Saturday, January 21, 2006

Most non-Discrete days of the month I tend to think of the series as lumbering along, labored by continued uncertainties of space, funding, scheduling… but then the readers create an evening that reaffirms my idea of what’s possible/was heretofore unchartered in language/art and sets me firm in my poetry badge again. I don’t quite understand the coincidence that all my favorite poets happen to friends, but it’s the most fortunate of circumstances.

I credit Michael’s work with opening an avenue in my appreciation for work that takes on the conceits of beauty and lyricism within our post-everything literary moment.. which for me has had contemporary work carrying the family tree of the objectivists and L=A=etc. at the fore. Planting poems by James Tate and Carrie Comer in his readings is one way he opens the frame. He also read from a series of poems that were written as a correspondence in postcards with a friend. These pieces resonated with some of my own concerns in renegotiating the balance of form and craft with the spontaneity and candor that brings the work into being… and staying close to the latter in the interest of making art and life simultaneously lived things.

And Jesse’s reading.. it’s hard for me to begin to express my awe at the new work, so I’ll have to reiterate some of what I already blabbed at him and anyone else who would listen to me last night. I’ve heard him read a dozen times or more and it’s always such an assertively aural experience, I find myself listening with closed eyes. But last night’s piece- I don’t have the title here in front of me- created an additionally riveting visual component with his restrictive language bank used for the extensive poem affixed to the wall as an incomplete matrix of cards, one designated for each word used in the piece. As he read, he faced the cards and searched and tapped each one, a process that echoed the tensions of a Steve Benson performance. Moreover it got at the rub of what we find ourselves continually bumping up against— the proposition of making sense/expressing the incomprehensible in spite of the seemingly unlimited data of our time with a relatively limited medium. The nature of a poetry reading itself has long been criticized as a limited medium.. one reads a script from a page somewhat passively or perhaps in a dramatized “poet’s voice..” still it’s an non-spectacle. What Jesse’s presentation made possible was another layer of statement in the words he tapped/gestured toward but did not verbalize. These are just a few, cursory thoughts for what was, in my opinion, a watershed. Not to fly away with hyperbole, if anything I think I’ve understated the implications of this project. It’ll be exciting to see it develop and find more audiences in the future. Poor quality digital photographs to follow.


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