The University of Wynwood has an epic plan: everyone in Miami is to encounter a poem at least once during the month of April. Their O, Miami poetry festival, devoted to this cause, has a lot to cover. But they believe they are up to the challenge with an extensive month-long program that will bring contemporary poetry into unexpected places for all kinds of audiences.
Part of that includes the University of Wynwood's presentation of Nox and Stacks, two separate dance/poetry collaborations, at the Moore Building in Miami's Design District. MacArthur Award-winning writer and classics scholar Anne Carson supplies the words. Carson has long been a fan of contemporary dance, and lately she's been focusing the marriage of poetry and movement in a series of interdisciplinary performances. She explores the idea of a poetry reading, bringing her words off the page and offering them up for translation into other abstract languages. Seems to be a perfect match for the O, Miami vision.
One of Carson's earliest interdisciplinary poetry performances was
Possessive Used as Drink (Me): A Lecture in the Form of 15 Sonnets,
which makes reference to choreographer Merce Cunningham. She asked three
of Cunningham's dancers to create a film as a visual extension of her
words. Choreographer Rashaun Mitchell was one of those dancers, and Nox
is their latest project together.
Carson wrote Nox as an elegy to
her brother after his unexpected death -- it floats into and out of
fragments of personal history. She also weaves in her own translation of
Catallus's Poem 101, a memorial to a lost life originally written in
Latin. Mitchell was given free reign to interpret Carson's writing, and
he responded with stripped-down movement describing psychological states
of mourning and loss.
Carson's words come through as an audio track.
She herself is also physically part of the performance and at times she
steps forward to speak. Mitchell performs in duet with fellow Cunningham
dancer Silas Riener, who was intimately involved in the construction of
the piece, and the entire event has been adapted specifically for the
four floors of the Moore Building.
Stacks is an entirely
different project generated from the same seed idea of pairing poetry
and dance. For this piece, Carson collaborates with yet another
Cunningham dancer, Jonah Bokaer, along with sculptor Peter Cole.
reads aloud, moving through space with the dancers as they take down,
rearrange and rebuild Cole's cardboard box towers. Bokaer, like
Mitchell, has been actively exploring how dance interacts with other
media, and Stacks represents his latest venture into interdisciplinary
Nox (April 7, at 7 p.m.) and Stacks (April 8, at 7
p.m.) will be one of the highlights of the O, Miami program, offering
rare encounters with live poetry performance. For tickets to Nox, visit
nox.eventbrite.com and for Stacks, visit stacks.eventbrite.com. Both
performances will be held at the Moore Building (4040 N.E. Second Ave., Miami).