5/1/04 4:30

Deirdre Kovak, Kamau Braithwaite, Bowery Poetry Club

Deirdre Kovak

Strong sound-based orientation. Dense, meticulously controlled phrases and sentences carefully smashed together, operating in a intentionally attenuated spectrum of variation, not unlike Bruce Andrews in these respects.

"love it or leave with it"

Much deadpan humor and riffing off of self-discomfort and social discomfort in a look / look away pattern.

"The lack of siblings has contributed to my lack of emotional growth."

"Smoking is not speech."

It feels as if the negative psychic energies of living on this side of empire are being transformed into something constructive, a persona processing system mowing itself down in a sequence of downwardly curved starts none of which, in and of themselves, are allowed to develop, but which nonetheless build into larger thematic images. Information, energies and structures emanate as this system is pummeled with gobbets of decaying contradictory truths.

"like your hand against the squeamish of history"

"tomorrow is touching itself in public

"heaven is a do-over"

Kamau Braithwaite

The excavation of history from one's present moment is epic poetry is it not?

"it it it is not. It is not enough to be. To be free of the red white and blue."

Drumming lightly on the table. Half sung.

"to be semi-colon, to be semi-colony"

"95% of my people poor. 95% of my people black. 95% of my people dead."

This poetry moves beautifully away from mysticism. The necessary opposite of mystery. The articulation of why we have trouble understanding.

"there is an absence of truth, like the good tooth drawn from the skull"

"out of the Coney Island of our mindless architects"

"this perturbation that does not signal health"

Halfway through this increasingly riveting reading, Braithwaite went into an extemporaneous explanation of the origins of the Limbo dance, that it comes from the torture of the middle passage, the vertical space of the slave ship decks. How during the dances the tourists always bend over forward, the easy way, not understanding. Braithwaite's reading was so patiently developed that his story telling skills snuck up on me at this point in the reading, before I even realized what was happening. The story and improvised explanatory information fused beautifully and powerfully with the overall body of poetry being read. It felt not like an interruption of the poetry, but like the opening of a related dimension.

"to negotiate this passage and rise on the other side,
rise like the sun to the wonderful glow of the drums."

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