By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

John Ashbery

This question comes up so often in reviews. “No one reads this poet so what demands does he have on our attention?” and so forth. It’s sort of like the Yogi Berra remark: “nobody goes there anymore it’s too popular.” It’s sort of like, people are alarmed that more people go to rock concerts than go to chamber music performances, but the people who go to both enjoy what they’re doing. Does it really matter how many of them there are? I suppose it would be alarming if there were only a dozen or so people who read poetry. But as I’m sure you know there are many more than is dreamed of in the mass media, or in the New York Times Book Review for instance. Of course critics say before the 20th century everyone read poetry, but I don’t think that’s true – although undoubtedly more people did. They say that since the 20th century began poetry has shut itself off from people by being so difficult and irritating. Maybe. On the other hand people seem to be attracted to poetry for just those reasons. It does require more effort and more attention, and it can be stimulating as a reader to give that to the poetry. As much as I like Carl Sandburg, I enjoy something that has a certain amount of crunch and resistance to it.
~ John Ashbery

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“TIFF doesn’t make attendance numbers for its Lightbox screenings publicly available, so it’s difficult to gauge exactly how many filmgoers the Lightbox is attracting (or how much money it’s bringing in). But the King Street West venue hasn’t become a significant draw for film enthusiasts. The Lightbox’s attendance has plunged – 49,000 fewer visitors last year, a drop of 27 per cent, according to figures recently reported in the Toronto Star. Its gallery space – designed to showcase the visions of cinema’s most iconic filmmakers – saw most of its exhibitions staff quietly axed this past fall. And its marketing barely escapes the Lightbox’s walls. Unless you are a TIFF member or one of the city’s most avid filmgoers, you could walk by the Lightbox and remain blissfully unaware of a single thing that goes on inside. TIFF “still has a world-class brand,” said Barry Avrich, a filmmaker and former board member, “but it’s going to take some fresh vision from retail, consumer programming and marketing experts, given how the lines have become intensely blurred when it comes to how people watch film. They will have to experiment with programming to find the right blend of function and relevance.”
~ Globe & Mail Epic On State of Toronto Int’l (paywalled)

“I’m 87 years old… I only eat so I can smoke and stay alive… The only fear I have is how long consciousness is gonna hang on after my body goes. I just hope there’s nothing. Like there was before I was born. I’m not really into religion, they’re all macrocosms of the ego. When man began to think he was a separate person with a separate soul, it created a violent situation.

“The void, the concept of nothingness, is terrifying to most people on the planet. And I get anxiety attacks myself. I know the fear of that void. You have to learn to die before you die. You give up, surrender to the void, to nothingness.

“Anybody else you’ve interviewed bring these things up? Hang on, I gotta take this call… Hey, brother. That’s great, man. Yeah, I’m being interviewed… We’re talking about nothing. I’ve got him well-steeped in nothing right now. He’s stopped asking questions.”
~ Harry Dean Stanton