Let's see here... amid our stay in New York was a jaunt over to Hadley, which is by Northhampton, which is by Amherst, which is in Massachusetts, for a reading at Flying Object. FO is very objectively magical: a converted firehouse in an old flat neighborhood by the river where everything looks very, very American. On their website, the space is described as "supported in part by small, independent publishers, artists, writers, and graphic designers, its mission is to support them back." Clearly, this would be a fitting community for our project.
Guy Pettit, who runs the space, was there to meet us and show us some of the neat things there, including a Vanderbilt letterpress machine that was not unlike the one we used to make our postcards and bookmarks. Shortly after, Ish Klein, Greg Purcell, and Mark Leidner showed up for a group interview, sharing with us their perspectives on poetic communities both local and national. Amherst area is heavily steeped in literary tradition, so sort of like Oakland, the community there flourishes. Which also meant that we had a nice-sized crowed at the reading who engaged beautifully with our "soundtrack" experiment (have we mentioned this on the blog yet? at the readings we've been doing interactive audience experiments involving distributing and reading found texts aloud accompanying music or images, we'll be posting them as part of our document eventually).
The reading itself was captivating: Greg, who read three longer poems, had some Ginsberg-y gusto; we were particularly interested in his writing about place; including America as a whole and his hometown of Kalamazoo. Hearing his words in the form of a reading was an interesting complement to our earlier discussions about the influences of geography. Ish followed and delivered some writing that is conversational (though not like any actual conversation you've ever had or overheard) and outright zany, often occurring in in some kind of alternate memory-universe where sciencey words mix fluidly with the everyday. Mark read last, and I have to say that, as much as I loved his poems, which dealt in a frank and layered way with topics like pseudo-historical lore and the impossibility of staying "cool" (that's a stupid way to describe a pretty brilliant poem...), my favorite part of his reading was an anecdote he told about finding himself surrounded by Japanese tourists earlier that day while wearing a shirt that said "Kyoto" (I won't spoil the story here...).
After the reading, we had some giant slices of pizza ("official diet of the lectric co tour," apparently) and beers at a place called "Ye Ole Wateringhole" / "Beer Can Museum"with Mark, Guy, and some of the other delightful folks who attended the reading who were MFA students at UMass.
Back in New York, we had our interview with Ariana at a Polish restaurant called Neptune, at which she cast a spell on our video camera. Despite this, the interview was illuminating, as were the borscht and potato pancakes.
Now we're in a town called Pottstown near a town called Shwenksville near a town called King of Prussia near a town called Philadelphia, where we interviewed the poet Jena Osman and were then taken on a short walk around the "towns within towns"-- little cobblestone roads that surround historical Philly. Jena should really run her own tour, having done research on the disconnect between some of the claims of the town's many plaques/statues and the reality of the situations/personages they depict. Bizarre, hilarious, informative.
What else? I don't know, but we are now leaving to go for a hot walk around Valley Forge!