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T H E   M I N O T A U R

Vol. 1, No. 1
Spring 1999

Hello people, fellow poets, members of Labyrinth! The Minotaur is the red thread which should ultimately lead you through the mythical corridors of our poetic endeavor towards that final inkling of sense you thought you might have lost. It was dangling from the LabReport, placed on thesandy floor by Charlotte Eckler some time ago, until we tripped over it, dragging it along our mysterious path. Now you too have stumbled upon it!

The idea of the Minotaur is to produce an internal Labyrinth newsletter which presents reports on recent meetings and announces forthcoming meetings and projects. It will also inform about upcoming Labyrinth readings and other events which might be interest to our members. Further it will contain reviews of recent readings (Labyrinthine and other). We would also like to include samples of work done or read at Labyrinth meetings or readings, in order to give those unable to attend a chance to see what the others are doing. So please send in any poems, reviews info, or anything else you would like us to include.

We wil attempt to publish The Minotaur 4 times a year, roughly following the sequence of the seasons. Inquiries, contributions, announcements, etc. to Stephan Moser, Johannesgasse 9-13/3/7, 1010 Wien Tel. 513 5196 (e-mail: a9201302@unet.univie.ac.at), or Peter Waugh, Ferdinandstrasse 29/2, 1020 Vienna, tel. 21 25 335( e-mail:peter.waugh@uni-ak.ac.at.

Recent Meetings

March 28th, 1999

This meeting, held at Peter's, was very well attended. We were pleased to be able to welcome some new voices (Joya Jennings, Felix Mendelsohn, Hoppelmann Karottnig) which reverberated through Peter's rooms along with those longer lost in the Labyrinth (Charlotte Eckler, Karin Kaminker, Evelyn Holloway, Stephan Moser, Carlotta Rokita, Lisa Rosenblatt, Peter Waugh and Fritz Widmayer). The high-note of the evening was our attempt to write two Bout-Rimés (see below), one using words given by the person sitting to the right, the other using the following words (one selected by each poet): bandanna, joke, banana, yoke, faces, soak, races, order, erases, border, displaces. Care to write your own? Peter is collecting them for a compilation. We also shared the poems which people brought along (see Poems)

April 11th, 1999

Held at Peter's again, the first part of this meeting constituted the third rehearsal for the group (Karin Kaminker, Hillary Keel, Stephan Moser, Carlota Rokita, Vicki Slavuski, Peter Waugh, as well as Edith Sommer and Doris Audétat) presenting Edith Sommer Standpoints reading at the Literaturhaus (April 14th, see 'Events'). For the second part, which started at 8.00 P.M., we were joined by others (Joya Jennings, Hoppelmann Karottnig, Heidelinde Linde and at the last moment also Fritz Widmayer and Uschi Schmidtmayer). This part of the evening was devoted to a reading and discussion of new poems by Hoppelmann, Heidelinde, Carlota, Stephan and Peter. This was then followed by a brief writing activity combining a form ('Magic Square', invented by Peter) and an impossible title 'A Poem to Change the World', which nevertheless produced some intersting results.

April 25, 1999

We met late Sunday afternoon at Hillary Keel's house in the 23rd District. Entitled 'Heavenly Meadows', the meeting was attended by Hillary, Heidelinde Linde, Stephan Moser, Carlota Rokita, Edith Sommer and Peter Waugh. We went for a walk across the local fields of Mauer, our goal being a special field, called the Totenwiese, with a beautiful view of the Vienna Woods. In search of inspiration, we took notes and wrote poems on the way, and then shared them over wine and cheese back at Hillary's house. Stephan also read the latest version of a poem he'd presented at the meeting before, which led to a lengthy and lively discussion of fundamentals.

May 9, 1999

17.00 at Edith Sommer's house in the 22nd District, on the city limits. The meeting was attended by Edith, Hillary, Heidelinde, Carlota and Peter (so the group's getting smaller?). This Sunday we went for a long walk across through the maygreen splendour of the marshy woods of the nearby Lobau - once again in search of inspiration. Back at the house we read and discussed poems by Heidelinde, Carlota and Edith.

October 23, 1999

The intended mass walk at 4.00 P.M. was unfortunately only embarked upon by Hillary and Peter, who made their way to the Votruba Kirche where in the mist and twilight they wrote about the building (cubistic concrete architecture of the 60s).

After 6.00 other members arrived in dribs and drabs until a gathering of about 10 people was finally achieved (Hillary Keel, Peter Waugh, Carlota Rokita, Heide Lindorfer, Susanne Toth (debut), Felix Mendelssohn, Daniela Beuren, Evelyn Holloway, Vicki Slavuski + brother Alfredo as guest).

