Susan Howe & David Grubbs | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Susan Howe & David Grubbs 

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David Grubbs (formerly of Gastr del Sol) had long been an admirer of poet Susan Howe, a 1996 Guggenheim Fellow and poetry and humanities professor at SUNY-Buffalo, when the Fondation Cartier in Paris first suggested the two collaborate on a live performance. That initial 2003 meeting has now resulted in Thiefth (Blue Chopsticks), their first recording project, on which Grubbs transforms Howe's recitations of two long-form poems, "Thorow" and "Melville's Marginalia." (The former is based on the journals and letters of Sir William Johnson and Henry David Thoreau, the latter on notations found in books from Herman Melville's library in which he'd engage dead authors in conversation and argument.) Howe's language paints an impressionistic portrait of the authors' melees, and Grubbs's computer manipulation reorganizes it into an expansive, kaleidoscopic narrative, augmented with reeds by longtime musical cohort Mats Gustafsson and cello by Nikos Veliotis (who also played with Grubbs on The Harmless Dust and A Guess at the Riddle). According to Grubbs, for this show the two will be performing a 45-minute "fleshed out" version of Thiefth, with Howe reading live and Grubbs synchronizing sound elements on his computer. And if you stick around the University of Chicago campus long enough after the show, you'll have to start referring to him as "Dr. Grubbs"--the new Brooklyn College professor will defend his PhD dissertation in the U. of C.'s English department the following day. Tue 11/8, 7 PM, Fulton Recital Hall, University of Chicago, 1010 E. 59th, 773-702-8069. Free. All ages.

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