Harmonious Dissonance: in Conversation with George Elliott Clarke

To provide Malahat readers with a context in which to read and more deeply appreciate George Elliott Clarke’s “Othello: By Donation Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade,” a bravura long poem appearing in the magazine’s Summer 2016 issue, I explore with the poet his ambitions and the intent he enacts in the writing of such a profoundly engaging and provocative work. Last year I also recorded George reading a few poems when he visited Vancouver Island University last year, and The Malahat Review has published one of these recordings, “The Testament of Ulysses X.” You may read the full text of this poem or listen to George’s performance of it, recorded while he was the 2015 Ralph Gustafson Distinguished Poet at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.

George Elliott Clarke is currently  Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate. Towards the end of the interview I asked him, why does the world need poetry? To which he responded:

Hal David and Burt Bacharach: “What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love”? That song comes to mind in thinking about why the world should need poetry. But I will also reiterate my sentiments in the Shad/Q interview: poetry exists in the rhythm of pulse and breath; it is “mind-forged” (Blake) language given vocal (originally) expression in tune with the pace of breath and the beat of the heart. The cadences are related to the sounds conjured by the arrangements of tongue, teeth, lips, and lungs. Poetry is organic technology, a physical art—as much as is dance, save that its calisthenics are performed by abstract characters or organically by the movement of the mouth.  In any event, it is the cheapest art and thus the most portable, for it can be memorized and taught to others. It is the first civilizing art, for it is the basis of scripture, whether inscribed or chanted. It conjoins imagination and emotion; so, for so long as human beings dream, recall, and/or have feelings, they/we will always invent poems.

Read the full interview, here.

In addition,

Oral Histories Project

Since January 2012 I’ve curated an Oral Histories Special Project for the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice Project.  The ICASP project plays a leading role in defining a new field of interdisciplinary inquiry in Improvisation Studies. The project’s core hypothesis is that musical improvisation is a crucial model for political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action.

Oral Histories is a showcase of interviews, performances, and articles by and about improvising musicians, artists, writers, and scholars. This monthly feature offers an intimate look inside the minds and practices of some of the many dynamic, innovative people whose energy and ideas make improvisation studies such a vibrant field of inquiry. The Oral Histories project provides a space for improvising artists to be heard in their own words, often in dialogue with other improvisers, scholars, and practitioners. Back in 2012, I wrote a short reflective piece on the idea behind the project, musing on the relationship between orality and improvised musical practices. That short reflection can be found here.

The project has also been useful for my PhD thesis, Soundin’ Canaan: Music, Resistance, and Citizenship in African Canadian Poetry, since the thesis contains audio/visual interviews (many archived under the Oral Histories project) with several poets explored in the thesis (including M. NourbeSe Philip, George Elliott Clarke, Cecil Foster, d’bi.young, Wayde Compton, and others). Future Oral Histories will include the legendary South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, the late Amiri Baraka in conversation with William Parker, and more!

View Past Oral Histories below:

2014

 2013

 2012

Featured photo of Paul Watkins in conversation with d’bi.young.

From The Second Storey Interview: Railroad and Rhythm

I was on the radio earlier today. I spoke about my own work, music, and read part of my poem, Soundin’ Canaan. I was asked to choose two pieces of music to bookend my interview, and selected Oscar Peterson’s moving “Hymn to Freedom,” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”

Jerry Prager, a local historian spoke first about his new book, Laying the Bed: The Native Origins of the Underground Railroard. I come in around 35 minutes after the Oscar Peterson piece.

The interview can be viewed in the From The Second Story archive, “12:00 PM ON MONDAY MARCH 10, 2014.”

Cheers,
Paul

“we tellin’ stories yo”: A Performance and Interview with renowned dub poet d’bi.young

dbi young icasp

Featuring an opening DJ Set by DJ Techné
FREE and Open to the Public
Thursday, August 8th, 2013 (7-9 pm)
Paintbox Bistro (555 Dundas Street East, Regent Park, Toronto)

ICASP (Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice) and Paintbox Bistro present Jamaican-Canadian dub poet, monodramatist, educator, and Dora Award-winning actor and playwright, d’bi.young.anitafrika in an intimate free performance. Following the performance there will be an interview with the poet conducted by Paul Watkins (DJ Techné). Make sure you catch this event with one of Canada’s most visionary storytellers.

 

Reserving a table is highly recommended. Call 647-748-0555 to reserve space now! (http://blog.paintboxbistro.ca/event-registration/?ee=49)

www.improvcommunity.ca

http://www.paintboxbistro.ca

http://dbi333.com