Monday, September 7, 2009

Thom Fletcher keeps the flavour of the poem in the pictures

We now have visual evidence of the first indications of finished work for the 2009 Poetry Scores Art Invitational (to be held Friday, Nov. 13 at The Luminary): three photographs by Thom Fletcher.

This is "The city kept her flavour fire-ladder high".

And this, "To limit them to standing on economic grounds. With their twists of sculpture".

The premise of a Poetry Scores Art invitational is for artists to respond to the poem we are scoring and to title their pieces after verbatim quotes from the poem - in this case, The Sydney Highrise Variations by Les Murray.

Finally, "The worldwide breath of Catching Up may serve to keep the mighty, slowing machine aloft beyond our time".

The other core curatorial premise of our shows is to hang the work in the space according to where in the flow of the poem the langugae selected as the title of the work appears. I have uploaded images of Thom's three pieces in the order in which their titles appear in the poem, so we have here the very beginnings for a feel for the flow of the show.

I think these images speak for themselves, and their interplay with the verbatim scraps of the poem we are scoring this year that Thom selected for the titles (as per Invitational rules) also are available to anyone with an imagination.

These comments are high compliments, coming from me. Poetry Scores evolved from a field recoding project known as Hoobellatoo. Our involvement with recording poets and scoring poems started in the basement of the great independent left-wing publisher Curbstone Press, which takes as its motto a line from the Salvadorean rebel poet Roque Dalton: "Poetry, like bread, is for everyone."

Exactly. I'd say all art is for everyone - especially the eminently populist medium (in this era of excellent, affordable digital cameras) of the photograph. Thom probably doesn't consider himself an artist, but I love his photographs and didn't hesitate to invite him to contribute to the Art Invitational.

I will make one critical remark, though. This year we are scoring, and Invitational artists are responding to, The Sydney Highrise Variations by Les Murray. As the title of the work would certainly suggest, the poem delves into the Australian city of Sydney, New South Wales, in great detail. And though I sort of hope someone incorporates Sydneyean images into their contributions to the Invitational, I equally hoped that local artists would look around our local landscape for counterparts to the images iconic to our Australian bard.

Poetry Scores is based in St. Louis, and those of us who love this place find in it neglected resources of every imaginable variety. Certainly, the landscape of St. Louis - both natural and built - is so far more varied than any outsider would presume. That's why, when we made a silent movie to our poetry score for Blind Cat Black, we shamelessly seized upon sleazy areas along South Grand as local counterparts to the Istanbul underworld evoked in Ece Ayhan's poem.

The mission of Poetry Scores is to translate poetry into other media. But we also are always translating back and forth between our home city and the other great and neglected cities of the world.

More in this series

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