Category Archives: Prose Pros series

Basil King Martha King Memoir (Outside Inside) News Prose Pros series Writing

News: Martha’s memoir in A Public Space magazine

Fifty pages of my memoir Outside Inside — expertly excerpted and condensed by Brigid Hughes — is featured in issue 22 of A Public Space. With many photographs.  Issue 22 –print or digital— or an annual subscription — can be ordered here: http://apublicspace.org/magazine

While I posted announcements on Facebook in October and had a marvelous send-off at the November 2015 Prose Pros reading series at Side Walk – aided by friends Vincent Katz, Mitch Highfill, Kimberly Lyons and Burt Kimmelman, who read excerpts from my work and their own autobiographical prose – I  never posted the story on this blog.

So, once again, I have the pleasure of putting up the photograph taken by Lynn St. John back when I was 22.  Here it is as the spread in the magazine:

Spread in A Public Space, with my article and Lynn St. John's photo.
Spread in A Public Space, with my article and Lynn St. John’s photo.

While the whole manuscript (all 300-plus pages of it) awaits a publisher, check out this issue. Not only for my stories, some sad and some glorious, with Basil King, Paul Blackburn, Dan Rice, Frank O’Hara, Lucia Berlin, G.R. Swenson, Robert Duncan, Jim Rosenquist and others, but also for the entire issue which has many special pleasures and rewards. I’m very happy to be in it.

 

 

 

 

 

ART Basil King Critique Exhibitions Martha King Memoir (Outside Inside) News Poetry Prose Prose Pros series Readings Writing

NEWS: Events, Publications, and a Show — November 2014

November 6 at 6:30.   Basil will read from his new book, The Spoken Word/The Painted Hand (Marsh Hawk Press, 20l4*) and his old friend Hettie Jones will read some of her not-yet published short fictions.  They are both being presented by Prose Pros at Side Walk Café, Avenue A @ 6th Street. (Free, donations requested.)

Front cover of King's The Spoken Word/The Painted Hand
Front cover of King’s The Spoken Word/The Painted Hand

 

November 16 at 3:00Martha King and Basil King will read from new work published in Local Knowledge, Fall 2014, a biannual literary magazine featuring art, photographs, poetry, and prose of many kinds and variations. Basil is represented by “Basil’s Lifeboat” from his “Learning to Draw” series. Martha appears twice: in a note on dead cats and in “It Starts to Drizzle,” a history of her zine Giants Play Well in the Drizzle. Gala magazine launch & reading at Swift Hibernian, 34 East 4th Street, between Bowery and Lafayette.(Free, purchase of magazine requested.)

Martha King with her copy of Local Knowledge, fall 2014
Martha King with her copy of Local Knowledge, fall 2014

 

November 20, 21, 22, and 23.  Three evening performances at 7:30 and one final matinee at 3:00.   Basil will be the Narrator in “Black Mountain Songs” – a program of music by seven young composers, inspired by artists associated with Black Mountain College.  The Brooklyn Youth Chorus sings. Part of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s annual NEXT WAVE festival. Tickets sell out quickly. If you want to attend, please connect with BAM.

http://www.bam.org/BlackMountainSongs

A painting by Basil King (from his “Looking for the Green Man” series) will be in the BAM lobby exhibition until January 2015.

*There will be a reading and book launch for Marsh Hawk Press’s full fall list in December. http://www.marshhawkpress.org/BKing3.html

 

 

 

Prose Prose Pros series Readings Writing

Prose Pros presents Lynne Tillman and Lynn Crawford

Literary mischief, bravado inventions from two dazzling writers:  Prose Pros presents Lynne Tillman and Lynn Crawford at SideWalk Café, March 6, at 6:30.  

Lynne Tillman
Lynne Tillman
Lynn Crawford
Lynn Crawford

Lynne Tillman’s fourth collection of stories Someday This Will Be Funny, was published in May 2011. And her second collection of essays, What Would Lynne Tillman Do?, is due this April.

