Hot and cold (PoemTalk #168)

Jayne Cortez, 'She Got He Got'

Jayne Cortez


Amber Rose Johnson, Daniel Bergmann, and Yolanda Wisher joined Al Filreis to discuss a poem/performance piece by Jayne Cortez, “She Got He Got.” This poem was apparently the final number — or possibly the encore — concluding a set presented under the title “A Dialogue Between Voice and Drums,” before a live audience at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, New York, on October 23, 2010. Fortunately a recording was made; the audio can be heard at the start of our podcast, as usual, and the video is also made available here below. Jayne Cortez is of course the voice, while Denardo Coleman (her and Ornette Coleman’s son, and a member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet) is on drums.

“She Got He Got” is comprised of a “She” half and an “He” half, she giving variations of hot, while he instantiates variations of cold. Hot means passionate, frustrated, warm, impatient, explosive, ambitious, sweaty, hurt, born again, volcanic, “frigid” (somehow), fashionable. She — is she the speaker/performer? — runs hot from the variability of hotness itself. Cold — a quality not of the speaker, but of an imagined other — finds him taped to a bar stool, glued to a subway booth, kissing himself in the mirror, harried by police, married to a race track, “artistically cold,” mercenary, dispassionate, percussive. Please listen as the PoemTalk group wanders well beyond the gendered binarism, toward an extraordinary, mutual (and possibly, intergenerational) caring that all three PoemTalkers, Amber Rose, Yolanda, and Dan in turn, describe in such a way as to transform the understanding of this poem as integrative, humane, open-hearted — while nonetheless raging in a generative, positively abundant manner. (Pictured above, from left: Yolanda Wisher, Dan Bergmann, Amber Rose Johnson.)

PoemTalk this time was recorded for podcast-friendly audio, but it was also filmed. The unedited video is presented below. The podcast of course is available for listening here, and at the Poetry Foundation website, and wherever you usually find your podcasts. We urge you to subscribe. Or, contact us to receive email announcements whenever a new episode is released.

The episode was directed, engineered and filmed by Zach Carduner and Andrew DePass, and later edited as usual by Zach. We are grateful to our partners at the Poetry Foundation and to Nathan and Elizabeth Leight, whose generosity makes PoemTalk possible, and to the Wexler family for support of the Wexler Studio, home base for this and all our recordings.

Watch our media server (not YouTube) copy of the video.