In 2007 or thereabouts, I ran into Detroit poet Chris Tysh on W. 26th Street in Chelsea. It must have been Saturday. Simultaneously, we were hailed (as it were) by the poet George Quasha, who invited us in to the White Box Gallery to take part in a video project he was making. In another version of this story, I must have been contacted by Quasha, who invited me to the gallery, and I arrived at the same time as Chris Tysh. In a third version of the story, Carla Harryman was also present, to be hailed or invited by George Quasha.
In any case, Quasha asked me to compose myself, face a video camera and speak in whatever manner I chose, at whatever length I might, to the topic “Poetry is . . . .” After giving it some thought I did so. Carla Harryman likewise spoke to the question. Chris Tysh composed herself and spoke, while I remained at a respectful distance, not wanting to interfere. Kristin Prevallet may also have been there, composed herself, and likewise spoke.
Later, I wrote George Quasha about whether the project had come to fruition. He answered in inspecific terms. From that time forward I heard nothing more until, clicking on a Google link to an rss feed site called Tumblr, I came across evidence that the work existed and that I was in it, along with almost anyone else who might have an answer to that question. The resulting video is a compilation of some interest that just might speak to what “poetry is . . . .”
The video has been out for about one week. My segment can be found at 34:45.
With Ammiel Alcalay, Hector Alves, David Antin, Arman, Coleman Barks, Caroline Bergvall, Charles Bernstein, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Harvey Bialy, Blue, Lee Ann Brown, Tisa Bryant, Elizabeth Clark, Michael Coffey, Alan Davies, Michel Deguy, Timotha Doane, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Fisher, Joanna Fuhrman, Eric Gansworth, Steve Goodman, Carla Harryman, Kevin Hart, David Henderson, Mitch Highfill, Bob Holman, Anselm Hollo, Mikhail Horowitz, Fanny Howe, Susan Howe, Romana Huk, Franz Kamin, Robert Kelly, Richard Kostelanetz, Louise Landes Levi, Judith Malina, Chris Mann, Michael Meade, Joyce Carol Oates, Sharon Olds, Cheryl Pallant, Nick Piombino, Kristen Prevallet, India Radfar, Carter Ratcliff, Hanon Reznikov, Jerome Rothenberg, Sapphire, Leslie Scalapino, Ron Silliman, Charles Stein, David Levi Strauss, Kate Suddes, Chris Tysh, Cecilia Vicuña, Tenzin Wangyal, Barrett Watten, Henry Weinfield, Elizabeth Willis, Krzysztof Ziarek.