Jonathan Williams on the air
This week, Wordplay features a reading Jonathan gave at City Lights Books in Sylva, North Carolina, on May 27, 2005, shortly after Jubilant Thicket had come out. Almost any reading that followed the organization of the book, beginning, as it does, with the "meta-fours" that Jonathan wrote so many of in the last couple decades, would be fun, given their spirited play; it didn't disappoint.
A few production notes:
The room in which the reading was held was very warm, even in May, and there was an electric fan near the chair from which Jonathan read; one of my mics was close to the fan, and inevitably picked up its steady, annoying hum. I was able to filter out most of the noise, but at times Jonathan's voice sounds a bit as though it were echoing off cavern walls as a result.
Two of the four pieces of music I used for intro, breaks, and outro were pieces Jonathan had praised in conversation; one was by a musician he'd written a poem for, or about. I don't know how Jonathan felt about Miles Davis, but he was a favorite of Charles Olson's during the Black Mountain era, so I figured I was on pretty solid ground in selecting one of his classics.*
The intro was Miles Davis' "Bye Bye Blackbird" from 'Round About Midnight;
the first interlude was Charlie Mingus' band doing "Memories of You", from East Coasting;
the second interlude, Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on Greensleeves", as performed by the Academy of St. Martins in the Fields, conducted by Neville Marriner;
and the outro was the first three minutes or so of Williams' "The Lark Ascending", also performed by the Academy.
* Update, 28 March: Not to worry, Jonathan dug Miles. I've been reading so much Jonathan over the last few weeks that I can't for now nail down the source (was it somewhere in Blackbird Dust? No Jonathan book ever had an index, of course ... Or somewhere in Jeffrey Beam's dialogue with the Colonel over at Jargon? Or in the 1973 issue of Vort - more from that soon?), but Jonathan claimed early on to own as many Miles Davis records as he did of Bach - twenty-one each. That's a fan.
Of the photo, Alex Gildzen writes:
Doug Moore took this picture of Jonathan (which appears on the back cover of The Magpie's Bagpipe) in my livingroom on Morris in Kent.
Update, 19 April, 2008: Jonathan's reading at City Lights is now archived at PennSound, here.
Update, 9 September 2008: The Wordplay show featuring Jonathan's reading is now archived at ibiblio, also, as part of Wordplay's permanent archive:
March 23, 2008, featuring Jonathan Williams reading at Sylva's City Lights Books in May of 2005.