Self Immolation of the Burning Chair reviewed by Will

I went to the Burning Chair on the first day in NY where I didn't set foot on Manhattan Island. It was after the end of a particularly late night working at Ugly Duckling presse. Matvei recommended strongly that I attend the reading. I didn't think I'd have time to get anywhere from Park Slope at 8 PM, but apparently little park slope was home to an interesting monthly reading series in a nice-looking cafe called 'the Fall.'

I remember showing half an hour early, shy and famished. Ordered a BLT and read 'Notes from the Air' while Brooklyn poets (a very distinct group, I rarely see the same people at readings on the island). Matvei stayed behind at the presse to continue working, which was my excuse for not being particularly social, hoping that the reading might prompt discussion. 

Burning Chair is a reading series connected with Typo mag, edited by Matthew Henriksen, who had made a snap decision that morning to move somewhere south-west of the city, and had written introductions for the poets reading that night while passing through Tennessee and e-mailed them to a friend who provided a voice for the disembodied host. The introductions were interspersed with comments such as 'I just passed Mark Twain national park' and 'I just saw a llama take a dump.'

The first poet to read that night was Patrick Morrissey, whose poems and reading have me completely convinced that he is New York's biggest secret (at and well over 6'5" one that certainly stands out). I saw him two nights before at Forrest Gander's reading at St. Mark's Poetry Project, and two days later Forrest would tell me that Patrick was a former student of his while doing graduate work at Harvard, and had never seen the purpose of publishing his work, and has been on a sort of spiritual journey through Brooklyn in the years since the two worked together. If the reading is any indication, those years have not been unproductive. Patrick read a poem for Robert Creely, the voice of the poem slipping in and out of fragments of Creely's poems (including the complete

one and 
one, two,

) as well as a longer poem about his home in Vermont.

The eye rivers onward

Despite his aversion to publishing, one of his poems can be found in Typo mag's 11th issue online. As far as I can tell, this is Morrissey's only published work.

Next Sommer Browning read. From what I can tell, Sommer is the central figgure of Brooklyn poetry. She organizes the Pete's Candy Store reading series, has had films made of her poems, and makes a point of being at most of the readings that happen in the borough. Her poetry immediately reminded me of Catherine Wagner and the group of writers discussed in an article on Jacket magazine recently, laying out an approach to irony in contemporary writing labeled as both a 'new sincerity' and a kind of messianism, where the poet seeks to present a kind of maximum irony that can be read as completely sincere, perhaps childish, both completely believed and completely cynical. This was my initial reaction, her first pair of poems were and ironization of those calling for an end to irony, and a vignette about buying hard liquor and a pregnancy test. Though interested in this group, my view of Sommer's poetry is expanding, as I think she is able to do more with what I suppose you could call received forms of unselfconscious presentation not concerned with any kind of 'sincerity.' 

Unlike Morrissey, Browning is quite widely published in journals focusing on young writers. 
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