Sunday, December 19, 2010

 


Ben Friedlander, Kevin Killian (visible in doorway), Dan Davidson

Daniel Davidson’s
What Kind is This?”

As the jacket for Dan Davidson’s Culture says,

Daniel Davidson (1952-1996) came to writing late, emerging from punk music in the late 1980s as a poet of singular talent and originality.

Dan Davidson was, not unlike Jerry Estrin or Kathy Acker, a constant & important presence in the poetry scene of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s & early ‘90s who died right at the moment when the internet was starting to transform the roles of geography & immanence in the world of poetry (like so much else). For those who knew him, he was a crucial, defining writer whose work was never that far from our consciousness in whatever projects we took on. But those who did not know him may never even have heard of him.

Culture was Davidson's own title for his "collected books." The posthumous Krupskaya edition contains four of those books – Product; Bureaucrat, My Love; Image; & Anomie. It is available through SPD. Three other booksAn Account; Transit; & Desire – are available gratis as a PDF from Krupskaya, also under the general title Culture.

Right before his death, Dan completed a booklength collaboration with Tom Mandel, Absence Sensorium, which George Lakoff frames as follows:

Tom Mandel and Daniel Davidson have done what two poets are not supposed to be able to do: they have jointly written a great long poem that is seamless, where you cannot tell where one leaves off and the other takes up. The whole is much more than the sum of the parts.

While Absence Sensorium remains in the SPD catalog, they have no copies. I don’t know if any cartons are hiding back in the vast Potes & Poets warehouses in Connecticut, but I rather suspect not. If you want one, you will have to use Abebooks.com, which locates a few at widely varying prices in the stocks of used & rare booksellers.

I know of only one other book by Davidson not included among the above, a December 1990 chapbook that he self-published in an edition of 45 as a New Year’s gift to his friends, Notes From IMAGE. The work there is quite different from that gathered in the Zasterle Press edition of Image published in 1992 (and republished in Culture).

Recently Tom Mandel found Dan’s recording of “What Kind is This?” produced in 1980, back when he was still a musician & had not yet begun writing for production, so to speak. I believe it is Dan’s song, and that is him on vocals & guitar. I can’t get it out of my head.

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