|What The Dormouse Said: Take Time To Read, It Is the Fountain of Wisdom
("White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane and "Take Time" an Inspirational Card)
1. A Moment of Dialogue
There is an arch over a stage that separates the actors from the audience. When the actors stand at the base of the arch, they can address the audience directly. This tradition is called Proscenium Arch. A strong example of the proscenium arch is the 1950's television comedy The Burns and Allen Show.
In early July 2010 Laura Jensen browsed through the Architecture books at Tacoma Public Library and found Apartments and Dormitories, collected Architectural Digest Articles from Dodge Press, 1958. She was reminded of The Burns and Allen Show by the black and white photographs and floor plans. (Prose: from Prosa oratio, speech going straight ahead: Origins, Eric Partridge) - Can we turn Proscenium Arch around, turn all of the prose of an essay into a direct address to the audience just by adding a moment of dialogue? Laura Jensen lived at a dormitory as illustrated in black and white photographs in Apartments and Dormitories. When she lived there she was called upon once to speak.
April 26, 1968 - it was a fine reading. Galway Kinnell and Denise Levertov read. As the sun lowered Laura started back. She realized she had not planned the bus ride back and would have to walk. When dark came she was in a shopping center parking lot, the University Village.
Because the Village was in a valley by the University, the lighted picture windows of high rise dorms seemed very high. As she gazed at the distant windows, a vehicle, it was a police car, spun in the dark from behind the dark buildings.
An officer looked from the open car window, insisted she explain herself.
It was not trespassing to be on the parking lot when dark had fallen. Was it? All the cars were gone. Laura said she had been to a poetry reading.
That seemed to make it worse and worse.
Laura had believed the policeman was her friend. Laura thought then, the policeman was not her friend. That created an ugly shock that never changed back again. The street was ugly then. The policeman did not like her.
She walked up 45th, a long viaduct uphill to the campus. She walked along the chain link fence with evergreen shrubs that was the edge of the campus, to the narrow opening in the fence that led past the nice bricks of the dorm in the dark to the dorm entrance, to her floor on the elevator. Home at last. On the door was a sign she had made, lines from "The Skaters" by John Ashbery.
Happier once again, for tomorrow is already here.
2. Be A Lawyer
Sometimes things look different when you copy them down. If you wish to act as your own lawyer, be a lawyer. Laura Jensen, at a point as an adult, carefully wrote down this part of a lecture. A moment after she wrote it, she read it. She realized it meant something different from what she had assumed. It meant that only a lawyer should act as their own lawyer. It is somewhat sad that the article from Apartments and Dormitories calls to mind for Laura Jensen the story about the freshman dorm - sad because we know the policeman is our friend.
We can imagine a comment by George Burns about the book Apartments and Dormitories: George Burns: In the earlier scene, where Gracie moved the book marks ahead because she had been too busy to do her reading? Gracie is quite a reader. She found a book about Apartments and Dormitories and she said one dormitory looked like a horse show performance arena. She could not figure out where they had the service elevator with all the bleacher-style staircases. I gave her the magnifying glass. With that many units, there has to be an elevator.
Apartments and Dormitories includes an Architectural Digest article from 1953 about a dormitory at Tempe. Such housing must have been a stage some of the time to Salt River Review. When computer screens at the dormitory opened to the blue- and white-lettered poetry magazine, peripheral text books as well as student dialogue and writing became proscenium narrative. (Laura has looked through internet photos at ASU, these narrate a peripheral reality to the material on the screen at Salt River Review.)
3. Architectural Theme
At the dormitory, there had been no place to paint. At home, before college, Laura painted in her room, where the linoleum did not matter. But it was never spoken of. Laura's roommate had been a friend of hers for years. During summer vacation 1968, her roommate once drove two masonite boards to Laura's house from the lumber yard on the roof of her car and helped Laura carry them up the two turns of the narrow stairwell to her room.
Laura Jensen uses public transportation, walks or rides a bicycle. She passes white painted fences that her high school bus passed and remembers mist in the autumn morning, at the fence there were horses. Zoning allowed horses in that area then. On the bicycle Laura realized the dorm from Apartments and Dormitories has the rails and arena of a horse show. The Tempe dormitory metal fence is like the horse fence at the Fairgrounds.
There must have been an architectural theme for the dormitory where she plugged in the clock radio her mother gave her once for Christmas, punched out the window screen, "More air!" She looked through the binoculars her father gave her once for Christmas. The view, according to the 1962 map from the Seattle World's Fair, was a cemetery.
And the architectural theme must have been the elevator. On the map a picture of the Space Needle elevator rose up a narrow line one could imagine was the center of the curved supports seven hundred feet up, visible from a great distance at the approach to Seattle, on the skyline. Yes it was. The architectural theme of that dormitory was the elevator.
4. The Audience
It was at a Unitarian Church where a poetry reading would be that beautiful spring day. Laura took the bus early to explore. It had not occurred to her in general, although she had seen Mark Strand read, that it was intended that the audience heard poetry read aloud to them and were entertained, but that the reading was a chance for the audience to see the author of the poetry book.
Laura wore ordinary pale jeans with a cotton jacket and a triangle scarf. Galway Kinnell and Denise Levertov gave a fine reading. Denise Levertov wore a knit dress of dark and rose colors on a dark surface, red and rose fluorescent, A-line, long sleeves, no collar. As she began, she saw someone in the audience.
"Eve! Eve Triem!"
Far back in the pews, Laura was put off. She was dimly scandalized that an audience member was exposed, helpless, seated, not the one to speak, but called out loud.
(Eve Triem grew up in San Francisco. Her poems were published in anthologies and magazines, and in her six books of poetry. The wife of writer Paul Ellsworth Triem, they moved to Seattle in the early nineteen-sixties. The small press Dragon Gate of Seattle and Port Townsend published Eve Triem's New As A Wave: A Retrospective 1937-1983 in 1984, when the author was eighty-two years old. Listed on the internet with her papers at University of Washington Special Collections is Correspondence with Denise Levertov - 1970-1972 and 1975-1980. )