Saturday, April 28, 2007

got a goodly chance to read Tom Beckett's books yestreen. Erin had to arrive early and while he and Beth were putting together costume and makeup, Allen was left with his book. it appears Tom collected chaps together, at any rate the sections are thematic and weave together over all. one notes a doggedness in the work, effort in the sense of concentration. which carries several applicable senses. Tom boils his work down, or pares it. it is rarely discursive or expansive. the 1st series of poems centres on a conceit of the zombie. the poems essentially define zombie, this idea belonging to Tom. the effect of reading the many poems about zombie produces a wider area of concern. wider, that is, than one expects as one begins to read. the sexuality that Tom manifests arises as an active force on language, not simply a bodily function. and of the imagination, I should add. what seem like observant dollops expand into a much wider territory. so zombie begins as an idea, a way to start a poem, a conceit, but the iterations and Tom's unblinking gaze push thru the boundaries of clauses into a much larger thing, made thing. thus the poem is in fact the series, and as I read, I will see that the series all, together, make a poem. Tom's interviews seem so perfectly a companion volume that I should always carry them together. the interviews, not all done by Tom, stay on message as regards poetry and process. the book makes the translation from online to print because it has life as a handbook. what is a handbook? one to carry with. inveterate dog walker here, so I like to have books that can be consulted in moments. to touch that energy. Olson's grandest implement for me was and remains the energy transfer. I feel the same sort of heat in these interviews. I get ideas how others have proceeded, thus maybe how I can. I reiterate that a writing class could do worse than use this book as a tool for discussion if not inspiration. so there are my beginnings with Tom Beckett's two wonderful new books. I hope you try your own path.
saw Erin's 2nd performance of Shakespeare. I reiterate that glitches do not mar a performance. if someone loses a line, or some miscue occurs, it is part of what theatre is. there's no cut, take 2, and we should accept that. at one point the lights went on while 2 of the crew were onstage. it was when Juliet lay dead. it looked like the crew members had been teleported in, so it drew a laugh. one tune played thru out the performance is called "Beginning of the World", a bright little dance number. I think I managed to identify Juliet and Montague as sisters, but the scorecard clearly indicates otherwise. I'm still at the stage with the play where I fumble with who's a Montague and who a Capulet. not that I mind missing having read the play in HS. I believe I read Merchant of Venice in school, and saw the Marlon Brando version of J Caesar, the rest I read/saw on my own. I mean the rest of the 15 or so plays that I know. I almost got R&J out last night, but it would only have been an item upon which to dream. Juliet the actress fulfilled the youthful forlorn tragic dynamism, the seriousness of her adolescent terms. she always gave her lines dynamics, which I think is a considerable feat. the other players didn't really touch her in terms of music and ability to speak her lines with such naturalness. props to Erin, who took care to read his lines with a slow, ominous pace, a slow burn at times. one doesn't want him portrayed as Snidely Whiplash, because the weight of the tragedy should be spread over all. a person I no more than nod to made a point of coming to me and saying how good Erin was, and specifically noting Erin's pacing. I can barely watch Erin, for fear of glitch or miscue, which perhaps puts the lie to my earlier assertion. yet I needn't worry, if I just allowed brain to lead the way. I think the humour in Shakespeare's plays is in some sense easier to play, tho suggesting ease is a disservice. even tho the japing doesn't always makes sense, words used oddly to current ears, the players catch the rhythm and enjoy the times of flourish. whereas the tragic scenes can be pretty overwhelming, the poetry hardly willing to let a human voice peep thru. gotta read the full text now.

Friday, April 27, 2007

the new Boston Poet Laureate approves

just received, with much excitement, 2 books by Tom Beckett:
Unprotected Text (Meritage 2006 and Eileen Tabio), and
E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S (Otoliths 2005, 2006, 2007 and Mark Young).

double huzza for all involved, and primarily for Tom.

