Saturday, February 04, 2006

Reading notes, Links Hall Friday the 3rd

(crossposting this here and at the Chicago Poetry blog..)

The evening began with “Educational Policy Speech,” one of Daniel Borzutzky’s dispatches from Istanbul, read by the evening’s proxy, Matthew Goulish. It starts by praising all that is good, wrinkles, boredom. Goulish holds a pen and thrusts it with Dole-like emphasis. There are breaks in the rapturous prose where he deadpans, “applause.” Then come the rails against the sexu-pedagogical perversities of community college professors, those whom the speaker scorns as “operatives” of liberation. “Such enemies can only be eaten,” he declares in a turning point of the address. What follows is a detailed plan for the war on education which involves marinating, filleting, an epicurean rhapsody of ingredients and preparations, including a “special sauce.”

Then Terry K. read.

Christian Bok was amaaazing! He launched into Seahorse and Flying Fish by Hugo Ball for starters.. an uber-verbal, proto-lingo utterama. Then “Grain Memories” from his most recent book “Crystallography.” I wish there were a button I could press in the world that would produce Bok, Obi-wan Kenobi-like, bellowing “Sim!ulacrum!” I see there’s a boatload of mp3’s online of Bok performances, which is only necessary given how high the work rates on the aural axis, but is there much video? The facial expressions and postures are, after all, part of the show. Glad I was in the front row for this one. He faux checks his watch between poem/runs. He’s got an “official” voice like a professional broadcaster—I think, I’d watch more sports if the commentary was this. In fact, I’m going to dub a hockey game with this as soon as I’m able. Then Eunoia begins.. Chapter A, ribald indeed! Everything’s a headline. “Hobos shoot photos of foot-long schlongs!” In an aside between chapters, Bok: “It’s pretty relentless, hey?” As the sections go on, things get more vowel (adj.), carnal. “Ubu gulps up brunch!” Then he read from the Cyborg Opera, the syncopated, percussive “Mushroom Clouds,” and then a “side effect poem” to the Mushroom Clouds which was the most virtuosic display of beat-boxing I’ve ever beheld, done to some notation as he clinically flipped the pages of his manuscript all the same. The Imperial Decree of Ubu Roi is then performed on behalf of Donald Rumsfeld who couldn’t attend this evening to give it himself.. “juggernaut of bugaboo!” He closes with another Hugo Ball piece, I didn’t catch the name, only that it’s “a sort of Dadaist dirge.” Great Scott, it was Cookie Monster possessed by the EU! All hail the silliness that got us all into this language racket in the beginning, and which will never let me tolerate another reading in the precious key of “poet’s voice” again.


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