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Split This Rock: Readings that Breathe Fire--Anne Waldman & More

The 2014 Split This Rock Poetry Festival is conducting its major reading events in the elegant Grosvenor Auditorium of National Geographic.

Gelman.jpgThe March 28 program, which was free to the public (as the two March 28 reading programs also are), began with a tribute to Juan Gelman who died January 14. Master of Ceremonies Dan Vera recited Gelman's poem on poetry in both Spanish and English. Here is the English translation by Rami Saari and Vivian Eden:

Juan Gelman

a few things must be said /
that nobody reads it much /
that those nobodies are few /
that the whole world is into the issue of the global crisis /

and the issue of eating every day / this is
an important issue / I remember
when Uncle Juan was dying of starvation /
he said he hadn't remembered to eat and there was no problem /

but the problem was afterwards /
there was no money for a casket /
when at long last the municipal van came to take him away Uncle Juan looked like a birdie /

the guys from the municipality looked at him with scorn or disdain / complaining
that they are always being harassed /
that they are men and they bury men /
and not birdies like Uncle Juan /

especially as he chirped all the way to the municipal crematorium /
and it seemed disrespectful to them and they were very offended /
and when they told him to shut up already /
the cheeping flew through the truck and they felt
he was cheeping on their heads / my
Uncle Juan was like that / he loved to sing /
and he didn't see death as a reason to stop singing /
he entered the furnace singing cheep-cheep / his ashes came out and chirped for another moment /
and the guys from the municipality looked at their shoes gray with shame / but

back to poetry /
things are grim now for poets/
nobody reads them much / those nobodies are few /
their profession has lost prestige / day by day it's harder for a poet

to win a girl's love / to run for president/
for a shopkeeper to give him credit /
for fighters to perform heroic deeds so he'll sing about them /
for a king to pay him three golden coins per line /

and no one knows if this is because girls / shopkeepers / fighters / kings are extinct
or simply because poets are extinct /
or both of the above and it's useless
to wrack our brains over this question /

what's nice is to know that it is possible to chirp
in the strangest circumstances /
Uncle Juan after his death / I, now,
so you will love me.

If this was the only thing audience heard, it would have been enough, but what followed was impressive and engaging.

Malachi Byrd, a young poet with a history of hard times, gave a spoken word presentation of who he is and where he came from in a moving performance.Byrd.jpg

karen_skolfield.jpgKaren Skolfield, winner of the 2014 Split This Rock Poetry Contest, read her winning poem "At the Mall, There's a Machine That Tells You If You Are Racist." The poem which is comically drawn weighs in on racism in every day America.

Kelson.jpgMaria Melendez Kelson, who said "breath is my first language," moved closer to the audience to deliver her series of poems, including "ICE Agents Storm My Porch."

Seibles.jpgTim Seibles, a poet influence by Amiri Baraka and June Jordan, read in a mellifluous voice from his long poem "One Turn Round the Sun."

Anne Waldman, co-founder with Allen Ginsberg of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, gave a performance that conjured the witches of Macbeth moved to Tibet. Waldman who chants, croons, howls her words filled the auditorium with what can only be understood as disembodied poetics. Fascinating to the Dresser was her passages that moved from the evil Decider of the 5th rank to a rant on archives, the importance of preserving the word. Visit her Youtube performance Manatee/Humanity which she performed for Split This Rock.Waldman.jpg


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 29, 2014 9:20 AM.

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