project image
Mathew Timmons

first performed on May 24, 2011
Ball Hall, Chicago, IL
performed twice in 2011


Chicago, IL


“Facts of Light” was first performed as a chorus for ten readers in Chicago, IL as part of the release for the chapbook of the same name published by Plumberries Press. We stood in a circle, all facing “forward,” although the audience was on all sides. I had given out copies of the ten page poem to all readers and highlighted each of their lines for them with pink highlighter. As I distributed them, and the performers were seeing the text for the first time, I assured them that since they could see all the lines of the poem, it would be easy to follow it as it went along and read their lines as they came up. Each person was responsible for about one line per page. The readers were Jennifer Karmin, Yoni Goldstein, Meredith Zielke, Denise Dooley, Alex Marchut, Edwin R. Perry, Kg Price, Shannon Schmidt, Luis Valadez and myself.

For the performance of the piece in La Jolla, CA as part of the 2011 &NOW Festival, I created color-coded PDFs with blank music sheets behind the text. Some of the performers were confirmed beforehand, and others I met at the festival. Still others I recruited from the audience. Performers were: Feng Chen, Ian Hatcher, Jennifer Karmin, Raver Emmanuel, Lucas DeLima, Christine Wertheim, Chris Cuellar, Stephanie Sauer, Mary Wilson, and myself.

“Facts of Light” was a performance of process during its inception in 2002. A collection of “voices” from the moment surrounding me-a preacher on TV, the promise of the night sky, information from a Brazilian woman I tutored, snippets from the news and area interests. The presence of instruments on each page invokes underlying music when silently reading, or when their names are spoken during a performance, enacting the narrative of tones of a traditional symphony (think

Peter and the Wolf

). When placed in the hands and voices of multiple readers, “Facts of Light” continues the expansive and inclusive notion of what a performance is and can do. Reading the poem becomes a performance for the readers themselves as they hear how their lines interact with the others being read. The distribution of voices in space suggests the inherent multiplicity in the text, challenging the audience to orient themselves critically within the lines. This is the poetic of the piece both in written form and in performance.