Photo: Colin Conces. © Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
Tom Comitta is a writer, artist and performer living in Los Angeles. From 2011-12 Comitta composed and conducted nine operas with The San Francisco Guerrilla Opera Company, a roving ensemble that gave voice to texts in numerous sites around the Bay Area including the Civic Center BART station and the Berkeley Art Museum. In 2012, he staged National Novel Writing Night Month (NaNoWriNiMo), a futurist improvement on the write-a-novel-in-a-month contest in which he wrote, designed and published novels written in a night. Comitta has exhibited at LUMA Foundation, Zürich, swissnex, San Francisco, Reed College, Portland, Robert Berman/E6 Gallery, San Francisco and The Kala Art Institute, Berkeley. In 2015, The Royal Nonesuch Gallery in Oakland installed Comitta’s solo show First Thought Worst Thought, an interactive archive containing the 40 artist books he composed between 2011 and 2014. Gauss PDF published these 40 books as paperbacks and e-books. Other recent publications include ◯ (Ugly Ducking Presse) and SENT (Invisible Venue), with two poems in The New Concrete (Hayward Publishing, UK), an anthology surveying the “rise of concrete poetry in the digital age.” Comitta has held residencies at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Bay Area Video Coalition, Minnesota Street Project/Little Paper Planes and San Francisco Arts Education Project, where he conducted multimedia writing workshops with San Francisco youth. The Walker Art Center and The Southern Theater have commissioned Comitta and the choreographer duo Fire Drill (Emily Gastineau and Billy Mullaney) to stage Bill: The Musikill, a sound poetry opera, at Minneapolis’s Momentum Dance Festival in 2017.
SF Weekly’s Write Stuff (2012)
Sarah Griffin on Bowling in Bowlers (2012) password: calmaplomb
calmaplombprombombbalm.com, the online publishing house I ran from 2011-2013
The Glen Park Texting Team, an archive of the work I did with Glenn Park Elementary School and SF Arts Education Project from 2012-2014
soUNDtext Word Processor 1.0, the interactive text-to-speech computer program I released in 2011.
10/22/15 – Kala Art Institute has installed my handwritten poems in its group exhibition Voices. Stop by until December 5 to see 100 pages of handwritten poems that I composed between 2011 and 2015.
10/13/15 – Last night at National Novel Writing Night, programming for my show First Thought Worst Thought, we wrote, designed and printed six novels in three hours. Each book is available for purchase and preview on Lulu.com: Matt Luv Eric by Eric Sneathen; More than twenty questions by Matt Sussman; ABCD: Animal Burritto Caterwaul Dogma by Carey Lin; Bread as Text: two-ten by Olivia White Lopez; JOLT by Hannah Ireland, George Pfau, Zoe Taleporos, and Sarah Thibault; and Chocolate Tim Candy by Tim Candy.
10/01/15 – I’ve just begun my three-month residency at the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC). While in residence, I will work on video to accompany Bill: The Musikill, a musical-in-progress that is in development with the Minneapolis-based dance/performance duo Fire Drill. You can get a preview of the musical in the Video section here.
9/23/15 – The East Bay Express’ Sarah Burke has published a review of my show at The Royal Nonesuch Gallery. It’s called “How to Write Good Poetry Really Fast” and can be read here.
9/12/15 – My show First Thought Worst Thought will be on display at The Royal Nonesuch Gallery from today until October 18. A kind of reading room, the exhibition holds the 40 books I published with Gauss PDF in the spring as well as a text-to-sound-computer program, the video “How to Write Good Poetry” (2014), and a vinyl window installation of my book point line shape (2011).
7/22/15 – Hayward Publishing/The Southbank Centre (UK) have published two of my poems in The New Concrete, an international anthology surveying “the rise of concrete poetry in the digital age.” One of my poems appeared in The Creative Review’s review of the book.
5/17/15 – The People Radio invited Suzanne Stein and I to conduct a co-interview, with additional questions from The People hosts Mathew Timmons and Ben White. You can listen to our conversation here and on my Sound page.
4/27/15 – Gauss PDF published First Thought Worst Thought: Collected Books 2011-2014, an archive of the 40 books I wrote and designed in the past four years. All books are available as free PDFs or for purchase as print-on-demand paperbacks. The Guide Book offers book introductions and suggested reading lists. All forty books are forthcoming in a solo exhibition at Royal NoneSuch Gallery in Oakland, CA.
3/14/15 – Francesca Capone invited me to present at Interrupt 3, a language art conference at Brown University. There I took part on a panel called “Sound (,) Art (&) Poetics” and presented a 5-minute sample from my long sound poem WARMUP. Video from this performance is forthcoming.
2/2/15 – Caleb Beckwith interviewed me for The Conversant. We discussed my performance work, dancing around two particular pieces, The City of Nature and WARMUP. Along with the interview audio you can hear recordings of me performing these texts an off-site Poetic Research Bureau event in Los Angeles this January.
1/23/15 – E.M. Wolfman Bookstore’s HUNDY event featured selections from my musical-in-progress Bill: The Musikill. You can check out the video documentation on the Video page. Camera by Joel Gregory.
1/23/15 – Small Press Traffic’s Poet’s Theater Festival featured Yume Kim’s and my play Happy Days, a mashup of the Beckett and the TV Show. The trailer for our play can be found on the Video page.
11/6/14 – Aggregate Space and Featherboard Writing Series have published my first chapbook entitled ___ _____ __ _______. I wrote it during my tenure as writer-in-residence at Aggregate Space. Asked to respond to their current exhibition Experimental Space, I drew inspiration from the scientific, visual representations of physical phenomena on display, creating a catalog of visual representations of aural phenomena. You can read a PDF version of the book here and pick up a physical copy at any Featherboard Writing Series events.
10/18/14 – The BABEL Working Group invited me to University of California Santa Barbara to give a talk on my book 〇 (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013). I presented on a panel entitled “Writing the Unreadable Text,” curated by Chris Piuma.
10/4/14 – Art Practical invited me to talk on a panel at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts‘ Open City/ Art City Festival. The panel concerned the poetics of coding and included authors Vikram Chandra and Michael Widner and moderator Matt Sussman. More information on the panel can be found on Art Practical’s website.
9/8/14 – The San Francisco Main Public Library has archived my book collaboration with Invisible Venue, SENT (2014). This marks the completion of our project, as our collaboration stressed importance of free, public access to both the 1,000-page PDF and the physical, two-volume book. More information on SENT can be found on the Collaborations page.
9/5/14 – Small Press Distribution screened my new video “How to Write Good Poetry”, found on the Video page of this site, at its first-ever Poetry Movie Night. More information on this event can be found in this SF Chronicle article, which includes an interview with me.
8/28/14 – San Francisco State University‘s art gallery featured my sound poetry at the opening event of its exhibition If Elvis Presley is the King, who is James Brown? You can listen to my 12-minute sound poetry set here.
8/4/14 – Elective Affinities, an online anthology of US poetry, features my poetics and sound poetry. The micro poetics statements first appeared in a series of “First Thought, Worst Thoughts” on my Instagram account. The sound poems are selections from my readings in London and Berlin this summer.