Half of POG's press release about poet Robin Blaser's appearances in Tucson is excerpted from the Literary Encyclopedia--which is fine, except that to present a sweeping, academic overview of Blaser is about the most un-Blasery thing you could do.
But POG knows this,of course, and included "Robin Blaser on Robin Blaser" in the press kit--a paragraph filled not with phrases such as "developed as a writer through subsequent generations and poetic movements" or "an important influence among Canadian experimental poets," but rather "bus," "bag," "anarchist" and "turkey."
Blaser was born in Denver, Colo. in 1925, but grew up in the small settlements of Idaho, where his father and maternal grandmother worked for the railway. Blaser later wrote a poem for his grandmother ("Sophia Nichols"), who both inspired him with stories from The Odyssey and financed his education; about his father, Blaser recalled being sent to dig sugar beets the day before he was to perform a piano concert, leaving his hands too stiff to play. (The last kid you want to screw over is the one who will grow up to be a poet; poets never forget anything, just ask Czeslaw Milosz.)
From Berkeley to Harvard to Simon Fraser University in British Columbia; from student to librarian to professor, Blaser has found his own voice both through and despite relationships with other powerful writers (Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan) and is the author of more than 10 books published collectively as The Holy Forest (Coach House Press, 1993). The Holy Forest will soon expand again to include a new book of poems, called OH!
Two poets in one City Week? I normally wouldn't do it, but it's sort of spectacular to have both Rita Dove and Robin Blaser in Tucson the same week, so here goes.
Rita Dove, in case you didn't know, was the U.S. Poet Laureate for two years and is a Pulitzer Prize winner; and listen to what Publishers Weekly wrote about her: "Rita Dove's magnificent poems pay homage to our kaleidoscopic cultural heritage--from the glorious shimmer of an operatic soprano to Bessie Smith's mournful wail, from paradise lost to angel-food cake, from hotshots at the local shooting range to the Negro jazz band in World War I whose music conquered Europe before the Allied advance."
In addition to being a poet, Dove is a short-story writer and a novelist. From her Pulitzer-winning Thomas and Beulah to Fifth Sunday, Through the Ivory Gate and On the Bus With Rosa Parks (which contains the very nice "Fallen peacocks on the library shelves /and all those maple trees, plastering /the sidewalks with leaves, /bloody palm prints everywhere" from "Best Western Motor Lodge, AAA Approved"), Dove makes clear that the fierce skill she uses to assemble such fragments as "eggyolk flame, lurid smear of sin" ("Lake Erie Skyline, 1930") are gentled by a genuine love of words, as described by the narrator in "Maple Valley Branch Library, 1067": "So I read Gone with the Wind because /it was big, and haiku because they were small. /I studied history for its rhapsody of dates, /lingered over Cubist art for the way /it showed all sides of a guitar at once. /All the time in the world was there, and sometimes /all the world on a single page."
I'll bet you can hardly believe her reading is free.
Three Tucson galleries celebrate the work of faculty members in the art departments of Arizona colleges and universities this week with a trio of exhibits that include photographs, painting, film, textile arts, sculpture and more.
The Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery at Pima Community College West (2202 W. Anklam Road; 206-6942) marks the continuation of its current exhibit, Conduit, with an artists' reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22. Conduit includes the work of 16 PCC faculty members--such as videographer David Wing's documentary Toka and Bruce Clark's rubber-and-mesquite-thorn Wound Bound and Wrapped Around series--and continues through Nov. 12.
State of the Art: UA School of Art Faculty Exhibition opens Friday, Oct. 22 at the UA Museum of Art (Speedway Boulevard and Olive Road; 621-7567) with an artists' reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibit itself (an annual event for the UA) features work by 35 artists who teach at the UA; the reception will offer the public a sneak preview of the art that will be auctioned off at the Dec. 18 "Party for Art" event in support of the new Art Faculty Professional Development Endowment.
The Joseph Gross Gallery (UA campus, southeast corner of Park Avenue and Speedway Boulevard; 626-4215) opens Statewide: On the Same Page on Friday, Oct. 22 with an artists' reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Statewide features the work of 19 artists from 11 schools across Arizona--including PCC's own Claire Campbell Park and Christina McNearney, plus long-time Tucson artist Albert Kogel--and continues through Nov. 10.
All receptions are free and open to the public; call the individual gallery for information about their respective exhibits.
Most fans of The Loft Cinema probably don't know that Sande Zeig--director of the Tucson Cinema Foundation (which runs the theater)--is also a director in her own right.
The Girl, directed by Zeig and based on a novella of the same name by 1990-2003 UA professor Monique Wittig (who also wrote the screenplay), is the story of a spiraling affair between a beautiful painter and a nightclub singer; it will screen Friday as a benefit for the Monique Wittig Writers' Scholarship Endowment, which allows UA graduate and undergraduate students (in the fields of film, literature, theater, poetry, essays and new/mixed-media) to devote more time to their writing.
The scholarship is offered annually in honor of the late Wittig, who--at the time of her arrival at the UA--was long since a ferocious powerhouse of social theory and a hero to those who recognized her as a founder of the feminist movement in her native France and a champion of gay and lesbian rights throughout Europe and the United States.
Although Wittig's first novel, The Opoponax (1964), won her the Prix Medici, it was in her later Les Guérillères (1969) and The Lesbian Body (1973) that many people found an understanding of gender--beautifully written--that they could live with, love and find worth fighting for, as well as a motto by which to do it: "Or, failing that, invent."
By the time of her arrival in Tucson, Wittig had already taught at Berkeley, Duke, Vassar and others, and already knew Zeig, having co-authored Lesbian Peoples: Materials or a Dictionary with her in 1975 and enlisted her help in staging her play The Constant Journey in both Paris and the United States.
Admission to the Friday screening is $10; call for more information.