Notes on the reading by Marina Blitshteyn: At the event, poets performed an improvisational act of poetry/talking triggered by the prompt 'the stories we tell ourselves'
"On Nov 17, 2013, I performed a piece for the Highwaymen reading series in Bushwick, NY. The night before I'd attended a performance at Segue with Eleanor and David Antin, in which David stood on stage and delivered something he called 'talk poetry'. Antin’s improvisational and extemporaneous approach to poetics seemed to me a way to refresh the ‘poetry reading’ experience and relate more directly to the audience. His performance, and my notes from the event, centered on the idea of ‘narrative’. I recorded the following:
narrative: to explain something not otherwise explained by abstract pattern narrative: a series of distances
like a microscope trying to read in and out of focus
in and out of specific pieces of time
Using these notes, and my personal narrative, I performed something like ‘talk poetry’ the next night. My narrative began with a dream I had exactly 1 year ago that prophesied my death in a couple of years. The performance then became a way to relate the dream to an audience, thereby trying to negate it according to the superstitions of my culture, and also a way to share a piece of my narrative with others should it come true. I talked about the way I’ve learned to read patterns into everything, as a way of trying to understand my narrative, turning things into signs, trying to make sense from abstraction. I use anything around me, including the work on exhibit at Microscope at the time, titled THRESHOLDS, by Ray Sweeten and Lisa Gwilliam, alternatively titled DataSpaceTime. I took it as a sign and riffed off the way the data constantly evolved in the video, depending on its remove from the event, a ‘series of distances’. I also mentioned what it was like to start the reading that night with a performance of John Cage’s 4”33. The blank page turned into a system of interlocking threads, I was making patterns again, and the minutes went by slower. That gave me hope for my remaining year.
It was important to me that the work remain unphotographed and undocumented, so that the experience could live on differently in each listener and take on a life of its own. Whatever happens next year, if I’m granted it, I intend to perform “Narrative” again."
-- Marina Blitshteyn, 11/13, forthcoming in Emergency Index Vol. 3