Sunday, June 10, 2012

Translating poetry into potluck & vocal session

Poetry Scores would like to issue an open invitation to anyone interested in translating a Greek Surrealist poem into a potluck dinner and simultaneous recording session for the poetry score to Phantom of the Dreams’ Origin.

The potluck & recording session will be held at the home of Poetry Scores actor and barbecue curator Roland Franks, 4750 Michigan Ave. (between Itaska and Delor). It will be held 3-8 p.m. Sunday, July 15.

Here is what we'll ask that you do: Commit to bringing a dish prepared from ingredients listed in the poem (see list below). If you don’t wish to prepare a dish in advance, there are many meats and fish named in the poem, so you can always bring something and let Roland curate it on his barbecue. Smoked meat and fish is possible; any meaties and fishies can coordinate in advance with the barbecue curator.

While we are eating our poetry potluck, Poetry Scores will run a recording session for voice in the basement. As you arrive at the party, check in with the production manager (person with clipboard); we will get you on the schedule. When it’s your turn, we will ask you to read some lines in the poem surrounding the mention of your ingredient(s). Depending on the character of your voice, we may have additional reading assignments for you.

Co-producers Chris King and Stefene Russell will speak with you in advance about what is expected of your performance (mostly, we want straightforward readings where the poetry is allowed to speak for itself in the character of your voice). Roy Kasten, of our longtime partner KDHX Community Media, will record the session.

Poetry Scores has commissioned the modern composer Barbara Harbach to score Phantom of the Dreams’ Origin. We will work with Barbara in how the voices are used in the poetry score. We will premiere the Barbara Harbach poetry score on Friday, January 11, 2013 at the Touhill Center for the Performing Arts. We ask all readersto mark that date for a possible live performance of their lines from the poem – depending on our final orchestrations with Barbara.

Phantom of the Dreams’ Origin was written by Andreas Embirikos (1901-1975) and translated from the Greek by Nikos Stabakis of the Athens Surrealist Group. We worked with Stabakis in abbreviating and retitling his (already abbreviated) translation of Embirikos’ collection of prose poems Blast Furnace (1935), which is recognized as the first and most important Surrealist text in Greek.

In these poems, Embirikos takes us on a phantasmagoric journey through a wide expanse of consciousness and experience. Along the way, like Adam naming the world or a chef drawing up orders for his meat and produce purveyors, Embirikos name-checks a savory list of ingredients for a feast. We have taken these ingredients out of the chronology of the poem to group them with an eye towards a menu.


fruit (generic term is used, licensing really any fruit)


Breast (could be interpreted as chicken or duck breast)
[also, “brains”; but let’s not]




refreshment (generic term is used, licensing really any “refreshment”)
ices (could be interpreted as sno cone, shaved ice, ice cream)

Sorry, vegetarians; the poem seems to include no veggies. You are free, of course, to read Phantom of the Dreams' Origin on the PoetryScores blog and look for an edible way to interpret any language in the poem that appeals to you.

If you’d like to play with us, then RSVP to Chris King, creative director of Poetry Scores, at We’ll want to know what ingredients you are working with, whether you’ll have anything you need smoked by the barbecue curator, and we’ll want to hear your speaking voice, even if we already have heard it. Participants are limited to 50. Thanks!


The image is of the painting “The Mighty Quince” by Leslie Lee,

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