Dying While Wearing a Costume and the Impossibility of Picking Geniuses
• The poets Kary Wayson and Ed Skoog and the cartoonist Ellen Forney—the three finalists for a 2012 Genius Award in literature—read from their work to a sold-out crowd at Hugo House on Friday. Wayson writes the kind of poetry that can undo you in a phrase ("I don't have a daughter/except for my behavior"), Skoog read a new poem that referenced that guy who recently dressed as Sasquatch and got hit by a car ("He did it for us"), and Forney showed an excerpt from her forthcoming graphic memoir about bipolar disorder (and then did a hilarious excerpt from 2006's I Love Led Zeppelin about dying in a car crash). Genius Award–winning filmmaker Lynn Shelton, who was sitting in the audience and who gets to vote this year, joked that she might have to abstain because choosing is going to be impossible: All three so clearly deserve to win. The 2012 Geniuses will be revealed live at the Genius Awards this Saturday, September 22, at the Moore Theater. To get a ticket: strangertickets.com.
• Filmmaker Shaun Scott, one of the nominees for this year's Genius Award, is stuck in a controversy over his uncompleted film Pacific Aggression—about a travel writer touring the West Coast—and his failure to pay his cast and crew. The film's lead actor, Ahamefule Oluo, says a little less than a quarter of the film has been shot so far, and it is unlikely that filming will continue. "I take full responsibility for many of the hurt feelings and hurt wallets that might've come about at the close of our first stint of production," Scott wrote in an e-mail. "My working relationship with the project's original producer wasn't what it needed to be." But, he added, "I currently have plans to reimburse the crew."
• Last Thursday, Yoga Bitch memoirist Suzanne Morrison won the second annual Hugo House Local Celebrity Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word "annihilate." Genius shortlister Ellen Forney came in third place, missing out on the word "ecdysiast," which means "striptease artist." The first contestant out? Washington State poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken, who lost before even notoriously awful speller Charles Mudede, who managed to correctly spell (and give a moving lecture on) "cholera."
• This week, Sarah Bergmann won this year's $15,000 Betty Bowen Award, administered by Seattle Art Museum (Bergmann is also a finalist for this year's Genius Award in art). On a panel about women and urban environments at Olympic Sculpture Park on Thursday, Bergmann revealed that her late mother, a sculptor, had once tried for the Betty Bowen. Congratulations, Sarah. You did Mom proud.
• If you're not upset to hear that poets Nico Vassilakis and Crystal Curry are leaving Seattle, you don't know enough about Seattle poetry. The two are the local first couple of experimental poetry, appearing together at readings around town and generally making our literature better. The last chance you'll have to see them for the foreseeable future will be the launch party of Vassilakis's new anthology of the piston-point between visual art and experimental poetry, The Last Vispo, at Fantagraphics on November 24. All y'all motherfuckers better recognize.