by Kristen Gallagher

According to Noah Webster, when Milton used the word TALK it meant “to speak impertinently.” For some here in Buffalo the question still hangs: is talking equivalent to trifling, wasting time, showing off, seduction as in come on over to my big signifier… Since I arrived here a year ago, I have seen this concern manifest itself in comments such as “stop talking and DO something” and “I hate speech.” But there is also, quite literally, a biblical sense in which TALK is perhaps more intimate: in the Bible prophets are always talking, igniting flames of feeling and action in the citizenry, sometimes inspiring frenzy. TALK as part of a process of both paring and pairing.

       The Eros of reading. To engage in a reading with others, the “reading” “subject” can become the dialogue itself and no single person — the reading that is happening between and the collection of pronouns creating it. Perhaps I am idealizing what we can accomplish here, in this space — Rust Belt Books, in this first Rust Talks — but I hold the possibility out nonetheless as an extreme. In between extremes is another possibility — the possibility that we might at least take this TALK time to transmit thoughts, transmit feelings, discourse, intercommunicate about our own work and the conditions in which we work.

      Logan Esdale and Graham Foust have both just finished their third year as graduate students in Literature at the University of Buffalo. Logan’s creative work plays with critical writing and often with the interview. He has a few pieces in the recent issue of Verdure — one very informative and succinct piece on 20th-century poetry wars and another creative and quite thoughtful piece on sidewalks and transportation called “Nation’s Sidewalks in Perfect Shape.” I think the cracks he navigates in the nation’s sidewalks are much like the cracks he brings coeval in his writing.

       Graham has a great essay on the Artist Formerly Known as Prince in issue #1 of Verdure, and some recent poems in Curricle Patterns. Graham’s poetry, for me, is something I feel in my solarplexis when reading. To me each of his poems seem, or seam, the moment after a wounding to the musical mind-body, the flash of awareness immediately after a break-in, or a crash, short sparks of breaking and connecting.

       In their works I see both Graham and Logan often appear to maintain an attentive ambivalence towards events which typically consume either by spectacle or by ubiquity. For their literary and pop-cultural detective-like intelligence Graham and Logan are for me a perfect pairing, or paring, to introduce possibilities for the TALK itself – our own TALK, our own ambivalence, our own spectacle, our own reading as writers and writing as readers. This series lives in the hopes of facilitating more talking about the work of poets and writers, that of the presenters and of the audience, what is going on around and outside us. And this is only the beginning.