Tag Archives: Performance

Recent Audio & Video

From the Poetry & Revolution Conference, Birbeck College, London, May 2012:

“Radio Poetry Birbeck” w Mark Nowak & Joan Retallack, hosted by Will Rowe & Stephen Mooney

“We Are All Sound: Poetics & Public Space in Occupy Oakland” (panel paper)

And:

excerpts from “So Much Depends” @ Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland, June 2013

Abby Crain/LOOK, “What we are doing when we remember what we are doing” @ Kunst-toff Arts, SF, Jan 2013 

Abby Crain/LOOK, “This is nothing new. These are some things we are chewing on, and this time you can watch” @ the Garage, SF, Dec 2011

Converted Storefront Performance/Talk

Converted Storefront, Oakland, 2/13/10. I’ve been working on a review of cris cheek’s part: short life housing for Jacket, and given its overlays and cross-fades of performance texts, site-specific writing, audio transcriptions, re-edits and such, thought to investigate the possibilities of a performance-review, as a way of engaging the texts and practices and questions while putting myself in a (perhaps) similarly contingent space of site/time-based writing. About 3 hours before the event at Ariel Goldberg‘s Converted Storefront I recorded an improvised text while walking outside the building, folding in quotes from cheek’s book. I then played the (slightly mangled) recording during the event that night, transcribing as fast as I could onto overhead projector transparencies, followed by a (disordered) reading of the resulting compressed text. Video here, transcript here

Some Disciplines

Some recent (stoopid) experiments in muscle memory, tracking the everyday banalities of the body & its routines…

 

(Experiment: Take same series of lefts & rights, but from a different starting point. Upon arrival, proceed to receive therapy.)

More Pix from Zimbabwe re-enact

(click to enlarge) 

(see below for details) 

photos Cassie Smith

Gallery Soto 12-hour writing/performance

soto2

Boston : August 2007 : Gallery Soto

12-hour durational performance with Natalie Loveless & Dillon Paul.

(Initial notes – I need to find the materials that survived the performance for transcription purposes)

I gave myself the task of writing for 12 hours straight, foregrounding the writing body in the space of the public gallery. I would only produce writing in the moment, coming out of the conditions in the space & duration of the event (i.e. no writing ‘about’ something else, or working on ‘projects’ or thinking of something & then writing it down, no pausing or breaks, etc). Materials were: notebook, pencils & charcoal, spray paint, tape, post-its, string, tickets, a digital recorder, water, one apple.

Dillon was in a box for all 12 hours (more on this later). Natalie was similarly stationary for the first six hours.

I developed a set of tasks that I was to perform each hour, in part to keep me producing content, and in part to mark time, and in part in response to the unfolding conditions of the space, the audience, my collaborators, my body/experience, etc. These included:

5 minutes every hour writing how it felt to be in my body that moment

s/pacing the gallery, along the walls, while improvising a ‘report’ on the ‘situation’ (composed in detective-noir genre)

producing writing on the walls, one letter at a time, through increasingly difficult (for me) physical acts (i.e., jumping over two chairs & diving at wall with charcoal, improvising next letter in sequence while in mid-air, attempting to transcribe that mark on wall, repeating this till phrases, poems, were ‘completed’ etc.)

writing on wall with white spray paint, then returning later with pencil to outline ‘invisible’ text (as if bringing out the latent ‘writing on the wall’)

five minutes of self-criticism of project, read aloud while writing it

five minutes of ‘personal’ writing, to be taped to wall & then ‘organized’ by means of string, lines, charts, etc.

five minutes responding in writing to what my collaborators were doing.

