By Arielle Angel | November 17th, 2011 | No Comments
Nicole Krauss will read from her new novel, Great House, at the Miami Book Fair on Friday night. -- photo by Colin O’Connor for National Post
Miami-born, Brooklyn-based writer and artist Arielle Angel recently spoke to best-selling novelist Nicole Krauss, who will do a reading at the Miami Book Fair on Friday, Nov. 18.
Nicole Krauss’s third novel, Great House, is populated by private and solitary people: a pair of siblings who increasingly become shut-ins, a son who sends pieces of his manuscript home from the army in over-zealously sealed boxes marked “private,” and two female writers, one in America and one in Britain, who forgo motherhood and withhold from their partners to focus on their work.
So when I asked Krauss if she belonged to a writing group or ever shares her work-in-progress, her response wasn’t surprising.
“I’m a pretty solitary person and a pretty private person, especially when it comes to my writing. The idea of belonging to a group of anything makes my skin prickle,” she said. “Some joy and excitement about this thing that only I am working on gets deflated if I show it too early.”
While the Great House cast of characters includes the pair of female writers, Krauss said fiction gives her an opportunity to transcend her own biography.
“I’m often not interested in writing exactly in my line of experience,” she said. “I’m interested in the other path, the one that I can imagine, but that isn’t my own.”
Click here! Post continues after the jump
By Arielle Castillo | November 9th, 2011 | No Comments
Nelson George's new book may be the literary world's first true hard-boiled hip-hop novel. -- photo by Jelena Vukotic
With Hip-Hop America, his popular 1999 book, Nelson George deftly packed cultural criticism and a wide-ranging history of 25 years of hip-hop into a slim volume. The book served as a love letter to the music, but also a broad-viewed look at the culture surrounding it. Now, more than a decade later, George has taken up many of these themes again, but, this time, with fiction.
The Plot Against Hip-Hop, due out this month from New York-based independent publisher Akashic Books (“dedicated to the reverse-gentrification of the literary world”), boasts an eyebrow-raising title and a murder within the first few of its 174 pages. By the end of the second chapter, Dwayne Robinson, an old-school hip-hop critic who’s a thinly veiled effigy for George himself, lies stabbed to death in a Soho office building. Staggering to the office door of his old friend, the younger, successful entertainment world body guard, D Hunter, Robinson stammers a famous Notorious B.I.G. line as his last words.
The murder initiates a fast-paced, kaleidoscoping world of intrigue as Hunter searches for Robinson’s killer, opening up in the process a Pandora’s box of shady dealings in the hip-hop industry. Conspiracy theorists, aging record executives, gang members, and other shadowy figures abound, all with an apparent interest in an archival document that set out the first tenets of marketing to the hip-hop generation.
Yes, there is some of the Illuminati talk long popular in Internet hip-hop circles. But George’s novel is very much a snapshot of the industry right now. There are scenes set at Russell Simmons-hosted charity events, Kanye West name-checks, and even a relatively protracted passage detailing the beef between Flo Rida, DJ Khaled, and the Rick Ross camp.
Click here! Post continues after the jump
By Jordan Melnick | July 15th, 2011 | 8 Comments
Newly elected Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is proposing closing 13 of the county’s 49 libraries in an effort to close a $400 million budget gap, the Herald reports. I understand the imperative to get Miami’s fiscal house in order, but shuttering 26 percent of libraries is the wrong way to do it, especially with counter-structures like casinos threatening to proliferate locally. This issue is begging for a soap-box stander, but I’m going to tackle it sans histrionics. The screenshots below show the library locations of several big cities. They are all zoomed to the same degree (10x). Draw your own conclusion as to whether Miami can afford to close more than a quarter of its public libraries if it still wants to call itself a world-class (or even a country-class) city.
Population: 2.9 million
One library for every 36,708 people
New York City
Population: 8.2 million
One library for every 89,130 people
Population: 3.8 million
One library for every 52,777 people
Population: 2.5 million
Libraries: soon to be 36 (I erased 13 currently open libraries at random — these are NOT necessarily the branches slated for closure)
One library for every 69,444 people
To this amateur statistician’s eye, Miami’s library system doesn’t look very good by comparison to other big cities’. As for NYC’s lower library-per-x-amount-of-people stat, I think the screenshot shows that those 92 libraries are squeezed into a pretty tight space, making them easier to access than Miami’s far flung branches.
