“Off the dome and into it”: Three Tracks by Ronaldo Wilson

Today calmaplombprombombbalm.com releases its second data dump of the season. Last week (see announcement here) we brought you Moving My Vowels by Charlie Morrow. Today we’re ecstatic to present three audio recordings from poet/performance artist Ronaldo Wilson‘s improvised poetry project Off the Dome: Rants, Raps, and Meditations:

“FoodMaxx Parking Lot” by Ronaldo Wilson (6:50, 6.6 MB)

“Hotel Room Emeryville Mountains” by Ronaldo Wilson (6:41, 6.4 MB)

“Imagine a Battle Where…” by Ronaldo Wilson (2:26, 2.3 MB)

These three tracks were recorded in three locations between April and June of 2012. Utilizing the recording capabilities and portability of the iPhone, Wilson hits “Record” and doesn’t “Stop” till he’s completed his sequence. Between these two points we find every word, speech-sound, and environmental sound captured by the mic. This form of performance-recording allows us to engage with Wilson as well as with the physical environment that informs and accompanies his verse. In the first track, we meet Wilson among the rattling shopping carts and humming cars of a FoodMaxx parking lot. The second and third tracks take us to walled, interior spaces. Playing off the contained resonances of the room and the muffled sounds outside, Wilson’s lyrics take us to the windows of his shifting external and internal environments.

In his introduction to “Street Songs”, a 3-track selection from Off the Dome released this month by The Conversant, Wilson describes his process as “entering into a streaming, internal conversation that vocalizes questions around, race, representation, selfhood and place… In each place, I engage in various activities that find their way into my current thinking and play with various forms of totally improvised, “off the dome” poetry, rap-battles, meditations, and songs.” A line from “Imagine a Battle Where…”, published here, adds further insight into Wilson’s internal conversation and environment: “I’m not talking about you directly; I’m moving around you. It’s called location’s indirection” (editor’s transcription). The three tracks released here cover all of the above, meditating specifically on a constellation of topics from the Trayyvon Martin murder to the Oulipo to trash talk at a party to the poet’s own aesthetics to the children’s song “There’s A Hole in My Bucket” to Dionysian violence to references to and celebrations of poets CA Conrad, Duriel E. Harris, Sylvia Plath, and Phillis Wheatley.

Admirers of the Off the Dome project should especially focus on “FoodMaxx Parking Lot” for its explications of some dynamics of the work: “I’m simply going off the dome and into it”; “If you scream off the dome and you walk in flip flops, you think that you’re always a cop, but you’re not because you just got copped”; “Understand it’s off the dome and into it; Respiratory figures” (editor’s transcriptions). In one particular breath, Wilson states, “I’m going off the dome every single day.” If this is true, and let’s hope it is, then there’s an abundance of audio to look forward to from this great poet.

Two more releases of selections from Off the Dome: Rants, Raps, and Meditations will be released by The Conversant next month. Stay tuned for more audio and other media from calmaplombprombombbalm.com this and every week.