Tuesday, December 8, 2009

DVD of my Ghent, Belgium performance now available

For anyone interested, a DVD version of the reading I gave in Ghent, Belgium along with K. Lorraine Graham is now available. The DVD was created by Svend Thomsen (shown by his equipment in the photo above) as part of his Trekanten Video Formidling (TVF) project. The quality of the DVD is impressively high, especially considering how so many literary reading films turn out. I’m grateful that on this particular film I don’t look like too much of a large, overbearing goon pretending to be a writer.

Anyone interested in obtaining a copy can write Svend directly at:


More information about other available TVF videos can be found on the tvf website:


This particular set is actually a two DVD set, the first (62 minutes) featuring Helen White’s introduction, my reading, and then K. Lorraine Graham’s reading.

The second DVD (45 minutes) features the reading and performance that followed our event featuring a variety of poets and performance artists who live in and near Ghent or were visiting at the time, including Olaf Risee, Leila Rasheed, Wouter De Bruycker, Eddy Debuf, N.N., Tine Moniek, Josef Hajas, Philip Meersman, Réné Mogensen, Xavier Roelens, and Jelle Meander.

I blogged earlier about the variety of work that I heard presented that night, an excellent cross-section of the kind of poetry being practiced in Ghent among several generations of writers and particularly among an active younger generation.

My reading on the DVD is a bit unlike other readings I’ve given, although it shared my usual tendency to try to present different kinds of work at a reading. I was aware that I was going to be reading to an audience of individuals with different degrees of fluency in English, although as Helen White had told me, everyone or nearly everyone in Ghent speaks at least some English. I thought that a variety of my more minimalist poetry might work better than denser, more overwhelming or linguistically disruptive material, although I presented enough challenges, I hope, to conventional notions of poetry.

Watching the DVD, I also came to the conclusion that this reading was one of the most consistently and directly political readings I’ve given. Politics and social issues are always a part of my work, but I tend to think of the most explicitly political elements of my writing as part of a more varied framework that tries to engage politics as only one element (although a significant one) of the social and linguistic concerns it explores. I tend to work with the political as one aspect of the fabric of experience and language, rather than either trying to purge the political or make it the whole point. Still, in this particular reading, because of choosing more minimal poems, a more direct politics and cultural criticism than usual seems to come out.

Lorraine’s reading looks and sounds good too, although the most minimal aspect of it is perhaps her understated use of the hoola hoop. Her pieces, many from her book Terminal Humming, constitute a kind of reportage about the various language styles of people in Washington, DC, from state department confuse-speak to the language of young women and men on the prowl for love, although the linguistic game playing and appropriation and sheer sonic invention she works with are much more than simply reportage.

By the way, Svend Thomsen has made it clear that he doesn’t discourage bootlegged versions of the TVF material he shoots, so if you’d rather contact me than him about the DVD, please feel free. But I doubt that he’ll ask for all that much money, so please do consider contacting him first.

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