Saturday, 6 August 2011

Rahilly Responds

— What is poetry's problem?

Line breaks. I.e, vertical obesity, horizontal neglect, return keys bashed to death, margins wasted far and wide. And to think poets live in cities.

— What is the best way to write a non-eyebrow poem?

There is only one way to write a non-eyebrow poem.  I first did it during a trip to Utah in 2005.

In a moment of mental ecstasy brought on by a gorgeous clearing in the red landscape of Moab, I encounter a large, loud, gear-heavy machine looming ahead on the horizon.  It is nineteen feet tall, and ten wide.

In the center of this citadel of oil and metal, rests a transparent, human-sized cylinder. I am asked to sit down inside of it. For someone like myself, who possesses woolly-mammoth-like, expressive eyebrows, even the process of sitting down can take minutes—what, with the rapid ascents, plunges and furrowing jostling my head several feet in different direction with each such spasm.

You see, I’d never learned to express myself properly, and can make poetry in no other way than by moving my eyebrows with the freneticism of a Parkinson’s patient dancing to vomitechno. In this moment, my eyebrows, if appropriately translated, may have said something along the lines of “the machine so great / a man’s shell molted incarnate / nary a button nor plug to call the graze of my finger-punch  / he crafts the damp soil into a floor to hold my lunch.”

Once sitting, two large metal arms, each like a dentist’s lamp, navigate gently toward my forehead. Unbeknownst to me, an invisible calming mist has filled the cylinder, melting my anxiety with mellow recollections of a happy childhood I never had. But, then, without warning, my eyebrows are locked down by the twin clamps of the machine’s arms.  I am roused from my daydream with the terse rumblings of its engine accompanied by an overwhelming smell, much like a self-cleaning oven cleaning itself.

My eyebrows are immobile.  A panel opens in the cylinder, and a notepad from the local Bank of America clumsily presents itself on the end of a rod.  I feel my arms rise and tumble, my body shift and turn, and yet my eyebrows are completely stationary. The machine chortles and pops. The view grows foggy, and I fade.  My recollection of what happened then is blurry at best.

Hours must have past.  Dusk has settled on the desert.  I look at the notepad and see what I have never been able to say: it’s pure catharsis written by a smooth hand, rendered in elegant English: the experience of sleeping.

I’ve used the machine many times since then, and as time has passed, technology has allowed the device to shrink in size. In fact, everything you are reading right now had been channelled through my eyebrows by my garage unit.

Thank you for listening to my story.

— If you had a choice between sitting down to dinner with Damien Hirst or Louise Bourgeois or Ai Wei Wei who would you choose and, like, dude, why?

I would sit down to dinner with Weiwei, but I would sit down 8000 miles away, and consume a single grape with my eyes closed while humming a falsetto F sharp.

— Is there a difference between visual poetry and video art?

Visual poetry is like a credit sequence of a film, but without the film and sound before, so the credits have to explain the film.  Video art is like a no-budget film without a title, sound, or a plot, and is either much more interesting, or much more boring.

If film were reality, video art would be the commercials.

Also, visual poetry has less yellow in it than video art.

—If you could fill a swimming pool with anything other than water... you know the rest!

Pedialyte and Kraft Singles’ wrappers.

(This is contingent on the fact that I would not be required to pay a fee associated with the general upkeep nor the removal of accumulated rainwater and spittle collected from both senile and delinquent visitors.)

William Rahilly is a musician and video artist in Brooklyn, NY. 
Please visit William Rahilly (find your own url!) for more information.

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