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to trail behind a reading

I worked on the video piece to trail behind a reading in the summer and early fall of 2013 and it was first publicly shared as part of “The Book” issue (number 12) of the online quarterly journal Boulderpavement: Arts & Ideas, which was put out by Banff Centre Press.

This video was envisioned as a work in progress. It’s just over 19 minutes in length.

Shortly after starting to work on and to write this page, here on my website, I realized that there was going to be an overlap and even some repetition of material on this page, with what I’ve shared on other posts/pages. In a way I suppose, this is inevitable because of the interrelated nature of the individual works in this project.

Sometimes a poem will grow into bookwork, or poems might grow into an installation which might then eventually lead to another bookwork; copies of a bookwork might become tangible material with which I build an installation, or parts of them might be read or dispersed during performative readings; and sometimes like with to trail behind a reading, a bookwork leads to performative readings, that then leads to working on a video piece. It sometimes feels like one large strange loop, with many tangential works extending from and returning to wings walking water.

Anyways I say all this not as an apology but as an acknowledgement of why there might be at times the duplication of some material or information, or the reappearance of a piece that you might have come across on another page of this website. Like I say, it’s inevitable that this would eventually happen since I do sometimes work with loops and returns, repetition and shifts. I suppose it’s a way for me to get closer to something that I am trying to sense more clearly or to understand more fully, as well.

So, back to talking about the video piece to trail behind a reading. I’ve gone back into my journals and notes, looking for the day when this work began and the following is a part of what I wrote on Wednesday morning, October 27th, 2010:

I am still quite tired but I feel like I really need to settle into things today. Settle into some deep thinking and assessing of what to do from here … and to settle into some writing about the ghost of the young girl beside the gravestone, that Stephen White saw on Holland Island … That whole story of the sinking island and rising waters … of the only remaining house now beginning to collapse … of that simple phrase on the young girl’s gravestone that simply said, “Forget me not, is all I ask” … the fluttering sheets on the bed that has jutted out the window as the second floor collapsed … and the brown pelicans on that island … all [these] are images that really moved me when I first read the newspaper article, and that continue to move me, and in a way you could even say I suppose, [that] they continue to haunt me. They linger. They stay with me, stick to me in this damp weather like thin fabric that can cool the skin.

[…] And there is the really strong feeling I have, of some sort of link or connection between this young girl and these strong emotive mental images, and of Kokyo riding the crane. I don’t know really why I feel such a strong connection, but I do. And it feels like my task is really to stay with this, to figure out what it is. To understand it. To come to know it, even if it is coming to know it (to feel it, to understand it, to smell it, to sense it) by writing, by working on a piece of fiction … I always felt that there was more that I needed to write about Kokyo […] but I couldn’t quite figure it out. I still don’t know exactly how all this will work itself out, or how even the two are linked and connected, but I do feel a strong thread between them. And that’s the thing, when there is a really strong feeling, I can’t seem to just forget about it. It’s present and my job is to figure it out. My task [it] seems, in moments like this [is] to figure out a way to make the image clearer. Either to write something, write the story, or to build related works, or something. I need to find some way of making this tangible, for myself at least, so that I can let it go.

From that day this piece began. The storypoem A Young Girl, a Young Woman, and a Woman Nearing Sixty grew from that morning. I continued to work on the text during the following year, which very quickly began to feel like it needed to be a performative bookwork. In October 2011, the first version of that bookwork was completed although I continued to live and play with the piece, off and on, and eventually after much tweaking and testing of text, layout, and material form, the single looped-line version was finally completed in March of 2013.

I went on to do performative readings with this looped-line bookwork at the place where the Spray River meets up with the Bow River in Banff, Alberta; along the banks of the Yoho River and at the base of Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, British Columbia; and on the beach in Port Townsend, Washington. These readings were videotaped, mostly so that I could use the footage as material to ponder, to experiment with, and as a way of ‘thinking’ through the process of developing this project further.

It was in the summer and fall of 2013 however that I worked with the footage, editing and breathing my way through the process, to try and see if I could put together a video piece that I felt could stand on its own, aside from all the tangential thoughts and ideas that were and are still brewing in me with regards to A Young Girl, a Young Woman, and a Woman Nearing SixtyAnd so, this is how to trail behind a reading came into being.

(Thursday, January 9th, 2014)

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The image at the top of this page was cropped from a photograph that was taken by J. D. Brown.

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