Another review from Chris LeBlanc, this time taking a look at Julie Patton’s BathHouse reading:
Julie Patton is a writer that is fascinated by the sounds of words. During a performance at Eastern Michigan University’s Sponberg Theatre on November 9, 2010, Patton performed on stage her particular brand of sound poetry.
During the performance, Patton read excerpts of many of her pieces, stressing and elongating many of the syllables of her written words, and jumping from one word to another, playfully contrasting the semantics against each other.
Her fascination with sound in her performance was not just limited to words. Patton frequently made use of instrumental noise, setting her performance to ambient, rhythmic electric guitar, and pulling an assortment of instruments and more unconventional noisemakers out of her bag.
Patton is an eco-poet. That is, a poet who is a proponent of the environment, and uses her writing to make statements about it. She is a writer that takes a stance on something, and as such, her performance was laced with subtle and not so subtle traces of politicism. She made numerous references to Sarah Palin (to the hilarity of several audience members). I, as a person with no interest in politics or politicians, saw myself as an outsider to this aspect of her writing, as much of it was above my head.
Patton shares many traits associated with the famed author Dr. Seuss, including his rhythmic, rhyming wordplay, and his political subtext, but comparing them is an understatement. Patton seems to take direct inspiration from Seuss, even performing her own, altered version of the famous book Green Eggs and Ham, changing many passages to create a more contemporary satire, and changing the meaning of the piece altogether.
Noticing that her initial performance took less time than planned, Patton read excerpts of her piece Using Blue to Get Black. It was a written conversation about the concept of using the color blue in visual media to denote black, and had a strong racial subtext. This was really interesting to me. Last year, a professor in one of my art classes, an African-American, would often use a multitude of different colored pencil strokes to represent black skin, creating several layers and meshing them together to represent a color that wasn’t there. I would have liked it had there been more time spent on the piece.
Patton engaged the audience, spoke casually between her pieces, and created an interesting and engaging performance that spanned a wide variety of her different literary styles, often commenting on her own messiness and disorganization, and making humorous remarks about her uncomfortable shoes. As a performance, Patton blatantly made it clear that she was not just a medium for her words to be expressed, but a tangible, messy, idiosyncratic person, showing not just the breaking of the fourth wall, but making it clear that there was no wall.