Friday, December 18, 2009

The Crystal Text in Portland

Spare Room thinks big. On the heels of their marathon “100 poems from the last 100 years” event in January, and 2008’s start-to-finish group reading of H.D.’s Helen in Egypt, comes this Saturday’s public reading of Clark Coolidge’s The Crystal Text. Teams of two readers will tackle 20 pages each from Clark’s mid-80’s opus from noon to five-ish at The Waypost, which is Portland concentrated and shrunk down, Bottle City of Kandor-style, to convenient coffeehouse size.

Hearing longer modern works read aloud opens up dimensions of the text you don’t catch from the printed page alone. You miss some local detail as the lines shoot past in time, but larger, looser structures of sound, meter, and thought association come into sharper focus over a long arc of listening. The audience, too, transmutes into something more active and primal than it does at a standard two-poets-twenty-minutes-each reading; there’s a sense of the text as an occasion for collective presence that’s hard to describe but difficult to miss if you’re there. Will the unsuspecting Waypost regulars feel the same? Come and see.
Spare Room presents
Marathon Reading: Clark Coolidge’s The Crystal Text
12 PM to finish (5:00ish)
The Waypost, 3120 N. Williams, Portland, OR

The work of heaven or hell: to somehow
become aware of a howling in the motors.
-- (Clark Coolidge, The Crystal Text, 54)

As the solstice approaches, come in out of the wind and join us to listen to Clark Coolidge’s compelling booklength poem The Crystal Text, read aloud by a dozen local writers.

Readers will include James Yeary, Jesse Morse, Sam Lohmann, Maryrose Larkin, Rodney Koeneke, Patrick Hartigan, Jen Coleman, Allison Cobb, Joseph Bradshaw, Meredith Blankinship, & David Abel.

“A colorless quartz crystal sits upon the writer’s desk, still and irreducible as a death’s head in St. Jerome’s study or Cezanne’s studio. But what would the crystal reveal, if it could speak? How might the issue of its presence be brought into language? The poet of The Crystal Text, by means of a rare stamina of attention and listening vulnerability, seeks to become the medium of the crystal's transmissions.”

I began to rise but I could not leave.
Beginning to see, one leaves the world. Taking it
up again and again until the sheets are dark.
An inlet of the sea sharded with sails. The sun
coming up over a blinking multitude, specialty humans
provided for this purpose alone. I am the one who
stays up to see that they do not leave.
Cardboard hinterlands of the drained liquid trace.
Grey distances of chimney and low neighborhood.
Wet snap. (85)

As luck would have it the sun was charring
the fiberglass tufts in the yard even from such a great distance.
A granite shithouse exploded in a cloud of bee odor.
The very earth was tacked to my wall, a ball of
limpid snails. Glass, blown firm, and then the
waterfall in the photograph it reminds me of.
Prose does not care about sharps and flats. It
continues to accumulate in the straightest of language
keys. I put back on my cap, it says. I lost my things
in the race for the car, it says. I am
not interested in the language of my past (my trail),
it says. It says these things and then loses
my interest. Two blanks, curling in the same sun. (87)

Awakened by a bang
or sudden rent of room
a collision of the thinking with
where the thought is not
or negative moon spot
or release of the chimney from
behind the pie tin, night
and left partial, face erased
prepositions for furniture (115)


Bryan Coffelt said...

This sounds awesome. I might head across the bridge for this tomorrow. Are they charging anything at the door?

Nada Gordon: 2 ludic 4 U said...

Oh my, thanks for the Crystal Gayle image. I just canceled my haircut appointment.

The event sounds FAB.

rodney k said...


Come! It's free, and you're "allowed to come and go." It'd be great to see you.


The Crystal Gayle Diet--Lose up to 18 pounds just by cutting one's hair. :)

susan said...

I so wish I could be there! Love that book. Might just reread it on my own!