Join us on November 5th and 6th as BathHouse Events and the Creative Writing Department welcomes Douglas Kearney and Tisa Bryant!
Readings by Douglas Kearney and Tisa Bryant
Tuesday, Nov. 5th, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
EMU Student Center Auditorium
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
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.
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 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’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.
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.
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.
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
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.
EMU student Anthony Alaniz reviews Dodie Bellamy’s recent BathHouse reading:
Whistle While You Dixie and Bellamy
“I was on an adventure,” proclaimed Bellamy as she read from her hard-to-find book, Whistle While You Dixie in the Eastern Michigan University Student Center Auditorium on February 7, 2012.
Whistle While You Dixie is split into an essay and a narrative. The essay encompassed the first half of her hour long reading and divulged into such topics as the blatant sexual overtones of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, at least according to Bellamy.
Sadly, though, one cannot watch Snow White in the same, childish, way again, after Bellamy’s explicit reading.
Bellamy excels when she begins to dive into her narrative.
Her power and, what some would say, her nonchalant attitude towards sexuality and the human experience, courses through her slight frame as she reads while recounting her experience on returning home to Indiana.
She meets a young boy who is, “too young to be taken seriously.”
It is her conversational tone through, not only the narrative, but the essay as well, that make her reading, and of course her writing, approachable and easily relatable to any young reader or writer who have had any human experience with sexuality.
The greatest moment of the reading, though, wasn’t the reading at all. The question and answer session afterwards gave great insights to Bellamy’s own thinking about writing.
When asked if the proliferation of technology would make it easier for writers to reach great popularity, she said, “I don’t know if new technology will make that possible.”
Bellamy’s greatest literary quality is her honesty both in writing and in lecture, yet the true gem to Bellamy is hearing her read her experiences.
Granted, like every writer, she wants them to think, “That I’m brilliant.” After the reading, I have to agree with her.
Listening to Bellamy as she recounts mundane events should make a writer, like it did me, realize and understand that there is almost always a story in life itself. This is something Bellamy excels at, especially in Whistle While You Dixie.
Student Amy Oleynik reviews Dodie Bellamy’s BathHouse Reading from earlier this month:
Dodie Bellamy: Her reading of “Whistle While You Dixie” on February 7, 2012
I came to realize in a short amount of words that Dodie sounds like the friend you think you have, the one who says everything too honestly and with too much raw energy, with a potential to go any which way. The one you meet and you’re instantly insulted, which is why you like her so much. Comfortable, yet edgy enough that you don’t sit too close. The type of friend you wouldn’t take home to your parents for Sunday-Monday-AnyDay dinner. In fact, you can’t even mention her lest they ask you, “Oh, what does she write?” or “How did you meet?” which would end up in unsavory stories or explanations you find comical, but obviously those old fogies wouldn’t budge a lip. You’d be reduced to giving her only as a name or at least what she looks like. But questions can still ensue so you bottle her up inside. Yet ever persistently, Dodie peeks out of your conversations and you still trample over yourself to not include her in every word. Either my subconscious is lacking in strength or Dodie’s mark has extreme gusto.
The correct answer is obviously.
Dodie became the song in my head, the one you realize when it’s too late and you’ve been subconsciously at it and now conscious of it, heated and irritated to the point of obsession.
He whistled. Habit.
The way whistle looks like thistle and is seen as such in the realm of sounds. Sharp. Quick and usually you want to use your foot to blot out its life, with haste. One mouth pucker and my eyebrows are erect. One tick on my counter from the man with a mustache. And she never mentioned the dwarves, whom I’m sure she’d have many a small penis joke lined up, buried waiting like a jack-in-the-box spring trap. Gasp. Oh ha ha. They do whistle. That’s seven instances left untouched, dripping with potential, right along with the use of the word “ho”. Or how they mine for diamonds and immaculately cut precious stones which they leave (where?) and come home to live in hospitable squalor, none of them daring to build another house. And I’m back to the whistling.
The word most associated with Dodie was uncomfortable, which I did not gain from the reading. If anything, Dodie forced me to reflect on myself, pulling me into my childhood days of Snow White being innocent and talented. She was the woodland creature whispering goddess. The scariest part being the lightning storm instead of the obsessed red mouthed queen asking for Snow White’s heart. (My Creative Writing senses tell me to delve a little deeper into the metaphor for some complexes, but really, I just think she wanted her dead.) Moving from essay to narrative, I still was compelled to feel for the characters meaning I connected with her fear and want of the boy on the far bed. What does that mean! My inner child panics. What happened in my life that I now can relate to Dodie? She is hilariously crude in her sentiments. Have I become like that? More personal reflection and it’s only been an hour. Focus on the peaches and try to remember to make a cobbler when you get the chance. Desserts, yes! Movies, innocent movies! Don’t think! Just watch! Sit, watch, cut up peaches on your couch! The uncomfortable self is found in Dodie’s aftermath.