Paul Dutton performed at Sub Voicive Poetry tonight - last night...
He gave two substantial performances, mixing and interweaving sound and
verbal texts. He repeated some verbal work from his Saturday appearance at
the WF workshop and repeated some sound pieces from his previous appearance
at SVP a couple of years back.
Yet, though I have spoken contemptuously of people performing _greatest
hits_, this didn't seem in any way that kind of thing... On Saturday, the
piece referred to, a substantial part of which is the basic arithmetical
progression, one, two, three, four, was performed somewhat tentatively and
wasn't read to completion - it was a workshop. There were several pieces at
the workshop which introduced / used the names of numbers. Paul talked with
us about these pieces there and then. On Tuesday night, he performed the
Where some of the sound pieces were repeated from the previous visit to
Europe, they were performed differently and, it seemed to me, with greater
(imaginative) vigour. His vocal range and control have seemingly increased.
He can produce extraordinary sounds nowadays - he always could, but now he
has more of them - and... some of the sounds, it seemed, could only be made
by machines; yet there he is in front of you making them. But there are
overtones machines could never make, with warmth and moisture of a body in
confirmation. It nearly always wraps around and seems to come from two
directions at once, like stereo with the volume turned up, and sometimes it
has the effect of double tracking... But the virtuosity, in itself, is not
what one especially enjoys. It is a means to an end. *Also, he does not seek
mere virtuosity. Though he has excellent breath control, he takes breaths
quite openly rather than masking them, stepping out of the role of sound
generator, taking a breath, stepping back into it; the sound he produces is
Beyond the increased accomplishment, and below it, one senses a constant
engagement with these pieces, not so much to get them right but to use them
to explore. They are ways into an other country of voice and sound which
Dutton takes again and again. It is the opposite of, say, virtuoso concert
performances of classic sound poetry texts, "yawn", as the poet said, but
the very stuff of new work, new investigations
Several of the pieces were spoilt by the car alarm of a car owner with aural
... - before an almost adequate audience, a better audience than there has
been in the past for performers there who work in sound andor visual. I say
almost adequate because if every audience were that small SVP would go to
the wall for lack of money. However, as I say, it was better than it has
been so perhaps the problem is beginning to solve itself.
It has been pointed out to me, here, that no one signs a contract to attend
any readings and that no one is under any obligation to attend anything.
Indeed. On the other hand, patterns are interesting for what they reveal;
and, it seems to me, that one can see a pattern in the staying away - a
staying away from what either are or are seen to be certain kinds of work...
The thing is that Paul Dutton's work is very wide-ranging and I am not sure
that is understood. That need for greater transatlantic knowledge we've been
talking about is relevant here; but it isn't just that we don't know too
much of what is going on in Toronto, say, where PD lives. Poets get
classified as to type of work, often inaccurately. It's a bit like signing
them on for a course of study and an assessment method. Every poet has a
file. That's done. Trackable. And maybe some suit that. But not Dutton. He
keeps trying new things. He is various. Someone asked me to recommend one of
the books he had on sale for them to buy; and I said that I couldn't because
each of them is so different to the others. He returns, as I have indicated,
to well-trodden paths, but only to find new ways off them. It's a pity so
many missed that and missed the excitement of seeing his refusal to separate
the oral / sound from writing and from music - he is steeped in music.
I shall continue to put _experimental_ poets on, in due measure, even at the
risk of threatening the continuance of the series; I hope the increase in
audience continues. I hope, basically, that people came more often to what
they don't know much about.
Next week, *possibly Gilbert Adair AND, a chance for the young people to
show us how it's done - Ira Lightman and Shawn Walker