March 14, 2004

Nico Vassilakis & Robert Mittenthal

Sunday, March 14, 2004, 7:30 pm
Mountain Writers Center
3624 SE Milwaukie
Portland, Ore.

Suggested donation $5

Nico Vassilakis and Robert Mittenthal are among the veteran curators of the long-running Subtext reading series in Seattle. Spare Room has not only been inspired by the format and finesse of the Subtext series, but has often poached from their list of readers. Naturally, we heartily recommend that you make the trip to Seattle for their readings, which take place on the first Wednesday of every month, at the Richard Hugo House in Capitol Hill. The next Subtext reading will feature Anselm Berrigan and Karen Weiser, on April 7th -- for more information see their website.

But long before that -- this coming Sunday, in fact -- we urge you to come hear Nico and Robert in Portland (much easier than driving to Seattle).

About the readers:

lacking in tree house construction skills. nico has thrown a discus reasonably far. devised a rescue manuever for an eventual plummet. and dabbled in reverse alphabetics. as negative writing approaches, he can be found absorbed in unpredictable concretions. never buying on impulse, a plodding exuberance. some titles are WITH PULLEYS, FAINT TEXT, and THE REDUCED SENTENCE. visual extremeties sound better the nearer they get...

Robert Mittenthal is a Seattle-based poet and critic. He is author of Martyr Economy (Sprang Texts) and Ready Terms (Tsunami Editions). His poems have appeared in a variety of publications, including: Bird Dog; Score; Aerial; The Kootenay School of Writing's Anthology: Writing Class; Rhizome; & Talisman. Recent work can be found online in The News, at, in Alterra at, and in W at

Quell, The Thorn Dispenser

Called a bounce, a detonation absolved nor frivolous explosions. Would you walk along with me for a short time? If you approach, painted in toxins, I'll know you, but tonight it too slips, it slips too. The chores undone accumulate. I laughed at the calendar that day. It repulses. Now I cowboy mount the back of it. Whisper coordinates of salvation. They too bounce off the lobes into the drum and surprisingly lull without response. Fuck it, the trigger. My girl is friend at a finger's distance, she walks toward me, she walks toward the bar. Such strategy, well planned cognition. Would you bend the wall, some sympathetic contrivance. To appreciate a supply of fire, said necessities. No one divines where or even should they. The delicates of expecting. Friendships waiver between. The waters refuse to falter.

Nico Vassilakis

Toast with Jam®

So here's to Mr. Asphalt of the lyrical persuasion. We singe the bar with his lachrymose brew. Our hand emerged equal -- as beauty extracts it, it loses itself in dream -- a word vacuum whose images take themselves for a walk. The sublime order is "to go," that is, lost on or above our head. But Beauty is to touch the broken with all sensation. Sublime is a play to the non-existent or elusive common; it is beyond reach -- transitive.

The concrete is a touch at a distance -- burnished on the mall, eyes riveted to cold steel. Its folds of flesh broken, celebrated. Dense muzzle of diction fat. To phrase once -- abusive was enough. A near sewage kidnap, ushered in the social complex. A play unfolds under watchlight. Within the prison -- wreckage from the walls. Suggestive whispers outside any agent. Fact battered in the drum beat.

Robert Mittenthal