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Happy Valley Project

YouTube Video
A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money that Lost its Puff. Performed December 1, 2011.

Some of us take up so much space for our shelter. Some, so little. We dwell in a landscape of foreclosed houses, those shells of shelter, and also, shelter-less people.

My investigation zeroed on the financial speculation that puffed around the housing foreclosures. Its complexity and obscurity are its power. Thus, I doggedly read, focusing less on the over-aspiring homeowner or even the real estate flipper, and more on the leveraging that was so extreme, it could collapse the economy.

Seems like a good subject for poetry. I am interested in a poetic practice that insists on inexpert inquiry, gathering ideas and ways of knowing to open a space for more collaborative inquiry. While I read, I embroidered a poem, line by line, on an 8-foot-dropcloth. I also wrote a magic show, A Tale of Money that Lost its Puff, in collaboration with magician and whistler Mitch Hider, and Jules Boykoff.

During autumn 2010, I held two Econ Salon. The first, in a studio in the Goldsmith Building in Portland’s Old Town, featured poetry readings by Jules Boykoff, Allison Cobb, and me; music by Cynthia Nelson, an economics talk by Robin Hahnel.

I hosted the second and larger Econ Salon in the Field Work art space in SW Portland. This Econ Salon featured A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money that Lost its Puff; as well as the video installation collaboration between Jen Coleman, Andrea Murray, Kristen Sheeran and me titled It’s a Wonderful Time to Buy; a talk by Ibrahim Mubarak on organizing houseless and formerly houseless people through Right2Survive; and a talk by Angela Martin on organizing people around debt. Art Installations included a Dollhouse Squat created by Right2Survive; Matta-Clark Park Series by David Buuck, and “Sheltered” by Jennifer Hardacker. I created several poetry objects, including the dropcloth poem, “Beware the Fury of the Financier,” and a small poem-structure, “A Shelter for Some Poems.”

Some aspects of the Happy Valley Project exceeded the Econ Salons. I routinely set out a sandwich poem in Old Town, pen hanging, and passersby added lines. I also created a chapbook, the roof of locked shields, as well as a broadside of the dropcloth poem, for the dusie kollektiv and a newspaper article for Street Roots on the class-action lawsuits against the Bear Stearns/JP Morgan Chase.

YouTube VideoYouTube Video
Introduction to Happy Valley Project.
PSU MFA Monday Night Lecture Series. May 2, 2011
Description of sandwich board poem.
PSU MFA Monday Night Lecture Series. May 2, 2011