Friday, March 14, 2008

POETES, vos micros!

Performed last week at a Voix et Voies de L'Ecriture event held at McGill's Thomson House. This was an event organized to discuss and witness performance, slam, soundscape and video poetry. It was an illuminating evening, with performances ranging from harmonica-punk-slam to an historically researched declamation of a scene from Racine's Phedre. For my own performance (the only reading that was not in French) I developed a soundscape out of the various early sound recordings I have been collecting over the years, and read over/alongside the layered voices of the soundscape. The text I read was a kind of collage of two poems from The Animal Library: "Phono Kit" and "Kit Discovers Sound". I converted these poems into the first person, which had a strange effect of personalizing the observations about noise and sound and making the the whole thing--with the Victorian voices speaking around me, but not to me--rather affecting, I think. Among the sound recordings used to create the layered soundscape were: Alfred Tennyson, Canon Fleming, Henry Ainley, Lewis Waller and Rose Coghlan all reading Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (these recordings ranging from 1890 to 1906); an early and creepy 20c recording of someone (unknown to me) reciting Goethe's Das Erlkonig; Big Ben Chiming (a recording from 1890); and documentary recordings made at the site of the 1897 Diamond Jubilee, including a group of men and women singing "God Save the Queen". A nice surprise at the event: a former student of mine, Catherine Cormier-Larose, was also participating in the reading. Her performance was great.