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Apollo by Geoffrey Gatza - Black and White Edition

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Apollo Geoffrey Gatza Black and White Edition

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A Conceptual Poem by Geoffrey Gatza

Based upon the ballet by Igor Stravinsky


Marcel Duchamp is arguably one of the 20th century’s most important and influential artists. This richly illustrated publication traces the central strategies and themes of Duchamp’s work. Movement, displacement, doubling, isolation, pun and metamorphosis are the tactics used by Duchamp to estrange the ordinary.


More than just a collection of poems, this book is a readymade, taking the form of a souvenir ballet program detailing a one-night-only performance of Apollo by Igor Stravinsky to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Armory Show in New York, in which Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 caused a sensation during its exhibition. At its heart, this book is about Marcel Duchamp but it is also about chess. It was thought for a long while that Marcel Duchamp gave up art to play professional chess. However, this was found to be not true with the revelation of his last major artwork, Étant donnés.


Using the form of a ballet, this work calls attention to the acts of performance, movement and choreography as well as the rhythms and balance of dance. These ideas are also found in chess. The conversation between dance and chess runs through this work. Each character is represented by a chess piece and their movements are conveyed and correlated as dance, thus the reason this book takes the form of a ballet. Marcel Duchamp, his female alter ego Rrose Sélavy, Dorothea Tanning, Leornona Carrington and Gertrude Abercrombie perform the ballet. Max Ernst leads the orchestra and Dizzy Gillespie performs a special solo.  


The ten sequences in Apollo are performed in poem sections unfolding with specific functions towards the production and appreciation of the creative act. Duchamp famously said, “The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” This book establishes a more active role for the reader, who is asked to participate actively in creating meaning from the text. The work becomes collaboration between the audience, the poet, and the tradition that they've all inherited. The diversity of these works echoes the complexities of the subject, but together they posit something specific, the heightened relationship between the interior self and the exterior world.


It has often been said that Marcel Duchamp gave up art for chess. Geoffrey Gatza has reversed the process, and produced a sumptuous “souvenir program” of a performance of Stravinsky's ballet Apollo, framed by an elaborately-plotted chess game between Duchamp and his female alter-ego, Rose Selavy. The results are stunning.

—John Ashbery

With APOLLO, Geoffrey Gatza has created a unique Surrealist romp with assemblages (both visual and myriad-genre) of various tropes and delights: mythology, ballet, chess, tableau, theatre, documentation, image, memoir, sound. Amazing! This is a tremendously ambitious weave, truly a meditation on various slices of belletristic-artistic power that have shaped his (and our) ethos and consciousness in ways that come alive here with determination and grace. “The word smithereens does not exist in the singular”. He pulls the fragments together, as they perform and re-enfold with a deeply performative flare. Bravo.

—Anne Waldman

I've played many games of chess but none like this. Modernist art plays its gambit. As we journey through the game the ways of seeing multiply. Win or lose, it's a wild ride. The fetish of board, pieces, hands... players. Listen and learn. Let Geoffrey Gatza's textuality lift you out of your 'addled tranquility'. Pas de deux with one of Duchamp's 'madmen of a certain quality', watch the choreography of the corps de ballet unfold. Pause for the deeply humane and human interstices in passages of real tenderness and poignancy. Herein is the new surrealism. Entrez!

—John Kinsella

Geoffrey Gatza is a young poet of the era of the so-called post-avant. Future historians of poetry will no doubt note how the post-avant is primarily characterized by the prolific number of literary Tupperware’ parties its members hold in various locales around the country. At these parties, as is well known, transparent Tupperware’ containers of various sizes and shapes are excitedly passed around, their slightly varied forms and sizes avidly appraised, their snap-on covers lovingly fondled, the names of the different owners of said containers uttered with breathless, ‘you-are-one-of-us’ approbation. Historians will no doubt note, as well, that Geoffrey Gatza was never invited to these parties, and that his lack of popularity was, in the main, his own doing. For when he wasn’t in the kitchen cooking (he is a chef by trade and a master one), he chose to spend his time alone someplace, designing, crafting, and forging a kind of strange (for lack of better description) rocket backpack, which in a field of poppies he one day strapped himself into and fired up with a click of his Zippo. Historians will note what a few on the ground amazingly observed: A flaming dark form shooting up at tremendous speed, lifting higher and higher, getting smaller and smaller, and then, of a sudden, at a tremendous height, exploding in a giant, blinding flash, sending thousands of pieces of contrailed debris slowly spinning down out of the sky around a central, slowly falling ball of light.

