September 12, 2011

Yes! Reading, September 9

This series is back at the Social Justice Center, with helmsmen James Belflower & Matthew Klane, back from the mid-West. As James described it, this reading is "somewhere between the University & AlbanyPoets." This year they are changing their format slightly from the usual 2 readers to 2 readers with another art form performance, tonight the electronic music of Rambutan (Eric Hardiman).

As he began his piece, Eric placed 2 cassette recorders playing loops of bird songs & other sounds on the bookshelves on either side of the room, so that these somewhat anachronistic analog devices formed frames around his bent & twisted digital manipulations, both in space & in time (since he had to manually turn them on & off before & after his performance). Another somewhat ironic juxtaposition was Belflower's prepared introduction which sounded oh so much like what one hears delivered by one of the Professors before a University reading.

Matthew Klane's introductions, on the other hand, sound like, well, Matthew Klane's poetry -- fractured lines & words rubbing around each other; I suspect they were lines from the respective poet's work.

Heather Christle began with a couple poems from an early chapbook & it was apparent that the central figure in her work was "I"/"me", sometimes "we". This continued on with the poems she read from The Trees The Trees (Octopus Books, 2011). On the page the poems are short (less than a page) & printed as fully-justified blocks, with extra spaces between sentences & phrases as if these were line breaks. Listening, they were generally short, direct statements, often non-sequitars, as in the random thoughts about making borscht in her poem "Soup is One Form of Salt Water." At one point she said (after reading the bear poem "Je M'appelle Ivan") that she felt this book was about animals & men.

Dana Ward's poems, also often centering on himself (or "I"/"me"), were both longer & shorter than Heather Christle's. His longer pieces, such as "Like the Tiniest New York City of Itself" (a recent piece referencing Hurricane Irene) or the memoir "Regime Change" were meditative, philosophical, in well-constructed sentences. But he also read a chunk of shorter piece, just as meditative, but often more edgy, such as "Deforestation" on chewing pot, or the masturbatory "Sugar Cane."

Both readings were undramatic, letting the work speak for themselves without performance tricks, but the silence & passivity of the audience was unsettling, &, like the university readings, no one applauded until the end. So in that sense it was, contra-Belflower, more like a University reading than AlbanyPoets where even crappy poems get applause.

This is an irregular series held at the Social Justice Center. Check them out on FaceBook & online.   The schedule generally fits into the University semesters.

No comments: