New Star Blogs

Homage to Bromige

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It might have been one of the most suc­cess­ful author-less book tours ever. David Bromige’s recent­ly con­clud­ed Always Already Posthu­mous World Tour in sup­port of if wants to be the same as is: Essen­tial Poems of David Bromige, with stops in Sebastopol, San Fran­cis­co, Philadel­phia, New York, Wash­ing­ton, and Van­cou­ver, fea­tured dozens of read­ers. But Bromige’s own cameos were lim­it­ed to doc­u­men­tary film footage.

Bromige’s unavoid­able absence (he left the build­ing in 2009) pre­sent­ed the con­di­tions for cov­er per­for­mances — com­mon enough in music, sad­ly less a fea­ture of poet­ry world. Just as with a musi­cal com­po­si­tion you can’t real­ly get to know it until you’ve lis­tened to a few dif­fer­ent inter­pre­ta­tions, you don’t know a poem at all until you’ve had a chance to hear it: and, as with a music, every read­er brings their own under­stand­ing. Four dozen read­ers, rang­ing in age from some­teen to sev­en­ty-some­thing-some­thing, read from Bromige’s work in the course of his book tour.

Steven Lavoie pro­vides an account of the pro­ceed­ings at the Sebastopol Cen­ter for the Arts, which kicked off the tour, as well as the Alley Cat Books event in San Fran­cis­co, over at The New Black Bart Poet­ry Society’s Parole Blog. Sebastopol read­ers includ­ed Gillian Cono­ley, Jon­ah Raskin, Cole Swen­son, and Pat Nolan, who has now pub­lished what might be the first prop­er deep dive into the Bromige col­lec­tion in the newest Poet­ry Flash. Film mak­er (and cov­er por­trait pho­tog­ra­ph­er) James Gar­ra­han’s 2009 doc­u­men­tary about Bromige was also giv­en an air­ing in Sebastopol.

The San Fran­cis­co read­ing at Alley Cat Books a cou­ple of nights lat­er was dis­creet­ly record­ed some­o­ne­orother, and is now re-live­able in all its glo­ri­ous widescreen MP3 splen­dour on the Penn Sound site.  You’ll be hear­ing Nor­ma Cole, Lyn Hejin­ian, Max­ine Cher­noff, Paul DeBar­ros, Jean Day, Nor­man Fis­ch­er, Kath­leen Fras­er, Susan Gevirtz, Bar­ry Gif­ford, Opal Nations, Michael Palmer, Stephen Rat­cliffe, and Kit Robin­son read from Bromige’s work.

The Philadel­phia launch at Kel­ly Writ­ers House fea­tured Charles Bern­stein, Rachel Blau Dup­lessis, Steve Dolph, Ryan Eck­es, Eli Gold­blatt, George Economou, Chris McCreary, Tom Man­del, Jason Mitchell, and Orchid Tier­ney. PennSound is the place to be for that one too.

The Poet­ry Project launch in New York, New York fea­tured Bruce Andrews, Steve Ben­son, Charles Bern­stein, Lee Ann BrownBri­an Car­pen­terAbi­gail Child, Nada Gor­donMichael Got­tlieb, Eri­ca Hunt, A.L. Nielsen, Stan Mir, Nick Piom­bi­no, and James Sher­ry. Was it record­ed? Yes; yes, it was. In two parts, for greater ease of diges­tion; check ‛em out, here, and here.

The if wants to be the same as is-mania may have been what pro­vid­ed the impe­tus for them to fea­ture one of Bromige’s poems on their web­site: “Poem for friends”.

The Wash­ing­ton launch took place at the superfine Bridge St. Books, fea­tured K. Lor­raine Gra­ham, Ryan Walk­er, Buck Downs and Rod Smith, and the evi­dence for that evening can be found here.

The tour wrapped in Van­cou­ver, at the People’s Co-op Book­store, and read­ers includ­ed Fred Wah (who pub­lished Bromige’s first book, The Gath­er­ing), Mered­ith Quar­ter­main, Peter Quar­ter­main, George Bow­er­ing, Clint Burn­ham, Macken­zie Ground, Paul DeBar­ros, Anakana Schofield, and David’s son Chris and grand-daugh­ter Joni. Expe­ri­ence it for your­self; the launch is record­ed on Youtube’s, but also on the Penn Sound site,  where inci­dent­ly you’ll find a trove of Bromige read­ings &c., dat­ing back to the 1960s! There’s a pho­to gallery from the Van­cou­ver event here.