EMU Creative Writing student Shaun Williams reviews the recent BathHouse reading featuring Christian Bök:
The Bathouse reading at Sponberg Theatre Tuesday night was exciting for all, especially me, as an audience member. Christian Bok’s reading was engaging and composed of a wonderful blend of charismatic energy and expert precision, which is what he is so recognized for. Listening to him was only half the battle. I found myself paying attention to his physical presence, such as the movement of his mouth in coordination with his eyebrows and forehead. His facial expressions, albeit strange, were even intense at times. I appreciated his poem variations of the French vowel poem that he so aptly described and talked about. How he composed the words for them was truly magnificent, each with its own little game. One of them he even succeeded in replacing the consonants with other ones and keeping the vowels in their original place.
When Bok started to talk about the Xenotext Experiment, I thought that it was absolutely ridiculous and did not fit well into the scheme of his other works. Prior to the reading, I was familiar with this particular project and view it as a pathetic attempt to instill possibility into the impossible. Was it interesting? Absolutely, I just feel that it lacks any real legitimacy and sustenance in relation to his other efforts.
I enjoyed his dip into Eunoia, especially when he read from the “I” chapter, which was his favorite section. When Christian Bok read his poem based on the death of Superman, it was as strange cacophony of blended noises and harsh sounds. The noises sounded like metal falling and hitting the ground, like pieces colliding together in chaos. I thought this fit well in context to what it was inspired from.
Nobody on this planet can do what Christian Bok can do or has done. I am confident to the uttermost extent saying that. He is a lyrical, phonetic genius, of a caliber all his own. In his very last reading, he even admitted that the poem was the hardest poem in the world to perform, and he managed to do it in a dizzying, astounding fashion. Reading Eunoia in class scarcely does justice to seeing Bok live and up close in a performing environment. Christian Bok’s charisma and zest for the ethereal is unmatched, and I am greatly pleased to have been a part of it.