Published on Poetry New York (http://www2.evergreen.edu/poetryny)

Julie Patton and Charles Bernstein.

Julie Patton and Charles Bernstein
Evergreen State College reading series
at the Bowery Poetry Club- 5/6/8

    Julie Patton approaches the stage like she’s been in a frantic rush to arrive. She sits on the edge of the stage and shifts through a pile of papers. “The average poem I have is at least a book” she says to us. She reads us a poem based on an interview with her Mother. Throughout this poem her mother talks about painting, specifically addressing the color blue. Her Mother explains to her formulas for achieving certain shades of blue. In this explanation she discusses color theory, color opposites, tones, etc. While doing this the conversation weaves in and out of other topics using blue to connect things. They talk about things like blue foods, blue trees, making paint names based off of the blues. Patton says that these are just the conversations she had with her Mother and she took the text as is. Therefore, her Mother is also a poet or the translation of an interview into poetry becomes poetic in the way that Patton uses her words. She breaks them apart in the middle and says them in a way they wouldn’t normally be spoken.
    As Charles Bernstein reaches the microphone he leans into it and whispers, “Can you hear me?” And without waiting for a response, “That’s very good.” The first poem he reads is about what changes need to be made on each page you are writing. He describes a bit about what is going on and then states what should be changed. This seems to document an artist’s editing mind. Bernstein addresses the audience very directly. He knows that most of the audience is students from Evergreen so he reads his poem Thank You For Saying Thank You, and jokes with us that the people in New York are so friendly. In his last poem Ballad of the Girly Man he said, “The truth is hidden in a trail of tears, the scabs of the mourner’s grow thick with fear.” Most of Bernstein’s poetry managed to vanish from my memory but his character sticks around. Every once in a while he would create images that would also stick around.

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