vocalisms #31: Aimee Nezhukumatathil


vocalisms is a regular feature that presents selected tracks from voca, the Poetry Center's online audio video library of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today. 

photo of Aimee Nezhukumatathil

You might think this video looks a bit odd compared to most from voca, with its view back over the audience sitting in the dark, but it captures a memorable moment of audience interaction during Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s 2017 visit to the Poetry Center. Nezhukumatathil invites the audience to mimic firefly squid by holding aloft their phones with the flashlights turned on, creating a flickering, floating sea of light. This poem, through its rich and vivid descriptions, transports me into the vibrant, boundless reality of the ocean, full of life both familiar and fantastical. We’re invited to stay, to observe, to immerse ourselves in the welcome of the poem’s title: “Let’s listen, let’s really listen,” Nezhukumatathil reads, “how this planet really hums with so much wing, fur, and fin.”