EMU student David Boeving reviews Julie Patton’s BathHouse reading that took place this past Tuesday:
Julie Ezelle Patton’s reading on the ninth of November at the Sponberg Theatre at Eastern Michigan University was wild and eclectic, electric and enticing (to say the least). Her performance, spanning near the entirety of an hour, consisted of a sampling of her works, reworked, and read alive with so much life behind them. Backed on stage by her next door neighbor, who played guitar (which at times seemed very reminiscent of the Canadian band Godspeed You! Black Emperor) during the performance, Patton introduced the crowd that was present night to something very much so musical. Not only did Patton sing at points throughout, but the experimental author went as far as to establish a makeshift jam line of audience-member-musicians mid-performance (she called this “musicing”). Patton’s versatility and youthfulness as a performer kept the entire performance intriguing.
The author ruled the stage of that theater with an amount of energy such a place probably hasn’t seen in months, not only through her crawling, running and sitting all about it, but also through her overall vast number of topics touched on by her performance. Throughout the night she purposefully, and at times maybe not so purposefully, referenced many other works and current events. From the BP oil spills, to Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night,” to Bob Dylan’s album, “Tangled up in Blue,” and Gertrud Stein’s performative repetition of the “rose,” Patton touched on nearly every reference that arose about her pseudo-stream of conscious performance. Not only did the poet reference a good number of well known literary works and current events, but her free-flowing mind also allowed for a number of well articulated existential-like phrases. Such phrases include, “The light changes but we don’t change,” and “The little electric man keeps going and going…” as well as, “Do unto language as language has done unto you” and, “Flora all over herself, mulch too soon.” The performance was packed full with phrases and references of intrigue like those prior stated.
The show was set with the backdrop of two lone lights shinning upon the theater’s back wall, encompassing Julie and her guitarist friend/neighbor. The lights seemed to be the only concrete and set aspect of the entire night, a fact that seems apparent after conversing with the author after the performance. Patton initially wanted to show slides of the building which her and the guitarist reside, but like the poets now life, the slides were not shown due to the sporadic nature of such a performance. Further along that point, Julie didn’t even know that her neighbor would be performing with her until sometime within the days coming up to the performance. Thus the lights remained the only stationary aspect of the evening. It was those lights, that remained so still the entire night that eventually lowered, in accordance with Patton’s own voice, to close out what could only be described as a lively, intriguing, and fun evening.