Lynn Crawford of the Green Garage in Detroit wrote Simply Separate People, Two, in 2011. Two new books—a selection of sestinas, The Stubborn Aunt, and a novel, Shankus & Kitto—are due this spring.

Free, but we pass a hat for generous contributions to the readers — Martha King and Elinor Nauen

Martha King Prose Pros series Readings

NEWS: Prose Pros presents Jenny Allen and Nancy Giles, February 6

Prose Pros is me and Elinor Nauen. We’ve been presenting  monthly prose readings for seven years!

Our two readers for February are Jenny Allen (New Yorker columnist) and Nancy Giles (CBS-TV columnist). A first for us: both writers have outstanding stand-up credentials!  At Side Walk Café, 94 Avenue A at 6th Street, NYC, the back room.
Jenny Allen
Jenny Allen
Nancy Giles
Nancy Giles

 Here’s a taste from Jenny Allen’s “The Trouble with Nature” in the The New Yorker’s “Shouts & Murmurs”:

“A lot of people who live in the city like to visit the country to get close to nature. Then, once they are in the country, they find that they needn’t go outdoors to get close to nature. Nature comes right inside, as if to prove some kind of point. . . . Sometimes, there is this black thing hanging from the kitchen ceiling. It is the exact size and shape of a charcoal briquette, and you wonder what a charcoal briquette is doing up there. On closer inspection, it turns out that it is not a charcoal briquette. It’s a bat, hanging upside down. . Its little body is covered in fur, which many people find distressing. This is a creature that flies, and it is as unsettling for a flying thing to have fur as it would be for a hard-boiled egg, or a rose petal, to have it.”

And here’s a hint of what to expect from CBS commentator Nancy Giles.  She started her career portraying a singing bag of garbage and playing Santa at New York City’s Macy’s on 34th Street. She toured for three years with the Second City comedy troupe, and has appeared off-Broadway, on TV, and in more than a dozen movies.  Now she can be found on CBS TV on Sunday mornings. And she has a  plan:  “I want to make people laugh and I want to entertain them, but I also want to provoke thought and discussion.”

Prose Pros is FREE, with a one drink minimum (or purchase a munchie). We pass a hat for contributions, all of which goes to the readers.

Martha King Prose Prose Pros series Readings Writing

The Prose Pros Reading on December 6

Andrew Levy and Andrej Blatnik were presented by Prose Pros at the Side Walk Café, December 6, 2012.

You can put Everything in –

Less is more  —

Charles Olson said something about space as the essential American condition…am I misquoting?  misremembering?  Certainly space is a foundational premise in Andrew Levy’s prose work.  It is not collage! It is his essential understanding of and belief in S P A C E that allows him to range through satire, horror, tenderness, nostalgia, massive political anger, joy in small day events, the beautifully captured voices of those routinely unheard, the voices that din our ears relentlessly.  Put it all in. And do it seamlessly.   All, everything, goes into his work, carried together by nearly invisible changes, the changes of jazz, the shifts we accept unquestioningly when they are NOT language (or not language because the language is so abstract as to snap the links of meaning) – but rarely encountered when words retain meanings as Levy’s do.

Listening at the Side Walk Cafe

Space –  as a means to incorporate, to take account of, to manage and make of  the barrage we’re living in and under…  No surprise at all that Andrew lost track of time as he read – and we did too, although time is a condition for the monthly readings Elinor Nauen and I host at Side Walk Cafe.  We are given an early slot, exactly 6:30 to 7:45 before the live bands, always on offer, start up.

The new novel (so he called it), that Andrew read from last Thursday  (I’d prefer to call it “prose work” as transcends the rote definition we all have of NOVEL) is still in progress and thus not yet available.  His recent Nothing is in Here from EOAGH is available for $17 from SPD.  Be rewarded. And expect to have your person personally engaged.   www.spdbooks.org

Andrew Levy reading
Andrej Blatnik reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second reader was our guest from Slovenia, Andrew Blatnik, master minimalist.  I don’t say that lightly.  His fictions aren’t short as a “demonstration” of just how short a word-thing can be. Kostelanetz has a series of one- and two-word novels as have several others: they are plays on a possibility. They can set off a chain of music but they are not actual stories.  Blatnik’s are.  Stories. Huge stories with layered complications – about people and relationships we all too easily recognize. They are presented in brief straight-forward sentences, often simple no-frills declarations, and not too many of them. But selected and attached with precision. Not to give us his audience distance but straight and simple to go for the throat. They are devastating and hilarious. They are cruel and heart-breaking. They are clearly true and just as clearly tales from the interior.

