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Emily XYZ

September 13, 2010

“The treatment of violence is not yet profitable” – a line from Matt Kahn’s Email, by Emily XYZ, writer and performer of spoken-word poetry for multiple voices and 2010 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence. Being swept away by Emily and her performance partner Myers Bartlett was the highlight of the Brisbane Writers Festival for me.

This is vocal artistry at its best. Their voices, Emily’s strong and sharp, Myers’ full and rich, combine in perfect harmony to capture the audience in a web of sound, rhythm, feeling and meaning, each element potentiating the others. The voices interact in complex and musical ways, joining, parting, bouncing off each other, one sometimes chanting while the other enunciates, always sounding like two parts of a single instrument. The energy of the performance caught something of the exhilaration of a Patti Smith concert – and Emily’s main influence was Patti and the whole seventies New York Punk scene.

As a lapsed economist now writing a novel about an economist, I envied Emily’s deft treatment of that field’s concepts in Matt Kahn’s Email. (Matt Kahn is an economics professor.) It’s on YouTube here, and is recommended, as are their other YouTube appearances. The poem ends with “Hi it’s me, Emily XYZ, the X is for ex-junkie, the Y is for yes, Z equals the unknown.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Claire Wood permalink
    September 13, 2010 8:59 pm

    A great blog. Thanks for the link to Emily XYZ on YouTube. It was a great watch and I’m now going to work my way through all of her YouTube posts.

  2. Bryce permalink*
    September 14, 2010 10:06 am

    Glad you like them. The quality of the YouTube videos is varible, but for me ‘Matt Kahn’s Email’ (at the Art House) is best both technically and performance-wise. At their festival gig they opened with ‘Separation of Church and State’ which was electrifying live.

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