Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Moving Walkways by K. Lorraine Graham

So, during this cross-country drive, all 50+ hours of it, sometimes a boy became a little drowsy. Now, naturally a boy prefers not to become dead, and therefore stern practices were employed to keep a boy awake, such as: stinging slaps to each cheek! More hot coffee! More stinging slaps! Different music! Change the channel! More stinging slaps! (Enough stinging slaps brings on a bit of a headache, unfortunately, but better a self-inflicted headache than to run into a truck.)

Now, for the first 20 or so hours of this I did not start reaching for the poetry CDs, because, it is well known, poetry CDS are notably soporific. And yet finally I was tired of hot coffee and hitting myself in the face, tired of my CDs and quite tired of classic rock and Nashville country, and so I decided to put in the one poetry CD I had with me: Moving Walkways by K. Lorraine Graham (released recently by Narrowhouse Recordings). One reason I decided to do this was that I remembered from recent readings in LA how aggro K. Lorraine's reading style has become, and she had also assured me when I bought the thing that if I enjoyed anger there would be a lot there for me. And indeed the CD was steely! Lorraine's delivery is precise and forceful, and I found myself much more alert listening to her read than I had been listening to Pecos, Texas's hiphop station. The poems offer assessments of a woman's situation in society now, using irony, charm, and unexpected associations to challenge any sense of women's situation being normal or transparent. The beauty of the poems is their whimsy, I suppose, a sort of outraged whimsy that draws associative connections very casually and lightly--making this a poetry of the everyday, but of a threatened everyday. And another part of the whimsy, it seems to me, is that Lorraine ever-so-casually threatens back--this is a poetry of response which, while you are in its spell, displaces anyone else's everyday with the everyday of this specific consciousness. This is a form of the whimsical which is ambitious and invasive and very funny--whimsy on the attack.

Due to the difficulty of quoting a recording, I won't try to do that, but I would recommend this recording, for fans of Lorraine's work, fans of well-read poetry, and those who are planning to drive at night across hundreds of miles of arid grassland.

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