EXCAVATING THE SKY LAUNCH PARTY:  A COLLABORATION OF ARTISTS, AUDIANCE, AND READERS


 
 

Griots of Sambala, king of Médina - Bibliothèque nationale de France - Public Domain 

For me, poetry always aspires towards music. In fact, poetry's earliest impulses are inseparable from music, instrumentation, performance, and community. Whether we speak of the West African Griots (meaning "musicianhood"), or the biblical psalmist carrying a Iyar; the troubadours of medieval Europe or the versifiers of hip-hop, poetry as musico-dramatic performance brought communities together. Thanks to my internship at the progressive Judson Memorial Church, I found a convergence of poetry and music as performance, as community: the collaboration with  award-winning composer and musician Toby Twining. My love for experimental emotionally-charged music found a place in Toby and his dedication to poetic tradition found a place in me.

 

Toby Twining is an award-winning composer, musician, and former Guggenheim fellow. His work spans from playing for rock and jazz bands to composing and performing experimental music with a range of vocal techniques from Renaissance polyphony to western overtone singing.. 

Artistic collaboration through music is probably the closest I am to being fully alive (through ears, voices, movements). It makes us move and maybe even ACT. Is it not the biblical verse, "when two or three are gathered in my name, the holy spirit is..."? I felt Toby and I were inter-playing, challenging and trusting one another, and becoming more whole and free. So, for me, poetry gave me opportunity to share (and yes sometimes give up some) artistic materials and energies... and I came out a liberated and whole self. You can find out more about Toby's work here: https://tobytwiningmusic.com/

In a "time famine" that demands our entire body and being for more production and consumption, community around something embodied and profitless, is subversive. Community is resistance. We return the sense of the image of God to our creaturehood.

 

"...he doesn't just read his poems--he delivers them like a sax player. My intention is to make soundscapes that help us focus on the poems more attentively and receive them more deeply than would silence." Toby Twining                     

 

Sabrina Frometa is a talent curator and modern dancer. With experience in ballet, West African dance, and Salsa, Sabrina developed a contemporary dance company in Hamilton, New York. Currently, she is committed to group work for social change as an advocate for Afro-Latino and underrepresented Diasporas. 

The decision for my partner, the elegant Sabrina Frometa (left) to perform a dance interlude after carefully accompanying the book's publication from editing to printing, meant so much to me. Her dance, accompanied by the electronic textures of Gorillaz's Gravity, may seem incongruent to Toby's acoustic piano. But her piece unveiled the deeper scratchy city rhythms already in the poetry and ushered-in themes predominant Part II: of the city, hip hop, electronica, deconstruction, multiculturalism, fragmentation, gravity and weight. The song introduced a texture that would appear in poems like "Where People Move and Find Their Being." A Dominican-American and native Brooklynite, Sabrina's expansiveness, freedom and precision within such a heavy rhythm reenergized the space on a kinesthetic plane.

"For me, working in such close proximity with a poet and musician like Konstantin and Toby is the definition of a true symbiotic artistic relationship, an expression of meaning-making. All of a sudden words and sounds become larger than life and at the same time, you can feel them in your ligaments and pulsating veins." Sabrina Frometa

 
 

Eugene Simonov is an Emmy-award winning filmmaker and producer. 

My collaboration with Eugene Simonov struck over our film making at a radio station. Eugene has a broad, sensitive eye and a fearless sense of movement. I think this is because Eugene's method is actually nourished by deeper spiritual/emotional worlds. These are worlds we often crossed. And it is our motherland, Russia, that has an unbreakable clasp over us.

"My collaboration with Konstantin is the most creative experience for me... Our films are always a result of creative chaos - full of lots of debates - where a new order emerges." Eugene Simonov

I think Eugene is attuned to these earliest Russian sources of love and pain in his SONscreen nominated short film, Excavating the Sky. Eugene and I worked closely on this film from the beginning, but it was Eugene's ultimate editing room that birthed such a living gem. Today, filmmaking is able to unify the disparate realities like dramatic movement, musical instrumentation, speech, visual art, dialogue, and text. This is unification, wholeness; this is a blessing.

