Poetry Festival Preview: Exit Strata

Exit Strata

Day: Sunday

Stage: The White Horse

Time: 2:50 PM

Interview with Editor Lynne DeSilva-Johnson.


1. Tell us a little bit about your organization.

Exit Strata is a creators community, a network, and a platform for mutual expression, appreciation, collaboration, dialogue, interdisciplinary exploration — and a place where we celebrate the growing relationship between digital and print media. It is, ultimately, an exercise in the self-actualization of a viable cooperative for growing value. We are committed to providing a space for artists of all disciplines to stretch their wings, expand their reach, go beyond their comfort zone, reach a new, shared audience, and self-publish/promote in a range of media.

Our print magazine is always in direct dialogue with our online publication, both of which are seen as a document of community process and experimentation more than “product” — in print, we focus on explorations of the page, and intentionally address the imagination landscape of that particular form of “information”: how typography, layout, mixing of media, and design vocabularies play a role in the expression and receipt of both creative and apparently “empirical” content.

All community members and contributors are invited to play and participate in collaboratory process both in the interest of building connections and co-creating work as well as in the collective production of content for each issue. This includes collaboration with offsite contributors via correspondence and other forms of digital connection, but focuses on coming together in shared space for salon-type charettes wherein all participants engage in a variety of disciplinary experimentation, eschewing labels that delimit our forms or concepts of craft-identity. (The next salon will be in late August, FYI!)

2. Who is reading in your slot at the festival and why?

The group selected to represent Exit Strata at the Poetry Festival is a true representation of the diverse pools from which our community gathers – in addition to Ben Weissner (co-poetry editor) and myself (Lynne DeSilva-Johnson, co-poetry editor, web editor), we are excited to present Tishon Woolcock, William (Bill) Considine, and Lancelot Runge. All three of these terrific poets participated in our May salon/celebration/launch at This Must Be the Place, and each contributed a post for the 30/30/30: Inspiration, Community, Tradition series we ran in celebration of Poetry Month this April.

This lineup represents the heart of Exit Strata’s poetic spirit: intergenerational, collaborative, and committed to pushing boundaries in our own work and in our community.

Tishon Woolcock is the co-founder of Well & Often press – alongside Poet/Performer Caits Meissner, with whom he also published the beautiful collection The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You, which is also available as an audiobook. Tishon and Well and Often serve as a model for the future of independent publishing, creativity, design, and collaborative ventures — on stage, on paper, on line, on video, and in recording. They always inspire us to be better. They just launched an online READER, and we couldn’t be more excited!

William (Bill) Considine is a poet and a playwright who has been active on the New York City poetry circuit since the 1970′s — a long history which consistently has included interdisciplinary exploration, performance, and multimedia collaborations. Recently, he has been deeply engaged in the Poetry Project workshop community, out of which a number of recent video and sound collaboration projects have grown — you can listen to Gowanus, a collaboration with Cosmo D, produced and Mixed by Ambrose Bye, (and featured on the CD,  New Festivals of Rhizomes and Wraiths)  on the Exit Strata site.

Lancelot Runge is a young lion. The type of overwhelming young poetic mind that leaves you slightly breathless, who tells you in the same sentence that he hand designed and published a dozen or more chapbooks in the past few years and that he’s simply not doing enough. Only just graduated from the writing program at Pratt, and is already making his way around the circuit, as others stand up and take notice of his unique style and energy. His singular piece for us in the 30/30/30 series demonstrates his creative facility as a translator, besides.

3. Who else are you looking forward to seeing at the Festival?

Who AREN’T we looking forward to seeing at the festival? I’m not into naming names but I just came back from Naropa a few weeks ago, where I spent many hours in sunny Boulder in the company of CA Conrad… and his particular brand of humanizing, frank, spiritual poetics-as-ritual-space is right on for the transition this year represents for so many of us, both in personal and collective practice. I fully anticipate with glee being glitter bombed by him on sight.More than anything we’re excited for so many of these series (who unfortunately must compete for airtime and busy-schedule-evening hours) to be in the same place at the same time, supporting each other and sharing space. To meet NEW people and to be blown away by new voices, as much as to revel in those we already know and love.

4. Did you attend the festival last year? If so, what was your favorite thing about it?

We attended both the festival last year and the benefit at the Bowery and our team agrees wholeheartedly that what we love the most about this event is the diversity of performers represented. We are thrilled to be a part, and think the mission of the Poetry Society (and the festival as an offshoot of that) is just what we need at this time.

5. Why is live poetry important?

Well, all poetry is important — but also not important at all — and it is that not important at all-ness that is MOST IMPORTANT! I’m going to twist that word “live” poetry into the other version, LIVE (verb) poetry. As Roque Dalton García is famously quoted as saying, “Poetry, like bread, is for everyone.” And is not different from or separate from life. It is life, reflection, emotion, it doesn’t attempt to know, it lives in the unknowing. It is not that we make perfect poetry that this is an important festival, but because we make poetry. Daily. Even “bad” poetry. And to put that out into the air, to bring us out from our desks and off the notebooks, into a shared space where this crazy, beautiful, sometimes isolating ritual reminds us how much we share, and are together in the work? Well. That’s worth an inestimable amount. So is doing it in a public space and drawing non-poets to this beautiful destination to take in these words-as-life. Imagine if we all believed in how life-changing that could be, for all involved? Perhaps for a weekend, we’ll allow ourselves to be just a little… excited.