Recap: 2nd Fall 2017 BathHouse Event featuring Joanna Ruocco

Thank you to all of those in attendance at our 2nd Fall 2017 BathHouse event featuring Joanna Ruocco and a special thank you to all of those who participated in the discussion following her reading.  Pictures from the event are posted below. Keep in mind that we are still accepting submissions for reviews.

Upcoming: BATHHOUSE EVENTS 11/5 & 11/6

Join us on November 5th and 6th as BathHouse Events and the Creative Writing Department welcomes Douglas Kearney and Tisa Bryant!

The details…

Readings by Douglas Kearney and Tisa Bryant
Tuesday, Nov. 5th, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
EMU Student Center Auditorium
Ypsilanti


And:
“Textual Orality: African Diasporic Aesthetic Practices” 
A Discussion with Douglas Kearney and Tisa Bryant
Wednesday, Nov. 6th 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
EMU Student Center Auditorium
Ypsilanti

Texual Orality: African Diasporic Aesthetic Practices
The aesthetic and formal roots of African diasporic cultural production are often determined in relation to oral tradition, from poetic expression and practical education, to transmission of cosmologies and the genealogical storytelling of village griots. Celebrating and analyzing solely the oral can come at the expense of the written word, from signs and pictographs of ancient Egypt or Haiti, to the ‘spirit writing’ of African American mediums and healers. In response to this enduring but insufficient binary thinking, Tisa Bryant and Douglas Kearney devised the concept Textual Orality. Textual Orality is a way of naming this site of generative tension within African diasporic literature. Using this concept as a critical frame, Bryant and Kearney will explore the ways in which both the (il)legible and aural, the stylized mark and the spoken word, experiments in writing and traditions in performance (or vice-versa), are distinct and interdependent features of their individual writing practices and pedagogies.
Tisa Bryant:
            Though she hails from Boston, received an MFA from Brown University, and lives in Los Angeles, Tisa Bryant grew into her writing within San Francisco’s vibrant literary/arts communities, serving in various capacities with ATA, CineLatino, Frameline, New Langton Arts, the San Francisco International Film Festival, Small Press Traffic, and Intersection for the Arts, among others. She is the author of Unexplained Presence (Leon Works, 2007), a collection of hybrid essays on myth-making and black presences in film, literature and visual art; co-editor/founder of the ongoing cross-referenced journal of narrative and storytelling, The Encyclopedia Project, and co-editor of War Diaries, an anthology of black gay men’s desire and survival, nominated for a 2010 LAMBDA Literary Award. Bryant is currently on a reunion tour with the poets and writers of The Dark Room Collective, celebrating the 25th anniversary of their nationally-renown African diasporic arts exhibition and reading series and she teaches fiction and experimental writing in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the California Institute of the Arts.
Douglas Kearney:
           Poet/performer/librettist DouglasKearney’s second, full-length collection of poetry, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), was Catherine Wagner’s selection for the National Poetry Series. It was also a finalist for the Pen Center USA Award in 2010. His newest chapbook, SkinMag (A5/Deadly Chaps) is available. Red Hen Press will publish Kearney’s third collection, Patter, in 2014. He has received a Whiting Writers Award, a Coat Hanger award and fellowships at Idyllwild, Cave Canem, and others. Two of his operas, Sucktionand Crescent City, have received grants from the MAPFund. Sucktion has been produced internationally. Crescent Citypremiered in Los Angeles in 2012. He has been commissioned to write and/or teach ekphrastic poetry for the Weisman Museum (Minneapolis), Studio Museum in Harlem, MOCA, SFMOMA, the Getty and the Poetry Foundation. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts.

Ian MacDonald reviews Intermedia Cabaret

EMU student Ian MacDonald reviews the Intermedia Cabaret from earlier this semester:

Intermedia Cabaret –  3/15/12

It was a night of tornados and bare-footedness. In short, a night of surprises. I anticipated a boring, post rush hour commute, a drink or two (since the venue was a bar), and a series of somber, slow-paced intermedia performances that would, likely as not, leave me feeling somewhat depressed for the long drive home. 

