Saturday, October 07, 2006

Saturday, October 7th: Stan Apps and Kim Rosenfield

Nada Gordon's Introduction for Stan Apps:

Some people have been asking me, “Who’s Stan Apps?”

We know the bio-data: He is a poet from Los Angeles, author of a chapbook of poetry, soft hands, from Ugly Duckling Presse, and of an upcoming full-length collection, Info Ration from Make Now Press. Stan co-curates the Last Sunday of the Month reading series at the smell in L.A. He is also co-editing a new chapbook press called Insert Press. His blog, refried oracle phone (which can be found at is one of my very favorites.

But who is he… really? And how good is he?

I don't want to sound too flowery, but he's so good that it makes me want to work harder to make him proud of me. His writing is so uncommonly lucid and weird and funny that each piece is like a bright piñata releasing little treats of insight, and we’re the eager kiddies clambering underneath to grab them up.

He’s so good that the whole world wants to wrap him up in a big huggy bundle.

You will understand this shortly.

He's so good that I just put him in front of the tv and he behaves himself. Sometimes, I turn off the tv and have him play with his toys. He has truly mastered the art of playing. In one of the mind-blowing essays that appear frequently on his blog, he writes,:

Inspiration is when you suddenly think of a beginning… .The beginning comes when something that was not fun becomes fun, or when fun energy suddenly comes over you while you’re doing something else. Good writing is fun because the writer was having fun.

I have to admit that my writing is fun and rarely work, because I usually find that I can be having fun (inspired) from the moment I sit down at my writing desk. Now that I’ve admitted this, I can’t expect to be financially rewarded for my writing, because since it is fun it’s obviously part of my leisure time, so I will have to always work at a real job. This real job will provide me with edifying interludes of not-fun, so I can experience reality and I won’t get out of touch, living the life of imagination’s hummingbird.

We today are privileged to bear witness to the frantic beating of those wings. Please welcome…


Gary Sullivan’s introduction for Kim Rosenfield:

“Our childhood is a blackmailer, it makes us pay over and over again.”

—Kim Rosenfield, the last line from her manuscript, re: evolution.

Not since Don Marquis has a poet fully appreciated the appeal and the power of what, for want of a better word, I’ll call infantilization. That word may dredge up images of adult men and women wearing diapers, and although that’s related, as is baby talk between consenting adults, Kim’s sights are trained generally on the power (and terror) of regression, flights from responsibility into fantasy, passivity and awe, and cue-taking from those who “know better”:

“Say ‘ouch’ ‘help’ and ‘fire’ many times. Pretend being donkeys and repeat ‘Heehaw.’”

The surface of Kim’s writing tends to be both playful and complex, often drawing from several genres at once. Here’s “Value for the Volume of the Ocean,” from re: evolution:

Molocules they undergo many collisions

and their direction of motion

alters everything

Their movement is sometimes called the drunkard’s walk

and there’s value for the volume of the ocean

Ring of solid/ carries no charge

ring of solid/ it carries no charge

a gas

a glow in the dark

The extent to which she’s playing here, the extent to which this is actually quite beautiful and lyrical, suggests more than mere critique of infantilization or regression—it’s really an exploration, by someone—and Kim is of course a psychotherapist—who has done a lot of thinking about childhood and how childhood continues to echo into adulthood. And, because it does echo, how others can manipulate it. We probably would all agree that much of what has been perpetrated post-9/11 in and by the U.S. elsewhere has been allowed to happen in part because we allow ourselves to be infantilized. What Kim looks at and explores in her writing is our deeper “contract with childhood,” which is not in and of itself a bad thing, although big bad people may use it against us, including some of the big bad people inside us.


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