Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jeffrey Cyphers Wright Reviews Red Noir for The Brooklyn Rail

Anne Waldman, Red Noir: And Other Pieces for Performance

(Farfalla, McMillen & Parrish, 2008)

Incantatory incandescence lights these pages of quasi-play-performance litany rants. Live, Anne Waldman’s near breathless word piles spill out like demons being exorcised. These pieces for voices are in the tradition of the modern poet as playwright and echo Gertrude Stein and Lawrence Ferlinghetti (specifically “Routines.”)

From the first word “Ventriloquist” Waldman is channeling our attention with her rapid-fire reading of the “world as a book.”

Living in the East and the West, Waldman incorporates multiplicity into a skittering, careening discourse in heightened pitch. “[This could be a chorus]” She builds up a sheen of mirrored ricochets that gleams like “icicles in the rain.”

She consults goddesses. In “And is It?” Shiva wails with a killer list of sick chemicals: “chlordane… dieldrin… fenoxaprop ethyl… paraquat….” She brings down the wrath of language, “like the end of the world.”

The poet in a “voix celeste of all the populace” asks Cassandra “= what says the contours of your mufti =.” The speech is studded with bubbles: “zymosis…simulacra… polyvalent.” Like pearls sewn onto a tapestry, Waldman weaves the past into the future but never ignores the present. She writes letters to Senators to “stop the war in Iraq.”

Redemption comes in your own lifestyle as Waldman, like a true troubadour, claims, “I live chez the young poets of the past…”

Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

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