Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn this week saw a mind-bending reading by a triumvirate of contributors to Conjunctions‘ Spring issue, a “collection of radical reinventions of the genre of nature writing” titled Natural Causes. Lucy Ives,Michael Ives, and Wil Weitzel bowed and wowed the crowd with their unorthodox approaches to LITERATURE (I’ve decided to capitalize this precious word from henceforward to convey my sense of awe and respect for it, and so that those readers over 352 years old, such as myself, might benefit from the larger type (Jorge Luis Borges went blind before he was 50, don’t you know?)). And I would be remiss to neglect a mention of free wine. Yes, though no whining was heard… Aha! Ha!
Triple Canopy editor Lucy Ives’ reading utterly conquered the point of view of a cat observing its human. This piece, I must admit, flustered me. I could not decide whom I empathized with more – the feline or the homo sapien. Now I know how swans felt when they watched Natalie Portman’s Black Swan.
Will Weitzel read a tense essay about he and his wife’s trip to Ethiopia to witness the feeding of a pack of coyotes by the local tribesmen at dawn. I felt the suspense, dear reader, let me tell you. Of course, one of my oldest friends is a coyote, but I concede that the fellow has no table manners whatsoever. Look for Weitzel’s writing in Kenyon Review, New Orleans Review, Prairie Schooner, and Southwest Review.
Michael Ives’ strikingly original poem inspired by the biblical tale of Noah had my yellow-spotted tongue trembling with questions, but suffice to say, this author is one to watch. Egads, what a statement. Syntax, rhyme, the line, and other respected literary conventions were bent, broken, and thrown in the dust. A brave poem, to be sure.
Kudos to Bradford Morrow and the editors at Conjunctions for continuing to put out innovative writing. Though humbling, the reading also reminded me of how great I am, as most of my experiences do. Follow the journal on Twitter (@_Conjunctions) for updates about readings and issue releases.