Happily Dalkey Archive is aware of Slovenia and much more and Andrej’s book can be ordered from  www.dalkeyarchive.com/  for $11.  (BTW,  poke around the Dalkey site if you are not aware of their Global Translation Initiative. )

 

 

 

Martha King Prose Prose Pros series Readings Writing

Ver Gangen Bangen Heit a bust as a sound file

Sorry, friends!  The CD of  our SideWalk show on August 2 was a wash.  Technical gremlins, even before I got my fingers on it.  So no MP3 – let alone a YouTube item.

Here’s a snippet. No sound. No pictures. See previous post for names of contributors.  What’s below is up to you and however you hear/see/imagine Elinor Nauen, Mike DeCapite, Francis Levy, and Martha King in concert:

[Elinor] Tabitha pressed her face again the cold skin of the mirror. I wish it would snow, she thought. I love making snow angels. Washing her hands in the sink took all her concentration, soaping each finger. She thought of her fosters taking her to see the water lilies at the Botanical Gardens. She walked between them holding their hands.

[Mike] The lilies floated across their pond of shallow water; each stalk had six petals like long white fingers.

[Elinor] She’d clipped Danielle’s nails, holding the dead girl’s hand in her own, the fingers still warm. But the way they curled reminded her of petals beginning to wilt. The sound the clippers made. Hawkins cupping his hand to catch them.

[Mike & Francis] Come on, Come on, Come On, Come on, and Take It!

[Mike] “Tabitha!” Hawkins barreled down the hall, ripped open the bathroom door, and punched her in the small of her back. In the mirror she could see the toothpaste bubbles spatter, the surprise in her eyes.

In the near distance Shiv could see the splayed legs of the camel and the panting dogs, muzzles smudged with blood and eyes glowing through the heat. They were the first satisfied animals he’d seen in weeks.

[Francis] I wanna see me some vagina before you get in the ring with him.

[Martha] It is Thursday now and I didn’t work at all on this yesterday, but as I was coming to bed around twelve-thirty or one last night, Cathy spoke the following phrases to me:

[Elinor] “Who are you?”

[Mike] “Are you from a book?”

[Francis] “Tomorrow you can meet the owner of the house.”

[Elinor & Mike] “Is someone asleep?”

 

Martha King Prose Prose Pros series Readings

Prose Pros celebrates “Ver Gangen Bangen Heit”

Or “Le cadavre / exquis / boira / le vin / nouveau”

As the opening act of David Kirchenbaum’s marvelous Boog City Poetry and Music Festival this August, Elinor Nauen and I concocted a variant of the rolling or exquisite corpse.  The form comes from the Surrealists of course – a form of disruption, an invitation to party with Master Random.  We asked most of the people who had read in the series we’ve been running for five years to send us a squib: as short as a few words, no longer than a thick paragraph.  (For list addicts, their names are at the bottom.)

The contributions were liberally shuffled and leavened by squibs we appropriated from a group Elinor cheerily named “the perfessers.” (Crazy bunch, from Noam Chomsky to Gerald Burns.)  She and I somehow made a voice play, crammed with changes — in the midst of no little sense of crisis: Johnny Stanton was hit by a Hummer earlier this summer. He (and Elinor) have been beating a path through the wilderness of our non-system health care system since then.  I can happily report he’s amazing and is on a good but long road back.

Thus, on Thursday, August 2, we hit the stage at Side Walk Café on Avenue A: Elinor, Martha, Mike DeCapite, and Francis Levy.I won’t deign to describe it.  I’m hoping to post an MP3 file (it’s about 25 minutes long) as soon as I learn how!  Stay tuned.

