• Address 720 East Locust Street | Milwaukee, WI 53212
  • Phone 414.263.5001
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm | Closed Mon
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm, Closed Mon
Event Calendar
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readings & workshops
April 6 - Jun 27

Book Club: Readshops led by Karl Gartung

readings & workshops
July 3 - Jun 30

Dhamma MKE

readings & workshops
October 22 - Jun 24

Welcome Home!: A Veterans Writing Group

readings & workshops
February 2 -23

Three Windows into Writing and Revising a Poem with Kathleen A. Dale

exhibitions
February 11 - Apr 5

Tarot: The (Re)Making of a Language

performances
February 20

Formations Series for New and Improvised Music

readings & workshops
February 26

Poetry Reading: Jennifer Elise Foerster + Zoë Johnson

readings & workshops
February 26

Seeing in Invisibility: Poetry as revelation at UWM Libraries Special Collections

readings & workshops
February 27

Urban Echo Poets

readings & workshops
February 29

Visionary Narratives: A Workshop in Drawing Inspiration with Laurence Ross.

exhibitions
February 29

Reception for Tarot: The (Re)Making of a Language

readings & workshops
March 1 -29

On the Front Lines, Behind the Lines: Writing Protest Poetry with Margaret Rozga.

film & video
March 6

aCinema Screening

readings & workshops
March 12

Creative Confluence: Research for Hybrid Writing, a conversation with Heid E. Erdrich

readings & workshops
March 12

Poetry Reading: Heid E. Erdrich

readings & workshops
March 14

Poetry & Pi(e) featuring Vida Cross + Chuck Stebelton

performances
March 19

Formations Series for New and Improvised Music

readings & workshops
March 20

Poetry Reading: Mark Bibbins + Elizabeth Hoover

readings & workshops
March 26

Poetry Reading: Eli Goldblatt + Charles Alexander

readings & workshops
March 28

Poetry Reading: Tara Betts + Jennifer Steele

Gabriel Gudding

Gabriel Gudding is the author of two books, A Defense of Poetry (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002) and Rhode Island Notebook (Dalkey Archive Press, 2007), a 436 page poem written in his car. His essays and poetry have appeared such venues as Harper's Magazine, Great American Prose Poems, New American Writing, The Nation. He serves on the Board of Directors for the internationalist magazine Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas/ Nueva Escritura de las Américas and teaches "experimental" poetry and poetics at Illinois State University.

Selected Poems

from Rhode Island Notebook


Gabriel Gudding

 

Prologue

And what, friends, is called a road? If there is, friends, an island, akin to a river, resembling a fence, used in the purpose of swiftly moving bodies and goods, a hallway lined in names, an aisle through counties, a duct in webs, a gangway to seeds, a traveling of beings, a river composed of islands, a place of simultaneous attraction and repulsion, a place for the finding of place, an area of exchange like unto an immense abacus. This, friends, is called a road.

And what, friends, is a car? If there is, friends, a metal corpuscle, a small room in which one cannot walk, a kind of peregrine room, a metal corpuscle battened to wheels, with an interior fitted with instruments used to control its movement, purposed to haul bodies from place to place with minimal exertion on the musculature of those bodies, being thus a small room on wheels that metallizes the human body, being a small mobilized building, a portable shack, conveying of hairdos, children, coins, drinks and fuels across the air and into the surface of hills and athwart old and dull and glittering rivers. This, friends, is called a car.

And what, friends, is called a daughter? If there is, friends, a little girl, impressionable, precious, complex, in need of love, desiring of security, warmth, kindness, giving of kindness, who is brave, who witnesses storms in awe and in fright, who enjoys big trees, has seen the fighting of her parents, owns a teddybear, goes with a teddybear, carries a white stuffed polar bear throughout her childhood, who is five, who is six, who is nine, who makes little camps in livingrooms, or in the backs of great cars, who is as an enfoldment of joy and whose life, despite her parents' efforts, is still surrounded by the causes of death, who is ten, who still finds grief, whose small hands are growing away, whose large eyes are growing away, whose funny way of talking is growing away. This, friends, is called a daughter.

And what, for us, is called a long-distance relationship? If there are friends, or any two people separated purposefully by a distance, whose history of interaction is characterized by misunderstanding, frequent fighting and interpersonal pain, such that the factors of their differences of age, culture, their styles of temperament and the scripts they were taught (in which they may seem imprisoned) have exercised them to a distance, of say eleven hundred miles, and who, despite compatibilities, and because of incompatibilities, find themselves frustrated yet willing to try. This, friends, is called a long-distance relationship.

And what, at last, is called a notebook? If, friends, there is a road through emptiness, a sea sewn to a spine, placed on tables, laps, or on the passenger seat of a car, used for palliation in a wash of disappearances, in haphazard recording of minutiae, road conditions, the recording of road condition and aggregates of thought that occur while driving on a condition, the invitation of emotion and radio, the notation of sign, a setting down of compendious or incidental note, in the grammars of back and forth going, the traveling from period to period, the coming from west to west, a sending between, a going in weather, whether between Illinois and Rhode Island, whether Normal and Providence, or between any several places normal, providential, for the purposes of trying to be happy, or of saving one's relationship, with one's estranged partner, or of seeing one's small daughter, during a separation, or of seeing her during a divorce, or of seeing her, during her swift youth after a divorce, or of driving to participate, even briefly, in the life of a sadder and less buoyant daughter, a little daughter, who is brave, who puts her chin up, who is kind, who only wishes to be happy, whom one cannot find a job near, for the recording of any elemental time of alienation, for the chronicling of any emotional pain, evoked by any unnatural distance, from a small daughter, one might love, with all one's understanding, such that, by a collection of scrawl, in an accrual of insight, some use be invited, to recollect painful things, that they may not become misery, and the refusal, to be steered by pain, or to recollect, and in fact insist, the living, with awareness, to joy, to recollect this way, for a daughter, when she is grown, or for oneself, or for anyone else, who may have found, to whatever degree, in this place of orphans, this endless humility, in our sorrow for lost homes. This, friends, is called a notebook.


...


La Z boy furniture of
ditches. You dead raccoons
you departed possums, you are
the further and minute furniture
of roadsides Why
did come here, little friends, to
explode? Panera, a loaf
of home. It looks like at
mid morning a very sad & old day
almost smoggy, like the palest
orange timber smoke has been
slathered behind the trees and
above the everywhere tan

...


of tree shadow I approach
the tree line at the end of the Midwest
around Youngstown. My daughter tells me yesterday
she's got all skinny—D had not
told me she'd lost weight from her illness,
the DIVORCE made official 13 days ago:

"Easter is born—crying aloud,

Divorce!

While
the green bush sways...." fr. Paterson
A fruzzed waterfall in the stones
has turned to slush but still grips
the brown rock wall a stubborn cold octopus
of ice, Airy ice partly hard water. Hi,
brown & dusty patina on
that dunnage on that
flatbed of that truck from
Cortland, Ohio