Thursday, December 19, 2013

John Giorno and MoCAD's way with words (from 2007)

MoCAD's way with words

"People traditionally think that poetry is something you read sitting in a chair," said Giorno, founder of the Giorno Poetry Systems collective and its Dial-A-Poem experiment (although the most easily recognized as subject of Andy Warhol's "Sleep"). "But there are other avenues. You can make it an art form."

For the crowd gathered in the MoCAD's central room Saturday, Giorno alternately barreled and tiptoed his way through half a dozen pieces. He read excerpts from "The Death of William Burroughs," about being with friend Burroughs before and immediately after the author's death 10 years ago.

"I kissed him," he read. "An early LP album of us together, 1975, was called Biting Off The Tongue Of A Corpse. I kissed him on the lips, but I didn't do it . And I should have done it."

He performed other poems like "Welcoming the Flowers" and "Thanks For Nothing" in full. "Countless lovers of boundless, fabulous sex," he repeated again and again during what he declared the world premiere of "Thanks For Nothing." Giorno had performed it once before, a year earlier at the Howl Festival in New York. But that didn't really count, he said, to an appreciative audience.

What worked so well with Giorno's performance was that it complemented, rather than stole attention from, the artwork on display. What Giorno does sonically when he plays with the English language, the 16 installations that comprise "Words Fail Me" do visually. The presentation matters as much as the content.

Associate Arts Editor
Published September 19, 2007

From Wikipedia:

"Inspired by Rauschenberg's Experiments in Art and Technology events of 1966, Giorno began making "Electronic Sensory Poetry Environments", working in collaboration with synthesizer creator Robert Moog and others to create psychedelic poetry installation/happenings at venues such as St. Mark's Church in New York. In 1965, Giorno founded a not-for-profit production company, Giorno Poetry Systems in order to connect poetry to new audiences, using innovative technologies. In 1967, Giorno organized the first Dial-A-Poem event at the Architectural League of New York, making short poems by various contemporary poets available over the telephone. The piece was repeated to considerable acclaim at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970, and resulted in a series of LP records compiling the recordings, which were issued by Giorno Poetry Systems. Some of the poets and artists who recorded or collaborated with Giorno Poetry Systems were Burroughs, John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Mapplethorpe."


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