Apr 15, 2014
Grey moves back into the interior, the gym, the abandoned vestibule, and the garage. In fact, all of these videos, at least the initial idea in making them, began on a borrowed desk, in a former military base in California, where in the morning I would wake up, dance in a too small room, capturing this on my laptop. I thought, then, of filling a room with projections of images, me dancing, me, in a black box, each wall, blasted.
Grey is sad. It is leaving. It runs from one world into the imagination of another, filming being in it. Often, I am not grounded, but I am disciplined. In fact, I wanted, at some point, to soak my masks in water, then to freeze them, then to crush each with a hammer, the camera fixed to capture the act. I still can.
How many layers are possible in pushing the idea of the poem outwards from the conceptual act, to embed, and to break the space between what’s made and what’s revealed? Have I been desperate to show off? Perhaps. I do think there is a difference, however, in showing off what one has made in an act of desperation to be read, to be paid, to be considered, and showing off to change what it might mean to be read in ways that are meant to challenge, not to please, and to get paid what one deserves, particularly in the remuneration of time and space.
“Are you getting paid?”—“More than the sex, the talk of money made me uncomfortable.”—Two questions by poets I admire that make me think about what Grey is for, the resin of melancholy, my too exhausted face, fingers catching the wind off the ocean, variations of the self I’d like to follow.
When I first started writing poems, I worked with the great poet and teacher, June Jordan, who shared a check sheet list with her beginning poets. One of the questions she asked us to think about as we addressed one another’s poems was who is this poem for? I often return to this question, or maybe I have never left it.
I do know that, in some ways, these videos are for me—me who sometimes feels so quietly enraged at the need in making poetry to be liked, no matter how much I like “likes.” To be read as legible while resisting expectations. Professor Jordan, in her poem “Things I do in the Dark,” writes:
I am a stranger
learning to worship the strangers
whoever you are
whoever I may become
So I return to the costume, the future-fractured masks, in a box, in my house on the other side of the country. I return to the imagined catwalk on the pier, the parking lot, the beach. Back to the reality of the self as a poet on the move—One fear I upend is some me, inert, so I am constructing, at least for now, where I am moving, and into where.
The narrative used to flow; now, it flashes. The movies no longer steeped in language,
they are still. The movie moves around the poem, and so do I. I play, too.
Grey unveils the relationship between the work and the self.
Grey contends with the noose, redrawing it, cutting into it.
Grey embraces the sea, the fact of the razor.
Grey understands the sea as a sound, glistening, but muted
like the grey wall, and the grey floor.
of such Fat.
In here: Racks,
Decouple, so that
Sea forms force:
“It’s very square.”
It warns you,
I’m backing up.
I order you,
Large Body Benz.
Well, it manifests:
a past, so
Knees form force:
“You were the one.”
It soothes you,
I’m holding up.
Come to it.
Unfurl, so that
And, I think: