Segue Report: Goldman & Pendleton

Quite wonderful readings yesterday from Judith Goldman and Adam Pendleton.

Judith Goldman
Judith Goldman

Believe it or not, I had never seen Judith read before. As a reader she was precise and performative inside the work without seeming in the slightest bit stagey or rehearsed, so really “inside” the work. She did many voices: extreme tentativeness, girlish upspeak, artauldian drama queen, pidgin pimp. She didn’t waste time with a preamble, thank goddesses, why can’t more poets figure that out? Bits of speech: “as a matter of fact, I don’t feel so well.” Her tour de force was a piece that adopted the prosody of Jay Z and applied it to the name of Pamela Anderson Lee. Poe found its way in: “bells bells bells bells/ taco bells.” Judith’s actual voice has a very sweet quality that contrasted nicely with the broad parodies and borrowings of the poem. Just great, really. She also read from the “The Dispossessions.” It was earthy/strange/angry-lyrical and sort of misandrous (look it up!) and it kept mutating:

[in pidgin voice] “very good for fuck”
“giving your soft globs/ what you shove down to be”
“every other second horse”
“scrambling into soft globs”
“every man fuel for a flare of fucking people over”
“it won’t take long””queening into his eggs tighter, tighter”
“my erogenous zones used as a kind of formal language.”

Adam Pendleton
Adam Pendleton

Adam Pendleton, a mutli-media artist for whom Thom Donovan gave a very useful introduction, posted here, read a piece that addressed and critiqued the avant-garde literary practices of the last century. It was elaborately structured, maybe even Fibbonaci’d (which seems likely since Ron Silliman was featured in the work as both source text and “character” of sorts). Adam described the structure as a kind of “Chinese box.” Source authors included Silliman (recognizably “Ketjak” & “Sunset Debris”), Scalapino, the 1916 dada manifesto, Baraka’s black dada manifesto, what seemed to be a contract for a performance piece, and I think some others. Afterward, Cole Heinowitz asked him why he had used those texts, and he mentioned that he had composed the piece on vacation in Paris and that those were the books he happened to have with him. That struck me as a very lovely sort of extemporaneous constraint. He used the texts as base material that he then torqued into other perspectives, some of which may actually be “his.” Some lines:

“the performance must be done on location”
“I want a very beautiful man”
“irradiates the day with a milky glow”
“she was a unit in a bum space” [sound familiar?]
“architecture is bound to situation”
“I need a prick in my mouth/ I need an explanation”
“white dada remains in the framework of Euroopan wekaness”
“I want a man with long eyelashes/ white wings of a magpie”
“In part, we grew by looking back at you.”

This last was very interesting especially given that Adam is gay and black, and while there were plenty of gay listeners in the audience, the only other recognizably black person in the room was the be-dreadlocked man who took the money at the door. Who is “we”? Indeed.

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