Poetry News

Reading Report From the Occult Poetics Symposium: Ariana Reines, CAConrad, & Jessica Bebenek in Montreal

By Harriet Staff

Ariana Reines

Montreal's Librarie Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore was host to a reading as part of last weekend's Occult Poetics Symposium, presented by Concordia's Centre for Expanded Poetics. The reading featured symposium headliners Ariana Reines, CAConrad, and Jessica Bebenek. Recapping the event, the bookstore writes: "CA Conrad saluted Montreal, his 'February city,' before announcing that he wasn't going to take up a lot of time telling us about the rituals that he had used to write his poems. (Thankfully, he changed his mind shortly thereafter)." More:

One, for example, involved going to Emily Dickinson's old house and rubbing dirt from her yard all over his body. Another involved making the Biblical book of Romans (infamous to LGBTQ folks for being used to condemn homosexuality) into an anal suppository. He also discussed his poems based on psychic communication with dogs and his love of Marfa, Texas. He was just generally amazing. Most memorable line, maybe: "Jesus didn't need balance/He had nails."

And then Ariana Reines took to the stage. Initially, we had planned to launch her latest poetry collection, A Sand Book, at this event, but it wasn't ready in time. Reines started off her reading by offering an explanation, which included an intensely personal account of a mystical experience she had in Haiti (which I won't recount here). Essentially, she told us, A Sand Book is about religious experiences and comprises things she's had to keep to herself, that she still processing, and isn't quite ready to let out into the world yet. It was also begun, she said, after Hurricane Sandy and has to do with representing both ecological and spiritual trauma in contemporary America.

Read the full recap here. Photo by Drawn & Quarterly.