Presented by Kootenay School of Writing
poets / artists / writers presenting poems / antipoems / language.
spoken; visually projected, analog.
each poet will read one short text, followed with open discussion
Sun. 8 June 2014 1:00-2:30 PM
UNIT/PITT 236 E. Pender, home to the KSW library
Julie Okot Bitek projects Maya Angelou
Hari Alluri projects Patrick Rosal
Ted Byrne projects Francis Ponge / Jacques Lacan
“The New House”
have smashed against
crashed up and down these
lain mute and then drained
their meanings out and into
What feelings, long since
streamed vague yearnings
below this ceiling
In some dimension,
which I cannot know,
the shadow of
another still exist. I bring my
memories, held too long in check,
to let them here shoulder
space and place to be.
And when I leave to
find another house,
I wonder what among
these shades will be
left of me.
And so we’ve all been told to shutup (Don’t talk, they say,
too fast, too loud, or for too long. Don’t take too much time
trying to tell the truth). But this is my work,
to break out —in the presence of strangers— into laughter,
to watch small children, for example, fill with the lucky gust
a poem can ride into the near stillness of a room
and dance. For that, I am always, as now, grateful.
My father tells me, in his seminary days,
during the Japanese occupation,
most of the priests who ran that school were German.
The boys, then, were to speak only in Latin,
and would surely be slapped three Sundays back
if heard speaking the language of my father’s country,
which is a beautiful country and a beautiful language,
and which has a curious word for being
so suddenly seized by affection, you clench
every muscle from your eyelids to your toes
for wanting to hold a loved one tight, to squeeze one
and kiss one so deep, you place yourself and your beloved
on the brink of physical harm. There’s no word for this
in English, no word for those small provinces of silence
or for the kind of love that will trouble that silence
into music. My work is trying to find the very word
rippling in my body, which is a woman’s body,
my mother’s, and a man’s body, my father’s,
and nowhere to be found in the languages
that have conquered the lands of my ancestors.
On the outskirts of every empire, there are man-made
lakes large enough to receive with ease
one hundred villages’ worth of bones tossed into them.
This is a fact: there are more than seven million Ilocanos
in the Philippines, maybe a million in diaspora. All of us,
at one time or another, have been told to shutup, don’t talk
too loud, too slow, or for too long, in Saudi
Arabia, in Madrid, in Tokyo, in Milan, on Bowery
near the foot of 1st Street. We’ve been told this. Some of us
have been famous liars, Ferdinand for example
(who married another liar, Imelda), and my grandfather,
kapitan of the barrio, who claimed to kick the shit
bare-fisted and single-handedly out of fourteen ruffians
in the small barangay of Santo Tomás. Actually,
he kicked the shit out of five – nine ran away. These are not
lies. This is the truth. I’m not wealthy. I can’t buy
space and time on billboards or websites. The name I inherit
doesn’t part columns in the city’s Daily Journal.
My family comes from a long line of farmers.
My cousins scrub their chopping blocks with salt.
They shush the goats before they kill them.
“The Pleasures of the Door”
Kings never touch doors.
They’re unacquainted with this pleasure : pushing ahead, softly or roughly, one of these large familiar panels, then turning back again to replace it – holding a door in one’s arms.
. . . The pleasure of grasping by its stomach, by its porcelain node, one of these high barriers at the entrance of a room; this rapid tussle in which one’s step is hindered for a moment, one’s eye is opened, and the entire body accommodates itself to its new compartment.
With a friendly hand one takes hold of it again before pushing it back resolutely and effecting one’s enclosure – of which the click of the bolt, powerful but well lubricated, offers pleasant assurance.
From “Psychanalyse et cybernetique, ou de la nature du langage”
I’d like you to give some thought to the proposition that a door is not something completely real. Thinking of it as completely real will result in some odd misunderstandings. For example, if you were to carefully observe an open door, and conclude from your observations that it produces air currents, you might haul it off to the desert with you to keep cool.
I’ve searched at length in all the dictionaries to find the meaning of a door. In one big dictionary there are two full pages on the door – from the door as an opening to the door as a more-or-less-hinged means of closure; from the Heavenly Gate to the door that you slam in someone’s face. And then, without any proper explanation, this dictionary says that a door must be either open or shut. That doesn’t really satisfy me. It’s true that a door must be open or shut. But these states are not tidy opposites. Usage can be of some help here. For example, you can say that a door opens on a field, but that doesn’t mean you can say that it closes on a sheepfold.
Now, you might think that, since I’ve made reference to a field and a sheepfold, I’m talking about the inside and the outside. You’d be very wrong to think that. We live in an age when it’s possible to imagine a great wall that would go completely around the world. But if you put a door in it, where is the inside and where is the outside?
An open door is not more generous for being open.
You might say that a window gives you a view of the countryside. But when a door gives, it’s usually a door that has been stuck, or even locked, shut.
Sometimes you head for the door, and that’s always a decisive act. But you wouldn’t be allowed through most doors even if you tried.
Two people may be lying in wait, one on each side of a door. But you couldn’t really imagine that happening with a window. You may have to break down a door, even when it’s open. On the other hand, coming in through a window is usually seen as an easy thing to do. Coming in through a window is always deliberate, whereas you often go through a door without even noticing it.