Acoustic space is the space we hear: multi-dimensional, resonant, invisibly tactile, “a total and simultaneous field of relations.” Though these “holistic” properties are important, I’d like to sidestep the simple unity that holism implies by stressing the co-dependent play of multiplicities within acoustic space. Unlike visual space, where points generally either fuse or remain distinct, blocks of sound can overlap and interpenetrate without necessarily collapsing into a harmonic unity or consonance, thereby maintaining the paradox of “simultaneous difference”.Erik Davis speaks on Marshall McLuhan theory of acoustic space in Roots and Wires and reprinted in Sound Unbound
Books & Bookshelves with all of the woodcraft waiting to be filled with all kinds of media, add an amazing poetry collection with new & used books alongside rare chapbooks, plus the sounds of Market Street in the background adding elements of real world chaos and you have one the best “acoustic spaces” I’ve had the pleasure of performing in.
It feels good to say performing as opposed to reading because the effects of a good acoustic space means a desire to let loose with the work and bring the emotional intent built into the verse out in the delivery of the work. I’ve been hesitant to use the term performance when describing my reading style but I think it’s an aspect of the work that I’m going to embrace again, not to the detriment of my writing development but something that can grow symbiotically with it. In short: If I’m striving to improve as a writer and critical thinker of poetry then I should also continue to advance in my presentation of the work (both in the print submission and verbal delivery aspects).
The other impetus behind presenting my poems in the best possible light was the strength of my co-features.
I’ve known DeWayne Dickerson outside of poetry circles for almost two years now and am proud to call him a friend. This is the second time I’ve read with DeWayne and it’s an honor to share the same space with him. His poems examine life with a lens that shows all the flaws in our world while also appreciating those flaws as part of out own humanity; it’s not about this world being broken but how it can be fixed. With DeWayne’s poetry, that starts and ends with his poetic speaker, who is never passive (and in fact may be contributing to the shortcoming of this world) but always honest when dealing with his community resulting in poetry that is raw, scary and hilarious (sometimes all at the same time).
Even though she had a sore throat, Camille Dungy delivered a provocative set of poems—some new, some from What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison and a great cover of Lucille Clifton’s “won’t you celebrate with me”—that highlighted her ability to craft the musicality of contemporary language. The craft is right on par with her delivery that was both poised (in its rhythms and silences) while also determined (in the clear intent and diction of the speaker). All this done with a love of words and their possibility.
As for me, I celebrated my new chapbook by not reading any poems from it. Yeah, I know that’s a poetry “Don’t” but I’m so happy with having this series of poems completed that I’m looking forward to completing my next chapbook, tentatively tilled, Heaven Below. The poems from the new chap constituted the bulk of my set-list with only one poems from Palimpsest in the mix and one cover poem that really helped me frame what I was trying to balance in terms of urban renewal and placing a human face on the divine designer of “the City.”
• Getting Ronald Reagan to Visit the South Bronx
• Psalm for Public Housing
• A Personal History and Reflection on Sixty Years in the City from the Reverend JT
• the preacher: ruminates behind the sermon from A Street in Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks
• Epistle Written at the #4 Train—Woodlawn Station, 4:30am
• In the City, You Can’t Help but Think of God
Big shout out to Michael Edwards for setting up the reading and David Highsmith, the proprietor of Books & Bookshelves, for sharing his beautiful acoustic space with us.