For Danny Brown
by Anna Vitale
I get high
off the feed
off the wall
I is divisible
I sucks on rap
In The Shadow Which Is Life
Ithaca Is Displacement
The Shells On The Ledge Belongs To Us
The Cross On The Wall Belongs To Us
The Ribs In The Sky Belong To Us
The Red Trails
The Minute Falls
The Dark Road
The Personable Fence
The Thick Slab of Air In Between The Museum’s Exterior
Our Yellow Expanse Ends In a Jelly Curve
My Little Dorm Room
My Sticky Mind
I’ve been wanting to write about being in Ithaca at the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell. I’ve been terribly anxious about the peaks I am able to climb. Across the room from me–I am in the basement of the library–there is a map called “Columbia or America: 500 Years of Controversy.” I don’t know precisely what it is about, but I can guess, and my guess will be close. It has something to do with annihilation. This is also what I fear–a map of my projection–a fear I’m nearly incapable of forgetting: I walk around and up and down the hill to and from Cornell. I didn’t realize it was an Ivy League school until the moment I realized it. It wasn’t something I’d always known. This status can mean or not mean many things. For me, it means I am like Dorothy in the balloon going nowhere. I mean it’s a joke, a pretend ascent, or I’ve got it all wrong because Dorothy is trying to get home and I don’t know where I’m trying to go except I am trying to be here, with and in and amongst our minds, the minds and bodies of the folks that are here, wanting to be with them, and scared of the fiery burn of the dreams that take us away from ourselves. The ribbed arches of these gothic buildings were things I admired, and learned to admire, in my AP Art History class at Roeper. That was the first private school I’d been to. I finished high school there. I didn’t start there. I certainly didn’t start here.
me and Casey, photo booth at Ed Debevick’s, Chicago, 1995
Lessenger Middle School, Detroit, MI, 8th grade trip
Below are pictures of the Greer Lankton view finder that I still have from the Cranbrook Art Museum’s installation of “It’s all about ME, Not You” exhibit from 1998.
Below those are a poem that I wrote about the exhibit. The poem won a contest in a local magazine called The Contemporary Muse, which was coming out of Port Huron, MI and thinking of itself as telling people about “blue water area art.”
Thanks to Andrew Durbin whose recent article with Paul Monroe, “Unalterable Strangeness,” inspired me to take pics of the reminders of this early love and share them.
I was 17 years old when I was in this room. It was at that show that I also learned about Nan Goldin, whose “Ballad of Sexual Dependency” video was installed near Greer Lankton’s one-room house. This stuff (their work) created attachments for me I didn’t know I had/ needed/ wanted.
I wrote another poem about Greer Lankton where I shouted, Allen Ginsberg-style, “Greer Lankton! Greer Lankton! At night I can hear you snore! I’m wide awake! Greer Lankton!” Not that I knew anything about the sounds she made while sleeping, but she stayed with me long after I left this room.
Surely there are things I didn’t understand or that I misunderstood that are evidenced by my 17 year-old-writer self. Surely she was saying something to me, though, and I had heard her well enough.
Mouth dream 7/20/14
Wake up having had a dream about my mouth being endless half my face or more than half my face is sky and cloud and trees and nature more than half my face is projection