Monday, July 09, 2007

Ted Pope's rEdlipstick Goes Live

It's like the worst horror
movie ever made ...

Mummified ancient astronaut recovered from the desert? Mysterious plague ravaging the world? Meteorites wiping out life on huge parts of Earth? Sounds like the plot to a summer disaster flick, but it's actually poet Ted Pope's concept for the setting of his remarkable book, rEdlipstick. And this month it's going to jump off the pages when Pope performs at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in downtown Asheville.

And I do mean jump. When Ted reads, there's always The Show. He's one of the most remarkable performers of poetry that I've so far run across; I've seen him walk on the seats of chairs through an audience to the back of the performance space and then crawl down the aisle back to the front on all fours. Did he pop Tic Tacs as though they might be something much more, uhh, interesting as he crawled, or was that before? All part of the same evening, though, no doubt. And more.

Poet Laura Hope-Gill, who also cut her teeth in the performance tradition in the 1990s at Asheville's fabled Green Door, tells the story of her first (and so far only) slam on the weblog for WPVM's WordPlay:

Pat Storm beat me in the only slam I did (it was something called a skydive slam or something--the poems could only be one minute or shorter in length. I did Jas H. Duke's "Productivity:" "Wool grows just as fast on a lazy sheep." Pat ran out after I was finished and shouted something nobody understood then dove onto the ground spraying all of us with fake blood. So, he won. That's the kind of evenings we had.

Ted may not have been there that night, but he was a seasoned member of the Green Door scene. He probably wouldn't scruple to pull a similar bit of stagecraft - the difference being that he'd also be speaking spare and even elegant verse as he was doing it, rather than something no one understood.

If rEdlipstick's post-apocalyptic setting sounds rather dire,

... the bodies inside
were all headless. the deck was
soaked in blood ...

don't despair, there's plenty of fun to be had in spite of it all:

there are 220 kilos of hash on board.
the boat's solar panels gleamed in the sunlight.
the shimmering Nile air.
some of the waves waved goodbye, some
were waving hello.
the crew was laughing loudly...

Enough fun for Miles Neptune, reporter for Rolling Stone, the book's protagonist and principle voice, to kick his despair and embark on a quest to track down a previous explorer of the arcane territory in which he finds himself, one Francis Snowflake Drake. And if he never finds Drake (perhaps there's a sequel in the works?), he does find Drake's notebook, which finally does hint at tantalizing further prospects for the world, as the mythic astronaut's ship (yes) (I think) explains itself:

I am Osiris
a machine
of black metal
crystals that thinks
it is as much time travel as it is
moving through the universe.

It's quite a trip. And as with other really good trips, the journey itself is the prize. rEdlipstick is a meditation on time and passion (we're talking red lipstick here, folks) delivered at a frequency that's in a new part of the wavelength spectrum, one that's not been sold off to communication conglomerates, and remains the province of imagination.

Ted will bring his performance of rEdlipstick to life with the help of musician and audio engineer Jason Brady of SingleWide Records, who also provided the sonic environment for the new rEdlipstick CD, on July 13, at 8:00 PM. The CD is being released in conjunction with the performance at the Center. Ted will also be presenting some work he's composed since the book appeared in 2005, and the evening is in fact billed as "Antarctica The New Eden", the title of one of his new investigations.

If this were a movie, I'd bet it'd earn at least four stars.

What: Ted Pope, "Antarctica, The New Eden", including rEdlipstick in live performance.
Where: The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center

When: Friday, July 13, 8:00 pm

Admission: $7, $5 for BMCM+AC members and students w/ID.

For more information: 828-350-8484


Alice Sebrell's photo finds Ted performing at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in 2005.

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