I got there seconds too late to hear Polly Moller‘s initial explanation of Spoetry, so it was all a mystery as she and Moe! Staiano began. It certainly had the feel of a jazz poetry session, with Moller reciting nonsense syllables and Moe! reacting with clangs, clatters, and scrapes.
Moller’s recitation was fun, mostly lighthearted, in a melodramatic way. Lacking direct emotional context in the words, she was free to stretch and squash syllables to build a mood or to play against Moe!’s sounds. A true example of the voice used as an instrument.
After a couple of the pieces, Moller let us in on the secret (or caught me up, at least): The “S” stands for “spam,” and the text was derived from stuff that had landed in her in-box. To avoid spam filters, spammers have resorted to all sorts of tricks — formerly padding messages with nonsense, and more recently, splitting otherwise readable text into randomly spaced “words,” like a code. Moller was taking examples of the latter and over-emoting the syllables. Fun idea.
Moller was thrilled with the performance. She and Moe! have played together but never as a duet, and they’d done the show without rehearsal, just tapping into their musical experience and their familiarity with each other as people.
This was followed up by more spoken word — longtime poet Robert Anbian, who I’d never encountered before, doing an edgy, politically laced set with Rent Romus on sax and Bob Marsh on cello. Anbian’s a former angry young man from the ’60s who’s still angry. The final piece of three, “My Country Loves Peace,” was particularly hard-hitting, indicting the government for all sorts of wrongs (mostly in the third world, but not always) and ending with “When will the war end …. Barack?”
It’s been months since I’ve been to one of the weekly Thursday night shows there. The Luggage Store is right downtown, on Market near 6th, making it an easy jaunt after work. There’s a nice cheap burrito place right next door — or, for more of a splurge, a new pizza spot nearby on 7th.