Thursday, January 04, 2007

A New Year, A New Hug

2006 has left us, and with it, the trappings of familiarity. 2007 stands before us, and we will march into it with obstinent, resolute resolve! No more will we be swayed by the cowering entrapments and accoutrements of reaction and larger contexts. NO MORE will the simple assessments of Poetry and Literary readings be drowned out in favor of vehement diatribe and bland satirical mockery. Just hop over to The Angry Hug ( for that.

We admit, we got sorta sidetracked. There were elections, fires, poorly considered book deals, and a whole mess of the world eeking ever closer to possibly just up and quitting. Toothpicks wrapped in plastic with instructions on them were everywhere!

But onward, and maybe a step or two up, but nothing crazy. Just some good old fashioned critique of the reading of poetry.

And, as a, I was lame and could have made it to the Poetry Project's New Year's Reading Marathon but I just putzed around unpacking new stuff, we will repent, we will lay ourselves upon the alter of attrition (because we prefer a sense of guilt and fear induces obligation to simple resolutions), and we will do our darndest to review as many readings as possible this January. We've got 7 that we are planning on making, and hopefully more.

Now, to start things off, the Poetry Project reading given by Joanna Fuhrman and David Shapiro.

Joanna Furman reads glancing up and this makes you wonder what she finds important. If you were standing and watching her the glance would have come over the rim of her glasses while she references Rilke and Apollo and right away the MC's words, how her poetry reveals surfaces and edges, comes in the open.

Prufrock and facial expressions add stress to what she is saying, moving you in a line like you are walking along some invisible barrier. She will speak in a clear, high tone making declarations and stating what is known and absolute, then drop her voice and add a crunching and cracking saturation to her words as she draws out a long, fault-line of comparisons growing in ironic strength and taking everything she has said in a new direction.

The clear and bright remains hopeful, while the real and its reality is given a low, broken end, but her glances cause you to question which side to throw your hat onto. Those hopeful points get both deadpan, straight stares and the second-star-to-the-right, eye-rolling that makes you think she's laughing at you on the behind the round clarity in her voice. Reality comes off as too much of a joke when she's letting it seep out around the seats but occasionally she's glancing up toward the sky asking, rhetorically, "What, this is it?"

Joanna's reading takes you back and forth between the plateau and the plain. He poems are the jeep on the trail letting you see all those edges and how it all stacks up beneath the sky.

David began his reading referencing a song, in remembrance for departed friends, and immediately in contrast to Joanna there is no breaking, no disharmony, in his voice. His reading has only a few edges, and they will be used to great effect, but the entirety of his words become like a snow drift, only because you don't want to say A Wave for so many reasons, but mostly because it feels to easy to use, to cheap and frequently used.

David's lack of restraint is noticeable. He is willing to go all the way, unwilling to let gravity or the limits of the lungs stand in his way. He makes better use of repetition than advertising and marketers do, dropping sameness purposefully so that his poems can climb higher, like sandbags from a hot air balloon. He brings his voice back down, lower but just as clear, to add weight to his descriptions.

His words ring out of the front of his mouth, keeping everything up front, and again you think of the wave. You have to see the front of it to see it all. You think of water in a Buddhist sense, of its serenity and softness, and its potential for strength. His voice rocks from side to side like winding river, surprising you with the turns his words take.

No comments: