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Doing it in Public, workshops

In the Doing it in Public Performance Poetry Symposium in Peterborough, Feb 29th and March 1st there were 3 nights of poetry readings, a part day with panel discussions, and a part day of workshops.

The performances showed the diversity of what falls into poetry – from feedback loops of Jill Battson’s part words and instruments overlaid to Motion’s plea for young mothers and young men to stay clean and blow people away with their words, staying away from guns. Ziysah did a hip hop sort of reclamation of the words people shout out car windows in I’m a mofo and I’ve just detonated all your ammo. Lebo asked what defined the edges of spoken word and did we need to decide. She said that Trent’s slam series someone came to the open mic and did a set of several beatbox pieces. Not a word, not an instrument, but a mood in pieces of vocal expression art.

Motion in one of her spoken word pieces interwove song snippets, a word, a line into her spoken narrative. She sings beautifully and it all hooks together into a rich tapestry yet it is a kind of intertextuality that some people seem want to want to avoid. Our cultural references must be sly, clever, a tribute quote, a embedded references tagged with our own spin, but the direct insertion of a chunk of quote seems less done, especially in page poetry. Spoken word seems to be more comfortable with giving honor to what came before and is happening now in that direct way.

If we have a song in our head, why not directly quote? a.rawling in her workshop remarked on how one wants to automatically resist some thoughts, such as when a refrain comes into the head as you’re doing free writing. A little self-censor-flag pops up saying, hey, that’s not your own thought. But you can let that flow as well and write thru and see what comes after. Resisting where your mind goes may not be as fruitful as letting it chase its own bliss without reprimands.

It seems to link to what Pema Chodron talks about in Learning to Stay

The pith instruction is, Stay. . . stay. . . just stay. Learning to stay with ourselves in meditation is like training a dog. If we train a dog by beating it, we’ll end up with an obedient but very inflexible and rather terrified dog. The dog may obey when we say “Stay!” “Come!” “Roll over!” and “Sit up!” but he will also be neurotic and confused. By contrast, training with kindness results in someone who is flexible and confident, who doesn’t become upset when situations are unpredictable and insecure.

Ciera Adams and a.rawlings ran a vocable workshop exploring sound, breath, vocal range, projection, how the body positions shift the physical sounds you make. One exercise was throwing an invisible ball to someone in the circle and making the noise of the ball before throwing it someone else. We did all kinds of huffing (in the breath sense) and sound improv circles of taking a a few words of text and as a group making sounds, verbal or non-verbal.

The workshops were a chance to explore in a controlled space other elements of expression and poetry. In the concrete poetry workshop derek beaulieu gave out materials (transfer rubbing letters, typewriter, stamp pads, crayons, markers, etc) and instructed us to explore textures, text as an object.

He mentioned how the standard page width is a kind of score. We are used to thoughts that wide and the pause it takes to return to the left column. What if we use the whole page, not just the left and the ragged right margin for meaning? He taught how to do a couple kinds of book binding at the end.

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  1. thanks much

    favorited this one, man

    AnonymousApril 5, 2008 @ 11:09 pm

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