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About this poet

Born on January 1, 1966, CAConrad describes himself as "the son of white trash asphyxiation whose childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift."

He is the author of numerous collections of poetry including Deviant Propulsion (Soft Skull Press, 2006); Advanced Elvis Course (2009); The Book of Frank (Chax Press, 2009), recipient of the Gil Ott Book Award, reprinted by Wave Books in 2010; The City Real & Imagined (Factory School, 2010), with the poet Frank Sherlock; and A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon (Wave Books, 2012).

The poet Eileen Myles writes that "[Conrad] always argues (from the inside of his poems) for a poetry of radical inclusivity while keeping a very queer shoulder to the wheel. His kind of queerness strikes me as nonpolarizing, not intentionally but because of the fullness of his exposition, a kind of gigantism that seems to me to be most deeply informed by love, and a tenderness for the ravages and tumult of existence."

CAConrad's awards include a PEW Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Currently, he lives in Philadelphia.

(Soma)tic 21: Touch Yourself for Art

CAConrad, 1966

For Penny Arcade

There must be a piece of art near where you live that you enjoy, even LOVE! A piece of art that IF THERE WAS WAR you would steal it and hide it in your little apartment. I'm going to PACK my apartment TO THE ROOF when war comes! This exercise needs 7 days, but not 7 consecutive days as most museums and galleries are not open 7 days a week. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art hands the Mark Rothko "Orange, Red and Yellow, 1961" a painting I would marry and cherish in sickness and in health, have its little Rothko babies, and hang them on the wall with their father. But I'm not allowed to even touch it! The security guards will think you're as weird as they think I am when you come for 7 days to sit and meditate. Never mind that, bribe them with candy, cigarettes or soda, whatever it take to be left in peace. For 7 days I sat with my dearest Rothko.

Bring binoculars because you will get closer to the painting than anyone else in the room! Feel free to fall in love with what you see, you're a poet, you're writing a poem, go ahead and fall in love! Feel free to go to the museum restroom and touch yourself in the stall, and be sure to write on the wall that you were there and what you were doing as everyone enjoys a dedication in the museum. And be certain to leave your number, you never know what other art lover will be reading. Return with your binoculars. There is no museum in the world with rules against the use of binoculars, information you may need for the guards if you run out of cigarettes and candy.

Map your 7 days with physical treats to enhance your experience: mint leaves to suck, chocolate liqueurs, cotton balls between your toes, firm-fitting satin underwear, thing you can rock-out with in secret for the art you love. Take notes, there must be a concentration on notes in your pleasure making. Never mind how horrifying your notes may become, horror and pleasure have an illogical mix when you touch yourself for art. When you gather your 7 days of notes you will see the poem waiting in there. Pull it out like pulling yourself out of a long and energizing dream.


ROTHKO 7

Whether things wither or whether your ability to see them does.
—from "The Coinciding," by Carrie Hunter

DAY 1

      it's
October
I pressed
       this buttercup in April
I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK
                call me it!
  call me sentimental!
                HAVE YOU SEEN THE HEADLINES?
                                spring is a
                                     luxury
I hope
for another to
garden with my
bare hands


DAY 2

awkwardness of being insane
                                arrives
                                  after
                            diagnosis
                           not before
remove description
from the splendor
do not hesitate


DAY 3

                      more of a ghost
than my ghosts
here I am


DAY 4

         tablet on tongue
 stray voltage catching
                 my ankles

ready to marry
the chopped
off head

while elaborate in curse
   it contributes evidence
                         of life


DAY 5

             he kissed me while
                              I sang
                   refrain shoved
               against epiglottis

centuries of a vowel for        
endless refutable corrections               
         puts mouth
               to want


DAY 6

     songs dying bodies sing at
                           involuntary
                         junctures of
                                  living

        EXIT sign
leads us to empty    
     launch pad
walking
maybe
walking
     maybe or riding
the collapsing tower

big hands of
      big clock missing
this is not symbolism
    they were gone


DAY 7

                               I'm not tearing back
                         curtains looking
I know Love is                
on the other             
side of     
town   

burying the leash                                                
with the dog was                                          
nothing but                             
cruel don't ever                       
speak to me again                  
                          help me stop
                          dreaming your
                     destruction

From A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon. Copyright © 2012 by CAConrad. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon. Copyright © 2012 by CAConrad. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

CAConrad

CAConrad

Conrad's many awards include a PEW Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Currently, he lives in Philadelphia, PA

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