Memorial Day

Joe Brainard - "Tuesday, February 18th, 1971" (1'16"). Naïveté is a rhetorical stance every bit as complex as irony, perhaps even more so, since it requires a great deal of "knowing" to forbear its display. This recording of Joe Brainard reading into ("before" seems too abstract a word) an audibly receptive audience at the Poetry Project is gone before you know it, just like the day toward the end of the poet's twenty-ninth year it diaristically records. The scale is modest, the voice not shy exactly, but smilingly reluctant, aerated, we might say, by the many intraphrasal hesitations (marked as ' in my transcript). And the word "perhaps," offered twenty-four seconds into the track, is a small act of generosity, allowing the listener to recognize what the speaker (supposedly) doesn't and to enjoy a gentle laugh at his expense. The passage on mimesis, iconicity, and aesthetic value (47"-55") doesn't sound at all as pretentious as those three top-heavy words do, and the embrace of ephemerality, of existential transiency, in the final line, though completely in accord with Brainard's entire practice as artist and writer, is still a surprising reversal of the usual lyrical lament at time's unrecapturable passage. • On memorial day, then, I want to remember Joe Brainard, and with him everyone AIDS took from our company. It's naïve to think the dead are not deaf. Still we say: "you, every one of you, are missed."

More Brainard at PennSound. A page devoted to his life and art. Ron Padgett's I Remember Joe Brainard at PW. Register of Brainard papers at the Archive for New Poetry, with biographical note. The catalog Joe Brainard: A Retrospective, by exhibit curator Constance Lewallen. Arthur Lazere's brief review of the show. Brainard feature in Jacket 16 (scroll down).

Monday -- 29 May 2006 -- permalink

The Lipstick of Noise is a product of the Third Factory • Inspired by the music blogs • And by Paul Blackburn's reel-to-reel deck. Intending to make good use of PENNSound and other sources of digital audio files of poetry • Comments welcomeXML.