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Cloud Cantata
January to September 2021 
Carla Harryman

////// 80 pages
Size: 14.5 x 21 CM

ISBN: 9781915341037


Carla Harryman’s canny Cloud Cantata puts before us a set of inexhaustible, unhurried conversational moments into which diverse quotidian and increasingly pressing topics arrive. Perhaps the moments are sequential—it seems to be morning, though “morning” here is a relative term. Breakfast seems variously either underway, in preparation, or just finished, and repeatedly one or the other of the conversants mentions something about a dream of the night before. And, too, the phrase “January to September 2021” appears on the title page. Or perhaps, as I prefer to think, they are vivid alternative versions of a long, multifaceted moment of emergent dialogue, each iteration of which refuses to be hastened to some end. It is morning, after all; incipience is in the air. And for that moment—for the sake of that moment—it is possible to greet the world, even in the throes of its tragedies. Cloud Cantata enacts that possibility, summoning onto the scene bravery and play. It’s magnificent.


---Lyn Hejinian


"In Carla Harryman’s Cloud Cantata, the archive is first and foremost that storehouse of memories, desires, and “voices” comprising the unconscious, one from which we “borrow” every time we dream and, most important, speak or write. The cloud, a repository of digital materials, is also an archive insofar as its “contents” enter, and thus form, its parameters. But what is accessed, what is downloaded, from the cloud is not the “same” material(s) uploaded even when the “content” appears to be an exact match. The march of time does not cease inside or outside any archive. And just as the unconscious is subject to corrupting forces in the form of, say, false memories or psychic pathogens, so too digital materials may be subject to corruption and error even if the corrosive environments of the cloud differ from those that imperil analog archives. "  


-- From Tyrone Williams' review on Cloud Cantata at Restless Messenger: Poetry In Review



Carla Harryman is a poet, experimental prose writer, essayist, performance writer and collaborator in multi-disciplinary performance. She is known for her boundary breaking investigations of genre, non/narrative poetics, and text-based performances that begin in early publications such as Under the Bridge (This Press, 1980) and two volumes of selected writings Animal Instincts: Prose Plays and Essays (This Press, 1989) and There Never Was a Rose without a Thorn (City Lights, 1995).


The influence of improvised music, electronic sampling, and collaborative practices animate her recent works. Recent publications include Cloud Cantata (Pamenar, 2022); the poet’s theater play Good Morning (PAJ: Journal of Performance and Art, MIT Press, 2022); and Sue in Berlin and Sue á Berlin (trans. Sabine Huynh), a collection of poetry and performance writings composed between 2001-2015 and released in 2018 by PURH “To Series” in separate English and French volumes. In an interview for Decharge, the author describes the work as “first an event of listening, tracking itself on the more abstract, musical plane, which carries the figurative, fanciful, philosophical, playful, drastic, and political aspects of its non/narrative.” A score for speaking voices and manual typewriters used as musical instruments was also published in a bi-lingual edition in 2018, by joca seria and translated by Abigail Lang, as L’impromptu de Hannah/Hannah Cut In. Hannah Cut In premiered in performance at University Art Museum, Berkeley in 2017.


Other key publications in the last two decades include Adorno’s Noise (2008), an experiment in prose poetry and “the essay as form;” the collaborative ten-volume work, The Grand Piano: Experiments in Collective Autobiography, San Francisco 1975-1980 (completed in 2010); the poet’s novel Gardener of Stars (2001); W—/M— (2013), which Tyrone Williams describes as a tracing and retracing of “the line per se as nomadic consciousness multiplying beyond the doubles that mark, and thus engender, the self-patrolled borders of identities,” and the essay Artifact of Hope (2017), which reviewer Piotr Gwiazda comments, “As she turns philosophy into poetry, “thinking” into “making” [Harryman] crosses many boundaries: linguistic, cultural, national, ideological, generic, disciplinary. The point for her is to retrieve something useful, even provisionally so, from the work, to make the encounter active, dialogic, even dialectical…”


Carla Harryman’s Poets Theater, interdisciplinary, and bi-lingual performances have been presented nationally and internationally. In 2012, she performed (with pianist Magda Mayas) Occupying Theodor W. Adorno’s “Music and New Music,” a Re-performance, as the closing keynote of dOCUMENTA 13’s “What Is Thinking” program in Kassel, Germany. This is one of many performances inspired by music, speaking voice and text collaborations with composer and musician Jon Raskin. In 2012, Tzadik published their Open Box, a CD inspired by Harryman’s long-poem Open Box (Belladonna, 2006).


Her awards include an artist award in poetry from the Foundation of Contemporary Art, New York; a grant (with Erling Wald) from Opera America: Next Stage, an NEA Consortium Playwright Commission; several awards from The Foundation for Poetry; an Alexander Gerbode Foundation award in poetry, and the Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Award for Creative Activity at Eastern Michigan University. Her work has been translated into many languages and her poetry, prose and plays have been represented in over thirty national and international anthologies. In 2018 her work was the focus of a two-day Poets and Critics Symposium at Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot.





Carla Harryman works in interdisciplinary performance, poetry, and prose. She has authored twenty-four books including Animal Instincts: Prose, Plays, Essays (1989), Gardener of Stars: A Novel (2001), Adorno’s Noise (2008), and the two-volume Sue in Berlin and Sue á Berlin with French translation by Sabine Huyn (2017). Her performances have been presented internationally, including at Documenta 12 and Music Unlimited in Wells, Austria. She serves on the faculty of Eastern Michigan University, where she teaches in an interdisciplinary creative writing program.



Carla Harryman | Cloud Cantata

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