Mark and I arrived just as the Flarf & friends reading was getting started--so we missed all of the morning's events. I was already in overwhelmed mode. What I mean is that I miss the poetry world a lot here in
I didn’t read first, but I’ll describe my reading to get that description out of the way. Because I was suddenly hyper and manic, I was also rather nervous. And I hadn’t had time to put on any make up. So that’s the first thing I did when I got on stage—powder and mascara, which I smudged all over my left eye because my hand was shaking. Performing my own nervousness or needs onstage (for make up, for dancing, for a drink of whiskey, for a comforting stuffed animal) is something I’ve been playing with for a while. It doesn’t make me less nervous, but it does ground me and help me move from the world of my own weirdness to a world of staged public weirdness. I the long poem from Terminal Humming about the “standard government tortured dictator forced to lick boots.” I don’t read it out loud very often, because it’s creepy and not the kind of funny that people laugh at much. But in this particular context, that was good. I’m not going to try and complete with the kinds of laughs the audience wants to laugh when Kasey, Mel, Rod and Adeena are reading. Instead, I tried to be the tense and weird contrast.
Kasey read from of his anagrams of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which, yes, do retain meter and rhyme. I think of the Sonnagrams as structurally conceptual and tonally flarfy. They play with the idea of sonnet as political and social commentary, sometimes through direct address of other writers.
Mel read a variety of pieces, including “Superpoke” and the one I love about Jesus and pimp handshakes. I haven’t had many chances to hear Mel read since I left DC, but I feel like there’s something new (to me) about her use of dynamics and timing—a sophisticated sense of the various performative arcs of the poems, of how the audience is reacting, and how to really work the tension between those two things. And her dress was gorgeous.
Monica Moody mentioned “Adeena Karasick’s preternatural and sexy verbal fireworks” in her post on the Post Moot blog; I think it’s an apt description of Adeena’s poems and performance style. Layered, sexy. Adeena’s poems contain aural & connotative linguistic chain reactions which, to me, feel like they could keep going until they include all of language, given time and space.
“Rod’s Flarf poems make me cry.” That’s what I wrote in my notes. Nothing about which specific poems he read. Grover’s bottom? Voting machine poems? Later, when I write about Rod’s other reading, I’ll talk about what I consider to be his flexible tonal range.
After the reading, I was very ready for some wine, and so glad to head over to the Miami Inn for drinks and more readings. Laura Moriarty and Carla Harryman gave brief readings (more about their work later when I write on their longer performances), and Tom Orange played saxophone. I pretty sure we talked about Pee Wee Russell at some point during the evening.
Mark and I snuck out at around midnight to get a reasonable night’s sleep so that we could be in good form tomorrow morning for the 9am (6am our time) panel/performance.