In “Composition as Explanation” Gertrude Stein writes: “The only thing that is different from one time to another is what is seen and what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything.” .
Lydia Davis is a writer who is a great influence and inspiration to “everyone,” when everyone includes readers of experimental fiction as well as a myriad of poets “doing everything.” Davis is a master of short fiction and extremely short fiction, as well as a celebrated translator, novelist and poet.
At a recent reading at Bryn Mawr College, Davis addressed the audience at first by noting the grandeur of the room. She said, “I’ll just stand here and be impressed for a while.”
I’m going to start simply by telling the story of the banner image for this commentary.
Anna Everett was a young woman from Washington, D.C., who moved to Buffalo, N.Y., in the early 1970s to live with relatives while finishing her high school education. As a new student, she was sent to Lafayette High School, which was only then being integrated. If you’ve read about the integration and bussing battles of that era, you can well imagine the challenges she faced. There weren't attacks on school buses by angry mobs as in Boston, but there were groups of white parents picketing the approach to the school and making it abundantly clear to the small group of black students that they were not welcomed by all. With all deliberate speed, Everett set about making her mark at Lafayette.
In May of 1992, Kimberly Lyons gave a Segue Series reading at the Ear Inn in New York. As of today (thanks to PennSound’s Anna Zalakostas) this reading by Lyons, and several others, have been segmented. Among the poems Lyons read at the Ear Inn in ’92: “Looking for Mina Loy” [MP3].
Richard Foreman Old-Fashioned Prostitutes (A True Romance)
The Public Theater, New York, the performance I attended was on Saturday, May 4, 2013.
After years and years of enigmatic and provocative plays, and after having announced that he was giving up playwriting for filmmaking, Richard Foreman has come back with a new play that at times almost appears to be a kind of film script, Old-Fashioned Prostitutes (A True Romance). Like most of his works, this play is set upon a stage decked out with numerous alphabetical configurations, portraits of “significant” people, numerous odd props, and the strings that outline the horizontal shell of the stage, a kind of mix between a metaphorical representation of string theory and an eruv, the defining territory of the traditional Jewish community that outlines the boundaries through which certain objects can be moved or carried on holy days. The effect, no matter what Foreman’s precise purposes, is to draw a line between what occurs on “stage” and the audience. Above all else, Foreman’s plays are definitely not narrative representations that draw their audiences into the “romance” of the story, but are purposefully puzzling brain twisters that demand the audience think about what is being said and done within the author’s domain.