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Readings from the Dia Anthology

Readings in Contemporary Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Vincent Katz, published by Dia Art Foundation last August, is a work of poetry, and a work of art too. If you believe words not only say what they mean, but affect us on the page, you will find this a beautiful archive, a find, a book you’ll keep to read and hold.

The Vimeo below is of some—but not all—of the poets who, in the span of the new century, read their poems at the Dia Foundation in Chelsea, and are part of the anthology. It came into my head to record those I could reach through e-mails or Facebook, but trying to organize poets is a bit like herding cats—Poets are very busy—and though I’d planned to do it all myself, I finally asked poets to send me selfie videos; and I think it worked out; it’s the poetry that brings it all together. Enjoy.







Life is ephemeral. Six poets in the anthology have died since the publication. John Ashbery, Bill Berkson, Larry Fagin, Joanne Kyger, Judith Malina, and Taylor Mead are gone, but their words—one of the nicest things about poetry—go on.



Postlude and Prequel

Would I lie to you? I don’t know what to say to you,
and the season is coming into season just now
with long-awaited words from back when we were
friends and still are, of course, but the tides
pursue their course each day. Perturbing elements
listen in the wings, which are coming apart at the seams.
Is it all doggerel and folderol? A cracked knowledge?
Monkey journalism?

This is better than the other overlooked good
that dried up a while back and whispers.
The results, if any, won’t last too much longer
and I meanwhile am on my way to correct you
about the tickets and their availability.
We pitch and stiffen, elbowed by traffic mysteriously
descending the other lane of the avenue
as lamps burst in many-benched Central Park.

John Ashbery



After the Medusa

I have to spring lightly to make or thwart a meaning
bare thump at the Safeway’s automated door
birds in their vanishing act above or near the U.S. Mint

My mistake, I holler
but poetry comes first
democratizing confluence
despite terror greed

No big deal, larger than life or death
I hear fifes in the outward calm
granite humps and chins
sweet sizable orpiment
seldom repetitive, un-saying the echo

Bill Berkson



Leaving So Soon?

Let me show you to the window. I crumble when you’re near me. Now I’m
spoiled,

curdled. A shift in the sky caused numberless openings. Bodies come quickly to
fill

them. The moon too, the various frames for its appearances, may be touched.
And the

cool windowsill. Look at them down there, the vast unmotivated bouquet, walking or
standing. Go ahead. You just might miss them all.

Larry Fagin



Fact Checking

In 1962 when I was leaving India with Gary Snyder
I saw a necklace, called a “beggar’s necklace”
made of semi precious stones that I wanted
Gary said yes you can buy it
if you learn the real names of all the stones
(never pass up an opportunity for self education)

The New Yorker magazine is doing a profile of Snyder
and I told the reporter, Dana Goodyear, this story
and showed the necklace.

A New Yorker fact checker, Chris Jennings, called me up yesterday
and wanted to know
how many different stones there were in the necklace
Dana wrote that there were “dozens”
I went and got the necklace and counted the different kinds of stones
over the phone to the fact checker
Eight. Different kinds of stones

Red, orange, green, milky white, blue
mossy green, mottled brown, glittery rust.

Joanne Kyger



Seafood with Poets

for Rothenberg and Baraka
Who partook, and for
Michael McClure who abstained

Poets, don’t you think,
As I sat there at the table
Watching you fork the oyster
Out of its shell, and lift its jellied body
To your mouth, that she realizes
That you feel the pain of its death
In your throat, or even worse, that you don’t
Feel the pain of its death in your throat?

Judith Malina


I Remember You

I remember you
You raped me one night
When I was coming home alone
You sneaked up near me
And put your arms around me and squeezed
And threw me on the grass
Stripping my clothes
Tearing deliciously on the wet grass
Inundating my loins at midnight
Near Brooklyn
In a deserted section of desperation
I rolled over to receive all of you that night
You were strong, oh, so strong
Such a rapist
Round about midnight
And you took me
Where are you?
Your strong face breathing heavily
Against mine, your silent rape
Will remind me indefinitely

Taylor Mead

Readings in Contemporary Poetry, An Anthology is published by Dia Art Foundation. You can check them out here:

https://www.diaart.org/



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