Peter started off a renga, a Japanese round group poem of 36 stanzas, in which each poet writes three and two stanzas respectively. We had no strict form for the stanzas and didn't manage to reach 36, as the going was rather slow, but did manage to adhere to the rules of not aiming at a storyline but rather picking up on the previous stanza's images, thought etc. and also of following a tripartite structure of a scene-setting first 6 stanzas (formal ice-breaking at a party), a humorous main section (having fun and playing around) and a concluding 4-6 stanzas (winding up the party, saying goodbye). We ended up with about 29 stanzas.

At the same time, while waiting for the renga to return and at Peter's request for material for possible forthcoming readings on the topic of labyrinths (two enquiries of late and two more potential events in this field coming up), people sat around Hillary's table delving into various source books on the subject and writing what they could, bearing in mind the categories drawn up for the original labyrinths writing project several years ago, viz. the labyrinth as idea, myth, personal labyrinths, garden/maze, sound, start/initiation. This produced some interesting work which was eventually read, although most people wanted to continue to elaborate it at home. Please send in the copies (with name) when you have a more or less finished version.

Most people left around 11.15 but Peter, Daniela and Susanne stayed on to listen to Tom Waits' greatWhat's He Building in There? song and hear Peter and Hilalry read their Votruba Kirche notes/poems.

Further meetings were announced for Sunday 7th November at 6.00 P.M. at Peter's (Ferdinandstrasse 29/3 1020 Vienna) and Sunday 21st November at Evelyn's (a debut) at 7.00 P.M. (Rilkeplatz 9/6A 1040 Vienna). Further attempts at renga and regular work on labyrinths may be expected at future meetings. At Peter's there will also be a writing-to-video activity. Please bring any new poems plus copies.

Peter
Labsec

Recent Events

Omar Khayyam

On Friday, March 26, Labyrinth (in the combination of Karin, Peter and Bruno) joined Rolf Schwendter and the Lesetheater at the Bild und Wort Gallerie for a reading of the quatrains of Omar Khayam (first some of the Persian verses, followed by selected English translations performed in a variety of reading techniques and combinations (Laybrinth) and finally by a complete German translation), all of which worked beautifully, though by the end our lips were thirsting for red wine!

Poetry Slam, March 30th 1999

After Vienna's first so-called 'poetry slam' at Café Stein disappointed many of our expectations (supercilious, pre-selected, wrong place though well attended), Volker Piringer decided to organise the real thing, which was definitely not "vercafe-steinert" as he announced on the stage. A total of twelve contestants was graded by a jury of five volunteers from an enthusiastic audience. The participants had three minutes time to perform their first poem, four poets surviving into the second round. Lisa Rosenblatt and Charlotte Eckler dropped in for a commercial break, advertising their dream project and Amsterdam trip, after which Fritz Widmayer won the first prize (untitled). Peter Waugh (Overpainting, and Bolted Gates) together with Karin Kaminker (An Egg and an Eye and *) tied for second place with Stephan Moser (Pheromone City and Sexy Cigarette), while Jörg Piringer was knocked down to fourth after scoring tens in the first round with his cumulative Dada reverse reduction piece. Other Labyrinth members who participated were Daniela Beuren (Kalone-Kaloné and Spaß Jandl) and Hillary Keel (He and Hot Spot).

It certainly was the better Slam, as many of us agreed, including those, such as ourselves, who never actually went to Café Stein after being pre-rejected. The next slam is scheduled for May 25th, once again at the Schikaneder.

Edith Sommer + Labyrinth

Wednesday, April 14 Edith Sommer, together with members of Labyrinth read from her new book Standpunkte (and its English translation Standpoints by Peter Waugh) at the Literaturhaus in Vienna's 7th District. Lab mambers taking were: Karin Kaminker, Hillary Keel, Stephan Moser, Carlota Rokita, Vicki Slavuski, Peter Waugh, with Doris Audétat on violin. It was a fast, tight rendering of both the German and the English translation, at times interspersingor even mixing the two languages, at times reading them separately. Some poems were read in their entirety by one voice, others divided among different voices. There were also plenty of choral sections. The reading lasted some 35 minutes (making it our shortest ever!). It was well-received by the audience (c. 30-35 people), which was largely composed of members of the Österreichische Schriftsteller Verband, who also organised and financed the reading. However some Labyrinth stalwarts were also spotted. Copies of the book were on sale and the money from sales donated to a Kosovo relief fund.

Poems

Joya Jennings

Songmy Province II:

At Mylai, a "gook" died,
sucking her last supper.
Now my barbed wire heart
tries to fence out horror
as our daughter gurgles nearby.

