I am still thinking about the festive poetry that populated so many evenings in April.
Here, following up my previous post, I’m going to share continuing insights into the unique “An Evening of Experimental Poetry and Music” that occurred at the Main Library a little over a month ago.
I originally wrote about the artists involved in this collaboration in my last post. I still have some lingering thoughts.
The true nature of experimentation in the arts, especially when unveiled with passion and open-mindedness in a public forum, can inspire a viewer or participant to ponder certain moments in the experiment long after the event. The poet William Blake said that all art is innately experimental, anyway and privy to visions that, when shared, seal something profound in the mind. Not necessarily life-changing, but profound enough to stir the mind.
As the experiment in poetry and music demonstrated, there are certain tiers or degrees of experimentation – always. There is no set cap on the term “innovation.” There’s no cul-de-sac-like, finite framework that binds the term “experiment” to a given end.
The event was actually called, “Chance Wheel Series I.” Two chance wheels were situated on two tables. One chance wheel contained the names of musicians ready to accompany the poetry, and the other wheel identified poets who would read. The determination of musician and poet was left to chance.
I was thrilled to be a part of this gathering. The Chance Wheel Series is part of the monthly Experimental Music program/series at the Main Library.
And I want to give special kudos to the artist, musician, and teacher whose truly innovative thinking conjured the evening, according to librarian Steve Kemple, who also co-facilitated the confluence of musical instruments (even the use of melodic typing on a typewriter) and poetry. Well, some impromptu prose, too, as when Kemple randomly pulled down a mystery novel, handed it to a guest writer, and encouraged her to read to musical accompaniment. A random move, yet one that produced a vibrant oral quality.
That special artist, musician, and educator is Marc Governanti. Governanti has created the wonderfully fictive “Fossington Institute,” which played the satiric center of the evening. Marc Governanti also created his intentionally ultra-solemn (comically solemn) character, Daymond Raymond, head of Fossington Institute. Governanti also built the two Chance Wheels. He and Kemple took turns introducing the evening, as Fossington Institute paved the way for collaboration.
“Marc literally asked me to create and play a character the night before. My character, Dr. Walter Von Perrier, was inspired by his instructions and his own Daymond Raymond.” Of course, Kemple played Dr. Walter Von Perrier.
“Marc is totally responsible for creating the context for our recent evening of experimental music and poetry, and we want it to continue,” Kemple says. “I greased the wheels and provided support for Marc and the artists. Part of that included my playing the role of Walter Von Perrier and co-emceeing.
Governanti, as Daymond Raymond, is unassuming, wonderfully cordial, and his pontificating delivery had impeccable timing. His and Kemple’s interludes between some of the poems and music anchored the evening. They both consumed their satirical roles to the delight of musicians, poets, and guests.
I also want to single out the readers and musicians. Readers: Nancy Paraskevopoulos, Kendall Jolley, Charles Gable, and Steve Kemple. Guests were invited to read, too. The musicians: Josiah E. Miller, Chase Watkins, Scott Holzman (also a terrific poet), and Jonathan Hancock.
“Experimental music,” says Kemple, “is something I’ve fortunately had the opportunity to showcase in a monthly series. Chance Wheel Series is just one event within that particular series.”
With the contributions of Marc Governanti, the generous musicians and poets, and Steve Kemple, I see Chance Wheel Series growing and shining as a new venue for writers and musicians to intersect and perform material.
After all, this kind of doing, as played out in Chance Wheel Series, is what our city’s artists have always embraced, and the venue of our library for such expressions holds rich potential.