, predicament to predicament.” They begin to help us learn, and remember.
The talk we are here to listen to tonight is called “The Holocaust at 75: Remembrance as Public Practice,” In the wake of tragedy like the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting of October 27, the deadliest ever attack on the Jewish community in the United States, remembrance may be more important than ever.
With that in mind, please join me in welcoming Jason Francisco.
Edwin Torres is a poet, but not only a poet of the written page; his poetry expands across the senses—it is a tool of connection between language, the body, the self, and others. He is a self-described “lingualisualist.” Torres’s poetry is physical, aural, verbal, and visual. I can say all of this is true even though I have yet to personally see him perform, instead I have experienced the emersion of his poetry through his work in published books and in online readings and performances. Some of his pieces are solo performances and others are collaborations between other artists, such as dancers and musicians in his piece “We Are Walls Talking” or filmmakers in his piece for Visible Poetry Project titled “Aurora’s Aura,” but all of Torres’s work creates a space for the senses, both of the performer and audience, the dividing line between which is also being deconstructed. In his Tedx reading Torres says, “How do we align our natural trilingual voice: our speaking, seeing, hearing voice into a lateral extension of the ground we claim: the audience, the body, the room, the core community of one. Because we are here together, we are the journey.” Torres aligns this natural trilingual voice. He connected with my senses on the other side of the page and screen, and now we will all be able to experience this emersion, this community, in person.
Edwin Torres is the author of In the Function of External Circumstances released by Nightboat Books in 2010, Yes Thing No Thing released by Roof Books in 2011, Ameriscopia released by University of Arizona Press in 2014, among many others. Torres is also the editor of a forthcoming anthology titled Out Of Each Other: An Anthology of the Body in Language which will be released by Counterpath Press in 2019. His most recent publication Xoeteox: The Infinite Word Object, was released last week by Wave Books. It is a complex, experimental composition—some sections look like they were made on a glitching printer or taken from a textbook on quantum mechanics. Some pieces read like fables that are constantly changing, dream-like, into other fables. Other pieces read like abecedariums, outlines, or lists that have been cut and collaged out of order—or, more accurately, into a new order. In his piece “The Collagist at the Edge” Torres writes,
“a journey, made familiar
by these sheets of grey and black markings
on white noise—right here
in my hands
an act of understanding—a contract
between you and me
a skin of cognition—a container
holding us together”
Through the body of the poem, Torres has created a journey, an experience of the senses.
Edwin Torres’s work has been widely exhibited and anthologized, including a retrospective at the Center for Book and Paper Arts in Chicago, along with work published in the anthologies Postmodern American Poetry and Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café. Torres has performed and given workshops nationally and internationally, including his creativity workshop “Brainlingo: Writing the Voice of the Body.” He has had fellowships at The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art, The DIA Arts Foundation, The University of Pennsylvania, and most recently an Artist’s Choice Residence at The Institute for Contemporary Art in Richmond, VA. Poet and performer Rodrigo Toscano calls Torres a “one-man poetic theater phenomenon.” Please join me in welcoming Edwin Torres.
The Creative Writing Program is hosting an Open Mic Poetry Night in the Honor’s College Auditorium on Thursday, November 16, 2017 from 7:00pm – 9:30pm.
Sign-up sheets will be made available near the entrance of the Honor’s College Auditorium. The open mic sheet will be available from 7:00pm – 8:00pm. Please arrive early to ensure a spot on the open mic list. The mic will open at 8:00pm.
Also, there will be a Creative Writing Student Organization sheet available for those interested in receiving more information about joining the organization.
The event is FREE to attend and open to ALL undergraduate and graduate students.
Our very own creative writing professor Christine Hume will be reading at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI on Friday, November 3rd, 2017 at 7:00pm, alongside two poets, Donald Dunbar and Becky Win. Literati Bookstore is located at 124 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Christine Hume is the author of The Saturation Project (Solid Objects, 2019), a lyric memoir in the form of three interlinked essays, as well as three books of poetry. Her chapbooks include Lullaby: Speculations on the First Active Sense (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2008), Ventifacts (Omnidawn, 2012), Atalanta: an Anatomy (Essay Press, 2016), and a collaboration with Jeff Clark, Question Like a Face (Image Text Ithaca, 2017). She teaches in the interdisciplinary creative writing program at Eastern Michigan University.
Question Like A Face, by Christine Hume and Jeff Clark, is the second in an ITI Press series of pocket-sized, hard-bound, image-text collaborations between a writer and a visual artist. In powerful prose, Christine Hume looks at gender violence and complicity within the intimate and immediate interiors of a small city in Michigan. Like any tale of power, this one begins with the careless dismissal of a whole life.
Compelled by the constantly defaced and reappearing face of a young black woman shot by a white cop, whose image is affixed to walls around her community, Hume summons her visage as a call to outrage against her own complacency and against the silence surrounding our culture’s unending violence against women, especially women of color. She writes, I am living in a city that proliferates a question like a face. Her face appears and disappears on civic surfaces, her face replaces a blank space; her face replaces the city, piece by piece, claiming it, because her face is half hidden, in the half-light of waiting, half blowing in the wind, half stuck to the present, near a house where my family lives, where a young girl can look at it and think “not me.” A sequence of domestic photographs from police evidence files–hauntingly selected and cropped by Clark, punctuate Hume’s accounts with their simple, familiar violence.
About Shot: In alternating currents of prose and verse, SHOT reaches beyond the tradition of the nocturne to illuminate contradictory impulses and intensities of night. SHOT inhabits the sinister, visionary, intimate, haunted, erotic capacities to see and hear things at night, in the fertile void containing our own psychological and physical darkness. Via Levinas who locates self-knowledge and ethical contract in insomnia, this darkness is one “stuck full of eyes.” Here the insomniac falls into a Beckettian pattern of waiting, in an inextricable dialogue with a selfhood that cannot settle down. In a perpetual play between empirical and abstract knowledge, tantrum and meditation, SHOT creates torque that drives beyond material experience.
Please click this link for more details. http://www.literatibookstore.com/event/poetry-literati-donald-dunbar-christine-hume-becky-win
Thank you to all who attended the 1st Fall BathHouse event featuring the artist Janet Kauffman. The event featured mixed media and poetry readings from Janet Kauffman’s upcoming project, “Eco-dementia”. Below you will find images of Janet and also, Linette Lao, who provided Janet and the audience with a lovely introduction.
Please note, we are still accepting submissions for reviews of the event. If you would like your review published on the site then please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, please visit Janet Kauffman’s website for more information about her work.