October 28: Bill Luoma and Juliana Spahr
Bill Luoma is the author of Works & Days, Dear Dad, Western Love, and the unpublished sound sequence Some Math. He lives and works in the bay area.
Over ten years ago, when I lived in Japan, I sent an email to Bill asking him “what’s inspiring you these days?” He responded that he was fascinated by, of all things, the Weather Channel. And this is what I love about him: how his fascinations illuminate subjects others might find quotidian or inaccessible, and how he transmutes these subjects into writing.
Indeed, like Goethe, Athanasius Kircher, Leibniz, Pan Chao, Leonardo da Vinci, Coleridge, Ben Franklin, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Jose Rizal, Queen Elizabeth I, and H.G. Wells, Bill Luoma is truly a polymath.
According to Martin Frost, a renaissance man (which is, of course, a sexist word for polymath!) should:
• Be able to defend himself with a variety of weapons, especially the sword.
• Be able to play several musical instruments.
• Be able to paint and output other works of art.
• Be forever interested in advancing knowledge and science.
• Be able to engage in debates regarding issues such as philosophy and ethics.
• Be a skilled author and poet.
I’m not sure about the first two criteria, but I am certain that Bill meets the other four. His capabilities are capacious: he makes collages and visual detournements, lettrist vispo and digital artwork; he built a random media generator; he thinks and writes about mathematics, gender, baseball, and life among poets; he translates from Greek; he writes site-specific poems, western poems, poems about his dad, poems about lovers, poems about (and, I’m guessing with) math, and poems of amazing concatenations of words so plastique you can almost feel them knocking about in your head.
Juliana Spahr’s books include This Connection of Everyone with Lungs, Things of Each Possible Relation Hashing Against One Another, Everybody’s Autonomy: Connective