etc etc etc…

Reflections: All writers ever want is time to do nothing but write. I had 12 hours in which to do nothing but write, and it was one of the more difficult things I’ve ever done. Partially this was because the acts of writing were public, & I was interested in ‘performing’ them, embodying them, & to some degree testing how something so ‘private’ & banal & seemingly ‘easy’ (physically speaking) might function when pushed & challenged in various ways. As I grew hungry & tired my thinking changed, & the ‘content’ became increasingly focused on only the present experience – what was happening in the space, in my body, marking time, following tasks, producing writing without judging it, finding where ‘writing’ fades into drawing, marking, gesture. At times I would simply mark time by writing numbers on the wall as I lay on the floor. Other times I would ‘read’ aloud what I was ‘typing’ into an imaginary keyboard, as if to see if air-typing was the same as ‘actual’ writing. I found that given the freedom to ‘just write’ for 12 hours I worked very hard to come up with tasks & increasingly difficult constraints in order to put pressure upon the writing. I found that those tasks that required the most physical exertion raised the most interesting compositional questions for me. I found myself constantly keeping charts on the wall of “good” and “bad” marks. I liked how the gallery walls filled up with text & marks, & thus became a marker of time, the transcription of the event’s unfolding. Also knowing that none of the text would ‘last’ or be published (ie was ‘fleeting’ – less important than the process/performance?). The self-critical moments, as part of the performance itself, were helpful. They drew out the contradictions & blind-spots as they were unfolding. (For instance, I knew little about where in Boston we were, what the social/economic context of the site might be; there was also the (gendered?) dynamic of my mobility in the space vs DP & N’s immobility, my writing/speaking & their work focused on the [silent, laboring] body, etc.) During the last hour, as folks poured into the gallery from a nearby event, drinking, talking, interrupting, breaking my pencils, tying my legs together, etc., I fell down on my face and opened a cut beneath my eye. At this point all I had left to write with was the apple core, which I rubbed into my cut as I leaped up the wall to write out one letter at a time in blood and apple-meat. Needless to say, this became the most absurd (male) performance art cliche one could imagine – writing with one’s own blood, etc. At the time it seemed completely ‘natural’ – the point was to just keep writing with the materials at hand.

I still believe that content is important – that it’s not ‘enough’ to simply perform the production of writing without also thinking critically about what kinds of content come out of that. And yet the more the writing became pared down to the ‘bare’ act of simply producing ‘more writing’ the more I seemed to focus on questions of what-writing-is than on any other ‘outside’ content. (at least in the moment there were no scare-quotes, implied or otherwise, no simulation, no bringing in something already known [to me] or thought-through. only just writing, for better or worse.)

I’ll write more about this when I can find the materials that survived (we had to whitewash the walls the next morning) & any audio, as well as some comments on the work of my collaborators.

Chelsea Bed-In

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“Everyone gets 15 minutes of shame”

New York, Feb 2008 – AWP off-site event -

I was asked by Dawn Lundy Martin & Stephanie Hopkins to read with others in their room at the Chelsea Hotel. For my 15 minutes I got into bed, removed my pants, set my timer, and improvised a live instant-message conversation in front of the audience, speaking aloud my half of the  conversation.

Excerpts from the transcript:

No t’ in bed, yeah

Of course

No I would never lie to you

No I would never lie in bed

No iwould never lie in your bed to you

No I would never lie to you in bed

No

OK

No not hat

No not hat

Well I would do that but all these people are watching me

well that’s more of a philosophical question, isn’t it?

No I think it is “writing”

No it’s true, it’s only happending “now” but isn’t hat

What “we” claim to “want”? that kind of presence?

Yeah theyre hard

Do I have to?

Ok

Yeah they are.

No I told you I don’t lie

Yes when I write fiction it’s by definition lies

And yes I am writing fiction now

And yes I ma lying (down) now

No

No

Maybe

No

Ok

FOLLOW

nomad-outside-29-zoom1

(a conceptual self-portrait experiment)

I hired a private investigator to follow & photograph me at various times over a week in Jan 07, & to then send me his ‘report.’ 

Reflections: due to cost, I was only able to retain his services for a limited time. Which meant he did not do much night-time surveillance, for better or worse… I found the rather banal results to be kinda hilarious – how much of the (this) ‘writer’s life’ is really really boring. Still, an interesting trial run at a poetics of surveillance, where the self & its expressions (self-portraiture, autobiography, confessional poem, etc.) are increasing crafted by other mediated means, often with our consent (i.e. what I feed ‘them’ thru my internet usage, electronic purchases, public movements, etc.) I am I because my little machine knows me…

sample text:

(DATE REDACTED)

10:30 am  - On scene. 

12:05 pm  - No activity noted.  Delivery truck pulls next to surveillance vehicle parked on (REDACTED) St., blocking view of residence.  Surveillance vehicle moves to find alternate location.

12:10 pm  -  Subject vehicle, green (REDACTED), observed traveling westbound on (REDACTED) St. toward Martin Luther King Jr. Way (MLK).  Mobile surveillance initiated.  Subject vehicle traveling southbound on MLK toward (REDACTED).

