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Jongmyo

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To be honest …

… when I posted that picture yesterday, I didn’t realise it would be automatically shared with Facebook, and so I’m a little surprised at all the hits and likes it’s generated (nerd reveal: I was just testing the ‘image’ post format).

So, for those who didn’t make the connection, the thing that ‘happened’ was that I got married, on 10 August 2013, in sunny Stockholm. The picture was taken at a significant moment during the ceremony. I’ll leave you to work that out.

Generally, I’m very wary these days of posting anything publicly online about my private life (okay, let’s have the argument about the NSA and surveillance of Facebook another day) but I was prepared to make an exception for such a wonderful picture.

Now, onto my next post, so that I can increase my average for 2013.

So, this happened …

K&D Brollopsfest, 10 August 2013

The Next Big Thang

Poet Ivy Alvarez, whose latest book is Mortal, invited me to participate in this self-interview blog meme called The Next Big Thing, where I get to share a little more about my next book.

Writers participating get to answer 8-10 questions (about their book/blog/their writing), and then tag 5 other writer friends to post their own “next big thing” the following Wednesday. Ivy’s instructions were for me to post by or before Wednesday, 19 December.

Rather daringly, I’ve followed Ivy’s re-arrangement of the original order of the questions.

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Between Empires

Ten years ago, almost to the day, I spent three weeks travelling in the USA, the UK and Germany. During that time I wrote a series of poems, entitled Between Empires. While many of these poems have been published individually, the collection itself has until now remained secret.

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SIPRI Yearbook 2012: its part in my downfall

Heh, heh. Well, not really. But in the spirit of Spike Milligan, one could say that the last six months, during which I’ve been working at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) as an editor, have well and truly opened my eyes to what’s goin’ ahn in this crazy, mixed up world.

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Listen to my words of wisdom … mashups welcome

Listen to my words of wisdom … mashups welcome

 
 
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During the recent K&D Stylings North American Tour, I took a detour to attend the Electronic Literature Organization conference: Electrifying Literature / Affordances and Constraints, which was held at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

Actually, it wasn’t so much a detour as the second leg of my itinerary but WGAF. Anyways, I also presented a paper at the conference, and that’s what this post is really about. As you can see from the image above, my audience was vast. Again, I tell a squeaky little lie. This is what the auditorium looked like ten minutes before my panel started. Which was still at the godless hour of 8.30am on Saturday 23 June 2012.

Thankfully, a few hardy souls ended up arriving to witness me, Alexandra Saemmer and Clara Fernandez-Vara go through the motions. Overall, I was happy with my presentation, which was on the subject of Cordite Poetry Review, the journal of which I used to be the Managing Editor, and its status (or otherwise) as a work of electronic literature (read the full abstract). I don’t have much to say about the content of the presentation itself, but hope I’ll be able to draw something coherent together for the EBR thread dedicated to the conference.

The conference itself was really inspiring—although as usual it just wasn’t possible to catch everything I wanted to see, even for an academic community as small and well-defined as the e-lit scene. Highlights for me included Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux’s brilliant discussion of Dwarf Fortress, the goofy UnderAcademy College ‘panel’, the Taroko Gorge remix panel, Stephanie Strickland and Nick Montfort’s presentation about code commenting in Sea and Spar Between and Florian Cramer’s provocative keynote speech.

I also really enjoyed taking a few days out from an otherwise manic three city tour——NYC, Montreal and Chicago in less than three weeks: never again!——to experience the … serenity? … of Morgantown. So my personal highlights included an impromptu country hoe-down at the local brew pub, the quaint old fraternity and sorority buildings on campus and … most of all … the infamous Morgantown PRT!

Anyway, I’m quite serious about welcoming mashups of my talk. You can listen to and download it above. Use the feedback button on the right hand side of this page if you’d like to send me an mp3. Or if you’d just like to say hello. It takes all sorts.

Morgantown personal rapid transit

You have to admit that some of the most untold ideas ever have come out of France: Henri Leconte, Minitel, Daft Punk and, best of all, Aramis. So, imagine my delight when I travelled to Morgantown, West Virginia in July and discovered one of the world’s only extant personal rapid transit systems, still in operation!

The Morgantown PRT is a pretty dinky little system, really, but just as described in Bruno Latour’s Aramis, or the Love of Technology, you’re able to choose which station you go to, and your own personal pod will bypass any intermediate stations in order to get there!

