Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Art and Poetry at The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, April 18, 2010

[I cannot turn this program right-side up, so in the spirit of a piece Elizabeth Berdann sent me on email the other day (I said, "it's fine, but it's sideways," and she responded, "I wanted it that way"), I am presenting it as a rectangle. Turn your head and/or your screen, the better to read it.]

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 18, 2010, in the city of Honolulu in the neighborhood of Makiki, poets gathered to read work they had written in response to the Words Off the Wall exhibition at the Museum. I wrote an earlier post about the pre-write tour of the exhibition organized by Quala-Lynn Young. The post-write tour included "teams" of poets who had written on particular artists, chosen because of their concern for the body.

Team Fay Ku included Christina Low, Jade Sunouchi (seen above with the artist), Julie Tanji, Amalia Bueno, and No`u Revilla.

Team Elizabeth Berdann consisted of Neomary Soriano-Calderon (a 9th grader at Mililani High School), Susan M. Schultz, Jaimie Gusman, and Rachel Wolf. Allison Schulnik's team was made up of Tayla Yogi, another 9th grader, and Evan Nagle, a post-MFA newcomer to Hawai`i, by way of his girlfriend, Jaimie Gusman. Judy Fox provoked a poem from Jeff Walt, a Goddard MFA discovered at the reception desk of the museum, where he volunteers once a week.

I was unable to take down full accounts of the poems, but registered some single lines:

--Christina Low, from "Mer": "Make me a stone that sinks to the bottom of the sea"; later she said she saw the painting, "Alarmed Mermaid," once and then worked off her memory of it.

--Jade Sunouchi, from "Birdfeed": "wings partitioned into fingers," a fine image for metamorphosis. Here is the painting she and Julie and Amalia wrote about.

--Julie Tanji, who carried Japanese characters with her and held them up, yelled, "I am not invisible!"

--Amalia Bueno used Prometheus as her mythological reference for the Fay Ku painting that three poets chose to write on;

--No`u Revilla performed her poem about four young women braiding a horse's mane, largely from memory, and repeated the refrain, "I am your mother." She said she wrote about this painting because the one young woman seemed not to fit, belong, seemed outside the emotional energy of the poem. That was the woman on whom she focused her care.

--Jaimie Gusman wrote about Elizabeth Berdann's wall of 31 tongues, considering the tongues to be a map. Her speaker put the tongues on, over her head. As usual, Jaimie's work featured quick cuts between pathos and silliness, lyric and faux advertising copy.

--Rachel Wolf wrote about Berdann's "Ghost," the painting of an old person upside down on cloth. Among her zingers was the phrase "chamois shaman."

--Tayla Yogi, one of Steve Schick's 9th graders from Mililani, wrote a poem of various pronouns, "she/her/me/myself/I" to go along with the melting hobo of Allison Schulnik's video. Everyone was impressed by how bravely she and Neomary performed their poems.

--Evan Nagle took that video and made text values for the pixels, found phrases through webcrawler, employed a spam/poetic filter, and ended up with phrases like "save a puppy from the pound or something." His was the least representative of the poems--it was not in the least so--but an eye opener for the audience.

The reading was followed by a reception that featured cheese sticks, hunks of cheese, and fruit, mingling, and much photography before we dispersed and I, for one, returned to the Sunday "night" baseball game between the Cardinals and the Mets, which the Cardinals won.

[from left to right: Jeff Walt, Quala-Lynn Young, Jaimie Gusman, Evan Nagle, Christina Low, Rachel Wolf, Julie Tanji, No`u Revilla, Susan M. Schultz, Jade Sunouchi, Amalia Bueno, Neomary Soriano-Calderon; not in the picture because she had a softball game to play in was Tayla Yogi)

Many thanks to Quala-Lynn Young for organizing the event and to Shantel Grace for writing about it, over and again.

No comments: