November 2, 2012

Yes! Reading Series, October 26

 Headed downtown for my 2nd (or is it 3rd?) reading of the day, to the Social Justice Center, just as the folks were setting up for the night's event. Or should I say, trying to set up? The plan was to show slides of the paintings of Terry Zacuto, but the digital projection was coming out upside-down on the screen. Of course, wise-ass me suggested turning the projector over but they (Matthew Klane et al.) persisted until they found another solution. I also suggested that it wouldn't matter since Terry's work was mostly abstract anyway. I think it was Henry Miller who said he didn't want any art work that couldn't be hung upside-down. Eventually we did get a viewing, without commentary, of a series of Terry's paintings, colorful abstracts that would have been better served by some sort of musical background.

James Belflower introduced Gracie Leavitt who began with some poems from her chapbook, Gap Gardening (these signals press, 2012), "Song of a Superfund Site" & a poem about a lawn, "Thin Cover." Switching to poems from a manuscript she read a short piece "Unresolved Pastoral" & on to a longer "Turning On an Erotic Scene." A new longer piece, "My Career in Personal Growth & the Heartbreaking of Right Now," was a good example of what a typical line of her poems sounds like. Her poems sounded like cut-ups or collages, but she gave us no clue to her technique. In fact the list of titles on the back of Gap Gardening sounded like one of her poems. I think when you are reading challenging, experimental work to an audience who will hear each piece just once, it helps to explain the technique, to get a handle on what's going on.

The poems of David James Miller, the publisher of these signals press, were even more formidable on one-time-hearing. He read from a new manuscript titled "Cull." His work was fractured, short phrases, often single words with pauses in between that if read at a normal pace his reading would have been about 5 minutes. It seems pointless to even cite titles since they are meaningless without the context of the piece (or perhaps even with the context). At the end he read some new poems off his cellphone which made me realize that is the perfect medium, like Twitter, for such barely syntactical expressions.

Of course the audience sat in rapt silence during the readings, applauding only at the end of each poet's reading.

The evening ended with a complex, musically abstract electronic recital by Al Margolis & Doug Van Nort, beginning with barely audible vocal & electronic sounds, gradually cresendoing -- it would have gone great with Terry Zacuto's paintings.

Yes! Reading series occurs during the University semesters at the Social Justice Center on a somewhat random schedule -- find them on FaceBook.

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