So, proud peer perusers of Miami’s precious public libraries, what say you about Gimenez’s proposal?
Follow Beached Miami on Twitter (@beachedmiami) and Facebook and email and RSS.
By Jordan Melnick | April 30th, 2011 | 6 Comments
Here’s what was supposed to happen: Actor and alleged poet James Franco was to read from his recently published book of short stories, Palo Alto, in the main hall of the New World Symphony while an enrapt packed house wondered to itself why God makes some so pretty and others just eh. Instead, a confluence of vicissitude — persistent rain and President Obama vetoing the airspace above the Magic City as Air Force One left Miami International — made it so Franco’s plane sat on a runway in Orlando two hours after the O, Miami event was scheduled to start.
Disaster, right? Not exactly. As you can see from the above photo, the Green Goblin did eventually make it, and though he was conspicuously in no mood to flash a smile at hundreds of starry-eyed strangers and sign whatever they put under his pen, he did exactly that for more than an hour.
But that wasn’t what saved the evening.
Continue reading “Franco en route, Hoagland enrapt” »
By Jordan Melnick | April 29th, 2011 | No Comments
Thursday night, at the New World Symphony in South Beach, Hip Hop godfather Kool Moe Dee took the stage to discuss the nexus of rap and poetry as O, Miami kicked off its final weekend. Yale Anthology of Rap editor Adam Bradley, English emcee Monie Love, and poets Adrian Castro and Adrian Matejka also dropped knowledge on the topic, but KMD proved himself Master of the Mic when he answered his own question — “How do we use vocabulary?” — with a 40-second freestyle. Enjoy the audio clip (after the jump), and a video of Kool Moe Dee answering another self-posed question: “What would the emcee be without the music?”
Click here! Freestyle embedded after the jump
By Jordan Melnick | April 27th, 2011 | No Comments
As with many a book, the good stuff is inside this post. Click on the photo below to see the treasures of a very special library.
Click and the answers shall unfold
By Jordan Melnick | April 26th, 2011 | 7 Comments
Broken Social Scene guitarist, O, Miami poet, and Jewel basher Andrew Whiteman -- photo from brokensocialscene.ca
In my ongoing mission to interview each of the 47 members in Canadian indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene, I spoke to guitarist Andrew Whiteman last month ahead of his two upcoming O, Miami poetry festival events at Purdy Lounge (Literary Death Match Thursday night and Broken Social Spam Friday night).
Besides being in at least three bands — Apostle of Hustle and AroarA in addition to Broken Social Scene — Whiteman is also a dedicated reader and writer of poetry. In our interview, we spoke about his upcoming book of poems, Tourism; Jewel, Billy Corgan, and other “horrible” poet-musicians; and the time he jammed in the Arctic with an experimental Inuit throat singer beneath a 90-foot glacier. (I know, that last one is so banal, but Whiteman insisted we talk about it.)
What can you tell me about Tourism?
It’s largely about being on tour, something people don’t really know about. It’s about my experiences touring [with Broken Social Scene] in 2010 … for Forgiveness Rock Record. We went to Europe three times, we went to Asia twice, North America a few times.
Did that tour stand out to you as good material over previous tours for any reason?
Well, you know, it’s good because it’s contained. It’s a specific time and a specific record. April 2010 to, say, February 2011. It’s nice. People can handle that. Poetry is difficult enough to have people read. You know what I mean? You put a frame on something and it’s kinda easier for people to take it or leave it.
Poetry isn’t exactly popular in our culture, which is something O, Miami is working to change. Do you think a book of poetry based on a touring rock band might reach a broader audience than most books of poetry?
It’s certainly possible. Jewel sold a lot of books [laughs]. I’m in the same camp by doing this as a lot of absolutely horrible musicians and worse poets, like Billy Corgan and Jewel and let’s see — who else? Ryan Adams. That’s not the exact company I’d like to keep. My point in mentioning those books is that they get printed. People do buy them.
I think poetry right now is pathetic. I mean, reading’s place in culture is highly diminished since TV, and poetry goes down with that. But within the reading world, I don’t think poetry has lost any sort of ratio as a piece of the pie.
