Colby Somerville

Yes, Reading, November 30

This was the last of the semester’s programs, the series mixing experimental poetry with other art forms.   Tonight it was poetry & “flexing”, with Matthew Klane & James Belflower sharing the intro duties. It also was a “Brooklyn night” with all of the artists traveling up from there.

First up was the poet Rawaan Alkhatib, a poet & visual artist from Dubai.  I could only describe her poetry as “reverent Dadaism.” She read a number of short poems, then a longer narrative in word/sound play (doesn’t all good poetry have word play?) a funny piece with the recurring phrase “world goat.” Other poems in rhymes, half-rhymes, & even some more goats.

Colby Somerville read one long piece, from his iPad, with the repeating phrase, “When the evil shredder attacked…”, apparently built on images from videos games, Japanese & kid show super-heroes, a sci-fi apocalyptic narrative, of sorts.

Corina Copp‘s work was more fragmentary, less musical than the others. However, she did offer some minimal context for her work, though without explanation. One piece was dubbed a “translation” (i.e., English to English) of Shakespeare’s sonnet #59, another was an excerpt from what she described as a “strange” large piece, “The Flat Bed,” a haphazard collage from other writers & screen writers. Copp was the only one with a book for sale, a flip-book from Ugly Duckling Press (2011) Pro Magenta/Be Met.

As I’ve said before, with experimental work such as the writing from these 3 poets who read tonight the readers would do well with some explanation of the method or technique the poets used to put together the text. I mean, you can’t call it “experimental” without some idea of what the “experiment” is about. Is it a cut up? A random sortex of phrases from some other writer, or themselves? A stoned/drunken/insomniac rant (e.g., Ginsberg’s “… lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish”).  In addition, all these poets read rather flatly, unexpressively, sort of the yin to the slam poets’ yang, so that the words took on the abstract form of music, or at least of a drone.

Robert Williams Taylor (left) & Jason Cust

The final performance was by 2 “flexers,” Jason Cust & Robert Williams-Taylor, beginning with a long intro about how they got into this urban dance form springing from reggae music, then a relatively short excerpt from a longer piece, a duet that could best be described as modern dance meets Chinese contortionists. It was, on many levels, more accessible than the poets, in fact I could see writing a poem, or 2, about it.

This provocative series is held sporadically during the academic semesters at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, donations appreciated. Friend them on FaceBook.  You can get on their mailing list by sending an email to