The East Village poetry walk, “Passing Stranger,” is an audio interactive experience tour that guides listeners through the neighborhood’s rich history and includes interviews and commentary as well as recitations of poems and archived recordings of key figures that lived in the East Village from the 1950’s to the present.
What I loved about the tour is that it was not a linear story, and it didn’t have the same “formal” feel that one hears in museum audio tours. It really felt like going on a walk with Ron Padgett, Anne Waldman or Allen Ginsberg and listening to their entertaining stories. It felt like an anecdote.
But overall, it was an adventure – like stepping into a time machine. Of course, many literary hangouts are now restaurants, boutiques, even tattoo parlors but they still carry worn out signs and the culture of those times gone by. The sounds, the music, the stories, the poems the clear narration along with the streets, the walls, the park, the houses created an immersive experience. There were moments where I was standing in front of an apartment building and I could imagine seeing Jack Kerouac on the fire escape or Ginsberg sending down his keys in a sock to come up. It was a world of its own, and I loved it!
People walked past me as I passed by St. Mark’s on Bowery, W.H. Auden’s old apartment building, Tompkins Square Park, Allen Ginsberg’s old building, the Bowery poetry club and I though how those people probably had no idea of what had happened right at these spots 60 years earlier. I believe it is important for all of the neighborhoods to be celebrated, especially when they carry such real history and culture. It is a way to give back to the neighborhood and people should be more aware of it.
Finally, this experience made me think about my own sound piece that I am creating with my group. I had never thought of combining so many different aspects (narration, music, sounds and interviews) to a sound piece. I believe that adding some kind of narration or even words could really contribute to the story we want to tell with “Bloodchild.”