project image
John Burroughs

first performed on August 18, 2015
Guide to Kulchur, Cleveland, OH
performed once in 2015


New York, NY


Location: Every act of life (planned or not), every performance of purpose, occurs within a space that constricts that performance exactly as much as it makes the performance possible. Because both are the same. I conducted this piece in the basement of Guide to Kulchur just before it moved to a new location, changing the venue of its own continuing performance. The space was filled with books, pipes, unmatched furniture, and painted credos on and against the walls.

Body: A body is needed for a performance, though it might not be present at the site of the performance. My body was clothed, but its feet were naked, each foot’s toenails painted dark. The bareness of my feet grounded my body, connected it to the site of the performance. During the performance, my body was constantly in motion. Never still. Always dancing. The body told the audience to watch.

Props: I provided each member of the audience with a sheet laying out every poem for the night, but with no hints as to how I would perform each, including those written without words and those only hinted at on the sheet. This prop told the audience what was coming, suggested to the audience that they need not pay attention to the body of me, the performer. Suggested they look away.

Voice: My performance was one of the body, but focused on sound. The first piece I performed was a piece of glossolalia read from blank sheets of paper: in a modulating cadence, I gave a talk full of gestures. Two poems consisted of nothing but punctuation marks, demonstrating the way to speak the unreadable, showing the essential meaninglessness of the sounds and marks of language. A few texts were much like poems, though cryptic and condensed, and one was merely an elaborate nonsense tongue-twister examining the sonic workings and limitations of the English language.

Words: The last fully written poem, I read with gasps of air and grave vocal caesurae at the point of each of its too many periods. I ended with a poem I introduced in Spanish and presented in the form of a single invented word (“llorarca”) and as an extemporaneous and wordful but wordless poemsong, a lament for Federico García Lorca near the anniversary of his death.

Purpose: I care too much about language to reduce it to words.