Tom's publication from the 80s, The Difficulties, was my main school for coming to grips with Language poetry. exchangevalues essentially carries on that work, tho less strictly with the L-word as contemporary in general. I have of course read the blog from which these interviews by Tom and others were taken. an absolutely useful text to read again and again. just to up the ante, work by those interviewed has been included. I can see this book being an excellent teaching tool, because points of consideration and confrontation arise on every page. more volumes from the project are in store, so spread the word.

Tom's work as editor has somewhat overshadowed the poetic oeuvre that Tom has quietly built. in this sense I'm reminded of George Butterick, whose Collected Poems is a quirky unexpected delight. I have several of Tom's little publications and look forward to reading his work en masse in perfect bound splendour (including a bold orange cover). in my quick scan I see hay(na)ku, prose, short lines, long ones. more to be said when more has been read. let me just enjoy the satisfied glow of 2 new publications by worthy Tom (any relation to our hero Josh?) Beckett.

New! Boston Poet Laureate

the Boston Poet Laureate issue has hung over the heads of good Bostonians for long enough. it'll distract us from Manny being Manny and Dice K, so in the interest of keeping the peace, and meanwhile scoring a well-earned career plum, I've grabbed the title. if you have any questions for the Boston Poet Laureate, or just wish to stand in my glow, please write me.

Monday, April 23, 2007

saw the production of Romeo and Juliet in which Erin played Tybalt. I'd never read the play, nor scene a production, but of course, one absorbs it. well, I read the manga yesterday, which used Shakespeare's words, tho not all of them. bowdlerizing Shakespeare is a common enough pastime. this is the 4th Shakespeare production by our homeschool cooperative, 1st for Erin. these productions go the mile as far as production values. a lot of work goes into costumes. I think it is excessive except that it gives the kids a chance to dress up. Erin's entrance was great. he's so big and his costume was angry red and he was all bold and ragey. the audience went whoop. swordplay with what are officially called boffers. the age range of the players is 6-17. some of the younger ones are grinning and staring at the audience. the audience is almost entirely parental, even tho there's a drive to post notices everywhere. if one likes theatre, one had ought to scope out such productions even lacking a child in it. just as you can see interesting sports events on the high school, little league and such level. I mean, it gives you a sense of proportion to see these events in these more intimate venues, and the occasional amaze when someone exceeds your expectations. Juliet in this production was remarkably good. a 13 year old girl, she gave great expression to her lines, and respected the music too. and without apparent effort. I'm amazed that these kids remember their lines. to really inhabit them is bonus. Romeo was also played by a 13 year old. his mother directed, and his 3 younger brothers and his older sister also had minor roles. he and his sister were in Mock Trial with Erin. his sister is very good in theatre and Mock Trial. the boy seems a little hyper active, so it seems like a feat to play Romeo. which he did quite well. an issue arose before production about whether R&J were appropriate for younger kids. there were issues even with the kissing, which in sooth were ever so chaste. as Beth noted, their farewell kissing after their newlywed night was quick on the order of see ya. some but not all the dirty bits were removed. as I said, Bowdler's legacy lives. the swordplay went on nicely and Erin died dramatically. Juliet's older sister played Capulet and was also very good. at Paris' death, Romeo dragged him from the byre. in doing so Paris' head cracked against the byre. Romeo tried to lower Paris' head to the floor but released early, so thok as cranium hit cement. Romeo's last kiss of Juliet was done with his butt facing the audience, something the director ought to rectify. not to hang on those sorts of things, but I think that's part of theatre that one can embrace. just as with low budget movies, as opposed to slick, adipose high budget productions. the curtain call had a neat touch. Mercutio and whatsisname step out then suddenly turn, draw swords and Erin burst thru the curtain with his sword drawn. I repeat, at 6'5" with hat and bold panache, and magenta red costume, he made a statement. Erin has one more performance this week. there are two different casts, and 4 performances total. I congratulated one boy I knew and asked him if he had fun. definitely he said no. Mercutio had a better role. which is true, that looked like fun.