Sunday, September 25, 2005

Messagio Maestro

Little did I know that last night I was to witness one of the most electric sound poetry perfomances in Canadian poetic history. Too much of a boast perhaps...what the hell do I know about Canadian sound poetry? Although I've not had the good fortune to see a live performance of The Four Horsemen, I have seen snippets on television many years ago and remember that I was impressed beyond imagination. The Four Horsemen are comprised of Rafael Barreto-Rivera, Paul Dutton, Steve McCaffery and bp Nichol. I, however, strongly feel that my opinion would not be dismissed as hubris if you were to ask any of the others who were present.

Being present at jwcurry's event was nothing short of a oral (aural?) and visual spectacle of the senses. I remember thinking last night, after the last act, how anyone could write about what we saw and heard last night. (I did take photos...lots) I am still debating to post some of can I put this... some of the more sensitive ones of Curry crawling on the floor covered in nothing but Alpha-Bits. Formally, the piece was entitled OF GRAMMATOLOGY by the Toronto Research Group.

Before the show jwcurry let us stew in our makeshift seats - in the empty room of the temporary annex of his Room 302 Books - and listen to Ursonate (1922-32) by Kurt Schwitters. If you have not heard this score, I suggest a visit and also listen to Christian Bök's (more aggressive) interpretation of the Ursonate.

Fümms bö wö tää zää Uu, pögiff, kwii Ee.
Dedesnn nn rrrrr, Ii Ee, mpiff tillff toooo, tillll, Jüü-Kaa? (cantado
Rinnzekete bee bee nnz krr müüüü, ziiuu ennze ziiuu
rinnzkrrmüüüü, Rakete bee bee.
Rrummpff tillff toooo?

The Four Horsemen, known for their theatrical assault on the audience's senses, jwcurry along with Ottawa's Max Middle (a.k.a. Mark Robertson) and Jennifer Books delivered the same high energy in their charged performances. I would love to be able to succinctly describe the show last night in my own words... but alas I fear that I cannot. rob mclennan will be the source I will probably turn to for a more literary interpretation. And thankfully, a program handed out by Jennifer at the begging went a long way to explain the context for the content of the show. Curry explained that:

"Messagio Galore takes its working title from Frank Zappa's MASSAGIO GALORE, a swirling musique conctrete melody set to a propulsive synthetic vamp. it is arguably his earliest & dense work involving programmed nonsyntactical sound produced by mouth, its musical component pretty much a support structure.

there have been many composers working with the notion of the sprechgesang but fewer writers have approached the question of what happens to "words in freedom" except in isolated clutches (DaDa in Zurich, Italian & Russian Futurism, the later French Lettristes."

He goes on to mention "musicoliterary parameters", "cultural sedimentation" and something about the "strict narrative-based linearity...and polymorphous 'event'." And that's where my understanding stopped and my ignorance began. However, he does admit that "one of the problems facing the writer of multilinear & sound texts is the absence of a standard notational system for the plotting of works that are all but standard in their applications of language...". But really, this type of theatre is not meant to be read as much as witnessed in the flesh.

To begin, curry stretched before us a roll of paper which looked to be about six feet long with typed poetry. In his mouth was a pair of scissors. He went around commanding people to "Cut me!" They did what they were asked and cut the paper at random points, ostensibly to divide up the page into manageable bits for "reading". The six feet was broken down into three feet, 1.5 feet, .... into many three inch or so slivers of (chaotic) bits of poems. Afterwards curry exclaimed why no one had actually followed his orders to cut him! Thankfully, no one did.

Poet, and audience member, Wanda O'Connor taking the cue to cut curry. [See her musings about the event on her blog.]

jwcurry mid-flight on a crushing course towards the Alpha-Bits. This solo performance was entitled 'OF GRAMMATOLOGY', by the Toronto Research Group.

jwcurry, Jennifer Books & Max Middle perform a multilinear sound text
898989898989898989898989898989898989898989898989898989! (repeat...)

the passion of curry

jwcurry and Max Middle in a typing dual.


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