Community CoCo: GOWANUS: Poetry, Audio Production: Bill Considine, Cosmo D, Ambrose Bye
Collaborating on Gowanus
Last Fall, I felt renewed to write poetry again, and for further stimulation I entered a workshop, “Time Glide – Going Vocal” given at the St. Marks Poetry Project by Anne Waldman and Ambrose Bye. Among Anne’s first assignments was to write an ode. I was reading the poems of Elizabeth Bishop closely, often while listening along to a recording of her reading her poems. An errand took me into Gowanus, and there I felt as the opening lines of the poem suggest. I lingered and strolled, and the poem came quickly. I drafted snatches on a pocket notepad I’d started carrying, then went home and wrote the poem in a day, in early October, with a few small changes in the following days. May I say that Elizabeth Bishop’s poems helped me structure an ode?
The workshop was collaborative in nature and oriented toward sound and performance. Odes had originally been set to music, so I was thinking about music for the poem (as Anne no doubt intended). I knew Cosmo from the wonderful yoga classes that his girlfriend, Shannon Sodano, taught with Cosmo accompanying on electronic cello. The sessions near the fountain in Grand Army Plaza, with the sounds of the fountain and the wind in the leaves and Cosmo’s beautiful music were memorable. I had a CD that Cosmo had made of his solo work, so I listened repeatedly to it with collaboration in mind. I especially liked “Yellow Shoes.” By experimenting with reading along while the music played, I confirmed that the music left space for the words while adding the tremendous dramatic drive and beauty in the music. I asked Cosmo if I could create an audio piece using his music, and he readily agreed.
Ambrose arranged for me to hear “Yellow Shoes” in headphones while I read the poem aloud at a lectern in the workshop. He recorded me in one take. (It was a busy workshop, teeming with energies.) There’s a moment in the poem when the poet sighs, quite inadvertently. That was a matter not only of breath column, but also of girding myself to allude to my “receding” in front of my workshop colleagues. Ambrose produced the mix of poem and music, and Cosmo liked the result, commenting that there must be a touch of Gowanus in his own mind and work. Ambrose included it in the CD of the workshop’s creations, “New Festivals of Rhizomes & Wraiths.”
Inspired by Lynne’s interest in posting “Gowanus” online in Exit Strata, Cosmo and I have agreed to collaborate again on another piece. This time, he’ll create new music to a poem of mine.
March 21, 2012