12:15 pm  - Visual of subject vehicle lost.  Surveillance vehicle delayed at red light.

12:23 pm  - Visual of subject vehicle regained in area of Bay Bridge toll booth.  Subject vehicle moves quickly across three lanes to FasTrak lane and proceeds onto bridge.  Surveillance vehicle blocked by traffic and unable to continue.

12:25 pm  - Attempt to locate subject vehicle on Bay Bridge and into San Francisco.  Unable to locate subject vehicle and surveillance terminated at (REDACTED) exit from Hwy. 101.

(DATE REDACTED)

9:15 am  - On scene at (REDACTED) St., Oakland, CA.  No activity noted.  Window coverings are closed and subject vehicle parked in driveway next to residence. 

1:00 pm – No activity.  No one exits or enters the residence.  Subject vehicle remains parked as described.  Surveillance terminated.

(DATE REDACTED)

10:30 am  - Begin to depart area enroute to (REDACTED) to determine if subject departed residence on foot prior to initiation of surveillance.  Subject observed through rear view mirror hurrying down front stairs and moving quickly to vehicle.  Subject is a Caucasian male, mid 30’s, approximately (REDACTED) tall, slim build wearing (REDACTED), brown cap, and maroon work boots.  Subject carrying book bag or computer bag.  Subject enters vehicle and departs area.

10:35 am  - Subject vehicle parks parallel on (REDACTED) St. just north of (REDACTED) Ave., Oakland, CA.  Subject exits the vehicle and walks briskly to and enters (REDACTED) on corner of (REDACTED) and (REDACTED).

11:00 am  - Investigator enters (REDACTED) to determine actions of subject.  Subject observed seated just inside front door and to the left at small table near window, with back to window.  Subject, with (REDACTED) in hand, converses briefly with (REDACTED) seated to his right, mid 30’s, approximately (REDACTED) tall with long light brown or dark blonde hair, wearing (REDACTED) with neck scarf, white (REDACTED) and blue jeans.  Subject scans interior of (REDACTED) briefly.  Subject appears to stare off across (REDACTED) as if in thought.  Investigator departs (REDACTED) at 11:10 am.

12:44 pm  - Subject observed through window standing and milling about.  Photographs of movement obtained

1:52 pm  - Subject exits (REDACTED) alone and scans area in all directions.  He is observed milling about on the sidewalk at the corner with his hands in pants pocket to protect against chill wind.  He pulls small (REDACTED) from his pocket and places in his mouth.  He is looking down at sidewalk as he walks, again with hands in pants pockets.  No discernable purpose of this activity is noted.  Subject removes cell phone from pocket and dials.  He holds cell phone to his right ear and mills about.  Unable to determine if he is actually talking with anyone or simply listening.  He is looking down and walking in an exaggerated manner. Subject places right hand over forehead and rubs the area of his forehead and eyes with a  strong squeezing motion.  Subject continues to mill about and walks several feet up (REDACTED) Ave. toward rear of (REDACTED).  He turns and walks back slowly.  His facial expression demonstrates contemplation, as he walks back toward the front of the (REDACTED), apparently taking no notice of the (REDACTED) and traffic as he strides by.  Subject reaches the front of the (REDACTED) and lifts his head to look ahead of him.  His gaze appears to be fixed in front of him as he walks northbound on (REDACTED) Ave. to the end of the (REDACTED).  Subject immediately turns about and walks slowly but with determination back to the front door of (REDACTED) where he enters at 1:57 pm and disappears from view.  Photographs of Subject’s activities are obtained.

2:42 pm  - Surveillance is terminated

 

nomad-outside-19-bw-zoom

Zimbabwe Re-enactment: reflections

THE NEWS FROM ZIMBABWE: A RE-ENACTMENT

But the writer sometimes defiantly asks the prison officer locking his cell: ‘Why are you locking yourself out?’ as one Zimbabwean asked, before he was declared insane and released…”                            — Chenjarai Hove

Maybe less a re-enactment as much as a ready-made, maybe less a ready-made as much as a docu-drama, less a docu-drama as much as a staged thought-experiment. Trail-runned (ran?) at SPT’s Poets Theater.

