The Poetry Project

Reading

Book Launch for Cookie Mueller’s Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black

Legendary as an underground actress, female adventurer, and East Village raconteur, Cookie Mueller’s first calling was to the written word: “I started writing when I was six and have never stopped completely,” she once confessed. Mueller's 1990 Walking through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, the first volume of the Semiotext(e) Native Agents series, was the largest collection of stories she compiled during her life. But it presented only a slice of Mueller’s prolific work as a writer. This new, landmark volume collects all of Mueller's stories: from the original contents of Clear Water, to additional stories discovered by Amy Scholder for the posthumous anthology Ask Dr. Mueller, to selections from Mueller’s art and advice columns for Details and the East Village Eye, to still “new” stories collected and published here for the first time. Olivia Laing's new introduction situates Mueller’s writing within the context of her life—and our times.

Thanks to recent documentaries like Mallory Curley’s A Cookie Mueller Encyclopedia and Chloé Griffin’s oral biography Edgewise, Mueller’s life and work have been discovered by a new generation of readers. Walking through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black: Collected Stories returns essential source material to these readers, the archive of Mueller’s writing itself. Mueller’s many mise en scènes—the Baltimore of John Waters, post-Stonewall Provincetown, avant-garde Italy, 1980s New York, an America enduring Reagan and AIDS—patches together a singular personal history and a primer for others. As Laing writes in her introduction, Collected Stories amounts to “a how-to manual for a life ricocheting joyously off the rails... a live corrective to conformity, conservatism, and cruelty.”
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A live stream of this event can be accessed here. Edited recordings will be shared after the event.
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This is tentatively planned as a live indoor event at St. Mark's Church. We are following guidelines laid out by the CDC and the State of New York. These include: limiting the number of attendees; requiring proof of vaccination be shown at the door upon arrival; and requiring and providing face masks, as well as hand sanitizer stations. Before each event, we will also be conducting rapid tests for all performers and event staff. Attendees are required to register in advance, and contact information is collected at the point of registration in the event that we need to support any public health efforts around contact tracing. We are committed to the safety of our performers, audience, and event staff, and will be fully prepared to update any of these plans and protocols as circumstances continue to evolve. We are grateful to attendees for helping us maintain safety within our present public health context, and look forward to holding meaningful shared listening space together.

Please arrive prepared to show proof of vaccination and a photo ID at the door. Proof of vaccination may be in the form of your vaccination card (or a picture of your card), the NYC Covid Safe app, or the Excelsior app. If, for medical reasons, you have not been vaccinated, you may instead bring documentation of a negative PCR test taken within the last 72 hours.

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