My Fun-a-Day Philadelphia project is handmaking a tiny book every day in January! I’m making them with cheap-as-free materials (printer paper I lifted from work, my girlfriend’s sewing kit, a raft of colored pencils I have not sharpened since my teens) and filling them with the text of poems I wrote about various months in 2012.
Porn books and librarians have always had a passionate, mutually defining relationship—it was, in fact, a prudish French librarian in the early nineteenth century who coined the word pornography. So it comes as no surprise that the sexy librarian, a fixture of the pornographic imagination, is most at home in books. … Wasn’t library sex all about harmonizing books with experience, about connecting our unruly and our rule-abiding selves?
OK, this was hilarious, but please stop having sex in our library. There’s an out-of-the-way staircase we take to access one of the closed stacks which must seem like a very private location to the people who leave dated graffiti on the wall, bragging of lewd acts over the past decades. The archivist in me wants to document this little piece of (mostly) queer history, but the hourly employee in me wants to never, ever encounter these gross people who think it’s fine to have sex at my place of work. Boundaries!!
Melissa wrote: The poem is in two parts, representing the experience of two consecutive Junes, so the idea of using a looper pedal for this song seemed apt; like canonical lines of music, our calendar loops, but the addition of new layers and developments change the experience of each iteration. The voice in the text is intensely personal, and there’s similarly something very personal about harmonizing with the sound of your own voice using a looper; in our day to day lives, the only time we might hear our own voice layered on top of itself is inside our own heads.
I’m obsessed with this new series of creepy-beautiful glass sculpture by my sister Madeline (MadHotGlass). She calls them “Floaters,” after the transparent specks on your vision which can’t be precisely focused upon.
The flameworked and painted glass is almost disturbingly alive— they seem like a blend of Edward Gorey creatures, microscopic pond life, and neural dendrites.
“Push-ups and/or chest presses will be useful if you ever have to keep an enemy in a shallow grave while someone else covers them with dirt. If your life goes entirely differently though, you will find the muscle training useful for keeping adoring fans from getting in your personal space.”
I was hugely privileged to be part of this new composition by Melissa Dunphy, who set the text of a poem I wrote to music for solo vocalist and looper pedal. The concert was one of the most extraordinary things I’ve experienced. I have never collaborated with someone in this way and it felt a little bit like watching a dream I had had turned into a movie! I would love to work with Melissa again— but I’d also love to make a trapeze piece for this song!
The Inquirer had this lovely review: “Best of all was Melissa Dunphy’s ‘June.’ Baritone Brian Ming Chu’s unaccompanied voice was electronically reprised in canonic counterpoint, growing into four or five voices playing leapfrog with one another. The first of the two songs explored Lauren Rile Smith’s poem about the lethargy of summer heat with great poetic control, neatly scaling back the electronic activity when necessary but ultimately conveying, with considerable mastery, the delirium of congested thought patterns. More, please.”