On February 20, 2012, Erín Moure traveled from Calgary, Alberta, to read at a Belladonna* event, part of the “HOT TEXTS” project. She read with Rachel Levitsky and Christian Hawkey, and was introduced by Emily Skillings. Skillings and Krystal Languell hosted the event, which took place at The Way Station in Prospect Heights Brooklyn. Episode #41 of the PennSound podcasts series, hosted and edited by Emily Harnett, features a twenty-minute excerpt from the reading after a three-minute introduction.
Multilingualism has long been a key characteristic, even a central tenet of literary experimentation. So maybe it seems a bit weird that after all these commentaries I still haven’t found anything to say about the various streams of modernist literature that drew upon other languages. Why haven’t I addressed T. S. Eliot's attempted reconstitution of the “mind of Europe”? What about Ezra Pound's (also attempted) translation of Chinese written characters? Or what about the less well known but no less multilingual Zurich Dada “nonsense” poems that drew upon anthropological works, using fragments and phrases from world Indigenous languages to inform their experiments in non-meaning?
Analyses of avant-garde or experimental poetry typically understand multilingualism as a part of the modernist dream of breaking with the past in order to prefigure an unforeseen but possible future.
In a post-riot-grrrl world, it’s hard for those of us who were too young for the theoretical debates of the eighties to understand the amount of collective cognitive labor that was required to move us from feminism’s second wave to its third. We easily take for granted the radical cultural shifts that had to take place for Kathleen Hanna’s emergence on stage with the word ‘slut’ written on her belly to be seen as a populist punk feminist act, until we are kindly reminded otherwise.
From the excitingly varied PennSound page hosting recordings from the Belladonna* reading series from 1999 to the present, PennSound podcasts now presents, for its twenty-eighth episode, an anthology of seven Belladonna* performances. The seven are: erica kaufman, “A Conventional Hero” and “PS 54”; Rae Armantrout, “Seconds”; Lydia Davis, “City People”; Rachel Levitsky, “In the Wee Hours”; Sharon Mesmer, “Gait Signatures”; Tim Trace Peterson, “Bricky”; Jennifer Moxley, “Taking My Own Advice After Skylar.”