Continue reading “Talking poetry and other turn-ons with Andrew Whiteman” »
By Jordan Melnick | April 18th, 2011 | No Comments
Eighteen days in, the ravens continue to multiply.
On April 1, we launched the O, Miami epic poem project, a quixotic attempt to create an ancient literary form — the epic — through the thoroughly modern phenomenon of open-source methodology. The idea came to me last minute as a fun and meaningful way to support the month-long O, Miami poetry festival, which we are covering on a dedicated off-shoot site called O, Beached Miami.
Building an epic poem one comment at a time, without moderation, guidance, censorship, or editing, seemed like a ridiculous idea 18 days ago. That it would be a flop and stall out at a decidedly unepic seven or eight lines seemed not only possible but likely.
But it was the parchment-thin chance that the O, Miami epic would catch on in spite of/because of its ridiculousness, its absurd loftiness, its arguably misplaced faith in the faceless Internet masses to breathe life into a dying (if not dead) literary form — it was this odds-off bet that made me decide to go for it. Not to mention the “Why the hell not?” factor.
Well, 18 days later, the poem stands at approximately 240 lines by 84 contributors.* With April halfway through, I’d like to take a moment now to survey the epic at this stage in its evolution.
Continue reading “The O, Miami Epic at 18 days” »
By Fictitious Intern | April 14th, 2011 | No Comments
The following was written by an O, Miami poetry festival intern named Fictitious Intern, not by O, Miami festival director P. Scott Cunningham. Definitely not.
James Franc,O is an actor from Pal,O Alt,O who has starred in such films as YO,ur Highness, HO,wl, and Eat, Pray, LO,ve. He’s also reading poetry in Miami on Friday, April 29, at the New World Center on Miami Beach as part of O, Miami’s closing weekend (buy tickets at www.nws.edu). According to O, Miami’s organizers, many of you have been emailing to request personal audiences with Sir Franc,O during his Miami visit, but unfortunately, due to Franc,O’s schedule, O, Miami director Scott Cunningham has informed us that is “impossible.” What O, Miami has done instead is to set up an email address — email@example.com — that will be used as a conduit to the star. The messages must abide by two simple rules:
1. It must be in the form of a poem. The poem doesn’t have to be a direct message per se to James. It could just be some poem you’ve written that you’d like him to read.
2. It can’t be more than 500 words (he’s a busy man)
Finally, Cunningham says he can’t guarantee that Franc,O will read the poems.
“I don’t have a button that makes Franc,O do stuff,” he said. “Though if I did . . . ” (FYI, the thought of having such a button really did cause Cunningham to drift off in a manner best expressed typographically by an ellipsis. It took loud clapping on my part to break him from his reverie, which I was reluctant to do, given the grin on his face.)
One thing Cunningham can guarantee is that all rule-abiding messages will be delivered into Franc,O’s beautiful hands.
Beached Miami is a partner of the O, Miami poetry festival. You can see all of our O, Miami coverage on O, Beached Miami.
By Jordan Melnick | April 7th, 2011 | No Comments
Silas Riener, mid NOX
Tonight, at the Moore Building in the Design District, poet Anne Carson will read from her latest work, NOX, a meditation on the death of Carson’s brother, as dancers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener perform to the music of Ben Miller. Those are the facts. The reality defies description. It will have to suffice to say that Anne Carson is as much priestess as poetess, that Mitchell and Riener can express volumes of emotion with a single ankle turn, and that Miller’s music seems the soundtrack of a dark night in the wilderness of a distant planet.
On Wednesday, I had the privilege of watching a run-through of the performance, one of two Carson collaborations in the O, Miami program. The cumulative impact of Carson’s voice (recorded and live), the dancers’ bodies, and the musician’s instruments all striving to make sense of enormous loss was one of the most intense things I’ve seen. I could not recommend this performance strongly enough. If you are going to attend one O, Miami event, this should be it. It is NOT too late to buy a ticket.
The other Carson piece, STACKS, a collaboration with choreographer Jonah Bokaer and sculptor Peter Cole, is on Friday night, also at the Moore Building. General admission tickets are still available for $30, but we have two tickets to give away to each of the first five people who scream STACKS! on our Facebook page (i.e., 10 tickets in total). [Update: All tickets have been claimed.]
Before you hie to Facebook, check out our photos from the NOX run-through. They give but an inkling of what we’re in for tonight.