My personal highlight, apart from taking a ride in one of these canary yellow future pods (check out the pics in the gallery below!), was spending an evening sitting on the balcony of the Morgantown Brew Pub and watching them glide by in the darkness, a sight I was pretty unsuccessful in capturing with my camera, as you can see in the banner image above.

Anyway, as someone who’s tried to write a PRT into a still-unfinished novel, the whole experience gave me some much-needed inspiration.

Oh look, wow: Twitter functionality in WP!

https://twitter.com/daveyinsweden/status/221722405838651392

Yikes! Where did the time go?

‘Regular’ ‘readers’ of this ‘blog’ would be excused for thinking that I’d fallen under a bus, given the absolute lack of any kind of update for over a month now. But the contrary is true: far from having fallen under a bus, I’m actually – ah, whatever.

The truth is, I haven’t had a whole lot to blog about recently. My new job has occupied a lot of my time, as has socialising with colleagues from said job and, when it comes down to it, who wants to hear how many Jäger shots I’ve had in the last thirty days?

‘And yet’. (I’ll explain the significance of this phrase one day). To answer the question posed by Big Star in the title of their song ‘What’s going ahn?’, I can say the following:

(1) I’ve had an academic article published

Hot on the heels of my post-doc research at BTH in Karlskrona, I’m excited to say that ‘Flash points: Reading electronic literature as a metaphor for creativity’ (PDF), an article I co-wrote with Maria Engberg, has now been published in the latest issue of TEXT Journal. To be exact, it’s a part of a special issue entitled Creativity: Cognitive, social and cultural perspectives, edited by Nigel McLoughlin and Donna Lee Brien. So that’s untold.

(2) I’ve presented a paper in Bristol on the subject of myself. Or, um …

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Bristol, UK for the final ELMCIP seminar, on the subject of E-literature in/with Performance. I presented a paper entitled Davey Dreamnation and the Performance of Self. Here’s the abstract:

Since 2002 I have maintained a series of personal websites (now amalgamated into one website: daveydreamnation.com) that explore questions of personal identity and performativity through the character of Davey Dreamnation, a failed rockstar and comic alter-ego. The performance of this character (what could be described as a form of avatarism) brings with it various notions of play, irony and humour that are not necessarily often associated with the performance of electronic literature. This presentation seeks to engage with notions of performance of the self with reference to (and critical appraisal of) theoretical notions of performance as expounded by Butler and others. The performance of character in an online space which is heavily mediated by its form (that is, the blog format and its attendant proprietary structures and limitations) raises questions about human interaction with personal websites ‘performing’ as actors in their own right – that is, as co-creators, the performance of which influences other users’ readings of character and identity. This presentation will offer a glimpse into the workings of one such character, with reference to archived screenshots, audio files, text extracts and character analysis, with the aim of offering a humorous yet serious examination of the playfulness of online performativity. The presentation will also take into account and address some of the issues raised in the call for papers, specifically the usefulness of performance studies in blog environments. Finally, both the presentation and the accompanying paper will seek to offer themselves as examples of performance writing about electronic literature.

And here’s a pic of me and Davey during the delivery of the paper:

(3) My poem Övergången has been ‘analysed’ online …

THis is kind of nice. William Fox, who tweets as @readism and who runs a Tumblr of the same name, has written an entry analysing my poem Övergången, from the chapbook of the same name. Have at it:

The authoritative voice works well because it gets at how confidently we can trace the narrative of our social successes these days. It’s therefore no surprise that the poem hits the ground running – the opening line is in dactyls that are promptly broken up by a line break & the more awkward phrase ‘very quickly now’. The smoothness of my own commute is always determined by the extent to which I don’t think about how quickly I want to get it over & done with. On a tram / train this is easily achieved. I think this ‘transition’ is a special case because the poet’s probably walking the streets after dark (‘It’s already too late to plead…’) & more than likely through a city. This makes casual & indifferent mannerisms even more imperative, if only to avoid getting the shit kicked out yourself. It also makes you yearn for the ‘ignorance’ of non-self-consciousness, or to be a ‘special case’ (i.e. to be so deliriously shitfaced that you don’t care if people laugh at you).

Read the rest on your own.

K. So, that’s not bad: three cool things have happened. And here’s three more cool things that are destined to happen at some stage in the future:

(4) My poem ‘Wireless’ is going to be published in Overland

Not much I can say about this right now, except that I’m rather chuffed that Overland poetry ed. peter Minter has chosen this poem for inclusion in that erstwhile journal of the progressive left in Australia. Wireless first appeared on my blog last year. But don’t let that stop you from checking out Overland’s cool new website.

