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.