One never knows what to expect when they show up to a reading, but you know when it’s a Prof’s house, that the A-game will be brought.
First Wendy Kramer presented, “The Morton Salt Girl Monologue: NaCl and the Meaning of Her Mark” accompanied by collaged trademark images she had created of the changing icon over the years. In a performance including visual and auditory cohesion and dissonance, she read both stage direction and script of a constructed text for the girl. This was followed by David Buuck who presented “We are all Sound: Poetics and Public Space in the Occupy Oakland Movement” which expressed an “on the scene” accounting of the challenges of creating and distributing poetics that can attempt to convey, do justice to, or maybe even not to do too much justice to, the movement.
The highlight of the evening for me was the exchange between David Buuck and Wendy Kramer as they questioned each other after their readings, a traditional exchange for such readings according to Professor Rob Halpern.
Wendy had originally come prepared to be in rain accessories for her presentation. Having decided against it, she expressed she had a different experience of her reading without it. She thought it would be more difficult to present wearing it, but she found that it was “a loss of armor,” a metaphor I will supplant for her as biased witness.
David Buuck had many questions from the audience concerning the value of poetics coming out of occupy. Although I will admit at times this particular part of the discussion went a bit over my head (I may lend some fault to having started a third drink), my own experience of the piece was that this was a lot easier for me to hear than what I had otherwise witnessed from my friends in Occupy. It wasn’t pushy or political; it was, well, a telling of an occupation. An occupation of time and location, a space, and I had the resounding reaction that in time this will be even more important. By the mere fact that such a work exists, you know someone actually bore witness to something that happened. In this particular accounting I felt a certain unbiased reality of someone bearing witness, and the reading expressed little judgment or pushing of any particular ideology.
As for Wendy… Thank goodness for Wendy! I myself am a person who communicates by putting my vulnerabilities out there. It takes some balls/ovaries but my reward for it for it is what others share in return 90% of the time. There will always be those who do not do the same, but Wendy gave the honest artist’s struggle. It was beautiful and complete, and I needed to hear it. Again paraphrasing, “you never know if what you are doing is good or right, but you still have to do it.”
There was a feeling I had, that as a writer I had arrived.
I was here, with my colleagues, with the big dogs, people who love writing and art, camaraderie, curiosity, and revel in experience. That there could be so many people on this earth who would never know that such events still took place, but would feel honored to get the chance to be present in that room.