CMOK begins as a professional correspondence about ‘the idea of the avant garde’ and quickly evolves into a lived manifesto. The two never meet. Their relation is virtually lived, but deeply, compulsively felt. A Serbian exile living in Paris via New York, the poet Živančević is a dizzy and brilliant flâneuse. A scholar of Žižek and avant-garde art, Léger acts, by turns, as her provocateur, foil and fan. Punning wildly and goading each other on to exhilarating heights of confession and intellect, their correspondence dances around emptiness and despair but eventually flies above it. “We are already history,” Živančević writes. “I hope you agree to that.” CMOK is a stunning example of the correspondences two people can reach in its wake. ~ Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick and Where Art Belongs
Our two authors hear that “knowledge does not sit still” (Wendell Berry) & so they take upon themselves that treacherous journey, with our packaged selves labeled “amusing collateral damage” stuffed into their rucksacks, as they charge up the windy, pot-hole-marred road to the mountaintop, where a Zen monk resting there observes with a smirk: “When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing.” ~ Bart Plantenga, author of Beer Mystic and Yodel in Hi-Fi
Nina Živančević is a Paris-based poet, playwright, fiction writer, scholar, performer and art critic. A leading Serbian literary figure, Živančević published her first book in 1982 for which she won the National Award for poetry in Yugoslavia. From 1980 to 1981 she worked as a teaching assistant and secretary to Allen Ginsberg. Since that time she worked as a literary editor, correspondent and contributor to several publications, including New York Arts Magazine, Modern Painters, American Book Review, East Village Eye, République des lettres, Les Intempestives, Au Sud de l’Est, Theater X, Politika, El País, Woman (Spain), The Tribes, and Dnevnik. Besides having worked for the Living Theatre from1988 to 1992, she co-founded the Odiyana Theatre. Author of more than twenty books, her principal works in English include I Was This War Reporter in Egypt (Leave Books, 1992), Inside & Out of Byzantium: Short Stories (Semiotext(e), 1994), The Death of New York City (Cool Grove Press, 2002), and Living On Air (Barncott, 2014). She has lectured at Naropa University, New York University, the Harriman Institute, St. John’s University in the U.S., and teaches the history of avant-garde theatre at Université Paris 8. She has worked in theatre and radio. Her plays have been performed in the United States and Great Britain.
Marc James Léger is an artist and independent scholar living in Montreal. His “Interview with Allen Ginsberg’s Assistant (Nina Živančević)” is published by The End of Being (May 21, 2015).
The book is available as a print on demand from Punctum Books. https://punctumbooks.com/