Wednesday, April 30, 2008

the poetry of raining...

kaprow great bear pamphlet 1966


black highway painted black
rain washes away

paper men made in bare orchard branches
rain washes away

sheets of writing spread over a field
rain washes away

little gray boats painted along a gutter
rain washes away

naked bodies painted gray
rain washes away

bare trees painted red
rain washes away

allan kaprow, raining, from some recent happenings, something else press, 1966

for the last day of poetry month, as kaprow is evaporating from my head just before i step into a project in philadelphia next week; it seemed fitting to end it all with kaprow's beautiful score for raining. the piece involves a number of activities where personal experiences and intimate artifacts are slowly washed away. while i'm clearly a gatherer of objects (as well as a maker of them), kaprow always manages to re-enforce the idea that it is not the objects themselves that have value, but our experiences with them, and the emotional residue, inspiration, and echoes they leave behind.

the great bear pamphlet series, published by dick higgins something else press, is one of my favorite little series of books, particularly as they are printed in different colors on cheap construction type paper. the titles run from scores by alison knowles, to russolo's art of noise, to some early happening scores of claes oldenburg. the entire set has recently been re-printed in facsimile form, which is nice, but doesn't come close to the feel of the originals - one approaches printing differently when a book sells for 60 - 80 cents, and $150...

kaprow's raining suggests that the content doesn't simply exist, as much as it is made through the activity one goes through to engage with or create it. the experience of buying (and reading) a new copy of an old book is generally to seek information. the experience of discovering a copy of a book printed in its time is an expanded experience that allows touch and smell to have an impact on how one reads the words. as national poetry month ends, please continue to seek needles in haystacks.

p.s. if you want to read the entire series, you can click here

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