In about 1978 Larry had recently moved to
Berkeley and lived with Bob and Amy Grenier and Kathleen Frumkin. Carla
Harryman and I were running a poetry reading series at the Grand Piano
coffeehouse on Haight Street in San Francisco, which Barrett Watten and
Ron Silliman had organized before us. We asked Larry to give a solo reading,
very eager to see how his works would sound. So far as I think we knew,
he had never given a public reading before.
Somehow we got the idea of asking Larry to read
with an opaque projector presenting his works in manuscript on the bare
pale-blue walls, so the audience could read the poems and follow along
without confusion. This way Larry's slurred articulation didn't obscure
the semantics, and the rhythm, tone and emphasis were available to an audience
that had previously known his works only on the page.
Larry was all for this idea and presented us with
a very sizeable stack of works characteristically typed on 8.5x11" white
paper to choose from. Most were dated and complete on one page; some had
pencil notations or other peculiarities. He made no suggestions about how
we were to select works, and we were free to read through the lot and pick
those we loved dearest, those we wondered about the sense and sound of,
and those we were most interested in sharing with the audience as visual
Larry laughed and commented casually throughout
the reading, occasionally pausing for a little while in silence or digression.
He showed terrific enthusiasm, stamina and amusement, reading straightforwardly
and with deep, matter-of-fact feeling.
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