EMU student Julia Eussen reviews Julie Patton’s recent BathHouse reading:
Julie Patton’s recent poetry reading included spontaneous music making and a bit of running (presumably also spontaneous). Unlike previous BathHouse readings this year, she moved and claimed space on the stage. For example, early in her presentation, she crouched down and beat herself on the back with a tambourine while reading lines of “the little man” and yelling “STOP”. Later, she moved across the length of the stage and near the end of the performance she encompassed not only the stage, but audience space as well. Walking through the audience, passing toy instruments, asking the new musicians to join her on stage and make music with her – in doing so she made the entire space her own. In conversation with the audience, she stated that collaboration is making community wherever she can and I suspect this experience is part of it – regardless of how long enduring the collaboration or the community is – the point is that it happened. And it reminds us that an organically grown grouping can form at any time, built around language and sound, if allowed and encouraged.
Her poetry and presentation conveyed, for me, a sense of freedom. As mentioned above, she actively presented her work and engaged the audience. During the musical portion no one else moved across the stage with her, constrained and awkward, unused to the spontaneous community. In her work, the freedom comes from her pursuit of the multiple manifestations of sound. Words may lead her one place, but she (nearly simultaneously) pursues an alternate route. For example, she read a poem that contained the phrase “violet blue” – she morphed the word violet more and more so that each letter is heard, and violet sounds increasingly like “violate.” To follow the word violate is a new route, which she may or may not pursue; but now the audience is aware that it exists. These riffs occur throughout her entire performance. As I explained in discussion afterwards, she wants the audience to hear each sound in a word, but she also wants us to hear the blurring in between – there can be meaning there too. And that continuous search and discovery is the crux of freedom.