John Sparrow Comments On his Blog 'Itch Away' About Openned

Openned was another good one. Decent turnout this evening, perhaps due to the extra-high-profile readers. Here’s a quick recap:

Ensemble whose name I didn't catch first. Illness meant improv insert, skillfully achieved by good conducting and keen ears. My friend commented that in all the years he’s accompanied me to poetry events, this one fulfilled his need for woodwind, string, words and jazz hats. Bravo. But it wasn’t mere Jazz Club. It was, indeed, well-crafted sonically, and Steve did a good job, meeting crescendoes like Bruce Dickinson without the plane. He looks good in a hat.

Maggie O’Sullivan, whose work I have heard read on several occasions, is perhaps my favourite poet to hear read outload with voice. She is such a good reader of her own work, and it reminds me how much I have to work on my own delivery. O’Sullivan read from All Origins Are Lonely, which bears familiar phonetic play to earlier works, apparently embracing misheard and colloquial phrasings, jarrings and tensions in language. O’Sullivan’s voice carries through musical wordings, and often pretty odd phrasings, in a way which jars beautifully. An example might be how she delicately pronounces the phrase “abattoir voltages”. Lovely, indeed.

David Bowie recently said, “if I were Justin Katko, I wouldn’t leave the house,” and I see his point. I’d stay in and sing meself opera. 8-bit videogame, suicyclical opera.

It was a whistlestop tour of the opera, at just under ten minutes, and so lots of the text was flixed thu at CRT rates. Justin recently posted the intro on the British Poets Listserv:

The Death of Pringle,
in which is related the Discursive Alignment of the Battlefield to Come. Our Story takes place in the Environs of Southern California’s Salton Sea, a World unto itself, where a Party of Alchemical Topologists and Real Bureaucrats have Launched an Imperial Scheme for World Domination. With the Power of a Mysterious 4-Dimensional Dust, an Infinite Research Grant, and a Fortified Lab Complex, these Imperial Mother Fuckers have acquired a Total Copy of Washington DC’s own Sonny Bono Memorial Park, binding it to the Interior of a Transparent Virtual Reality Sphere, and accessing, by means of this Chamber, a Fundament giving Real Physique to Architectures which until now have been merely Spectral. The Roll of the Great Plan continues. A Synthetic Atmosphere of Electro-Magnetized Dust is to be installed over and around the Sea, hermetically priming this Zone for Discrete Terraformalization. Upon the Accumulation of Power to the Critical Degree, it is their Vile Intention to Sublimate the Sphere’s Outputs into the Atmospheric Dust Particles, saturating the newly Truncated Sky with the Pure Stuff of the Virtual. Thus, the Entire Region takes on the unique Ontological Function of an Augmented Total Copy of the Sonny Bono Memorial Park, scaled Two Thousand Four Hundred and Eighty One Times its Actual Size. The Sea is converted into the Park’s Kentucky Bluegrass when the Mother Fuckers fill it up with Rotting Meat and let it grow its Own. This One Celestial Seed, bound in its Glowing Atmospherics, will Detach from the Earth to Propagate the Long Aether. The People, whom the Mother Fuckers have Tempted into Passive Alignment with Indefinite Free Lunch, must tend for Eternity the Park’s Banal Landscaping. And so goes the Evil Plan, but not unchallenged. A Pringle vested with the Power of Speech has Freed itself from the Lab Fortress, being one Pringle who has undergone Purchase and Storage, Stocked in the Laboratory as an Object of Experiment. Upon Escape, the Free Pringle brings News of the Imperial Machinations to the People. The Poets welcome this Talking Commodity and attend to its Speech; but the People, blinded by the Ease of their Freedom, fail to Listen to this Piece of their Food. It is thus that the Fate of the Commons and Autonomy itself is an Imperative Function of the Efficacy of the Poets’ Song. Will their Lyrics be well enough Advanced to Hijack the Technoitopian Scheming of the Imperial Mother Fuckers? Can a Pringle really DIE?

Who the fuck knows, but this question now seems pertinent enough to pursue.

Justin reading

You gots a good voice for singing, too. Proof (and reactshun documentashin).

And the music was awesome too. Bring on Opera 2.0.

Charles Bernstein, of course, a pro. Steve wisely skipped to the end of the intro and guaranteed I got the last train home. Bernstein read from a variety of work from over the last 15 or so years. Here’s how he could have introduced himself:


The email and list poems I found myself perhaps least receptive to from Bernstein’s reading. In spite of my line of poetic/digital interest, I find it hard to be convinced by spam-mail poetry, or the use of spam language. Perhaps part of my skepticism for this lies in the fact that spam language is, in and of itself, already deliberately disjointed in its quest to slip through the spamfilternet, making it’s re-presentation unremarkable unless it’s deflected elsewhere. Though Bernstein’s take shot through noise and into pockets of meaning in a way which was interesting (also reminded me in parts of the performances I’ve heard of Steve McCaffery’s Carnival) I still find email language a difficult one to use, but Bernstein’s was hardly a predictable take. Though I enjoyed the semantic implications of the “like” poem, though I didn’t enjoy them nearly as much as the poems from which the above decontext springs, and the excerpts from “Girly Man” which was great finish to a great evening’s reading.