Thursday, May 26, 2005

Very nice reading last night at the Tompkins County Library. My coworker Shilo McGiff gave me a brisk and intelligent introduction—having actually read Fourier Series she actually had substantive things to say about the work—and there was a good turnout of between forty and fifty people, most of whom I knew. I actually really enjoy doing readings, though I can get quite nervous before hand if people I know are in the audience (it's much easier to read to complete strangers). I'm a bit of a ham. Some poets, I know, have reservations about performance—Kasey has written eloquently about Lyn Hejinian's concerns—but I think the texts I produce are strong enough, or ought to be, to retain their strangeness and savor. If I can provide listeners a doorway into what I know can look like a forbidding and knotty surface, that's all to the good—the knotty surface will still be there when they sit down to read—my poems, or someone else's. Some poets are so charismatic that their actual work may suffer without their personal glamor—Dylan Thomas?—while for performance poets what's on the page is merely a catalyst for their on-stage ignitions. When I finished Fourier Series, I thought it would be impossible to read aloud, but this has happily proved not to be the case. It provides channels and intersections (Shilo's word) that I can follow first one way and then another, defying a "definitive" reading. I like that.

For some poets, particularly the most oppositional in stance, the natural desire to have your audience like you and to respond positively to you (I'm a bit of a laugh-whore, myself) is a serious obstacle in light of poetry that aims to unsettle its readers or afflict the comfortable. Of course people pay big money for those kinds of shows, too.

A lot of questionnaires are going around blogland lately, but I can't seem to get interested in answering them myself. I guess I feel like articulating the notions of poetics that lie behind such questions is already the ongoing project of this blog. But maybe I'll answer one or two of them if the mood strikes. I certainly like what Anne Boyer has done with Jonathan Mayhew's questions.

No comments:

Popular Posts