POETRY MONTH 30/30/30: Inspiration, Community, Tradition: DAY 20:: Annaliese Downey on CA Conrad
CA Conrad gave a reading at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where I study poetry, about a week ago, and afterwards the general consensus among the students in attendance was that Conrad was “insane.” We meant this affectionately and admiringly. If the motto of the Situationists, with whom Conrad has much in common, was “Be realistic—demand the impossible!”, then a suggested motto for those wishing to proceed in the spirit of Conrad might be, “Be reasonable—do what is insane!” Conrad’s most recent book of poems, A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon, [from Wave Books] is a guide to practical insanity. Collected within are twenty-seven “(soma)tic exercises,” instructions for the radical disruption of routine living at the individual level, and the poems resulting from those created conditions. For example: “(Soma)tic 7: Feast of the Seven Colors,” which instructs the reader to consume and surround themselves with a single particular color each day for seven days. Or “(Soma)tic 17: OIL THIS WAR!,” an exercise in making visible the linkages between waste and war. Many of the exercises are even wilder, weirder, and more uncomfortable than these, and Conrad has performed them all.