I reviewed the book version of 3rd i about a year ago, and since then, have been given a CD version. Listening to the music after reading the book is a curious and altogether different experience. One of the key differences is that, when reading silently, I hear the work in my own voice. When listening, I'm struck by the forceful exuberance of Eliades' own vision. Poems that might come through as quiet and reflective on my own reading, come through as loud, strong, and excited in Eliades'. His emphases often differ from mine, and force me to focus on a word; a phrase; or a linguistic twist that I might have missed. There’s a powerful intertwining between the husky impact of Eliades’ voice as an instrument, and other effects used, such as vocal layering, echo, music and pure percussion.
The book has 50 poems, while the CD has 22, including two versions of "why". “why” both opens and closes the CD and presenting a kind of parenthesis to the work -- forcing the reader to think about both meanings of the word “I read” -- that is, reading for oneself, and reading aloud, which is more akin to the process of creating in the way it comes through on 3rd i. The increasing speed and power of the reading, coupled with percussion and a powerful sense of linguistic ecstasy, sets a tone that permeates this CD. The lines are, at times, so extraordinary, that the listener wants a moment to reflect, but there are no pauses here - "the skin of existence is translucent" or "because, daily, I forget how lovely breathing is". Life comes at you fast, and you have to pick up the beauty of each moment as you’re propelled along between the mundane and the extraordinary. Reading the poem in the book is a much slower experience, but "why" works perfectly as a performance. Eliades shoots these magnificent words at the listener - a shotgun of powerful imagery which only slows on the last word: "delicious".
Most of the poems on this 3rd i are spoken, and Eliades' delivery is powerful, moving through the spectrum of emotion, and commanding a response from the reader. Sometimes he speaks tenderly, as if to a loved one. In poems like “Kundalini rising”, the reader is both part of the “we” and addressed as “you”. The pain and pleasure of life is a tremendous war – the place where we move from passive to active:
Adhere, preserve this:
To taste your tongue is to coalesce from liquid to solid,
Threaten the stable self,
And embrace the front
At times the poetry is more detached, as in the sexy exploration of Brett Whitely (“brett whitely, Internuncio”), which is a completely different piece spoken than it is on paper. Here we lose the arrangement of words, with the slightly ironic notations on the left hand side, and gain the actual delivery in those tones. In many ways, without those notes, this poem becomes almost overly rich – slurping at the marrow or fornicating through collage. It’s as visual as a Whitely painting, but done in words, looking at process as art, rather than the finished product.