On Friday, April 1, poet Chris Martin celebrated the release of his second book Becoming Weather at the Secret Robot Project in Brooklyn, NY. But this wasn’t your typical poetry reading. Below, Chris Martin introduces the rest of the crew who collaborated with him on his book release and shares photos and video from the gathering.
The Book Is More than the Book
Birth and death are sometimes like recto and verso poems sharing the same page. A book is the beginning of an object and the ending of a process. But no! There are ways, dear ear, of exploding this binary all together. First, meet great artists who maintain at least a foot in the world of poetry. Second, convince them to mess with your work. Third, find an art space that knows how to throw a great party. Voila! The whole thing started when I was talking to John Colpitts—a drummer for Oneida, Man Forever, and The Boredoms—about collaborating on an event series for Futurepoem books, where I’m an editor. We talked about the importance of expanding the notion of who engages in poetry practices. Like, duh, it’s not actually the insular bubble of blurb trading and esoterica that it’s made out to be. It might not be the Tibor de Nagy, but there’s still a ton of crossover between poetry and the other arts. So, I stole the idea and we made it a book party. (Don’t worry; Futurepoem Presents will kick off this June with film, dance, theater, and music.)
John graciously offered to compose something original that in some ways used Becoming Weather as source material. I figured if legends like Oneida are willing to do it, I bet I can cajole some other folks into participation. So, I talked to Edmund Berrigan, or Eddie, or I Feel Tractor. We’ve been friends (and betimes bandmates) for quite a while now and my favorite of his I Feel Tractor songs is actually called “Weather.” He was on board immediately. Then I got in touch with Stephanie Gray, who is a great poet and filmmaker. We talked a little about what it might look like and she set about making a super-8 film, secretly using the book’s Notley epigraph—“I keep trying to be honest in this glittering wind”—as its polestar. Lastly, I tapped Evangelist JB Best. After helping found the Anticon rap collective in Oakland under the MC moniker Pedestrian, Mr. Best moved to Los Angeles to think about things political and spiritual. He flew all the way to New York to deliver a sermon on the topic of “What Is a Man?” with Becoming Weather standing in as the good book. John helped secure the venue, Brooklyn’s own Secret Project Robot, and it was on.
In the comment area below, tell us about the best book parties you’ve attended. If you were to reinvent the book party/reading, what would you change?
About the book
By cataloging the movements and moments of a constantly shifting city, Martin’s poems posit a metropolis that is always already dancing and where no one dances alone. Part philosophy and part song, this dynamic collection moves us to “never / stop moving . . . to always go / sincere in the blur.” An intimate, atmospheric distillation of how “one wakes only / to this false peace / with the voice / of a weatherman,” Becoming Weather confronts the comforts and hierarchies that make us complacent.
Chris Martin is the author of American Music, selected by C. D. Wright for the Hayden Carruth Award, and was named one of the Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets in 2010. He cofounded and edited the online magazine Puppy Flowers for its entire ten-year run and is now an editor at Futurepoem, where he curates the blog Futurepost. After moving from Colorado to Minnesota to San Francisco, he currently resides in New York, where he teaches children and adults with learning differences.