Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday Muse: 'The Book of Conrad'

I hate where I came from. Hate's a strong word, and I'll use it.*
~ CAConrad

Film Poster

The lives of poets, perhaps not surprisingly, remain a source of inspiration to filmmakers. The latest entrant in poetry documentaries is The Book of Conrad, forthcoming from Delinquent Films; it's a feature-length film about the contemporary poet CAConrad (born January 1, 1966), author, most recently, of Ecodeviance: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (Wave Books, 2014), nominated for the 2015 Believer Poetry Award and the 2015 Lambda Literary Award.

Born in Kansas, Conrad, who grew up in Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia, has received many awards, including prestigious fellowships from Lannan Foundation (2014), MacDowell Colony (2013), and Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (2011).

To call his life "difficult" would not do him justice; Conrad describes himself on the back of The Book of Frank as a "son of white trash asphyxiation whose childhood included selling cut flowers along the highways for his mother and helping her shoplift." (Read an excerpt from his interview of 2012 at Bombay Gin Journal.) He's a performance artist, a reader of tarot cards, and more than just a fan of Elvis. He understands what it means to live with shame, ridicule, violence: He calls the brutal death in 1998 of his boyfriend "Earth" (Mark Holmes) a murder, though police, unbelievably, ruled it a suicide. (Read Conrad's "I Loved Earth Years Ago" at PEN American Center.) He deplores the mechanistic, believes creativity is the answer to ensuring a sustainable, humane world. Eileen Myles calls CAConrad "the poet who always changes the room he enters."**

Directed and produced by Belinda Schmid and David Welch, the 82-minute Book of Conrad looks at the suspicious circumstances of Earth's death, Conrad's time in the Deep South, and what some describe as the poet's unconventional activities, such as his (Soma)tic writing rituals, which, he explains, "provide a window into the creative viability of everything around us, initiating an extreme present."***

A trailer for the film can be seen on Vimeo.

* Quoted from Excerpt of "A Toast to Autonomy: CAConrad Interview", Bombay Gin Journal, November 4, 2012

** Quoted from Eileen Myles's "The Frank Poems", Jacket, Issue 40, 2010.

*** Quoted from "Resurrect Extinct Vibration: A (Soma)tic Poetry Ritual by CAConrad", (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals Blog, October 23, 2014.

The poet uses initials, without punctuation, and no space between the initials and last name. He explains his reasons in "Present Time: A Conversation with CAConrad", The College Hill Independent, February 17, 2013.

See Conrad's (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals, a blog.

CAConrad on Tarot Poetry (Interview)

CAConrad Profiles at Academy of American Poets and Poetry Foundation

CAConrad on FaceBookTwitter, and Vimeo

Wave Books Page for CAConrad (See the Links page for access to poems, exercises, and interviews online.)

No comments: