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Worth of a Record: Eileen Myles’s Aloha / irish trees
As we’ve mentioned, Aloha / irish trees is Eileen Myles’s new poetry record, put out by Fonograf Editions, a brand-new “vinyl-only” poetry press. Today, Nylon seems somewhat skeptical about it. Tova Benjamin asks:
So who who would buy a record of a well-known or little-known poet reading their poems on vinyl? The most obvious answer is someone with a record player, of course. Maybe someone who likes poetry. Or music. Or, in the case of Aloha / irish trees, someone who really, really likes Eileen Myles. And there still could be a fan of all three. The truth is, the audience for a record like this is rather slim. Still, the worth of a record clearly doesn’t lie in market value, and the press’ founders certainly don’t seem delusional about how much traction or attention this kind of art object is going to receive. The audience doesn’t necessarily seem to be the point. This is made clear in the first minute and a half of the record itself, where Myles reads a poem, messes up, tries again, messes up again, and says, “Fuck, it’s so hard” before reading the whole poem from the top.
DIAGRAM’s Jake Syersak also reviews the Myles album, though the sensations are of the more pleasurable realm:
Myles’ eccentric and excitable reading style, in conjunction with the immersive qualities that of the vinyl format, produce what Eric Baus refers to as poetic moments of “reduced listening” in his Granular Vocabularies: Poetics and Recorded Sound. In this lecture, Baus notes that particular sonic environments—repetition, for example—are capable of creating pockets of intense focus, exposing what Barthes called the “grain” of the voice. Through repetition, the semiotic “meaning” of the language is stripped away and what is left is the “meaning” in the texture, the so-called “grain” of sound that remains. We are made miniscule to navigate that texture. The ramifications are numerous: “What new sensations might emerge?” asks Baus, “Is your sense of…your experience of your own body somehow enlarged by your momentary departure?”
Anyone who has heard Myles read before has probably taken pleasure in the “grain” that emerges in her Bostonian accent, alone: “Darkness” becomes “dahkness” and “party” becomes “pahty,” etc. But there’s another texture that accompanies keeping up with Myles’ exuberant pace on the LP that—at least in my own listening—requires a momentary departure from the language as semiotic text. Borne on the texture of Myles’ voice, her sinuous asides, stutters, enunciations, repetitions, and fuck-ups become a pleasurable whirlwind as she interprets and then reinterprets herself…