Sunday, March 04, 2007

just back from seeing Sean Cole and Susan Landers read. we got there on time but Susan, who took the train up from NYC, was late, so a search party dashed off to South Station to fetch her. meanwhile, back at the ranch, the reading started with open mike. mostly the same people who read every time. it's a pleasant homespun sort of feature to the Demolicious readings. I thought to bring a poem but finally didn't. after the 4 open mike readers, Sean read (at Demolicious, the local poet reads 1st). Sean's a very good and I'd say under-appreciated poet. he's at ease in front of a crowd but there's a nervous energy nonetheless. I think it takes him a bit to hear his voice and feel the rhythm of his work. his work comprises a general narrative. it is peopled, let us say. it seems to be "about" him and someone else, her, even. his poems are conversational and dialectical. they are also funny. odd but effective juxtapositions just wring laughs and earnest inquiry out of reader/listener. as he warmed up he became more physically tuned in, which translates into kinetic harmonies (id est, he moves his head and hands in harmony to the poem). I'm not picking on a tic but observing where he really syncs in to his work. one of the later poems that he read was a tour-de-force in which the humour and energy combined. Ive heard humour defined as a logical disaster, and that's how I regard his work. Susan arrived during Sean's reading so he didn't have to stretch. Susan read in a carefully enunciated way. conversationally, I noticed, she speaks quickly, so care is evident in her reading. the main work she read from is a translation (of sorts) of Dante's bestseller. by translation she means several things. she does literal translation (tho she professed not to know Italian), as well as the sort of translation the Zukofskys applied to Catullus. a further translation occurred by shifting the English into new terms. the massiveness of Dante's work is, of course, awesome, and her work had something of a feat about it. she brought some politically sharpened news into the work, and that was wickedly effective. she didn't want to simply people Hell with those she doesn't like, as Dante did. where she seemed closest to channeling Dante seemed the best. I felt that when I saw her read before, where she cleaved closest to Stein, she was strongest. I think, and I must emphasize the surmise factor here, that the agony of influence is still being worked out. it is a sign of maturity to turn from the influences. the next step, the most difficult, is integration. she spoke (afterwards) of discovering Dante as she wrote this work. I believe she said this was her 1st reading of Dante. I don't know if she planned to treat the entire Commedia, but she stopped whilst still in purgatory (she has a publisher for the work, tho I don't know who). she found herself too self-conscious in her treatment, or that's how I translate her explanation. I think she's on the edge of something, is what I'm rattling on about. and I must reiterate the surmiseyness of what I've just written. some of us (and it could have been any of us) convened for apres reading feed. and this is a nice part of the reading experience. conversation allowed Susan to expatiate on her work, and later, Sean read some of his poems again. Sean's one of Boston's poets who didn't toddle off to New York's hotbed of fame and connection. surely more of the non ex-pats hereabouts could've crammed the Out of the Blue Gallery t hear him read. another point would be to note Jack Kimball's contribution to the Boston scene. Jack attends a lot of readings locally. and he writes about them. he cadged copies of Sean's poems, the better to write about the reading, and I believe he worked out something similar with Susan. so his reportage includes academic study. this is utmostly valuable, a real angle on the work. so there's my report.
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