Monday, October 20, 2003
Have you ever noticed how at poetry readings the audience holds its applause until the very end? And how after each individual poem there are usually three or four people in the audience who make assenting, pleased sounds like “Hmmm”, “Mmmm” or “Mmm-hmmm”? There was a lot of hmmming, mmmming, and mmm-hmmming at Beyond Baroque last Friday night when Eleni Sikelianos and Brenda Coultas gave readings of their latest work. Eleni read from The Monster Lives of Boys and Girls (out now on Green Integer – by the way, has Sun & Moon Press pretty much morphed into Green Integer permanently?) I remember “little bones housed in the seahorse’s skull” from a long poem Eleni read called “Sleep, Sleepwalker”. This poem, she said, was inspired by the science and nature films of Jean Painlevé ("raised bread”), as well as flying over Niagara Falls and seeing the rushing water far below shaped like a human collarbone (Eleni said the word “niagara” comes from a Native American word for “collarbone” – though a Google search returned a page that says “niagara” is derived from the Iroquois Indian word “onguiaahra”, meaning “the strait” – I don’t know which is true). Brenda read historiological prose poems about the Bowery in Manhattan from A Handmade Museum. In one poem she wondered about a dead rat lying outside her window among the broken shards of a flower pot: had the rat fallen from the window ledge along with the flower pot? Had a squirrel accidentally knocked over the flower pot just as the rat had scurried by? This poem reminded my girlfriend of an incident that had happened earlier that day. She had been reading in our room when she was startled by a heavy thud. The neighbor’s cat had jumped into our apartment from an open window.