the page is a like a score
PennSound's Maggie O'Sullivan page includes a recording of a discussion with Penn students in Charles Bernstein's "studio 111" seminar. Michael Nardone has transcribed the session now and here is a portion:
Thank you for your close reading, Ms. O’Sullivan. I was wondering if you could describe the relationship between performing your work and writing it.
Well, it depends on, every situation is different. Performing it is another opportunity to re-engage with the text at different levels, and another opportunity to negotiate the text on the page.
As you’ve probably heard, I often find my work is quite difficult for me to read from the page. Writing it, I hear the sounds often in my ear. But having to perform it, all the difficulties emerge. There’s lots of disconnectiveness and disjunctiveness that is kind of working against how I sort of, how sometimes it seems it may be read.
Would you consider, sort of, maybe, performing it to be more body intensive than, I guess, writing it.
Well, writing is a body-intensive activity, totally. Absolutely, totally. The whole body is engaged in the act of writing. Whether it’s on the computer, with using a pen in the hands. The breath is involved in all activities. But with the performing, there are others that you have to connect with, and the place of performing also figures on it.
A number of your poems integrate different languages, musical notes, pictures, and streaks, and they push the possibilities of poetic forms on the page. I was wondering whether this is supposed to conflict with the words, compliment them, or maybe even both.
The words working as part of all this kind of radical shifting—
Right. Other forms on the page that would not be considered part of the traditional poetic form.
Well, it’s all material on the page. The page is like a score. Like a place for painting, or drawing, or word making, whatever. I am seeking to extend the range of poetic, what is traditionally regarded as poetic material.