Literally none of that happened. Caught in a sudden downpour on I-94, I almost T-boned two cars at 60mph that must have spun out some few seconds earlier, the drivers apparently still too shocked to realize they had come to a rest lengthwise across the highway, and were merely facing the ditch, not in it. The venue was indeed a bar, the operative word there being “was”. And the performances turned out to be full of humor, energy and biting social commentary, the effect of which proved to be enlivening as opposed to melancholic. 

A variety of performers, guests, and guest-performers were in attendance. If they had anything in common it was that they all came prepared. The performances felt rehearsed and confident. If they had anything else in common it was the aforementioned (and still inexplicable) amount of bare-footedness present. Throughout the night, I periodically checked to make sure my own socks and shoes hadn’t mysteriously vanished. 

I particularly enjoyed Brenna York and Elizabeth Mikesch’s musical/poetry/skit/comedy entitled (I’m about 65% sure) “Twat Like Breaking Dongs”. The two of them, sitting back to back, trying to work together to stand up without using their hands was novel gag, as was a particularly fitting bit of repartee on so stormy a night:

“Did you get wet on the way here?”

(…)

“You know…from the rain?”        

Johnah Mixon-Webster and Miranda Metelski’s performance was another highlight. Johnah started off by announcing “We’re improvising. Deal with it”. The ensuing performance including Miranda singing “Rockabye Baby” while Johnah called for “more flesh, more bone, more plasma, more supplication” and later asked “what if language is the compass?”. One of the concluding lines “we are eyes watching eyes watching eyes” seemed to speak to the general goings-on in the bottom of the martini-less martini bar that night.

It was a pleasure to watch some of my more soft-spoken classmates let loose onstage. The drive over, quite possibly, almost killed me, but I’d brave similar weather again for the next one.

Jessica Chrisekos reviews Intermedia Cabaret

Jessica Chrisekos reviews the recent Intermedia Cabaret:

Bathhouse Event: Intermedia Cabaret

On March 15th, 2012, Ypsilanti and surrounding areas were plagued by heavy hail storms and dangerous tornadoes. Despite the upsetting weather, my night took a delightful turn at an old martini bar in downtown Ypsilanti.

Writers of all ages and backgrounds joined together to perform their work in an old martini bar. The scene was dark and clustered, something you might expect of a poetry venue. Some of the writers and artists at this event were Rob Halpern, Evan Mann, Nick Compton, and Wolanda Willis. There were many other writers featured, and all performed their pieces with passion.

One of my favorite pieces that night was called “Nonsound, a Musical,” by Rob Halpern. The line that perhaps affected me most was, “Silence, a music we never hear.” Rob Halpern always has a way with words…creating a fluid-like rhythm pleasing to the ear. His sounds and ideas were manifested in his beautiful piece. Also featured was Evan Mann. Evan Mann took a different approach to poetry. His piece, entitled, “I am,” allowed for the use of his body to depict his emotions and reactions. Evan Mann also described how the body is useful in telling stories and saying things that are lost in language. Another writer was Wolanda Willis, who gave a stunning, passionate performance of her work. Her work was dedicated to her mentors, and it’s safe to say that they would be very proud of her work!

While the storm that night may have left some things unsettled, the Bathhouse event helped bring peace and inspiration to me and many other writers and listeners.

Andrew Rybarsyk reviews Konrad Steiner

Andrew Rybarsyk reviews Konrad Steiner’s performance at the Dreamland Theater that was part of this semester’s BathHouse Reading Series:

Konrad Steiner at the Dreamland Theater

I attended the early show of Konrad’s work at the Dreamland Theater in Ypsilanti Michigan; I was curious how his work would appear in an actual live reading and I wasn’t disappointed. The Dreamland Theatre was a very small hole in the wall theater that was dimly lit and furnished with old wooden benches.  Attendance was high and a majority of people had to stand during the show.  The show in general was quite interesting and had a full spectrum of works that kept the show fresh and entertaining, including experimental films, dubs, and readings.

