a marathon reading of Barbara Guest's Collected Poems
3-8 p.m. each day
in the kitchen at YU
800 SE 10th Ave., Portland
On Saturday and Sunday, February 11-12, YU and Spare Room will present a two-part marathon reading of The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest (Wesleyan, 2008). Now in its tenth year, Spare Room organizes a monthly reading series at various locations in Portland, focused on experimental poetry. In recent years they have hosted marathon readings each winter, inviting members of the community to lend their voices to a new rendition of an existing text. Recent marathons have been devoted to single book-length poems, including H.D.'s Helen in Egypt, Clark Coolidge's The Crystal Text, and Charles Olson's Maximus Poems; this year's marathon presents the lively and varied life's work of an influential poet who worked mainly in shorter forms.
Barbara Guest (1920-2006) was a poet, art critic, novelist and biographer often associated with the New York School(s) in poetry and painting. Her work reflects a lifelong engagement with modernism in visual art and music as well as in literature, and is marked by a unique combination of audacious abstraction, vivid synesthesia and comic energy. Her posthumous Collected Poems brings together over twenty books published between 1960 and 2005. Readers from Portland's poetry community will read the book aloud from beginning to end over two afternoon sessions, each beginning at 3 p.m. and continuing till about 8, at YU's spacious kitchen table. Listeners are encouraged to come and go as they please, stopping by for a few pages or a few hours.
understanding what it means
to understand music
cloudless movement beyond the neck's reach
an hypnotic lull in porcelain water break mimics
tonality crunch of sand under waddling
a small seizure
does not come or go with understanding
--Barbara Guest, from "Dissonance Royal Traveler"
Guest's language does not merely describe, it presents the reader with the means to see in an entirely new way.
--Erica Kaufman, Poetry Project Newsletter