For my soundwalk I went on the East Village Poetry Walk’s called ‘Passing Stranger’. Narrated by Jim Jarmusch (one of my favorite filmmakers!), it took me through a poetry specific tour of the East Village, detailing stories from the poets and site specific poetry.
To begin with, the soundwalk was different than what I had previously researched (the term ‘soundwalk’ was brand new to me before this class). Instead of focusing solely on the sounds, or narrating to detail the specific location we were at, this one focused on narrating the history of the place from the poets background, specific story and or perspective. This allowed for an interesting juxtapositions of reality vs imagination vs history that I really enjoyed. As I walked the tour I kept imagining how it looked back then - was it raining that day too? was there a couple fighting in the corner of 11th and Avenue B? was the -somewhat- quietness of alphabet city drowned by a passing fire truck? It was refreshing to know these icons had walked these same streets and it was these same streets that inspired some of their best work. At the same time, the walk brought to light how much the city has changed. What gentrification has done to (in this case) these two neighborhoods, in parts losing some of the magic that made them what they were. What used to be CBGB, the birthplace of some of the most iconic music ever created, is now a John Varvatos :(
Most importantly, the walk, with the combination of narration, poetry, chronicles and sounds, clearly showed how a place connects us all in a far deeper level than what we are conscious of. We intertwine between people and this city, we become them, are part of them. We live through so many similar experiences that are ultimately dictated by the city, regardless of who we are or what moment in time we are in. And no matter how much the city changes, it still holds the influence and personality of the people that have passed through, that have lived in it and changed it.
A poem read through the soundwalk (and what inspired the title) really stuck to me, truly described what the soundwalk meant to me. I’ll leave it below:
Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours only nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.