Writer and conceptual artist Rick Reid will be appearing at WORD tonight (April 14) at 7:30 pm, for the launch of his new poetry collection to be hung from the ceiling by strings of varying length. (Akashic)
Since it’s National Poetry Month, we thought we’d ask Rick a few questions about poets and other authors or titles that inspire him. We decided to ask him a few other questions too, as part of our inaugural WORD Interview. (In the future, look for more official WORD interviews with guests who will be appearing at the store.)
Read on to learn about Rick’s “apocalyptic” book-buying spree, his fondness for Gertrude Stein’s poetry and his favorite spot in Greenpoint:
1) Besides launching your new book during National Poetry Month, how are you celebrating poetry during April?
Writing and reading like last month.
2) Can you share with us the names of some poets that have inspired you?
The writer I always return to – and who had a sharp influence upon Strings – is Gertrude Stein – in particular her ‘more obscure’ and ‘difficult’ texts such as Stanzas in Meditation and The Making of Americans. Stein said that The Making of Americans was to present “not only every possible kind of human being, but every possible kind of pairs of human beings and every possible threes and fours and fives of human beings”—such that, conceptually, the ‘impossibility’ of writing becomes the writing itself. Beyond that, the ‘impossible’ work of Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, the Oulipo group, Lawrence Weiner, and contemporary writers Kenneth Goldsmith, Christian Bök and Shanxing Wang are always in orbit.
3) What was the last book you read?
Well, the book I am currently reading is Guy Debord by Anselm Jappe. I spend far more time in worlds theoretical and philosophical—as well as art historical—rather than poetic to exist within the indistinct processes of these categories and discover injunctions within the masks of each. Thus, my interest in the Situationists and Guy Debord is based in the possibility of realizing a theoretical praxis, or, an applied philosophy—in some cases within the act of writing beyond narrative and description—which tend to keep us comfortable, contemplative and distant—and writing, instead, toward a more critical and active communication.
4) Any idea what you’ll read next?
There’s some vague plans to have a kind of ‘evolution and supersession of Marx’ reading group with fellow artists and friends this summer. Actually, they don’t know about this yet. But finally reading Das Kapital in its entirety sounds like a good start to spring cleaning.
5) What is your favorite(s) book of all time?
I don’t know favorites, but the first book that came to mind was Stein’s Stanzas in Meditation—read aloud.
6) What was the last book you bought someone as a gift?
Over the winter holiday I bought one ‘apocalyptic’ book for everyone in my immediate family—somewhat keeping their individual dispositions in mind. So there were the essential apocalyptic classics of Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World as well as Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, Butler’s Erewhon, Rand’s Anthem and Gibson’s Neuromancer among others. What book matches with whom, is, well, for anyone to decide.
7) Where did you buy these gift books?
I made the ‘apocalyptic’ sweep at the Strand Annex. However, I just did pick up Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia at The Salvation Army on Manhattan Ave. for about two bucks. You never know what treasures await you between the spines of travel guides and Louis L’Amour novels.
8) Do you have a favorite WORD?
No. But a couple days back I overheard a clerk say to a fellow clerk at a photography store say, “I have no fear of heights whatsoever. And I live alone”—which hasn’t left my mind yet and will inevitably be a part of my next work.
9) What WORDS do you live by?
“If it can be done, why do it?” Stein again.
10) Have you ever been to Greenpoint? If so, have any favorite neighborhood destinations to tell us about?
I actually live in Greenpoint right up the street and down a block from WORD, so this neighborhood is the site for nearly all of my adventures. The ‘destination’ that stands out the most to me since I’ve been here is the “Java River Spot” which is just a dead end of the street into the East River. I’m pretty sure it’s the finest and most exclusive beach in Greenpoint.