the walking class, reprise

“Sound waves in a corner. Sound waves in four corners.” Kevin Sparrow, writer, performer, in a long-nosed raven mask and cape, walks along side me, smiling. “I like your tail.”

“I like your nose.”

“Yes,” he says. “Both are long and glorious.”

It’s Halloween and we wear faces, as ever. The city itself wears a velvet fog and looks desaturated, weightless. A floating world. Rain is washing the day into evening. The light is more light than light, the water more water than water. Skyscrapers rise up out of oblivion, and I see the whole world through the transparent plastic of my capsule umbrella, everything dappled with light and water, everything everywhere and holy, a thousand private rainbows on the skin of a portable god.

Sparrow moves smoothly inside his gold cape the way seagulls move through clouds but disturb nothing. The MFA writers at the School of the Art Institute organize lectures as a platform to discuss their influences and interests. Today is Kevin Sparrow’s lecture. In his introduction, Laurel Foglia, our mutual friend, called him “a rare bird.” There is a birdness about him. He is small and lithe; his body gives the impression that it’s full of hollow bones, that a good wind can take him where he wants to go.

The lecture is the walk, and the walk is the lecture. Sparrow reads his poems aloud, and even the lost words, the ones swallowed up by the noise of the city, he has written for this moment, recited into negative existence. Chance excites him, he says, and he incorporates it into his performance where he can.

He jogs ahead of me, and the reading becomes less and less distinct. I can still feel the presence of this poem, adrift in the ether, these words I can’t hear but are read to me, and for me, nevertheless.

Quoting Descartes, Sparrow told me walking is a kind of meditation.

“I can only think while I walk,” he said, “and when I stop…”

Continue reading » figure 8
This is part of “Radical Storytelling,” originally submitted to the SAIC Collections on 14 Dec 2013.


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