What we did on summer vacation…

Students, alums, and faculty were busy making us proud this summer and into September:

Joe Sacksteder‘s sound poems were published at textsound: http://textsound.org/index.php?ISSUE=13.  Joe also had a story published in Booth (Sept 7): http://booth.butler.edu

Peter Markus was named a Kresge Arts Fellow for 2012.

Elizabeth Mikesch, Gerard Breitenbeck, and Ned Randolph spent two weeks on a  cultural exchange and workshop in Lisbon, Portugal.

Brynne Barnes‘ children’s book, Colors of Me, won its third award: The Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award for First Published Work: http://www.gelettburgesscenter.com/2012_honors.php.

Kudos to everyone for their awesome achievements!

A Performance of Adapted Works: Sunday, December 11, 2011, Quirk

Don’t miss Sean Kilpatrick and Nick Mourning presenting work for their cognate class (CTAO 542 Adapting and Directing Narrative Theatre ) with the acting talents of Creative Writing MA students and alumni Joe Sacksteder, Aaron Smith, and Gerard Breitenbeck. The performances take place Sunday, December 11, 2011, at the Lab Theatre in Quirk.

  • 9:30am-10am: Sean Kilpatrick (Director) adapts Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts
  • 11:30am-Noon: Nick Mourning (Director) adapts Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

Both performances are free to the public.

Ned Randolph reviews Cathy Park Hong

Creative Writing grad student Ned Randolph reviews Cathy Park Hong’s BathHouse reading from earlier this semester:

Cathy Park Hong’s Dance Dance Revolution (W. W. Norton, New York, 2007) imagines a heightened collision between the language of commercialism in a futuristic, globalized world. She read from the work on Thursday at the most recent BathHouse Reading Series event at Eastern Michigan University.

The poem sequence features a fictionalized dissident from South Korea — turned tour guide — who is leading a historian through an imagined futuristic city, called the Desert, which resembles in many ways the surreal commercialism of Las Vegas.

Her tour guide speaks in a pidgin assembled from English, Korean and other dialects that spit out cliches as if they were jingles written for the occasion, such as “unabashed Succotash” and “I get laid in me Escalade, then I drink Crystal before I take out my pistol.”

The sequence of poems, which won the 2006 Barnard Women Poets Prize, bears a loose connection to Dante’s Inferno, where Virgil guides the reader through the nine circles of Hell.  This guide, instead, has on the surface sold her lyrical soul to commercialism as she touts in the language of commodities, musing on “Colgate white teeth” and her caveats for dating “even if them wining and dining me” as she leads her historian through a fictional hotels based on the cities of the world.

“Behold, the toilet!”

Hong reads without lights or special effects. Diminutive with a clear, melodious voice she riffs on commercials through the words of the guide who makes one nostalgic for the actual desert, a natural occurrence, in comparison to the commercial construction of the Desert in city.

The narrative of the historian (gender unspecified) is also interspersed throughout the collection, as he recollects his own experiences, including the Civil War in Sierra Leon, where it was safer to draw the city streets than to walk them. Though, he said, he was a poor illustrator. “Childish draftsmanship forced me to focus on smaller things,” his says in a poetic primer than I put in my own pocket for later.

“les’ toast to bountiful gene pool, to intramarry couple breedim beige population!” a celebrant offers.

Hong also read from her forthcoming book that consists of a trilogy of poems — from three imagined boom towns: an Old Western in the 19thy Century, Chengdu in president day China, and a cyberpunk city of the future.

From the first, she read three short sound poems, including two lipograms that relied on a single recurring vowel.

In the second, the narrator’s boyfriend from Chengdu works in a Rembrandt replication factory, where he paints five fake Rembrandt’s a day that are exported to a far off land called Florida.

The cyberpunk world is inhabited with “smart snow” which is nano-like computer dust that connects people without the need for computers. People can read others’ thoughts and vacation by spelunking in another’s mind.

Hong pulls from her own influences to sculpt her work in prose and verse. A former journalist, she tends to look to the world at large to inform her poetics. She spent a year in Korea interviewing defectors from North Korea in 2005. While there, she was amazed, she said, to find the Korean language so newly laden with English words, which was different from the Korean spoken by her own parents.

Still, in the bilingual household in California, she said, her family always spoke in broken sentences.

Ned Randolph reviews Julie Patton

BathHouse reviews keep coming in!  Check out Ned Randolph’s creative review of Julie Patton’s recent reading at EMU:

Julie Ezelle Patton is preoccupied with the sonic echo of words in the space of performance.

The author of Notes for Some (Nominally) Awake, Alphabet Soup and Slug Art, Patton alighted briefly at Sponberg Theater in November for the BathHouse Reading Series.

See her crawl and drape over the registry of sound, inching as a slug through the artifice of verbal construction.

Patton invites

Exploration through sonic dissonance. Patton relies upon the spontaneity of her interpretive instrument, which is the artist itself.

With the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar, Dr. Seuss and disjointed loose leaf pages of notes, Patton explored the space of her own mental landscape where words, meanings and sounds collide to create new associations and potentiality.

Patton invites

The audience to do the same. She bends and tumbles through genres which, drawn by the wake of her own energy, follow and wrap around our expectations. She is guttural and brooding, screeching and hissing. The full meaning is realized at the end, if at all, when meaning matters.

Does it … does it matter?

Perhaps that is the point, yet her work defies a single pixilated point. There is no ending in her punctuation, only the sonic scales and tapestry over and through which she pours her instrument.

Appropriating the good Doctor and his Green Eggs and Ham and the opaque reception of a distant war trickling home in flag covered coffins, she engages in linguistic collage.

Then Patton the trickster brings forward a basket of simple instruments for audience members to play in exquisite disharmony. Banging, spinning, knocking – a collision of registries that play that in the space of sonic dissonance rolling over and through the scales of musical composition in manifested debate.