Sunday, March 16, 2014

ETERNiDAY @ Queens Museum of Art

The Unisphere
Yesterday the Queens Museum, which I had not visited in over a decade, hosted ETERNiDAY: Queens Poet Lore Festival of the Language Arts, from noon until 8 pm. This multifarious event was much more than a poetry festival, however; it represented a successful collaboration between the visual, performing, musical, and literary arts, with readings, performances, dancing, and a book fair occurring throughout the Museum's newly remodeled exhibition spaces. From the atrium to the café to galleries to work spaces, a wide array of events took place such that it was sometimes hard to keep up, the sounds often bled into each other, and by the end of the day I felt as though I had attended 20 readings as opposed to six or seven. But the conjunction of so many words, so much music, and so much visual art and performance, shared by such a wide and diverse range of people, from professionals to members of the Queens and broader New York metropolitan area communities, had an invigorating effect, and I found myself wishing that this museum and others explored such possibilities more often. (Note to self: suggest something of this sort to the Newark Museum.)
Reggie Harris, reading
from Autogeography
I attended at the kind invitation of poet Paolo Javier, and had the pleasure of reading with Gracie Leavitt again for Nightboat Books as part of a reading by small presses that included futurepoem (Mina Pam Dick and Suyeun Juliette Lee) and creature press (Cassandra Gillig), but the space we were in, the Unisphere Gallery, also hosted mid-size and small press readings all afternoon by other local presses, as well as thematic readings focused on "Autogeographies," which included Reggie Harris, Jan Heller Levi and Aiko Roudette. Other readings and performances were held in the humid, astonishing (it has to be seen to be believed) "Panorama of the City of New York" Room, which replicates a mid-1970s (?) panoramic diorama of New York's five boroughs, with the twin World Trade Center towers intact.
Translator Susan Bernofsky,
talking about Robert Walser's
There were also readings in the Theater, from which I heard poet Julie Patton's melodious voice wafting out, which led me in; the immense, light-filled Atrium, where poets like Emanuel Xavier, Yuko Otomo, Nikhil Melnechuk, Michael Taylor, Amy King, and Bob Holman declaimed and sang with a power worthy of all listening; in a room featuring an exhibit on "Los Angeles Poverty," with prison beds, wherein poets Justin Petropolous, Celina Su and Latasha N. Nevada Diggs animated the space and created a conversation with the ideas in it; the Studio Artists Residency Space; and the Triangle Room in the Artist Studio Wing, where in an afternoon panel discussion on "Alternative Publishing and Literary Curating" that turned into much less formal, more welcoming conversation circle, Stephen Motika talked about his work with Nightboat, Sol Aramendi spoke about her efforts with Project(o) Luz, John Harkey detailed the DIY spirit of creature press, and Chris Stackhouse showed images of the transitory, multiform gallery and performance work This Red Door has enabled. There were so many more writers, performers and publishers, though, but

The melodious Julie Patton
One of the best aspects of the day was taking in the Museum's approach and exhibits, which are quite distinct from the ones you'll find at New York's other major borough (Bronx Museum) and international (Met Museum, MoMa, Brooklyn Museum, New Museum, etc.) museums; seeing so many fellow writers and artists in a truly community-based, non-academic environment; browsing the Book Fair; and just taking in the art and words. The Queens Museum sits in Flushing Meadow Corona Park, just off the 7, and entails a brisk walk from the station, though you get to walk away from the Mets' Citi Field toward USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, right up to and around the few remaining artifacts of the 1965 World's Fair, one of which is the Unisphere. Whether you visit the Museum, the tennis center or the baseball stadium, the trip is worth it, but do see the museum if you can.
Suyeun Juliette Lee,
reading one of her chapbooks
Mina Pam Dick, reading
work in conversation with Georg
and Grete Trakl
The exuberant Cassandra Gillig
Gracie Leavitt
The Book Fair 
At the Book Fair, with Flushing Meadows
Corona Park in the background 
More book tables
A reading in the atrium

Latasha N. Nevada Diggs and Paolo Javier
The Los Angeles Poverty exhibit's
State of Incarceration room
Peter Schumann's The Shatterer exhibit 
In Schumann's The Shatterer exhibit 
The New York watershed exhibit
(the Hudson & Jersey City in the foreground) 
Another of the exhibits, Pedro
Reyes' The People's United
Nations (PUn)
Justin Petropoulos reading
in the State of Incarceration
exhibit space
Emanuel Xavier reciting his poetry
The very humid, somewhat dark
New York Panorama room
The accordionist playing
in the Panorama Rooom 
Michael Clark, performing his
poetry in the Atrium 
At the "Alternative Publishing and
Literary Curating" workshop
Stephen Motika and John Harkey

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