The first work that was presented was an experimental film. It had a much worn appearance and the constant theme was old buildings and balloons to a somewhat creepy soundtrack.  I didn’t like the film; it was too abstract compared to what I’m used to viewing and left me more confused than anything else.

During the night he showed his dub to Minority Report, I had seen this previously for my contemporary forms class.  Konrad attended and spoke to my class regarding the creative process and some background into the making of this piece.  Though I expected it to be an identical showing to the in class presentation Konrad performing live to the audience was very riveting and was completely different and had more life and soul.  Though I fully enjoyed the in class presentation because it gave me a background to his creative process and the tools and materials that he used to make the piece.  I was able to connect with that piece more than any other piece because of this extra info that I had received.

By far the most interesting work that Steiner performed was a dub from an old Nazi film.  The film itself had a intensely high contrast to where everything was either black or white.  Konrad donned a white American Apparel dress and stood in front of the projector so the film played off of him.  He then proceeded to move about the room dubbing over the language with language of his own, purposely covering up portions of the screen.  His use of himself as the canvas was brilliant and the way that he moved around the theater kept the whole audience guessing to what he was going to do next, by far my favorite of all the works he had done that evening.

Konrad’s work at the Deamland Theater in Ypsilanti was quite an experience; I got to see an abstract artist present his work live and in person.  I walked away with a greater understanding of his work and the emotion that goes into this art form that a person watching on the internet wouldn’t fully understand.  Though it didn’t make me a full lover of Konrad’s work I feel I can now make an accurate review of his work since I had listened to the inside info from Konrad himself out of the presentation spotlight, and seen him perform his work live.  For this I am glad that I attended his showing at the Dreamland Theater.

Emily Riopelle reviews Konrad Steiner

EMU student Emily Riopelle reviews Konrad Steiner’s recent appearance at the Dreamland Theater:

Speaking to the Movies

By Emily Riopelle

Konrad Steiner’s presentation at the Dreamland Theater was wonderfully varied and engaging. Steiner presented a collection that demonstrated his range of work including short, abstract films, films in combination with poetry, and his most recent venture: Neo-Benshi. Neo-Benshi is a great example of hybridity in the writing and art world. Steiner not only incorporates literary hybridity by writing his own works and also appropriating from outside sources, but presents a media hybridity as well.

Neo-Benshi can be approached in many different ways, as Steiner detailed after the event. This is part of its appeal to the poetry community. The concept is to take a film clip and write narration or dialogue to be performed in conjunction with it in front of a live audience. The idea dates back to the beginning of movies and was most prevalent in Japan, where narrators spoke with American movies in order to explain the content and context of the Western silent films.

About 15 years ago, Steiner had the idea of bringing the form into the San Francisco poetry world and since has produced several performances with many poets who had many different approaches. The different approaches to the medium range from completely overhauling dialogue and acting as a ventriloquist, choosing a non-dialogue scene and adding disembodied narration, or completely forgoing the movie clip form and turning a clip into, say, an infomercial (as some poets did with an Indiana Jones film).

At the Dreamland Theater, Steiner himself performed his narration to scenes from recent films, Minority Report, and Blade Runner, as well as two scenes with Carla Harryman in conjunction with older Italian films. Steiner’s solitary performances seemed more congruent and connected with the images from the film. In his Minority Report clip, he quoted the Tibetan book of the dead, and also incorporated dialogue for the characters. This clip was also unique in that he carefully edited the footage to incorporate cultural logos and icons as well as news footage covering the Iraq war.

Steiner stated that within this medium his goal is to “not bully, but finesse latent meaning,” from the films.  The Blade Runner clip was more lyrical, and less politically driven. He edited together four different versions of the same scene and narrated with a piece he had written. The piece he read with Carla seemed at the end of the spectrum, only slightly related to the images on the screen. The two read together, slightly overlapping at times and it seemed the film served more as a background and supplement to their poem than anything else.