(5) ‘Clouds Afternoon Jazz Sprinkles’ finds a home … of sorts

My poem ‘Clouds Afternoon Jazz Sprinkles’, dedicated to poet Jill Jones, will be appearing soon as part of a special project. And that’s all I’m saying for now.

(6) I’ll be giving a paper at the ELO conference in June

No, not that ELO. I mean the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) conference, Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints, which is taking place June 20-23 in Morgantown, WV, US of A. My paper, whose semi-absurd title is “Why ‘But is it e-lit?’ is a ridiculous question: the case for online journals as organic, evolving works of digital literature”, will be part of a panel called Practices: Definitions and Pedagogies for E-Lit, and will be delivered at the godless hour of 8:30am on Saturday 23 June. Here’s the abstract:

Cordite Poetry Review (http://cordite.org.au), an Australian journal of poetry and poetics, was founded in 1997 as a print journal but since 2001 has appeared only online. Over the last ten years, as the magazine has grown in size and reach, the question of Cordite’s status as a journal has become more vexed. Can it be regarded as a ‘proper’ literary journal, in the way that other, offline journals are? Is it truly electronic, given the relative absence of works on the site that explore the possibilities of the online space? Or are these merely ridiculous questions, the posing of which reflects a pre-online hierarchy of prestige? Why do these questions exist in the first place? If we assume that any work or collection of works available online is automatically digital in nature, then the issue instead becomes one of whether or not sites like Cordite function as organic, interconnected and hypertextual spaces for creative expression. The inclusion of electronic literature works in the magazine for the first time in 2011 brought into focus the problematic nature of categorization. This presentation will explore the evolving nature of the Cordite site in order to demonstrate the highly complex and sometimes chaotic nature of journals and magazines in the online realm, and to therefore argue for a rejection of the binary characterization of new media literature communities as either ‘electronic’ or ‘static’. In doing so, it is hoped that the presentation will stimulate discussion of the ways in which electronic sites for literature embody the contradictory capacities to organically evolve, mutate and disappear.

I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow-panellists Clara Fernandez-Vara (whose paper is entitled “Electronic Literature for All: Performance in Exhibits and Public Readings”), and Alexandra Saemmer (“The (problematic) issue to evaluate literariness: Digital literature between legitimation and canonization”). I’m also just looking forward to being in a seriously hot and humid place this summer!

So, that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll see you again in a month or so when I’ve got some more news.

KFXBAI.

Neenish tarts, bus shelters, Wagga Wagga and me

Never thought I’d use these four ‘terms’ in the same sentence but there you go – if life was a Venn diagram, there are several shaded areas in which me and neenish tarts would intersect.

For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past century or so, a neenish tart (see picture above) is a delightful Antipodean invention featuring a pastry base, jam and cream filling and distinctive, two-coloured, almost-yin-and-yang-style icing. It’s the kind of cake you’ll find in any halfway decent country town bakery, and one that (courtesy of my mother’s fondness for them) I’ve developed a fair hankering for over the years. Matter of fact, I could murder a neenish tart right now.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Wagga Wagga. It must have been over a year ago that the Booranga Writers’ Centre in Wagga Wagga, Australia (publishers of the magazine FourW, in which I’ve had a few pieces published over the years) put out a call for poems to be displayed on bus shelters in the town. The call for works immeditely ‘piqued’ my interest, as we say in the industry, as I’d spent a fair bit of time in Wagga Wagga as a young grasshopper, either driving through or else strapped into a dentist’s chair.

While my memories of Wagga are not all fond, I wrote three poems and sent them off. The first one (brace-face) was about getting braces in Wagga Wagga. The second one (“Riverina”) was about playing Aussie Rules in Wagga. And the third poem, the one they accepted, was about a neenish tart. It’s called, surprisingly enough, ‘neenish tart’, and for the benefit of all non-residents of Wagga Wagga, I’ve pasted it below:

Neenish tart

There used to be this cafe around here
somewhere – maybe it’s still going, do
you know the one I mean? You could buy
a good neenish tart there, with inch-thick
pastry and an ooze of too-sweet jam. Then
there was cream they must have laced with
sugar and icing to die for. I used to live in a
town to the north of here, it doesn’t matter
which one. What matters is the neenish tart,
the one my mum used to buy me whenever
we drove through Wagga Wagga on our way
home from time trials or footy, it depended
on the season. That tart always tasted good.
I especially loved the icing, it reminded me of
yin and yang. I wonder if it’s still there. One day
I’ll come back and walk down the main street,
ask a few people if they remember the place.

