Manual Cinema

A few years ago, one of my proudest professional moments, I was part of a series of many performances, starting with a week-long stint at the Poetry Foundation, and then an east coast tour, of my poems from Fjords by a Chicago-based shadow puppet company called Manual Cinema, a composer, Kyle Vegter, and a string quartet, Chicago Q Ensemble. If you missed those performances, you can watch a 15 minute excerpt of it here (the entire performance was over an hour), and get a pretty good idea of how things went down. 


Kyle Vegter is my friend, a talented Chicago-based musician and multi-media artist, and one of the brilliant minds behind Manual Cinema, the shadow-puppetry troupe that put on all those performances of Fjords last year. He and I are working together on a little project where I overhear someone talking on a bluetooth device and text him some of the snippets from that conversation, and then he has to immediately write those snippets down on whatever paper is available to him and compose something musically, right then and there, using that exact text. We’ll perform these compositions in Chicago at  Constellation on July 19 along with other musicians, yet to be announced, during my poetry book tour with Joshua Marie Wilkinson and Mathias Svalina this summer.

These are four of the texts so far. Also, I took this photo of him. 

Manual Cinema, the cinematic shadow puppetry company from Chicago who performed Fjords this spring, is now presenting their newest and most technically-sophisticated feature-length work to date: Lula del Ray, in a limited engagement at the Den Theater in Chicago’s Wicker Park from November 29th to December 16th. If you live in Chicago, please go and please tell them I miss them.

I’m making a little film about the Fjords tour with Manual Cinema and I have a lot of outtakes. Here’s a little something that won’t make it in, but it is a reminder of pure joy from a few months ago. Here’s the recipe: Janaka Stucky, my van, Will Oldham, a dirty sock, a book, late March sun, and Mississippi back roads.

For four nights in Chicago on February 23-26, Manual Cinema and Q Ensemble are together performing a live-scored cinematic shadow puppet show based on some poems in my forthcoming book, FJORDS (Black Ocean). But first the project needs to raise some funds. Watch this video to see what it is all about, to find out what is needed, and then help us out by donating and by spreading the word to others who may be into it.