There were no photographs.  These are all lifted from earlier events.

For the August event, Elinor (left) wore a shirt that demanded “What part of Uff-Da don’t you understand?”and Martha (right) carried a feather duster
Mike DeCapite proclaimed, “No hats!” and took part in mufti. Photo by David Hooker.
Francis Levy and the beloved late great Philoctetes. For Prose Pros, Francis topped himself with a soft stuffed horned helmet.

Texts were from:  Francis Levy, Stephaine Dickinson, Sanjay Agnihotri, Mischa Merz, Joan Silbur, Sharon Mesmer, Hettie Jones, Susan Sherman, Martha King, Leonore Skenazy, Carmen Firan, Basil King, Pierre Joris, Burt Kimmelman, Mitch Levenberg, Sparrow, Andrei Codrescu, Bob Holman, Tony Towle, Mike DeCapite, Terence Patrick Winch, Diane Simmons, and Winston Herschel, deeply masked, with Donald Smith, Michael Palmer,Edmond Jabes,Gerald Burns, Ford Madox Ford, Donald Phelps, and Noam Chomsky.

 

Martha King Prose Prose Pros series Readings Writing

Sheherezade

There are other spellings…this is the one Andrei Codrescu has embraced.  She, She Here, the iconic spinner of tales and excursions, of conversations long into the night.  Why is she our ever-fascinating icon?

Weak words can save lives?  Hers did.  A story to postpone annihilation?  Don’t we all tell that tale?  What, indeed, gets you through the night?

No one will be surprised by my confession that I’ve never read the Torah.  But I’ve sure stared fascinated at the pages perused by Orthodox seat mates on the F train: those small squares of text surrounded by littler and still littler frames of notes and commentary – hypertext ages before computers made layering possible. Take a look at a page or two of Whatever Gets You Through the Night.   Like Sheherezade herself, Codrescu weaves all available fact and fiction into a looping braid, connecting here, and breaking there, and spinning, spinning (don’t stop!) those old familiar dramas of empty jars, and unruly Djinns, cheating merchants, princes in transsexual disguise, lusty romps and titillations.  Wait!   Wait!!

No one should be surprised that ‘uprooted’ means one works with the roots.  Why do these stories persist? As so many scholars and translators and entertainers, whose works are cited in Andrei’s compulsive footnote wrap-around, have wondered, the question is immaterial.  We’re waiting for the dénouement, the grand revelation, the mega-orgasm – and she makes us WAIT.

No one should be surprised to recognize that Sheherezad’s great subject is death – or how she or we might put it off.   Are there only a thousand and one ways?  Does it truly end in a baby?  That’s far from sure.  Much more important, she and Andrei imply, did you have any fun?

Andrei moved to New York in 1967 after many previous moves and before many others.  Where was I that year?  In Manhattan, about to leave the Lower East Side, and move to Brooklyn into a former SRO row house, still stinking of dehydrated mice and desiccated cockroach shells.  Baz and I had our work cut out to make habitation for ourselves and our children!We’ve moved on since, though I am still living in Brooklyn.

Andrei Codrescu, in spite of a little remark he made on All Things Considered about the great good that The Rapture would accomplish, still does NPR commentaries. What else?  Film. Books. Poems.  His online Exquisite Corpse.  Songs too, they say.  I’ve yet to sample The CD of Storm Songs with the New Orleans Klezmer All Stars.  He doesn’t live in New Orleans now, he decamped ten minutes before Katrina, and resides in a cave with no zip code somewhere in Arkansas.   Enjoying the romps of free range chickens.  Or life among the post-humans. Or is he standing by in a pleasant ditch to let p-h’s pass by along the road?

Whatever, he’ll take you along on Sheherezad’s path.  Come to Side Walk Café at 6:30 pm on Thursday, December 8, 2011.  Andrei will be there reading stories at Prose Pros, along with Elinor Nauen. Don’t miss it!

*The book cover image is from the website of Princeton University Press http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9392.html  where the book is available in print & eformats. Or check a local bookstore.