Gerard Breitenbeck reviews CRTW Faculty BathHouse Reading

Another BathHouse review, this time from Creative Writing grad student Gerard Breitenbeck:

Reading from “Shot,” “The Liberation of Soggy Muff” and “I Exhume myself Depending on my Last Name,” Christine Hume’s multimedia performance conjures the musicality of poetry as it examines what it means to be present in a poetry reading as well as what it means to be present in day to day life.

“If I want to listen, I turn to the left” (repeats over and over).

The multimedia presentation utilizes the repitition of prerecorded sounds or phrases, adding layers to the experience such as startling the audience by anticipating what particular lines will continue to resonate moments after Christine has spoken them.

“If it would fist me.” “If it would fist me.” “If it would fist me.”

In a poem inspired around a recurring dream, brief interruptions of static punctuate the rendition, simulating periodic gaps in dream logic, dream memory, and our waking train of thought.

The poem “I Exhume myself Depending on my Last Name” builds slowly through chanting words such as “Digging, sleeping, starving, drinking, thinking,” buttressed by the rhymic sounds of dirt being dug. At one point, Christine stops speaking and her recorded voice comes in as she waits and then continues. Lines such as, “Under an electric blanket on high in august” provide a good example of the breathless confinement of the piece.

Carla Harryman read largely from a series of works written from the point of view of an infant. The perspective and thought process of the character Baby informs new ways of conceiving the world and ourselves.

Baby believes teenagers to be the most wise type of people due to their brooding intesity, independence, and ability to perceive things as they are. But really it is Baby that is presented as having the most to teach us through her frequency of surprise and the intensity of novelty. Suggesting that “Babies live the longest because Baby continues to live inside all of us,” we look to Baby’s perspecitve as a means of reclaiming or reestablishing a connection with that part of ourself.

“Sin was something associated with being in the world.”

The surrealism of Baby’s associations are both humorous and thought provoking with respect to speculating and investigating where our own associations may have originated, as when she hears about the “Fat Cats” and wants to give pie to them because since they are fat cats they would presumably very much enjoy the pie. This accociation, like many for Baby, are related to Baby’s imaginary companion Tiger. As smells and objects and things overheard provoke conversation with Tiger, the interaction can be seen as the shaping of  Baby’s self.

Rob Halpern’s “Love Song to My Fallen Soldier” and other poems create a dynamic conversation about Love and War by using either to examine the other. “Fallen Soldier” ends with, “Singing of shit and all your hemorrhaging affections,” which is an apt example of the feel and thought of the works. In his efforts to elucidate intimate longing with distant wars and disasters, Halpern presents a perspective of sex as war and love as disaster.

“That armored vehicle with the high tech border patrol that takes your body to be something exploited.”

Conversely, Halpern uses the irrational passions of love and longing to draw connections with the myopic dedication of soldiers and war machines, the losing of the self into the thing which you find yourself committed, and the pain and loss of it all coming apart before your eyes.