the inheritance of this written moment


As a writer and performer I remain conscious of those who have come before--the poets, artists, musicians and writers who first uttered the sound-word-images we share.  It’s humbling to think of ancestry and our place in time preceded and followed by many others with similar and different stories to tell.

In Traces our protagonist speaks words from Allen Ginsberg and e.e. cummings, invoking poets and divas—celestial, divine-shining devas--to help her trace her story.

Wandering the Chelsea galleries on a white-hot July afternoon I slipped inside the cool shade of the Matthew Marks Gallery and stood before a video projected on the far wall.  My experience produced the following journal entry:

 Descartes, by Joanne Kyger, 1968
She has set her spoken word poem to video, she has placed words and images in dynamic proximity to each other—sometimes they match, often they don’t.  But the magic comes when they veer off from one another: shifting kaleidoscope not set never exact transience is what I’m grasping at.  She lifts her arms, clad in a bell-sleeved kimono robe, up and down in an undulating wave, raising and supplicating the gods, slicing the molecules in the air, stream-currents zinging into a scratchy 16 millimeter froth.  The image blurs.  It’s the galaxies of the cosmos, superimposed.

A little research on Kyger led to an interesting connection:
Joanne Kyger traveled from Japan to India in 1962 with her husband, the poet Gary Snyder, where, together with Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, they met the Dalai Lama. 

Her artist statement, from 2005 for the Foundation of Contemporary Arts in New York includes the following:

“My attention to writing is a daily practice, which then builds an accumulative narrative of chronology.  Which ends up as the story of one’s life.  An historical sense of ‘self’, breathing and experiencing what is common to every human—the local, the ordinary, the non-motivated sense of just ‘being’.  One is also aware of the accumulations of lineage of all those writing persons who have come before and to whom one owes the inheritance of this written moment.”

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