Tomorrow at Topos in Ridgewood, Brooklyn, the artist and performer Alaina Stamatis will celebrate the release of “Whenever I’m Finished” – a new collection of erotic poetry with accompanying watercolor images by Am Schmidt – with a night of performance and readings.
The book, published by JMC Aggregate, is a collection of poems that Stamatis has been performing over the winter, often in collaboration with the musician G Lucas Crane. In a phone interview, she described them as “kind of like slam poetry except not like slam poetry at all,” going on to place the performative nature of the work in the tradition of stand-up comedy just as much as poetry-in-earnest.
Many of the pieces were initially conceived on Twitter, workshopped at alternative spaces around the city, and then modified based on crowd response. The poems in “Whenever I’m Finished” bear the fruit of this process.
Whenever you post a YouTube
Of a classic phish concert
From the nineteen nineties
To your Facebook you oughta
Know that I’m rolling around
With my face-sized iPad Air
On the waterbed
Covered in baby oil
Listening to the words of trey anastasio
And assuming you’re thinking them
The book’s combination of serif’d text and soft watercolor paintings by Schmidt purposefully recall the work of Shel Silverstein. Stamatis “mentioned ‘senselessly-sexual self-reflection’ and I ran with it,” Schmidt said via email. “The images are inspired by both the general tone and by specific moments of her writing without being literal illustrations per se.”
For the release party, Stamatis has curated a diverse program that features a mixture of artists, musicians and performers, including the enigmatic Greem Jellyfish and Jonathan Coward, known for his confrontational house music persona SHAMS.
Coward will be doing a first-time reading. “I’m going to be reading selected works from my Instagram,” Coward said. “We’ll see how that goes!” (Coward’s Instagram is a marvel of skeuomorphic cynicism. They would make interesting paintings.)
Although she has never performed in an actual comedy context, Stamatis, who is moving to Boston soon, expressed interest in crossing over the threshold from art to entertainment, partially out of the kind of boredom that comes from moving to a new city.
“I’ll have no friends and nothing to do, and no one is going to invite me to do anything, so I’m going to do stand-up,” she said.