Wednesday, June 13, 2007

note to Ron Silliman -- Bhairo blog plus Lee Nagrin

As already somewhat observed, I seem most disposed to express myself via email. For sake of expanding on / recapping some topics current in my blog, I'll take liberty of reproducing here one such email, sent moments ago to the blogosphere's most consistently prolific & astute poet-critic-chronicler, Ron Silliman.


dear Ron,

I'm writing from Bangalore -- I've been in India since January (minus a couple days in Bangkok last week, to renew my 6-months-at-a-stretch visa). I've mainly been living in Bhopal, in the middle of India -- but have spent the past week-plus here in the southern "Silicon City" (even paying a visit to a big hitech firm yesterday).
My relocation to India brought on a general disengagement from online life. But I finally launched a new blog a few weeks back -- successor to my earlier "kirwani" ...

/ / /

Also to note, -- I think you might be aware of the remarkable experimental theatre work of Lee Nagrin. It has only been seen in NYC, never anywhere else (far as I'm aware) -- though I do recall an art exhibit (with some photos documenting her theatre work, and maybe including a video installation) that happened in a European city (Belgium?) in recent years. The exception that proves....
Furthermore, Lee only performed or staged her work in small NYC venues (the largest I think being LaMama, where several of her multimedia plays were seen). I enjoyed Lee's friendship since meeting her -- going to attend a Thanksgiving dinner-party she gave in her memorable basement on Bleeker Street -- in the fall of 1987, when I first went visiting NYC (from my native California) for 3 months.
Lee Nagrin passed away June 7 -- she had suffered from a range of physical disabilities in the past few years, but those (all relatively under control) were trumped and eclipsed a couple months ago by the surprise -- and late -- discovery of an advanced form of colon cancer, alas.
Luckily, Lee was bringing to completion -- and indeed was able to complete -- several aspects of her deeply engaging (for herself, and for many of her admirers, including the present writer) creative work. Fortune brought to her the interest of a dedicated English writer who I believe was thinking about doing a Ph.D. dissertation on Lee's work -- but instead, smartly decided to write outside of academia per se, -- and rather than merely writing abstractly, instead became a living collaborator with Lee in all aspects of her efforts to complete and summarize her experience and art. So: she relocated to New York and has spent the past year or two (I've not kept exact track of when she started) digging into the lively piles of neglected documentary material, bringing narrative order out of creative chaos . . .
This fine woman, Mary-Clare McKenna, has done true yoeman's duty -- helping Lee organize and edit and complete a considerable body of video and film footage that captures images of her performances (performances never seen by vast numbers, though some were running for weeks or months at a stretch), photos of these works, plus of Lee's long years of painting and visual artwork, -- and Mary-Clare is I believe fairly well along with the creation of a book (with illustrations), including interview material from many of Lee's colleagues among the avant-garde -- a book that should serve to present a comprehensive and detailed view of Lee's life-work overall. (Also worth mention -- so far as I'm aware, Mary-Clare is still looking for a suitable publisher for this volume.)
I have blogged an entry about Lee's passing here: remembering Lee Nagrin
I've been rather tuned out of the blogosphere, but the impulse to write you also calls to mind your good blog -- which I'll check back into in these upcoming Bangalore days.


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