So, we've been invited to re-boot Reading Room MPLS on the Walker Art Center's Open Field, which is the brain child of Sarah Schultz, who, because of Open Field, I think, has been made "curator of public practice." Reading Room is a public practice.
I'm meeting with Sarah in a couple weeks to discuss what regular, all-summer Reading Room might look like. It's not going to be in the FlatPak house again, I believe, which means it's outside, maybe at a table, maybe on the lawn, or maybe we provide chairs.
Reading Room is public practice, I say again. Shift. I run a publishing house, Coffee House Press. You might think, a publishing house publishes books, and you'd be right.
Some things have happened:
1) I saw Vito Acconci give a lecture once, about ten years ago, where he traced the evolution of this thinking. He started as a poet and literary editor, and became interested in Charles Olson's Projective Verse, where the poet can use the whole page as a field of energy--a kind of open field, actually. He then described how he moved from that, from poetry, into performance and then into conceptual art, and then into a kind of speculative architecture. This speculative architecture, to me, brings us back around again to literature, to fiction, a kind of nonexistent 3-D fiction.
So, what happens when I start thinking that way not about literature, but about publishing. How can a publishing house be a kind of speculative architecture?
These things are not in order.
2) I met the literary agent Anna Stein at a bar in Frankfurt. She recently had become the agent of one of our authors, Ben Lerner. I was asking her what she'd do to capitalize on some great early press the book was getting. She gave me some advice, but I didn't think that I could do what she was suggesting. "What are you talking about? You can do whatever you want," she said.
3) A college professor once asked me, "Why is Emma's mother dead?"
4) I read Kenneth Goldsmith.
5) I met these people. Works Progress, and was introduced to something I already knew existed, but I did not know it was a thing. It has many names, but you may know it as something like, the art of social engagement. Or, see: Curator of Public Practice, above.
6) I became active in support of libraries, and joined the board of directors of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library.
7) Cut Piece.
9) String Games
10) I see now that this has just turned into a list of things I think about when I think about Reading Room and publishing.
Anyway, these are the things I'm puzzling out. Reading Room is an extension of my work at Coffee House Press, but just how it is an extension is yet to be determined. But I think it's the start of something.