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Rachel Eliza Griffiths, courtesy of the artist.

“Turning Towards a Radical Listening” Poet Conversations


By Alison Burstein, Curator, Media and Engagement

October 2, 2019

How does language shape—or even program—our lives? What happens to language when it is translated and transcribed through apps or other modes of technology? In what ways are social biases encoded in these translations? These are among the questions James Allister Sprang raises in his ongoing project Turning Towards a Radical Listening. Currently in residence at The Kitchen, Sprang is in the process of developing a new iteration of this project that will give shape to these inquiries through a sculptural sound-based installation and performances.

As a central aspect of his project, Sprang has invited three poets to take part in public conversations with him: Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Tracie Morris, and M. NourbeSe Philip. During these events, the writers will read selections from their work, discuss with Sprang their relationships to language as material, and share their perspectives on the role that language plays in constructing our realities. These exchanges will be recorded, and the resulting files will be used as material for subsequent live performances, during which Sprang will run them through voice-to-text software and other applications to highlight—and potentially to make new meaning from—algorithmic alterations and glitches.

Featured here are videos that introduce the innovative work of these three poets. To hear more from each of these writers, please join us at The Kitchen for conversations between Sprang and Philip on Saturday, October 5 at 4pm; Griffiths on Wednesday, October 9 at 7pm; and Morris on Saturday, October 12 at 4pm.

Mike Minions of Okanagan College captured this great footage of M. NourbeSe Philip reading from Zong! at Word Ruckus (January 16, 2010--Black Box Theatre).
This Dust Road: Self Portrait is an excerpt from the longer final poem in Rachel Eliza Griffiths' newest collection of poetry, Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose).
Bassist and composer William Parker premieres Trail of Tears Continuum (1492-2019), a new multimedia work tracing the de-evolution of humanity in America. Part of the IDENTITY: FREEDOM series.