Friday, December 31, 2004

Java Cabana - Poetry Night

Performance Poetry/Open Mic night at a hip Memphis hangout, Java Cabana. After getting in two Funky Monkeys and a brownie to share, I took out my notebook and bore witness to the participants.

Hannah whispered to me, "Look over there..."
I looked over. There was some large women in strange clothes.
"It's a lesbian table," she said.
I looked around at the other women in the place.
"I think every table is a lesbian table..."

I decided to tabulate the night's performers and their performances with just three measurements; Physical Description, Mode of Performance, Description of Performance (with a subgrouping of Theme(s)) Here is how my notebook filled up over the course of an hour and a half.

Man with Guitar - 1

Physical Description
30 +
Obviously-a-freakazoid rating:
2/10 -> The Ordinary Joe look
Clothing: Loose-fitting jeans. White T-shirt with small multi-coloured peace symbol
Bryan Adams-style
Performance Mode:
Song (accompanied himself on acoustic guitar)

Performance Review:
Questionable wailing culminated in intense strumming. Off to one side, a large man in a yellow shirt watched intensely. Concluded with a dramatic strum, shuffled away from stage. Crowd reaction was muted, people applauded as if terminally shy of noise-making.

Oh dear, I can't go to the trouble of describing each performer in this level of detail, no-one wants to read a post that in-depth, surely. Does anyone even read my blog these days anyway, or are they all turkey-stuffed (or stuffed with turkey-substitute)...

Please don't desert me!
There's funny stuff below...

Big Hearted Girl - 1

A large young black girl took the stage. She read a poem brimming with lesbian angst about a broken love affair with someone called Renee.

Black-haired Girl - 1

A completely forgettable poem that namechecked Death perhaps 12 times in 12 lines.

Curly Devil - 1

A rich-voiced curly haired young man took the stage and delivered some assonant whimsy. One section concerned the spiritual awakening of a cow, but was not actually as interesting as the spiritual awakening of a cow should be. For me, an inspired rendering of the spiritual awakening of a cow would produce at the very least, hmm, heart palpitations. I touched my chest... nope, all in order.

Man with Guitar - 2

More pain from the man with the guitar. A mix of discordant sounds and some freeform vocal wailing, there was also a growing awareness that perhaps the performer was a homosexual and that his chief artistic concern was living in a world that is not ready to accept his orientation.

Big Hearted Girl - 2

An idealistic poem about idealistic poems about idealistic poems etc...

This gave me the idea for a meta-poetry that only addresses itself to performance poetry. You can see the abominable manifestation of this at the end of this post.

Chunky Dyed Black Hair - 1

Accompanying herself on guitar, this blunt-nosed example of humanity sang a song about thwarted love titled "Perfect sonnet." A little way into the song, some terrific unplanned theatre began, some of my favourite performance moments in a long long time. Better even than a breast slipping unnoticed out of someone's blouse, and I know, that's really saying something.

What happened?

The girl started to forget the words.

This expanded into a scenario that featured:

1) girl on stage trying not to cry or panic
2) fat stripey girl shouting "Don't cry" and prompting with the lyrics
3) audience members trying to transmit vibrations of supportiveness

That the song concerned Death only made the unfolding Performance Death more pleasing. What could have been inoffensive warbled angst was now angst x 10000, a toe-curling meditation on the existential horrors of stagefright, coming to you live and direct from the forgetful brain of a Memphis teengoth...

Long Live Angst!

Diva Poet

Next up, diva poet. Strange hairstyle, kooky specs, tight black leggings and an artfully contrived scarf around her neck (a neck that no doubt has never known a hickey!). Whereas other performers assumed the stage with a degree of reticence, diva poet flung open the cafe door, marched to the front, and then positioned herself kooky/provocative on a stool.

She read a piece of utter whimsy about a spurned lover sending her their leg. Beneath the painfully intellectual presentation, diva poet headed for some fairly obvious "what to do with spurned lover's leg" gags (admittedly I laughed at a couple of these).

She ended with the logical conclusion of having always preferred the other leg.

Diva poet sashayed to the counter and talked loudly over the next few performers.

Big Stripy Chunky Lesbian

An angst-festival concerning Big Stripy Chunky Lesbian's dredlocks, sexual orientation, size issues, and her out-there views on life, the universe, everything, goddamn it. This was all delivered as if Big Stripy Chunky Lesbian never made a single free choice in her life.

How does her day pan out?

7 a.m. Wake up
7.30 a.m. Forcefed 40 cheeseburgers
8.30 a.m. Stormtroopers force her into stripy clothing
9.30 a.m. At knifepoint, her hair is plaited into dredlocks
10.00 a.m. Indoctrination with out-there political ideas
11.00 a.m. Forcefed 30 cheeseburgers
Midday Nap until time for poetry slam
8.30 p.m. Take the stage under duress due to neurological implants that are controlled by shadowy government agents to perform her poetry

etc, etc


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