I recently attended Zack Haber’s The Other Fabulous Reading Series, a distinctive event that has recently popped up in the ever-exciting East Bay at The Long Haul, an anarchist resource center and community space and home of the Infoshop. It is a fascinating location, and the next time I attend this series I’ll be sure to show up early to peruse the Infoshop’s incredible collection of political periodicals dating back many decades.
This is old Berkeley, folks, and it bubbles with commitment and intellectual ferment. Haber’s series is ambitious and challenging, featuring poets who read complex and lengthy material (up to twenty minutes worth) that both demands and rewards rigorous attention.
In the playlist that follows, Lara Durback delivers a scholarly scientific paper on the subject of electromagnetic fields. Or does she? Over twenty minutes or so, Durbek plays with scientific language while dipping and pirouetting into the obscure, the lovely and the fantastical, keeping the listener simultaneously fascinated, irritated, lit up and in the dark. It is most unusual. (Some days later, I spoke with Lara about this piece, and remarked that it’s aesthetic reminded me of David Wilson’s infamous Museum of Jurassic Technology, and she admitted the influence. Fans of Mr. Wilson will appreciate this. If you are not such a fan, you should be. Get ye to google.)
Mr. Joe Hall then softly reads a poem with a haunting, gently tapping rhythm, utilizing a distinctive short line that manages to say a lot with a little. Then follows a startling, language rich slam style piece of multisyllabic words featuring a cantankerous clattering of consonants. “I will wait,” he shouts, “until I am an iron rake with a broken tooth biting through the throat of the soil.” I liked this! I think you might, too.
Finally, Tessa Micaela delivers a set full of repetition and music. She speaks of a fire in language that is slow and langorous, the opposite of fiery, and yet evocative of a burning. This unexpected push and pull sets off sparks. She writes, “The heat and the fire and the heat of the fire dries and opens the seeds.” One can hear the gentle sibilant fricative flickering of a flame in the grass, not yet in full flight. Quite lovely.
Overall, this was a reading of exceptional work, one to be remembered.
Charles Kruger has been contributing to Litseen since the beginning of time. He is also known as The Storming Bohemian and founded and runs Theatrestorm and helps to organize Bridge Art Space. He also contributes occasional book reviews to The Rumpus.