Full Title: “Where does music end and poetry begin? David Grubbs wrote his first poem to find out (via Washington Post)”
“Now that the audience is assembled,” a new book-length poem by musician David Grubbs, reminds us that listening can feel stranger than dreaming. The poem is a real-time report from an imaginary concert where “holographic feedback” clogs the mind’s ear, where sleeping audience members generate “two shades of melismatic snore,” where an arsenal of gongs erupts in “a shimmering both audible and visible” — but then a “dissident group favors melting down the gongs and starting again.”
As untethered as the poem feels, Grubbs is writing from experience. He got his start in the 1980s as a teenager in the Kentucky hardcore band Squirrel Bait, and eventually landed in Chicago where he formed the outstanding experimental duo Gastr del Sol with Jim O’Rourke. Since then, Grubbs has collaborated with visionary composers (Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros), deep-end songwriters (Will Oldham, Royal Trux) and, perhaps most notably, the great poet and scholar Susan Howe. In 2014, Grubbs published “Records Run the Landscape,” an illuminating book about John Cage and the 1960s avant-garde — and as soon as he finished it, he felt himself being pushed in an unexpected direction. He wanted to write the first poem of his life.
Grubbs visits Rhizome on Wednesday night to read from his new book and to perform music on guitar from “Creep Mission,” his 2017 solo album. “Separately,” he points out, an affable glint of Kentucky still in his voice. “The book is confusing enough as it is!”