Burns and McKeen appeared on stage to read from their work, weaving it with Arensen’s recorded work in a milieu of photographic image, song, and dance. This improvisational performance combined image, movement, and voice to bring home the dissonance and particularity that informs daily life and that from time to time produces unique moments of transcendence.
The boulder library, on April 22 this year, hosted a very pleasant “show” of the arts. The more-than-pleasant focus was on three poetry readings. First, Amy Arenson (not personally present—having just delivered a daughter!) Read on tape, in the dark, a series of sympathetic, gripping (even horrifying) works on Billie Holiday. The darkness was a masterstroke: really helped intensify the concentration on the words, which were both hard and soft.
Then a music and dance interlude, which was fun to watch for its minute or two duration, followed by poet Rachel McKeen. Rachel is a fine poet; it was difficult to believe she was delivering her first-ever reading! Her work was syntactically speech-based but the flow was cunningly and rhythmically interspersed with sudden hits of condensare — breathtaking lyric crunches.
The final reader, and bellwether of the occasion, was Clara Burns; a very excellent reading, deeply intelligent yet also playful. She employed the list form in colorful, downhome fashion, counterpointing more intricate thought-structures. Her delivery was confident, and with good reason.
The show ended with a big minute of laughter. A worthy idea but I felt it wasn’t just “the thing” at that moment—mainly because the readings were so good and stirred up profundities, of which laughter was only one.
–Jack Collom 4-29-06