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 Brown, Brian Carpenter, Abigail Child, Nada Gordon, Michael 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.