Everyone Looked Good and Nobody Cried: SUPERMACHINE ISSUE 3 LAUNCH
I grew up in New York but knew nothing of the city’s poetry scene. The only readings I ever attended were slam competitions at Nuyorican Poets Cafe and afternoon open mics at my public high school, where a small group of English Department sycophants recited odes to the faltering sexual experiences we all wished to have with each other (“my lips / your braces / I brace myself / for your embraces”). (I offer this unimpressive background to you, dear reader, as both a play for empathy and a fluorescent disclaimer.)
So it was with some trepidation that I attended my first SUPERMACHINE reading last fall; I anticipated painful enjambment, limp metaphors, tears. I feared Billy Collins imitations and poems that made it impossible for the audience to stop imagining the reader’s pubic hair. But my prejudices against poetry were thoroughly razed within the first five minutes, because SUPERMACHINE’s reading series and journal are nothing short of exhilarating.
Over the past few years, SUPERMACHINE’s editorial board and reading series curators have consistently highlighted young poets whose work is unconventional, linguistically exuberant, and wholly pleasurable. These poets are a little raw, a little rough around the edges. They are outside of any institution; their poetry is, by turns, glamorous, brutal, hallucinatory, real, and fucked up.
On March 11, SUPERMACHINE threw a launch party for the journal’s third issue. The party was held at Silent Barn, a live-in/collective DIY space in Ridgewood best known as a music venue and second-best known for its smoky basement arcade, Baby Castles. The space was packed with intimidatingly attractive people slurping beers, sneaking cigarettes and flirting with each other in a way that can only be described as uncharacteristically ineloquent.
True to form, the evening’s lineup was constructed such that every reader brought something different to the table — poignancy, terror, delight, repulsion, ardor. SUPERMACHINE has a talent for mixing established and emerging poets, and the lineup reflected this proclivity; more seasoned writers, including Sasha Fletcher, CA Conrad and Lily Ladewig, read alongside relative newcomers such as Levi Rubeck and Joseph Calavenna. Personal favorites included Rachel B. Glaser, whose reading (from her book, Pee on Water) was powerful and grotesque and exacerbated fears about existence that I didn’t even know I had, and Ben Mirov, who barked deadpan non-sequiturs into the microphone, seemingly without blinking. Both Glaser and Mirov’s readings embodied a certain sensibility that SUPERMACHINE seems to favor: a progression of non-sequiturs that rapidly coalesce into something larger and more haunting than the sum of their parts; an ironic but tender sleight of hand.
So farewell, Nuyorican; farewell, sestinas about virginity and the subway. I’ll miss the camaraderie and the cabbie hats of those readings from 2002, if not the content. I’m excited for these shifts and developments in New York’s poetry scene, where, spearheaded by SUPERMACHINE and its ilk, a strange and thrilling new world of poetry is beginning to take shape; a world where the turns and hollows of language reign supreme; where everyone looks good and nobody cries.
SUPERMACHINE’s next reading will be held on April 15 at Outpost Lounge in Fort Greene. For more information, visit SUPERMACHINE.
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