On Feb. 27, poet, giovanni singleton, came to the Hemmingson Ballroom as part of the Gonzaga Visiting Writers Series.
singleton began the event by reading poetry from her first book, “Ascension,” inspired and influenced by the work of Alice Coltrane. The first few poems she read were titled with dates.
She read a few more from “Ascension,” crossing over with a mesozoic poem about Alice Coltrane that appears in both “Ascension” and her most recent book “AMERICAN LETTERS: works on paper.”
The poem capitalized certain letters on each line to spell “ALICE COLTRANE.”
Afterwards, singleton continued with works appearing in “AMERICAN LETTERS,” but used projections to show the design that one reading the book would see.
Pieces included a poem singleton said might be called “Moo,” or “Holy Cow,” (she did not have a title for it herself), that showed a cow formed by words in line with its silhouette, a clock with a similar configuration, and even a BINGO card with the poem intertwined with the numbers.
“Ever feel like time is working against you?” singleton asked the audience.
She read the clock-shaped poem, citing both Coltranes, Alice and John and Sun Ra in her thought process, to answer this question.
Audience members were encouraged to read along with singleton as she read the repetitive poems.
She read a few works that appeared in books she had contributed to and finished off with a poem inspired by James Brown and her early dream to be a “soul train dancer.”
Some great excerpts that singleton pulled from her poems include:
“For a dying Cornelius. The beat… the back beat… the beat… Nothing going on but the rents! The beat… Get on the good foot! The beat…That’s where it’s at! The beat… I feel good! The beat… Take it to the bridge! The beat… Get on down! The beat… Get on up, up!” — from “Still life as soul-train dancer.”
“Pedantic temple prayers, tambourines and hallelujah claps, for Krishna, Ganesh, Shiva. To read a scripture, a journey in such it Ananda. Beloved John’s stained glass face, church and gospel harp. Lord of lords, Detroit ministry. Pours from Swamis, Wurlitzer.”
“Blues poets stands at the cross roads, framed in indigo light. He reaches his hand around to his left side, slits himself open, as if to gut a fish. Once inside he feels his heart, touches his liver, but he is not in moisture, he has not eaten sand. What then, can a pearl be?” — from “Day 2.”
singleton is the fourth author to visit campus this year, but not the last. The next author coming to campus on April 2, is Helena María Viramontes who will present in the Cataldo Globe room.
Alyssa Estes is a staff writer.