Monday, 5 March 2007

Runnymede (4/5)

“Jeffdy-Jeff” – Eddie Izzard.

Jeff read from Stretchers and Bird Bird. Jeff sometimes says things like, “Oh no! I’m still writing bird poems! Sorry!” but Ron Silliman is still writing Kojak and shows no signs of stopping so perhaps there is no need for Jeff to apologise, nor any reason why a phase or a project shouldn’t be internal to a sequence or a work.

On this occasion Jeff actually said something like, “[Oh no!] I write slowly [compared to some of my contemporaries], sorry,” which is fair enough. Imagine Jeff on the Poetic Practice M.A.! Ha ha! Dell would be so cross.

This is graceful and funny work. Apparently there’s one in there that isn’t a bird. I reckon it’s “Badger Badger.”

Gavin like Andrea rode in on a vast scholarly poem. His topic was the Victorian spooksmith Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu – his life and works, his time and place, his family.

The word “playful” came to mind which was a bugger because it’s a literary-critical weasel word. The work is formally various and productively distractable. Its fanatical infatuation with sound allows for sound to take over at any moment. This makes it unpredictable, though unpredictable in a way you can get the hang of – on the fine line between “whatever – next!” and “what ever next?!”. It performs iterated improvisation with materials at hand. It makes up its own rules about what is trivial and what of consequence. I believe it takes some risks, too. These descriptions partly unpack “playful.”

I always nearly buy Le Fanu’s Ghost. But for the same outlay from the same table you can take thirty other books. Dark reactor can’t spit lit interest. Next time I’ll take the hit – I want a closer look at that thing.

Kai was characteristically crisp and fluent. She read String Theories, from Motion Study, a short piece she wrote “all by” herself, and Pantoume. Pantoume engages with big notions like community, contradiction, femininity and identity in ways which seem to outstrip my present understandings of them. It is partly about the bowdlerisation of domestic violence at the level of discourse (I think it’s Nuts which has a column called “Sounds Shit But Isn’t”). It is dense with notions, many of them fitting into the English Lit. tradition of philosophy and social criticism (but with specific ethical sharpnesses homegrown not canon-cribbed), and many not, and quite a few pointing in different directions. I’m not going to lie to you. Their aesthetic harmony is a bit of a result.

Kai thought that this was confusing and a bit creepy. What do you think? String Theories and Motion Study are now back in print, thanks to Kai. You’re not really allowed to read this blog until you’ve read those two books.

Badger Badger.

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