It’s on. Bull City Summer launched this week with the first home stand of the season. We’ve put together a stellar team of artists and supporting partners and sponsors. The website is the best place to learn more about it; it’s a temporary mock-up to be replaced by a more ambitious site soon. There is much more to come. Meanwhile you can hear me and Adam Sobsey talking about the project on North Carolina Public Radio’s State of Things program on Tuesday.
In December I took a 3-week road trip around the South and wrote about it for Paris Review Daily. Part 1 focuses on the area of rural, coastal South Carolina where W. Eugene Smith made his “Nurse Midwife” essay in 1951. Part 2 covers a drive from the coast of Georgia to Apalachicola, Florida and then a few days in the latter place. Part 3 is about Smith’s passions for Faulkner and Tennessee Williams and much of it takes place in Laurel, Mississippi, fictional hometown of Streetcar’s Blanche DuBois.
Here’s my latest piece for Paris Review Daily, a portrait of Durham Bulls’ manager Charlie Montoyo, with a contribution from my longtime collaborator, Kate Joyce.
In July we convened a weeklong workshop at the Invisible Dog Art Center with actors working through scenes of Jaymes Jorsling’s play called A(Loft) Modulation, a.k.a Chaos Manor, which is based on my book-in-progress for Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Gene Smith’s Sink. Christopher McElroen directed the proceedings with his customary, unique blend of authority and curiosity. This project began last summer with a series of workshops that culminated in a multi-media event (the piano wasn’t dropped after all) in the Brooklyn Book Festival, in association with Brigid Hughes and A Public Space. This year we’ll be back at the BBF (September 20, Invisible Dog, 8pm), this time with a more conventional public reading of Jaymes’ new script, set in a dilapidated loft building in Manhattan’s wholesale flower district 1957-1965, featuring a photographer and a number of underground musicians. Below are three of my iPhone photos from the workshops a couple of weeks ago. Theater professionals absorb material in a different way than would, say, a curator, critic, or scholar. Their effort is to inhabit characters, not analyze or categorize them and there is a refreshing, fearless quality to the way they work. This exercise should make an impact on my writing in Gene Smith’s Sink, if I’m any good.
My latest piece for Paris Review Daily posted yesterday. It is about poets Betty Adcock and Claudia Emerson, with an introduction concerning Betty’s late husband, Don.
We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear tragedy in Japan. I spent a month in Japan and the Pacific islands tracing Gene Smith’s footsteps. I was in Saipan, swimming in the ocean off of Red Beach, an American invasion beach, when a bullhorn let us know there was a tsunami and we were evacuated to the upper floors of the hotel. I made the photograph above on the same beach the night before.
If anybody is interested in a recap, I wrote two pieces for Paris Review Daily about my experiences, “Letter from Japan,” and “Letter from Guam.” I also did an interviewwith my interpreter and research assistant, Momoko Gill (who also did the Japanese research and interpretations for my recent Sonny Clark piece in Tin House), and several other blog entries (here and here), including one about seeing the Chapel Hill band Superchunk in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
The kind editors of Tin House have given permission to post this PDF. My experiences working with Executive Editor (and novelist) Michelle Wildgen on this piece and with Lance Cleland on follow-up blog posts were exemplary. I hope to work with them again in the future.