Monday, January 23, 2006

Tutoring break, on to Bird Book

4 hours of online tutoring in a row is tooo much. Took my lunch to the beach, as is usual (!?). Drinking green tea now and looking through Jessica Smith's bird-book again--makes me want to see musicartmovement, the 2003 collaboration she did with Chelsea Warren which used the bird-book poems used as scores for music and dance.

Jessica, is there any documentation of this event?

I'm already fond of bird-book: Jessica made it & I like birds. Given my interests, this response is a bit obvious and uncritical. Let's try and list some reasons why I like it:
  • bird-book, like many of Jessica's other works, is tactile. I like the fact that the poems were made and written. Actually, all poems are both made and written, but Jessica always plays around with or foregrounds what's tactile as well as what's visual. She's written more about this than I probably ever will, so go read some of it.
  • The poems encourage multiple readings and an awareness/enjoyment of space and sound (back to that whole tactile/sensory thing)
  • Birds birds birds
  • Unexpected combinations of words/sounds/visual juxtopositions that some how seem...gentle? I feel like I shouldn't use these word "gentle," and so will use it anyway. In looking at "loon/lune" I read: "thin/chin/strap" "and shrieks" "grebes dive expertly" "sterilized" "yodel" "ceptible" "oil."
  • So in the midst of this gentleness is violence. The combination of the gentle headspace and sense of freedom (poemss use of topography, sound, tactility) with a sense of forboding (vocabulary and syntax and other stuff, look at "anatomy") is what I like best about these poems. Is it old school to love unresolved tension?
  • bird-book is pretty. I like how this edition is bound with a solid black envelope, instead of a translucent one. Black contrasts well with the colored paper on which the poems are printed. The side on which the poems are printed is pink.
  • Birds!


Jessica Smith said...

hi dearest, i am still too depressed about your absence to manage an accurate response to this, but thank you for sharing your experience of the little book. i tried to capture that violent/beautiful vibe birds give--i will crush you in my lovely talons. there are some pics of musicartmovement on my website ( and chelsea says there's a video somewhere, but none of us currently have access to it. we're working on getting it. there are so many (specifically, female) poets(/artists) who are bird crazy, it's kind of amazing. i wonder what it is, it can't just be the science of taxonomy (and classification and lists and pictures and graphs) and it can't just be the wildness, because we don't, for instance, write a lot of poems about animal tracks. what is it about birds. ask lester.

Jessica Smith said...

i have an especial fondness for blue herons, so thanks for posting that you saw one.

martin asked me a few months ago what animal i would be, and he had just said he would be a bunny! but i wasn't really listening or thinking so i said, immediately, a hawk (a red-tailed hawk in its winter phase!).

there is another video of bird-book made by terry cuddy that is of blue herons and the rustling of b-b pages, it is very beautiful, but it is also unavailable. i should contact these kids about getting their stuff online so people can see it. both chelsea and terry did really great jobs with the collaborations.