Got to hear Lyn Hejinian and Cathy Park Hong read yesterday at Poetry Flash up in Berkeley. Lyn read all new work that included excerpts of a project she just finished and a group of elegies that revolved around non-sequiturs. All of her work revolved around a wonderful intersection of common vernacular mixed with a specific poetic vision and my joy, as a listener, was trying to find a clear line between the two and being constantly confounded in the way she eased and out between them. A great reading fueled by the momentum of language and craft and a minimum of theatrics which isnâ€™t to say that the poems werenâ€™t rich with persona just that she let the poems do all the talking. Another high point was when Lyn looked over a poem, check the clocked for time and then opted for a different poem, leaving me wondering why she didnâ€™t read itâ€¦ a sure sign that I was hooked on her reading.
While Lynâ€™s work seemed firmly rooted in daily language Cathyâ€™s new book Dance Dance Revolution takes the English we know and throws it into a pressure cooker to produce a startling preview of a future dialect that may or may not be connected to the language spoken in the United States. As Cathy was describing this patois we were about to hear I felt sure that I was going to understand very little of the dialogue but I did have a trust in the writer that the situations and emotional resonance would come through clearly. I was very happy to find that I could keep up with the whole narrative as well as the setting in what appeared to be a taxing physical reading of the work.
I am mos def lookin forward to reading more from both these poets.