I write from the fringlings of Stockholm, after being torn away from my Eckerö home so unfairly, so prematurely. My Artist Residency came to a duckbilious but bountiful bubble yesterday, as I gave a lecture/performance for a very handsome crowd indeed (immaculate grooming, attractive cake-eating).
There was talk of sound poetry, of Jaap Blonk, “Ursonate,” nonsense literature, and the nonsense that peeks out of The Kalevala, Finland’s national epic, compiled by Elias Lönnrot. To my horror, the translator of the Oxfrog Wonk Classics edition of The Kalevala states, “A few nonsense words generated by play have been rendered, in our less tolerant tongue, with rare words” (lii). Another nonsense star falls from the sky, as this booby of a translator translates out the nonsense—because, he claims, English is less tolerant of it?! Of all the festering frogbuckets! It’s no wonder the world is getting warmer and my shoes are getting tighter.
After talk of the International Phonetic Alphabet (check out the clickable audio version here!), and some crazy phonetics action, it was time for me to embark on an almost-full performance of Kurt Schwitters “Ursonate.” This is a goal I’ve had ever since a certain event on November 8th last year. And just as the Dadaists were exploding a world gone mad, well, we’re not too far from that now. That—and of course, the fact that it’s hilarious and clever and so beautifully constructed, and something that children seem to take a shine to, just as the Dadaists thought they would.
The show is over, folks, and I’ve left the building. Many thanks to the Åland cultural council, the folks at Tsarevna and Mercedes Chocolaterie, the crew at the museum, and special shout-out to Mervi Appel, Yvonne Törneroos, and Malin Åberg, who protected me from the giant bunnies and made my time there a hoot and a half and even a little more hoot, after the half went and you just felt like a little bit more hoot.
I include a short clip of the performance here. I will eventually do a better recording and post the whole thing.
For all of you who happen to be in the Åland Islands, please do drop by this lecture/performance! I will be talking about nonsense, poetry, nonsense poetry, poetic nonsense, nonsensical poetasting, and pudding. I will also be whollopping the wilds with sound poetry, and tales of my study of the Kalevala and Ålandish lichen. This will top off my writing residency here, and afterwards, there shall be much gnashing of teeth and beating of mournful mungbuckets.
Click here for the Eckerö Post & Tullhus Facebook event site.
Nonsens at Eckerö Post & Tullhus: Poetry, Sound and Strangeness
Perhaps it was being raised on the Swedish chef’s jaunty genius, or perhaps it is the perspicuous peaks and valleys of intonative incline; or perhaps it is the historical hiccups that created Swedish-speaking Finns (better than Fiendish-speaking Swinns, my Farfar used to say, and he knew a few swarthy Swinns in his day); or it could be the Lunatic Lund spirit, found seven years ago right under the nose of the Nose Museum and the highly- regarded PhD on Nosery; but it does seem that nonsense, slow like honey wrapped in a five pound note, comes with the slow spring, in the mossy forests’ underfoot crunch or the absurdly large bunnies, tempting one down a rabbit hole, of this island of Eckerö, in the Åland Islands, beTwixt and between like an early adolescent on beHalloween.
Whatever currents that brought me here, I find myself in an Artist Residency at the Eckerö Post and Customs House, built in 1828 to prongify the Swedes and the rest of the world, a kind of Pre-Putin shirtless horseback riding through the cutting Baltic wind to put a puffed up front on a crumbled empire.
My mission: to create, in this hybrid archipelago, some strange hybrid of sound poetry and literary nonsense, something that some adults will find terribly difficult, and something some children will find terribly funny and something most will just find terrible. It will happen by way of something like this—and so consider yourself fairly warned.
I would get to work if I could just find a tabell that wasn’t bustidd.