Western Practice (Paperback)
How to approach a microtonal notation of a life? Within a diverse field of spacing, Motika's poem 'Delusions Enclosures: On Harry Partch (1901-1974)' scores a biography of the sounds of words and phrases written by the composer himself in and among the poet's own. In a way, notes. And a fine debut. --Marjorie Welish
If twentieth century California artists established a tradition of speculative innovation, then Western Practice ushers visionary West Coast poetics into the twenty-first. Motika's ingenious ear renders place prosodic; his 'baroque leaps' tender a sprung rhythm that turns history into 'a theory at map's edge.' The 'mystic / gather' of this music gives Motika's ambitious projective praxis visual beauty and structural rigor. Open this book--'crawl inside & lie down against the future.'--Brian Teare
While there's a dreamy Venusian quality to Stephen Motika's poetry, it's also driven by a care and clarity that animates its landscapes. Western Practice is a book that deserves attention for its rich intersections of projective acrobatics and coming-of-age memory-textures, conjuring the roar of the Pacific at every turn of the line. --Lisa Jarnot
Shaped by California's cultural and political landscape, Western Practice reflects on the rituals of artistic activity, including an obsessive scrutinizing of the founders of Los Angeles' postwar art scene, from composer Harry Partch to painter Richard Diebenkorn. Stephen Motika's debut collection draws striking parallels between geography and visionary artists' work, creating an aesthetic and emotive topos all its own.
Jazz days, baked on Baker, we saw Mingus, day before last in tan trench, coasts and cats, Art Pepper walking hills, hilling in, tel-, phone polls, long boots, to take . . . mystery . . . all low rides. fuller life, all this, full, instant, theater, a now gallery working, knowing now.
Stephen Motika is the editor of Tiresias: The Collected Poems of Leland Hickman (2009) and the author of the poetry chapbook Arrival and at Mono (2007). His articles and poems have appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, BOMB, and The Brooklyn Review, among others. A 2010-2011 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Resident, he is the program director at Poets House and the publisher of Nightboat Books.