Some powerful word art went down at Parse Seco’s “A Poem is Where the Heart Is,” the monthlong exhibition of a multidisciplinary “body” of poetry celebrating National Poetry Month in Taos.
Weekly “Type-Ins,” “Word Exchanges” and “Live Poetry Performances” were featured, and the last “Word Exchange” April 26 was jammed with beats: Beat poet readings, drum song by Alexandra Tilottama Grajeda, and rousing soul-afire poet Rachel M. Walls (word up, world!). A round-robin of poems by everyone who chose to share work after the free potluck finished out the evening. (Check out the live recording at Facebook.com/parseseco/ ).
Fear not, however, the beat goes on at a closing reception Saturday (May 12) starting at 7 p.m. Come early to get a seat and catch the interactive sound installation assembled by Jamin Reyes, Brett Tomadin, Sam Fischer and Marshall James Kavanaugh.
“Come join in the cacophonous bliss excited by five typewriters and a series of noise effects creating the folklore of the Taos Hum through poetic device,” curator/poet Kavanaugh writes about the closing bash. “A hum that'll provide the under layers for readings of everything written inside the space throughout the month of April, AKA National Poetry Month.”
To get a feel for the growing “corpus” of work, Tempo visited Parse Seco and crew in April. It was a treat to see those ancient devices, the five typewriters so ceremoniously displayed in the gallery, so honored. The “Type-ins” during April apparently drew some hilarious comments from younger visitors, like school groups and DreamTree Project participants.
Kavanaugh said every time there was a different group of young people they’d all ask, “How do you use this typewriter?” It seems incredulous to anyone over 25, but it’s true. One teacher’s middle school kids all jammed the keys when first trying to make the words flow.
“I had to write instructions on them,” Kavanaugh said, pointing to a little typed memo on a typewriter case, “Tap keys hard, harder. ”
Prompts were given either verbally by a teacher or photographically, like shots taken by Gallery A.D. artist Jiro. DreamTree youth came through, wrote poems and then Kavanaugh gave them prompts and disposable cameras so they could make their own film poems.
“Writing poetry is such a solitary activity, it’s nice to create a space where there’s a way of participating,” Kavanaugh said.
One prompt produced a hilariously strong yet individualistic statement. “Tell me about the Mountain,” the prompt read. And the student answered, “No.”
The closing reception will be a showcase of the April is Poetry Month word art, plus performance, a sound installation connected to a “typewriter orchestra,” Kavanaugh said and “dueling typewriters, bands and poets, with typing going on in the background.”
“In Taos there’s a ton of stuff going on,” Kavanaugh said, but at Parse Seco “there’s not the stress of having to ‘make it’ – it feels like Taos maybe has less egotism and maybe more leadership.” Such inclusiveness is key to Parse Seco’s raison d’etre.
According to their online mission statement Parse Seco provides a platform for underrepresented creatives of any stripe, be it digital, performance, music, visual, mechanical or whatever, “to present an immersive experience for the community in an intimate setting.” They also strive to “disrupt unjust entitlement of public art space … but also to act as a mentor for those who may not view artistic expression or artistic professions as obtainable due to their race, sexual orientation subject matter or income class.”
Residency artists must donate at least eight hours of free instruction or two workshops, to community and/or at-risk youth..
Located at 487 State Road 150, Parse Seco’s hours are Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment. For more information, contact Operating Director Cecilia Cuff or Gallery Director and Space Curator Joel Meinholz at (312) 593-3948.