Background: In 2007, Anthony Tongani and Silvanos Mudzvova were arrested while performing their satirical play “The Final Push.” They were taken to the Harare Central Police Station, locked up, and forced to re-enact their play again and again (over 48 hours) for the police and Central Intelligence Organization officers, who walked in and out, interrupting & arguing over what punishment the performers should get (for treason &/or inciting a riot). (The CIO are the secret-service – the notorious ZANU-PF ‘enforcers’…)

For our versioning, we attempted to re-stage a condensed version of these events.

On stage: police/CIO officers drinking, smoking, napping at table. “Narrator” standing at table with various implements (tape, handcuffs, kitchen utensils, floggers, etc.). Two performers in “jail cell”. 

The premise was to run a number of looped repetitions of the ‘play’, enacted within the cell within the police station, while the police/CIO interrupt, add constraints/’punishments’, & make the performers begin the play-within-the-play again, etc. Each time a new officer would arrive onstage, the play would be stopped & the seated officers would explain the situation to the newcomer, who would then in turn ask to see the play re-started. Then the newcomer would be told that they like to ‘add a twist’ to each version, and s/he’s handed a stack of cards to choose from. The newcomer picks & reads the card, and asks the narrator:

“Is it really okay that I do this?”

to which the Narrator responds some variation of “you’re just following orders”/”it’s just a play”/”You’re just following the script”/”I don’t see anyone out there stopping you…”

Then the newcomer takes one or two of the implements, and restrains the prisoners/performers (cuffing ankles together, duct taping arms together, etc.) & administers some form of physical punishment (slapping, beating with paddle, spitting in face, etc.). There is a brief exchange between officer & prisoner (“I thought you writers liked the poetics of constraint” etc.). Then s/he poses in front of prisoners/performers for the photographer (another officer who’s onstage the whole time). The performers/prisoners are then told to begin again, at which point the loop starts again.

The play within the play (“The Final Push”) takes place within an elevator. The two characters are Mugabe & the opposition leader Morgan Tsvengari. The actors are thus playing imprisoned performers who in turn are performing as Mugabe & Tsvengari.

Reflections & self-criticisms on trail run:

The question of race was never directly addressed. The performers were mostly white. Audience as well.

It was under-cooked & under-rehearsed – I wrote up the concept 5 days before & the play-within-the-play the day before & we had one meeting to practice. Given that I certainly wasn’t aiming for some kind of proper ‘theater’ experience, but as it is not a ‘typical’ (?) poets theater piece it could’ve maybe benefitted from more practice.

My fellow performers were super helpful, patient, & game. The process of thinking the piece through in a limited amount of time & space meant that each performer brought their own questions & interpretations (rather than just ‘playing the role’ or whatever) into each loop. 

It felt too condensed. It would be interesting to see how it ran/felt if stretched out over 30, 40, 60 minutes, with more loops &or more time for each loop to develop, for the play within the play to develop, for physical exhaustion & stamina to be tested, for the audience to be ‘tested’ more, for the potential boredom/banality of having to watch the same scene(s) over and over again to settle in, knowing that a desired break in the action would also require violence against the performer(s).

I have no idea how long it actually went on for. I don’t know if this is simply because when you’re performing in a ‘play’ you lose track of time, or if because this was a looped piece it’s easier to lose one’s ‘place’ or sense of time, or it was some reaction to the physicality of the piece (I apparently have a very low pain threshold & very little stamina). 

Someone asked if I made the whole thing up – i.e., was it a ‘true’ story. Good question in that context. A different version of the question: “Was that real?” Maybe that’s a different question.

Someone said that when the narrator said “I don’t see anyone out there stopping you” that she suddenly worried that it would be left to the audience to stop the loop/cycle/play. This made me realize that though we performers knew how many cycles we were going to do, the audience did not. Without conventional plot or narrative, how do you sense time/progress in a performance?

The play within the play is never finished, never fully performed, never ends. It’s still happening, still beginning again.

The violence, though ‘real,’ was brief enough not to push anyone’s buttons too hard. It still felt ‘safe’ & perhaps more ‘gestural’ than it could’ve been.

Lots of questions about other possible variations:

What if we just kept repeating the loops until an audience member actually intruded? to put that burden/question of complicity – “I don’t see anyone out there stopping you” – onto the audience?

