POET’S CHOIR PERFORMING THE SOURCE
NOAH ELI GORDON
In 2011, my book The Source was published by Futurepoem Books. Part theoretical treatise on the ethics of origination, part assemblage-art investigation of the dissemination of public knowledge, The Source is a book-length conceptual essay, a polemic in defense of constrained bibliomancy and ambient research as authentic means to uncovering the many vectors of messy truth. As a multi-year project in which I read only page 26 of nearly ten thousand books at the Denver Public Library, culling from them and repurposing bits of language, The Source is both a continuation and a documentation of a practice dating from the Homeric song stitchers of antiquity to current trends in hip-hop culture and electronic music.
While the text itself reads with an intentional fluidity, one that attempts to move from sentence to sentence without belying the disparate voices with which it was constructed, I wanted to figure out a way to perform the work that would return it to that very same noisy, multi-vectored state. For the first performance, I contacted ten poets in Denver, asking each to help me read from the work. They stood, single file, facing the audience at the Dikeou Collection, as I handed everyone in line one page of text, each of which, while slightly different, and comprised of various re-mixed work from The Source, contained the following instructions: Note: Start reading when I tap your back, read until I tap again. Think of this as the on/off switch. If you finish the page, start again immediately at the top. I began pacing behind the poets, reading from the book myself, while tapping them on and off, until, at one point, there were eleven voices in the air.