After the performance, Steiner went into detail about the range of options available within the medium, from pulling meaning from the clip, to creating a subversive text meant to challenge the way we watch a well known film, to juxtaposing a lyrical text over an unfamiliar image. Each of the approaches contains different goals and implications and Steiner encouraged the audience to play with the medium, and “take back the movies,” ourselves.

Reminder: Konrad Steiner – The New Talkies – March 12-15

This is it!  The big week is here: The New Talkies with Konrad Steiner will be taking over Ypsi through a trio of events, March 12-15, including lecture demonstrations, performances, and a cabaret, co-organized with Carla Harryman.  All events are free and open to EMU students, the EMU community, and the public.

Mon., March 12, Live Film Narration at Mix Market Place
200 W. Michigan Ave., 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 
A lecture demonstration on poets’, writers’, and the filmmaker’s adaptations of the tradition of live movie telling.

Wed., March 14, Konrad Steiner at Dreamland Theater
26 N. Washington St. First show 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Second show 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Film/text and film/music collaborations with live performances by Steiner with a guest appearance by Carla Harryman.

Thurs., March 15, Cabaret at Mix Market Place
200 W. Michigan Ave., 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. 
Local artists and EMU folks will be mixing it up with performances of intermedia works by Jeff Clark, Nick Compton and Matt Mapes, Rob Halpern, Carla Harryman and Konrad Steiner, Christine Hume, Walonda Lewis, Evan Mann, Katie McGowan, Miranda Metelski and Jonah Mixon-Webster, Nicholas Mourning and Friends, and Elizabeth Mikesch and Brenna York.

Find out more about Konrad Steiner here.

 

BathHouse Reading Series – Updated Event List

Konrad Steiner’s upcoming BathHouse reading is only one part of a trio of unique events that will be taking place in March.  Read on…

Konrad Steiner’s The New Talkies: Lecture Demonstrations and Interdisciplinary Performances – March 12, 14, and 15

Biography
Since 1981 Konrad Steiner has been making short non-narrative films in the American experimental tradition of unipersonal production. He uses the moving image as a medium for compositions in language, sound and cinematography. An active participant in San Francisco Cinematheque, he co-founded and produced with Irina Leimbacher the screening and performance series kino21. His recent work has increasingly involved live cinema collaborations with musicians, including SF Bay Area composers Jon Raskin of ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Matt Ingalls of SFSound, new music ensemble and big band leader Graham Connah and poets Leslie Scalapino, Steve Benson, Brent Cunningham, Carla Harryman and Jen Hofer. His collaborative work extends to writers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago, Buffalo and New York producing shows dedicated to the renewed interest in adapting the tradition of live movie telling, often referred to as “neo benshi,” an art brought to its apex in Japan, Korea and other East Asian nations during the silent film era.

Schedule of Events
From March 12-15, Steiner will be present The New Talkies: lecture demonstrations, performances, and a cabaret, co-organized with Carla Harryman.

All events are free and open to EMU students, the EMU community,and the public.

Monday, March 12, Live Film Narration at The Mix Market Place
200 W. Michigan Ave., 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A lecture demonstration on poets’, writers’, and the filmmaker’s adaptations of the tradition of live movie telling.

Wednesday, March 14, Konrad Steiner at Dreamland Theater
26 N. Washington St. First show 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Second show 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Film/textand film/music collaborations with live performances by Steiner with a guest appearance by Carla Harryman.

Thursday, March 15, Cabaret at The Mix Market Place
200 W. Michigan Ave., 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Local artists and EMU folks will be mixing it up with performances of intermedia works by Jeff Clark, Nick Compton and Matt Mapes, Rob Halpern, Carla Harryman and Konrad Steiner, Christine Hume, Walonda Lewis, Evan Mann, Katie McGowan, Miranda Metelski and Jonah Mixon-Webster, Nicholas Mourning, Aaron Smith and guests,and Elizabeth Mikesch and Brenna York.