Monday, March 7, 2011


Is it wrong to be jealous of Sean Moreland?

I made it across town last night for the Dusty Owl reading at the Carleton Tavern (the new locale, at the moment, since Swizzles had been proving a little unreliable in the being-there-and-opening-the-doors department.) Call Me Katie were there for one of their regular Dusty Owl gigs, with a lot of new material and a collection of fans to fill up the upstairs room. And then Sean got up to read.

Yeah. Jealous. Is that so wrong? He's got the perfect poetry reading voice, and (when he needs to) he stretches and squishes it around like a slightly elastic, pliable substance under the pressure of the words he's pronouncing. I like the sound of Sean's stuff, I like the rolling repetitions of sounds and the dreamlike way the images are suspended. I like that he writes what I would have to call 'horror poetry' - creepily insidious and disturbing even while it's elegant. (The poem 'Alma Mater' was a mesmerizing exploration of the horrific aspects of the feminine. I want to hear it more.) He's also free to do a fairly straightforward narrative prose line (still with that ear for sound, though) or to break words and images down and stretch them around as he reads - both figuratively and literally.

Sean does this stuff so well I'm tempted to throw my hands up and just leave this writing thing to the experts. Except that he also makes me listen to my own words as they come out just that little bit more carefully. And he does make it seem like so much (brainy) fun.

Also, on the verge of VERSeFest, listening to Sean reminds me how much I'm looking forward to the cross-fertilization of the 'performance' and 'page' poets that VERSeFest will (hopefully) engender. Can we get rid of those distinctions please? They're so weighted. Depending on what side of the 'line' you're on, they're value judgements and that's just plain wrong. Sean Moreland is a performer. You can tell he thinks about how the poem is going to sound, not just as he's reading it but as he was writing it. He knows where he's going to drag a consonant out, twist a vowel to get a separate shade of meaning. He's thought about this stuff. Forget this 'page'/'stage' distinction-based-on-content stuff, there are poets that focus on how their poetry is going to sound and then there are poets that don't. But you know? Most of the poets that I enjoy do. Gonna be fun to hear them all in one place for once.

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