Artist and poet Diana Lizette Rodriguez reflects on a summer spent with beat poet Anne Waldman through the Summer Writing Program of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa University.
Diana Lizette Rodriguez is a Mexican American artist, poet and filmmaker. She’s one of culturala’s early supporters and contributors, with her poem Pass being part of the first issue of culturala on Disappearance. She also runs Sour Press Patch, an independent publishing house that publishes exquisite handmade editions of poetry and organises workshops, readings and other events.
In the first week, there are conversations about everything and the following paragraphs do not capture it all.
Prisons, Abolition, Julie Patton, New York, Mexico City, and the selling of mattress on the street, Bernadette Mayer, Ghazal Mosadeq, List of vegetables, decaf & caffeinated coffee and bagel runs from Ed, a list of groceries, notes on the wall with words, written reminders, addresses, phone numbers, books, and more books. All these details must not be forgotten. The visible eye can only see what is in front of us.
On orientation day we ask everyone to write a luminous detail of something they have loved in the past, something they love in the present, and something they will love in the future, a future memory. I write most easily about my present love. Clay. How the present now lives inside me but still has not learned to remember the ever-changing.
Anne writes a full poem and I watch her perform. Irretions, interpretations, the formation of linger slipping through tongue. My adjustment to clay hands and disappearance is always present. What will we love in the future?
On Monday I arrive at Anne’s house at 9:40 am. We have bagels with scallions and cream cheese and ice coffee. Workshops begin at 10 am. The theme for week one is Everything Data Flows: Documentary Poetics & Entanglement. We recall Fred Moten’s words, “Entanglement is a material fact, not a moral one.” We have workshops from Poupeh Missaghi, CA Conrad, and Stacy Szymaszek & Kimberely Alidio’s.
Anne & I first attend Stacy & Kimberly’s workshop where we talk about writing practice. Who wanted to evoke who? We listen to Apollo: Sun & Light and write. A sun yawning holding another transparency. Who’s lineage are we sitting with mine or yours?
On another day in Stacy’s and Kimberely’s, everyone listens to a different song to write. Miles Davis, Sun Ra, Sun City Girls, Huey Lewis & The News, and the music of silence.
I write: Because I see it I hear your voice hidden. In a twig of broken cherry blossom. I wish for thread to not hold me, but thread insists and voices of the dead. I am a spirit of myself. Live amendment.
Anne and I have several discussions about the state of the world. We are living in the Dark Ages, she says. How much saving can we do now? She writes and writes endlessly. It is all response to this moment, to the pandemic conditions, to climate catastrophe appearing, expanding. We drink hot tea and Boulder, Colorado has an extreme heatwave. This is our home and it’s only getting hotter.
We laugh often together. She says Allen Ginsberg used to tell her, “Do not follow my path to extinction.” And in the first week, she irritates these words to me,
“Diana, do not follow my path to extinction. Do not start a school of poetry & do not work for an art school.”
I am reminded of the word lineage. The involving lines, extraction that becomes a combination to creative influence. A management to know how we can relate, unrelate, orient, disorient to what is given, and taken away to be closer to what is a human experience. I will always remember these audio recordings and lectures as the reasons why we writers, musicians, photographers, workers, artists come into existence.
And why the line of descent easily follows.