Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Occupation of Poetry Occupies the Occupation

A poet's rendering of the atrium.
Sunday I was a co-facilitator (in the realm of poetry) of Occupy Wall Street, and volunteered to be secretary for the meeting. Some of my notes are sketchy but main points have been honored.  I want to slap this down now before I forget everything.
 I hope I captured the spirit of the first meeting, held in the spacious atrium at 55 Wall Street amidst the indoor palm trees of capitalism. If capitalism were only about palm trees, I wouldn't mind.

Before the formal meeting began there was general talk about dissemination—such as creating a “handout” with Occupation-related text to be distributed anywhere, a sort of hand-distributed graffiti (graffiti being a positive). In fact, dissemination became the most common theme of the evening. Also discussed was the Anthology, in its present state. As I understand it, there are 3-ring binders in the Occupation library. They are added to weekly, and contributions are sought on an ongoing basis.

Call for Work: We are encouraged to distribute a call for work, along the lines of: "Poems wanted for the Occupation at Zucatti Park poetry anthology. Send, as an attachment, to stephenjboyer   @   gmail.com" I'm not posting anything anywhere else until I'm sure I have the facts down, but anyone can post a notice for poems--on listservs, Facebook and elsewhere. I suggest that each submission be limited to three poems.

There was talk of an online anthology, expanding it and making use of it to draw people to the park.

Per Occupation procedure a "stack" was created, a sort of instant agenda, with a caretaker, who made the list by asking people (present) to briefly identify ideas or issues they wanted to share on. Then facilitator then worked through the list, as would a traditional Chair. (O. was co-facilitator)
  • R. suggested creating something to hand out publically (dissemination). An object, such as folded paper with text and using this to create a bigger space for poetry at the park
  • Silent readings (headphones) Inviting poets to give readings and talks.
  • Thought piece: How does poetry influence. Infiltrating Manhattan.
  • Poetry Assembly (discussions of this were scattered throughout our meeting. Friday nights. New facilitator each time. Hope to make it function like General Assembly.
  • Any day, there's a mic at the park. Anyone can use it, state, “mic check,” and read a poem (or whatever).
  • There was talk of changing the time at the Poetry Assembly for each poet, but general agreement was to keep it at 3 minutes (given that 3 is fungible at open mics, sufficient for each reader, given wiggle room.
  • A public clock would be useful  and/or audible signals – when the 3 minutes is up, the co-facilitator could hit wind chimes or something similarly gentle but specific
  • The topic continually revisited was dissemination, verbally or by objet. The MTA was discussed as a soft target, with problems of choreography being addressed. Where, what text, how to perform so the result was beneficial. Performers referenced included Sharon Hays & Mark F. who reenacted speeches of national and international Civil Rights Leaders.
  • Considerations of poetry/politics, intersections thereof.
  • Emulating or using as a springboard, sixties aphorisms.
  • (I suggest Free Money instead of Free Huey. Tune In, Wake Up, Stay Alert instead of Tune in, turn on, drop out. 
  • While there are obvious obstacles to reading on a subway (noise and riders' expectation of some level of public isolation), the advantages are many, including interaction with people beyond downtown, a more diverse group, or differently diverse and the serendipity of right place, right time, right person—finding riders who become intrigued with the message, and with poetry itself (poetry widely defined).
  • Public Poetics may include incantations, repetitions; sitting (alone or with a friend) near passengers and reading out loud so only a few hear but have a chance to become intrigued. Poetry as overheard. The message as whispered.
  • Binlingual readings or disseminations. Posting the poem (electronically or othrwise) in both languages.
  • Specific venues suggested were the Highline and the Staten Island Ferry. There was a brief philosophic interlude during which the poet as shaman was discussed, how these gestures (of poetry in public venues) could serve to eviscerate a static mindset. At the end of the first scheduled meeting, a subgroup met for further discussion of dissemination. The Verso Book of {{{political text}}} (donated generously by Verso Press) was suggested, and some copies handed out so we could cull them.

No comments:

Post a Comment