TEXT EVENT (WITH WATER) #3
I’ve wanted to do this for a while: send a long poem down a Catskills stream. I knew the perfect spot—on the trail to Huckleberry Point in the Platte Clove, where the stream bisects the U-shaped trail. There are several beguiling points along the stream that are wide and flat and shallow, so shallow you can walk up it, and I thought these would be perfect environments for a floating, moving poem. This floating world.
In some ways, this was a mediation between monumentality and intimacy, the long term and the short, tiny pieces of paper wrecked on rock, and the eternal search for new ways of reading and looking.
I ran this idea past my husband Peter Genovese and our friend, poet Nancy Frye Huth, hoping they’d provide technical assistance as well as document the event (as it turns out, I couldn’t do much of the latter, as I ran around the stream bank trying to keep everything moving). One outcome I didn’t foresee was that I couldn’t keep the poem face up all the time as it twirled in the currents. So the stream bed got to “read” the poem. Plus, there was the chaos of our dog Einstein, who at one point fortuitously stepped on one end of the poetic “line” and kept the poem in place for a moment in the rushing water. And as pieces of the poem began to de-story (a typo I always make from the word “destroy”) and tatter and float and cling to rocks, interesting moments presented themselves for us to “read” the work.
I made copies of my poem based on the perfume Patchouli 24 (made by Le Labo), liking the idea of a poem with rich sensibility traveling in water. Three copies were unbound. The other three copies were “bound” serially with fishing line (to keep the work in its original “narrative” order). I used regular photocopier paper, realizing that its short fibers would come apart pretty quickly.
As I wrote to poet David Caddy: “I like when things are very destroyed by the elements, forms of micro-ruinporn…My questions lately center around how can my work actually touch the world? How can it exist beyond the page? Can the natural world be audience?”