The Jhoke

2367090060_b50a9a439d_m(forthcoming in The Shunt)

 “Because you have to build a relationship with unreality                                              and you do this with jokes”         Heriberto Yépez

I was asked to read at the Artifact Series at the Oakland Art Gallery in downtown Oakland by Melissa Benham & Brent Cunningham, on the 5th anniversary of “Shock and Awe”. I tied a length of rope between a lamppost and a bike rack outside the gallery (on the ‘plaza’ or alleyway), stringing the rope through and around my belt. Thus tethered to the line, I set the egg-timer to 18 minutes and began a series of ‘jokes,’ each improvised aloud while crawling the length of the line, carrying a plank of wood on my back on which I transcribed whatever I was saying/reading, which meant speaking/composing at the pace set by how fast I could handwrite on the table on my back while crawling. The constraints were: each pass began the same and ended “right before” the “punch line;” that I would walk back to the beginning of the line after each “linebreak;” that at some point I would eat a banana and drop the peel in my path; & that I would have in my mind the following concerns: repetition compulsion, parapraxis, writing in war-time, the presence of the writer’s body improvising/writing/writhing in front of a live audience within a set duration and site-specific context. Part two began when I “walked into a bar” after the “reading.” For purpose of transcription I attempted to use ellipses to mark spaces between utterances. Each “joke” takes about two minutes to make it from one side to the other.

Full text will be in the book, but here are a few samples, along with photo of the transcription.

4

A … man … walks … into … a … bar … a bar … a Barthes … reading group … and says … I have a … joke about … open quote … theory … close quote … colon … eh … am I … simply … trance … scribing … what comes … out of … my … mouth dash … and if … so is … it still … writing … semi-colon or … if I’m … reading … what … I am … writhing … is that … still … a … poetry … reading … the Barthes … tender … pours me … a … look … and says …

5

A man … walks … into a … rebar … comma says … stop me … if you’ve … herded this … one be … fore … but … I’ve been … thinking … about … the status … of the … joke … in war … dash time … as the … repetition … dash … com … pulsion … eh … the … repetition … dash com … pulsion … as … in … dicative … of the … status of … engaged … bodies … con … sistently … writing … their own … punch lines … the con … struction … officer … pours me … a … concrete poem … and says …

6

A man … walks … into … a … bar … a barbed … comment … field … comma in which … a … variety of … poets are … arguing … about the … em … bodied … writing … under … conditions … of war dash … time … poetics … eh … one … seems … to have … become … a joke … at one’s … own… expense account … which has … interest … not as … form … but as … finance … the comment stream … moderater … says …. 

art

 

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