What if the cards on the table contained a wider range of punishments, and/or were truly mixed-up & chance-based? Such that each performer playing a cop would not know what s/he was expected to do until reading the card onstage, and having to choose to follow the script/order? What if performers were then given the choice to take a different card?

What if the performers in the cell had no idea what might be on those cards? Would not know what was coming at any given point?

What if audience member(s) were asked to take the photos?

What if audience members were asked (or required) to take a card & follow the instructions? to become active participants? 

Were audience members already active participants, by virtue of not stopping the punishments?

What if the performers did not already know one another?

What if the performers were black/of color, in front of a typical (ie almost exclusively white) poets theater audience? 

A few days after the performance, Morgan Tsvengari joined Mugabe’s government in a power-sharing agreement.

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

 

Scent It Out – reflections

CONCEPT: 

For the TAXT benefit/event at 21Grand/New Series, in which writers were invited to present work/performance throughout the space & ongoingly over about two hours. The idea was that I would distribute text throughout the audience, in the form of paper bags filled with strong odors, presenting a bag & its text & asking recipients to pass it on in the form of gossip. The text consisted of 8 8-line stanzas, using the text/form/spirit of John Suckling’s 1637 poem “Sessions of the Poets,” a kind of coterie/court-poem/satire (thanks Stan Apps), ‘updated’ by replacing proper names with roles/types such as the blogger, the trust-funder, the scenester, the court-queen, the bitter poet, etc. The concept was to stage a few questions/problematics: how to make material & ‘stage’ the sociology of a coterie that traffics in gossip? How to foreground the textual poetics of gossip? How to use odor/scent as an aid to memory &/or as olfactory complement to the textual content? What happens when you foreground the social forms of gossip such that the transmitter must literally ‘pass the bag’ & publicly collaborate in its dissemination? What is the relation between the content of gossip (as text, as poetics, as ‘dirt’) & the forms of its dissemination (as coterie-building, , as sociology, as ‘scandal’)? To what degree is gossip the primary (if not sole) content of the (my? our?) coterie? & what does that say about the coterie? 

The odors were: garlic, beer, herbs & spices, tobacco, compost, Axe body spray, vinegar, & my body & its excretions.

——————————

Here is the text on the card I attempted to pass out with the bags:

SCENT IT OUT

Smell changes the surface of things before you into a volume in which you are caught. The air you breathe is the index of the world into which you have been introduced—be that of an illness, of grace, or of a spell. When you smell it, it means you are already in it, or more precisely, you are of it.

                                                                     M. de Certeau, The Possession at Loudon

The senses therefore become theoriticians in practice 

                                                                      — K. Marx, 1844 Manuscripts

If you look at it, it’s a barn. If you smell it, it’s a stable

                                                                       G. Marx, Monkey Business

A durational thought-experiment in social-spatial practice — through dispersal of gossip by means of olfactory distribution. Before leaving the space, please find the table with the paper bags, breathe deep of each bag, write down your remembered version of each gossip-stanza & put in corresponding pile. The cumulative texts will become the template for the development of a coterie-body-odor-wax for social lubrication & reenacted ruttings. Spread liberally over surface area. Chin up, chest out, wrists & ankles, scent it out.

 

——————————

REFLECTIONS & SELF-CRITICISM

A very disappointing if interesting mess.

I did not adequately think through the time required to set the process in motion. It required a lot of instruction, & thus took a lot of time just to get the thing started, much less to make sure the bags kept moving. 

The project was under-theorized & under-cooked.

Separate from the event itself, I was disappointed with my lack of rigor in its formulations.

I allowed my cynicism to infect my practice.

I mistook 21Grand for the site, when the site in question in this case was the audience/coterie itself. 

I made a lot of assumptions about the audience & its openness to participation. Given the recent discussions of collaboration, participation, community & coterie, I was surprised by the degree to which people resisted or refused participation, to the point of refusing to hold the bag, smell the bag, or even listen to the text. It seemed that few people who took the bags actually passed them on, as I would find them left on a table, or someone ‘left holding the bag’ would hand it back to me. More than a couple of poets assumed the texts were about them, or were jibes aimed at specific poets in the audience. Of course, I wanted there to be some discomforture around the content & how close to the bone it might ‘feel’, but then in the moment I just felt bad/guilty, even though I had no individual local poets in mind when writing them.

