Choreography: Melinda Jean Myers, in collaboration with the dancers
Poetry: Written and recorded by Donika Kelly
Music: Composed by Ramin Roshandel
Costume Design: Margaret Wenk-Kuchlbauer
Lighting Design: Laurel Shoemaker
Dancers: Mackenzie Albert, Sabrina Duke, Emma Dunlay, Grace Edwards, Jenny Fairman, Talia Howard, Elizabeth Krebs
Poems by Donika Kelly
River at the door
River at the teeth
River in storm in flood
River like a tongue
Brushing the bank
At the mouth
The underside of the bridge
Fall back River
Like that please god
We come of the earth, children of nickel
and iron. For a time, we were daughter/mother,
mantle/core: we roiled and burned, set fire,
were fire; we were wind and storm without water,
and nothing could separate us but us. For a time
we were an interior orbit, inevitable
as pressure and heat: Hadean.
The mantle with a pip in the gap: let me go.
In the core’s mouth a tornado of flame.
I broke the surface as an ocean breaks, lanced
the blistered crust. Alone, I was a yawning,
a great rift. I cooled. Slow came the hardening—
accretion: the brittle crawl away from the hot ridge
of the past— a long time from home—then the abyssal
plain, the open floor. The core spun as if of gold, as if I’d
never left, a constant discontinuity, a flaring whir.
Whatever opens, closes. Whosoever leaves,
returns, comes inexorable to subduction.
I’ve returned, mama, ready to be taken under,
swallowed into rock plastic with heat. I can’t deny
the relief of being driven inward, the comfort
of a hand raised to no reply, subject again
to the familiar indifference of home.
WHAT YOU DARE TO OPEN AT THE THRESHOLD
Open your eyes to a present bare
as a winter tree, the tree a raw nerve,
not dead but at rest. A mistake to think
now is always; soon enough the bud
and bloom, the green leaf and husked fruit.
Soon enough the small jaw makes of the hard shell
dust; makes of the sweet meat a feast. What wild
soft hope to suppose that what was will be.
or now, take the attitude of work,
then the attitude of rest, then work,
a curious industry, then rest. For now,
grab the hand that pulls you up, the hand
that gets you dressed, the hand that soothes you
when you wake in the dark, startled and damp.
Is the hand your own? So be it. Is the hand
another’s? So be it. There is a future
in your mouth, smoky quartz on your tongue.
Where will you hold it: belly, teeth, or palm?
Donika Kelly is the author The Renunciations and Bestiary. Bestiary is the winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry, and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. A Cave Canem graduate fellow and member of the collective Poets at the End of the World, Donika has also received a Lannan Residency Fellowship, and a summer workshop fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center. She earned an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in English from Vanderbilt University. Her poems have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, and Foglifter. She currently lives in Iowa City and is an assistant professor in the English department at the University of Iowa, where she teaches creative writing.
Ramin Roshandel’s compositional work is based around incorporating ‘experience’ as a fundamental concept through a non-experimental approach in performance. Considering phenomena such as instability, cultural identity, and communicational language on one hand, and being inspired by Persian music microtones as a setār (an Iranian instrument) player on the other, has led him to consider indeterminate, improvisatory, and abstract structures in his music to contrast or converge with post- or non-tonal forms. Over the past year, he has been one of the co-recipients of the Public Art Matching (from the City of Iowa City) and the Arts Across Borders Grants (the University of Iowa) for creating two site-specific collaborative pieces, The Parking Space and Mammal Hall. In 2019, he was awarded the University of Iowa Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio summer scholarship and was a New Music on the Point alumnus. His pieces have been performed by DalNiente and Kamraton ensembles, JACK Quartet, and LIGAMENT duo, as well as in the Society of Composers, SCI’s Summer Student Mixtape (featuring a group of selected BIPOC composers), and Cleveland Uncommon Sound Project’s Summer Sounds. Roshandel was the setār soloist of Jean-François Charles’ opera, Grant Wood in Paris in its premiere. He is currently a PhD candidate in music composition at the University of Iowa, where he has studied under Josh Levine and Sivan Cohen-Elias, and is currently working with David Gompper. He holds a Master of music in composition from the University of Tehran and a BA in Iranian music performance from Tehran University of Art. He has two analytical papers on Hossein Alizadeh’s Neynavā and Elliott Carter’s Dialogues published in Persian journals.