We ran out of standing room last night at the Next Chapter, as multimedia artist Michael Hammond and oral poet, Joe Plum, celebrated the release of their new book and DVD combination entitled Relics: Deep Mythic Image Poetry.
Mr. Hammond started things off with an entertaining description of traipsing about the countryside with his at-risk camera equipment searching for the perfect places to film complementary footage for the unwritten poetry that Plum composes. The DVD is a lyrical visual interpretation of Plums words, skimming across the Iowa landscape as if the camera’s eye was that of one of the spirits who inhabit the poetry. The images celebrate the artistry of nature, with an intimate affection for the rugged landscapes it captures.
Attendees were unable to get the full effect of the gorgeous photography that Hammond showed us, due to some technical issues during the event; however, I know that for me, a quiet hour with the Relics DVD, a large-screen TV, and possibly a glass of fine wine is definitely on the docket some time soon!
After Hammond finished, Joe Plum took the microphone, and effortlessly flowed from casual narrative into his particular brand of complex mythic poetry and back again as if he were chatting over a cup of coffee. Punctuated by the beat of a small hand-drum, the poetry lulled the audience into a slightly different state of consciousness where ancient knowledge flows just below the surface and we feel that his words, composed over months and years following dream visions, are meant for us alone.
Plum answered questions about his artistic process and how he came to be an oral poet. He said that he began composing his poems at an early age, and that as he grows older, he is better able to understand the dreams that initiate the poetry, and has structured his life so that he can be alone and work uninterrupted sometimes for weeks on end, so as not to lose the images and emotions he experiences in these dreams. Some poems take years to compose, others come more quickly, and none of them are written unless they have been transcribed by someone else, as the poems in Relics have been.
The poetry itself is rendered in deceptively straightforward language with simple rhyming patterns, but the messages are complex and elemental, evocative of both the dream worlds Plum inhabits, but also of the internal landscapes of our own daily struggles.
that my knowing
separates me from my being
and that being
keeps me from becoming
and that becoming
is but dusty powder made
by grinding here and there
from the poem “Relics”, by Joseph S. Plum
We are so pleased to have had the opportunity to share the wonderful artwork of these two gentlemen with the Marion County community, and we are so grateful for your ongoing support of these cultural events. We would also like to thank Jen Hall for helping Joe and Michael prepare; and Dr. Bob Leonard and KNIA/KRLS for producing and airing a program on Relics and for the loan of their sound equipment.
Relics (book and DVD) is available at The Next Chapter in limited quantities for $22.00 each.