Friday, September 3, 2010

Robert Fitterman & Kim Rosenfield

And in London last week I looked for a poetry reading to attend. The Poetry Cafe which has an open mic on Tuesdays was closed for August and an internet search found only one event for last Tuesday night week, a reading by American poets (also husband and wife) Robert Fitterman (above) & Kim Rosenfield in Birkbeck College, University of London.

I had never heard of these two poets but a short internet search suggested that they might be interesting so I went along. About thirty people attended and I got the impression that most knew each other and that they might be attending a course at the college, possibly part-time students.

The two poets were introduced as writers of conceptual poetry. What is this? A definition is difficult, but it often means that the poet uses found texts to create a poem. Fitterman, for instance read a poem of his which consisted of a list of businesses found in a shopping mall - Burger Kind, Body Shop, Dunkin Donuts etc. Each verse was made up of the same list in a different order. He writes a lot about cities and shopping malls - he has published three volume of Metropolis, a poem-project he has been working on over the last ten years or so.

There is a video of a reading by him here. He read some of the same pieces in London. He has got rid of the beard!

Lots of him reading at PennSound on this page.

One of his projects at the moment is to find a real person on the internet and select pieces of texts, facebook comment, tweets etc by this person, other people of the same name and their friends and put those texts together to create a poem. He read some which included an email from himself to the person and the reply. Fascinating stuff.

And Kim Rosenfield? Completely different conceptual poetry, much less immediately understandable but a great reading style which involved reading pages each of which contained a line or two of each poem. She reminded me of C D Wright who really impressed me when I saw her at the Dun Laoghaire Poetry Festival a couple of years ago. You can hear and see Kim Rosenfield here. Her page on PennSound is here.

An enjoyable evening. Poetry can be many things, not just neat packages of fine sounding accounts of remembered incidents with thinly disguised lessons or sensitive anecdotes dotted with the personal pronoun, first person singular or embarrassing personal revelations (the kind of poems I entered in Over the Edge this year. I wonder how they'd like some conceptual stuff?).

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