Thursday, October 13, 2011

Occupy the MTA: a Proposal

The struggle to claim Zuccotti park as strategic and symbolic ground for the commons is not over yet, but one can imagine that Bloomberg will be successful in forcibly removing the occupiers. The committed citizens occupying Zuccotti have made us believe again that public space so-called is worth occupying: putting our bodies into it, holding conversation and symposia there. And that such gatherings in the spirit of commons—to be among one another in debate, discourse, and struggle—are a good unto themselves. Poetry and art have played a role in this, however minor, inasmuch as the “human microphone” reading format may revivify the poetry reading as a democratic and dialogic mode of assembly. To repeat someone else’s words not only bears a religious function, but is a way of feeling words move within you, to make others’ words inhabit your own vocal chords and nervous system. It is in other words to incorporate and understand. That names were drawn from a hat—no curation, no hierarchy—was also remarkable and unlike most poetry readings, with the exception of that most humiliated of formats, the “open mic.”

The events of Zuccotti Park this past month have set the practical imagination ablaze, and made us imagine anew what is possible in public space supplemented by social media, video, digital photography, etc. I propose that a working group form to consider giving readings in public spaces, and especially via public transportation. What works/text would you wish a public to hear read aloud? Which stand out as revolutionary? Which may overturn or redistribute a common sense? Which may lead to argument, debate, provocation? Groups of 5 or more may board trains and buses to read agreed upon texts aloud. 5 or more so as to bear witness in the case of police intervention, but also so that the readers will feel supported, not alone in their deliberate action. Read a text and then disperse. Or remain if the public engages the reader and wants to discuss. Reconvene regularly to consider the effectiveness of the texts read aloud, and what texts to read in the future. Treat it like a workshop. What worked and what didn’t? What did people find interesting, and why? What led to dialogue, emotional response, enjoyment? If the human megaphone/microphone amplifies cooperatively we might think of the MTA occupation similarly. As inviting a certain kind of cooperation, if only through distracted listening and not echolalia. We might also consider if the readings act as a kind of public service announcement. Not soapbox-style diatribe, but the limited broadcasting of texts that have been carefully considered in advance as something you would want a stranger to attend.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Talk at CRS with Jenn Joy

This Saturday, at the invitation of choreographer Daria Fain, I will be giving a talk with Jenn Joy about my experiences as a dance writer, with special attention to confluences between poetry and movement-based practices. Please join us!

October 15 10:00am to 1:00pm
@Center for Remembering and Sharing
123 4th Ave. At Union Square

Monday, October 10, 2011

People are Making Shitloads

--after phrases by Ben Kinmont

People are making shitloads
This disconnect
The advantage of the absorption
Making shitloads
To close the system
To close the system not
To open, disclose
Shitloads, people are making
Is a service
Is a service when this not being
It is clearly an invitation
This sense of loss
To close the system
Is towards the beginning of ideas
People making shitloads
Devastate quality
As a response to absorption
Is a service
This disconnect
Is a service
This sense of loss less as ephemeral
Than a failure
To close the system
The people make
Making shitloads
To open, to disclose

But it is not 2008
That constitutes a lag
In advance of witnessing
The system collapse
Of witnessing
The system from within
This sense of loss
People are making unamplified
Inside the people
Less as an ephemera than
A need to surround buildings
Produces the world one
Is hearing beyond control

Give me a mic check and
I'll give you the world
People being made the
People being made
While the mic's not on
Are you hearing the sound
Of the world
Surrounding buildings
Whose murmurs were control

Up in this city finally plausible
Beyond control
Give us the world
And we won't divide it
Like the pie divides what
Do you hear
People making shitloads
Now they are heard
Pie charts now they are
Ripples in the middle of
The people
Intoning the air inside me

So what we simulate
Is indivisible
From the sounds we make
Like Stein
Says explanation people making
What do you hear
The people being made
While we hear
Where a process begins
Beyond control
A people swells
Inside the ear.