                             Maybe you do?

The sentiments in this poem almost make me feel a little bit teary now – I remember the taste of that neenish tart as if it was yesterday. Recently, I got an email from Derek Motion, the director of Booranga, informing me that

” … the second groups of poems will be going up shortly in bus shelters around Wagga Wagga. We have been able to procure an extra 4 shelters to use for the project, so all 8 poems will be on display at the same time. To celebrate this event we’ve planned another event – a bus tour of all (or selected) shelters, featuring poetry readings on location, with wine / refreshments at the terminus. We will be holding this event on Saturday 14th April, with the bus departing from the Wagga Council Chambers at 2pm.”

While I unfortunately won’t be able to make it to the launch, the idea of a bus tour sounds like a great one and I really wish I could be there. As a kind of substitute, Derek sent me this photo of the bus shelter where my neenish tart poem is currently living.

It’s almost like being there, don’t you think?

Poem of the week newsletter: twenty poems in!

If it seems like an age ago that I posted the first installment of my poem-of-the-week odyssey, that’s because it was. Despite my best intentions of posting one poem a week to my newfangled newsletter service, I’ve unintentionally skipped a week here and there. Only now can I state, with utter conviction, that I am twenty poems in!

As you’ll see from the track listing below, the ten most recent poems have careered between subjects, including snow (‘snö’), the moon (‘Hey, Moon!’), David Bowie (‘A New Career In A New Town’), Sun Ra (‘another kind of sun ra’), Valentine’s Day (‘Voor mijn Valentijn’), mystery trains (‘Silverpilen’), birds (‘a little bird tells me’), starsigns (‘starsigns’), Ethiopian superstars (‘(On the tomb of) Ephrem Tamiru’ – pictured above) and plain old heartache (‘Coaxing the heart to heal itself’).

Admittedly, it’s been kind of hard to come up with a new idea, much harder than I thought it would be. It’s clear, looking back, that in some weeks I was very, very on, while in others … meh. What’s even more clear to me is that you can’t please everyone all of the time. Some poems I thought might electrify my (now 57) subscribers passed by without even a whimper, whilst others attracted surprisingly generous responses. My thanks again to everyone who has signed up.

My plan now is to write four to six more poems and then make a little half-way-through-the-year chapbook to send to all of my lovely subscribers. I guess that’s my cue to whack in a little link to the page where you can sign up if you dare!

That track listing again:

snö
Hey, Moon!
A New Career In A New Town
another kind of sun ra
Voor mijn Valentijn
Silverpilen
a little bird tells me
starsigns
(On the tomb of) Ephrem Tamiru
Coaxing the heart to heal itself

Donald G. Payne on benzedrine, baths and nymphos

After a while she realized she’d made a mistake: the sort of mistake that would never have occurred if she hadn’t been so tired. She tossed the calculations aside. She lit a cigarette, and noticed her hands were trembling. Christabel Barlow, she told herself, you’re damn-all use to anyone in your present state; you need a good sleep, a good meal and a new face; and then perhaps you’ll think straight instead of in ever-decreasing circles. But how can I eat and sleep, she thought, when so much is at stake and time’s running out, not only for Ken and Jim but maybe for hundreds of thousands of others, all over the world? And her eyes strayed to the top drawer of her desk and the little tube of tablets which she’d already delved into twice. I know, she thought, I’ll be like the nymphos in the pulp magazines: I’ll have a benzedrine and a bath.

Donald G. Payne, Flight of the Bat (1963)

Solna

I lived in Solna, a suburban hub just to the north of Stockholm, for the past four weeks.

Gosh that’s interesting.

But seriously, now that I’m over my little bit of Karlskrona nostalgia – not to mention the monumental (though strangely non-material) process of resigning as the editor of an online poetry journal – it’s probably time for me to start writing in the present, about real things like, you know, all good bloggers should.

Nah, whatevs. Here’s four pictures of the same view out my apartment window instead.

From the Archives: Last Night Betty Extender

From the Archives: Last Night Betty Extender

 
 
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It seems like a long time ago that I wrote the poem ‘Last Night Betty’, and it seems like an eternity since I listened to this slice of mixed up toe-jam.

Featuring unauthorised guitar licks from ELT, and a drum beat from a nifty little app called the Rapmaster that I’ve not been able to find again.

Strap yourself in and be prepared.

It doesn’t get much loopier than this.

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