Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Where the Light Is, Part 1

"Oscillating and how": Elizabeth Guthrie’s Yellow and Red: A Poetic Play
(Black Lodge Press, 2oo8)
A Review by Andy Peterson

Pre-faces: Stages, and Codas of no after-thought. Of thought itself, as in: august and autumnal humming, warming orchestras with audience noise – a bright fit of laughter here, a dry cough there, mouths around popcorn going munch-munch – of definable objects and indefinable gestures, of being within feeling, to which only the imagination holds; without her, imagination, really, where would we be?

The cozy theater of the mind that stages the world, as in: "All the world’s a..."

we, who trust this, settle in to that familiar soft command, the conductor’s tap-tap-tap upon the stand, and we begin...

Poet Elizabeth Guthrie’s chapbook, Yellow and Red: A Poetic Play, released with elegant and loving craft by Black Lodge Press, 2008, creates a dreamy real-state site of hybrid-ditty, a calmly surreal series of performances/stagings/happenings, a confirmation that art becomes life becomes art becomes life becomes art. Difficult to summate such a uniquely inventive work, so to quote the text, in its most approximate descriptions of Self: a ""Lyric Touching Realic", or "The surface of reflection as precursory indication of the actual."

Y&R moves through four organic stages of constructions, represented by the elements of the four seasons ("an experience of phenomenon"), the abstractions of the titular colors become speaking characters alongside the inanimate – instruments, "Empty Paper Cup", and the centrifugal stage construction of an autumnal dandelion – and the animate – Conductor Ren Juffalo and Concertmaster Barry Alitzer, whose dialogues and movements explore the mysteries of moments – that is, the Eternal Moment– in change, the constant creativity of life, with the image-nation of ethereal word play.

Guthrie draws upon such happily varied avant-garde philosophies of performance artists and poets like Andre Breton, John Cage, Meredith Monk, Yoko Ono, and Gertrude Stein, who one could argue pioneered the form. The poetic play: more than just a narrative drama set in verse; a postmodern hybrid akin to the prose poem, which raises the stakes of relationships between language, page, and stage: a tuned stand-in for the physical world.

Y&R puts these elements in motion, elevates language from the page and into space, like music, and like feedback, reflects and inflects of change there occur. The finale, like all great art, asks us for our own answers to its tantalizing questions as we leave the theatre, marveling at compressions, voices in wires, constructions and reflections, and alerting us to possibilities of the lyric in everyday life, "oscillating(,) and how."

. . .

To order, visit our friends at Black Lodge Press


Winifred Celeste said...

mine just came in the mail!! yeppers - think i'll start reading it tonight - love the review :)

Elizabeth Guthrie said...

So happy to hear, thank you Celey! Would love to know your thoughts...

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