Wayne Westcott reviews Julie Patton and Creative Writing Faculty BathHouse readings

Two more reviews to wrap up the semester…EMU student Wayne Westcott reviews a couple BathHouse readings from this past Fall:

JULIE PATTON
I first met Julie Patton while escorting her to the bathroom.  I have a thing about bathrooms.  I hate them.  They make me feel awkward in my own skin, and if there’s ever someone else in the bathroom, well I can forget about going to the bathroom.  

On the way to said bathroom, I began talking to her about higher education, art, writing, etc.  Everything about her demeanor made me feel like ’it will all be ok’ somehow.  By the time we reached the bathroom, I was relaxed, I was excited, I was giddy like a damn school girl getting her first Hello Kitty lunch box.  Julie Patton was already influencing me.  She was already in my head.

I mention all this, because I feel the need to expose my feelings before going to her reading at the Sponberg Theater in November, as part of the BathHouse Reading Series.  I went into Julie Patton’s reading an absolute fan of Julie Patton as an overall human being.

So on that November night, when Patton began crawling around on stage, as well played guitar sounds mixed and mingled with her words, I was hooked.  I didn’t understand it, but I loved it.  It was organic(hate that word), it was sensual, it was cool and hip and shit like that.  Most of all though, it was just plain fun.

There was a tremendous sense of improvisation, and every time it seemed to work in Patton’s favor.  Things such as having the audience communally play various instruments together, began to make me think about my writing.  More than that, they made me think about the ‘performance’ of my work.  I started thinking, what can I do to make my work seemingly come to life like she does.

When her performance ended, I was left sitting there, worn out by so much energy being given and taken from Patton.  I wanted to ask her if I could come with her.  Go back to the building she shares with other cast-aways and persons on the fringe of society.  I didn’t ask though, because at the end of the day, that world is hers, not mine.  

After seeing Patton perform, I realized I have to create my own world.  I have to surround myself with positive like-minded individuals.  I need to try and be more organic (still hate that word).


CREATIVE WRITING FACULTY
I have to be honest.  I wasn’t quite sure how the night would go when walking to Sponberg Theater for the fall semesters first BathHouse Reading Series performance.  These were the people I would taking advice and instruction from at a graduate level for at least the next two years.  These were the people who would be shaping and influencing my writing the most for the time being.  Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

Christine Hume’s performance took me by surprise.  She engaged the audience by including a sort of ‘sound track’ created for the work.  This really added to the work.  It created an atmosphere that really took the work further.  I think for about a week after that, I kept hearing an odd voice saying ’fisting’ at random moments.  That’s when I knew that her performance had really stuck with me.

Carla Harryman’s performance shocked me in a good way.  Her work had language engaged playfulness that I was used to, but in no way put off by.  In particular, her reading from the title Baby had a lasting effect on me.  The way the text seemed to be chewing on words, it was just a great feeling to hear from the author herself.

Then, taking the stage, was Rob Halpern.  Rob was the faculty member I knew absolutely the least about.  I truly didn’t know what to expect from him.  Rob took me by surprise with a type of intensity I had forgotten could be a part of readings.  His language was shocking in a sense that it was unexpected, and that the way it was used and delivered, almost inoffensive.

Overall, the faculty reading really started the BathHouse Reading Series off with  some bang.  It was a reading that made me think about my influences and what I would gain from being at Eastern.  Needless to say, I’m excited to be here.  This reading was just a refreshing assurance of the confidence I have in the education I will be receiving here.