— Kent Johnson

In Geoffrey Gatza's Conceptual Poem "Apollo," Max Ernst conducts Dizzy Gillespie. Where do we sign up? Can I play tam-tam? Or rather may I? Who's that playing chess with Duchamp? Was Duchamp any good at chess? The transgendered genius, she invites us to enjoy, participate. The muses of Rhetoric, Dance and Poetry get on-the-job training. What of Dorothea Tanning? I've always thought she represented Love. And what of Balanchine, that great master of modern classicism, and Edwin Denby? "Exotic and warm sensations please both sexes" we learn from Tiresias, who had both experiences. "The plastic faces of orgasm," Zeus objects! What follows is narrative disjunctus, — "To thing day way year /After as same // Small do come see take / After same not" — and we are amazed and delighted as our host so elegantly prepares the conjoined words, movements, sounds, and images. Finally, Geoffrey's poem is an epic to art, and equally to daily life. It is oracular, metaphysical. Apollo smiles!

—Vincent Katz


Geoffrey Gatza's stunning multimedia work, Apollooffers readers an insightful discussion of the individual's place in a larger literary tradition. Presented as classical ballet, with a cast of dancers that includes Marcel Duchamp, Dorothea Tanning, Gertrude Abercrombie, and Leonora Carrington, Gatza's new book raises fascinating questions about the ways in which one should inhabit artistic histories: Are the works of other writers ours to reimagine? Who owns a literary work, and the aesthetic heritage that it represents? To what extent does homage blur into revision, or even destruction? As Gatza explores possible answers to these questions, he offers readers a provocative matching of style and content, particularly as his formal choices serve to illuminate and complicate his thought-provoking discussion of the Modernist canon.

Gatza works with a wide range of literary forms, including found templates that are not germane to poetry (such as a chess game, complete with photographs of rooks and pawns), lyric interludes, couplets, and tercets. What's striking about Gatza's engagement with form is the way that he envisions the relationship between artist and audience. Much like his Modernist predecessors, Gatza calls upon the reader to assume a more active role, and to participate in the process of creating meaning from the text. He ultimately asks us to reconsider our ideas about authorship, particularly when it is the reader who actualizes the literary text.

—Bookslut Review, by Kristina Marie Darling

Geoffrey Gatza is an award winning poet and editor. He is the author many books of poetry, including Secrets of my Prison House (BlazeVOX 2010) Kenmore: Poem Unlimited (Casa Menendez 2009) and HouseCat Kung Fu: Strange Poems for Wild Children (Meritage Press 2008), He is also the author of the yearly Thanksgiving Menu-Poem Series, a book length poetic tribute for prominent poets, now in it's tenth year. His visual art poems have been displayed in gallery showing. OCCUPY THE WALLS: A Poster Show, AC Gallery (NYC) 2011 occupy wall street N15 For Ernst Jandl - Minimal Poems with photography from the fall of Liberty Square. And in, LANGUAGE TO COVER A WALL: Visual Poetry through its changing media, UB ART GALLERY (Buffalo, NY) 2011/12 Language for the Birds. Geoffrey Gatza is the editor and Publisher of the small press BlazeVOX. The fundamental mission of BlazeVOX is to disseminate poetry, through print and digital media, both within academic spheres and to society at large. He lives in Kenmore, NY with his girlfriend and two beloved cats.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 168 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1609641542


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