Peter Waugh

Votruba Church at Dusk

Armed with notebooks and pens
we fight our way through bushes
climb the slope and take the site with surprising ease
encounter little resistance at first

Fortified material gives way to gentle spirit
pure hardness is conquered by water and air

Full moon on a stick
a round luminous lolly stands guard and guide in the fog
electric pagan pathlight for uncertain souls

Long thin streaks of white birdshit
daub plain concrete's sheer faun faces

Rivet holes lined with grey metal
little wounds you can doubtfully poke your finger in
some filled with tiny bits of torn-up paper
I skewer them out with my pen tip
unroll each eagerly but there's no message

Closed after five (it's after five)
we peer through tall thin glass
inside one room (no aisles or nave) deserted
slumbers in encroaching gloom
all memory of hymns and sermons sunk in the hush of empty space
time off till next service
       the cleanliness of dry scrubbed stone floor
wiped wooden chairs
laundered altar cloth
flowers, bronze, root, wax and concrete

A bird clicks two stones together
and settles down for the evening

At minute intervals drizzle and dewdrops crackle gently
fall through autumn leaves
in descending mist
in fading light

Bare rectangular beige blocks
unadorned unfalsified unpretentious concrete
steer sharp lines
protrude obliquely out and up back and in
towards blank white clouded sky
steep slope a hard surface to climb
the window glass doubles everything

Inside the light wooden chairs lined up in school rows
either side of the white-draped altar
matter listening absorbed to spirit preach silence
obey the holy ghost in meditation perfect stillness

Of a sudden ghoulish lamps flicker on
they silhouette me in the window recess
head down I stand writing

You can glimpse the other side
metal ladder fixed on a wall within
that way technicians ascend the upper reaches
(inaccessible to the flock)

The blocks are stained with rain
as I circle religion's fortress again
seeking my solutions to its puzzle
my shadow flits across giant steps
they lead in orchestration
up to a mass of cubist pillars
pointing every which way

Glass eyes mirror
concrete noses concrete ears
straight lines of stylised cheek and jaw
left and right
in and out
back and forth
what's in between
and what's behind
still more of the same
ever new perspectives

Dry folds tucked in angular corners
rain drips from edges
mountain sides overhang
parallels frame trees in mist
and green leaves in ghostlight
lines cross views block sight

Birds chatter swap bedtime tales

Würden wir Ihn erkennen
on top of the hill
by the entrance
would you recognise him here
or out on the street homeless

Espy black and brown pebbles baked in conglomerate
plain jewels embedded in concrete's ermine
first sign of simple wealth
richly embellished tabletop
offers up its flat surface in sacrifice to the god of weather
ah but endurance its destiny

The wind in the trees sounds like rainfall
gently billows my hair
cool fingers on my forehead

Bird chirrups strike up in chorus
pluck strings clap sticks trill pipes

In the puddle a dim reflection of soaring directions

Smeared in white on the south wall
the swastika they couldn't quite scrub away
beneath an SS they couldn't quite rub off

Slowly we come full circle once more
we have surrounded them

In the showcase window three large primrose candles
on a sculpted bronze anvil
beside the wild anger of a tree stump's twisted roots

Everywhere piss-like patches of damp
and blocks that tower up and away
always return to sky
mirror of every which way
view through to the other side
new perspectives at every look and every step

Foreheads
dog muzzles

Secret niches
hiding places
speeding elongated shadows on the wall
tiny windows cemented high in the rockface
of the fossilised spirit ship's command bridge
civilisation's ancient dwelling hovers
on its journey through nebulous time

© Peter Waugh
Vienna 24.10.99

Upcoming Events:

Next Labyrinth Meetings:

Sunday May 31st, Big Wheel Ride + Picnic in the Prater. Meet outside the BIg Wheel at 4.00 P.M. Afterwards we'll proceed to a meadow to read and write, eat and drink. Please bring picnic things (food, drink, blankets). After dark we'll find some local inn to conclude. If weather is bad meet at Peter's at 6.00 P.M. Bring any new poems (+ copies) and any ideas for writing activities.

Readings/Performances

Thursday 20 May: Meanderings III: Peter Waugh 'Horizon Firelight' and Karin Kaminker 'Half Tar Baby'. Reading with music (Lambert Asemota, Doris Audétat, Vera Montana) at Salon Praterstrase 17, Hof rechts, 1020 Vienna, 8 P.M.

Tuesday May 25th: Poetry Slam II: Organised by Volker Piringer, the second Poetry Slam offers its winners real prizes (cash and other, some donated by Labyrinth). It's open to anyone who wants to read for 5 minutes. All you have to do is sign up beforehand. If you don't want to read then come to listen - or be a member of the jury. Schikaneder Kino (Lounge). 8 P.M.

Thursday 3rd June: A reading, organised by Labyrinth in collaboration with Salon, of new and recent work by Bill Berkson, American West Coast poet, former New York School, art critic, editor of Big Sky magazine, author of several volumes of poetry, including Hymns of St. Bridget (with Frank O'Hara) and the selected Blue is the Hero. Salon, Praterstrase 17, Hof rechts, 1020 Vienna, 8 P.M.

Labyrinth poetry
© Labyrinth 2000



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