Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dept. of Being Present (Spare Room)

Tony Christy and Jules Boykoff read last Sunday at the Portland Art Center, an airy downtown gallery on loan for the night to the Spare Room collective, which runs the most ambitious experimental reading series in Portland.

Tony Christy didn’t read so much as put into motion a set of antic verbal actions—many involving other readers, one involving a knife—centered on voices of authority (judge, bureaucrat, cookbook author, priest, rapist, God) to suggest the shared cadence of power in its various guises, its ways of making us “shut the fuck up” and feel small. But in his use of multiple voices, attention to the aural, 'pre-sensical' qualities of words, and vaudevillian stage presence, Christy also managed to point at some possible lines of resistance: Orthodox chant folded into polyvocal dada static.

Jules Boykoff opened with “Essay #5” from his terrific new Once Upon a Neo-Liberal Rocket Badge. One phrase in particular hit me as an apt description of Boykoff’s poetic practice: “helicopter as metronome.” It evokes all the current events, military and humanitarian, that require the intervention of helicopters in this our transnational age, while pointing to a beat—a structure—that underpins them, one that’s available, dub-style, for resistance as well as oppression. Just functioning like a metronome— making the repetitions visible—is itself a rebellious act in the Murdoch era: Boykoff goes one further by finding a music that gets information to sing:
“suckered again by the Lulu Guinness tulip detachable clutch

material frame now beyond the gumption of interest rates

[replica volcanoes spewing
replica sphinxes all plastic and shammy
like the massive between thank you & de nada]”
landlord as feudal hangover

mosque-hopping cassette-tape contraband

Thermidorian bevel torque

Sonuva horse baron!”

Jules also read all of Gringostroika, his new Dusie wee chap (yes, I said wee chap) and parts of his new The Metal Sunset of Tomorrow’s Ascending Dissension, also from Dusie. (apparently they work very hard in Switzerland.) The latter is an engaging writing-through of several friends, influences, and poetic fellow-travelers: 28 poems of ten lines each, with the first and last lines borrowed from another poet (“Poem that begins & ends with a line from David Buuck,” "Poem that begins & ends with a line from Judith Goldman,” etc.) It’s a clever, generous way of ‘doing’ community instead of just celebrating it, maybe also tipping a hand just a little to the competition that shadows any poetic scene (“man, I wish I’d written that!”) but turning its energies to the positive work of acknowledgement and production.

It’s not so wet but very cold right now in Portland. Jules wore a thick-collared coat through the reading and I swear I saw steam coming out into the mike—sign of life and breath and heat.


stan said...

Sounds like a good reading. Thanks for the description.

Isn't Gringostroika a Guillermo Gomez-Pena text already? Huh.

Sorry about the temperature.

rodney k said...

Hi Stan,

Thanks! I think you're right about Gringostroika. I was surprised to learn it's a 'real' term, not a poetic neologism. Jules mentioned where it comes from, what it means, and who coined it, but alas, the memory's getting Swiss.

You So. Cal types always pitying the rest of us about the weather. :) Well, at least it's not Denver. I miss Xmas in L.A. Put the little man out in the sun just a bit for me.