Oct. 30, 2022
Art is a way of speaking about the world which penetrates the veil of
customary assumptions. Born in sound and cradled in listening, C.C.
Arshagra’s poetry and song performance paid homage to the open mic,
a subject of his poetry and inspiration for his poetry art band Funk
Physics. The trio played in front of a painting and pastel exhibition of
Arshgra’s art work, which also called into question the straitjacket culture
imposes on thought, a visual conversation with the edges of free
speech. The longing to be heard is at the center of the human
encounter. And the fragility of the open mike context favors that voice.
The Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, CT embraces the full range of
human expression, showcasing words, song, movement, art and the
connections that creativity forges between us.
Drawing C.C. Arshagra
The art exhibit Unmute Yourself, spoke to that atmosphere where “Words about art” are also
“Art about Words,” as one painting was titled. Beginning with the exhibit’s centerpiece ‘The
Blank Canvas of the Mind,’ sometimes the invisible became legible in these questioning and
questing spaces of aesthetics and feeling. Arshagra prefers to wrap his messages in layers that
ask the viewer to look longer and harder to “be at your edge of being.” His words spoke to “the
deciphering ones, hungry for belonging.”
Words about art, art about words. Soil. Rot. Bacteria Communicating Freely
The collaboration between poet, guitarist Matt Belliveau and multi-instrumentalist Derrik Bosse
was uncanny. Bosse gently tapped his large conga in subdued patterns that supplied a pulse for
the improvised composition, sometimes adding a bass guitar line. Belliveau intuited when to
build, when to subside and how to interlace silence and isolated notes with Arshagra’s resonant
words. “Survival captures only its ruins,” apocalyptic words, yet performed in a resonant quiet
founded on how “love can see you with its blindness.” For the finale, Mike McEwen, inventor of
the Vibrational Awareness Chamber, joined the trio with his Tibetan singing bowl, adding even
more spiritual bandwidth to the event.
Arshagra read poetry from his new book open microphone poems: free speech, human rights
and the word, pausing to reflect on the origins of live poetry performance where trembling
neophytes and veterans gathered in small Boston and Cambridge cafés to share their words
and expose their souls. His deeply empathetic chronicle of how faltering individuals find their
voices and understand themselves through those open mic sessions has lasting value for
anyone eager to unlock the gates of creativity. As he chanted during the Funk Physics set, “How
can you believe the world ends here?”
Kathleen Hulser is a writer (full disclosure, Arshagra is her significant other).
This is one hell of an interview. My most passionate one. I love Jason and Prof (JP Lime) for their listening powers of interviewing. Contains explicit language (Lots of it)!