Most of the people who agreed to participate in the way I requested & take the bags and pass them on, were people I did not know. Those that asked out, resisted, or refused were all people I knew personally. (This is from an admittedly small sample size, and only of those I interacted with personally. Not sure how it went ‘out there’) I’m not yet sure what to think about this, but it was interesting.

The smells were disappointing, & their relation to the textual content not adequately thought-through.

The relation between form & content was under-cooked. Though I am interested in projects that use formal structures as containers for text, I tend to gravitate towards a relationship in my own work where, as much as possible, the formal aspects of a work or performance “come out of” the content. (though it’s always pretty chicken-egg, of course). Here the content might be characterized as the text itself, but also the social content of the coterie, the broader thematics of gossip & court-poetics. The form then would be the expression of that content in rhymed stanzas (thus ‘safely’ – or so I imagined – framing the content in anachronistic & satirical/ironical poems), the connection of each stanza to a specific odor, and the performance/method of its distribution among an audience in live space.  I’m still not sure that there was any ‘necessary’ reason as to why scent/odor should have been the primary formal means for the expression of this content. I could have simply spread gossip all night, & allow the dispersal of that gossip (which of course travels well beyond the boundaries of the event itself) to become my text/reading/performance, & which would more ‘naturally’ bring others into collaboration (which is of course what gossip does all the time). 

Perhaps my ‘everyday performance(s)’ (ie my behavior & its public expression), & its subsequent dispersal among various coteries in the form of gossip, is ‘my’ textual production, my poetics. (at least that’s what I’ve heard…)

Only one or two people ever returned to the table to write down responses.

I allowed myself to be unnerved by negative audience reactions, concerned about those who felt upset, and disappointed that my ideas did not pan out as I’d planned.

As if by letting the coterie produce the work I could somehow still control it.

As if I could still control the gossip that I disseminate. 

The stanzas were not particularly good. In fact they were pretty bad, but not bad enough to be interestingly stoopid or stuplime.

Two of the bags dripped & ultimately broke.

I was asked why there were no ‘nice’ smells.

The event took place at the end of a long weekend of poets performing & socializing together, with a perceived sense (by me) of the coterie feeling very good about itself & excited by its own sense of scandal (at least as judged by the gossip being distributed to me prior to & during the event). I think this effected the reception of my admittedly more cynical/dark work. 

I allowed my cynicism to infect my practice.

I did not get much of a chance to see the other works going on simultaneously. I had hoped that I could simply spread some shit, disseminate some gossip, & let the process work itself out, thus leaving me time to participate as an audience member. 

Of the very few things I did check out, I noticed that I liked things that did not require me to interact with anyone else, but just listen or read. This of course says more about me than the interactive works.

I was and was not surprised how many people did not want to spread gossip once it required actually ‘carrying the bag’ & thus perhaps taking responsibility for it dissemination. 

I was asked “is this one about X?” I was told “that one about Y is mean.”

It was assumed that the judgments expressed in the poems were my own personal judgments. 

I was and was not surprised by the narcissism of paranoia, that anything that might be ‘about’ one must be about one.

If the roles were reversed, I imagine I would do much the same – worry that the text might be about me or my ‘type’, resist or refuse to hold &/or pass the bag. I might to some degree judge the performer personally rather than the project. 

I allowed my cynicism to infect my practice, as well as how I interpreted its reception.

I allowed myself to forget that if you stage a thought-experiment, its ‘success’ has nothing to do with whether or not the work was ‘good’ or well-received, or even if it ‘went as planned.’

In fact, if the thought-experiment is simply ‘what happens if…’ then the results cannot not be a ‘success’, i.e., whatever happens is precisely the (contingent, context-specific) ‘correct’ result.

But there are still better and worse ‘successes.’ More and less interesting/ compelling/ challenging successes. We’ve all no doubt been to a lot of ‘successful’ readings & performances in which too little is at stake, or the successes are merely evidence of one’s chops or cleverness, or are instantly forgettable.

My stakes were perhaps too low. Too many scare quotes.

Success is the wrong word. Its terms need to be challenged. 

What would happen if I did something similar elsewhere, in another context, scene, city…

All of the gossip-stanzas were (probably) about me.

I allowed my cynicism to infect my practice.

I was not happy with this performance/project at all. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Each failure is a learning opportunity.