Monday, 22 October 2012

Notes on the first presentation of poetry at the museum.

                                                                                                                                The Alfred Jewel  

                         The past is a storehouse of precious things:
                   curious fragments and confusing questions,
                   stories and objects, strangeness and sameness.
                   Museums remind us of the mysteries of time:
                   everything changes, everyone dies.
                   Our age will vanish, as Alfred's has done.
                      Those days are gone; these too will pass

This stanza is probably the most resonant for me of everything we did on Saturday October 6th. There was a moment as John read “those days are gone; these too will pass,” when I slipped out of time and into some other sphere, which I might be tempted to call “the eternal”. 

I have spent too little time in museums. I am only just connecting with them fully.

Giles sometimes looks as if he belongs in a museum, with his wild hair and his PhD in medaieval studies. Mark Maker was read in one of the the place’s darkest spots, which made it very hard to see or video. Someone asked him if his work was all about making marks in the landscape. That could be right. People should look at his stuff on youtube and flickr. John was impressed with Mark Maker. He said there are two kinds of poems, the ones you wish you had written yourself and the others. This came into the first category. Giles is hosting Christopher Reid at the Wantage Literature Festival on Wednesday 31. Worth a ticket I think.

Vahni bravely turned up feeling fluish, but still drew us into the magic of how a museum can turn into a place of worship or sanctuary. She looked a little like a saint with a very bright halo above her head, made by the light of her object.

David gave us the most amusing moment of the tour. I had to ask him how he had resisted the “irresistible” pull of the object in his “Do not touch.” He said he had been well brought up. 

A poet well brought up! I still remember reshaping a piece of sculpture in the Haywood, which someone seemed to have sat on. That was the seventies. No one objected. Today I would go to jail. I would not dare. David was fortunate in having a well lit place to recite. I never gave a thought to the fact that it is not allowed to make videos in there. Modern art is much to be protected. 
Jude, our very helpful hostess said it was allowed, this time.  I could not help but feel angry that a sculpture is “for our eyes only”. There is something about sculpture that is essentially haptic. It should be touched. Nothing is everlasting, nor should a museum have the delusion that it can make it so.

These days shall pass
Everything changes

I look forward to David’s poem about the Stradivarius that no one must ever play. It is in there somewhere.

Jenifer entertained us with different ways of reading nonsense. She emphasised how much we bring to the object and the poem in our listening and perceiving. I would have focused more on the meanings that lie hidden in nonsense that are sneaking through to us. I had hoped to lecture on sense and nonsense in psychology and art this term, but it was not to be. Both points of view are worthwhile.

Then it was my turn. I felt happier doing the performance than in looking at it on video afterwards. I am slowly making them into something just about watchable on Youtube, linked to the blog. 

Do tell me if you don’t want to be seen. 

Someone made off with one of my poem-pictures from it, so I suppose it wasn’t too bad. 

The audience in the Lear Gallery was a good one. I was able to lower my voice to a whisper for the relevant part, and I heard no other voices.

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