 

In the 21st century, we see many competing ideologies and consumer traps. An atrophied individualism and fragmentation reigns. Much of our isolation is owed to hyper-privacy, individualism, consumer capitalism, Seamless and social media. But whether it is a church, a club, a car or two of us gathered over food, a song, or a movie, when we gather around something embodied, we charge our best energies to wholeness, beauty, and healing.

 
 

Short Doc Screening: Excavating the Sky


 
 

WATCH LIVE PERFORMANCES INCLUDING DANCE

Excavating the Sky Book Launch
Saturday, January 30 2016
Judson Memorial Church
New York, New York

Krasota Spaset Mir

 

Gravity: Dance FEAT. Sabrina Frometa 

End of the Century

 

Where People Move and Find Their Being

 
 

A COMMUNITY THROUGH TEXT

COLLABORATION IS NOT JUST BETWEEN THE ARTISTS PERFORMING. IT IS BETWEEN THE ARTISTS AND THE AUDIENCE/THE READERS. 


If poetry is inseparable from its audience, then space cannot conquer us. Many of you joined the conversation, excitedly read Excavating the Sky and posted moving Amazon customers reviews in exchange for a free digital copy. With your penetrating words you performed and joined the fabric of Excavating the Sky.

“The poems in this collection reflect a sheer expanse of experience which mark Kulakov as an eerily emblematic child of the century. He has been --and *felt* everywhere that matters, from the remnants of the Soviet Union to the slums of Harlem... This is a book I want to read and reread as all around me, as the sky falls. Perhaps if Kulakov's words are taken to heart and cried aloud, it will begin to stay up.” Abigail Cember, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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"An honest exploration of faith, spirituality and society, Excavating the Sky is a beautiful collection of poems that cause the reader to slow down and really consider the story being told. The illustrations are gorgeous and compliment the written work wonderfully" - Katherine Mackloud, Langly, British Columbia

 

"Kulakov’s word painting, clever tempos, and measured imageries have placed me transfixed at his table, eager to ingest the journey which has molded this extraordinarily malleable author and his illustrious pen... Much more than homage to the “Sky above”, he looks to earth – his fellow man – and shares an acute understanding of kinship within the amalgam of racial, social, spiritual tones. " Randall Flash, Seattle, Washington

 

"Seductive, genuine and spiritually uplifting, Konstantin Kulakov 's debut poetry collection entices one right into this coming of age poetic jewel, set across the globe in the 90s... 'Beauty will save the world' | 'krasota spaset mir' by Prince Myskin, The Idiot." Sabrina Frometa, New York, New York

 

 

"Kulakov, young though he is, speaks with the hard-won assurance of a well-traveled and often-buffeted spiritual Odysseus discovering that his true home is the journey. These are the hymns of youth to beauty, pain, the weight of memory, the sense of the numinous... Excavating the Sky is the auspicious debut of a young poet wise beyond his years. There is much to look forward to." Barry Casey, Beltsville, Maryland

 

"Excavating the Sky is an intimate collection of prayers, memories, and meditations, alive with a sense of youth, of a fresh awareness for how we encounter entities in flesh while at once inheriting them through texts. The visceral subjects range from young love through the prism of the Quran to the apotheosis of a Harlem slum... The circumstances are tragic, but these poems trace a beauty that stirs compassion and calls out for hope, that looks toward our horizon with joined hands." - Nathan Lang, Los Angeles, California

 

 

"I felt a smooth, rhythmical flow that swung down from line to line in every page, it was calming. The entire book is beautifully put together with delicate illustrations... Looking forward to more inspirational experiences to be shared." - Vanessa Castillo, Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

“Konstantin Kulakov captured me with his rich, complex language, engaged me in his search for connections between a man and a woman, between what has passed and what is coming, and between him, a young man, still, and his progenitors, and encouraged me not to despair at this messy world.” William Atham, New York, New York

 

 

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