Los Angeles Times.
Poetry by phone — it's their calling
A San Diego museum helps members of the group La Liñea share their verse.
By Cynthia Dea, Times Staff Writer
With just about every service available through an automated call, it was only a matter of time until poetry readings would be accessible with the touch of a keypad. And now through March, by calling the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego or using one of the museum's gallery phones for "Poem Lines on Phone Lines," one can listen to a member of the writer-artist collective La Liñea read a different poem each month, alternating in English and Spanish.
La Liñea, which refers to the border between the U.S. and Mexico, is a group of five women who have held installations and performances in both countries. It began with a self-publication of the same name in Tijuana in 2002 with a feminist perspective on issues affecting the area.
When the latest collaboration started in September, listeners could hear Kara Lynch read on the museum's phone system "Me Quemo (Burnt)" in English, with Spanish and Arabic phrases mixed in the three-minute poem about a torrential love affair between Tijuana and Beirut.
Because its projects are presented in more than one language, La Liñea understands the necessity of making its works accessible to a monolingual and a bilingual audience. In the past, group members have transformed poetry into visual works by wrapping caution tape printed with their own text along the streets of Tijuana, Mexico, and San Ysidro, Calif. In another, members of the collective passed out "poemales," original poems wrapped like tamales, each with its own emotional flavor.
"We incorporate performance and action into our works because all of us feel language and poetry are activities in our lives," Lynch says. "We're interested in putting language and poetry into the public."
The readings explore a number of topics, with some of the previously recorded works touching upon love, violence and containment within borders. Jenny Donovan's poem "Estamos Adentro," featured through November, plays with the visual and aural aspects of Spanish that comment on gender within language structure.
Since "Poem Lines on Phone Lines" is one of La Liñea's more passive collaborations, Lynch thinks that a bilingual audience will get the most out of this particular experience. However, she notes that the multi-language recordings reflect the realities of spoken language of towns along both sides of the border.
"Whether or not you understand — there's a power dynamic to both of those meanings," Lynch says. "It's about what a person has to contend with, whether they can use the language or not."
'Poem Lines on Phone Lines'
How: Dial (858) 454-3541, Ext. 9, to listen; toll charges apply.
Or call from the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect St., La Jolla. Museum hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursdays. Museum admission: $6; $2, students and seniors.
Ends: March 2007