Poetry News

Kim Rosenfield's USO: I'll Be Seeing You Seems Real

By Harriet Staff


We saw Kim Rosenfield read outtakes from this recently at Segue, and boy was it good. Now reviewed by Kate Schapira at The Small Press Book Review, USO: I’ll Be Seeing You (Ugly Duckling Presse 2013), uses "laughter as a secondary weapon of war." More:

...When you travel with someone, with them directing the travel and you along for the ride, you often begin to say things their way, however you see them, so that you can communicate with them. This is the process that Rosenfield showcases. After a quote from Beckett on the “mirthless laugh … the laugh that laughs—silence please—at that which is unhappy,” USO: I’ll Be Seeing You opens with a piece of entry patter: “Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. My first number this afternoon is a little song that I wrote myself. That is, I didn’t write it ALL myself. Another fellow wrote the words and another fellow wrote the music … but I happened to be in the room at the time.”

This seems key to Rosenfield’s approach: the material that precedes and follows the long column includes sketches that, like the language of the column, could be real or could seem real. A sketch full of dialect humor precedes a set of sentences—could be one person or many—that also imitate the rhythms and patterns of speech, talking about addiction (“Freebase? What’s free about it?”) divorce (“I believe in the institution of marriage and I intend to keep trying until I get it right”) and politics on the scale that most Americans are comfortable talking about politics (“I went to the White House, met the President. We in trouble”). It’s punchliney, but is it a routine? If people laugh, does that mean it’s funny? That many USO performers have been women in an historically (and still predominantly) male military—and the larger presumption that women are instruments of entertainment—also makes an appearance on this stage, in the gag material (“The girl in that bed is dead!” “I know, but how did you find out?”) and in the ranks:

I’ve seen
the toughest
so he had
running down
his cheeks
he came up
after the
as good as
gave me
a bear
my rib
it was good
to see

Read the full review here; and also check out Rosenfield's other newest, Lividity (Les Figues 2012) (bonus: great introduction from Trisha Low!).