Monday, September 18, 2006
Frank Andrick and Friends—Sept. 18
Frank Andrick, miraculous survivor of a thousand maladies and recent returnee from the Lodi hospital tour, took the stage at SPC for a very spirited performance. He brought his buddies Eric and Terryll, who started off the evening . . . some might say as warm-up poets. But this is not show business. This is poetry. On, then, with the high seriousness.
Eric read several poems solo about his recent conversion to poetry. The poems employed mostly very conversational diction that owed their rhythms to surrealist stream-of-consciousness and hip-hop's gigabytes o' internal rhyme. Then he played didgeridoo, snorting and huffing at it like he was invoking the Dreamtime gods via a massive Rasta spliff.
Then his partner Terryll took her spot in front of the podium and asked the audience to call out a number. A number was called out, and she proceeded to do that number on her playlist, with didgeridoo accompaniment (mostly of the low-slow variety . . . as those of us in the front row could hear their mumbled instructions to each other). The first one was dedicated to apathy. She read with a kind of half-song, half-speech lilt in her voice that occasionally slurred words for musical effect the way Rickie Lee Jones might. There were love poems, poems to friends that might seem like love songs but weren't.
Frank Andrick then joined Eric and Terryll for a group reading of a piece that had been performed at the Poetry Marathon, "Frank Andrick is a Name-Dropping Whore." In characteristic style Andrick made fun of himself for this. If I had a nickel for every poet that made fun of himself, well . . . I'd still be poor. Andrick can efface himself in public, and get everyone to watch. How does he do that?
Andrick read a piece that had been translated from the Sumerian, a 4000-year-old text that Frank claimed to be the oldest known poem. Frank, as experimental mythologist, read this piece, editing it from its source so that the stream of imagery read like a very contemporary piece full of jump-cuts and abrupt changes of tone and register. but Frank assured that he did not adulterate the content, what was actually said, in any way from its original form.
Andrick then read some of his pensées, short little "deep thoughts" that were designed to grab the listener and let him/her think about the gravity of what had been said. It was wisdom for those who are in a hurry.
After his recent battle with the medical unknown, Andrick read two poems that were "inspired(?)"/"thrust upon him" as a result of that experience. These poems were a combination of phrases gleaned from his nurses and other medical attendants as well as loose thoughts aimed at oblivion and fueled by the anxiety of his experience. They were phantasmagorical episodes of a descent into medical hell where a syringe is not just a syringe but a surrogate for the great-deflating-pin aimed at the soul's balloon.
The highlight of the evening, though, was Andrick's reading of a piece he had written upon the passing of the great surrealist Philip Lamantia. Lamantia, long known among surrealists as the one anointed by Andre Breton to carry the surrealist torch across America, was a force in the poem that Andrick read. Philip Lamantia's former wife, Nancy Peters, had gotten a hold of it, and proclaimed it to be written in the spirit of her late husband. Andrick captured the essence of Lamantia in the piece complete with its multisyllabic incantations and invocation of the ancient mythic underworld. If Lamantia was the torch-bearer for Breton, could it be that in our humble midst here in the Sacramento region, another torch has been passed to uphold the tradition of American surrealism? Frank Andrick, may you long be counted among the living heirs of Lamantia rather than among the sick and wasted in hospital beds!
Like one of the great mystics, Frank Andrick plays peek-a-boo with the gods