the other room 23 reviewed

Only a brief review of The Other Room this time. I didn't take notes and I've been busy since - so apologies for any vagueness or inaccuracy.

Also please be aware this is only my personal opinion. Discussion and disagreement are good.

It was an ambitious programme this time. Derek Henderson read via live stream from Utah - and the other readers (Carrie Etter, Alec Finlay and Ken Edwards) were streamed out to the wider world. The venue was pretty packed and there were a number of new faces.

Derek Henderson reading from the recently released if p then q collection Thus & was the highlight of the evening for me. The collection is described as 'a systematic erasure of Ted Berrigan's 1964 collection The Sonnets.'

The collection was described as coming about when Henderson was creating a concordance for The Sonnets. Each word that appears more than once in the text has been erased whereas those that are typographically unique are retained.

Given the repetition in The Sonnets this leads to several blank or sparse sonnets. More surprisingly others are much more complete.

The reading reconfigured the poems yet again. Not in the sense of reordering the texts, but in the sense that the spatial arrangements are no longer evident. So where the eye would read words as disconnected and only potentially related the ear is more likely to assume relationships.

For example:

is different to what you hear which is closer to:


Dream coming
Huddie Ledbetter

I found the reading engaged and interesting. The poems also had a life and interest of their own far from being abstract exercises.

Carrie Etter's work interested me less and I found her a little quiet. To be honest I can't remember much about her poems or reading at all. This is not a reflection on the quality of her work. If anything it's a reflection of my attention wandering.

I do remember the poems being sensuous and having a sense of the physical about them. I also remember that for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed them. Beyond that I can't remember anything at all so it would be wrong of me to try and review Etter's performance or poems.

Alec Finlay left me rather cold, though that's my problem rather than his. I found his work a little too gimmicky and samey. I wasn't really in the mood for either the mesostics (demonstrated here) or the bynames - although it's almost certainly a humour failure on my part.

Then there were his Mesostics commissioned by the people behind Bach Flower Remedies. I think my views on pseudoscientific bullshit like this are well known. I don't know what Finlay's opinions are but very nearly stopped listening at this point. Small-minded of me to be put off by something minor like that I know.

There is undoubtedly a love of language and a playful inventiveness at work here. I can easily see why you might well love this poetry. Unfortunately for me it didn't really come off. But please, wait for the recordings to go up on The Other Room site, watch and make up your own mind.

Like Carrie Etter Ken Edwards is victim of my unreliable memory. I remember enjoying a lot of his reading and feeling that there was a great sense of play there. However after around five days during which I've been pretty busy the specifics elude me.

Maybe I should start taking notes. I do remember this piece being read, and enjoying it. I should point out that I found the link then recognised the text rather than searching specifically for it. I found the link because as part of the research for these reviews I do look for work online by the writers to jog my memory.

Hopefully others a little more reliable than me will also have their reviews available - like this one from Steven Waling.


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