handholding with Akomfrah: Songs and Other Sevens, Version 1: Unaccompanied

from by Tracie Morris

  • "As anyone who’s gone to the movies or a poetry reading or church in a Black neighborhood or an Indian neighborhood knows we *talk back*. We must have to in order to make our own space in the performance, our own space in the world. Morris is mighty in time and sound and this book is a score but also an instructional manual for the creation of similar art. Akomfrah, Stein, Kubrick, Schwitters and Cage may be her starting points—Mullen, Bernstein and the art of benshi her muses on the journey—but the power of Morris’ mind and poetry happen in the *moment* and it is entirely her own."

    "Good thing she’s there to hold your hand because, from Stanley Kubrick to John Cage, it’s a wild ride Tracie Morris will take you on. Artists make each other, she says, and in the service of póësis, this woman’s voice is one powerful instrument. Her stunning responses, in kind, to the works that call her range as widely as their counterparts, yet they all share—and recharge—the primordial language that is poetry."—JODY GLADDING

    "Tracie Morris’ “handholdings” are distinct experiments in text, sub-text, sound and image.Written as collaborations with iconic works by Stanley Kubrick, John Akomfrah, Gertrude Stein, Kurt Schwitters and John Cage, Morris stages her original, performative re-readings underlined and in the foreground. The resulting “hand-holdings” are neo-benshi/not-neo-benshi: talk backs (and back talk), revealing the semantic slides and syntactic craters in film and non-film texts. These “hand holdings” tell the withheld and re-tell the told, fold in the missing pieces of the social body—Black, woman, queer and gender ambiguous—to redefine reception, audience and intention. Reading this work while watching the films or texts reveals Morris’s achievement—a brilliant choreography that seduces the reader into pinwheeling delight."—ERICA HUNT

    Tracie Morris is a magician. Her soundings are brilliant alchemy and when she plays on Schwitters, on Stein, on Cage, on Akomfah, on Kubrick with post-post mod forms like neo-benshi, she is total radicalized body and voice. The work is deeply transcultural and re-animates new knowledge to poetry, how we can invigorate our bodies in transcendent vocalized forms, in so many directions at once with reference to a written literary and social continuum. I have been transformed by her performances, and now this beautiful exegesis enhances the mix with the subtle, witty, and profound originality that she embodies, and rises to, always. I am lifted. Read this and listen.—ANNE WALDMAN

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from Handholding, Five Kinds, released April 5, 2016



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Kore Press Tucson, Arizona

Tracie Morris is a poet, singer, critic, scholar, bandleader & actor who has performed internationally. She holds an MFA in Poetry, studied classical British & American acting technique, is an alum of Cave Canem & other prestigious residencies. She holds a PhD in Performance Studies & is Professor & Coordinator of the MFA program in Performance + Performance Studies at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. ... more

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