In the spirit of National Poetry Month in America, Harmony Holiday‘s AstroandAfrosonics project is inaugurating a by-us-for-us iteration of an audio archive of poems and poetry-related material:
We hope to record at least one poem or related-excerpt or piece of writing each day this month, with an emphasis on poems and texts by Black, Brown and Beige writers, artists and thinkers or writers/artists/thinkers in solidarity with aesthetics that are less-than-dominant within traditional archives. One iconic example of the zeitgeist of the texts we mean to record is Langston Hughes’ ‘Our Spring’ a poem from his underknown collection of poems and essays Good Morning Revolution and one that he himself did not read aloud as often as others:
Bring us with our hands bound,
Our teeth knocked out,
Our heads broken,
Bring us shouting curses, or crying,
Or silent as tomorrow.
Bring us to the electric chair,
The shooting wall,
or the guillotine.
But you can’t kill
All of us.
You can’t silence,
All of us.
Kill Vanzetti in Boston and
We’re like those rivers
Another example would be excerpts from Fred Moten’s book In the Break such as this one from the section entitled ‘The Dark Lady and the Sexual Cut’:
This is the ghostwritten anacrusis of an anti-slave narrative, a narrative after slavery, narration of the ante-slave. Carry it and start it, initiate it, an ongoing or too-long-running tale she cuts and cuts off, cutting off “her” and their recitation by a musical abundance. “Lady Sings the Blues” cuts Lady Sings the Blues. Beginning dissonantly, anarchronically, in the interruption of a narrative we already know… two phonographies: the violence she does to her words when singing is duplicated in her writing.
Another example still, is this passage from Pessoa’s Factless Autobiography:
Every day things happen in the world that can’t be explained by any law of things we know. Every day they’re mentioned and forgotten. and the same mystery that brought them takes them away, transforming their secret into oblivion. Such is the law by which things that can’t be explained must be forgotten. The visible world goes on as usual in the broad daylight. Otherness watches from the shadows.
The goal is to simply record people with beautiful voices (which is most people) reciting beautiful, rarely-heard-aloud, texts that open our minds, bodies, souls and spirits to new or underserved poetic traditions. We wouldn’t mind getting some members of Wu-Tang on board to add some recognizable voices to the mix while we’re at it, but one step at a time. In addition to making this archive available to the public we will reuse and repurpose the recordings in compilations and dj sets and however else we can, so that they are accessed by more ears; and we will add the recordings to our budding digital archive of rare jazz and spoken and Afrosonic and Astrosonic poetry and poetics recordings which we are outlining here: http://afrosonics.blogspot.com/. If you or anyone you know has such a voice and may be able to make a recording to add to the archive, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email or send a recording to: AstroandAfrosonics@gmail.com . We can also send some ideas for texts to those who request them. For now, we’re looking for minimal, raw recordings— just the grit of the human voice reciting the poems and poetics against some good new fashioned silence. This is an experiment, but we hope to make into a ritual.